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NEWS-Feb 28
News Director: Bev Alquist Call with news at 320-235-2900 or email bahlquist@k-musicradio.com

News Archive

The Kerkhoven City Council will be cleaning and chlorinating the screen of its main well, rather than also doing the secondary well because of the cost. Mayor Brian Thompson says they’ll do the other well next year. The cost for doing the main well will be about $3200. The cost to do the other well would have been between $6,000-$7,000. That was a larger project so we’ll put that on hold. That’s the secondary well and is one we don’t use a whole lot. It’s a back up well so we’ll take care of the main one first and look at the other next year.

Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyfels was at this week’s city council meeting. He informed the council the feds has contacted the department asking that they be involved in a multi agency law enforcement joint powers agreement. City Administrator Jim Taddie says this would provide some training for the department and some equipment to respond to various activities at the federal level.

The Litchfield School Board discussed the status of their technology resources and what they need to do with them when they met this week. Supt. Dan Fraiser says the plan continues to stay in draft phase as staff are debating the merits of different devices that will be appropriate for the project. He says there is some consensus they need to upgrade the district’s wireless network. The plan also needs to include safety and security because they need some of the electronic security measures to help make the buildings more safe, mainly a strong computer backbone that could run our security cams as well as safe access portals on our doors. They are also discussing the financing possibilities, whether to ask for a public vote or if the vote should be on a bond issue or part of a regular referendum issue. The initial timeline is to start with the proposal yet this spring. They’re thinking they should push this back into the fall. But they continue to work on involving everyone as they continue to develop that plan. 

The Morris City Council has approved the plans and specifications for the demolition of the old Morris elementary school building, and has issued a call for bids. Chuck DeWolf, the project engineer, says the plan is to remove everything from the site, down to the building's footings. All hazardous mitigation would have to be completed by the contractor, or their sub-contractor, and the site would be filled in with black dirt. By the end of the project, DeWolf says the site should be a big open space, ready for future development. DeWolf estimates the winning bid will be between $1 million to $1.1 million. Bids will be opened on March 21. City Council members raised a number of concerns about the project, including the route trucks would take when removing hazardous materials and the rest of the building. The plans and specifications direct all truck traffic down 7th Street in Morris, to Atlantic Avenue. From there, trucks can head south, to the county's landfill.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has increasingly focused on policing zebra mussel infested waters, with resources marshaled for other invasive species, says Steve Hirsch, Director of the Ecological Waters Resources Division. With the spread of zebra mussels to more of the state's lakes and rivers, including large, hard-to-treat lakes like Pope County's Lake Minnewaska, the job of containing the species is growing ever harder. The Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Finance Committee in the Minnesota House has been reviewing the DNR's budget for the coming biennium.

At town hall meetings across their shared district last week, Senator Torrey Westrom and Representative Jay McNamar heard a number of issues, with gun control, medical assistance, and Minnesota's Health Insurance Exchange dominating the conversation. Westrom and McNamar also weighed in on Governor Dayton's proposed 5.5% sales tax with a broader range of services subject to taxation. Westrom says the addition of business-to-business service taxes could be disastrous. It's a tax that doesn't exist now, Westrom says, and would increase the cost of services, often significantly. McNamar also thinks the tax could be harmful. He gave an example, saying a manufacturing company that makes parts for other businesses would have to pay the 5.5% sales tax on all sales, and those businesses would have to eat those costs. He said $1 million in sales would be $55,000 in taxes and that could cost the company a job.

An artist who works with paper and clay has installed an exhibit at the PRCA Art Gallery in Morris. Milan artist John George Larson will have a reception to discuss his work tomorrow night (Friday) from 6-9 at the gallery. The exhibit and reception is free and open to the public.

Representative Mary Sawatzky of Willmar says it’s important to keep up with our transportation and transit needs and getting people from place to place. She says the younger people are relying on transit more so than in the past. She says they’ve had testimony from people saying their sons or daughters aren’t getting their driver’s license until their late 20s. They’re also finding people like taking transit to and from work so they can be on their laptop, ipad, or telephone. She says they have a long way to go and they need to continue with the transit and infrastructure needs in the metro as well as Greater Minnesota. Representative Jeff Howe in the Paynesville area and Sawatzky are jacketing a bill on filling the two gaps on Highway 23. She says they’re working together to see what can be done with that. 

Two people suffered minor injuries last night (Wednesday) at the intersection of Highway 212 and Renville County Road 22. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, 31 year old Jose Jaime of Hector lost control and ran off the road. His passenger was Roberto Jaime of Hector. Assisting at the scene were the Buffalo Lake and Hector Police Departments and the Renville County Sheriff’s Department.

A recent craze is sweeping the country and it is known as "gallon smashing". Videos have been posted on YouTube and have gone viral. Apparently local individuals are engaging in the same practice in Willmar as well. The general concept is for a person to intentionally fall and break open jugs of milk or fruit juice while doing so. They or others, walk through the spilled liquid and pretend to "fall" in it. The planned "falls" are recorded and posted online. The purpose of creating this disturbance is to seek public reaction to the supposed slip and fall routine. The Willmar Police wish to provide advance warning to those who have already participated in this senseless action and to those who might be considering jumping on board that store video cameras are catching the action. Local stores have already contacted the Willmar Police and are sharing store video footage with them with the intent of having individuals identified and charged in this act of destruction of property and the resulting mess. Officers say if you have engaged in this activity, there may already be charges pending against you for criminal damage to property. Those who choose to partake in this activity could have their video go viral, either after being posted on the Willmar Police Facebook page when the department asks for help in identification of local offenders, or possibly after being viewed on the courtroom video screen when played to the jury.

41 year old Jerry Pahl, a Level III sex offender, has moved to the vicinity of 4th Street and Becker Avenue Southeast in Willmar. According to the Minnesota Department of Corrections, Pahl engaged in sexual contact with a 14 year old female and physical force was used to gain compliance. He has completed his term in prison and is not wanted by law enforcement. Level III offenders are individuals identified by the Department of Correction as having a higher chance of re-offending. For more information call the Willmar Police Department.

Representative Mary Sawatzky of Willmar, House Education Finance Chair Rep. Paul Marquart of Dilworth and Senator Lyle Koenen of Clara City will speak at a Willmar Chamber of Commerce Luncheon tomorrow (Friday) from one to 1:30 at The Oaks in Willmar. The legislators will discuss education issues and how to create the world’s best workforce for the 21st century.

The Rice Health Foundation is kicking off a two million dollar capital campaign today (Thursday) for Rice Care Center. The renovation and expansion project is part of a larger construction plan that began in 2010. The first two phases included the construction of Therapy Suites, a 23-bed, short term care/rehabilitation facility located on the same campus as the long term facility. The final three phases of the plan will cost $6 million. The plan includes extensive renovation and expansion of Rice Care Center. To date, the foundation is half way toward its $2 million goal. A $100,000 gift from the Otto Bremer Foundation will be awarded today (Thursday).

The Renville County Hospital Board has eliminated the chief operating officer position after learning of pending changes to Blue Cross Blue Shield reimbursements. The changes are effective May 1st, with the anticipated reduction to be about $525,000. In addition to eliminating the Chief Operating Officer position, the hospital board plans to renegotiate its therapy services contract and partner with local area food vendors to provide community based meals.

36 year old David Pillatzki Jr. of Spicer will be sentenced April 15th after pleading guilty in Kandiyohi County District Court to three felony charges. Those charges are possessing a firearm after being convicted of a violent crime, fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, and fifth degree drug possession.

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