Minnesota roundup: Drunken intruder finds way into Willmar power plant; Trump in talks with possible VA appointee from Minnesota; plus 3 more state news stories
WILLMAR, Minn. — A recent intruder who had been drinking and was found on the roof of the Willmar Power Plant has utilities staff and city commissioners looking closely at plant security.
Jon Folkedahl, director of electric production for Willmar Municipal Utilities, said a person who was under the influence somehow got into the power plant, surprising plant workers.
"That is a hazardous situation," Folkedahl said.
The police were called, and a K-9 unit was brought to the scene. The person was found on the roof of the plant, apparently trying to hide, Folkedahl said. Folkedahl said the individual believed someone was chasing him, though no one was. The police took the individual to the hospital.
Folkedahl said this is the first time in recent memory anyone has been able to enter the plant without permission.
While no one is sure how the individual found his way into the plant, Folkedahl suspects a door probably did not latch properly. All of the power plant doors are either secured by electronic key pads or other digital locks to ensure unauthorized persons cannot enter the facility.
The incident has caused a new door maintenance policy to go into effect: All doors are checked monthly to make sure they are in working order.
Trump in talks with possible VA appointee from Minnesota
ST. PAUL—Former Minnesota U.S. Senate candidate and frequent Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth met with President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday, according to reports.
Hegseth, an Army veteran and a former leader of right-leaning veterans' groups, has been an outspoken critic of the military policy of President Barack Obama and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He also was supportive of Trump during the campaign.
Bloomberg politics reporter Jennifer Jacobs said on Twitter that Hegseth was "in running for VA secretary, and a popular choice among those who want big reforms."
If he landed an administration post, Hegseth, of Forest Lake, would be the first Minnesotan named to Trump's Cabinet. Several other Minnesotans — including former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and outgoing U.S. Rep. John Kline — have been mentioned on some lists of possible picks for Cabinet jobs but nothing has come of those possibilities.
Man sentenced for tricking teenage boys into sending him nude photos
EAGAN, Minn.—An Eagan man who tricked teenage boys into sending him nude photos and videos was sentenced to 38 years in prison Tuesday in U.S. District Court in St. Paul.
Anton Alexander Martynenko, 33, pleaded guilty to the production, distribution and advertising of child pornography in January before U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle. In addition to 38 years in prison, Kyle sentenced him to 15 years of supervised release.
"This defendant exploited and extorted over 150 young people in a disturbingly manipulative scheme," U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said. "We hope the victims in this case take some solace in the sentence imposed today."
Martynenko posed as a woman on social media to solicit nude photos and videos from his victims, according to prosecutors.
After claiming to work for a modeling agency or saying that he was new in town and looking for friends, Martynenko would suggest that he and his victim exchange nude photos. He would then send pictures of a nude female to solicit a response.
DFL Party chair seeking re-election
MINNEAPOLIS—Despite election results that left him heartbroken and "demoralized and uncertain of the future," Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party chairman Ken Martin said he plans to run for party leader once again.
"I have decided to stand up and keep fighting and if you are ready, I am ready. I am writing today to announce I will run for another term as State Party Chairman," Martin, a longtime Minnesota political operative, said on Facebook on Tuesday morning.
His decision to vie for another term comes three weeks after an election in which Democrats lost the state Senate, lost seats in the state House, failed to pick up a single congressional seat and saw Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton squeak by with the narrowest margin a Democrat has won in the state since the 1984 election.
Martin said that if he wins he would return the party "back to basics" with "an economic populist message that brings everyone to the table." In his announcement, he stressed the need for Democrats to reinvigorate their efforts in outstate Minnesota, where the party largely tanked at the ballot box earlier this month.
As party chair, Martin, who came to the party post after running a big-spending independent campaign organization, has kept the coffers full. In its most recent filings to the state and federal governments, the party reported raising more than $10.6 million for the election cycle.
It is not yet clear who, if anyone, plans to launch a campaign to run against Martin, who was first elected to lead the DFL in 2011.
$1 million Powerball ticket sold in St. Cloud
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — For the sixth time this year, a $1 million Powerball ticket was sold in Minnesota.
The latest winning ticket, purchased at a Coborn's in St. Cloud, came during the Nov. 26 drawing, which yielded a winning ticket sold in Tennessee for the $420.9 million jacket.
The St. Cloud store will receive a $5,000 winning ticket bonus for selling the million dollar prize.
It took more than two months, with drawings back to Sept. 21, to produce a jackpot winner. During that time, Minnesota lottery players won a combined $2.4 million.
According to Minnesota lottery officials, the 20-draw run generated Powerball sales of $12.5 million, with more than $5.1 million for Lottery beneficiaries: $1.3 million for the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, $461,529 for the Game and Fish Fund, $461,529 for the Natural Resources Fund, $2.8 million for the state's general fund.
Lottery proceeds also help fund state programs, including education, public safety, health and human services.