The University of Minnesota has a presence at the MinnWest Technology Center in Willmar. Regent Dean Johnson says they have a remodeled facility, and in July Dr. Brown, the new director of technology and research, will be at the technology center. Johnson says Dr. Brown will meet with MinnWest Technology people, Extension Folks, and Economic Development people to get a clear mission about how the university might be involved in the matters of research, testing, and the avian flu issues that relate to poultry. He believes they can expand the University’s’ presence at MinnWest Technology. They already have the poultry testing lab, and the dental clinic at Rice Hospital, which serves a 17 county area, and has been highly successful in the training of dentists at the University of Minnesota.
The Willmar Work Force Center and Minnesota Family Investment Program has earned a statewide award for exceptional performance by a team. The Kandiyohi County Commissioners were informed of the award at a meeting this week. Commissioner Harland Madsen says this award recognized the significant collaboration between the two agencies. The work by the team has resulted in over $200,000 of bonus funding for Kandiyohi County.
A road and bridge meeting has been set for July 1st by the Kandiyohi County Commissioners. The meeting begins at 8:30 and may include a tour some of the projects. Commissioner Harlan Madsen says there are a significant number of opportunities and challenges to look at in road and bridge. They have a five year plan, a ten year plan, they’re looking at some good bids as far as the dirt work, but the asphalt prices have gone up quite substantially. He says they have a budgeting process which is very much intently involved and they need to make some significant decisions about the road and bridge and the next years as far as investments. Madsen said they want to continue to have a good thorough discussion about where they need to go in Kandiyohi County and West Central Minnesota and how they can connect with the government units, the townships, the adjoining counties and MnDOT as far as being able to provide a safe transportation system, one that provides infrastructure for the freight and agriculture products, economic development and getting people to and from work.
The Morris Area Chamber of Commerce has taken on a "robust" project to bring more lights, benches, garbage cans, and banners to downtown. Part of the project is raising funds. Directors Carolyn Peterson and Rhoda Smith approached the Stevens County Board on Tuesday to help fund the project. Stevens County Coordinator Brian Giese says it’s not an unusual request. The Board funds other community initiatives such as the West Central Initiative and provides funding for the Stevens County Museum. The Directors did not make a specific monetary request and the Commissioners took no action to award funds.
The Stevens County Soil and Water Conservation District led a tour of conservation projects across the county Wednesday, including a stop at the West Central Research and Outreach Center. Director of Renewable Energy programs Mike Reese led a tour of first-of-its-kind wind-to-hydrogen-to-ammonia plant. The processes uses a wind turbine to separate water, isolating the hydrogen component to pull nitrogen from the air and produce nitrogen fertilizer. The tour also included cost-shared conservation projects like rain gardens and rotational grazing programs. For more information, contact your local Soil and Water District.
The Grant and Stevens County Sheriff's Departments are looking for vandals in what may be related cases. On May 7, an agriculture producer near Donnelly reported an irrigator had been tampered with. The Stevens County Sheriff's Department investigated and discovered an electrical cord had been cut near the head of the irrigator and vandals may have attempted to remove the cord but had not succeeded. A tool was found near the scene. No vehicle or foot tracks were found near the irrigator. A similar incident was reported along Highway 59 near Barrett; again an electrical cord had been cut on an irrigator. The equipment owner reports the damage was between $8-10,000. It's unknown if the incidents are related. Copper wiring found in the electrical cords has been cited as a possible motive. Stevens County Sheriff Jason Dingman says the investigation is ongoing.
The Morris Public Library will be hosting their first "Friday Flick" of the summer this afternoon (Friday) from 2 to 3:30. Popcorn and drinks will be provided. There is no cost to attend and pre-registration is not required. Call the library for specific movie titles. Additional movies are planned for June 28 and July 26th.
At 1:49 this morning (Friday), Douglas County Deputies, Alexandria Police and Alexandria Fire Department responded to a garage fire at 808 Bay Lane. According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, they found the garage fully engulfed. The garage had an apartment above it which was occupied at the time. All individuals made it out safely. The building was a complete loss. It is believed lightening may have caused the fire. According to the sheriff’s departments they have had many reports of trees and power lines down. They say everything is kind of a mess right now.
According to the Renville County Sheriff’s Office it was windy and rainy last night, but no reports of damage anywhere as yet, except branches down in the city of Olivia. Stevens County reports a lot of damage and downed trees from the storm. Chippewa, and Yellow Medicine reports rain and wind. The Willmar Police Department reports a lot of trees down around Willmar and other parts of the county and that city crews are out checking things out in the city. According to the Pope County Sheriff’s Office, high winds leveled a barn and pole shed in the Rolling Fork Township area. There are flooding issues mostly in the city of Glenwood. It’s a mess out there according to a sheriff’s deputy. There have been no reports of any injuries. Tornado sirens were reported going off in New London about two this morning.
According to the Swift County Sheriff’s Office, they’re dealing with tons of emergencies at this time, but will have a press release regarding storm damage later. A facebook comment from a resident living in Swift County says it’s a mess in the Swift County/Benson area, that there was hail, and there are lots of trees down from the storm.
Jeremy Goulet, who lives in Benson and works here at the radio station, says it went crazy there early this morning, with trees down all over the main street. He says trees were going down left and right, then as quick as the storm came it passed and city crews are now trying to clean everything up. He says trees are laying across the railroad tracks, and across the street. By the bakery, four or five big trees were knocked down and are laying across the street. Goulet says the trees that were knocked down were large trees that have been there ever since he can remember. Goulet says he thought it was tornado sirens that woke him up, but the noise from outside was so loud he couldn’t tell. He says he has no idea of it was straight line winds that came through or if it was a tornado. He took shelter in the master bathroom of his upstairs apartment until it sounded like things were alright. The city was without power from 2:30 this morning until about 6:20.
Deloris Marquardt, who lives southwest of Sunburg, reports a tree on her house, and about 20 trees uprooted and twisted in her yard. Downed trees also took the fence for the horses down in two different places, and the wind was so strong it laid the grass flat. She figures winds were about 80 miles an hour. She says lightening started about midnight, the electricity went off about one and was off until four this morning. It’s unbelievable the damage caused by the storm, she says, and she figures it will take all weekend and more to clean up the yard.
A meeting was held in Willmar yesterday (Thursday) regarding Veterans benefits and the backlog of receiving those benefits, as well as rural health care access for rural veterans. The meeting was at the request of U.S. Senator Al Franken, and is one of 20 being held around the state. Al Juhnke with the Senator’s Office, says this was really a focus group on those legislative issues that Senator Franken and Representative Walz are introducing in Congress. Juhke says they’re going to take the message they received from these Willmar area vets, bring it back and the Senator will use that as he crafts legislation, as he advocates and tells the stories. He said they’re hearing stories out here that while the VA basically does a good job, there’s obviously some bottlenecks and problems, particularly with case work that the Senator wants to address. Again, Juhnke said, men and women who serve in our military, they’re deserving of benefits and they should get them in a timely manner.
A thunderstorm ripped through West Central Minnesota yesterday, downing trees and power lines. Morris Chief of Police Jim Beauregard says to be leery of live wires and, if you have a wire down in your backyard or neighborhood, call the Law Enforcement Center. Beauregard says utility crews and Public Works Departments are out repairing the wires.
A pair of dancers took first place at the Kiwanis Talent Competition in Morris last night (Thursday). Brienna Dybdahl and Shannon Dougherty will advance to the final competitive round during Prairie Pioneer Days. Joining them on the stage will be second place pianist Yasha Hoffman and third place modern dance duo Callista Kill and LaRae Kram.
A South Dakota woman will faces a single felony charge in Stevens County after arriving at the Stevens County courthouse to claim drugs in officers' custody. Tuesday, a Stevens County Sheriff's Deputy was called to Donnelly to investigate a purse left on the ground beside a vehicle. While searching the purse to verify an owner's identity, the officer discovered four small bags of methamphetamine and two syringes. The purse contained several forms of identification naming twenty-two year old Cecily Goodsell of Sisseton, SD the owner of the purse. The bags collectively contained 2 grams of crystal meth. Later that day, Goodsell called the Sheriff's Department looking for her purse. Goodsell arrived at the Law Enforcement Center that afternoon where she was interviewed and admitted to owning the purse and acknowledged she knew there were drugs in her purse but claimed they were not hers. Goodsell has been charged with one count of fifth degree possession.
At 2:16 this morning, the Nation Weather Service put out a severe thunderstorm warning for Meeker County. The storm produced several power outages as well as wind damage to the area including power lines down on the southern edge of Stearns County near Eden Valley. There were multiple trees down, some power lines and telephone poles down, and one report of damage to a turkey barn, mainly in the north and western portions of Meeker County.