MPR News Update

Mortenson wins the Vikings contract, Mary Joe Copeland wins an award, and a meteor blasts Russia

by John Wanamaker, Minnesota Public Radio,
Hart Van Denburg, Minnesota Public Radio

Feb 15, 2013

Today on the MPR News Update: We find out who's going to build the Vikings stadium, the president takes time to praise on Sharing and Caring Hands, a massive brawl gives a black eye to Minneapolis South High School, and we've got video of that 10-ton meteor smacking into Russia.

VIKINGS STADIUM: Tim Nelson reports that Mortenson Construction won the contract to build the new Vikings stadium. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority announced the decision at its Friday morning meeting. The 59-year-old firm is already known for most of the Twin Cities sports landmarks, including the Target Center, the Xcel Energy Center, TCF Bank Stadium and Target Field. Check out photos of those and some of the other facilities Mortenson has built here.

RUSSIAN METEOR: Have you seen the video from this yet? A meteor that scientists estimate weighed 10 tons streaked at supersonic speed over Russia's Ural Mountains on Friday, setting off blasts that injured nearly 1,000 and frightened countless more. The stor y - and two videos - are here.

CRIME LAB TROUBLES: Prosecutors and defense attorneys are reviewing reports about the St. Paul police crime lab to identify any problems with past convictions. Madeleine Baran reports that two independent consultants hired by the city found errors in almost every area of the lab's work. Police released the reports yesterday. Consultants found problems almost everywhere they looked, from dirty, poorly maintained equipment to test evidence for the presence of illegal drugs to employees using Wikipedia as a reference in one drug case.

MAYO DEVELOPMENT: A bill that would finance redevelopment around the Mayo Clinic's proposed expansion in Rochester is starting to move through the Legislature. The House Jobs and Economic Development Committee approved the bill easily, but as Tom Scheck reports the bill's financing plan is expected to face some much tougher questions soon.

FRANKEN: Six years ago this month, DFLer Al Franken launched his campaign for U.S Senate against incumbent Republican Norm Coleman. After a long recount, Franken won by just 312 votes. For some it appeared Franken might be an easy target in 2014, but it's not playing out that way -- at least for now. Mark Zdechlik has more.

HIGH SCHOOL MELEE: Minneapolis South High School resumed classes today, one day after police broke up a fight involving hundreds of students. The school says it's implementing a safety plan to ensure ``a safe learning environment.'' Police used mace to break up the fight yesterday afternoon. Ambulances transported several people to the hospital. Police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer says no weapons were involved, and all injuries were minor. Several students told MPR News that as many as 100 students got involved in the brawl.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS: In hopes of boosting student achievement, Gov. Mark Dayton wants to boost funding for the state's English language learning programs by about $4.5 million a year, a 12 percent increase over current levels. The governor's proposal is aimed at helping the 65,000 students in Minnesota for whom English is not a first language. Tim Post reports.

MARY JO COPELAND: The founder and director of Sharing and Caring Hands says she is humbled by her choice as a recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, one of the nation's highest civilian honors. Copeland will receive the award at the White House Friday for her charitable work providing food, shelter and other services to the poor. Copeland joined All Things Considered to discuss her work and the award. She also allowed photographer Jeffrey Thompson to follow her around one recent morning at Sharing and Caring Hands.

RUTHLESSLY CREATING: In a crowd, Todd Clouser could be just another guy whose struggles are his own quiet secrets. But on the stage, he's a monster, pouring out guitar riffs with electrified ease. Once inhibited by self-doubt, Clouser, found meaning and a creative spark in Mexico. He moved there five years ago to teach music and to renew, and heard his artistic voice soar. David Cazares says that to see him ride a groove now, eyes closed, is to witness a rising improvisational star.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE: As you may have heard, passengers on the disabled cruise ship Triumph had to endure days at sea with limited power, malfunctioning toilets and no ventilation. Today's Question: What's the worst experience you've ever had on vacation?

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