Minneapolis/St. Paul News Update

Four state-run COVID-19 testing sites will close this week. The Minnesota Department of Health says the St. Paul Midway site will close Friday, the Duluth site will close Saturday, and the sites in Brooklyn Park and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport will close on Sunday. Free tests can be ordered through the state’s COVID-19 at-home rapid testing program.

The Twin Cities theater scene is mourning a large loss. Actor and director Terry Bellamy died at his St. Paul home on Saturday. He’s the brother of Penumbra’s Lou Bellamy. Over the last five decades, Bellamy helped bring more diverse and inclusive productions to the Twin Cities by exploring African American life at several theaters. He’ll be remembered.

A Brooklyn Park man pleaded guilty Tuesday to his role in the $250 million Feeding Our Future fraud scheme, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. Liban Yasin Alishire, plead guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. As part of his plea deal, he must forfeit a boat and trailer, a Ford F150 pickup truck, an apartment in Kenya, and the Karibu Palms Resort in Kenya. He also agreed to a $712,084.00 forfeiture money judgment. Alishire is the fifth defendant to plead guilty in the scheme. To date, federal prosecutors have filed charges against 50 people with alleged connections to Feeding Our Future.

St. Paul police are searching for a missing ten-year-old girl.  Police say Ariyah Lewis was last seen January 20th leaving a residence in the 12-hundred block of Seventh Street.  Authorities say she was wearing a beige jogging suit with patches on the sweatshirt, a black winter jacket, and was carrying multiple plastic bags.  She is five-foot-one, 100 pounds, and had French braids in her hair.

An Oakdale man is charged with arson and animal cruelty after police say he set a house on fire, killing five cats. A criminal complaint says Joshua Buhl was on methamphetamine when he started the fire Sunday night. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison.

Governor Tim Walz’ two-year budget includes an over 25 percent increase in spending.  More than half of the increase would be spent on one-time projects.  Walz wants to send checks to over two-and-a-half million Minnesotans out of the record-breaking surplus.  The governor’s plan would also include spending on areas such as schools, housing, and paid worker leave.  Lawmakers will now negotiate to come to a final spending plan.

Hamline University faculty are calling on President Fayneese Miller to resign.  The Faculty Council president says professors have lost faith in Miller’s leadership after a controversy over Islamic art and academic freedom.  The private university drew international attention after choosing to not renew the contract of an art instructor who showed images of the Prophet Muhammad in class.  Adjunct instructor Erika López Prater showed the historical depiction after issuing warnings in her syllabus and just before displaying the art.  López Prater is suing the university for defamation, religious discrimination, breach of contract, and other claims.

A plow truck caught fire while fleeing law enforcement in Isanti County yesterday.
Police say the truck was involved in a home burglary earlier that morning. A St. Paul man and a Pine City woman fled the vehicle after it caught fire on an exit ramp for I-35E. Both are in custody.

HORMEL and Minneapolis-based Modist Brewing Co. release a unique Super Bowl beer. The brew is inspired by the brand’s chili cheese dip recipe. It’s now on sale online while supplies last.

A fire was started in the vestibule of the Target Express in Uptown around 4 a.m. yesterday. The Minneapolis Fire Department says a fire had been started in a garbage can, which set off the sprinkler system. No one was in the building when they arrived. Police are investigating the possible arson.