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Local/state briefs

Crews searching river in Redwood Falls for teen

REDWOOD FALLS (AP) — The search is resuming for a teenager who authorities say was swept away while swimming in a Redwood County river.

Redwood Falls police said 16-year-old Thunder Wambade Brothersofall was swimming with several other juveniles in the Redwood River Sunday when he was caught in a current and swept away about 6 p.m.

Crews began searching the river and sent up a drone and a plane from the State Patrol but could not locate the teen. The search resumed Monday morning.

Police say the Redwood River is high and the water is moving very fast. They’re encouraging the public to stay away from the river banks near Ramsey Park.

28 years in prison for producing, distributing child porn

ST. PAUL (AP) — A Minnesota man has been sentenced to 28 years in federal prison for producing and distributing child pornography.

Thirty-seven-year-old Nicholas Campbell, of Otsego, was also given 25 years of supervised released during sentencing last week in federal court in St. Paul.

Prosecutors said FBI agents seized a large volume of electronic evidence from Campbell’s home showing that he had produced sexually explicit images and videos of two children.

The Star Tribune reported Campbell then used a peer-to-peer file-sharing platform to digitally distribute the images.

Suspect charged in fire that destroyed Minnesota synagogue

DULUTH (AP) — Prosecutors on Monday charged a homeless man with causing a fire that destroyed a historic synagogue in northeastern Minnesota.

Matthew James Amiot, 36, is charged with two counts of setting a negligent fire. A judge set his bail at $20,000 and Amiot remained in jail.

Amiot was arrested Friday in the Sept. 9 fire at the Adas Israel Congregation in downtown Duluth. The police chief said Sunday that he didn’t believe the fire was a hate crime.

In the criminal complaint, investigators allege that Amiot set fire to combustible materials in a small alcove between the synagogue and a religious structure called a sukkah. Amiot told investigators he tried to spit on the fire and walked away when it would not go out, the complaint states.

The synagogue was destroyed and only eight of 14 Torah scrolls, the holy books of Judaism, that were inside could be saved. The lost religious antiquities in the synagogue were worth at least $250,000, according to the complaint.

One firefighter suffered a concussion fighting the blaze.

Amiot’s public defender, Natasha VanLieshout, said in court that Amiot denies the allegations and that he “was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” the Star Tribune reported.

The suspect’s brother, Ben Amiot, told KARE-TV that Matthew Amiot has been homeless for years and was trying to stay warm when the fire started.

“He’s not the type of person to do this intentionally,” Ben Amiot said. “He was trying to get out of the elements on a cold windy and rainy night in a shed behind the building. I feel that the fire started uncontrollably and he panicked and took off instead of alerting authorities.”

Investigators said no accelerants were found.

In addition to the felony charge of setting a negligent fire, the defendant faces a gross misdemeanor count of causing a fire that injured someone.

Prosecutor Vicky Wanta told The Associated Press on Monday that she could not comment because the investigation is still active.

Tusken said police previously have had “multiple contacts” with Amiot, who is due back in court Oct. 8.

According to its website, the Adas Israel Congregation is an Orthodox/High Conservative Jewish congregation with 75 members. Construction of the synagogue was completed in 1902.

Walz signs order creating Governor’s Biofuels Council

PLATO (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz is setting up a council to advise him on how to foster the growth of Minnesota’s biofuels industry.

The Governor’s Biofuels Council will have 15 members, including representatives of the agriculture, biofuels and transportation industries, as well as environmental and conservation groups. The council will report back by November 2020 on how to best expand the use of biofuels and how to use them to help reduce greenhouse gas production in the transportation sector.

The Democratic governor traveled to the south-central town of Plato to sign the order Monday at the farm of Bruce Thalmann, president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

Earlier this month, Walz joined with Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota in urging President Donald Trump to support farmers and renewable fuel producers.

Fort Snelling State Park reopening for 1st time since March

ST. PAUL (AP) — Fort Snelling State Park is finally reopening after a long shutdown for repairing damage caused by flooding this spring.

The park sits at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers near Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and is normally one of Minnesota’s busiest state parks. It reopens at 8 a.m. today after having been closed since March.

While the park is subject to frequent flooding, it had never before been closed to the public for so long due to flood damage.

Rising rivers from a hefty winter snowpack and heavy spring rains caused substantial damage to buildings, roads, and the main water supply line at the park. Extensive road improvements have been completed and the drinking water supply has been restored.

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