A local half-cent sales and use tax generated almost a third less revenue for some central Minnesota cities than expected during its first six months.
From January to June, the tax generated $2.2 million -- nearly $900,000 less than predicted. If the trends hold, St. Augusta, St. Cloud, Sartell and Sauk Rapids would have almost $1.8 million less to spend than they had hoped.
The trickling revenue is not an immediate problem for those cities, but it could force them to scale back or call off projects. An accurate picture of the tax's success won't be available until after the first year is complete.
Initial theories about the shortfall point toward a struggling local economy and initial collection difficulties.
Foundation gets help
As many foundations are trying to scrape together anything they can get, the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation has received good news.
The group received a four-year, $5.2 million grant last week from the McKnight Foundation. The grant is being made by Twin Cities-based McKnight to help the group support its work to build stronger communities and businesses in the 20 southern Minnesota counties it serves.
"Obviously the McKnight Foundation recognizes all that the Initiative Foundation does for our 20-county area," said Bob Wallace, Initiative Foundation board member and president of the Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce. "Giving this grant over the next four years reaffirms the confidence McKnight has in the good work the Initiative does."
For nearly 20 years, McKnight has provided $30.3 million in grants to the Initiative Foundation, based in Owatonna.
Fargo beet truck driver hijacked at knife-point
A man with a knife hijacked a sugar beet truck, threatened the driver and collided with another truck before other drivers apprehended him early Thursday, authorities said in Moorhead.
"It's the first beet truck hijacking I've ever heard of," Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist said.
Mandy Fulsebakke, of Fargo, said she was driving a beet truck into a field at a beet piling station north of Moorhead about 5:30 a.m., when the hijacker approached.
"A man pulled in behind me," Fulsebakke told Fargo's KFGO-AM radio. "As I was getting out of my truck, he got out of his car, came up to me and started asking me some really bizarre questions.
"He showed me that he had a knife, ordered me back to my truck and told me to drive," Fulsebakke said.
The hijacker choked her and threatened to kill her, she said.
"He had the knife held against my head and neck," she said.
Fulsebakke said she was able to signal to another driver and jump out of the truck. The other driver, Joe Thomassen, called for help.
Authorities said the hijacker continued on with the truck until he collided with another truck. The suspect and the other trucker were injured, but their injuries were not considered life-threatening.
Authorities said other truck drivers held the suspect until he was taken into custody.
Woman charged with murder in Hennepin County Government Center shooting
Susan Rae Berkovitz went to a court hearing Monday with the intention of killing her cousin and her cousin's lawyer using an antique revolver she purchased from a gun show, according to charges filed Wednesday.
Berkovitz, 52, of St. Paul, was arrested without incident shortly after the fatal shooting of Shelley Joseph-Kordell, 56, of Minnetonka, and the wounding of attorney Richard Hendrickson, 53, of Crystal.
Prosecutors charged Berkovitz with one count of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree attempted murder Wednesday in the shooting at the Hennepin County Government Center.
Berkovitz was in the county jail in lieu of $2 million bail.
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