Legislators at the State Capitol are formulating responses to Governor Mark Dayton's State of the State address. Murdock Representative Andrew Falk says Dayton's budget proposal will improve the state's financial standing. With increased revenue, Falk hopes the state can pass a balanced budget that includes paying back Minnesota schools. The state's deficit still stands at $1.1 billion, a number Falk says could be partially dealt with this session. The majority of the deficit represents money owed to the state's schools.
University of Minnesota students from the school's five campuses gathered at the state capitol yesterday (Thursday) for "Support the U" Day. Event organizer, UMM student Joe Kreisman (KRIES-mun), says the primary focus was to encourage legislators to support increased higher education funding and bonding bills. The students also lobbied for a few other issues, including a debt forgiveness program, medical amnesty for students who might not seek medical attention following illegal activities like underage drinking, and an open textbook law. Kreisman says students want legislators to consider their individual stories when considering legislation that will affect the University of Minnesota as a whole.
A recent uptick in drug-related crimes in the City of Morris has the Morris Police Department working overtime to address supply and demand. An influx of low-cost, high quality heroin and methamphetamine has encouraged some to switch from prescription drugs to the manufactured street drugs says Morris Chief of Police Jim Beauregard. Chief Beauregard says drug use in schools could be effected. A recent national study showed one in five students in grades 9-12 use a pain killer or cough syrup at least once in the last month. Beauregard says although Minnesota's statistics are lower, prescription drug use is "still out there." With many switching to street drugs, Beauregard says high school drug users might do the same. Beauregard says west-central Minnesota is right at the crossroads between Kandiyohi County, St. Cloud, Fargo/Moorhead, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, making the community more accessible for drug transport and sales.
Four UMM Theatre students will be meeting on stage tonight (Friday) and twice tomorrow (Saturday) during their run of the play God of Carnage. Actress Deon Haider (Dee-ON HI-dur) explains the premise: two sets of parents get together after their sons get into a fight. The simple premise leads to a complicated unfolding of the parents' relationships. The play will be performed in the HFA tonight at 7:30 and on Saturday at 2 in the afternoon and 7:30 in the evening.
A public hearing on the comp plan for the city of Montevideo was held this week. City Manager Steve Jones says the city is renewing its comp plan and the city has put together some guiding principles. He says they’ve advertised those in the paper, they’ve asked for input from citizens and held a public hearing on that. That’s kind of the first step, he said, and they’ll be spending the next three months in small groups working on transportation, housing and all the different areas they want to cover. Jones is hopefully by the end of the summer they’ll have a new comp plan for the city of Montevideo.
This week the Benson City Council held a first reading on an ordinance restricting the firing of firearms inside the city limits. City Administrator Rob Wolfington says definitions included replica weapons, which fire BB like projectiles. The council also looked at a watermain project on Trunk Highway 29 as well as looked at the initial findings on a revised feasibility study for a flood control program in the northeast as well as a hydraulic study for the railroad bridge on the Chippewa River.
In response to the governor’s state of the state address, Speaker of the House Paul Thissen says he shares the governor’s desire to set aside the status quo and take action to put our state on a path to long-term economic prosperity. That’s what Minnesotans expect from us, he says, and they’re excited for the opportunity to work with the governor to move the state forward. Thissen said the governor laid out a very positive vision for the state of Minnesota and also laid out for legislators and Minnesotans the real choices that we’re facing. Thissen said from his perspective there’s no question, we can’t stick with the status quo that we’ve been living with for the last decade, we need to move forward in a new direction and the governor is going to be a great leader with that.
A longtime Morris teacher and coach received an award at the State Capitol Wednesday, honored alongside the Minnesota Lynx and their coach, Cheryl Reeve. Mary Holmberg received the "Breaking Barriers" award, alongside twelve other women from across Minnesota, including Wendy Kohler of the Alexandria Public Schools. The awards were presented as part of the 27th Annual Minnesota Girls and Women in Sport Day. Holmberg has been a person of many "firsts" in the Morris Area Schools. She started the first girls' softball team in 1981, the first girls' swimming and diving team, and the first girls' hockey team. Holmberg coached these sports, along with the girls' basketball team, for many years. In her 32 years as head softball coach, Holmberg's teams racked up more than 475 wins. Holmberg also served as the Morris Athletic Director for seventeen years. Holmberg has won several awards over the years, including being named Morris Area Teacher of the Year and Region 6A Athletic Director of the Year.
Wednesday the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office responded to a one-vehicle crash in the area of County State Aid Highway 9 and Lake Stella, Ellsworth Township. One individual was transported to the Hutchinson Hospital by a private vehicle to be checked out.
Wednesday, the Central Minnesota Violent Offender Task Force concluded an investigation into the sale of methamphetamine in Brooten. Investigators purchased meth from 44 year old Kelly Grundseth during a two month investigation. At the time of his arrest Grundseth had 7.2 grams of meth in his possession, along with proceeds from the sales of controlled substances. He was taken to the Stearns County Jail and is being held on third degree sale of meth and third degree possession of meth. The task force was assisted in the investigation by the Belgrade Police Department and the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office.
The Minnesota State Patrol was called to a sideswipe crash between a car and a semi Wednesday afternoon east of Sunburg on State Highway 9. 62 year old Thomas Twitchell, the driver of the car, was taken to Rice Hospital in Willmar with non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the semi was 48 year old John Houpt of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Olivia Chief of Police Derek Lee says one person died in a fire in the Westcourt apartments in Olivia yesterday morning. Lee says the fire was contained to one apartment, however, the other 15 apartments suffered smoke damage and about 15 individuals have been temporarily displaced. The fire department personnel found heavy smoke coming out of one apartment, he said, and after the fire was extinguished found a deceased individual in the apartment. The identity of the individual is still pending full identification by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Anoka County. Lee says the Olivia Police and Fire Departments and the State Fire Marshal are still investigating the fire. The American Red Cross is assisting the displaced people
National Legion Commander James Koutz spoke at the Willmar American Legion yesterday (Thursday). He told the group he doesn’t understand what’s going on in Washington D.C. with the scrapping of the electronic health program, in which they’ve already invested a billion dollars. He was upset about the one percent increase in military pay, and said no federal employee should receive a higher increase than the military. Koutz was also upset with the news that the Harry Truman aircraft carrier was not going to be sent to the Persian Gulf; he also talked about his project of raising half a million dollars for the Operation Comfort Warrior program, asking the legion members for their help. Koutz will also be flying to Hanoi in June on a special mission. He said a goal of his was to go back over there and see firsthand how things are going on research for the remains of our POWs and MIAs. They’re going over the first week in June and will search for remains for four days. He said that’s something very close to his heart. “We need to find out what’s happening and I want to do that first hand and then I can come back and report to our 2.4 million members.”
At yesterday’s (Thursday) Kandiyohi County Road and Bridge meeting, county public works director Gary Danielson, went over the revised budget, which involved talking about some state aid increases they hadn’t expected. For the benefit of the new commissioners, Danielson explained the reallocated funds, how the funds are split, how a project for a small city like Raymond or Sunburg might get into the mix, and how much money is available for that, then looked at the 2013 program. They went through the projects being proposed for that, at least tentatively at this time, depending on how some of the funding works out. The only formal action they took was to approve the proposed construction budget and budget adjustments. Danielson said they didn’t get to the five year plan, they will have to pick that up a different time.