Happy April Fools Day!
The Renville County Sheriff’s Office now has a K-9 program. Deputy Luke Jacques has been selected to be the K-9 handler. Deputy Jacques and his new partner will begin a 12-week training course next week. The new puppy, a pure-bred male German Shepherd, will be trained to alert for drugs and also track human odor. The dog has not yet been named. The sheriff’s office plans to ask the elementary students in Renville County to vote on what his name will be.
The furnace blew up at Frank’s Greenhouse north of Pennock, destroying the sales area, all their carts and wagons, the No. 3 hoop building and all its plants and hanging baskets. Also destroyed in the fire was their delivery van according to Susie Frank, who along with her husband, Dave, own the 30 year old business. Susie Frank said she wasn’t home when this happened, but her husband was. home. She said he was out in the back greenhouse, he thought he heard somebody pull in so he came out of the back greenhouse and he saw smoke going up in the air so he ran around the back of No. 4 and shut off the 1000 gallon propane tank. Their phone lines hadn’t been working for a couple of days so he had to run to the house to call 911.
Rapid snow melt and potential for flooding pose challenges for manure management among the more than 25,000 livestock farms in Minnesota. Farmers who spread solid manure during winter must ensure that it doesn’t run off with rapid snowmelt flowing to ditches, streams and other waters. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, manure-contaminated runoff threatens water quality and also reduces the value of manure as a crop nutrient. If possible, the M-P-C-A says, farmers should refrain from spreading manure during periods of rapid melt. Minnesota rules require a 300-foot setback from surface waters and open tile intakes for all manure spread onto frozen or snow-covered soil.
The Morris City Council has approved the sale of $9 million in bonds, which will be sold in two separate issues. A $6 million bond issue will only pass through the city; issued on behalf of and owed by Morris-based Service Options for Seniors. The second bond issue, a $3 million note, will pay for the demolition of the old Morris elementary school building, road construction on the west side, and refinance a bond from 2005. Morris City Manager Blaine Hill says three Tax Increment Financing Districts will pay off the bond designated for the demolition of the school. TIF District financing will be split between repaying the city and giving a tax break to developers. The bond sale has been set for a City Council meeting on April 23.
The Morris Area School Board is considering the numbers as they prepare for a planned July 1 consolidation with the Cyrus school district. The additional students will be spread over the school’s first through sixth grades, bringing classroom totals to 25 students per class in the fifth grade. Elementary Principal Ken Gagner says those are bigger numbers than in other grades, but still manageable. Districts around the state would love those numbers, Gagner says. The school board approved hiring a fourth teacher for the 4th grade to accommodate the larger class sizes.
Clearway Minnesota is sponsoring its 7th annual Quitcash program to help provide that extra push you might need to quit smoking, according to Senior Communications Manager Mike Sheldon. Participants sign-up for a $5,000 prize. If they commit to quit smoking by April 1st, are drawn for the prize, and pass a test proving they are tobacco free, the winner will walk away with the check. Last year 3,000 Minnesotans, from nearly every county in the state, participated in the contest. Contestants are encouraged, but not required, to use Quitplan services' free quit-smoking services, including personalized plans, phone counseling, online resources, and free nicotine patches, gum or lozenges. Signup and complete contest details are available at quitplan-dot-com.
Jobless rates in western Minnesota counties fell in February. The unadjusted unemployment rate in Stevens County was 4.1 percent in February, a decrease of 0.7 percent from January, according to figures from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Other county numbers include: Big Stone 6.8 -0.8; Grant 8.5 -1.2; Pope 4.9 -0.4; Swift 7.1 -1.2; Traverse 6.2 -0.6. The comparable statewide jobless rate was 5.5 percent and the national rate was 7.7 percent.