Representative Mary Sawatzky of Willmar is pretty excited about going to the governor’s mansion tonight (Tuesday). She says there’s a small group of legislators that are invited and she’s one of them. They’ll be visiting with him, getting to know him a little better, she says. Sawatzky said people think they work with the governor day to day and they don’t. He has his engagements, she said, and they're busy working in committees and visiting with different coalitions of people. "We don’t have a lot of interaction with the governor but I think from what I’ve been hearing in the past, legislators haven’t really been invited to the governor’s residence so I’m excited to attend that tonight."
Senator Torrey Westrom and Representative McNamara will be hosting town hall meetings in District 12A on Friday. They will be at the Hans House in Elbow Lake at seven in the morning; at the Breckenridge City Hall at 9:30; at the Country Corner Café in Wheaton at 11:30; the Pizza Ranch in Ortonville at 1:30 that afternoon; and the Pizza Ranch in Morris at 3:30.
A local lawmaker is proposing a pilot project to save energy in schools. Elbow Lake Representative Jay McNamer has proposed a $3 million dollar revolving loan fund for weatherization and other energy saving projects. McNamer says the money would be paid back with the savings realized by the projects. Interest rates would range from two to three percent. He hopes the program is successful and can be expanded to allow more schools to take advantage of it. The bill is currently in the Energy Policy committee.
A local sports group would receive control of lake property under a proposal in the Minnesota Senate. State Senator Torrey Westrom's bill would direct the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to sell two acres of lake shore property on Pomme De Terre Lake for a negotiated price to the Donnelly Rod and Gun Club, which owns land next to DNR land. Westrom says the club has maintained the property for years as a service project.
One of the provisions of the sale would be continued public access to the lake or the land would revert to the state. The bill has been referred to the Environment and Energy committee.
Someplace Safe of Grant County will be hosting its annual chili cook-off this week. The fundraiser is very important for victim advocacy work in the county, says Grant County advocate Carole Butcher. The Chili Cook-Off is the only fundraiser held in the county each year. There will be a freewill donation for the chili dinner, which will be Saturday from 4-7 at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Elbow Lake.
The Stevens County Emergency Management Department has won a state-wide award for their work in the Emergency Management field. Nearly 500 emergency management professionals attended the 48th Annual Governor's Homeland Security and Emergency Management Conference last week. Stevens County, including Director Donna Griener, Sheriff Jason Dingman, and former Sheriff Randy Willis, were honored for their excellence in emergency management. The state agency C-MIST collaboration group was also honored for their work creating the new Functional Needs toolkit for Emergency Planners.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar stopped in Willmar, Benson, Morris and Glenwood yesterday (Tuesday). During her stop in Willmar, she toured Nova Tech Engineering at MinnWest Technology Campus. She was glad to hear that Nova Tech is exporting to China. Klobuchar was recently appointed to President Obama’s Export Council, and her goal on that council is to help businesses in America with problems they have exporting their products globally.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources it’s been a tragic winter on the ice across Minnesota. So far, five people have died falling through the ice, with a sixth person missing and presumed drowned. DNR boat and water safety specialist Kara Owens says this winter is on track to be the deadliest on the ice in Minnesota in six years. There could be several reasons why so many people have died this year, she said, noting it could be that there are more people out on the ice because we have had a cooler winter and more snow. But the bottom line is it’s crucial that people do not let their guard down and know ice is never 100 percent safe.
Governor Mark Dayton has signed the bill expanding health coverage for 35,000 Minnesotans. He says it will have a large impact on the state as those Minnesotans who don’t have insurance will get insurance and that will reduce the cost of uncompensated care. It’s going to reduce the cost of health care coverage for the rest of us who are on private insurance because when people in this situation become ill, since they don’t have medical coverage they wait until they’re really sick and then they go to hospital emergency rooms where costs are higher and those costs are passed on to those patients who have coverage. It’s a big step forward for Minnesota, he said.
Kristin Anderson-Rosetti, outreach coordinator for the Willmar Community Owned Grocery (COG), updated the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners on where they’re at and asked for their membership and their support. She informed the board they’re a full service grocery in the process of opening in Willmar with an emphasis on local foods and quality foods. She said this business will also have a very positive effect on our local economy by being a local business and supporting local producers and growers. Right now they’re looking for more member owners. To become a member owner it’s a one-time $200 investment. You will become a part of the COG community, have a say in how the store is run and also bring this important new venture to the Willmar community. The county board met yesterday (Tuesday).
The Florida Slough open to liberalized fishing until Feb. 24th. Snow and frigid temperatures have combined to make Florida Slough near Spicer susceptible to fish winterkill conditions, prompting the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to open it to liberalized fishing. Liberalized fishing regulations allow a resident with a valid angling license to take fish of any species in any amount, using any manner except with seines, hoop nets, fyke nets or explosives. Check the posting at the lake for any additional restrictions. Any rough fish taken may be sold. The DNR urges the public to exercise caution while on Florida Slough. Fish movement, flowing water and other factors can quickly impact ice thickness.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation reminds the public that it is unlawful to deposit snow on or next to a public highway or street. Improperly placing snow on or near a public road creates hazards including drainage problems, drifting, sight obstruction and unsafe access, says Craig Gertsema, District 8 maintenance superintendent. He says special attention should be made to keep crosswalks, intersections, entrances and exits clean and unobstructed. Minnesota law and many local ordinances prohibit the plowing, blowing, shoveling or otherwise placing of snow onto public roads. This includes the ditch and right of way area along the roads. Violations are considered misdemeanors, but civil penalties also apply if the placement of snow creates a hazard, such as a slippery area, frozen rut or bump, that contributes to a motor vehicle or pedestrian crash. The civil liability can extend to both the property owner and the person who placed the snow.
94 year old George Hulstrand Sr., a well known and long time attorney, died yesterday (Tuesday) at Rice Hospital in Willmar. He practiced law until retiring two years ago. Funeral services will be Saturday afternoon at two at Bethel Lutheran church. Visitation is Friday from 5-7 at the Peterson Bros Funeral Home.
54 year old Jose Ramos of Willmar appeared in Kandiyohi County District Court yesterday (Tuesday) on eight felony criminal sexual conduct charges and one gross misdemeanor criminal sexual conduct charge. The charges involve two females, and Ramos has allegedly admitted to the sexual conduct.