Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson supports Congressman Collin Peterson in his call for assurance of debate from Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, in regards to crafting another possible farm bill. Speaker Boehner has been previously quoted saying, they need to stop writing bills in the Speaker’s office and let members of Congress be legislators again, that they have nothing to fear from letting the House work it’s will, nothing to fear from the battle of ideas. Congressman Peterson, MFU and others alike confer that not allowing time for the Agriculture Committee’s bipartisan bill to be debated on the floor was a disregard to letting the house “work it’s will”.
Save Our Tails is happening Friday, February 22nd and the Humane Society is looking for help with this event. An organizational meeting is set for Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 15th at 5:30 at Sunray. In addition to your help. they want you to start thinking of some original baskets for the auction. If you have a craft you could make and donate that would be great, a food or liquor basket you could put together, sports, theatre, reading, spa, decorating, music, kids, pets, the list is endless. They also need people to go to businesses and ask for donations or gift certificates. They also need some desserts for the live dessert auction.
The Morris City Council has approved several changes to their rental housing ordinance. Following an unattended public hearing on Tuesday night, City Council members reduced the number of housing code requirements to reflect those established by the state. The Council also included a provision to protect renters who sign contracts-for-deed rather than rental agreements. Morris City Manager Blaine Hill says the city continues to experience insufficient rental housing units. Hill says the city is working on the demolition and development of the old elementary school property. He hopes developers will be interested in putting up apartment buildings to add to the rental housing pool. The new housing ordinance will take effect in 30 days.
The Stevens County Board of Commissioners have appointed Judy Thorstad County Assessor for another four years. It is Thorstad's ninth appointment to that position. County Attorney Aaron Jordan administered the oath of office.
The Morris Area Robotics Team is ready to build a new robot, but they need your help. Team member Megan Wagner reports a team fundraiser has been planned for Friday. The community meal, which is in the Morris American Legion, will run from 5-8. The team will also offer demonstrations of last year's robot. Last year's robot was required to shoot basketballs. This year's robot needs to throw Frisbees and climb a pyramid.
Superior Industries, a Morris-based manufacturer, has paid a $20,000 penalty for environmental violations. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reports Superior Industries has taken corrective actions to protect the environment from air pollutant emissions. In December 2010 and July 2011, the M-P-C-A received reports from Superior Industries that showed its emissions of hazardous air pollutants, including volatile organic compounds, had exceeded permitted levels from January 2007 through January 2011. An environmental audit conducted by the company revealed additional permit violations, including the use of an emergency generator for non-emergency reasons and pollutant-control equipment had not been installed on a sandblasting booth. Superior Industries has completed several actions to correct all these issues and has paid a their penalty to the M-P-C-A.
In a week and a half, service bodies across the country will be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by participating in acts of service within their communities. In Stevens County, UMM has organized their fourth day of service and they are inviting all community members to participate. The day starts Monday afternoon, Jan. 21st at one on the UMM Campus with a community lunch, followed by educational or service opportunities. A community dinner will end the day at Faith Lutheran Church in Morris, with serving at 5. UMM organizers note that all volunteers interested in participating in the MLK Day of Service will be welcomed, but pre-registration is required.
With several days of temperatures hovering above and below freezing, 32°F, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding everyone not to let their guard down when traveling out on a frozen lake, river or pond. So far this winter, there have been no ice-related deaths in Minnesota. Last winter, four people died after falling through the ice. DNR clear ice minimum thickness recommendations are: 4 inches for walking; 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV; 8-12 inches for a car; 12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck. When the temperature rises above freezing for six hours during a 24 hour period, people should double the recommended minimum thicknesses. If temperatures rise above freezing for 24 hours or more, they should stay off the ice.
A Minnesota Pollution Control Agency study found that nearly 80 percent of waste generated by schools can be recycled or composted. To encourage schools to generate less waste and save costs, the Jeffers Foundation created a contest for Minnesota elementary schools to submit their waste-reduction ideas. Three schools were awarded five thousand dollars each for their projects. These ideas and other submissions have been consolidated as a resource for schools on the Jeffers Foundation’s Waste Reduction Awareness Program webpage.
The Willmar City Council elected committee chairs, and an acting mayor during its reorganizational meeting Monday night. Denis Anderson was elected acting mayor. He was also re-elected chair of the Finance Committee. Ron Christianson was elected chair of the Public Works/Safety Committee; Steve Ahmann was re-elected chair of the Labor Relations Committee; and Rick Fagerlie was elected chair of the Community Development Committee.
Bipartisan legislation to establish a health insurance exchange has been presented by Representative Joe Atkins and Senator Tony Lourey. They say the exchange will be an online marketplace where Minnesotans can compare and purchase affordable health insurance coverage. Enrollment in this exchange begins October 1st, with plan coverage starting January 1st of 2014. Tom Huntley, health and human services finance chair, says this is the most important moment in health care industry in the state since 1965 when they came up with Medicare and Medicaid. He said this year you’re going to see the biggest change in our health care system. Most of it is still going to be in the private market, it’s still going to be the current providers we have but they’re going to get paid a little different. Hopefully, he said, they will see a dramatic reduction in the cost of health care. “This is a key moment in my 20 years in the legislature. I think this is the most important year I will be here.”
The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved applying for a DNR grant, the money to be used to offset some of the salaries for the AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) inspectors and education. Commissioner Harlan Madsen says this is not an enforcement or ticket writing effort, it’s primarily to raise awareness and to engage the people that are using the lakes, which are an important resource for the county. The Middle Fork Crow River Association is also applying for a grant, and would do all the administration and training in conjunction with the DNR. Madsen says this would allow for about 960 hours of inspection outside of the Middle Fork Crow River District, since the Middle Fork is applying on its own. It’s very important to proceed ahead with this Madsen said.