NEWS-June 18
News Director: Bev Alquist Call with news at 320-235-2900 or email

News Archive

25 year old Kody Klimek of Alexandria makes his next court appearance July 5th on three counts of murder in the stabbing death of 28 year old Phillip Altstadt of Alexandria June 1st. He made his first appearance in Douglas County District Court on June 10th, but did not enter a plea. Bail was set at $1 million. He is being held in the Douglas County Jail.

The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioner meet this morning (Tuesday) in the Health and Human Services Building. They meet at nine as the Family Services Committee, and at ten as the county board. Agenda items include an easement proposal from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife; a wetland replacement plan and determination; awarding the bid for the Phase Six landfill cover; a public hearing on a tax abatement request for Peace Thymes of Atwater; conditional uses; and a clarification of the county’s role in collaborating with other local units of government.

Senator Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake urges you to take a staycation, which is when families and individuals take part in leisure activities close to or at home. He says you can visit local tourist sites, campgrounds, fairs, theaters, amusement parks, museums and more. Westrom says you need to turn off that cell phone, shut down your work computer, set aside outside distractions, and make it a family fun time to plan and execute. You can stay at home, find a campground, hotel or someplace close to home and still be on vacation. And, he says, you’ll find treasures that you may not have known existed.

The Department of Human Services is recognizing hospitals for their role in strengthening fatherhood by establishing paternity. Last month they awarded certificates to 15 hospitals for their leadership and commitment to establish paternity for nearly 14,700 children through the Minnesota Recognition of Parentage program. Among hospitals receiving awards were the Albany Area Hospital and Medical Center; CentraCare Health System in Sauk Centre; Granite Falls Municipal Hospital and Manor; Meeker Memorial Hospital; CentraCare Health System at Melrose; and the Hutchinson Health Hospital.

Richard Patino, the men’s head basketball coach at the University of Minnesota, spoke at the Willmar Legion yesterday (Monday) during the Gopher Road Trip event. He told the crowd since this is his first year coaching the Gopher team, he really couldn’t say anything about the team since he hasn’t worked with them. Today (Tuesday) was going to be an hour long practice so he can see what he has to work with. Watching them practice would give him a good gauge as to how they’re going to do, he told the crowd. He said he would  unleash them and make them run up and down as fast as they could and see how they play when they’re tired. “I’m going to show them the reason why we talk so much about conditioning and the reason why we practice so hard so that one day when everybody is tired and staring at you, you’ve still got a little something left in the tank.”

Today (Tuesday), the first of three food distributions will be held in Morris. The giveaway is a result of several Morris Area student organizations working together, says Student Council Advisor Peg Rinkenberger. Last night, the Student Council, BPA, and FFA hosted a fundraiser at the Morris Pizza Ranch tonight. The proceeds benefited the Surplus Food Distributions. To participate in the food distribution, visit the MAHS cafeteria  on this afternoon from 5:30 p.m. until the food is gone.

Comparing post-secondary schools would be easier under a proposal by U.S. Senator Al Franken, who has introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate called "The Understanding the True Cost of College Act of 2013." He says there has been confusion comparing schools, and school counselors have told him a uniform way of identifying aid packages could help parents and students. Franken's proposal would create a universal financial aid award letter creating standard definitions and names for different types of aid, so students and families can differentiate between grants and loans.

The Morris Chamber of Commerce wants to play Prairie Pioneer Days. The chamber is looking for teams to play Family Feud during the three day festival. Carolyn Peterson says the game is back by popular demand. The Feud will be played in Morris' Eastside Park on  Saturday, July 13. Contact the chamber for more information.

The Morris Area Public Schools Board held their final session last night (Monday) as a seven-person board. The school year officially ends on  June 30, and the next day, July 1st, Morris Area Public School District #769 and Cyrus School District #611 will cease to exist, reforming as a single school district with a combined board of thirteen members. The Morris board will plan for the consolidation at their June meeting.

The American Red Cross Bloodmobile will be in West Central Minnesota this week. Today (Tuesday), the bloodmobile will be in Ortonville from  1-7 at the New Life Baptist Church, and at the United Methodist Church in Beardsley from 2-7. Tomorrow (Wednesday), the bloodmobile will be at the Graceville Public Library from  1-7 p.m. and at the American Legion in Browns Valley from  12:30-5:30 p.m. On Thursday, blood donors can give from  1:30-6:30 at the Memorial Building in Clinton.

73 year old Lucille Gertken of Richmond was injured in a minivan and farm RoGator crash on County Road 2 east 133rd Avenue in Rockville Township yesterday (Monday). According to the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office, 36 year old Clinton Rausch of Watkins was traveling northeast on County Road 2 in the RoGator. Gertken was attempting to pass, not realizing Rausch was making a left turn into a driveway. As she was making the pass, she collided with the RoGator. Rausch was not injured, but Gertken was taken to the St. Cloud Hospital. Assisting at the scene was the Cold Spring Police Department.

The City of Willmar Public Works Department will be spraying for mosquitoes Tonight (Tuesday) and tomorrow night (Wednesday) from seven to midnight, weather permitting. In case of clement weather, Thursday night would be the alternate date. If you have questions, call the public works department.

The jury trial for 22 year old Paul Wickenhauser of Cokato has been set for September 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 16th. Wickenhauser appeared in Kandiyohi County District Court yesterday (Monday) for a pre-trial hearing, which was rescheduled to July 29th. A trial management conference was also set for August 19th. Wickenhauser is facing 15 felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide or operation for the crash last summer in which three people were killed. Killed in that crash were 68 year old Marta Stoffers of Atwater, her daughter-in-law, 40 year old Michelle Hoffman of Eden Prairie, and Hoffman’s 8 year old daughter, Julia. Wickenhauser’s motion of May 10th to suppress the drawing of blood from evidence was denied by Judge Donald Spilseth in an order issued Friday.

Last night (Tuesday) the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners held its Board of Equalization meeting, with six people attending. There was a correction on an assessment to a property in the city of Willmar. Some individuals appeared regarding recreational property, in particular on Games Lake. The assessor’s office, over the last seven to eight years, has been changing the adjustments, unifying the entire county, and Games Lake was the last one. There were some increases on Games Lake. Commissioner Harlan Madsen says the most significant one was the rapid rate of sales and the extra prices. There was a $200 per foot increase on Games Lake. Overall the Board of Adjustments, for the entire year, dealt with very few in the townships, despite the significant increase in farm land. The board did make decisions on all of them. Some were left the same pertaining to a storage shed in New London for the seasonal rentals. That was left the same. All the decisions were made last night and there was no need for any viewing.

Dean Johnson has been elected to his second term on the Board of Regents, which is a six year term. There are 12 Board of Regents, one from each congressional district and four at large. Johnson serves in the at large position. The last two years, he’s chaired Facilities and Operations, which is one of the four standing committees. This deals with all the buildings and real estate for the University of Minnesota, which numbers 29 million square feet. Johnson says the U of M today is believed to be the third largest university of students in America with about 65,000 students. He says the board is busy, they hire the president, they hold the president accountable to the policies set forth by the regents, and discuss and vote on the $3.6 billion budget, which they approved on Friday. They froze undergrad tuition for two years, which is a very good thing for our students. They also deal with all matters of real estate, course offerings, faculty tenure and we also grant degrees and diplomas at graduation and this past year there were 29 graduations. They don’t attend them all, he said, but they do attend many.

Its Willmar Fests week with activities planned throughout the week. Tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday), the senior coronation is at two at the Willmar Community Center; the Queen’s Splash from 5-7 at the Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center; a pie and ice cream social at Rice Park at 5:30; and the Prairie Winds Summer Band concert at seven in Rice Park. Thursday is the Jaycee’s Block Part at Fifth Street and Becker Avenue in downtown Willmar at 4:15. Lots of events are planned from the junior royalty coronation, to introduction of the queen candidates and ambassadors; to Lee’s Tae Kwon Do; Zumba demo; Willmar’s Amazing Race; a kiddie parade; the Barn Theatre’s ‘Sound of Music’ and Willmar’s Got Talent.

Yesterday afternoon (Wednesday), the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota State Patrol were called to a crash on Highway 12 just west of the County Road 24 intersection in Darwin Township. Sheriff Jeff Norlin says 81 year old Ida Sesens of Litchfield struck the rear of a vehicle driven by 39 year old Deborah Swant of Watkins. Swant, who was stopped in construction in the westbound lane, was taken to the Meeker Memorial Hospital. The crash is currently under investigation by the Minnesota State Patrol.

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