U Of M finds farmers in a near-record crop yield


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Late, last summer Minnesota farmers were facing uncertainties. But a number of factors helped change that and turned it into a near-record year for crop yields.

“In combination with government payments, commodity prices and worldwide trade, I think things were affirmative and look good for farmers coming into 2021,” said Dave Nicolai, University of Minnesota Extension.

U of M Extension reported a positive net income for Minnesota farms for the first time since 2014, something they hope carries over to this year.

Snow in southern Minnesota has been gone since March and frost has been gone since early April, which means some farmers have already gotten into their fields.

“Those farmers have been tilling and planting, some of them. Not at a high pace, but putting in about a field a day,” said agronomist Dave Pfarr.

Pfarr, who also farms near Le Sueur, said they’re doing that a couple of weeks earlier than normal.

He said certain crop prices are near 10-year highs encouraging corn and soybean planters to take advantage, while demand from other countries, like China, continues to grow.

“Instead of importing a sliver of corn, or a boat or two, like they have in other years, they are importing 10 times that amount,” said Pfarr.

Good commodity prices and good spring weather are welcome news for livestock producers as well — they rely on crops like alfalfa for feed.

“With these warm temperatures, livestock producers are looking forward to our alfalfa growth which also started very early. Earlier than it normally has,” said Nicolai.

Pfarr said there is one potential problem: a windstorm in Iowa has impacted seed supply across the Midwest. He believes they’ll be able to work through it, but the supply is tight.



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Nurses feel they're being forced to get vaccine


HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — As the days and weeks go by, some nurses at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital are dreading what’s to come.

“There’s so many ‘What ifs?’ out there,” said a nurse, who wished to remain anonymous. “June 7 is the deadline. It’s ‘take the vaccine’ or ‘pack up your bags.'”

The nurse started a petition in hopes of opting out of the mandatory vaccine requirement for all staff at Houston Methodist.

“We’re not saying we’ll never get it, we just want more time,” said the nurse. “We want more research. We want it FDA approved, thoroughly, before we actually put it in our body.”

She said right now, a group of staff at her hospital is too afraid to get the vaccine, but they’re even more worried about losing their job. They feel getting the vaccine should be a choice.

READ ALSO: How many people in your area are hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

“I’m basically fighting for everybody that’s too scared to speak up right now,” she said.

Meanwhile, legal analyst Steve Shellist said quite frankly, the nurses don’t have a lot of rights, especially during a pandemic. He said the law is pretty clear, and the only exceptions include religious or health reasons.

“The hospital has a right to say, ‘If you’re going to be in close contact with patients and other medical providers, you need to get a vaccine, and if you can’t, you are not going to work here,'” he explained.

The president and CEO of Houston Methodist, Dr. Marc Boom, said they owe it to its patients to put them first and make them feel safe, so the vaccine is 100% mandatory. Boom said the hospital stands by its decision and believes it’s 100% safe and the best option.

Houston Methodist recently held a town hall for its employees in order to ease fears and answer questions.

“Working in health care is a privilege,” said Boom. “With privilege comes responsibility.”

As for the nurse, she said she takes her job seriously, but she just wants to take the vaccine on her own terms when she is ready.

“If anyone would like to hire a good nurse, I would be glad to take on another job,” she said.

Follow Mayra Moreno on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.



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Jury recommends max sentence in Kylr Yust trial


After about 90 minutes of deliberation Friday, the jury that convicted Kylr Yust in the deaths of Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions recommended he spend 15 years in prison for a voluntary manslaughter charge and life in prison for a second-degree murder charge.Yust was found guilty Thursday of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Kopetsky and guilty of murder in the second degree in the death of Runions. Cass County Circuit Judge William Collins said Yust’s sentencing will take place at 2:30 p.m. June 7. At sentencing, Collins can also decide if the sentences run concurrently. Yust will be eligible for parole.The sentencing phase was needed because the jury found Yust guilty on two lesser charges. If the jury would have found Yust guilty in the first-degree murder charges prosecutors were hoping for, it would have been an automatic life sentence without parole in Missouri.Speaking publicly for the first time, the families of Kopetsky and Runions thanked the community, media, the prosecution and the jury for convicting Yust.“We would not be here today if it wasn’t for the amazing support of the community,” Rhonda Beckford, Kopetsky’s mother, said. “And you guys, the media, because you helped get our kids’ stories out there. If it wasn’t for you, people wouldn’t know as much about Kara and Jessica.”Jessica Runion’s mother, Jaime Runions, was also thankful.“I also want to thank the community also, and you guys for allowing us to have the last four years of just not bugging us, and just allowing us to concentrate on our girls,” Jamie Runions said. “And we appreciate everybody’s support and the community has been amazing. The love for the girls has just been, it’s overwhelming, and we just thank you guys for all your prayers love and support.”The sentencing recommendation came after a morning of emotional testimony at the Cass County Courthouse in Harrisonville, Missouri.After the prosecution and defense made their opening statements, Kopetsky’s family members took the stand to talk about the heartbreak they’re still dealing with years later.Rhonda Beckford said she felt like justice wasn’t served as Yust was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in her daughter’s death.”To be technical, I don’t really feel that justice was served as far as Kara’s concerned,” Beckford said.Reading from a statement, Beckford said her daughter was a “bright and shining light snuffed out too soon.” She asked the jury to give the maximum sentence because she believes “he will do this again.” She ended with, “I’m so sorry, Kara. I tried.”Through tears, Jaime Runions told the jury that she will never get to see her daughter Jessica Runions grow up, get married and have kids. She’s said she’s watching Jessica Runions’s friends grow up and have children, and her sisters are missing the opportunity to have Jessica in their lives.Jamie Runions also said to the jury she hopes they consider both families when making their recommendations. “If a person does stuff, they’re gonna do it again,” Jamie Runions said.John Runions, Jessica’s father, called his daughter “beautiful” and “happy” but he said it’s all gone now.”I don’t get to walk my daughter down the aisle,” John Runions said while sobbing. “Our family is broken forever.” The defense called several witnesses — most that were only identified by their initials — to plead for leniency for Yust. Most say they could not believe Yust was the person that committed the crimes he was convicted of.In his closing statement, Cass County prosecutor Ben Butler told jurors the range of punishment should be the max (life in prison) for the second-degree murder charge of Runions. He also said the range of punishment on the voluntary manslaughter charge for Kopetsky’s death should be 15 years. He also pointed out that that Kopetsky was around 15 when she met Yust and that it is “ceremonious” to give him 15 years.In its closing, Yust’s defense team agreed that everyone will “carry the weight of this trial for the rest of their lives.” Defense lawyer Molly Hastings said, while looking directly at Yust, “We will continue to fight for you in the next steps.” Hastings was alluding to an appeal of the sentences that likely will be coming.“Despite popular opinion, Kylr Yust is worth something,” Hastings said. “We hope and pray there is something in you that will fight for him today.”In his rebuttal, Butler said: “If he’s an artist, he took the bones of Kara and Jessica and painted them across the woods and left them there to rot.”[ OPENING STATEMENT UPDATES ] [ THIRD DAY UPDATES ] [ FOURTH DAY UPDATES ] [ FIRST WEEK RECAP ] [ SIXTH DAY RECAP ] [ SEVENTH DAY RECAP ] [ EIGHTH DAY RECAP ][ NINTH DAY RECAP ] [ KYLR YUST FOUND GUILTY ] [ JURORS RECOMMEND MAX SENTENCE ]

After about 90 minutes of deliberation Friday, the jury that convicted Kylr Yust in the deaths of Kara Kopetsky and Jessica Runions recommended he spend 15 years in prison for a voluntary manslaughter charge and life in prison for a second-degree murder charge.

Yust was found guilty Thursday of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Kopetsky and guilty of murder in the second degree in the death of Runions.

Cass County Circuit Judge William Collins said Yust’s sentencing will take place at 2:30 p.m. June 7. At sentencing, Collins can also decide if the sentences run concurrently. Yust will be eligible for parole.

The sentencing phase was needed because the jury found Yust guilty on two lesser charges. If the jury would have found Yust guilty in the first-degree murder charges prosecutors were hoping for, it would have been an automatic life sentence without parole in Missouri.

Speaking publicly for the first time, the families of Kopetsky and Runions thanked the community, media, the prosecution and the jury for convicting Yust.

“We would not be here today if it wasn’t for the amazing support of the community,” Rhonda Beckford, Kopetsky’s mother, said. “And you guys, the media, because you helped get our kids’ stories out there. If it wasn’t for you, people wouldn’t know as much about Kara and Jessica.”

Jessica Runion’s mother, Jaime Runions, was also thankful.

“I also want to thank the community also, and you guys for allowing us to have the last four years of just not bugging us, and just allowing us to concentrate on our girls,” Jamie Runions said. “And we appreciate everybody’s support and the community has been amazing. The love for the girls has just been, it’s overwhelming, and we just thank you guys for all your prayers love and support.”

The sentencing recommendation came after a morning of emotional testimony at the Cass County Courthouse in Harrisonville, Missouri.

After the prosecution and defense made their opening statements, Kopetsky’s family members took the stand to talk about the heartbreak they’re still dealing with years later.

Rhonda Beckford said she felt like justice wasn’t served as Yust was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in her daughter’s death.

“To be technical, I don’t really feel that justice was served as far as Kara’s concerned,” Beckford said.

Reading from a statement, Beckford said her daughter was a “bright and shining light snuffed out too soon.” She asked the jury to give the maximum sentence because she believes “he will do this again.”

She ended with, “I’m so sorry, Kara. I tried.”

Through tears, Jaime Runions told the jury that she will never get to see her daughter Jessica Runions grow up, get married and have kids. She’s said she’s watching Jessica Runions’s friends grow up and have children, and her sisters are missing the opportunity to have Jessica in their lives.

Jamie Runions also said to the jury she hopes they consider both families when making their recommendations.

“If a person does stuff, they’re gonna do it again,” Jamie Runions said.

John Runions, Jessica’s father, called his daughter “beautiful” and “happy” but he said it’s all gone now.

“I don’t get to walk my daughter down the aisle,” John Runions said while sobbing. “Our family is broken forever.”

The defense called several witnesses — most that were only identified by their initials — to plead for leniency for Yust. Most say they could not believe Yust was the person that committed the crimes he was convicted of.

In his closing statement, Cass County prosecutor Ben Butler told jurors the range of punishment should be the max (life in prison) for the second-degree murder charge of Runions.

He also said the range of punishment on the voluntary manslaughter charge for Kopetsky’s death should be 15 years.

He also pointed out that that Kopetsky was around 15 when she met Yust and that it is “ceremonious” to give him 15 years.

In its closing, Yust’s defense team agreed that everyone will “carry the weight of this trial for the rest of their lives.” Defense lawyer Molly Hastings said, while looking directly at Yust, “We will continue to fight for you in the next steps.” Hastings was alluding to an appeal of the sentences that likely will be coming.

“Despite popular opinion, Kylr Yust is worth something,” Hastings said. “We hope and pray there is something in you that will fight for him today.”

In his rebuttal, Butler said: “If he’s an artist, he took the bones of Kara and Jessica and painted them across the woods and left them there to rot.”

[ OPENING STATEMENT UPDATES ] [SECOND DAY UPDATES ] [ THIRD DAY UPDATES ] [ FOURTH DAY UPDATES ] [FIFTH DAY UPDATES ] [ FIRST WEEK RECAP ]
[ SIXTH DAY RECAP ] [ SEVENTH DAY RECAP ] [ EIGHTH DAY RECAP ]
[ NINTH DAY RECAP ] [ KYLR YUST FOUND GUILTY ]
[ JURORS RECOMMEND MAX SENTENCE ]



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Man accused of allowing drug house gatherings


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Woman killed by boyfriend in shooting at hotel




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Lawsuit: Casino over served suspect before crash


SPARKED PROTESTS IN THE AREA EVERY NIGHT SINCE THE SHOOTING. (áááRHEYAááá) NEW TONIGHT AT 9: THE WEST DES MOINES POLICE OFFICER HIT BY A DRUNK DRIVER LAST YEAR – IS SUING THE CASINO THAT ALLEGEDLY SERVED HIM THE DRINKS. JON KAUFMAN WAS HIT AND SEVERELY INJURED LAST NOVEMBER DURING TRAFFIC STOP. THE SUSPECT- IS JON SCHWARTZ. THE LAWSUIT CLAIMS LAKESIDE CASINO IN OSCEOLA SERVED SCHWARTZ TOO MUCH ALCOHOL BEFORE THE CRASH. <ERIK LUTHENS, REPRESENTING JON KAUFMAN <“WE’LL JON SCHWARTZ COULD HAVE BEEN AT THE CASINO BUT HAD HE BEEN OVERSERVED AND ALLOWED TO LEAVE, PERHAPS THAT INCIDENT WOULD NOT HAVE OCCURED AND JON KAUFMAN AND DENA KAUFMAN HIS WIFE, WHO WAS 8 MONTHS PREGNANT AT THE TIME OF THE INCIDENT, THEY WOULDN’T BE GOING THROUGH THINGS THAT THEY’RE GOING THROUGH NOW.”> (áááRHEYAáá

Lawsuit: Casino over served suspect before hit-and-run with WDM officer

The West Des Moines police officer hit by a drunk driver last year is suing the casino that allegedly served the man drinks. Jon Kaufman was hit and severely injured in November 2020 during a traffic stop. The suspect was named as Jon Schwartz. The lawsuit claims Lakeside Casino in Osceola served Schwartz too much alcohol before the crash. “Well John Schwartz could have been at the casino but had he been overserved and allowed to leave, perhaps that incident would not have occurred and Jon Kaufman, his wife, who was 8 months pregnant at the time of the incident, they wouldn’t be going through things that they’re going through now,” said Erik Luthens, representing Kaufman. The lawsuit also claims that not only was Schwartz drunk, but he was speeding and watching a movie while behind the wheel.

The West Des Moines police officer hit by a drunk driver last year is suing the casino that allegedly served the man drinks.

Jon Kaufman was hit and severely injured in November 2020 during a traffic stop. The suspect was named as Jon Schwartz.

The lawsuit claims Lakeside Casino in Osceola served Schwartz too much alcohol before the crash.

“Well John Schwartz could have been at the casino but had he been overserved and allowed to leave, perhaps that incident would not have occurred and Jon Kaufman, his wife, who was 8 months pregnant at the time of the incident, they wouldn’t be going through things that they’re going through now,” said Erik Luthens, representing Kaufman.

The lawsuit also claims that not only was Schwartz drunk, but he was speeding and watching a movie while behind the wheel.



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Electrical fire at O'Hare International Airport




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Man runs to raise awareness about heart disease


NEW YORK (WABC) — They say running is the ultimate solo sport, but when Tom Black runs, he is never alone.

When he runs, his dad is close to his heart. Three years ago, his father – athletic and healthy, had a sudden heart attack. Black nearly lost him.

“It was a really hard week for me, I didn’t really know how to digest it. I knew while it happened, the first day, I couldn’t really stop crying in the hospital. I was like I can’t believe I’m going to have to go through the rest of my life without my Pops?” Black said.

Hospitalized for a week, Black would only leave his dad’s side to run and clear his head.

That summer after his father came home, and after he fell in love with running – with only a few months to train, Black ran the New York City Marathon for the American Heart Association. He ran to raise money and raise awareness.

“Everyone should be learning hands-only CPR. Everyone should understand that, and also be aware, know where an AED is in case of emergency,” said Meg Gilmartin of the American Heart Association.

That message is one Black is trying to spread.

When his dad went into cardiac arrest, Black ran to the gym next door to grab an automated external defibrillator or an AED. His father’s only hope of survival was CPR and that defibrillator being used within five minutes of collapse.

“If we didn’t act so quickly when my dad went down, then he probably wouldn’t have had a 100 percent recovery,” Black said.

On Saturday, Black will be running 50 miles around the city to raise awareness about heart disease and promote a healthy and active lifestyle.

CLICK HERE to make a donation.

“Whether you’re running outside, or even quite frankly taking the time to vacuum for 20 minutes, which really exerts exercise for your heart, any and all movement is relevant,” added Gilmartin.

“I know a lot of people don’t like running, but just getting out there – even if you’re walking for an hour will give you benefits that you can see three or four months from now,” Black said.

As for Black, he has been running marathons ever since – because at the finish line is his dad…waiting for him and cheering him on.

ALSO READ | Dog rescued after getting paw stuck in escalator

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