As the Health Insurance Exchange bill passes through the Minnesota House and Senate, local governmental agencies are considering the implications for their departments. Stevens County Human Services Director Joanie Murphy, in Tuesday's Board of Commissioners meeting, considered the additional workload headed to her department if the state increases the number of people eligible for medical assistance. As soon as the bill is operational, Murphy says, her department's workload will increase beyond what current staffing levels will be able to handle. She estimates her department will need to grow by at least one full-time position if the county is to meet the expected increase in services.
The Stevens County Board of Commissioners has awarded a project to develop a Hazard Mitigation Plan to a local company: West Central Environmental Consultants of Morris. WCEC was the low bidder, with a bid of $24,850. Emergency Management Director Dona Griener says WCEC has had a long-standing interest in the project. They had met with former Sheriff Randy Willis and have recently met with current Sheriff Jason Dingman to discuss the plan. The Hazard Mitigation Plan will update an existing plan in the county, which is now five years old. The plan is funded through a 75% state-25% local cost-sharing agreement.
The Stevens County Historical Society is hosting a free Archive Resources Workshop Saturday, March 23rd, from 10-noon. Archivist Tina Didreckson will share an updated resource list, information about completed and ongoing transcription and indexing projects, and key Stevens County research resources. Researchers, who order familysearch.org, microfilms ahead or reserve computer space, will also have an opportunity to spend time working in the archive. Call or email the museum to reserve your spot.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation will be hosting the statewide construction kickoff at 10 on Wednesday morning, March 27th. The event will include an online broadcast featuring the new commissioner, Charlie Zelle, along with a local portion hosted by Project Engineers to discuss area projects and impacts in more detail. The 2013 Construction Kickoff will be held at the Willmar Headquarters at 2505 Transportation Road.
Yesterday (Wednesday), Whitefield Township closed 60th Street Southwest just north of County Highway 3 to 105rd Avenue Southwest due to snowdrifts. The section closed is between Priam and Roseland a mile west of County Road 5. The township road will be closed until further notice. Motorists are asked to use alternate routes.
The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office was called to a crash with injuries southwest of St. Martin on County Road 32 yesterday (Wednesday). 19 year old Rebecca Gray of St. Martin lost control of her vehicle on the hard packed snow and ice and hit a vehicle driven by 57 year old Janet Klein of Paynesville. Klein, Gray, and Gray’s two year old son were taken to the Paynesville Hospital. The sheriff’s office says the road conditions and high winds contributed to the crash.
Tuesday the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners, at a request from Representative Mary Sawatzky of Willmar, agreed to sign a letter of support for the Highway 23 Corridor gap which runs between New London and Paynesville and between Paynesville to Richmond. Sawatzky says today (Thursday) they will be discussing the request for $140 million from the bond proceeds account in the trunk highway fund to the commissioner of transportation for construction of those two segments.
Representative Mary Sawatzky says they continue to invest in education, property tax relief and job creation. She says they’re also closing in on the state’s $627 million deficit and with this budget target they’ll be fully paying back the $854 million still owed to the schools. Once they get that taken care of, she says, it will be the first time since 2007 that the schools are fully paid back. She says the House did announce that they’re utilizing a temporary income tax surcharge on only the wealthiest Minnesotans, and that will invest one billion dollars to strengthen the economic future. She said this temporary income tax surcharge will blink off once the Minnesota schools are paid off. We’re anticipating it will occur within two years or sooner, as well as the temporary income tax surcharge that includes the billion dollars it will raise will help with Early Childhood Education.
A Vision 2040 update was given at the Kandiyohi County Board meeting Tuesday. Commissioner Jim Butterfield says it takes a lot of vision to move forward, especially with the economic times we’ve experienced. Butterfield says in looking at Vision 2020 and some of the good things that came out of that, he’s looking forward to what 2040 will do for the Willmar Area and Kandiyohi County. Butterfield said he’s excited about this program. It will help the county and the city of Willmar move forward and as a commissioner with his entire district within the city of Willmar he’s excited about Willmar as a trade center and Willmar as an economic center in western Minnesota. 2040 will just help us build on that, he said.
Representative Andrew Falk of rural Murdock has a legislative survey he’s asking his constituents to fill out. He says the responses to the survey will help him make more informed decisions for the district. Also, he says, it will give his constituents a chance to personally voice their opinion on key issues. There are three questions to the survey which can be found online at surveymonkey.com/d/house17a.
Yesterday (Wednesday) in federal court, a 43 year old Kimball nurse was sentenced for fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance. Blake Zenner was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison on one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Zenner was also ordered to pay $340,000 in restitution. As a result of his actions, about 25 St. Cloud hospital patients were infected with bacteria. In his plea agreement he admitted to using syringes to remove the controlled substance from intravenous bags intended for hospital patients, and injecting some of the bags with saline solution to replace what he had taken.
Morris officials will be opening bids today (Thursday) for a 2013 demolition project: a project that will bring the old elementary and high school complex down. The unused building sits on 17 acres the city council hopes to see developed into housing and community gathering places. The plans call for the project to run from April 1 through September 20. Morris City Manager Blaine Hill says about two dozen contractors picked up the plans and specifications to prepare their bids. The bids will be opened at ten this morning, but won’t be awarded until the council meets on Tuesday.
Last night (Wednesday), the Meeker County Sheriff's Office, and Eden Valley Police Department responded to Highway 22, a quarter mile south of County State Aid Highway 3, for a rollover with injuries. 37 year old Sarah Benson of Hutchinson lost control due to icy road conditions, crashed into the ditch and rolled. She was taken to the Meeker Memorial Hospital with minor injuries. Her 13 year old daughter, a passenger in the vehicle, was not injured. The crash is currently under investigation by the Meeker County Sheriff's Office