NEWS-July 22
News Director: Bev Alquist Call with news at 320-235-2900 or email

News Archive

You may encounter minor delays when crews begin work on the Highway 71 project from Highway 7 to Highway 23 south of Willmar on Monday, July 29th. Crews will begin work on the bridges over the Willmar Bypass and then begin resurfacing Highway 71 approximately mid-August. The project consists of a bituminous mill and overlay, turn lane construction and bridge approach panel repair. Crews will begin construction on Highway 71 north of Willmar from Kandiyohi County Road 24 to the Highway 71 and Highway 23 split north of Willmar beginning Monday, August 5th. The project consists of a bituminous overlay and turn lane construction. Duininck Inc. from Prinsburg is the prime contractor for the nearly $3.4 project.  Completion is scheduled for the October, weather permitting.

Hunters selected in this year’s bear lottery must purchase their licenses by  Aug. 1staccording to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Licenses not purchased by the deadline will become available first-come, first-served at noon on Aug. 7th. Youths age 10-12 can receive a free no-quota bear license until Aug. 1st. No-quota licenses will be available for purchase after Aug.1st but youth younger than 13 will have to pay the full price of $44 because of an inadvertent change in state law that eliminated the 10-12 year old exemption from this fee. Youths who purchase leftover licenses in regular bear permit areas also will have to pay the adult price. The free 10-12 youth bear licenses were not addressed when youth license simplification changes were approved during the last Legislative session. The DNR will propose changes to reinstate youth fee exemptions in 2014.

The Willmar Community-Owned Grocery Store (COG) will have a hosting a ‘Happy Hour’ at the Oaks at Eagle Creek in Willmar. The public is encouraged to attend this event to find out more about a community-owned grocery store and how local people, local food producers, and local businesses can all work together to build a stronger and healthier community and economy. There will be COG member-owners and Board Members to answer questions about local food and the COG. The event will be held on Thursday, August 1, from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM in the main area of The Oaks at Eagle Creek. For any questions regarding this event, contact Zack Liebl, Outreach Coordinator.

This week there will be a number of opportunities throughout Kandiyohi County for everyone in the county to participate in group discussions. These discussions will be about a visioning process, our economic vibrancy, the amenities we have, how we make Kandiyohi County and the Willmar Lakes area a healthy inviting area for seniors, young people and young families, and how we want to shape and form our community. County Administrator Larry Kleindl encourages you to attend the meetings in which you’re interested. There is a meetingtomorrow (Tuesday4:30-6 at the MinnWest Technology Campus; two meetings Wednesday, the first from 7:30-9 in the morning at the Willmar Conference Center; and from 4:30-6:30 at the New London-Spicer High School. Thursday there are also two meetings, one that morning from 7:30- at the MinnWest Technology Campus, and from 4:30-6 that afternoon at the Willmar City Auditorium.

A health care organization owned by county boards in West Central Minnesota has proposed expanding their offerings. PrimeWest Health primarily purchases insurance services for the counties’ health plans for Medical Assistance-qualifying residents. Stevens County Coordinator Brian Giese says PrimeWest wants to expand their services to include health care plans for county employees. PrimeWest's Matt Magnuson said the organization will only proceed if enough of their owner counties want to participate. Magnuson says the agency would need about 10,000 employees in the pool to have leverage in the market. PrimeWest provides insurance services in thirteen counties, including: Douglas, Big Stone, Grant, Pope, Renville, Stevens, and Traverse Counties.

In the last Minnesota legislative session, the Democrat majority made a significant change to absentee voting; voters no longer have to declare an excuse for voting by absentee ballot. In a visit to Morris, House Majority Leader Erin Murphy says the change will positively impact seniors, who might have more trouble getting to the polls than other age groups. Murphy says the state of Minnesota has one of the highest voter turnout rates nationally and she says changes to absentee voting are likely to increase those numbers.

West Wind Village, a Morris-based residential care center, celebrated 50 years, with a celebration yesterday (Sunday). Administrator Michael Syltie says the celebration honored the center's history. There was a Polka Mass and lunch, both open to the public. West Wind Village is located on Scotts Ave on the West  side of Morris.

The Morris Area School Board will meet in regular session tonight (Monday) at seven in the Morris Area High School Auditorium. Agenda items include appointments for at least two open school board positions. Cyrus School Board member John Smith resigned prior to the consolidation; John Pring, formerly of the Cyrus board, submitted his letter of resignation, effective June 24, 2013. The consolidated board has thirteen positions and the remaining members will need to appoint two replacements to keep the board's numbers consistent. Also on the agenda is an update on student assessments.

Recently in federal court, 31-year-old Christopher Diestler of Fergus Falls was indicted with stealing money from automated teller machines (“ATM”) in numerous locations in west-central Minnesota and in Wahpeton, North Dakota, between March 2005 and March 2012. He was arrested July 17th and has been charged with one count of bank larceny in federal court. The indictment alleges Diestler stole approximately $182,350 from Bremer Bank ATMs in Alexandria, Breckenridge, Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, and Morris, Minnesota and in Wahpeton, North Dakota; a Wells Fargo ATM in Alexandria; and a U.S. Bank ATM in Fergus Falls. The thefts were committed while Diestler was carrying out his duties as an armored truck driver.

41 year old Michele Walters of Montevideo sustained non-life threatening injuries in a rollover late last night (Sunday) on Highwy 40 in Lac qui Parle County. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Walters was traveling east on Highway 40, went into the ditch and rolled. Assisting at the scene was the Lac qui Parle Sheriff’s Office.

Saturday, the Minnesota State Patrol was called to a broadside crash at the Highway 7 and 22 intersection near Hutchinson. 53 year old Vernon Johnson of Savage was traveling north on Highway 22 and 52 year old Cynthia Welker of Litchfield was traveling east on Highway 7. The two collided in the intersection. Both Johnson, Welker and a passenger in Welker’s vehicle, 25 year old Heather Sanden of Grove City, suffered non-life threatening injuries.

31 year old Brian Klein of St. Stephen was injured in injured when the ATV is was operating drove off a five foot high retaining wall while trying to evade police. According to the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office, deputies tried to stop him for speeding, doing 54 in a 30 mile zone, driving recklessly and driving an ATV on a county road. Klein pulled into his driveway and around the side of a detached garage. Officers found him pinned by the ATV at the bottom of the retaining wall. He was taken to the St. Cloud Hospital’s emergency room. Alcohol is believed to be a contributing factor to the crash, which remains under investigation.

23 year old Brittany Czaplewski of St. Cloud was taken to the St. Cloud Hospital Saturdayafter she fell off the back of a motorcycle being driven by 27 year old Derek Anderson of St. Cloud. The accident happened on County Road 8 north of Highway 23 at Rockville. Czaplewaki was treated at the scene for her injuries before being transferred to the hospital. The accident remains under investigation by the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office.

Friday, the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office was called to the vicinity of Guy Street and Parker Avenue in Dassel for a man threatening others with a knife. Multiple witnesses described a man with a large knife threatening two men at that location. They had separated just prior to arrival of the deputies. The suspect  then went into a residence and spoke to deputies from within the home but refused to come out or allow the deputies to enter. A search warrant was obtained and 46 year old Durand Allen Meisenbach of Dassel was arrested for felony assault and making terroristic threats. A knife matching the described weapon was also recovered in the residence. This case is currently under investigation by the Meeker County Sheriff's Office. Meisenbach was booked into the Meeker County Jail. The Litchfield Police Department also assisted in this incident.

A number of meetings have been set to discuss the Vision 2040 plan, those meetings beginning tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday) at the MinnWest Technology Campus. This meeting, from 4:30-6, will center on economic vibrancy. Tomorrow morning (Wednesday), the meeting on ‘Things to Do’ will be at the Willmar Conference Center from 7:30-9. There is also an ‘All Topics’ forum Wednesday from 4:30-6:30 at the New London Spicer High School in New London. Thursday morning, a meeting on ‘Well-Being’ is from 7:30-9 at the MinnWest Technology Center in Willmar. Thursday night, from 4:30-6:30 the ‘Inclusion’ meeting is at the Willmar City Auditorium. Somali and Spanish translators will be available.

The American Red Cross Bloodmobile will be in Lyon and Yellow Medicine Counties this week. Donors can give at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Granite Falls today (Monday) from 1-7. On Friday, the bloodmobile will be in the Marshall YMCA from 8-2. The American Red Cross notes that vacations, activities and holidays contribute to a decrease in blood donations during the summer, but patients don't get a break from needing blood. The Red Cross is looking for eligible donors of all types to give blood this summer to help avert a shortage.

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