On Thursday morning, April 4th at ten, the Mid Minnesota Development Commission will have its annual public informational meeting in the multipurpose room at the Health and Human Services Building. This meeting is for the Area Transportation Partnership’s 2014-2017 Area Transportation Improvement Program. Approximately $22.6 million will be programmed each year within this ATP district. This meeting gives all the opportunity to make comments on what projects are planned and what projects need to be placed on the Improvement Program now or in the future. The meeting will be part of the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission's Transportation Advisory Committee meeting.
A contract has been approved for tearing down the old Morris Elementary School, with stipulations. The Morris City Council accepted a low bid from the firm of Dore and Associates. The council approved the low bid of $773,700, which was over $95,000 dollars lower than the next highest bid. They approved the bid with a stipulation that the company answer any question the council raised concerning demolition plans, including material disposal and subcontractors.
Consolidation plans for the Cyrus and Morris Area School District continue to move forward. Earlier this month, Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius approved the consolidation plat and supporting statement prepared by the school districts and the Pope County Auditor. Elbow Lake Democrat, Jay McNamar, who has introduced legislation to allow the Cyrus District to bond for the demolition of their school building, says the bill will be waiting until the end of the legislative session in an omnibus bill. At that time, McNamar says, he expects Governor Dayton will approve the bond issue. Cassellius approved using "Morris Area School District" as the name for the consolidated district. The district will, however, be assigned a new district number.
There were no injuries in a house fire Saturday night in the 500 block of Second Avenue in Sacred Heart, according to the Renville County Sheriff’s Office. Upon their arrival, an active fire was located on the second floor of the residence. All occupants of the home had been evacuated without injury and the fire was extinguished by the Sacred Heart Fire Department. The occupants of the home are being served by the Renville/Redwood Chapter of the Red Cross and are currently staying with relatives. The Renville County Sheriff’s Office and State Fire Marshal’s Office are currently investigating the cause of the fire. Also on the scene was the Sacred Heart Police Department.
Friday of this past week, the Meeker County Sheriff's Office and the CEE VI Drug Task Force executed a Search Warrant at 52508 US Highway 12, west of Grove City, in Swede Grove Township. 45 year old Shad Wallin was arrested and booked into the Meeker County Jail on a felony Fifth Degree Controlled Substance Violation. Wallin was released from jail and is awaiting a formal criminal complaint by the Meeker County Attorney's Office in relation to this incident.
The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners meet this morning at ten in the board room at the Health and Human Services Building. Agenda items include bid letting; water planning task force recommendations; a resolution to approve a solid waste management plan; a county transportation funding resolution; a Kandiyohi/Renville County overlay agreement; A state of Minnesota and county master partnership contact resolution; and an update on the Phase 1 remodel of the downtown county office building. The board meets at nine as a family services committee.
Willmar Area Crime Stoppers, which has served the Willmar area for 39 years, dissolved the program effective his past March 15th. Willmar Police Chief Dave Wyffels says Crime Stoppers is a non-profit and dissolved the program due to the difficulty of obtaining donations to stay active. He says there is still a Minnesota Crime Stoppers however. He believes the Willmar Area program started in 1974, and over the years has served its purpose well. Today, due to technology changes and the way a lot of people present crime tips and information to the law enforcement agencies, things have changed. There’s Facebook, there’s email and a lot of other methods. He said the number of calls that were coming into Crime Stoppers, less than one a month, simply didn’t support the cost of running the program.
The Minnesota State Patrol has several enforcement campaigns planned for the spring months, including a focus on Distracted Driving during April. Sergeant Jesse Grabow (gray-bow) says the patrol have planned extra patrols on a single day during the month and additional educational initiatives throughout the month. Grabow says distracted driving accounts for 25% of crashes on Minnesota roadways each year.
A bill that clears the way for a local sports club to maintain a public access on Pomme De Terre Lake is ready for a vote in the Minnesota Senate. Senator Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake says the Department of Natural Resources stepped up with a compromise that turns over the two acre site to Swan Lake Township. Westrom says the township would then negotiate with the Donnelly Rod and Gun Club for taking care of the land. A reversion clause remains in the bill should the club not live up to the terms of the agreement. The deal will eliminate the necessity of calling the DNR. every time the club needs to work on the site. A companion bill is in the House Environment and Natural Resources committee.
The state-wide teachers' union, Education Minnesota, has been pushing to develop an insurance pool that would encompass all school districts, with district employees and teachers required to purchase their insurance through the pool. Morris City Manager Blaine Hill says the action could have future implications for other governmental bodies. His fear, Hill says, is the state government will get into the business of providing or regulating insurance at all levels of government. Hill says the City of Morris now purchases its plan from Lakes County Co-op, a cooperative that could lose business if the state government begins mandating where local governments can purchase insurance.
A wastewater reduction plan at Denco II, the ethanol plant in Morris, is stalled, waiting for grant monies to be appropriated. Denco II is in line to receive a $500,000 grant from the Department of Employment and Economic Development, with a matching grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Denco II is waiting for the MPCA to finish their grant review process. Additional equipment, funded in part by the grants and in part by the ethanol plant, will reduce the amount of water needed for use in ethanol production and the amount of wastewater produced at the plant.
The deadline is approaching to reserve a campsite for seasonal or monthly camping at Minnesota state parks. Reservations are due Friday, April 5th, according to the Department of Natural Resources. At a limited number of state park campsites, visitors can stay for a whole month or a full season (May 3 - Sept. 1 at most parks. Six state parks have monthly and seasonal openings for camping in 2013 including the Lac qui Parle State Park at Montevideo, which offers monthly or seasonal camping at three electric campsites and one with a full hookup to water, sewer and electricity. The Upper Sioux Agency State Park, Granite Falls, offers monthly or seasonal camping at two campsites, both of which have electric hook-ups. The Big Stone Lake State Park at Ortonville, will offer monthly and seasonal camping at one site with an electric hookup.
Four Minnesota high school students were honored with the Minnesota State High School League Academics, Arts and Athletics Award during an on-court ceremony at the State Boys’ basketball tournament March 23rd. Among them was Ted Deitz of Alexandria. He will receive a four year, $1000 scholarship from the Minnesota State High school League. To qualify for the Triple A Award, students must have a B or better grade point average and participate in league sponsored athletic and fine arts activities.
Governor Mark Dayton has declared April 1-7 as Public Health Week, and today (Tuesday), from ten to noon, at the Dakota Lodge in West St. Paul, Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger, will give a presentation. His talk will be on the rapidly evolving landscape of health policy and the need for new policies and partnerships that more effectively address chronic disease, health disparities and affordable.
Last week, the Minnesota Department of Transportation released its 2013 construction schedule which includes 337 projects totaling $1.1 billion. Three projects on Highway 71 will begin in a matter of months. State Representative Mary Sawatzky says these projects will put workers back on the job and improve roads for years to come. The local projects include Highway 71-Highway 7 with construction to start in July. It includes resurfacing 11 miles and repairing a bridge. The second project is Highway 71-County Road 24 to North Junction Highway 23. Three miles will be resurfaced and the northbound turn lane will be lengthened. Construction will start in July. The third project is Highway 71-Willmar bypass where cable media barriers will be installed. Construction will begin in the fall. Shoulder closures should be expected.
Minnesotans who forgot to donate to the line with the loon on their state tax forms now have a second chance to help the state’s bald eagles, trumpeter swans, blue herons, peregrine falcons and bluebirds. To donate to the DNR nongame wildlife program, visit the DNR website and click on the nongame wildlife donate button. More than 800 nongame wildlife species depend on donations. The nongame wildlife program receives 80 percent of its funding through donations. Last year 66,000 Minnesotans donated to the line with the loon on their tax forms, compared with 88,000 people 10 years ago, says Carrol Henderson, DNR nongame wildlife program supervisor.