It’s week two of the 2013 legislative session and local representatives are already pushing bills to bring more dollars to west-central Minnesota. District 12A Representative Jay McNamar, a Democrat, says he has signed onto a bill to repay money owed to schools. Although the legislature has a projected deficit, McNamar says paying schools back is one of his top priorities. McNamar is a freshman legislator representing Stevens, Big Stone, Traverse, Grant, Wilkin, and a western portion of Pope County.
The Morris City Council will soon be collecting bids for their 2013 road construction project. West 9th, 10th, and 11th, along with inter-linking avenues and buried infrastructure, will be completely reconstructed. Morris City Manager Blaine Hill plans to bring the specifications and plans to the city council for approval this month, with bids collected in March. Hill notes the project will limit access to homes and businesses during construction but crews will open streets for nighttime access.
A registered sex offender who has been living in Pope County will appear in court this week for charges related to sexual crimes. Ryan Emmett Moore, who was previously convicted of sexual crimes involving females between the ages of 13 and 15, will appear in court to answer two charges of criminal sexual conduct, related to an incident involving a victim under the age of 13. Moore pled "not guilty" to the charges shortly after the October 7th incident. He will appear in Pope County court tomorrow (Wednesday) for a plea hearing.
This is Para-educator Week in Minnesota, celebrating the work of those who labor in a variety of settings in school districts to assist in the education of students. Minnesota schools employ more than 25,000 para-educators who help design, implement, and evaluate educational programs. The Morris Area Schools has 55 para-educators who work pre-Kindergarten through 12th Grade.
A learning series about vegetation continues this week. On Wednesday, the year's first installment of the Come Grow With Us series will be held at the West Central Research and Outreach Center. This month's topic is planning your shade garden. Master Gardner Bernie Angus will lead the discussion. The free lunchtime program starts at 12:15 and runs for a half hour. Bring a bag lunch.
The Stevens County Board of Commissioners meet in regular session this morning (Tuesday) at nine on the second floor of the Stevens County Courthouse. The agenda includes an update from Bois de Sioux Watershed Manager in Stevens County Linda Vavra. The board will also hear a personnel update from Human Resources Director Janet Raguse.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is seeking comments on a water quality improvement report for Ann River Watershed in Kanabec and Mille Lacs counties. The report focuses on pollution caused by excess nutrients and bacteria.The public comment period began January 14th and continues through February 13th.
Governor Mark Dayton with the support of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA) has proclaimed this as Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week in Minnesota. More than 1,000 volunteer instructors teach DNR snowmobile safety courses across the state. To legally ride a snowmobile in Minnesota, residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, need a valid snowmobile safety certificate.
Lac qui Parle State Park, near Montevideo, will host a group snowshoe hike from 1 to 3 Sunday afternoon, Jan. 20th. The hike, which is suitable for beginner-level snowshoers of all ages, will begin with a talk about the park, its wildlife and how to identify animal tracks. Snowshoeing is easy to learn and can be fun for all ages, whether alone or in groups. It offers a low-impact workout that can burn more calories than running, cycling or cross-country skiing. There is no charge for the event, although pre-registration is required, and the hike is limited to 20 participants. Children age 12 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.
The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners meet this morning (Tuesday) at ten at the Health and Human Services Building. Agenda items include AIS funding; MDRA resolution; Eagle Lake Trail agreement; the sheriff’s office Facebook page; an update on the Sentence to Serve and Community Service program; and the community marketing coalition. At nine the board meets as a Family Services Committee.
Governor Mark Dayton plans to deliver his State of the State address to the House and Senate at Wednesday night, Feb. 6th at seven. He has requested the time in a letter to legislative leaders. This marks the second straight year that the state’s top official will deliver the address in the evening. The governor has another key date upcoming in his calendar. By Jan. 22, he must present his proposed budget for solving the state’s projected $1.1 billion deficit.
Meeker County Sheriff Jeff Norlin is asking for your help in reference to recent daytime burglaries occurring around Meeker County. He asks that you be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles and persons who may be in your neighborhood. Grant, Stevens, Pope, Douglas, and Kandiyohi Counties have had over 30 reports of daytime burglaries. On January 9th, Meeker County had a burglary that occurred on County Road 2 in Forest City Township, in the mid-morning hours, it appears to be the same suspect as the other counties. The majority of the burglaries have taken place during the daytime when people are at work or otherwise not home. Sheriff Norlin says they’re looking for a charcoal or dark gray colored extended cab or four door pick-up, with a Caucasian male in his early to mid-thirties, or possibly older. When this person has come to an occupied home he has asked if they want their driveways plowed, however the truck does not have a snowplow. The person speaks with a southern accent and was seen wearing a baseball cap, with a brown jacket, possibly a Carhartt. If you come across this person, vehicle, or any other suspicious activity in your neighborhood, contact the Meeker County Sheriff's Office.
Sterling House in Willmar, a Brookdale Senior Living assisted living community, is hosting a special presentation on Veterans Affairs aid and attendance benefits for local veterans, their surviving spouses and families. Don Roden of the American Association for Wartime Veterans will be on hand to explain how veterans can qualify to receive monthly tax-free money and benefits. The event is free and open to the public. The event is on Tuesday night, Jan. 22nd at 6:30 at Sterling House. For more information, call Ashley Klinger.
The Kandiyohi County Historical Society Museum is now open Monday through Friday from 9-5. The multi-purpose room addition is almost complete! The floors in the depot and research room have been refinished. Jill Wohnoutka, director, says they have also completed their newest display, ‘Kandiyohi County and the U.S. Dakota War of 1862’.
Representative Kurt Daudt, house minority leader, says the House Republicans are committed to balancing the budget. He says they have a deficit of $1.1 billion projected over the next biennium, which is down from what was projected. He says they’ve reduced it by about 75 percent because of the policies they put in place over the last couple of years. He says they will balance the budget without raising taxes on middle class families and harming the middle class families. This is not the time to raise taxes in Minnesota, he says. He also says Minnesota’s economy is headed in the right direction. Unemployment is down from 7 percent two years ago to 5.7 percent today. The Secretary of State released a report that showed 18 percent increase in the number of new business filings so they have new businesses coming into Minnesota, he said, noting 55,000 new jobs werecreated last year. He said they know the economy is headed in the right direction because of the policies the Republican majorities have put in place over the last couple of years. He said they also know that it’s a fragile recovery, and upsetting the apple cart with tax increases would be the wrong move at this point.
Elbow Lake Republican Senator Torrey Westrom's week got off to a rough start. His car was broken into and as a result he Westrom wasn't able to attend the session opening Humphrey Institute presentation aimed at fostering an air of cooperation between the competing parties. He says there are differences between the House and Senate, including a dress code requiring men to wear a tie and they’re in close quarters with other members since there are only half the number of members. Westrom is pleased with his three committee appointments including Finance, Transportation and Public Safety, and Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture, as well as the Next Generation Energy Board.