All Minnesota state agencies will stop buying hand soaps and dish and laundry products that contain triclosan by June of this year. This shift will help keep this harmful chemical out of Minnesota waters. Triclosan, an endocrine-disrupting compound, is antibiotic resistant and causes other health and environmental problems. The Minnesota Department of Health, U-S Food and Drug Administration, and American Medical Association say there is no evidence that triclosan provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water. Triclosan-free products are readily available in many stores.
Minnesota legislators are considering a bill that would allow county commissioners across the state to vote to make the elected offices of Auditor, Recorder, and Treasurer appointed positions. The Stevens County Board, without declaring an official position, discussed the legislation at Tuesday's meeting. County Commissioner Phil Gausman said he favors appointing the positions and suggested the board draft a letter to that effect to send to Minnesota legislators. County Commissioner Jeanne Ennen says she supports keeping the positions elected because it maintains accountability in the system. The bill would require a 3/5ths vote to switch from elected to appointed positions. Any action by county boards could be reversed by a vote of the population in a general election.
The state deficit has been reduced by over a half-million dollars and Republicans and Democrats are weighing in on how to keep the deficit in decline. Governor Mark Dayton's budget proposal has called for a number of increased taxes. Elbow Lake Republican Torrey Westrom says the budget forecast proves higher taxes are unnecessary. He says decreased government spending over the last two years have allowed businesses to expand and hire, increase revenues across the state. Governor Dayton will be issuing additional budget proposals soon and is expected to adjust his tax increases.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking citizen input on creating limited opportunities for open-water hunting for waterfowl. The DNR will hold a public forum on Wednesday night, March 13th from 7-9 at the Alexandria Community and Technical College in Alexandria. In addition to open water duck hunting, the DNR is seeking input on allowing Canada goose hunting in August to alleviate depredation of agricultural fields in west central Minnesota; opening the second portion of the state's 124-day crow season later in the year; and opening prairie chicken hunting season earlier in October than the current season.
The 35th annual University of Minnesota, Morris Jazz Festival will be held Friday and Saturday nights, April 5th and 6th at 7:30 in the Student Center’s Edson auditorium. This year's festival will feature guest artists tenor saxophonist Bill Pierce, and Steven Davis on the trombone. As is tradition, the West Central All Stars will open the Friday evening performance, while the UMM Alumni Jazzers will play on Saturday night. The festival is open to the public.
The Minnesota State Patrol and Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department were called to a rollover last night (Thursday) in on Highway 23 in Chippewa County. According to the state patrol, 19 year old Emma Longhenry of Marshall lost control on the ice covered road, spun off the road and rolled. There were two passengers in her vehicle, 16 year old Corina Schmitt and 17 year old Josepine Longhenry, both of Clarkfield. There were no apparent injuries.
The Montevideo City Council reviewed a timeline for the potential construction of a new fire hall and some upgrades to the existing city hall and a public works building when the council when it met this week. City Administrator Steve Jones says the council didn’t approve necessarily going forward but approved a timeline. The city will be putting the plan together, and already have some architectural plans and concepts for the new fire hall. Jones says they’ll hold some meetings later this spring which will culminate in a public hearing, probably in July when they’ll make the decision whether to go forward or not. If the council decidea to go forward, Jones said, they’ll likely use capital improvement bonds which would mean they may give an architect the go ahead and do plans and specs in the fall, with bidding early 2014 and construction the end of 2014. It’s not an assured project, he said, there are still a number of steps the council has to go through but they’ve certainly started the process.
Senator Lyle Koenen says for those Minnesotans who do qualify to get their health insurance at the Health Care Exchange, it will be a huge benefit. He says the exchange offers some competition so they can get some lower premiums and secondly, a lot of those that qualify will be based on income. He said there will be some help to pay those premiums and so it’s a good way of making sure we get many more Minnesotans covered by health insurance.
About two this morning (Friday), the Renville County Dispatch Center received a 911 call reporting a vehicle rollover on Highway 212 near the intersection of Highway 23, about 3 miles east of Granite Falls. 20 year old Mirranda Kager of St. Louis Park, lost control of the vehicle on the slippery road, slid sideways into the ditch and rolled three times before the vehicle came to rest on its roof. There were three passengers, 20 year old Cameron Berry-Packel of Hopkins, 19 year old Jerome Meeks of Hopkins, and 20 year old Andrea Gladney of St. Louis Park. Kager and Berry-Packel were transported by the Granite Falls Ambulance to the Granite Falls Hospital with minor injuries. All occupants were wearing their seatbelts. The crash remains under investigation by the sheriff’s office. Assisting at the scene were the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff’s Office and The Granite Falls Police Department.