- Associated Press - Friday, May 8, 2015
Dayton, Pawlenty join groundbreaking at state’s newest park

SOUDAN, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty were among the government officials who grabbed shovels to help break ground for Minnesota’s newest state park.

Construction began Friday on the campground at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park in northeastern Minnesota.

The Department of Natural Resources says the campground will accommodate more than 250 people nightly in tents and RVs. It’s expected to open in the fall of 2016.

Future phases of construction could include a visitor center, trail system, cabins and more.

When finished, the park will see an estimated 250,000 visitors each year, bringing an estimated $18.2 million in spending to northeastern Minnesota.


Plagiarism allegations against 2nd MnSCU professor dismissed

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Plagiarism allegations against a Minnesota community college professor have been dismissed after an inquiry.

Dorothy Duran is president of Minnesota State, Southeast Technical. She was accused of plagiarism in her dissertation.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system said Friday that an inquiry by the University of Texas at Austin found Duran’s behavior didn’t rise to scientific misconduct, and a full investigation is not required.

Duran’s doctoral degree was affirmed.

MnSCU chancellor Steven Rosenstone called the accusations “reckless” and part of a move to tarnish the reputation of MnSCU presidents. The charges came from a group pushing for change in MnSCU leadership.


Iowa: Bird flu to claim 4 million more egg-laying chickens

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The bird flu virus spread further Friday, as Iowa officials announced two more farms that hold a total of 4 million chickens tested positive for H5N2.

Since March, the virus has led to the loss of well over 30 million birds in 13 states. Minnesota and Wisconsin, two other states hit hard with the disease, reported no new bird flu cases Friday.

Iowa has 44 cases of bird flu in 12 counties. In Wright County in northern Iowa, the two farms saw an unusual number of chickens dying and sent samples for a preliminary test, which was positive for H5N2 virus. If confirmed, the 4 million birds will be euthanized and Iowa’s chicken loss will approach 25 million - more than 40 percent of the state’s egg-laying flock.

State officials on Friday also announced detection of the virus on five more turkey farms, but only provided a number for one farm - 42,000 birds. That raises the turkey losses in Iowa to more than 750,000 birds.

Officials in Franklin County, which is adjacent to Wright County, declared a pre-emptive emergency Friday despite not having any cases.


Lawmakers cope with waiting season as deadline looms

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A massive, friendly dog padded around Rep. Peggy Bennett’s office this week, hemmed in by a plastic fence he could easily jump.

Colter, a 6-year-old Shiloh shepherd, is like a visiting family member for the freshman Republican from Albert Lea. “Weeks like this,” she said, “he’s kind of an anchor that just brings you back to reality.”

Bennett’s strategy may be unique, but plenty of legislators have their own methods of dealing with the alternating stress and boredom that comes every May.

The final days of a legislative session are part waiting game and part endless negotiation. A little less than half of the state’s 201 lawmakers sit on committees trying to reach deals on competing budget and policy bills. The rest have more free time but still need to stick around for floor debates that can last hours.

That means “a whole lot of nothing,” said Sen. Branden Petersen. “You sit around and wait.”

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