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employment news

3 signs you’re suffering from WFH burn out

At this moment in history, it’s hard to argue against the notion that the entire work world, across all industries and sectors, is at a real inflection point due to a variety of disruptive forces—including a global pandemic that’s impacted every facet of life and a tidal wave of technological innovation that’s forcing a rapid evolution in how business is conducted on a global scale.

It’s no exaggeration to say that everyone in the professional universe—from business leaders at the vanguard of their industries to workers at all levels who staff their teams—have felt the brunt of these planet-shifting forces. History will likely divide the winners and losers by those who choose to remain vigilant, agile, and flexible in the face of uncertainty and those who remain static and stagnant.

Chief among the ways in which businesses and employees have had to pivot during the pandemic is the rapid (in many cases, literally overnight) transition to remote work. All of a sudden, companies from lean startups to gigantic multinational conglomerates had to move their entire businesses from offices to online, and employees had to quickly get comfortable with working from home.

For some, this adjustment was easy. In fact, many companies were starting to embrace the notion of telecommuting before the pandemic struck. For others, the switch has been more of a challenge. Simply put, not all work from home situations are created equal. Some folks have many more hurdles and distractions to contend with in order to remain productive—things like family members, young kids, ambient noise, and wi-fi speed are big factors in how successful the change has been received.

Also, not every employee has mentally adjusted to working from home. The truth is, some of us are more social creatures than others and crave the camaraderie and in-person interaction with our colleagues—and really feel its absence, despite the prevalence of available video conferencing tools. Many of us prefer having a clearer division between our professional and personal lives, and working from home has blurred that distinction to say the least.

All of this has led some folks to start wondering if they’re experiencing the early warning signs of WFH burnout. Are you among them? Take a close look at the following 3 work-from-home warning signs—if you can relate to any or all of these, then you might be experiencing some form of burnout.

Change in productivity

Often, a noticeable drop in productivity while working from home can signal a problem. When transitioning to working remotely, did you start off with the very best of intentions and dedication to handling your daily responsibilities but are now starting to see some cracks? Are coworkers taking notice and commenting about your drop in response time and work? Are projects that you’re involved in starting to suffer?

A noticeable diminishment of productivity over a sustained amount of time (most of us have the odd day or so of reduced efficiency, which is normal as long as you rebound) may signal that you’re in danger of burning out. On top of this, while working from home many of us are tasked with having greater oversight and monitoring power over our work tasks—so it may be up to you to diagnose and remedy the situation before it becomes a bigger problem.

Loss of focus

We’ve all come to realize that a key challenge in working from home is avoiding external distractions so you can properly focus on your daily tasks. But is that getting harder and harder as time goes by? Or worse, are you eagerly looking for more and more distractions or any other reasons to get away from work? Have your work hours and schedule started to shift drastically? Are you getting your workday started later and later, or are signing off for the day earlier and earlier? If you’re noticing any of these behavior patterns, it may mean that you’re on the road to burnout and need to address the issue head-on.

Craving colleague interaction

Many of us thrive in a collaborative setting that allows us to have face-to-face interaction with our coworkers—but some of us downright require it in order to be happy and successful at work. Is working from home starting to feel like a lonely solo enterprise? Do you find yourself looking for more and new reasons to get your colleagues on the phone, on a video conference call, or even in a text chat? If you find yourself desperate for increased levels of coworker interaction while working—to the point where it’s affecting your mood and ability to work—this may be a warning sign that work from home burnout is imminent.

Here’s the bottom line: for many of us, working from home has been an adjustment that comes with a few challenges. Are you worried that you’re starting to experience work from home burnout? If the behaviors covered here sound all-too-familiar, then it may be an issue worth addressing.

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employment news

5 HR skills everyone should have on their resume

As a human resources professional (or an aspiring one!), you can probably give all sorts of sage advice about what kinds of skills employers look for on a resume. But what about your resume? What HR skills should you be using to move your own resume and opportunities to the next level?

Benefits and compensation

Being able to recite, chapter and verse, what benefits your organization offers may seem like something you do in the normal course of your job. And while it may well be a part of your day to day, it’s also an important skill set that makes you valuable to any HR department, so call it out.

There’s more to it than simply knowing what your organization does. What other systems and tech are companies using to manage employee benefits? Are there any big developments on the horizon? Specific expertise or certification on common industry programs are a good point to list on your resume, even if your organization doesn’t use them (yet). It makes you a go-to expert on internal issues relating to benefits and compensation, and shows that you’re thinking beyond what’s in front of you.

Talent acquisition and recruiting

Even if you think of yourself as more of a generalist, recruiting is a hot topic for future employers. Hiring is getting more and more complex, and those who can navigate (and innovate) the process are in high demand. Being up on the latest sourcing trends and tech is essential for any HR professional, even if it’s not really in your everyday work. Flexible expertise makes you more marketable on the job market. It also makes you more essential where you are, come evaluation and promotion time.

TA and recruiting expertise also builds and showcases leadership. Aspects of the process like implementing processes, negotiation, and candidate evaluation show that you can apply your skills with confidence, and aren’t afraid of big projects that require a host of other skills to manage.

Data analytics

Data, data, data. Right now, it’s what every organization, in every field, is harvesting to make essential decisions about products and services, customer service, and workforce building. It’s a language that every HR professional will need to speak. If you can show fluency now, that’s a huge plus on your resume. Data analytics influence so many aspects of HR, and your organization in general: strategy, resource allocation, and executive decision-making all depend on it.

The most valuable professionals will be the ones who can read reports and system outputs and see real-world applications. You don’t need to sound like an IT expert, but being able to make connections between basic data points to spot trends, make predictions, and evaluate how things are working is a skill that hiring organizations want to see.

Diversity and inclusion

Inclusivity is no longer something that organizations can ignore. The world is diverse, and bringing that diversity in perspectives and cultures to the workplace is an asset for any organization that commits to it. Many organizations have it as a goal but don’t always have the strategy for getting there. That’s where the skills of HR professionals come in. If you’ve worked on diversity initiatives, developing inclusive hiring processes or creating more diverse culture within the existing organization, this is absolutely a skill you should showcase on your resume—and be prepared to discuss.

Specific certifications

It’s no secret that a few letter combos trailing a name means instant credibility. Having Human Resources certification by industry groups like SHRM can boost your resume instantly. If you take courses and certification programs, you’ll make sure that you’re always growing and building the skills you need.

You already know what makes a great resume, because it’s literally your job to know. But sometimes it can be easier to evaluate others’ resumes than to make sure our own are hitting those same high notes. If you’re looking to boost your HR career with a promotion or new job opportunity, make sure you’re giving your skills the spotlight they deserve.

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employment news

Finding the remote job of your dreams

Today’s job market is undergoing a dramatic evolution, a “perfect storm” resulting from a global pandemic that has upended the economic, social, and cultural guideposts in the United States and all over the world, as well as a wave of technological innovation that’s changing the way we engage and do business. Things are changing in the work world at breakneck speeds, and companies both large and small are trying to pivot accordingly in an effort to stay viable. Those that are able to stay agile and respond accordingly to external volatility will be best positioned to weather incoming storms and lead their industries into the future.

The same holds true for employees. Those who are able to weather incoming volatility, quickly adjust to new baseline concepts of “workplace normalcy,” and demonstrate value to current and future employers will be the ones to thrive—while the rest of the pack struggles to keep up.  

One significant change to the work world that has accelerated during the pandemic is the concept of remote work. All types of businesses, from lean startups with just a handful of employees to global corporate juggernauts, have quickly shifted to a telecommuting strategy to stay productive—and many employers have discovered that employees who are well-positioned to shift to remote work can be just as effective or even more so while working at home.

So, what does this mean moving forward? Although each business will make decisions regarding how and when to deploy a remote working strategy that best works for them, chances are that opportunities to work remotely will remain and even increase even when the effects of the pandemic recede. Companies have come to realize that technology has finally reached the point that allows them to achieve optimal efficiency with a remote strategy. This is often a win-win for employers and employees alike: companies can reduce the infrastructure costs that go along with maintaining a centralized hub, while workers have new flexibility regarding how and where they handle their job responsibilities and can often save time and money traditionally spent on commuting and working from an office. The result? A compelling and attractive approach to work for everyone involved.

If you’ve reached the point in your career journey where a remote position seems attractive to you, then consider the following strategies for finding your next dream job.

Assess your situation

Jobs and employees are like snowflakes—no two are ever exactly alike. Your specific situation and needs can weigh heavily into how a remote working situation can fit into your life. Variables such as available space to dedicate to work as well as the technology and tools at your disposal can really impact how well you can perform a job from home, as well as what types of jobs and responsibilities you can feasibly take on.

Do you live alone, or do you have a partner, roommates, children, or other family members around? You better believe that this can impact your focus and availability, as well as what you’re likely able to accomplish. Do you have other life commitments that could feasibly impact your at-home work schedule? Perhaps this means that a blended strategy that includes a mix of home and office work days is right for you.

What sort of remote employment structure best meets your current needs—freelance, part-time, or full-time? Are you looking for a traditional 9-5 schedule or something more flexible? The key here is that before diving head first into a remote work job hunt, take a step back and fully assess your situation in order to make informed choices that best fit your lifestyle. The last thing you want to do in a competitive job market is to waste time chasing jobs that are poor fits and potentially take on the wrong remote position that leads you to burn a bridge at a company that you would have otherwise enjoyed working at.

Search smart

Once you’ve clearly defined the right parameters for your remote job hunt, you’ll benefit from having a good roadmap for finding opportunities that fit your needs. This includes searching in the right industries and on the right sites in order to make effective use of your time and effort—and to help you find your remote work dream job.

To start off, some sectors of the work world are likely more open to remote work than others, like tech-focused companies—although the pandemic has gone a long way towards leveling this playing field across a wider swath of industries. That said, you’re more likely to find openings for jobs that can largely be performed on computers and phones.

When searching for a new position, you’ll find an abundance of targeted resources online—from job sites that focus on remote employment or allow you to use work-at-home flexibility as a filter, to social media groups based around telecommuting in which members share strategies and resources. Make sure to search out and take full advantage of what’s available. Also, make sure your profiles on LinkedIn and other job-focused sites highlight your desire and ability to work remotely, so when hiring personnel and potential employers search for you they’ll get a good idea of your value proposition.

Master the tools

Whatever type of work you decide to pursue, make sure you’re fully able to utilize the industry-standard tools that allow employees to work remotely, and make sure that your resume and profiles reflect this capability. Some of these tools are general across industries (things like the MS Office suite, for example) while others may be more specific to your target field (like Adobe Creative Cloud tools, for example).

Here’s the bottom line: before embarking on a job search, make sure you know the standard tools and practices used across your target industry and master them. If any of these are new to you, the good news is that there’s a nearly unlimited universe of helpful resources available online to help you master nearly any software or resource—all from home, of course.

Avoid pitfalls

Along your journey toward finding the remote job of your dreams—and after you achieve this goal—there are a wealth of pitfalls that could potentially derail you from your mission. For starters, make sure you respond promptly and appropriately to all incoming communication from potential employers. You wouldn’t believe how many candidates ruin their chances of getting hired for a remote position by taking too much time to respond to messages from potential employers or by sending poorly crafted responses that ignore the basics of good grammar. After all, if you’re that lackadaisical during the hiring process, how are you likely going to perform on the job when no one is watching? Also, be ready to move forward at any given moment.

Today’s work world moves faster than ever before, and if a potential employer who just reviewed your resume wants to jump on a quick Zoom video conference call to discuss the position, it’s in your best interest to be ready, willing, and able—and to handle the situation professionally and appropriately. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for the entire hiring process to be handled remotely these days. Just try to be flexible.

And if you’re lucky enough to land your dream position, be sure not to fall prey to taking advantage of the freedoms that remote work offers. Many employees allow external life distractions to distract and derail them from staying focused and on-task, and you’d better believe that your employer will take notice if you fail to meet expectations—and respond accordingly. Remember, working remotely requires a heightened level of self-discipline and responsibility, so make sure you’re up for the challenge.

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employment news

What to expect if your temporary furlough becomes permanent

There’s no doubt that we’re all currently living through a challenging moment with little precedent. Simply put, the coronavirus pandemic and its resulting impact have sent seismic shockwaves through every facet of society—and the work world has felt the full brunt of its impact since the beginning.

As a result, companies across all sectors and industries, from single-person operations to global corporate behemoths and everything in between, have been rocked by a range of economic, health, social, and cultural forces from all sides that is forcing nothing less than a widescale reimagining of how business gets done at all levels.

While some changes may turn out to be positive in the long run—existing business will discover ways to be more efficient than ever before and new innovative businesses will invariably spring up in the aftermath of the pandemic—it’s impossible to avoid the hard reality that millions of workers are currently facing. Layoffs and furloughs abound, and the work world continues to wade through a period of extreme volatility and uncertainty.

Those who have faced the unfortunate reality of being laid off from their jobs have somewhat of a clearer path forward. They know that their previous relationship with their former employers has permanently ended and they’re now tasked with forging ahead toward the next steps in their career journeys—whether that entails pursuing new jobs, starting new businesses, or something completely unexpected and different.

But if you’ve been furloughed or think you might be soon, you have a murkier path in front of you.

In basic terms, a furlough is broadly defined as a temporary employment leave, often due to economic hardship on the part of one’s employer. The timeframe of a furlough can vary widely, from a short and carefully predetermined term to a longer and less clear window for return, which can really put employees in an uncomfortable and anxiety-filled limbo between employment and unemployment. Furthermore, the conditions of a furlough can vary as well—things like benefits and insurance can be impacted based on the terms decided upon by businesses initiating the furlough process.  

Beyond these difficult truths regarding furloughs, there’s an even more unfortunate reality involved—many employees who get furloughed, particularly at a time with such extreme uncertainty as a global pandemic, will not be given the opportunity to return to their jobs. Many companies who temporarily furloughed employees in the hopes that conditions might improve will not have such luck, and many employees will eventually have to face the fact that they’re not coming back to work.

Although in the face of the pandemic it’s trickier than ever before to make accurate predictions regarding broad trends and directions for the future of the labor market, currently available data and statistical forecasting models paint a particularly grim picture. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 15 million American workers have been placed on furlough, a number that likely underestimates the full number of people who have been displaced from their jobs during the pandemic.

Although a furlough can indeed be a temporary situation, the lack of certainty can be stressful—and you certainly don’t want to be blindsided if the furlough turns into a permanent layoff. The University of Chicago recently released a report that projects that more than 40% of gross staffing reductions that were made during the pandemic will be permanent, which may mean that it’s a good idea to think ahead, know what to expect, and plan accordingly in the event that your temporary furlough becomes permanent.

A small bright spot when it comes to being furloughed is that thanks to the WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act, depending on the size and structure of the company you work for and your location you may be entitled to some helpful advance notice if it turns out that it might become permanent. Companies with more than 100 full-time employees who fall under this umbrella may be required to provide affected employees with 60 days advance notice of an impending large layoff. These employers are also required to give employees advance notice if they anticipate that their planned furlough period will last longer than six months.

Of course this doesn’t exactly make the situation easy, but a helpful heads up can enable you to effectively prepare for what’s next—including a possible new job. For more information on federal guidelines for your state, visit the Department of Labor’s website and connect to your state’s labor office.

If your temporary furlough becomes permanent, it may leave you with lingering questions regarding final compensation, whether or not you’re entitled to any additional vacation or bonus pay, and what this means for your insurance coverage and any additional benefits you may have retained during your furlough period.

Your company’s HR department should be able to answer all of your questions in detail based on your specific situation (including important questions regarding severance, COBRA for extended insurance coverage, etc.), but the bottom line is that the end of a furlough period and transition to a layoff will typically include the usual termination of employer support, benefits, and resources (but it also means that you’ll be eligible for the full spectrum of unemployment benefits offered in your state). That said, you may be able to negotiate with your soon-to-be-former employer to reach some arrangement for an extension of benefits, depending on your situation (and theirs). 

If you happen to have had a union-supported position, you may have certain protections built into your employment contract based on collective bargaining agreements reached between your union and employer—these might entitle you to helpful benefits when it comes to a furlough that eventually turns into a layoff. Your union rep is a great resource for helping you navigate this situation, if you eventually find yourself here.

Dealing with being furloughed from your job is never easy and having it transition to permanent unemployment only compounds the challenges you face. But knowing what to expect should this happen to you can help you effectively prepare for what comes next.

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Minnesota Headlines

Minnesota launches smartphone app to slow spread of COVID-19

By STEVE KARNOWSKI Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz and other Minnesota officials urged residents Monday to download a free app for their smartphones that will notify them if someone who’s been near them later tests positive for the coronavirus and will allow them to warn others anonymously if they test positive themselves.
Walz also said he plans to call a special legislative session to pass a relief package to help small businesses cope with the impacts of his moves last week to tighten restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, which included a four-week closure of restaurants and bars, except for takeout and delivery, and a similar shutdown of gyms and amateur sporting events.
“It’s absolutely critical that we get something quickly to these businesses, we get something that makes a material difference to them and bridges the gap until the federal government can do what they need to do,” the Democratic governor said.
Walz told reporters that he plans to announce details Tuesday, but that the proposals will include sales tax forgiveness for businesses that sell food and beverages; waiving state licensing fees; direct relief for individual workers; grants to provide food to health care workers, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities; a state tax credit for food donations by the hospitality industry; and lifting the expiration date on a state COVID-19 relief fund.
The governor said he’s been working on details with Democratic House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler and the business community. But he acknowledged that there was no deal yet, and that he had yet to consult with Republican leaders
Tarek Tomes, the state’s information technology commissioner, stressed that using the COVIDaware MN app is voluntary, and that the system contains ample privacy safeguards for those who opt in. It uses exposure notification technology developed by Google and Apple that is already being used under different names in around 20 other states and 35 countries around the world to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“If communities are willing to adopt the app, use it to report positive test results and follow health recommendations when notified of an exposure, this app can help us return to many of the activities we miss so much, and save lives,” Tomes said.
People can download the app from Apple’s App Store for iPhones or Google Play for Android phones. It uses Bluetooth technology to detect when a user has been within 6 feet (1.8 meters) of another user for 15 minutes, which is the federal definition of close contact. Anyone who tests positive will now be asked by contact tracers if they’re using the app. If they are, they’ll get a verification code to enter into the app that will trigger alerts to every other user who’s been that close to them in the preceding two weeks.
The app doesn’t tell a user to whom they were exposed, where or precisely when. But it then provides users information on how to get tested and how to keep themselves and people around them safe, including self-quarantining for 14 days.
Tomes said the system is based on anonymous keys, which are random numbers that change frequently. It does not use any information that would identify a user, nor does it share users’ identifying information with Apple, Google or the state. It does not use GPS or any other technology that would track a user’s location. The keys are deleted after two weeks.
The app will supplement the state’s contact tracing efforts and will flag exposures that are now difficult to trace because people often don’t know where or from whom they contracted the virus, said Kris Ehresmann, the infectious disease director at the Minnesota Department of Health. She said the department is working with universities that are eager to promote the app within their communities.
Virginia in August became the first state to launch the system. Colorado was the most recent before Minnesota. More than 1 million people in Colorado opted in within its first couple weeks, Tomes said. How useful it becomes in Minnesota will depend on how many people participate, but he said an Oxford University study found that an adoption rate as low as 15% could reduce the spread by about the same amount.
Penetration in some European counties quickly reached 20% to 35%, said Ramesh Raskar, founder of the PathCheck Foundation, a spinoff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is promoting the technology and helped develop the application for Minnesota.
The Minnesota Department of Health on Monday reported 24 more COVID-19 deaths and 6,353 new coronavirus infections, raising the totals for pandemic to 3,265 deaths and 276,500 cases. Monday’s numbers tend to be lower than in the rest of the week because of less testing on weekends. Ehresmann said she expects the state to top 300,000 cases around Thanksgiving. Minnesota hospitals were treating 1,778 people for COVID-19 as of Monday, including 364 in intensive care.
Also Monday, FightCovidMN — a partnership of the state’s hospitals, care systems, health plans and other groups — launched an edgy public service announcement campaign, “COVID-19 Isn’t Taking A Holiday,” to urge Minnesotans to mask up, keep their distance and fight community spread.
“We’re sure it’s good, but is Grandma’s pumpkin pie really to die for?” asks one of the spots.

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Minnesota Headlines

Army Corps of Engineers grants final federal Line 3 permit

By STEVE KARNOWSKI Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday approved the final federal permit for Enbridge Energy’s planned Line 3 crude oil pipeline replacement across northern Minnesota, bringing the project a step closer to construction.
In a release from its St. Paul office, the Corps said it determined the Line 3 project “is compliant with all federal laws and regulations.” Col. Karl Jansen, commander of the St. Paul District, said the decision followed “an exhaustive review” and extensive work with federal and state regulators, Native American tribes, environmental groups and Enbridge.
“I believe our decision is based on sound science and strikes the balance between protecting natural resources and allowing reasonable development,” Jansen said.
All that remains in the six-year-old process now is for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to issue a storm water construction permit to protect surface waters from runoff while it’s being built, and then for the independent Public Utilities Commission to give a final green light. The commission has already approved the project several times.
“These permits are yet another science-based approval for the project moving Line 3 closer to the start of construction,” Enbridge said in a statement. “Final state permits and authorizations are needed for work to begin before the end of 2020.”
Pipeline opponents, including environmental and tribal groups, are still suing and protesting to try to block the project, and an appeal by the state Commerce Department is pending. But there are no injunctions in place to prevent Enbridge, based in Calgary, Alberta, from beginning construction if it gets final approval from the PUC.
Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, an Indigenous-based environmental group, said the opponents will keep up the fight in court.
“We’re going to pursue justice. We’d like the system to work,” LaDuke said as she pulled in to view an Enbridge pipe yard in Backus. Construction preparations are well underway and workers are gathering in communities along the route, she said, raising a public health threat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Line 3 begins in Alberta and clips a corner of North Dakota before crossing Minnesota on its way to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge wants to replace the Minnesota section because it was built in the 1960s, and its increasing maintenance needs mean the company can run it at only half its original capacity. Replacement segments in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin are already complete.
Opponents say the pipeline threatens spills in pristine waters where Native Americans harvest wild rice and that the Canadian tar sands oil it would carry would aggravate climate change.
“Today’s decision is a gift by (President Donald) Trump to the oil industry and a slap in the face to the rest of us… We need a stay on construction of Line 3 so that Trump can’t rush this pipeline ahead while key legal challenges play out,” Andy Pearson, Midwest Tar Sands Coordinator at MN350, said in a statement.
Enbridge says the $2.6 billion replacement will provide a safer way to transport the oil to Midwest refineries while creating 4,200 construction jobs and generating millions of dollars in local spending and tax revenues.
Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s administration has faced criticism from both sides over its handling of the project. Twelve of 17 members of an MPCA advisory group on environmental justice issues resigned after the agency approved a major water quality permit for the project Nov. 12. The Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate ousted Walz’s commerce commissioner in September, after his agency appealed the PUC’s most recent approval of the project. The department contends Enbridge failed to meet a statutory requirement for producing a legally adequate long-range oil demand forecast.

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Minnesota Headlines

Minnesota chef’s stolen 2-ton custom barbecue smoker found

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota chef whose business has been suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic showed up to work to find his 2-ton custom-built barbecue smoker was stolen over the weekend — but was found Monday, thanks to a tip from a good Samaritan.
Thomas Boemer, chef and co-owner of Revival and Revival Smoked Meats, said the steel-and-aluminum smoker, which is roughly the size of an SUV, was stolen from the parking lot of his former Corner Table restaurant in south Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reported.
“It’s my most prized possession,” Boemer said. “It was a dream come true for me to get this smoker. To have this happen during all of this, it’s just too much. When I drove up and saw that it was gone, I just sat there. It’s gut-wrenching.”
The unit built by Georgia-based Lang BBQ Smokers can handle 80 racks of ribs, or 60 briskets or whole pigs. An attached charbroiler is used for oysters and sweet corn and a separate lower-temperature holding box can smoke 20 King salmon filets at a time. Boemer had planned to smoke hundreds of hams for Christmas.
“It’s the most fun thing there is for cooking,” said Boemer. “You drive up, park it, fill the neighborhood with the most amazing smells and people line up.”
On Monday afternoon, a good Samaritan filled Boemer’s heart with joy when they called the restaurant and said they saw the smoker parked in a Minneapolis alley. Boemer said he raced over and called the police, who later helped him hitch the slightly damaged smoker to his SUV.
“It was a joyous moment in the alley,” said Boemer, suggesting a reward may be in order for the good Samaritan. “I have to figure something out, big-time. And then reward the heck out of them.”

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North Dakota

Mule deer rebound continues in western North Dakota

BISMARCK (AP) — The North Dakota Game and Fish Department says a limited fall survey indicates another year of good mule deer fawn production in the western part of the state.
Biologists counted 2,116 mule deer in an aerial survey in October. That’s down from 2,218 last fall, but this year’s snowfall and poor ground conditions meant officials were able to survey only 18 of 24 study areas. This year’s ratio of 82 fawns per 100 does was similar to last year’s ratio of 84 per 100, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
“Overall, fawn production was good, which could lead to population growth depending on the severity of this winter,” Big Game Management Supervisor Bruce Stillings said.

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Hawaii Headlines

HPD halts virus units for alleged overtime abuse

HONOLULU (AP) — The Honolulu Police Department said it would cancel special coronavirus enforcement units after allegations of overtime abuse from its officers.

Department leaders were told that 59 officers on the coronavirus enforcement team had been flagged in an audit for overtime violations, according to an internal memo from Nov. 10. The memo said that officers worked a substantial amount of hours “in excess of explicit instructions,” Hawaii News Now reported Friday.

The enforcement of coronavirus violations will now be made by on-duty patrol officers.

At least 10 officers logged 200 or more hours of overtime over a five-week period. Records show that two officers recorded more than 300 hours of overtime from Sept. 27 to Oct. 31 — or about 60 hours of overtime each week.

Eight officers said they worked between 200 and 256 hours of overtime during the five-week span. Another 49 officers logged between 130 and 198 hours of overtime.

The memo said that officers are limited to 20 hours of overtime a week.

City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi said the amount of hours some officers submitted does not seem realistic.

“I mean how much can a person work after working their regular shift,” she said. “People get tired. Physically and mentally. And that’s when mistakes can be done.”

The unit’s responsibilities included checking in on quarantine violators and citing people for not wearing masks. The officers also responded to 911 complaints for potential coronavirus violations.

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Florida Headlines

Police: 3 injured in shooting at family gathering in Florida

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) — Three people were injured Sunday night when someone began shooting at a group gathered outside during a family gathering in Homestead, police said.
A police officer for the Miami-Dade County school system who was attending the party returned fire, news outlets reported. One man was airlifted to a trauma center, where he was reported to be in good condition. The other two were taken to Homestead Hospital.
The officer wasn’t injured, police said.
Investigators say the shooting happened around 9 p.m. Sunday.
Police said the gunman ran from the area. An investigation continues.