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Press Bar owner sentenced to nearly 6 years after arson plea




Andrew Charles Welsh had earlier pleaded guilty to a federal arson charge for setting the fire that destroyed the iconic St. Cloud bar in February of 2020.

ST. CLOUD, Minn — Editor’s note: The video above first aired on Feb. 29, 2020. 

The owner of an iconic St. Cloud bar will serve a sentence of nearly six years in federal prison after admitting to burning the business down in February of 2020. 

Andrew Charles Welsh was sentenced to 71 months behind bars, followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to a single count of arson that destroyed the Press Bar. 

The 43-year-old Welsh was arrested in December 2020 on a federal grand jury indictment alleging arson, use of fire to commit a federal felony and wire fraud, following the total destruction of his business. Investigators say Welsh used gasoline to start a fire in his basement office early the morning of Feb. 17 and the flames quickly tore through the old building, leaving it a total loss. Adjoining businesses were also damaged. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota said that about a week after the fire, Welsh submitted an insurance claim for over $1.4 million in damages as a result of the fire. Prosecutors alleged that Welsh fraudulently claimed the “said loss did not originate by any act, design or procurement on the part of your insured.”

A number of employees told investigators that business at the Press was declining to the point that the bar had stopped selling tap beer and began reducing staff.

Court documents in a separate case also suggest Welsh was struggling financially. A contractor known as Elite Concrete Construction filed a civil complaint in Benton County Court alleging Breach of Contract, and seeking a lien on a property owned by Welsh due to an unpaid bill of $53,721. 

In May of 2022, Welsh entered a guilty plea after striking a deal with prosecutors. 

The Press Bar and Parlor was a mainstay of downtown St. Cloud for decades, a blue-collar spot that catered to town residents and college students alike. 

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Analyst weighs Walz’s potential as Kamala Harris’ running mate




Walz is one of a handful of Democrats who are reportedly being vetted by Vice President Kamala Harris’s campaign as a possible running mate.

MINNEAPOLIS — Governor Tim Walz doesn’t want to speculate about his odds of being asked to join Vice President Kamala Harris as her running mate, but plenty of other people are talking about it.

Among them is political analyst Steven Schier, who penned an Op-Ed in Minneapolis Star Tribune Wednesday listing the pros and cons of Walz joining the Harris ticket.

“He’s a small town, Midwestern fellow who can appeal to a lot of those swing voters in smaller towns in the upper Midwest,” said Schier, a retired Carleton College political science professor.

“He offers contrast because he’s quite different from Kamala Harris and her background, but he also matches up well with JD Vance.”

Schier said Walz has a track record of winning elections, winning his Southern Minnesota congressional seat six times and winning two statewide races for governor.

“He’s been electorally successful throughout his career. He will bring some talented staff from Minnesota to the campaign. He will be very loyal to Kamala Harris.”

But Schier also sees the downsides to a Harris-Walz ticket, part of the Walz legacy that will surely invite Republican attacks. The Democratic governor has taken a lot of heat from conservative critics for delays in getting the Minnesota National Guard deployed to the civil unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd.

“His controversial record during the Minneapolis riots, and the fact Minneapolis was burning, that would be the first thing Republicans would bring up when he was introduced to the national audience,” Schier said.

“One problem for Tim Walz is he’s not well-known nationally. And if he were picked, would he have time to define himself before he’s defined by the opposition because people don’t know him? That would be a challenge for the Harris campaign.”

Walz has seen his national profile rise lately as head of the Democratic Governors Association and a surrogate stumping for the Biden Campaign in other states. But he’s still not as well-known as other names reportedly under consideration, including Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.

July has already been a month of monumental surprises in politics, including President Biden’s exit from the race and an assassination attempt that wounded former President Donald Trump. So, in the context of the seemingly unpredictable political climate, there may still be an opening for Walz.  

“Don’t rule Tim Walz out because every day has been a surprise in this campaign in the last several weeks. So, this is quite possible,” Schier said.

Walz is not up for reelection this year, so he wouldn’t have to resign just to run for Vice President. If he were to be elected Vice President, he’d have to step down from his Minnesota post before the inauguration in January.

The line of succession in Minnesota law is for the lieutenant governor to become governor if the office becomes vacant, and for the Senate president to become lieutenant governor. At this point, however, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Senate President Bobby Joe Champion are more focused on helping Harris get elected regardless of who her running mate turns out to be.

In 2018, Minnesota Senate President Michelle Fischbach became lieutenant governor when then-Lt. Gov. Tina Smith filled Al Franken’s seat in the US Senate. Fischbach decided to keep both of her jobs, which drew legal challenges. The Paynesville Republican eventually resigned from the Senate after the 2018 session ended.

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Dog attack leaves 7-year-old with visual injuries




A dog attack has left a 7-year-old girl with scrapes on her legs and back and cuts on her lips.

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — A 7-year-old who was hurt in a dog attack Tuesday is still processing what happened.

“I was just walking and then it pushed me and started attacking me,” said Yamah Yekeku.

She went to drop off a package at her neighbor’s home. Then the dog ran toward her.

“It’s is third time chasing somebody,” Yekeku said.

Her mother Mary Innis pointed out the scrapes on her legs and back, and the little cuts on her lips.

The dog who attacked her is a part of 13-year-old Yazmina Warsame’s family.

“She was really sweet, she was very playful,” she said.

Warsame said her dog’s name was Diamond, a 1-year-old Pitbull.

“Diamond didn’t mean to hurt nobody, she just wanted to play and they killed her for it,” she said.

Brooklyn Park Police and shot killed the dog because they said it went after another child.

“The animal actually ran into a playground area, a park area in an apartment complex and there were two young children that were in the park. The dog took off after one of the children and was trying to bite that child,” said Brooklyn Park Police Precinct Inspector and Public Information Officer Elliot Faust.

Faust said a cadet lifted the child up to his shoulder to protect him.

“The dog was jumping up actively trying to bite the child and that’s when one of our officers shot him,” Faust said.

He said the 7-year-old was treated for her injuries at the scene. Innis said she took her daughter to the doctor’s office on Wednesday to get a rabies shot as a precaution.

Tuesday’s incident was the second dog attack to happen within Brooklyn Park. A 3-year-old was attacked by two Pitbulls, last Friday. Faust said the child’s injuries were extensive, and he’s still recovering in the hospital. He said that attack was the worst dog attack he has ever seen.

“These are not common, they don’t happen frequently, so it is kind of strange that we’re talking about two in one week,” Faust said.

Faust want community members to be more aware of their surroundings and to understand their dog. He said they’ve had more dangerous dog designations so far this year than all of last year.

“As a dog owner it is your responsibility to take control of the animal,” Faust said. One mistake that happens can have tragic consequences.”

Warsame said her dog was just hyper. Diamond also had long nails, Warsame said they were planning to cut.

She’s heartbroken her dog is gone and doesn’t understand why police had to kill her. She wants people to know her dog wasn’t mean.

“People take advantage of the way a big dog looks, they don’t know her personality, so people might have called her mean and I don’t people to think Diamond is mean, and I feel like it’s important to share. She wasn’t a mean dog, she was never a mean dog,” Warsame said.

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MN church group stranded for days in New Orleans




The group was originally supposed to be home this past Saturday.

MINNEAPOLIS — A Twin Cities church group is on its way home tonight, after spending the last few days stranded in New Orleans.

“We are really sick of the airport,” Leisha Tays, supervising the trip, said in a FaceTime call from the airport.

That trip, to the Evangelical Lutherans in America Youth Gathering, was supposed to end this past Saturday.

“Every once in awhile, it would just get bumped back farther and farther and farther,” she said.

That group from Our Saviours’ Lutheran Church in East Bethel consists of 14, mostly made up of kids. Tays says it’s been a challenge to figure out their next steps with a group so big.

“It is frustrating, but I also know it’s nothing I can control,” Tays said. “That’s what I keep telling my kids that I’m here with, is that you can only control yourself.”

“Doing our best, what else do you do, right?” she added.

To keep themselves busy, they’ve spent time exploring New Orleans, a vacation that they were initially alright with extending. They quickly realized there were challenges that came with that, including working through Delta’s vouchers, which covered not nearly enough for a group their size.

“We have been given three $12 meal vouchers per person, which doesn’t really cover much,” Tays said. “Especially in four days.”

They made it through thanks to donations from their church members back home, donating to keep the crew fed.

“A lot of details, and everything went great until it didn’t,” Lisa Rykken Kastler, Director of Congregational Ministries for the church, said.

“There wasn’t even an ask, the situation was such that, ok, you’re gonna need money,” Rykken Kastler added.

At the time of this article’s writing, Tays tells KARE11 that they’re finally taxiing, ready to take off and come home – a vacation they can’t wait to end.

“We’re just exhausted, you know?” she said. “There’s the emotional and the physical exhaustion that’s going on, and we’re ready.”

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