Task force to address campus drinking

Bemidji State University is starting a task force on how the school can better educate students about the risks of drinking alcohol. The announcement follows incidents in recent months of two female students getting stranded in freezing weather overnight after drinking. One died after being found unconscious in the woods with hypothermia in December.

Hundreds of students convened last week to discuss how to address the problem. The task force, which includes students and law enforcement, is having students complete an online survey to assess the scope of the problem.

MAYA RAO @Mrao_Strib


Police settle with woman who alleged false arrest

The Gaylord, Minn., police department and Sibley County Sheriff's Office will pay $20,000 to settle a lawsuit accusing the agencies of illegally detaining a woman while asking questions about her citizenship. Jesus Manuela Mendoza Sierra alleged she was taken to the Gaylord Police Department in 2012 by a Sheriff's Deputy after her daughter was arrested in an identity theft case.

Even after Mendoza Sierra showed her valid Minnesota I.D., she was taken to the police station, accused of lying, then taken to her home where police searched for papers, she alleged.

During that time a Gaylord police officer compared Hispanics to monkeys, the suit claimed. The officers eventually drove her to her job in Gaylord, though she was 30 minutes late and feared she would be fired, said Teresa Nelson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, which handled the 12-count lawsuit for Mendoza Sierra.

The settlement clears authorities of any wrongdoing, requires the Gaylord and Sibley County agencies to maintain dash cams in squad cars and improve diversity training and communication with Spanish-speaking residents. The Gaylord officer who made the comment comparing Hispanics to monkeys also apologized.

matt mckinney



Flood-stricken counties reap $17.3M in state aid

The counties hit hardest by heavy rains and floods last spring are about to reap $17.3 million in state disaster aid.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed legislation last week that will speed flood and disaster relief to 40 counties and three tribal governments to help repair roads and infrastructure.

The money is going to the 37 counties designated as federal disaster areas after the storms, and three more that fell just short of qualifying for federal aid, as well as the governments of three tribes: Red Lake Band of Chippewa, Prairie Island Indian Community and Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. Almost $12 million will go to flood and disaster relief, $3 million will match Federal Highway Administration emergency funds and $2.4 million will go to the Board of Water and Soil Resources to repair conservation areas.

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks