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Minnesota briefs: Neighbor credited with saving couple from fire

  • April 12, 2014 - 2:05 PM

BELLE RIVER

Neighbor credited with saving couple

Peter Woit was working at home, editing video, when a noise prompted him to peek out the window just before midnight Tuesday. He saw the north side of his neighbors’ house engulfed in flames.

Woit, 54, called 911 and ran over, banging on a sliding-glass door and screaming for Richard and Denise Klein to wake up and get out. Denise soon crawled out coughing, but Woit had to go in twice to help drag Richard, 73, away from the house near Carlos. Douglas County authorities credit him with saving their lives.

“The smoke was literally like breathing liquid acid,” he said. “If I got turned around, we both would have been hosed.”

All three were treated for smoke inhalation.

WINONA

Shop expands to help trafficked women

After a recent trip to Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, where she met former sex-trade workers as young as 8, a Winona coffee shop owner vowed to make a difference. Dannielle Rothering’s Awakening Coffee House now shares its space with a shop called Set Me Free. She’s selling scarves, tops, purses and jewelry produced by formerly trafficked women to teach them business skills to escape the sex trade.

“There’s a direct correlation between the items purchased and the amount of women we can support,” she said.

CURT BROWN

ST. CLOUD

Frostbite victim fitted for robotic hand

The St. Cloud college student who suffered severe frostbite four months ago has been fitted with a robotic right hand that can perform 14 functions and grips. Alyssa Lommel, 19, was dropped off by friends on a below-zero night at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in December and found on a neighboring porch the next morning. Doctors amputated parts of her hands and feet because of frostbite.

According to the CaringBridge journal of her mother, Teri, “she has moved on to acceptance” and recently told a reporter: “If you stare, you stare. If you have a question, ask it, but this is who I am now.” Lommel hopes to return to school this fall.

ZUMBROTA

Small town opens its arms to movie crew

The folks of a southern Minnesota town have been opening their homes and preparing meals for a movie crew in town to shoot a feature film. Set in Zumbrota, “His Neighbor Phil” stars Stephanie Zimbalist as a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

“They’ve been blown away by how much this community has done,” said Roxanne Bartsh, owner of the Wild Ginger Boutique, who has a makeup artist living upstairs. “They’ve been eating in our restaurants and shopping in our stores and it’s been wonderful for our community.”

© 2014 Star Tribune