The debt burden on Morris citizens has decreased in the last year. During the city's annual audit, auditor Derek Flannigan examined Morris' citizen-to-debt ratio. Averaged over its citizens, Morris residents would owe $2,222 per person. The average Minnesota-wide citizen-to-debt ratio is $2,386.
As a plan to reduce educational loan repayments makes its way through the Minnesota Legislature, one of its co-authors continues to voice his support for the bill labeled "Opportunity MN." Representative Jay McNamara of Elbow Lake says the proposed tax credit would only apply to the debt burdens of those who received their education in Minnesota and continue to work in the state. The tax credit would offer tax rebates on qualifying principle and interest repayment. McNamar says it is vital the state retain the educational investments they've made in students.
A University of Minnesota Morris professor, Ann DuHamel, will be giving a public performance tonight (Friday) at 7:30 in the Humanities Fine Arts Recital Hall. She is the head of keyboard studies at UMM.
After a high-speed chase on I-94 Wednesday morning, police arrested three people suspected of armed robbery in Cyrus. Stevens County Sheriff Jason Dingman reports the robbery took place at approximately 7:30 in the morning. Following report of the robbery, local law enforcement agencies began searching for a vehicle matching the description of the getaway car. Minnesota State Patrol Troopers sighted and gave chase to a pickup truck near I-94 that matched the description. The suspects fled east on I-94. Officers put down stop strips near Freeport, deflating several of the truck's tires but the suspects continued to flee. A Trooper employed a pursuit intervention technique and the vehicle ran off the road and through a freeway fence near Albany. Officers apprehended two adult males and one adult female without further incident and subsequently arrested and booked all three individuals into jail. The robbery remains under investigation by the Pope County Sheriff's Office.
The Highway committee had several recommendations at the Alexandria City Council meeting this week, which were approved by the council. The first was to consider restricting parking on Pioneer Road near the new high school. The second item was to consider a three way stop at Golf Course Road and LaHomme du Drive for the purpose of reconstructing that road. The third item was reconstruction of 13th Avenue between birch Avenue and Lake Crest Drive as part of the 2014 local street improvement project. There was also discussion about the city’s downtown loan program. Because they’ll be doing a reconstruction on Broadway in 2014, the thinking was that at the same time they should offer low interest loans for the revolving loan project to assist with exterior improvements to their buildings.
Representative Mary Sawatzky says the House Education Omnibus Finance bill calls for historic investment in education, and sets the goal of closing the achievement gap, reaching 100 percent in the high school graduation rate, 100 percent literacy by third grade, and 100 percent career and college readiness by graduation, all by 2027. Under the House DFL education budget there would be a formula increase for the school districts over a two year period, and it contains a new strategy to close the revenue equity gap and reduce property taxes. Sawatzky says the budget would implement several necessary reforms. Schools would be required to develop strategic plans for student achievement and update the public on their status each year.
New London Spicer School Supt. Paul Carlson says they heard from Pete Royer with the Little Crow telemedia network when the school board met this week. New London Spicer is one of four districts that through LCTN qualify for public utilities commission grant to update the district’s analog phone system. He says right now they have a phone system that is no longer being serviced and any type of repairs mean they would have to purchase new equipment. The board approved the acceptance of the PUC grant of about $77,000 and a contribution to the school district of about $35,000 to install a new voice over IP phone system which is voice over internet protocol and that will be a summer project.
The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council issued its Call for Funding Request from the Outdoor Heritage Fund on April 9th. Requests are due June 13th. The Council anticipates approximately $100 million will be available for programs that, under the MN Constitution directly, “restore, protect, and enhance wetlands, prairies, forests, and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife.” The funds for approved programs signed into law during the 2014 legislative session will be available beginning July 1, 2014. Representative Andrew Falk of rural Murdock says the Council seeks requests for funding consistent with its statewide priorities and five geographic section’s vision and priorities as outlined in the Call for Funding Request. The priorities and visions will be used to guide the Council’s review of requests and recommendations. This is a competitive recommendation process, open to all who wish to apply.
Patty Carlson with First Fuel Bank was at the New London Spicer School Board meeting this week to present the concept of recycling oil and having a site in the parking lot on school property. Supt. Paul Carlson says people would be able to bring used oil to the site, with the oil to be used roads and to help defray the cost for some of the taxpayers. The East Side Oil provides the tank and proper barrels and picks up the used oil dropped off by community members. There are drop sites in Paynesville and Belgrade but none in the New London-Spicer area. This was initiated by the YES (Youth Energy Summit) student group at NL-S. The school will continue to research this.
Today (Friday) is the Sloppy Jo supper in the cafeteria at the New London Spicer Middle School. From 4:30-7 there will be a kids carnival sponsored by the student council. The Lions talent show will follow at seven in the high school gym.
A snowplow and car collided yesterday morning (Thursday) on Highway 71 near County Road 10 west of Spicer. The snowplow driver was 30 year old Joshua Ruka of Sunburg who was traveling north on Highway 71 when the crash occurred. 27 year old Angel brooks of Carlos, the driver of the car, was taken to Rice Hospital with minor injuries.
Litchfield School Supt. Dan Fraiser says they’re taking out the old track and replacing it with a new track that has a state of the art weatherized service. He says the question the school board is asking themselves concerns the timeline. Can they get it all completed prior to the start of the football season or would there be damage to the football field if they did so. Fraiser says they still have some questions for their architect, but their consensus right now is to stay on track. They think they can have the dirt work done in May and June and be able to cultivate the site over July and August and be ready for the fall football season. They’re moving ahead with that project. It’s going to be about three quarters of a million dollars, and while the project right now is larger than was originally planned, the cost has come down due to some expenses they didn’t need to incur.
The Benson Police Department says they have no suspects at this time in the burglary that happened last Saturday at the Benson Mini Storage business. Stolen were a red 3-person Eskimo pop-up portable ice shelter; a red 6-person pop-up portable ice shelter; three ice fishing roads, one which was camouflage, one with an orange fluorescent rod tip and one that was black and pink; one bear archery compound bow; three camouflage arrows; six Northern American Hunting club books; one Northern American Hunting knife with North American Hunting Club engraved on it; a black 22 caliber Savage rifle model #64FXP, Serial # 1012603; an Eskimo ice auger; and a Barrnett camouflage hunting blind. You’re asked to call the police department if you have any information on this burglary