The Renville County Sheriff’s Office has collected 201 pounds of expired or otherwise unused medications from May 1st through Dec. 31st in its Drug Take-back program. That amount is in addition to the nearly 110 pounds of medication collected on their one-day drug take-back event in April 2012. Sheriff Scott Hable says Renville County residents are encouraged to deposit their unused medications in the drop-off box, located at the Renville County Office Building in Olivia. The box is available free of charge to county residents, 24 hours per day, no questions asked. Residents are encouraged to leave pills in their original containers and, for prescription medications, simply blacken out or scratch off the patient’s name on the bottles. The Sheriff’s Office operates its drug take-back program in a partnership with Renville County Public Health, Renville County Water and Household Hazardous Waste and the RAPAD Coalition.
Kandiyohi and Swift County law enforcement agencies arrested 28 drivers for DWI in December during a Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over DWI campaign. Kandiyohi County Sheriff Dan Hartog says DWI patrols are effective to reduce drunk driving activity, but the issue remains a real problem that puts our roads in danger. Between 2009-2011, drunk driving crashes accounted for 344 deaths and 860 serious injuries. Hartog says each year in the state, around 30,000 people are arrested for DWI. He says to make progress and limit the tragedies that drunk driving causes, the first step is to plan ahead for a sober ride. You also need to buckle up and report drunk driving.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has reduced its office paper use by 62 percent. The number of sheets used per full-time employee went from 6,200 sheets in Fiscal Year 2009 to 2,500 sheets in Fiscal Year 2012. This saved the M-P-C-A more than 26-thousand dollars and provided a number of environmental benefits.
A pioneering research project is scheduled to begin later this month to help answer why Minnesota’s moose population continues to decline. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ project will use the latest technology to learn more about moose mortality. It will build on research that is ongoing or planned by other agencies and universities. The decline in the northeast Minnesota moose population is exhibiting the same pattern of decline that was observed in the northwest, according to Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. He says they’re losing about 20 percent of adult moose annually and know from previous studies that predation and hunting are not the primary causes of adult moose mortality. To better understand the causes of moose mortality, 75 cow and 25 bull moose will be captured in northeastern Minnesota and fitted with GPS collars that will track the animals’ movements. Wildlife researchers will also implant a second device in the digestive tracks of 27 of the collared moose to record the animal’s heartbeat and internal body temperature.
Three public health departments continue to discuss a consolidation into one public health board, governing services in Stevens, Traverse, Grant, Pope, and Douglas Counties. STG and Douglas Public Health Director Sandy Tubbs says the consolidation--or "integration"--has been planned for over a year. By mid-December of 2012, all five County Commissioner Boards had passed resolutions to proceed with the planned consolidation. Tubbs reports the three separate boards, governed by the Horizon Community Health Board, will work toward consolidating by early 2014.
The Morris Area School Board reorganized Monday night, after November's election left the seven-member board much the same. Kurt Gartland was again elected chairman of the board. The four re-elected board members--Dick Metzger, Jamie Solvie, Brent Fuhrman (foreman), and Stan Wulf--took the oath of office. The board's next meeting will be held Tuesday night, January 22nd at 7 in the Morris High School Media Center.
January is testing month at many area schools, as teachers and administrators work to prepare students for the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments in the last months of school. Morris Area High School Principal Craig Peterson says January is a time for re-evaluating student progress and tweaking instruction to meet the needs of individual students. Students at both the Morris elementary and high school will be taking NWEA tests in the next few weeks.
The Stevens County Board of Commissioner met yesterday (Tuesday). Agenda items included an annual review of the highway department from Stevens County Engineer Brian Giese. The 2013 budget for the Highway Department is $4.47 million. Giese reports the Department oversees construction and maintenance on 244 miles of County State Aid Highways and 127 miles of local county highways. In December 2012, the Department spent about $40,000 on snow removal.
A public hearing for changes to the rental housing code was held last night (Tuesday). City Manager Blaine Hill says some landowners have signed contracts-for-deed, rather than rental agreements, with residents who are actually renters. It's a loophole that needed to be closed, says Hill. A new city ordinance will only recognize contracts for deed after they have been filed with the county recorder.
Despite the mild temperatures this week, local educators are looking ahead to the coming cold days of winter. Morris Area High School Principal Craig Peterson reminds parents to listen to local radio, check the school website, of sign up for the school's emergency alert system for updates to school cancellations. Elementary Principal Ken Gagner reminds elementary parents to bundle their kids up for recess. Students go outside until temperatures hit five below.
The Stevens County Board of Commissioners met yesterday (Tuesday), during which County Assessor Judy Thorstad took the Oath of Office. Her appointment is for the next four years. County Engineer Brian Giese provided his monthly report, including a review of snow removal in the county. Newly elected Commissioners Bob Kopitzke and Donny Wohlers took their seats in the boardroom.
The Red Cross Bloodmobile will be at Minnewaska Area High School today (Wednesday) from 10 to four. Sixteen year olds are eligible to donate with signed parent permission. Other weight and nutrient level restrictions apply.
It’s going to get woolly in Morris this week. An exhibit featuring the work of four artists using wool as a medium will open at the Stevens County Museum tomorrow (Thursday). The four artists--Joan Jarvis Ellison, Sharon Marquardt, Karen Aakre and Katy Olson--have created over two dozen artistic pieces using wool. Their techniques include weaving, spinning, felting, sculpting, dyeing as well as a historic technique known as shinnfeller (or skinnfeller in Norwegian). There will be an opening reception from 5-8. Viewing of the exhibits is free.
Monday the Meeker County Sheriff's Office dispatched the Litchfield Fire Department for a house fire at a residence on East South Street in Litchfield. There was no one in the house at the time of the fire and no injuries reported. There was fire damage in the basement and smoke damage throughout the house.
At the annual reorganization meeting held Monday night, the Alexandria School District Board of Education approved a motion to delay implementing an increase in the annual stipend for board of education members. It is the fifth straight year the board has acted to set the annual salary rate at the same level as in 2008. The annual stipend per board member is $3,000, with the board chair receiving an additional $500 per year. In other action, three school board members were sworn into office. Incumbents Dave Anderson and Pam Carlson were re-elected to their respective school board positions, and Angie Krebs was elected to her first term. School board elected positions will remain the same with Dean Anderson serving as chair of the board, Dave Anderson as vice chair, and Jean Robley as clerk/treasurer. Additional school board members include Sandy Susag and Alan Zeithamer.
The United Way of West Central Minnesota, serving five counties, is conducting a survey for measuring its impact and to identify current needs in the communities it serves. The mission of the United Way of West Central Minnesota is to create lasting change by addressing its four impact areas of basic needs, education, income and health. Renee Nolting, Executive Director of United Way of West Central Minnesota, says this survey constitutes another tool in their toolbox for understanding the unique needs of each community and the greatest impact of donor dollars.” The 12-question survey is open to the public and available online or by calling the United Way of West Central Minnesota.
Last week in federal court, 48-year-old James Bosek of Garfield was found guilty of constructing a road through a federally protected wetland basin located on his property. Based on evidence presented during a two-day bench trial last August, United States Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois issued a written order Friday convicting him of one misdemeanor count of filling a wetland that was subject to a federal easement under the National Wildlife Refuge System Act. Judge Brisbois found that Bosek engaged in prohibited activity when he built a road across the eastern edge of his property, located in rural Douglas County. The property is subject to a perpetual easement that the U.S. Department of Interior purchased in 1963. Bosek purchased the property subject to the easement in 2001.
Representative Mary Sawatzky of Willmar was sworn in yesterday (Tuesday) and is beginning her first term in the Minnesota House. She says our state is facing a number of challenges and even with the challenges she is confident they’ll be able to work together and listen to the people of Minnesota. She said it was a fun day and it meant a lot to her to have family come down from Willmar and some friends from school. She said it’s pretty overwhelming, pretty emotional but also huge expectations for the State of Minnesota and for them as legislators to do a good, respectful job and keep all the issues in mind that they need to go forward with in the State of Minnesota. Sawatzky said she’s excited to be a part of it and looking forward to meeting a lot of people, working across the aisle and making sure that they’re well represented.
Representative Andrew Falk says it’s an honor to serve the people of western Minnesota in his district and he’s thankful for the opportunity to work on their behalf. He says the legislative session got off to a good strong note yesterday (Tuesday), and they’re going to work for the people of Minnesota. Falk said the priorities are going to be creating jobs, helping the middle class repaying the money borrowed from our schools, getting back to those core values Minnesotans expect them to focus on and that’s what He’s excited to work for. Falk said he’s ready to get down to the hard, nitty gritty details and get to work.
Yesterday (Tuesday) was the reorganizational meeting for the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners with Harlan Madsen elected as chairman for 2013, and Jim Butterfield as vice chairman. Two new board members were also sworn in: Doug Reese of Willmar and Roger Imdieke of New London. Reese replaces Richard Larson, who retired from the board, and Imdieke replaces Dennis Peterson, who also retired from the board. The West Central Tribune was designated as the official newspaper for publishing legal notices and county financial statements, with the Raymond/Prinsburg News chosen as the secondary newspaper which also publishes the county financial statements.
Federal agents conducted “a law enforcement action” yesterday (Tuesday) at Sparboe Farms in Litchfield, arresting ten people on administrative charges. That’s a legal tool ICE often uses in cases involving immigration. Such arrests are akin to someone being picked up for drunken driving and then released before appearing in court. Eight of those arrested remain in custody. Two were released for “humanitarian reasons.” Agents with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations division conducted a law enforcement operation, which is part of a larger criminal investigation. Due to the ongoing nature of this operation, no further information is available at this time. Officials with Sparboe, the nation’s fifth-largest egg producer, were left a message from the Star Tribune seeking more information about the federal action and their reaction.
36 year old Juan Jasso Jr. of Willmar was sentenced in Kandiyohi County District Court Monday on a felony third degree criminal sexual conduct charge. Judge Kathryn Smith sentenced him to 131 months in prison, gave him credit for serving 83 days, and ordered him to register as a predatory offender.
20 year old Bronson Evenson of Willmar appeared in Kandiyohi County District Court yesterday (Tuesday) on a felony first degree damage to property charge for driving his vehicle through crop fields near Pennock and Willmar. District Court Judge Michael Thompson sentenced him to five years of supervised probation, 90 days in jail, plus he has to pay fines and fees totaling $1,120. He also has to pay restitution of just under $13,000. In exchange for his guilty plea two other felony property damage charges and a misdemeanor charge were dismissed.
The State of the City Address was given by Willmar Mayor Frank Yaenish Monday night. He mentioned a number of projects the city will be working on this year. One is an organizational study, another is the construction of quiet zones for Willmar and Trott Avenue railroad crossings, the possibility of shared services with neighboring cities, the federal release of the old airport land which will allow expansion of the industrial park and nearly $20 million in new construction.
Yesterday (Tuesday), the Meeker County Sheriff's Office, Dassel Fire Department, and the Cokato Fire Department responded to the Grant Mcdonald home in Dassel Township near Cokato for a tractor and cornstalk fire. A 6310 AWD John Deere tractor with a loader and a cab and 100 round bales of cornstalks caught on fire and were a total loss. The An implement, a Total Mix Ration vertical mixer also sustained substantial damage. The fire appeared to have started near the tractors engine compartment, which was plugged into an electrical outlet to keep the engine warm. The preliminary estimated value is $87,000.