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Minn. roundup: Study: Minn. second best state to raise a family; Brainerd man charged with shooting three cats

Study: Minn. second best state to raise a family

ST. PAUL — As far as family friendliness goes, Minnesota is near the top in the nation, according to a study by a financial website.

A study by WalletHub listed Minnesota as these second best place to raise a family, behind only Massachusetts..

Factors that raised the state's ranking were that the state was first in median family salary (adjusted for cost of living), third in percentage of families in poverty, fourth for lowest separation and divorce rate, fifth for health and safety and seventh for housing affordability.

The state was also tied for ninth for percent of families with young children and lowest violent crime rate.

In all the website researchers, looked 42 indicators in putting together the rankings.

Gov. Mark Dayton was alerted to the study and said in a statement, "Minnesota's great schools, excellent quality of life, and good work opportunities are some of the reasons why we have been rated the second best state for families. But the report got one thing wrong: no other state holds a candle to Minnesota!"

Neighboring North Dakota was fourth in the rankings, with New Hampshire ranking third.

The last two states in the study were Mississippi at 49th and New Mexico at 50th.

One dead in SUV-semi crash in western Minn

HAWLEY, Minn. — One person died in a crash between an SUV and a semi truck south of Hawley in far western Minnesota about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, a Clay County Sheriff's Department official said.

Lt. Mark Empting said the driver of the SUV died in the collision on a county highway.Empting said the names of the drivers involved were not being released yet. There were no passengers in the vehicles, he said.

Empting said he did not have full details on how the crash occurred. Minnesota State Patrol troopers and Clay County deputies are investigating.

Smoking led to fatal fire that killed 2 in Alexandria, say investigators

ALEXANDRIA, Minn.—Smoking caused a mobile home fire that killed two people in Alexandria on Jan. 5, according to authorities.

The Alexandria Fire Department, the Alexandria Police Department and the State Fire Marshal

completed the investigation and said the fire at Viking City Mobile Home Park at 1611 6th Avenue will be classified as accidental.

The fire started in the living room area, near the couch and recliner, according to investigators.

The Midwest Medical Examiner's report shows that both James "Jimmy" Chandler, 49, and

his girlfriend, Rose Couillard, 59, died from "inhalation of products of combustion" or smoke.

Firefighters found the couple in the back bedroom. They were taken out of the home and life saving measures were started, but they were later pronounced dead.

No working smoke detectors were in the mobile home at the time of the fire.

Brainerd man charged with shooting three cats

BRAINERD, Minn.—A 38-year-old Brainerd man faces three felony animal mistreatment and torture charges after allegedly killing a cat named Tig and two other cats in Brainerd.

According to the probable cause document filed against Eric Lawrence Bock, the Brainerd Police Department was advised Saturday of an animal cruelty complaint. The victim advised Brainerd officers that Bock killed her cat the previous night.

The complainant saw a blood trail leading up her sidewalk, more blood in the house and Bock's BB gun in the kitchen next to a can of tuna. Her cat, Tig, was found dead in the alley with a small hole in the right side of his head consistent with a BB. The victim stated she purchased Tig from Bengal Wild Breeders for $750.

Later that day, an officer was contacted and learned another cat was located and found frozen to the ground. This cat was also purchased for $750.

A third cat was found by the victim and police suspected Bock had killed that cat as well. The sergeant spoke with two of the victim's friends, who showed him where the dead cat was located. Injuries appeared consistent with injuries of the first two cats found dead. The third cat was a rescue from Heartland Animal Rescue Team.

Officers learned Bock contacted the victim while in the jail and asked her to tell law enforcement someone else had killed her cats because it was a felony.

Bock appeared Tuesday in Crow Wing County District Court in Brainerd, where he was charged in front of Judge Earl Maus. Bock's next court appearance will be Friday.