From Wabasha to Warroad, from Sleepy Eye to Silver Bay, Dateline Minnesota scours the state to bring you breaking news from outside the Twin Cities.

Want to visit Apostle Island ice caves? It'll cost you

Posted by: Jennifer Brooks Updated: December 18, 2014 - 11:52 AM

If you want to play in the Apostle Island ice caves, you'll have to pay.

From now on, the National Park Service plans to charge a $5 fee to visitors ages 16 and older who want to visit the ice caves.

That is, if the weather gets cold enough to re-create last year's winter spectacle.

Last year, 138,000 visitors trekked across a frozen-solid Lake Superior to wonder at the glittering ice caves along the Wisconsin shore. The Park Service spent $450,000 dealing with the crowds and only charged a $3 parking fee that raised just $47,000 and was bypassed by many visitors who simply parked along Highway 13 or in temporary lots nearby.

Last winter was the first time in five years that conditions were cold enough to make the caves accessible. Images of the icy wonderland went viral, drawing record numbers of visitors. In a press release Thursday, the park service noted that "visitation of this magnitude may be the norm, rather than the exception."

The next time conditions are right, visitors can either pay for a $5-per-person day pass in the Meyers Road parking area or purchase a $10 annual park pass from the Apostle Island park headquarters in Bayfield.

Another court appearance for mom who gave son medical marijuana

Posted by: Jennifer Brooks Updated: December 17, 2014 - 12:34 PM

It was another day and another court appearance for Angela Brown, the Minnesota mother who gave her son an illegal drug that will be legal by this time next year.

Brown stands accused of two gross misdemeanor counts of child endangerment for giving cannabis oil to her son, who suffered seizures and agonizing pain from a head injury. Brown made a brief appearance in Lac qui Parle County court Wednesday morning, where her attorney appealed for the charges against her to be dismissed.

With her in the courtroom was her 15-year-old son Trey, who smiled shyly at the banks of cameras and reporters who turned out for a case that has drawn national and international attention. Before he tried the cannabis oil, his mother said, the muscle spasms from his traumatic brain injury would leave him curled in a fetal position or in so much pain he would punch the walls or hit himself hard enough to break his nose and crack his collarbone. The improvement after he tried the marijuana tincture -- which the family bought legally from a dispensary in Colorado -- was dramatic, his mother said.

"I didn't harm my child," said Brown, a 38-year-old mother of three from Madison. "I really don't want any other mother to have to go through this and that's why I'm putting myself out there. Because this is not me. This is absolutely not me, being in front of all of these cameras and having all these people converge into my life."

By July, medical marijuana will be legal in Minnesota. But that law isn't in effect yet, the Lac qui Parle County Attorney opted to prosecute Brown after an official at Trey's school tipped off child protective services. Brown is charged, not with possession of the small amount of cannabis in the dropper bottle, but of endangering her child by involving him in a drug transaction.

"This simply is not a situation where someone has endangered their child," said Michael Hughes, an attorney from Oregon who volunteered to defend Brown. The statute, he said, was meant to protect children found in meth houses, not a child swallowing drops of cannabis oil to help with the seizures and pain he has suffered since being hit by a baseball line drive three years ago.

The court did not take action on Hughes' request for the case to be dismissed. The two sides will submit additional paperwork early next year.

Boy, 14, found dead in western Wisconsin

Posted by: Matt McKinney Updated: December 16, 2014 - 12:31 PM

A 14-year-old boy found dead Sunday in western Wisconsin and originally thought to have died in a hunting accident took his own life, according to authorities.

Eighth grader Logan Hinrichs of Red Wing was found dead of a gunshot wound in Maiden Rock, Wis., about 18 miles east of his hometown, said Pierce County (Wis.) Chief Deputy Jason Matthys. 

Red Wing Schools Superintendent Karsten Anderson sent an alert to students Monday morning. 

Minnesota mother who gave son medical marijuana heads back to court

Posted by: Jennifer Brooks Updated: December 16, 2014 - 11:49 AM

A Minnesota mother heads to court this week, charged with medicating her sick child with marijuana – an act that will be legal in a matter of months.

Angela Brown of Madison faces two gross misdemeanor charges of child endangerment after she gave cannabis oil to her 15-year-old son, Trey, to ease the pain and muscle spasms he suffers as the result of a traumatic brain injury.  On Tuesday morning, activists delivered a petition with almost 9,000 signatures to Lac qui Parle County Attorney Rick Stulz, asking him to drop the case.

“Charging a mother with child endangerment because of politics is absurd,” said Patrick McClellan of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care, who traveled the long snowy miles from his home in Burnsville to deliver the petition. “To charge a mother with child endangerment for trying to help her child is absurd."

McClellan has used marijuana to treat his muscular dystrophy for years. Right now, he’s breaking the law – possession of small amounts of cannabis is a misdemeanor offense in Minnesota – but by next summer he and thousands of other patients will be able to enroll in a state-sanctioned medical cannabis program.

Minnesota is the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana for patients with certain qualifying conditions – including children with seizure disorders. Patients can begin registering for the medical cannabis program in June and can buy the drug from one of the state's eight planned dispensaries starting on July 1.

Stulz’s decision to press charges despite the pending legalization made headlines around the country and brought Brown to New York City for an appearance on “The View.”

Stulz has not yet responded to calls or emails for comment. Brown will appear in court on Wednesday, where her attorney will appeal for the case to be dismissed.

Small clue uncovered in jewel heist case

Posted by: Maya Rao Updated: December 15, 2014 - 2:29 PM

The Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office has uncovered a clue in the strange case of the $500,000 jewel heist off I-90 last week.

Capt. Scott Behrns said in an email today that authorities recovered one of the cases stolen during the robbery of a group returning from a jewelry trade show in Chicago. The group had stopped at a rest area just after midnight on Dec. 8 when a van pulled up, four men jumped out and smashed in the victims’ windows to grab cases of diamonds and other gems. Then they tore off.

The case was found near the intersection of Olmsted County Road #7 and Highway 52 Southeast in Orion Township without any jewelry inside, though it did have jewelry display items, according to Behrns. The materials are being sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Crime Lab for analysis, he said.

The perpetrators are still at large.

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