‘Bike prom’ takes its last lap at the velodrome

By EVAN FROST Minnesota Public Radio News
BLAINE, Minn. (AP) — As of recently, “bike prom” is no more. Cyclists from across the country flocked to the National Sports Center Velodrome for the last Fixed Gear Classic tournament and a chance to ride one of only three outdoor wooden tracks in the country.
Thirty years of Minnesota winters have taken their toll and the velodrome is set to close at the end of the year.
“The track got old, that’s the problem,” director Bob Williams said. “We can’t stay ahead of the repairs.”
The German-designed track was built in 1990 to host the Olympic Festival and the national championships. The turns are banked at 43 degrees and the straightaways at 15. Forty-two miles of African Afzelia wood make up the surface of the only outdoor, wood-planked velodrome in the western hemisphere, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.
For most of the last decade, the Fixed Gear Classic has been a summer staple at the velodrome. The invitational tournament draws some of the country’s best cyclists for two days of racing and camaraderie.
“This is it. This is the bike prom,” coach and tournament organizer Linsey Hamilton said. The track and the community are a core piece of her identity. The sensation of flying down the track is an experience every rider can bond over.
“It’s like having a name spelled you know weird,” Hamilton said. “And you find somebody with your same name and you go, ‘oh my gosh, we have this thing in common and we’ve never met but we can talk about it.'”
Cyclists bond over the intensity of the sport. The fastest racers can go upwards of 40-miles-per-hour in sprint races. But the track isn’t just for the ultra fast. Hamilton founded the VeloKids program, which teaches kids ages 9-12 to safely race the track in a four-week summer camp.
Athletes who got their start on the NSC Velodrome have gone on to race around the world. Last year, then 17-year-old Peter Moore of St. Paul was named to the USA Junior World Championship team.
Over three decades of racing on the track, one rider hasn’t missed a season. Mark Stewart wore the number 30 this year in honor of years he’s attended. He came out to watch the track being built and took a class as soon as he could. Since then, he’s watched hundreds of riders fall in love with the sport and the community.
“The Velodrome has put a spark in a lot of kids I think, and they get excited about cycling and then hopefully they continue to do it as a lifetime sport,” Stewart said. “Seeing that possibility go away is just really disappointing and a huge loss for the state.”
Over the years, the community has raised money to fund continual maintenance of the track, but the National Sports Center has decided to end its run. The land will be used as a green space by the Spring Lake Park school district.
Efforts to fund a proposed Minnesota Cycling Center with an indoor track and multi-purpose community event center closer to the metro have yet to yield any results.
The 2019 season will extend into the fall, with races every Thursday night.
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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

Savage fire chief resigns after 3 months on the job

SAVAGE, Minn. (AP) — Savage Fire Chief Andrain Roach has resigned after only three months on the job.
The Star Tribune reports Roach cited what he called unrealistic expectations from city leaders and a general lack of support that hindered efforts to modernize the department.
Roach says in his resignation letter that inadequate staffing levels citywide — paired with round-the-clock demands — have taken a “mental, physical and emotional toll.”
The Savage City Council accepted Roach’s resignation at Monday night’s meeting without discussion. Deputy Fire Chief Andrew Slama was tapped to replace him as interim chief.
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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

Wisconsin leads nation in family farm bankruptcies

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Wisconsin continues to top the nation in family farm bankruptcies.
The American Farm Bureau Federation says that July 2018 through June 2019, Wisconsin farmers filed 45 Chapter 12 bankruptcies. Data show the total was five fewer than the previous 12-month period but still No. 1 in the nation.
In Minnesota, bankruptcy filings increased by 11, to 31.
North Dakota had nine filings, up one from the previous period. South Dakota increased by 12, to 13.
The Journal Sentinel reports that with depressed milk prices besetting Wisconsin’s thousands of dairy operations, the state has led the country in farm bankruptcies in recent years.
Ronald Wirtz, regional outreach director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, also has pointed to Wisconsin’s smaller average farm size as a factor.
, according to the Farm Bureau, which used U.S. Courts data to compile the report.
From July 2018 through June 2019, Wisconsin farmers filed 45 bankruptcies under Chapter 12, a section of the U.S. bankruptcy code that provides financially troubled family farmers with a streamlined path to repay all or part of their debts.
The Wisconsin total was five fewer than the previous 12-month period, according to the Farm Bureau, which used U.S. Courts data to compile the report.
Kansas, meanwhile, saw Chapter 12 filings increase by 13, to 39. In Minnesota, filings increased by 11, to 31.
With depressed milk prices besetting Wisconsin’s thousands of dairy operations, the state has led the country in farm bankruptcies in recent years. Ronald Wirtz, regional outreach director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, also has pointed to Wisconsin’s smaller average farm size as a factor.
Wisconsin also has lots of farms — the 11th highest total in the nation, data from the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture shows. Even accounting for the relatively large number of farms here, however, Wisconsin’s farm bankruptcy rate is among the highest in the country.
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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

Reports say stolen Hy-Vee account information being sold

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa-based grocery chain says it’s aware of reports that hacked customer account information is being sold online.
The Des Moines Register was the first to report that credit and debit card information of some Hy-Vee customers is being sold on an internet site for $17 to $35 apiece.
Hy-Vee issued a statement to station KCCI saying it is aware of reports of the stolen information being sold and is working with payment card networks to identify the cards and work with issuing banks.
Hy-Vee acknowledge earlier this month that it detected unauthorized activity on some of its payment processing systems linked to card payments at Hy-Vee restaurants, fuel pumps and drive-thru coffee shops. The company doesn’t believe the breach extended to payments systems used inside its grocery stores, drugstores and convenience stores.
Hy-Vee operates more than 240 retail stores across Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

Son of ex-NFL player accused of murdering parents arrested

The Associated Press
LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Authorities say the son of a former NFL lineman wanted on murder charges in Minnesota for the shooting of his parents was arrested Saturday in Mexico.
The Todd County Sheriff’s Office says 22-year-old Dylan John Bennett was arrested on second degree murder charges at a hotel Saturday in Cancun.
Authorities say Bennett had contacted County Sheriff Steve Och earlier in the day to say that he would turn himself in to the FBI. But a sheriff’s office statement said the arrest by Mexican authorities came before the information could be communicated to them.
“The FBI is taking him into custody now and will transport him to Minnesota in the coming days,” the statement said.
The bodies of 63-year-old Barry Bennett and his wife, Carol, were found Wednesday at their home in Long Prairie, a town of about 3,500 people 124 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of Minneapolis. Their deaths were ruled homicide from gunshots.
A criminal complaint says Dylan Bennett’s car was at the scene with an empty box for a 9 mm handgun inside, along with ammunition.
Investigators believe the Bennetts were killed Monday. The complaint said Carol Bennett, who would’ve been 64 on Thursday, was shot multiple times in the back and torso. Barry Bennett, 63, was shot multiple times in the torso and head.
According to the criminal complaint, Barry Bennett told the Todd County Sheriff’s Office in December that Dylan had expressed thoughts about killing his parents while he was in a mental health treatment facility.
The criminal complaint outlines how authorities tracked the family in recent days.
Barry Bennett was seen Monday in Long Prairie at about noon. Earlier Monday, Dylan Bennett was seen driving his car during a bank transaction in which a large sum of cash was withdrawn from the Bennetts’ account, the complaint said.
Carol Bennett’s credit and debit cards were used in Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Her car was found in Columbus, Ohio. Dylan Bennett had a plane ticket for a flight from Columbus to Cancun.
Barry Bennett played 11 seasons with the New Orleans Saints, the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings.
The Star Tribune reported Bennett had retired from teaching physical education in Long Prairie. Superintendent Jon Kringen said Bennett rarely talked about his NFL career unless someone asked.

No Sherburne County expansion for immigration holds

ELK RIVER, Minn. (AP) — Sherburne County’s jail won’t be expanding to take more immigration detainees.
The county earlier this year submitted a proposal to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold an estimated 500 immigration detainees.
County Commissioner Felix Schmiesing tells the St. Cloud Times the county’s proposal didn’t meet the criteria. But ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer also tells the Times that ICE’s request for proposals was withdrawn.
Schmiesing said Sherburne County’s jail, the state’s second-larger, will continue to contract with ICE under its current arrangement for around 300 beds a day.
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Information from: St. Cloud Times, http://www.sctimes.com

Some call for expanded lifeguarding on Duluth’s beaches

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — The ever-present danger of rip currents in Lake Superior has some people in Duluth calling for more to be done to improve public safety.
Retired police officer Dennis Hoelscher tells Minnesota Public Radio News that lifeguard services need to be improved.
Lifeguards don’t work on “red flag” days that have high risk of rip currents. Hoelscher and others think guards should work on those days, work longer hours in general, work more beaches and be trained to work in big waves.
The Duluth YMCA, which runs the lifeguard program on Park Point, says posting lifeguards misleads people to think it’s safe. And expanding services is difficult in what is currently mostly a break-even arrangement.
MPR reports communities across the Great Lakes struggle with how to pay for lifeguards.
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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

Son charged in death of ex-NFL lineman Bennett, wife

LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — The son of former NFL lineman Barry Bennett is accused of shooting Bennett and his wife multiple times, killing them, then driving out of state and boarding a flight to Mexico, according to criminal charges filed Friday.
Authorities issued an arrest warrant and were searching for Dylan Bennett, 22, who is charged with two counts of second-degree murder, without premeditation, in connection with the deaths of his parents, Barry and Carol Bennett.
Their bodies were found Wednesday in their home near Long Prairie, a small town about two hours northwest of Minneapolis.
Authorities believe the Bennetts were killed Monday. The complaint said Carol Bennett, who would’ve been 64 on Thursday, was shot multiple times in the back and torso. Barry Bennett, 63, was shot multiple times in the torso and head.
Dylan Bennett’s car was found at the home, with an empty box for a 9mm handgun and a box for ammunition inside. Carol Bennett’s car was missing.
According to the criminal complaint, Barry Bennett told the Todd County Sheriff’s Office in December that Dylan had expressed thoughts about killing his parents while he was in a mental health treatment facility.
The criminal complaint outlines how authorities tracked Dylan Bennett’s movements in recent days.
Barry Bennett was seen Monday in the city of Long Prairie at about noon; earlier Monday, Dylan Bennett was seen driving his car during a bank transaction in which a large sum of cash was withdrawn from the Bennetts’ account, the complaint said.
Carol Bennett’s credit and debit cards were used in Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Her car was found in Columbus, Ohio; Dylan Bennett had a plane ticket for a flight from Columbus to Cancun, Mexico.
Authorities believe Dylan Bennett was in Mexico on Thursday, based on phone usage.
Barry Bennett played 11 seasons with New Orleans, the New York Jets and Minnesota.
The Star Tribune reported Bennett had retired from teaching physical education in Long Prairie, a town of about 3,500 people. Superintendent Jon Kringen said Bennett rarely talked about his NFL career unless someone asked.

Minneapolis City Council OKs settlement in police shooting

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minneapolis City Council has approved a $200,000 settlement for the family of a black man who was killed by police in 2015.
Jamar Clark’s death during a struggle with two white officers led to weeks of protests outside a nearby police station. Prosecutors declined to seek criminal charges and the department did not discipline the officers.
The council previously rejected an unspecified five-figure settlement because it was too low. That vote came the same day the group approved a $20 million settlement with the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a white, Australian-born woman who was fatally shot by a black police officer in 2017. The officer, Mohammed Noor, was convicted on two counts and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Council members declined to comment after Friday’s 15-minute meeting.

Republican launches Minnesota Senate bid, slams ‘resistance’

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (AP) — Republican Jason Lewis jumped into Minnesota’s Senate race Thursday, using a YouTube video and State Fair appearance to make it clear that he’ll try to tie Democratic incumbent Tina Smith to the state’s freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar and the so-called resistance to President Donald Trump.
Lewis, a former conservative talk radio host who lost his House re-election bid in 2018, declared that he’s all in for Trump as he went hard at the nation’s current political and cultural divisions. He portrayed Omar and other members of the “squad” of four liberal House newcomers — all women of color whom Trump has labeled as the face of the Democratic Party — as a threat to Americans’ right to life, liberty and property.
“The state of Minnesota is not interested in following the ‘squad’ off the rails,” Lewis said. “They’re interested in keeping our prosperity going, keeping our Constitution intact and making certain that all of you have a future.”
Lewis repeatedly attacked the “squad” but mentioned them by name only once in his speech. However, he pointedly singled out Omar in a YouTube video posted shortly before his speech.
“Indeed, the so-called resistance, led by our own Ilhan Omar, with Tina Smith marching in lockstep, seem unaware of our founders’ genius in the Constitution,” Lewis said in in the video. “Instead, they want to debate whether we ought to even keep it.”
State and national Democrats rushed to attack Lewis. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said Lewis will “have to explain the disgusting comments surfaced from his right-wing radio days attacking and disparaging women, minorities, the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities.”
He once asked on the air, “Are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can’t call her a slut?” And he once mused: “Call me a Neanderthal … but we’ve rushed to this judgment that growing up with two mommies is a wonderful experience. I don’t know, maybe it’s not so wonderful.”
Lewis, who styled himself as “Mr. Right,” narrowly won election to a suburban-rural congressional seat in 2016 over Democrat Angie Craig, by less than 2 percentage points in a year when Trump carried the district by just over 1 point. In their 2018 rematch, Craig ousted Lewis by nearly 6 points amid a suburban surge for Democrats across the country that flipped the House to Democratic control.
While Lewis’ “two mommies” was offensive to Craig, a married lesbian mother of four sons, she made relatively little mention of it during the 2018 campaign, when she kept her focus on health care and Lewis’s strong support for Trump.
Lewis spoke in front of a sign in the Minnesota GOP booth at the State Fair that read: “Trump 2020. Keep America Great.” He said the Trump campaign is “dead serious” about trying to win Minnesota in 2020, noting that Trump came within about 44,000 votes of doing so in 2016. Lewis said he and Trump will use a similar geographic strategy.
Lewis told reporters he intends to “outperform” in greater Minnesota — the portion outside the Twin Cities area — which he noted has been trending increasingly Republican in recent elections. He said that will offset Democratic strength in the cities and suburbs. And he said a key to that will be northeastern Minnesota, including the once reliably Democratic Iron Range, where Lewis predicted issues such as mining, oil pipelines and logging will give Republicans the advantage.
Smith was lieutenant governor when she was appointed to the seat in January 2018 after Democrat Al Franken resigned over sexual misconduct allegations. She retained the seat in a special election that November and is now running for her own six-year term.
Smith, who also campaigned at the State Fair as it opened Thursday, said she’ll highlight their differences.
“Jason Lewis supported the Republican tax bill that gave giant tax cuts to big corporations and the richest among us, and I wouldn’t have supported that,” Smith told Minnesota Public Radio. “He voted to repeal the basic consumer protections that are in the Affordable Care Act. I’m opposed to that. So there are big differences. But … right now I’ve got 15 months to focus on being the very best senator that I can be and really fighting for Minnesotans, and that’s where my heart and mind is right now.”
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Associated Press writer Doug Glass contributed.