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Local/state briefs

Volunteer at Pipestone National Monument on National Public Lands Day

Join the staff for a national day of service and volunteerism at Pipestone National Monument. Protecting the tallgrass prairie is a constant battle at Pipestone National Monument as non-native plants take every opportunity to get their roots in the dirt. Come out to the park from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, and help the park’s staff collect native prairie seed that we will replant in the spring. No prior experience is required; the staff will show you what to do.

Volunteers should meet at the Visitor Center at 8:45 a.m. No advanced registration is necessary, and supplies will be provided. Volunteers are advised to dress for the outdoors, wear sturdy shoes for walking in the prairie, and be mindful of social distancing. In the event of rain on Sept. 26, the collection of seeds will be postponed until Oct. 3.

Volunteers who participate will receive a token of thanks for their hard work after the event. The Friends of Pipestone National Monument will be providing refreshments (grab-and-go style) for the volunteers after the seed collection.

All National Park Service sites, including Pipestone National Monument, will offer free entrance on Saturday, Sept. 26 for National Public Lands Day. National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands. Seven federal agencies as well as nonprofit organizations and state, regional, and local governments participate in the annual day of improving the health of public lands and encouraging shared stewardship through volunteer service.

Fire breaks out at house where homicide just occurred

ST. PAUL. (AP) — St. Paul police were called back to a house that was on fire shortly after they had investigated a homicide at the residence.

An adult male had suffered a gunshot wound at the house in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood Saturday afternoon. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators were wrapping up work at the scene about 9:20 a.m. Sunday. The police tape was taken down and officers left the house. About 11 a.m. police and firefighters responded to the same home after witnesses reported a fire, KARE-TV reported. Sgt. Mike Ernster said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Police arrested a Red Wing man in the fatal shooting. A woman accused of helping him was also arrested.

And, officers arrested the owner of the home, a 37-year-old man, who refused commands to stay behind the crime tape and walked into the scene under investigation.

There have been about 170 police calls to the residence this year, Ernster said.

Deaths of mother, toddler in Rochester investigated

ROCHESTER (AP) — Police are investigating the deaths of a young mother and her 2-year-old daughter as homicides.

Family members hadn’t heard from the 23-year-old woman for several days and called police to check on her, according to authorities.

Officers found both mother and child dead from traumatic injuries Sunday afternoon, KTTC-TV reported. Police were not specific about those injuries.

The Southern Regional Medical Examiner’s Office will perform autopsies to determine the cause and manor of death. Investigators say it appears the crime was an isolated incident. They are looking for the person or people responsible.

MPR reporter quits over handling of sex misconduct reporting

ST. PAUL (AP) — An arts reporter at Minnesota Public Radio News announced her resignation Monday, accusing management of dragging their feet on a potential story about a male employee at a sister station accused of sexual misconduct.

“My editors have failed to move forward on the story” after months of reporting, Marianne Combs said in a resignation letter she posted on Twitter. She did not name the man facing the accusations.

“I gathered testimony from eight women who say that he sexually manipulated and psychologically abused them,” Combs said. “Their experiences span 15 years and describe a man who preyed on younger, sexually inexperienced women.”

MPR President Duchesne Drew said in a Monday statement to The Associated Press the editors decided the story was not ready to run because it does not meet the company’s journalistic standards. Editors were surprised by Combs’ resignation and expected that she was continuing to work on the story, Drew said.

Combs said MPR News’ legal team cleared her story, but the editors refused to air it because of concern “that airing a story about his behavior would invite a lawsuit.”

Combs was named journalist of the year by the Society of Professional Journalists in June for her coverage of sexual abuse cases at Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis.

Crews locate missing plane in water-filled quarry

GREY CLOUD ISLAND TOWNSHIP (AP) — Recovery crews have located a missing airplane in a water-filled quarry near the Mississippi River on Grey Cloud Island in south Washington County, the local sheriff said Monday.

Three people were in the small single-engine Cessna aircraft when it left Fleming Field in South St. Paul sometime after 2 p.m. Sunday, officials said. Authorities were notified that the plane was missing late Sunday night, said Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry.

The first signs of wreckage were found around 11 p.m. Sunday.

Crews will be working to recover the plane from the water, Starry said.

The wreckage is in a quarry lake that is “really deep,” Starry said during a press conference near the site. “It’s over 70 feet down. It’s a big area to cover.”

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