NEWS-May 13
News Director: Bev Alquist Call with news at 320-235-2900 or email

News Archive

The Willmar Elks Lodge is sponsoring a Veteran’s Fishing Expo coming up Saturday, May 18th at the National Guard Armory from 8-3. There will be a free fish fry for all Veterans from11:30 to one, and classes covering boat and water safety, fish ID and fish cleaning, rod & reel casting, aquatic invasive species, typing lines and knots, and there will be door prizes, according to Tim Hansen, president of the Willmar Elks Lodge. Some of the other organizations that are co-sponsoring that will be there are Little Crow Anglers, Let’s Go Fishing, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, VFW, Blue Star Mothers and the Kandiyohi County Veterans Services. This is open to everybody so come on out and appreciate our veterans that help all of us keep our freedom.



The House of Representatives has no interest in talking about any kind of pay raise for legislators, according to Representative Mary Sawatzky of Willmar. That was presented in the Senate, she says, and they can talk about it all they want, it’s not an issue. Sawatzky says she came to St. Paul to represent the people of Minnesota, she’s not there for an increase in pay. Sawatzky says even if it was brought to the table it wouldn’t affect legislators until the next election cycle, but she’s not interested in that happening. Sawatzky said she is interested in balancing the budget, having a good budget for the state of Minnesota, bringing local government aid to our cities, working on roads and bridges. She said they’re working hard to have some kind of comprehensive plan so the state of Minnesota can see that they’re taking our infrastructure very seriously.



Wednesday is National Peace Officers Memorial Day, a day that was signed into law in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy directing flags to be flown at half-staff on government buildings. Meeker County Sheriff Jeff Norlin is continuing the annual memorial service by the flag pole in front of the Law Enforcement Center on Wednesday morning. There will be a short gathering that officers and the public are invited to attend. It will start at 9 and be officiated by Meeker County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Jeff Garland. There were 120 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2012 and on average 58,000 are assaulted each year resulting in over 16,000 injures.



Lac qui Parle County has been pushing for new and innovative ways to bring technology education to their community. The LqP Computer Commuter is a small bus that LqP has outfitted with a multitude of computer and mobile device work stations that provide individuals with devices to try out and learn. The bus travels to cities throughout Lac qui Parle County and invites people to come on board and explore the electronics under guided instruction to provide them with information and answer any questions that they may have. The program is part of a larger campaign to bring broadband to rural areas, and to make that technology more readily accessible to the local population as a whole. Currently the Center for Small Towns is employing two students to create an analysis of the LqP Computer Commuter’s system to help improve and benefit the program.



Home Front Connection is hosting a Hero’s Hero brunch for mothers and grandmothers of those who are currently serving or who died while in service to our country. The brunch isSaturday from 11-1 at the Willmar Community Center on Highway 71 Northeast. The guest speaker will be Sirrina Martinez. Music will be provided by the West Central Barbershop Connection.



The University of Minnesota is seeking non-metro communities and townships of less than 1,500 for a special project over the next 18 months aimed at boosting a community’s long-term destination appeal. This project will help communities across Minnesota discover opportunities to develop community assets for sustainable tourism. The project is sponsored by the University’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Tourism Center. Applications are due by noon on Wednesday.



The plan to create a unified, five county public health department could be finalized by the end of the year, pending approval of the County Boards in Stevens, Traverse, Grant, Pope, and Douglas Counties. Douglas and STG Public Health Director Sandy Tubbs says during the process to consider consolidating the five counties' departments, the planning committee has reviewed employee contracts and benefits to look for potential efficiencies. Tubbs notes that no staffing reductions are planned as part of the consolidation. The consolidation committee will begin meeting with the five county boards starting tomorrow (Tuesday) with the Pope County Board. Tubbs hopes to bring the consolidation to a vote by December or early next year.



The original portion of the old Morris elementary and high school complex has been standing since 1914 and 99 years later, the original building, with its many additions, will come down. Project Manager Huey Robertson says hazardous abatement could start as early as today (Monday). Following asbestos abatement and removal of other hazardous materials, Robertson says crews will begin preparing the inside of the building for demolition. A date for the start of demolition will be determined by abatement completion. Following hazardous abatement, crews will being tearing down the building above ground. Footings and portions of the building that are below ground will be dug up as above ground work is completed. Crews will be working 7-7 Monday through Friday, with some weekend work. Residents can expect to see fences going up soon to protect the construction site from vandals and the curious.



Spring truck weight restrictions on state highways in the central Minnesota frost zone will end today (Monday). Spring load restrictions are still in effect in the north-central and north frost zones. The Minnesota Department of Transportation determines ending dates for spring load restrictions by monitoring roadway strength as weather conditions change. The central zone includes Stevens, Pope, Douglas, Grant, Traverse, Otter Tail, Wilkin, and parts of Big Stone and Swift Counties. Restrictions have already been lifted in the South, Metro, and Southern Zones.



Nearly 350 University of Minnesota, Morris students will receive their degrees during the 50th Commencement tomorrow afternoon (Saturday). The ceremony will take place on the campus mall (rain site is the P.E. Center) at 1:30. The public is invited to attend the ceremony. Chancellor Jacqueline R. Johnson will provide the welcome and recognition of special guests, and University of Minnesota Regent Thomas Devine will give additional remarks. United States Senator Al Franken will provide the graduation address.



There will be a U.S. Senator Klobuchar Veterans Service Staff Tour on Wednesday morning at nine in the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners Room in the Health and Human Services Building. There will be a video by Senator Klobuchar, her staff will give an overview of the office services process; there will be presentations by the Mn DVA (Department of Veteran Affairs), the County Veterans Service Officer, the VA and/or VA CBOC (Community Based Outreach Clinic). There will also be a question and answer period.



Saturday, 62 year old Brent Anderson of the Upper Sioux Community in Granite Falls was pronounced dead at the scene after his vehicle left the roadway and rolled over a steep embankment on the south side of Highway 67. According to the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff’s Office, Anderson apparently suffered a medical emergency and lost consciousness before going over the embankment. 56 year old Jaqueline Blue and 76 year old Sara Blue, passengers in Anderson’s vehicle, were taken to the Granite Falls Hospital and treated for minor injuries. Also on the scene were the Upper Sioux Police Department and Minnesota State Patrol. The crash is currently under investigation by the Minnesota State Patrol and the Upper Sioux Police Department.



The Alexandria Police Department was called to a work place injury accident in the parking lot of the Douglas County Hospital on Friday afternoon that involved a one person man-lift. The man lift had toppled over while 51 year old Brian Hermes of Alexandria was in and operating the piece of equipment. He was servicing the light poles in the parking lot of the hospital. It is estimated Hermes fell approximately 20 feet. He was transported to the Douglas County emergency room for his injuries. Hermes was working for B and L Utility Maintenance out of Annandale at the time of the accident. There were no other injuries but there was significant damage to the man lift and company vehicle.



The Wonderweavers Storytellers will be in the auditorium of the KMS Elementary School in Murdock this afternoon (Monday) at one to do a kickoff for the summer reading program. Titled ‘Dig Into Reading at Your Library’, the program is open to the public and free of charge. You’re encouraged to bring your preschoolers to hear some great stories and learn with is going to be going on at the Kerkhoven Public Library for the summer reading program.



A settlement has been reached in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Tim Larson’s family against Delbert and Timothy Huber. According to an article in the West Central Tribune written by Gretchen Schlosser, the substance of the settlement is complete, but the court-ordered distribution of the proceeds from the sale of the property has not been completed. 82 year old Delbert Huber is in prison for the murder, and Timothy Huber is awaiting sentencing. The farm sale will be May 22nd on the Huber farm north of Paynesville. The homestead has already been sold via private sale by Delbert Huber’s sister and niece, Elsie Wagner and Cherry DeMarais. The Larsons received three of four parcels of the Hubers’ property in the settlement. The 57 acre homestead could not be taken in the settlement.


The BOLD School Board will have a special school board meeting tonight (Monday) at seven in the District Office. The purpose of the meeting will be to approve MOU on Early Retirement Sunset Clause and to Rescind Teacher Terminations.



U.S. Senator Al Franken made a stop in Willmar Saturday on his way to Morris where he was giving the commencement address at the University of Minnesota, Morris. He talked about a number of topics, including the Farm Bill. He wrote the energy legislation to be included in the 2013 farm bill, which includes a number of provisions, all of them about rural energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy. The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is part of the bill, gives grants, loan guarantees and loans to rural areas to do renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Franken said farms can be very energy intensive, you will be able to make your operation more efficient if you’re a dairy. Also, he said, if you want to do some retrofits it helps you get the funding for that. There is infrastructure there for ethanol, he said, and cars made after 2002 can use 15 percent ethanol now.



At the State Capitol news conference yesterday afternoon (Sunday), Governor Mark Dayton announced agreement on spending and revenue targets for the fiscal year 2014-15 state budget. Dayton says those targets provide the framework for a fair and responsible budget that invests in the middle class. The agreement closes the state’s $627 million budget deficit in fiscal year 14-15, repays all the money borrowed from Minnesota’s schools, makes a $725 million investment in education, provides $400 million in property tax relief. Dayton say it pays for those investments by asking the wealthiest two percent of Minnesotans to pay their fair share in taxes, closes corporate tax loopholes, and reforms our tax system to make it fairer for middle income Minnesotans. He said it’s a budget that’s going to work for Minnesota, it’s going to put Minnesota to work, it’s going to fulfill our promises to invest in the future, in education and infrastructure, and we’re going to see a better Minnesota as a result of this budget.



Saturday afternoon, the Litchfield Police Department was called to a two vehicle crashon West Depot Street near Highway 12. The drivers were Benjamin Schultz of Isle, and Katie Barton-Rehmann of Winsted. There were no injuries. Later that afternoon they were called to a two vehicle crash in a parking lot on West 11th Street. Joseph Sheehan of Sauk Rapids hit a parked vehicle owned by Cynthia Puls of Olivia. There were no injuries.



Six conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Recourses were recognized recently during annual in-service training at Camp Ripley in Little Falls. Jeff Denz of the Willmar field station is among those recognized. He received the DNR’s Boat and Water Safety Achievement Award. This honor is based on demonstrated leadership ability and outstanding achievement in boating safety education, Boating While Intoxicated enforcement, and service to other law enforcement agencies.



Yesterday afternoon (Sunday), the Meeker County Sheriff's Office responded to and contacted the Hutchinson Police Department to dispatch the Hutchinson Fire Department for a reported building on fire at the Cedar Mills Rod and Gun Club, Cedar Mills Township. A short time later, the Litchfield Fire Department was called for mutual aid with a tanker for water. Upon arrival it was determined not to be a building fire and the Litchfield Fire Department was cancelled. The Hutchinson Fire Department extinguished the grass/ brush fire and there was no property damage.



Saturday afternoon the Meeker County Sheriff's Office was called to an ATV crash at the Thompson Lake County Park, west of Cosmos. The caller stated that the adult male driver of the ATV was attempting to climb a steep embankment and the ATV rolled over backwards onto the driver and the five year old female passenger. The driver was later identified as 30 year old Michael Vollmer of rural Darwin. The caller tried to help the child at the scene, but Vollmer took the child from her and then left the scene on the ATV. Vollmer brought the child to her grandparents’ residence in Cosmos. The Cosmos Ambulance took the child to the Meeker Memorial Hospital for treatment. The child was then airlifted to the Children's Hospital in Minneapolis with life-threatening injuries. Neither the child nor Vollmer was wearing helmets. Vollmer, who is a friend of the child's father, was arrested and is being held at the Meeker County Jail on charges of 2nd degree DWI and Criminal Vehicular Operation resulting in injury. This accident is currently under investigation by the Meeker County Sheriff's Office

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