- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015
Deadly bird flu shows up in South Dakota, 5th Minnesota farm

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A bird flu strain that’s deadly to poultry has spread to a second turkey farm in one of the top turkey-producing counties of Minnesota, state and federal officials said Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the H5N2 strain in a flock of 71,000 turkeys in Stearns County, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health said. That brings the number of Minnesota turkey farms where the strain has been detected to five, officials said.

The strain also has shown up in a commercial turkey flock in South Dakota. So far, the total number of outbreaks in the Midwest has reached 10 and led to the deaths of 314,000 birds since early March.

Earlier, the USDA confirmed the H5N2 strain in a flock of 53,000 turkeys in Beadle County of eastern South Dakota, and a fourth Minnesota case in the southwest part of the state, in Nobles County, involving a commercial turkey farm with about 21,000 birds.

Following the same protocols used at other infected farms, the surviving birds at the operations have been quarantined and will be killed to prevent the disease’s spread. Any nearby poultry farms will be checked.


Minnesota may boost cash grants for low-income families

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Michelle Halonen works full time at a Hopkins gas station and still struggles to support her two young daughters.

They’re one of nearly 33,000 families receiving monthly help from the Minnesota Family Investment Program, designed to help low-income families reach financial stability. A family of three such as Halonen’s receives about $532 per month in cash for help with housing, transportation and other necessities.

The grant amounts have stayed flat for nearly 30 years. There’s a bipartisan push at the Legislature this year to increase the grants by $100 per month to help Minnesotans such as Halonen deal with rising transportation and housing costs.

“I do work full time and do everything to provide for my children,” Halonen said. “Unfortunately right now, that’s not enough.”

But the push to raise the grants, supported by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and some lawmakers in both parties, could stall in the state House. Leaders there want to slim health and human services spending, which would make it hard for the state to plug a roughly $68 million hole in other programs that increasing the grants would create.


Minnesota Supreme Court suspends ex-prosecutor’s license

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Supreme Court has indefinitely suspended the license of a former northern Minnesota prosecutor convicted of sexual misconduct involving a teenage girl.

The court took the action Wednesday against former Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell of Grand Marais.

Scannell was convicted of two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct last year and sentenced to 30 days in jail. Jurors decided Scannell abused a position of authority when he kissed and touched the 17-year-old during drives they took in 2012.

The director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed the petition to discipline Scannell.

In its order, the Supreme Court said Scannell must wait three years before filing for reinstatement. He also has to pay $900 in costs.


Dayton activates Minnesota National Guard to fight wildfires

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton is calling on the Minnesota National Guard to fight wildfires across the state.

The Guard and the state Department of Public Safety will supply two Blackhawk helicopters with 660-gallon water buckets to combat the blazes. The department says multiple fires were reported in east-central Minnesota Thursday.

Strong winds and low humidity will continue to pose a fire risk throughout Thursday. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is currently not issuing permits for fires across most of the state.

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