ROCKVILLE (AP) -- Residents in Rockville, Rockville Township and Pleasant Lake voted Monday to merge their communities on June 1.
The combined vote was 656 to 124. The areas registered 82 new voters during the election.
Leaders in the communities, about 10 miles southwest of St. Cloud, touted the change as a cost-saving move.
The combined community will have about 2,500 people.
In the next two weeks, the three communities will each hold one last government meeting before a 12-member interim government takes over.
That interim government will be made up of four officials from each area and will serve until January 2004 when a new, six-person council and a mayor are seated.
Residents of the combined city will elect their first council in November 2003.
Ventura signs sparkler bill
ST. PAUL (AP) -- For the first time since 1941, it's legal to light a sparkler in Minnesota.
Gov. Jesse Ventura on Monday signed a bill allowing adults to buy and use novelty fireworks. The law kicks in immediately, but the items still can't be used on public property.
With Ventura's signature, Minnesota joined 41 other states that allow at least sparklers.
Grand jury investigating Hutchinson house fire
GLENCOE (AP) -- A McLeod County grand jury convened Tuesday to investigate the Hutchinson house fire that killed three boys in October, Fire Chief Brad Emans said.
Emans said a decision on whether to indict anyone is expected in a few days.
The boys were staying for a sleepover birthday party for Aaron Pulkrabek when the fire broke out early on Oct. 5. Aaron, who had just turned 11, was killed, along with 10-year-olds Adam Robinson and Andrew Colemer.
Authorities believe a candle that was left unattended may have started the fire.
WCCO-TV of Minneapolis first reported on Monday that the grand jury would convene. The station said the jury would investigate whether negligence led to the fire and the boys' deaths.
The boys had been home alone. Aaron's mother, Rebecca Stock, was shopping at a Wal-Mart store at the time of the blaze. Upon her return, she saw the fire and had to be restrained from entering the home, fire officials said.
Baseball wants documents closed
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Major league baseball has asked the Minnesota Twins to resist attempts by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission to gain access to bank loan documents.
The commission, which operates the Metrodome, has requested documents about the loans as part of its lawsuit against the league and the Twins. It also wants documents related to baseball's plans to eliminate teams, including the Twins.
Frustrated by the slow pace of the disclosures, commission lawyers on Tuesday asked Hennepin County District Judge Harry Crump to order the release of all the documents this week.
Dayton puts hold on Air National Guard director
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- A Minnesota senator has moved to block Senate confirmation of Maj. Gen. Daniel James III as the first black director of the Air National Guard.
U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., said he wants the Air National Guard to keep a promise it made to upgrade F-16s at the Duluth base.
Twin Cities' Red Cross chapters are in the red
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Red Cross chapters in Minneapolis and St. Paul are in the red, even after raising millions of dollars for Sept. 11 disaster relief.
Red Cross officials in Minneapolis are facing a $500,000 shortfall for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
As a result, they intend to cut six jobs and reduce hours at branch locations in Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids, Eden Prairie and Shakopee.
Accused clergy remain at St. John's Abbey
COLLEGEVILLE (AP) -- Between 13 and 15 monks or priests live and work under restrictions at St. John's Abbey after being accused of or admitting to sexual abuse, the abbot for the monastery said.
The number represents about 7 percent of the 196 monks and priests affiliated with the monastery and nearby St. John's University, a preparatory school and a religious press.
Restrictions vary for the men, but they include keeping them off college or prep school grounds and out of university athletic facilities.
Abbot John Klassen, who has led the monastery in central Minnesota for 17 months, said he has been reviewing abuse allegations and wants to "clear the decks."
He didn't offer a precise number of clergy who are restricted, in part because the types of cases vary. Klassen said the alleged victims were mostly boys ranging in age from 12 to 17, in incidents that took place in the 1970s.
Anoka-Hennepin teachers say it's OK to strike
BLAINE (AP) -- Teachers in the Anoka-Hennepin School District voted to give union leaders authority to call a strike if contract talks remain bogged down.
The step, approved by 93 percent of the teachers who voted Tuesday night, doesn't mean a strike is immediate or inevitable. A strike, if it happens, wouldn't take place until fall.
Study finds fringe suburbs less safe than expected
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Residents of counties on the fringe of the Twin Cities metro area are less safe than people living in the central cities, although it's a different kind of danger, according to a new study.
When traffic deaths and homicides by strangers are combined, residents in eight fringe counties are at greater risk than those in either central city, according to research by University of Virginia professor William H. Lucy.
Mayors urge state lawmakers to raise gas tax
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Mayors of eight of Minnesota's largest cities on Tuesday urged legislators to raise the state gasoline tax by 5 cents a gallon.
The group led by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly and Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead also asked lawmakers to allocate more money for transportation improvements.
"We have come together as mayors because transportation systems are so critical to the well-being and growth of Minnesota cities," Rybak said.
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