Nearly week of frigid temperatures for West
DENVER (AP) - A deep freeze gripping parts of the West and Midwest has cancelled Salvation Army bell ringing and holiday parties in Minnesota and forced much of the rest of the country to deal with unexpectedly cool temperatures.
The cold is expected to remain into next week, with lows dipping to minus 30 in parts of Montana and Wyoming.
Citrus growers in California's Central Valley said Wednesday that temperatures haven't dipped low enough to cause any damage. But they continue to take precautions.
The jet stream is much farther south than normal, allowing cold air from the Arctic to reach deeper into the country.
A new storm is expected to develop in New Mexico and west Texas on Thursday and move into Oklahoma and Missouri on Friday. Ice could develop and cause power outages.
MINNESOTA BUDGET FORECAST
Minn. budget forecast to set '14 session stage
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Forget the return of deep snow and cold temperatures. The big forecast Minnesota's political class is watching this week has to do with the state budget rather than the weather.
Governor Mark Dayton and the Legislature learn Thursday whether they'll have a projected surplus or deficit awaiting them when the 2014 session starts. Economic officials are delivering a comprehensive report on the state economy. It will go a long way toward calibrating expectations next year.
Minnesota tax collections have been running ahead of projections since the new fiscal year began in July. But this is the first detailed look that also includes spending trends.
By law, Minnesota's public schools get first crack at any surplus dollars reflected in the forecast because of state IOUs to them.
2 children unaccounted for after Minn. farmhouse fire
LUCAN, Minn. (AP) - Authorities say two children are unaccounted for after a farmhouse caught fire in the southwestern Minnesota town of Lucan.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says in a news release that two adults and several children were able to escape the two-story home without any injuries Wednesday.
A firefighter from the community of Vesta slipped on ice and sustained an injury while helping with the blaze, which was reported around 2:35 p.m. Wednesday. He was taken to a hospital in Redwood Falls.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The Department of Public Safety's State Fire Marshal Division is handling the investigation at the request of the Redwood County Sheriff's Department.
Lucan is about 22 miles east of Marshall.
Snowmobiler dies in Lake County crash
FINLAND, Minn. (AP) - A snowmobiler has died in a crash in Lake County.
Sheriff's officials say the crash happened Tuesday afternoon near Finland. WDIO-TV reports the 32-year-old victim is a local man who died at Lake View Memorial Hospital.
He has not been identified.
TEEN CANCER SONG
Thousands expected to sing 'Clouds' at MOA
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) - Thousands of people are expected to gather at the Mall of America to mark the anniversary of the debut of a song written by a Minnesota teen who died of cancer.
Zach Sobiech was 18 when he died from osteosarcoma in May. Before he died, he turned to writing music and his farewell song, "Clouds," became a hit.
In the last year, the music video for "Clouds" has had 8.3 million views on YouTube, and the song has been Number 1 on iTunes.
On Thursday night, more than 4,000 people - including area school and church choirs - plan to gather in the Mall of America rotunda to sing "Clouds."
The event is part of the KS95 for Kids Radiothon, benefiting Children's Cancer Research Fund and Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.
SEED COMPANY DISPUTE
ND settlement proposed in Anderson Seed case
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A January 6th hearing has been scheduled at the Cass County Courthouse in Fargo, North Dakota on a proposed settlement in the case of a failed seed company.
Mentor, Minnesota-based Anderson Seed shut down its sunflower processing facility in Redfield, South Dakota in 2012 without paying farmers for millions of dollars' worth of delivered seeds.
North Dakota's Public Service Commission late last month approved a proposed settlement in which farmers with cash claims will get about 43 percent of what they are owed and those with credit sale claims will get about 80 percent.
The PSC says valid claims total about $3 million.
South Dakota regulators last year got a judge's approval to use a $100,000 company bond to give partial payments to farmers in that state who lost about $2.6 million.
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