The New London School Board has recognized the accomplishments of a number of staff members and students. Two students, Isaiah Hawkinson and Chris Molenaar will be auditioning for the state band in March. The One Act Plan took first in the 5A Sub Sections and advanced to the Section One Act Play competition where they placed second. Supt. Paul Carlson says the National Honor Society students collected 55 units of blood during the blood drive at the high school, and the local FFA Chapter will sponsor New London Spicer FFA Week, which starts today (Monday) and runs through Friday. They have a number of activities throughout the week. One of the highlights is the staff and alumni pancake breakfast which starts at seven Wednesday morning, the 20th. They end the week Friday with a petting zoo so they have some FFA kids coming over from the elementary school to be a part of the petting zoo.
Mark Sannerud with Project Turnabout says the National Gambling Awareness Week is March 3rd through the 9th and is basically in regards to awareness of the disease of compulsive and problem gambling. He says one percent of U.S. adults, about three million people, are compulsive gamblers, only three percent of them obtain treatment, and one third of treatment seeking gamblers have filed for bankruptcy. The facility in Granite Falls has 20 beds in its Vanguard Program for Compulsive Gamblers. National Gambling Awareness Week is held throughout the entire United States but Project Turnabout is doing some extra things that week as well as the state of Minnesota.
The Appleton City Council has done an annual price index adjustment for People Service Incorporated who has managed the city’s wastewater treatment plant since 1990. The council has also approved some equipment purchases for the fire and rescue department. One is a gas monitor that’s about the size of a cell phone. City Clerk Roman Fiddler says they also approved a hose tester. The pumpers now days really are not designed for hose testing, which is required once a year. The cost of the hose tester will pay for itself just saving on repairs to the pumpers. They set the 2013 Board of Review for April 10th for valuations of properties.
The Diamond Edge figure skaters will have their annual ice show Saturday night, Feb. 23rdat 7, and Sunday afternoon, Feb. 24th at one at the Willmar Civic Arena. This year's theme is ‘Lights, Camera, Skate’ and will feature over five dozen area skaters performing to music from classic and current movies. The student skaters range in age from four through eighteen, with a group of skating dads taking the ice for fun. Everyone is encouraged to come out and see local talent in action! Tickets for both shows are available at Cub Foods or Cashwise in Willmar, or from any Diamond Edge figure skater.
A presentation of the ninth permanent president of Southwest Minnesota State University, will be at 11:30 Wednesday morning, Feb. 27th in the Conference Center Ballroom on the campus of SMSU in Marshall. The President-Elect will be named at a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees meeting at 9 on Tuesday morning, Feb. 26th. The President-Elect will travel to SMSU with MnSCU Chancellor Steven J. Rosenstone for presentation to the campus and greater Marshall communities at 11:30 Wednesday morning, Feb. 27th.
The Willmar Police Department has put closure on the investigation of 22 separate criminal damage to property cases that occurred in the vicinity of Rice Hospital around January 19th. Acting on leads developed through a photo posted on the Willmar Police Facebook account, Willmar Police Gang Enforcement Officers confirmed the identity of the suspects in the photo. Further case investigation led to admissions made by defendants, resulting in charges against three local boys ages 10, 12 and 13. The case has been forwarded to the Kandiyohi County Attorney’s Office.
Sunday the Minnesota State Patrol and Renville County Sheriff’s Department were called to a rollover on Highway 71 south of Country Road 4. 32 yer old Melchor Gonzalez was traveling north on Highway 71 when he lost control, went into the oncoming lane and into the ditch where he rolled, landing upright. Melchor was not injured. Passengers, 31 year old Odilia Mejia suffered a minor injury, and two year old Xavi Gonzalez was not injured.
The Minnesota State Patrol was called to a two vehicle crash Friday night at the intersection of Highways 71 and 7 south of Willmar. 83 year old Marjorie Fesenmaier of Olivia rear-ended a vehicle driven by 26 year old Timothy Liebl of Moorhead, then overturned with her vehicle ending up on its roof. She was injured and taken to Rice Hospital. Liebl was not injured, nor was his passenger, Jessica Liebl.
Friday afternoon the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office received a call from two teenage boys that there was a rollover with two people trapped in the vehicle. They assisted the sheriff’s office by providing information that helps emergency personnel respond to the scene. 88 year old Raymond Zenzan of Melrose was traveling west on County Road 13 when he lost control on the slush/ice packed roads, ended up in the ditch, rolled with the vehicle landing on its roof. He and his passenger, 76 year old Laura Zenzen were trapped in the vehicle. The Zenzen’s were removed from the vehicle and taken to Centra Care Hospital in Sauk Centre. They were wearing seatbelts.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Governor Mark Dayton met with members at the Minnesota Farmers Union office Friday, including Representative Andrew Falk of rural Murdock, who is also a farmers union member. Secretary Vilsack recognized Minnesota and specifically the Minnesota Farmers Union for their progressive work in agriculture, and informed MFU members on a federal perspective of current issues. An issue of high priority for Secretary Vilsack is introducing young people into farming. He predicts there will be far more farmers over the age of 75 than there will be under the age of 25. Federal budget sequestration, the Farm Bill, water quality programs, and dairy were also important points of discussion.
Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson is seeking recommendations for pilot project watershed areas for the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP). The program is designed to accelerate voluntary adoption of agricultural practices that enhance water quality. It will be the first program of its type in the nation and is the product of a state-federal partnership that includes a number of state agencies. Pilot areas could receive significant funding from multiple agencies to enhance their water quality. Projects will be a maximum of three-year durations to enable a diverse sampling of conditions in weather, production systems, practice implementation, and other factors. Representative Andrew Falk of rural Murdock encourages constituents with an idea to submit a recommendation. The deadline to submit recommendations is March 1st.
Senator Torrey Westrom says he’s working on policies that help families, businesses, and taxpayers thrive. He says the Senate passed a federal conformity tax bill last week. Updating the state's tax laws to the federal tax code is an important issue as Minnesota families across the state began filing their income tax returns February 1st, he says, noting timely resolution of tax conformity helps prevent the need for taxpayers to file amended returns. The tax conformity bill provided nearly $20 million in tax relief, and extended many provisions important to Minnesotans. Significant provisions included an extension of the educator classroom expense deduction of up to $250, and an extension of the higher education tuition expense deduction. This relief would cover tax year 2012, the year that Minnesotans are now reporting on their income tax returns.
The Department of Natural Resources reminds Minnesota state park and state trail users not to hike or take pets on groomed ski trails. Hiking and snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in Minnesota state parks, except on the ski trails and trails posted “closed” for the winter. Groomed trails deteriorate when people and animals leave their footprints on them. All skiers age 16 and older must carry a current, signed Minnesota Ski Pass with them when skiing in Minnesota state parks. Daily ski passes are $6 and sold at park offices where staff is available. Many Minnesota state parks rent snowshoes ($6/day), and a few rent cross-country skis ($10/day).
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering aquatic invasive species (AIS) training to owners of lake service provider businesses in Minnesota so they can legally work in the state’s waters. For lake service providers that don’t already have permits, the DNR is offering a number of training sessions in the next several months. Businesses are legally required to attend AIS training and acquire a permit before being hired to place or remove water-related equipment from state waters. Lake service providers include canoe outfitters, dock haulers, marina owners, dock/lift installers, boat or yacht clubs, irrigation equipment installers and others who conduct work that involves placing or removing water-related equipment from any state waters.
Now that the Morris City Council has the funding mechanisms in place, in the form of Tax Increment Financing Districts, they are focused on the demolition of the old Morris elementary school building. Morris City Manager Blaine Hill says the city still needs to bond for some of the funds, with the expectation the TIF Districts will pay back taxpayers over a number of years. Given the city's dual project summer--with road construction planned on the west side--Hill proposes a single bond issue. One bond for both projects would be cost effective, Hill says. Hill advised the City Council at their last meeting to consider how they will vote on the two projects. He will bring plans and specifications for both projects to the Council in the next month.
Legislators at the Minnesota Capitol continue to debate overhauls to the state tax system. Murdock Democrat Andrew Falk says the current system places an unfair burden on the middle class. Falk says a four-tier tax system, that taxes all Minnesotans at the same effective tax rate regardless of income amount, would be the most fair way to collect revenue for the state. Falk sits on the Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture Finance Committee and will be considering revenue policy in committee this week.
If you've received a heat disconnection notice and have already applied for a heat assistance grant through West Central Minnesota Communities Action, a second program could help. The Crisis Program is a second disbursement of funds to your utility to pay overdue bills. Becky Belmont of the WCMCA says the program is open to anyone but notes that 34% of program recipients have been seniors. You don't have to receive a disconnection notice to apply; certain income guidelines determine eligibility. For more information, contact WCMCA.
Local victim advocates will be joining 370 "plungers" as they dive into a lake to raise funds for the Special Olympics. Someplace Safe will Take the Plunge on Sunday afternoon, February 24th beginning at one. The local team, including Morris's Becki Jordan, will join those jumping in at Arrowwood Resort.
The Minnesota School Boards Association has set Feb. 18–22, School Board Recognition Week in Minnesota, as a time to build awareness and understanding of the vital function an elected board of education plays in our society. Alexandria School District 206 is joining all public school districts throughout the state to celebrate School Board Recognition Week to honor local board members for their commitment to District 206 children. Supt. Rick Lahn says it takes strong schools to build a strong community, and these men and women devote countless hours to making sure our schools are helping every child learn at a higher level. Lahn says they make the tough decisions every month and spend many hours studying education issues and regulations in order to provide the kind of accountability their citizens expect. Lahn said the key work of school boards is to raise student achievement by creating a vision for what the community wants the school district to be and for making student achievement the top priority; establishing standards for what students will be expected to learn and be able to do; ensuring progress is measured to be sure the district’s goals are achieved and students are learning at expected levels; being accountable for their decisions and actions by continually tracking and reporting results; creating a safe, orderly climate where students can learn and teachers can teach; forming partnerships with others in the community to solve common problems; and focusing attention on the need for continuous improvement by questioning, refining and revising issues related to student achievement. He said school board members give District 206 residents a voice in education decision making. The members serving District 206 and their years of service are: Alan Zeithamer, since 1983; Dean Anderson, since 1989; Pam Carlson, since 1999; Dave Anderson, since 2005; Jean Robley, since 2007; Sandy Susag, since 2011; and Angie Krebs, since 2013.