A looming state deficit could jeopardize the future of Minnesota's six public television stations. Last month the state's finance department put a freeze on new grant agreements. That decision affected a major public television grant designed to help stations meet an expensive federal mandate to go digital by 2003. Without state money some stations say they'll be unable to meet the federal deadline. That could force them off the air.
The state's tick population has soared because of the warmest fall in more than 100 years. It's a phenomenon any deer hunter, particularly in southeastern Minnesota, knows well. Typically, ticks disappear for the winter before the start of hunting season. But this year, that's not the case. And it's prompting concerns that Lyme disease could be on the rise.
Winona's United Way says it might give money to the Boy Scouts again, and that's making some people very unhappy. Last winter, two area Boy Scout councils lost United Way funding after they refused to sign an anti-discrimination contract. That contract conflicted with Boy Scout national policy banning gays from membership. Now, the United Way of the Greater Winona Area has struck a compromise with local Scouts.
The federal government released its findings Monday of a wide study into the potential environmental impacts of a $1.4 billion railroad construction project running from Wyoming through South Dakota and Minnesota.
Winona schools may be forced to make some of the most severe cuts in the state if the voters turn down a school referendum. Should the referendum fail, extracurricular activities, sports, and all-day every-day kindergarten will vanish next year. In the past, the district has had a difficult time securing the public's financial support. This time the stakes appear to be higher.
The Olmsted County sheriff has identified a pair of decapitated bodies found along a Rochester roadway two years ago as Bangladeshi woman and her young nephew. And while police have a suspect, complications involving U.S.-Bangladesh relations mean the case may never go to trial.
More than one million tiny weed-eating beetles have been released in endangered wetlands around the state by the Department of Agriculture. Since the early '90s, beetles have been used as nature's foil to purple loosestrife, a noxious, invasive weed that has crowded native plants out of more than 50,000 acres in Minnesota. Now a group of Red Wing High School students plans to build on the beetles' success, by introducing them to a new loosestrife-ridden site. But first, they have to catch some.
Citizens in Waseca County are mobilizing against a number of large farm expansions that promise to bring at least 16,000 hogs to the southeastern Minnesota county.
A decision by the Bush administration Tuesday is expected to unite Minnesota's expanding ethanol industry with California's gasoline market. The Environmental Protection Agency denied a waiver request by California, mandating that the state continue to use ethanol or other gasoline additives in keeping with Clean Air Act requirements. Now ethanol plants across the Midwest must gear up for the challenge of feeding California close 600 million gallons of the corn-based fuel. One plant in southern Minnesota is already preparing to expand.
President Bush's energy agenda is expected to call for new nuclear energy plants, and the extension of the lives of current plants. While there no immediate plans to break ground for additional nuclear plants here in Minnesota, the state Legislature is pondering a controversial proposal to increase storage capacity at the Prairie Island nuclear plant. In 1994 lawmakers approved dry cask storage at the plant, despite mass protests and opposition by a neighboring Indian community. The sides are gearing up for another fight.
It's been three years since a tornado wiped out Saint Peter's famous canopy of trees. More than a 1,000 volunteers are transforming an empty spot into a scene out of 19th-century river town life.
As soon as the Mississippi River reopens to barge travel, rafts of corn kernels will head down river en route to their final destination - southeast Asia. Along the way, kernels will be tested and retested for traces of Starlink, a genetically-modified corn now banned around the world. Last fall Starlink turned up in taco shells and corn chips, prompting mass recalls and a shake-up on the export market. The corn's manufacturer continues to push for full governmental approval which would allow for human consumption. But with the spring thaw, Midwestern grain elevators and their customers are preparing for round two.
Minnesota is home to the largest settlement of Somalis outside of Africa. While definitive census numbers on the East African group won't be released for months, government officials hope the 2000 racial data will be more accurate than in the past. But many of the state's Somali residents don't the share the government's confidence, and predict a massive undercount.
In the wake of spiking energy costs, corn has been redefined as a fossil fuel alternative. While the demand for ethanol is mounting, a less familiar kernel-driven energy source is gaining popularity.
After a decade marred by civil war, an elected government has returned to Somalia. A newly formed three-year transitional government came together in October. Some Somalis in Minnesota are watching the situation closely, especially a family in Owatonna, who are related to the country's newly appointed prime minister.