When the Stevens County Board of Commissioners adjourned on Dec. 31st, two commissioners ended their terms. Larry Sayre and Paul Watzke have served for 12 and 8 years, respectively. Newly elected commissioners Bob Kopitzke and Donny Wohlers will take their seats at the first-of-the-year meeting on Tuesday, January 8th.
Mike Kiefer is coming to Willmar to present Fun & Humor in the Workplace to Increase Productivity. He will be at the Willmar Conference Center on Thursday afternoon, January 17th from 3-5. Traditionally viewed as nonsense by many "old school" managers, fun and humor are now being viewed as productivity increasing instruments. This "no-nonsense" approach shows participants how a wide variety of practical, low to no cost events and incentives can be used to boost morale and productivity. Examples from factories, offices, engineering and government agencies will be shared as role models. You need to call the chamber by noon January 14th if planning to attend.
Pioneer Public Television of Appleton is premiering the next episode of Postcards on Sunday night at seven with ‘The Arts of Minnesota Winemaking.’ In downtown Redwood Falls you’ll take in a fall fest and grape stomp with Fieldstone Vineyards; you’ll stop at Glacial Ridge Winery in rural Spicer for wine and apples, and finish the tour at Morgan Creek Vineyards in New Ulm.
The cost of living is going up for three of four elected Stevens County officials, according to action taken by the Stevens County Board of Commissioners. COLA--or Cost of Living Adjustment--is part of the wages set by the board annually for elected officials. County Commissioner Ron Staples recommended reducing a COLA increase for Auditor-Treasurer Neil Wiese, from 2.5% to 1.5%. With COLA set at 2.5%, Wiese's annual wages would be $72,776. A 1.5% increase would set his salary at $72,066. COLA increases for Attorney Aaron Jordan and Recorder Virginia Mahoney were set at 2.5%, setting Jordan's salary at $103,421 and Mahoney's compensation at $72,432. The board set Sheriff Jason Dingman's 2013 salary at $72,780. All four elected officials receive a monthly $750 "cafeteria benefit" for health care.
Businesses in Morris have a unique opportunity for improving their business: loans granted through the city at low interest rates. The Storefront Loans benefit the entire town, says City Council Member Jeff Miller, because improved businesses bring in more business, more money, and helps everyone. Several area businesses and organizations have drawn funds from the community loan pool, including the Stevens County Historical Society. Morris City Manager Blaine Hill notes the Stevens County Economic Improvement Commission runs the accounts.
A Pope County Family has been named Environmental Stewards of the Year by the Minnesota Pork Board. Paul and Stephanie Fiedler own and operate Fiedler Finishing near Westport, an operation that includes two, 3,200-head sow sites. The Fiedler's also farm 2,700 acres of corn and soybeans. The couple engages in several conservation practices, including 220 acres of vegetative cover, buffer strips, and shelter belts. Water and energy conservation at the farm sites is monitored. The Fiedlers will be recognized at the Minnesota Pork Congress on January 16 and 17 in Minneapolis.
Minnesota’s first-ever wolf season closed yesterday (Thursday). As of Wednesday, 181 wolves had been registered in the late season northwest wolf zone out of a target harvest of 187. The northwest zone was the last of three management zones where wolves could be taken by permit since Nov. 3. This amount of harvest, when combined with harvest totals from the early season and the other late season zones, brings the season harvest to 395. The plan was to close the season when the harvest was at or projected to reach 400, according to Dan Stark, large carnivore specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Hunters and trappers have until five this afternoon (Friday) to submit their wolves for inspection.
Wednesday afternoon, the Litchfield Police Department was called to a two vehicle crash at the intersection of North Davis Avenue and East 1st Street. The drivers, Loraine Langemo of Litchfield, and Sheila Laudenbach of Eden Valley, were not injured.
A pre-trial hearing for 36 year old David Pillatzki Jr. of Brooten has been set for Tuesday afternoon in Kandiyohi County District Court. Pillatzki appeared in court yesterday (Thursday) on a felony charge of possessing a pistol or assault weapon after being convicted of a violent crime, plus a gross misdemeanor charge and two misdemeanor charges that included fleeing a peace officer. Authorities found a video clip on Pillatzki’s Facebook page that showed him firing a semi-automatic assault type rifle in a rural area. Unconditional bail for Pillatzki was set at $50,000.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar was sworn in to the 113th Congress yesterday (Thursday). This is her second term in the U.S. Senate. She serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Commerce Committee and the Joint Economic Committee. She also chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion. Klobuchar was also the first woman elected to the Senate from Minnesota and formerly served as Hennepin County Attorney.
Mike Kutzke of Lake Lillian has accepted the position of Dean of Instruction for technical programs at Ridgewater College. He will begin his new duties Jan. 16th. As dean, he will work closely with Mike Boehme, the other Dean of Instruction for technical programs, and Ron Pribble, Dean of Instruction for liberal arts programs. Kutzke has been a faculty member at Ridgewater in the areas of law enforcement and sociology since 2004.
About 4:39 this morning (Friday), the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office was called to a barn fire west of Lake Andrew at the Robert Brezina residence near Alexandria. The Alexandria Fire Department responded, but the barn had nearly burned to the ground when they arrived. The barn was not housing any animals and no one was injured. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.
Last night (Thursday), the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office was called to several hay bales on fire on a farm owned by James Boeckers of Melrose, Stearns County. A passer-by called in the fire and said someone operating a piece of farm machinery was moving the burning bales away from a building. The St. Martin Fire Department found part of the building to be on fire, and that Lance Liedman, an employee of the Boeckers, was pushing the burning building away from a utility pole with a skid loader. The St. Martin and Lake Henry Fire Departments extinguished the blaze. Part of the building and six to seven corn straw bales were lost to the fire. There were no injuries. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.