The Appleton City Council has been discussing fire contracts, which have been handled by the fire department for years. City Clerk Roman Fiddler says there was some controversy with the increase in prices so the fire department has said this really is a city issue. The city will now invite the townships to come in March to discuss the new contracts. Fiddler said he doesn’t see it as an issue this year because they aren’t looking at raising the cost per township.
The Minnesota School Boards Association has set February 18-22 as School Board Recognition Week in Minnesota, a time to build awareness and understanding of the important function an elected board of education plays in our society. Morris Area Schools is joining all public school districts across the state to celebrate School Board Recognition Week. The members serving the Morris district and their years of service are Laura Carrington, 12th year; Brent Fuhrman, 10th year; Kurt Gartland, 14th year; Lory Lemke, 7th year; Dick Metzger, 4th year; Jamie Solvie, 4th year; and Stan Wulf, 4th year.
Senator Torrey Westrom says, the Medical Assistance (MA) Expansion passed the Senate and House and will be sent to the Governor for his signature. This expands MA in Minnesota as a part of the new federal health care law, ObamaCare. In addition, the Health Insurance Exchange, also part of ObamaCare, passed out of the Environment Finance Committee and is currently being heard in the HHS Finance Committee. There are still serious concerns with the bill, both from GOP members and members of the healthcare and small-business communities.
The future direction of Minnesota’s statewide public school testing system was considered by the Senate Education Committee this week. Current state law follows federal requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act and provides for annual testing of elementary and secondary students in language arts and math. Senator Torrey Westrom says state law requires high school students to pass reading and writing exams and to attempt passage of a math exam prior to receiving a diploma. However, a Commissioner’s Working Group on Assessment and Accountability recommends repealing the tests for high school graduation so that there would be no “high stakes” requirement that could deny a diploma to a student. But, says Westrom, representatives of Minnesota businesses and education reform advocates are hesitant to abandon an up-or-down measure of the value of a high school degree.
Representative Andrew Falk says the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee will be assembling the Omnibus Lands Bill during its March 6th meeting. Falk urges counties in his district to contact him if they have any land sale or exchange that might need to be approved by the legislature. He says they only have a few weeks until hearings begin and it’s best to get any concerns addressed well ahead of time. An example of such a sale might be certain tax-forfeited lands, which are owned by the state in trust for the taxing districts which individual counties have the legal authority to sell subject to certain restrictions. In most instances, tax-forfeited lands are sold by public auction.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has been named Senate Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, the bicameral Congressional committee responsible for overseeing matters relating to the U.S. economy and recommending policies to move the economy forward. Klobuchar says in order to compete in the global economy we need to be a country that thinks, invents, makes things in America and exports them to the world. Klobuchar also serves on President Obama’s Export Council, the primary national advisory committee on international trade.
The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners meet today (Tuesday) beginning at nine as a family services committee, and at ten as the regular board. Agenda items include a the annual performance credit report; proposed feedlot rule changes; the Willmar Community Owner Grocery; Middle Fork Crow River Watershed Shoreline Restoration presentation; the 2013 Town Road Account Distribution; 2012 Gravel Tax Distribution; conditional uses; a gambling permit; and setting of the Board of Equalization date. During the afternoon, from 1:30-3:30, there is a Kandiyohi County/Renville County CHB meeting at the health and human services building.
35 year old Terrie McCoss of Marshall was killed in a head-on crash yesterday (Monday) on Highway 23 south of County Road 17 in Yellow Medicine County. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, 50 year old Jennifer Henslin of Granite Falls was traveling south on Highway 23, lost control, slid sideways and crossed the center line colliding with the McCoss vehicle. Henslin suffered minor injuries. Assisting at the scene were the Granite Falls Police Department and Yellow Medicine County Sheriff’s Office.
The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office was called to a house fire at the Joseph Opitz residence in Cold Spring last night (Monday). According to the sheriff’s office, Opitz was home at the time and told officers the first started in the chimney on the southeast side of his home. Nobody was injured.
Today (Tuesday), U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar will continue her two day ‘Exporting Minnesota’ tour to discuss her efforts to open up new export markets for Minnesota businesses to help them compete in the global economy. She will make stops in Willmar, Benson, Morris and Glenwood. She will be at Nova Tech Engineering in Willmar at 8:30; the Case IH Plant in Benson at 10:30; Superior Industries in Morris at 2:30; and WASP in Glenwood at 4:15.
There were numerous crashes yesterday (Monday) due to blowing snow, ice covered roads and strong winds. There was a rollover at the Highway 23/Country Road 5 intersection southwest of Willmar; a semi jackknifed blocking traffic on Highway 23 near Clara City; there was a rollover on Highway 12 in Kandiyohi; there were numerous vehicles that slid into the ditch; schools closed early; MnDOT pulled its plows off the road and there were road closures due to the weather.
The Stevens County Board of Commissioners meet in regular session today (Tuesday) at nine on the second floor of the county courthouse. Sheriff Jason Dingman will seek approval to fill the deputy position he left behind when appointed Sheriff on December 31st of last year. Dingman says before his appointment, the department was running with a full-time sheriff and five deputies. Now, down to four deputies, his request will seek to restore those numbers. The board will also hear an update from Human Services Director Joanie Murphy.
The Big Stone County Board of Commissioners meet in regular session today (Tuesday) at 8:30 in the county board room in Ortonville. Agenda items include a presentation by Environmental Officer Darren Wilke regarding a Conditional Use Permit for the Sibson Gravel Pit. The board will also hear from the county attorney and county auditor.