Minnesota roundup: Rep. Peterson roars to 'Hotdish Off' win thanks to bear meat; Deputy commerce official arrested in prostitution sting

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MINNEAPOLIS—Rep. Collin Peterson clawed his way to culinary excellence with his "Right to Bear Arms" bear-meat hotdish, winning the seventh-annual Minnesota congressional delegation "Hotdish Off" competition Wednesday, March 8.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., started the event as a way to bring the delegation together and celebrate a state tradition.

Peterson beat out Franken, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Reps. Betty McCollum, Tim Walz, Keith Ellison, Erik Paulsen, Rick Nolan, Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis, Franken said in a news release on his Twitter account.

Peterson, a first-time winner, said one of his staffers, Mike Stranz, shot the bear featured in the winning dish while on a hunting trip in Wisconsin.

"It is an honor to be this year's winner, with a hotdish that recognizes the great outdoors," Peterson said.

"After a pretty grueling and divisive election year, it was great to put aside our differences and come together over some great hotdish," Franken said.

This year's hotdish recipes are available online at:  www.franken.senate.gov/files/documents/2017HotdishRecipes.pdf

Last year, Walz took home the trophy with his "Turkey Taco Tot Hotdish," adding a third title after taking the top prize in 2013 and 2014.

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Alleged St. Paul cigarette thief who punched hesitant clerks charged

ST. PAUL—Kendall Bernard Russell had a system, investigators say.

He walked into a gas station and asked the clerk for three cartons of Newport 100 cigarettes.

If the employee handed them over, he grabbed the cartons and ran. If the clerk hesitated, Russell often threw a punch before making off with the loot.

That's according to court documents filed in the case investigators are trying to build against Russell. He was charged Monday in Ramsey County District Court with one count of first-degree aggravated assault and a second charge of simple robbery.

The criminal complaint outlines only one incident, when Russell, 37, stole cigarettes after assaulting a clerk at a SuperAmerica store on West Seventh Street in St. Paul early Feb. 9, according to the criminal complaint.

But the St. Paul man is suspected in more than a dozen similar cases in St. Paul, Roseville, New Brighton and Minneapolis, according to an affidavit for a search warrant filed in late February in Ramsey County District Court.

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Deputy commerce official arrested in prostitution sting

ST. PAUL—A deputy commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Commerce was among several men arrested in an undercover prostitution sting in St. Paul.

Police took Michael Shane Deal, 46, of Litchfield into custody on Tuesday, according to a police report.

Deal, who could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday, is deputy commissioner of the state commerce department's financial institutions division.

He worked for nearly 20 years in the community banking sector. He previously was senior vice president and market president at Bank Midwest in New Ulm and market president of North American State Bank in Willmar.

The undercover prostitution detail at a hotel on Tuesday was "aimed at curbing demand," said Steve Linders, a St. Paul police spokesman. Deal "responded to an ad for sex and sexual acts," according to a police report.

Police arrested five men, including Deal, and expect to present their cases this week to the St. Paul city attorney's office for charging consideration, Linders said.

Deal is one of four deputy or acting deputy commissioners at the Commerce Department, which oversees many professional licenses, banks, telecommunications and other markets.

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MN man honored with lifesaving award after ice rescue

WILLMAR, Minn.—A Minnesota man is being honored after rescuing a man when his vehicle broke through thin ice.

The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office awarded Myron Clark, a Kandiyohi County Public Works employee for 33 years, with a lifesaving award.

Clark was out on Long Lake north of Willmar late in the afternoon of Feb. 12, putting up "thin ice" signs. He then saw a vehicle, driven by 78-year-old Gayne Stone, break through the ice not far away.

Clark called 911, then headed toward the scene on his ATV. He found a dead tree near the shore and used it to help bring Stone to safety.

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High winds tip scaffolding at Minn. school construction site

WILLMAR, Minn. — A large scaffolding structure at the construction site for Lakeland Elementary School tipped in high winds Tuesday.

There were no injuries reported and no structural damage found on the new school.

According to Preston Euerle, president of R.A. Morton Construction Managers which is overseeing construction, said it appeared the scaffolding had become dislodged at the ground level and tipped shortly before 3 p.m. on March 7.

Restoring the scaffold will take a few days after the wind dies down, he said.

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Power company lineman injured repairing lines in windy conditions

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn.—A Lake Country Power lineman is hospitalized Wednesday after being injured after coming into contact with a live electrical wire on Tuesday night.

Crews continued to battle outages due to high winds and falling trees on Wednesday.

The lineman from the Grand Rapids service area was in stable condition at the Essentia Health Miller-Dwan Burn Center, said Lake Country Power spokeswoman Tami Zaun. Lake Country Power was not releasing details about the man's identity.

"The good news is he's in stable condition," Zaun said. "We're very thankful for that. Safety is our number one priority and we have a rigorous safety program, but things do happen."

The lineman was transported to the local Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital by ambulance before being airlifted to Duluth after the incident at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Zaun said.