NEWS-May 14
News Director: Bev Alquist Call with news at 320-235-2900 or email

News Archive

As a member of the Judiciary Committee, U.S. Senator Al Franken will play a key role in shaping the final immigration bill that will eventually be voted on by the entire Senate. What they’ve come up with is a giant step forward, he says, noting it’s based on compromise but is a very good fix for our immigration. Franken says it fixes a broken system which has been hurting us as a country as well as economically. He says we need to get people out of the shadows and we need to make sure they don’t jump ahead of people who are getting through legally. He says there are a lot of people here who have been contributing in our communities and economies and will be able to do it more efficiently for our economy. Franken said he has an amendment to try protect small business when it comes to e-verify. “That’s a very important piece of this. We have to make it so you cannot get a job unless you’re legal. That’s where e-verify comes in and that makes tremendous sense.”

Sibley State Park is having Archery in the Park for anyone eight years old and older on Saturday morning, May 25th from 10-11:30. This program is designed for families and people of all ages and skill levels. You’ll get hands on instruction from a certified instructor along with experience shooting at a target. Younger participants must be accompanied by an adult. All the equipment is provided. This is an open shoot and you can come anytime during the call and get to shoot. The archery range is located near the Interpretive Center.

Legislators in the Minnesota Senate are likely to vote this week on a controversial bill to organize child care workers into a union. There is an estimated 8-12,000 child care providers in the state. Senator Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lakes says the bill originally failed in committee, on an 11-11 tie. After a few days, the committee voted again and a bill to allow child care workers to organize passed. Westrom says a petition of 500 child care providers could open state records to union organizers. Those pushing for the legislation say they have the necessary numbers. It would take a vote of a simple majority to form a union; child care providers who receive state funds would then be required to pay union dues.

When crews prepare to tear down the old Morris Elementary and High School complex, they will be hauling hazardous materials out of the site before the building is taken away on trucks. Project Manager Huey Robertson says his crews try to respect residents' rights to clean streets and safe commutes by cleaning up any tracked mud and driving slowly through neighborhoods. Robertson says crews will be surveyed the site yesterday (Monday) and might begin removing hazardous materials today (Tuesday). Building demolition will begin after all hazardous materials--including asbestos, mercury, lead paint, and wiring--have been removed. The project completion date is September 30th.

Nearly 350 University of Minnesota, Morris students received their degrees during the 50th Commencement on Saturday. United States Senator Al Franken gave the graduation address, noting that Morris has a great stake in the success of the University. The spirit of inclusivity is part of the identity of the University, Franken said, evidenced by the school's tuition free enrollment for Native American students and by the University's governing structure that gives students direct control over how their tuition money is spent. Chancellor Jacqueline R. Johnson and University of Minnesota Regent Thomas Devine also made additional remarks.

The Morris Public Library will be celebrating this week during "Children's Book Week." The weeklong focus on books and childhood reading will be through May 19. If you are a youthful reader, stop in the library all week long to sign up to win books. Several special events have been planned. On Thursday morning, stop by the library at 10:30 for Storytime with "Clifford". Families are invited to a "Birthday Party for Clifford" that night from 6-7:30. Special guest readers will read stories beginning at 6, followed by crafts, games, birthday treats, and Book Bingo in the meeting room. There is no cost associated with any event.  Call the library for more information.

The American Red Cross Bloodmobile will be in West-Central Minnesota this week. Yesterday (Monday), the bloodmobile was in Herman. Today (Tuesday) it will be at the United Lutheran Church in Elbow Lake from 1-7. On Wednesday, donors can give from 11 to 4 at Glacial Ridge Health System in Glenwood or in Ashby at the American Legion from 2-7. On Thursday, the Bloodmobile will be in Barrett at the Peace Lutheran Church from 1-7. Call the Red Cross office for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients.

Spring truck weight restrictions on state highways in the central Minnesota frost zone ended yesterday (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.

Monday, the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office was called to a crash on County Road 19 just west of Belgrade. A fertilizer truck owned by Crop Production Services out of Sauk Centre and driven by 19 year old Thomas Janson of Sauk Centre, left the road, hit a field approach and came to rest in a field. Janson was taken to the Sauk Centre Hospital. The crash remains under investigation by the sheriff’s office. Assisting at the scene was the Belgrade Police and Rescue.

According to Willmar City officials, the traffic signals at 1st Street South and 19th Avenue will have new signal equipment installed on Thursday. Four-way stop signs will be installed to control traffic while the new equipment is being installed. City officials anticipate the work to be completed by five Thursday afternoon. Traffic will be allowed through the intersection, but motorists need to be aware of traffic control changes, and to slow down for their safety and the safety of the workers.

45 year old Eric Westin of Pine City, the driver of the semi that collided with a freight train between Murdock and DeGraff last week, died early yesterday morning (Monday) at the St. Cloud Hospital. Westin was hauling anhydrous ammonia and was hit by a train as he was crossing the railroad tracks coming from the Koch Nitrogen Terminal. Three train crew members were taken to a hospital where they were treated and released.

The Kandiyohi County Public Works Department in Willmar says the railroad crossing on County Road 7 in the city of Raymond will be closed at eight tomorrow morning (Wednesday) and remain closed until six Thursday afternoon. Burlington Northern Santa Fe will be repairing the railroad crossing. You’re asked to use alternate routes.

From bug spray to illegal drugs, a wide variety of chemicals from prescription medicines and personal care products are ending up in Minnesota’s lakes and rivers, according to a State study. In the studies, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency randomly sampled lakes and rivers for chemicals used in pharmaceuticals and products like soaps and shampoos. The mosquito repellent DEET was the most often detected, along with chemicals used in antidepressants and antibiotics. Cocaine also showed up frequently. The chemicals were all detected at very low concentrations, in the low parts per trillion. One part per trillion is equal to one drop of water in pool the size of a football field covered with water 43 feet deep.  But, the MPCA says, the findings are concerning because even at low levels, several of the chemicals are known to interfere with hormone function in fish and other aquatic organisms.

Volunteers can help Department of Natural Resources biologists discover the major cause of death of the common loon by collecting dead loon specimens for testing. They need to have recently died with no signs of decomposition or obvious predator trauma. Use disposable gloves to put the dead loon in a plastic bag. It’s important to deliver the specimen as soon as possible to a local DNR office. All loons need to be labeled with the name of the county, lake and nearest town where it was found along with the person’s name, address and telephone. Minnesota’s loon population is about 12,000 birds, and the numbers appear stable, but there are still questions about loon mortality.

Representative Paul Anderson of Starbuck says the bill House Democrats passed last week includes numerous renewable energy mandates which would increase costs for virtually all hardworking Minnesota homeowners and apartment residents. Anderson says one improvement they managed to make in the committee process exempts rural electric cooperatives and municipal systems from the four percent solar mandate and the sales tax on wholesale electricity.

Senator Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake says they’re fast approaching the final week of the legislative session in St. Paul. This year’s session is set to adjourn next Monday. He says the final week will be filled with a flurry of conference committees to resolve the differences between the two versions of companion legislation. An identical conference committee report is then sent back to each body for final passage, and if passed went to the governor for his signature. The minimum wage has passed the full Senate, he says, noting they voted to increase the minimum wage paid by large employers from $6.15 to $7.25, which matches current federal law.

The Meeker County Sheriff’s Office was called to a crash last night (Monday) at the intersection of Highway 4 and 240th Street north of Dassel. 23 year old Krysten Dane of Dassel failed to yield the right-of-way to 54 year old Kevin Hinkemeyer of St. Augusta, who was traveling north on Highway 4. Dane was taken to the Hutchinson Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The crash is under investigation by the Meeker County Sheriff's Office.

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