The University of Minnesota has a $3.6 billion annual budget, 65,000 students, and 18,000 employees. Regent Dean Johnson says at the graduate level they provide about 80 percent of the doctors, nurses, veterinarians, architectures, dentists, professional people in the state. Johnson said they were given extra money in the budget by the legislature for four initiatives. Those are further study of clean water like invasive species and zebra mussels; food safety; robotics, which is used by the military and law enforcement; and the study of the brain as it relates to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Those four major research projects are going to continue as we move forward into the session.
Summer reading programs at local libraries has begun. The theme for the year is "Dig Into Reading." Morris librarian Sharon Ehlers (Aa-lures) says reading groups for children have been planned. Lunch Bunch runs Wednesdays, June 19, 26, and July 3for Kindergarten through 3rd grade. Book Bunch is for grades three and up and runs on Mondays, starting June 24. The summer reading program runs for seven weeks through July 27.
The Morris Chamber of Commerce and Stevens County Economic Improvement Commission have moved to a new location in downtown Morris and will have an open house this Thursday afternoon to introduce their new space. The open house will be held from 2-5 at their offices on Atlantic Ave.
A timely topic is featured in this month's "Come Grow With Us" program at the West Central Research and Outreach Center. It is being held today (Wednesday) at 5:15 in the Horticulture Garden. ‘Growing Hardy Shrub Roses’ will have tips on growing and maintaining this increasingly popular garden feature. Master Gardener Dennis Johnson says they need consistent watering and well-placed watering to avoid disease. Admission is free and donations are accepted. In case of rain, the class will be held in the Ag Country Auditorium at the West Central Research and Outreach Center.
The University of Minnesota Board of Regents has passed an operating budget for fiscal year 2014. University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler presented his recommended budget on June 5. The budget builds on President Kaler's biennial budget request to the state, which prioritized stabilizing tuition for resident undergraduates and investing in innovation to advance Minnesota's industry and economy. The University received 86 percent of its total request, marking the first increase in state support in six years. The cornerstone of this biennial budget request is to keep education accessible for all qualified Minnesota students by freezing tuition for two years. The University will receive $14.2 million in state support for 2014 to accomplish this tuition freeze-the first in at least a generation. At Morris, tuition will be frozen at $11,720. The budget was signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton on May 24.
The Morris Area School and the Cyrus Public School District will officially consolidate on July 1st now that all the pieces are in place. On June 4, the Minnesota Department of Education assigned a new district number for the merged districts: Independent School District #2769, Morris Area Public Schools. When the schools consolidate in July, the seven person Morris board and six person Cyrus board will become a thirteen person school board. Superintendent Scott Monson informed the Morris School board at a meeting Monday night that the Office of Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has approved an orderly reduction of the board over the next several years until the consolidated board is again a seven-person board. The two boards will meet for a reorganizational meeting on June 24.
Mike Burns, University of Minnesota Men’s gymnastics head coach, walked to the podium on his hands during Monday’s Gopher Road Trip at the Willmar American Legion. He says this was his first time in Willmar and these Gopher Road Trips have been awesome because it’s given them a chance to get out and see some people they don’t normally get to see. He says is was fun to ride on the bus for a couple hours with all the coaches, and that it’s been a bonding situation for them. He’s been coaching for about 35 years since he got out of college. He said it’s fun to be around college age kids all the time. “As I get older, the kids stay the same age, you’ve got to cycle them through, but being around young kids gives you an inspiration to stay young, so it’s been beneficial for me as well.”
The Minnesota State Patrol responded to a head-on crash on Highway 7 and School Road in McLeod County yesterday afternoon (Tuesday). The state patrol says 78 year old Kenneth Terlinden of Hutchinson was traveling east on Highway 7, made a left turn and collided with a vehicle driven by 75 year old Raymond Meinhardt of Wadena. Terlinden, his passenger, 80 year old Ewald Bettcher of Lester Prairie, and Meinhardt suffered non-life threatening injuries. Meinhardt’s passenger, 79 year old Cora Meinhardt, was seriously injured.
At yesterday’s (Tuesday) Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners meeting, a conditional use permit was approved for Jared and Amanda Groebner of Gennessee Township to operate a reclaimed wood business that primarily makes furniture out of reclaimed woods. This is a home based business. The board also awarded the low bid of $414,612 to Swenson and Sons of New London to construct the final cover at the landfill, and approved a memorandum of understanding between the county and MnDOT regarding public land corner certification for Highway 23 between New London and Paynesville.
The Farm Service Agency is looking for people to serve on the FSA farmer-elected committee. People are needed to help other folks involved in the business of agriculture in our rural communities. More than a couple of local farmers are needed to pitch in now and then according to Wes Nelson, county executive director with the Kandiyohi County Farm Service Agency. He says they need people who know the business of farming, are farming new or different crops and those who can bring a different perspective to USDA’s work here in our area. If you know of someone who might be interested in working on this committee or you would like to help, contact your local FSA office.
Your donations enable United Way of West Central Minnesota to fulfill its mission of improving people’s lives by mobilizing the caring power of the communities in the UWWCM region to create lasting change. The campaign ends June 30th and to date $865,877 has been raised towards the $900,000 campaign goal. The money will fund agencies, support early childhood programs, support the volunteer center, support the Gift in Kind program, and bring United Way to the table with community leaders to solve issues facing our residents.
Stevens County Environmental Services will be collecting unusable paints, stains, and varnishes in Chokio today (Wednesday). Get rid of unused chemicals free of charge from 10 to 2 pm. at the County Highway Garage on Hwy 28, East of Chokio. Acceptable waste items include paint, stains, varnishes, aerosols, lawn and garden pesticides and flammable products. Examples of waste items not accepted are business waste, explosives, ammunition, asbestos, and fluorescent lights. For more information, contact the Stevens County Environmental Services office.