NEWS-July 8
News Director: Bev Alquist Call with news at 320-235-2900 or email

News Archive

A daylong meeting is taking place at the new Mid Central Research and Outreach Center on the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar today (Monday). Among those taking part in the meeting are University of Minnesota Regent Dean Johnson of Willmar; Dr. Brian Herman, vice president with the Office of the Vic President of Research for the University; Kandiyohi County/Willlmar EDC Director Steve Renquist; and Regional Extension Service Director Kathy Schwantes. Dr. Herman is here to interact with faculty and staff regarding present and future goals for the outreach center.

Sibley State Park is planning a special event ‘Shooting for Beginners,’ on Saturdaymorning, July 13th at ten. You’ll learn how to shoot a firearm in a safe, supervised setting. The park has teamed up with the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center to provide beginning shooting instructions from trained and experienced shooting instructors. Participants will shoot a 22 rifle at bulls-eye targets. All shooting equipment will be provided. You must pre-register at the interpretive center for call the park. You must be seven years of age or older and be accompanied by an adult.

Meeker County Sheriff Jeff Norlin says the Sheriff's Office K-9 unit attended the United States Police Canine Association Region 12 trials for patrol dogs. The certification was held in St. Peter July 1st and 2nd. The Meeker County Sheriff's Office K-9 (Titan) with handler Deputy Reggie Sandstrom passed the certification trial. The events that K-9 Titan certified in were evidence search, agility, suspect search, obedience, criminal apprehension, criminal apprehension with gunfire, and handler protection. Titan is a 6 year old German Sheppard who has been in service with the Meeker County Sheriff's Office since 2008. Titan is a dual purpose dog which means he also certifies with the police canine association for narcotic detection.

The Stevens County Board of Commissioners will likely approve a wheelage tax at their next meeting, a $10 annual tax on vehicles registered in the county. The county has jurisdiction over 126 miles of gravel roads, and County Coordinator Brian Giese says there are several miles in the system that are already at a critical stage for needed repairs. Any wheelage tax should be earmarked for those projects, Giese says. Although the board has not voted on a resolution to adopt the new tax, most commissioners have expressed support for the increase,  noting the current state of county roads. County Commissioner Ron Staples says, while he generally doesn't support new taxes, the roads are in bad repair and need work. The county could collect about $95,000 a year in the wheelage tax. Giese says it will cost about $125,000 to rebuild one mile of gravel road.

Senator Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake is hoping to raise an estimated $6 million a year by allowing expanded sales on fireworks and taxing their sales. All of Minnesota's neighbors allow the sale of aerial fireworks, Westrom says, and allowing their sales in this state could increase annual sales and taxes by $6 million. Westrom plans to introduce a bill during the 2014 legislative session that would allow Minnesotans to sell, buy, and use fireworks for their Fourth of July celebrations and other events. 

The new residence hall on the University of Minnesota, Morris campus is on schedule and nearing completion. Construction Supervisor for the Green Prairie Living and Learning Community, Rick Lock, says scaffolding is coming down in parts of the building and, little by little, the structure will be turned over to the University for furnishings before students move in. The building is expected to be complete and ready for student occupation in early August. Lock reports that progress at the site has been unaffected by spring storms and no injuries or accidents have been reported in the months-long project. University Housing is expected to be at or over capacity, campus-wide, during the coming school year.

Weather permitting, work will begin today (Monday) on County Road 38 from County Road 40 north toward Lake Andrew. Through traffic will be diverted west on Highway 40, north on County Road 5 and east on State Highway 9.  The construction zone is closed to through traffic. The work will consist of grading operations and gravel base. Construction on the County Road 38 project is scheduled to be complete in July. Minnerath Construction Inc. of Cold Spring is the prime contractor for the project.

The County Road Two railroad crossing in Atwater is closed for maintenance according to the Kandiyohi County Public Works Department in Willmar. The BNSF railroad crew will be working on the crossing today (Monday). The road is scheduled to re-open tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday) at five. You’re asked to use alternate routes.

According to Meeker County Sheriff Jeff Norlin, officers were called to a residence on Star Lake in Greenleaf Township Friday on the report that a 2004 Chevrolet Impala had been stolen and then returned to the residence overnight. The hood was still warm, the car had fresh damage and items had been stolen from it. The other vehicles parked at the residence had also been entered and some items were taken as well. The investigation led deputies to another residence on Star Lake where they found some of the reported stolen items. they were seized along with other suspected stolen property. Two 16 year old males were arrested and transported to the Prairie Lake Detention Facility in Willmar pending formal charges through the Meeker County Attorney's Office.

The U.S. House of Representatives has not yet scheduled a vote on immigration reform bills, though the Senate has passed a comprehensive bill. Senator Al Franken says the Senate's bill will benefit immigrants who work in the agriculture industries as well as the ag-based businesses that largely employ immigrant populations. Speaker of the House John Boehmer told reporters the House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes, they’re going to do their own bill… and move the legislation that reflects the will of the majority and the will of the American people.

Stevens County has, and is on-trend to maintain, one of the most youthful populations in West Central Minnesota. Representatives from West Central Initiative spoke to the Stevens County Board of Commissioners last week, bringing the latest statistics on population, poverty rates, and industrial growth. Economic Development Officer Greg Wagner says Stevens County ranks second in the region for youngest population, with only 16% of the population considered elderly. Clay County has the youngest population. Wagner attributes the youthful population in both counties to the presence of universities. West Central Initiative is a regional community foundation serving Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse and Wilkin Counties.

On August 1st, same-sex couples across the state will legally be able to wed, provided they have submitted a marriage application and served the mandatory five-day waiting period. For same-sex couples who want to apply in Stevens County, applications will be made available starting July 15th. County Recorder Virginia Mahoney says each county will have leeway when developing the license applications. Mahoney says the Stevens County form will include several wording changes to remove gender references. For example, "Bride" and  "Groom" have become "First and Second Applicant." Applicants will still have to indicate whether they are male or female.

A few members of the Stevens County Board of Commissioners have expressed interest in combining law enforcement services with the City of Morris. The July 31st retirement of Morris Chief of Police Jim Beauregard has some commissioners seeing a shared-services opportunity or even a consolidation, a chance to save overhead and labor costs. Commissioner Donny Wohlers says it's time to consider a joint effort with the city and noted the county has been seeking consolidation or shared services agreements with a number of area entities across a wide range of county services. County Attorney Aaron Jordan, who also serves as the City of Morris’ attorney, notes that the Morris Police Force is governed by a Civil Service Commission. It would take a unanimous vote of the City Council or a vote before the people to dissolve the department and civil service commission and consolidate with the Sheriff's Department. Commissioners plan a preliminary discussion with City Manager Blaine Hill.

The University of Minnesota, Morris has been chosen as one of the country's best and most interesting colleges and universities. Morris is featured in the 2014 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. The guide attempts to relate the "real personality" of campuses across the county based on a broad range of subjects, including student body, academics, social life, financial aid, campus setting, housing, food, and extracurricular activities. The 2014 guide includes over 300 colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.

19 year old Dustin Kalthoff of Belgrade had to be extricated from his vehicle following a rollover into a creek yesterday (Sunday) near the intersection of County Roads 12 and 31 in Spring Hill Township. According to the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office, Kalthoff left the roadway in the curve just prior to the bridge of Getchell Creek, vaulted over the creek, flipped end over end and came to rest on its tires. Kalthoff received significant injuries. He was taken to the Melrose Hospital and from there immediately airlifted to the St. Cloud Hospital. Assisting at the scene was the Minnesota State Patrol.

The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office was called to a crash Friday night on 160th Avenue in Avon Township. A vehicle driven by 21 year old Andrew Kunstleben of Avon left the roadway, he overcorrected, then left the roadway on the other side. The car hit a driveway embankment, became airborne and rolled several times before coming to a stop. Kunstleben was taken to the St. Cloud Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Alcohol and speed were factors in the crash, according to the sheriffs’ office, who is still investigating the crash.

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