NEWS-Nov 20
News Director: Bev Alquist Call with news at 320-235-2900 or email

News Archive

The United Way of West Central Minnesota is beginning the Agency Review Process for the 2014-2015 funding cycle. Any programs and/or agencies that are interested in finding out new funding criteria, use of the new United Way of West Central Minnesota Volunteer website, or are interested in completing an application that fits into new United Way of West Central Minnesota aspirations, are encouraged to attend a training session. Interested agencies should contact United Way of West Central Minnesota to sign up for one of seven training sessions. Those sessions are at the Willmar Public Library December 2nd from 3-5 and December 10th from 1:30-3:30; Master’s Coffee in Olivia on December 3rd at 2:30; the Media USA in Litchfield December 4th at 2:30; and the Benson Chamber of Commerce on December 11th at 1:30.

Tomorrow morning (Thursday) Marty Seifert plans to announce his bid to run for Governor. He will be at the city hall in Marshall at 8:30 to make that announcement; at the state office building in St. Paul at 1:30; and at the Happy Chef in Mankato at four.

Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday), the Meeker County Sheriff's Office received several 911 calls reporting a fight that was occurring on Hwy 12, east of the intersection of 515th Avenue, Grove City. While  in route it was reported that one vehicle was striking another vehicle at the scene.

Officers determined that the suspect, 57 year old William Dugan of rural Grove City, had parked his vehicle across the driving lanes of Highway 12,attempting to stop all vehicle traffic to look for his dogs in the area. Several vehicles traveling both east and west on US Highway 12, had slowed, then drove on the shoulder around the Dugan vehicle and continued on their way. As the victim, a 53 year old male from Clara City, was driving around the Dugan vehicle, there was contact made between the two vehicles. Both drivers exited their vehicles and began arguing on the roadway. Dugan took a 2 by 4 approximately three and one half feet in length and was going to strike the victim with the 2 by 4. Both men struggled for the 2 by 4 and were rolling on the highway. The victim broke free and retreated across the roadway along with his wife who was a passenger in his vehicle. Both victims took up a position of safety behind another vehicle that was stopped nearby. Dugan entered his vehicle and began ramming the victim's vehicle on the driver’s side several times, pushing the vehicle completely off the roadway and into the ditch. Dugan then drove his vehicle towards the victim and his wife and tried to strike them with his vehicle. They were able to move out of the way and avoid being struck. Dugan was arrested at the scene and taken to the Meeker County Jail. He is currently being held on Felony 2nd Degree Assault as well as Felony 1stDegree Criminal Damage to Property, with other charges pending a formal complaint.

The 12th annual Community Conference on the Brain will be held tomorrow (Thursday) from3-8:30 at the Willmar High School. Its presented by Pact for Families Collaborative and the theme is ‘Aggression, Violence, Trauma and the Brain.’ The speaker will be Dr. Stanton Samenow, author of ‘Inside the Criminal Mind.’ Breakout presentation topics include: childhood trauma, childhood mental health, domestic violence, restorative justice and many more.

Agriculture production and clean water are the goals of a project using Clean Water Funds on the Doug and Lois Albin farm near Granite Falls. The low-lying ground adjacent to the Yellow Medicine River, often remained too wet to plant, and was susceptible to erosion. The Albins opened their land to a major project to install drain tile, but also reduce pollutants reaching the river. The project includes drainage water management, stream-bank and outlet stabilization, woodchip bioreactors, and a more recent tool – saturated buffers. The expense, both in dollars and technical assistance, would have exceeded any immediate economic benefit, but with local, federal and state assistance, including funding from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, the project became an example of what can be done when property owners, agencies and the public can work together.

The school boards that previously administered the Morris and Cyrus School Districts have both received positive audit reports for the fiscal year ending June 30. The former Morris District #769 was given a "clean and unqualified" report for the 2013 fiscal year. The Cyrus School District #611 also received a positive report, though auditor Jim Gilman notes that the district could not have continued at the current rate of enrollment. "The writing was on the wall," Gilman said, when the district started borrowing money to pay routine bills. The combined board for district #2769 voted to accept both audit reports.

The Morris Area Elementary School is conducting a new kind of fundraiser this year. Rather than selling candy or magazines, the school is selling "shares." The school is asking each student to buy or sell a $30 share to raise the annual $20,000 fund for field trips and classroom supplies. Elementary Principal Ken Gagner says members of the community are also buying in. Interested donors can give on the school's website or at the school office. You can also purchase shares at the Morris Elementary office.

Representative Paul Anderson of Starbuck has scheduled informational town hall meetings in Glenwood, Melrose and Sauk Centre this month, the month designated Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Anderson is partnering with the Minnesota Department of Health to hold town hall meetings to help residents learn more about radon gas, estimated to be at concerning levels in 40% of Minnesota homes. A meeting tomorrow afternoon (Thursday) at12:30 will be held in the Senior Center inGlenwood. On Tuesday morning, Nov. 26th, Anderson and Department of Health officials will be in the Melrose City Office, and at 4:30 that afternoon in the city office in Sauk Center. Anderson says the meetings are free and open to everyone. State health officials will be handing out free Radon Test kits and answering questions.

During yesterday’s Willmar Finance Committee meeting, Mayor Frank Yanisch, who had proposed cutting just under $300,000 from the budget, left the meeting during a discussion with Councilmember Audrey Nelson regarding his proposal to cut dues, subscriptions, organization memberships, travel and training from his budget. According to an article in the West Central Tribune, the reductions included eliminating $35,000 in annual dues to the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. Yanish spoke against paying the dues and Nelson in favor of paying them. The article says Yanish interrupted Nelson as she was speaking, and the board chairman Denis Anderson told Yanish to be quiet until Nelson finished talking. When Yanish told Nelson there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t spend money on, the chair stopped Yanish, saying his comment was not appropriate. At that point Yanish left the meeting.

Rice Regional Dental Clinic has received a $72,111 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation. This grant will allow the dental clinic to purchase capital equipment for the organization. The clinic serves 35-40 patients a day from a 17-county area in West Central and Southwest Minnesota. The clinic accepts patients who have limited access to dental care due to handicap accessibility or financial barriers. Due to the high volume of patients seen on a daily basis, some of the clinic’s capital equipment needed to be replaced and will be purchased using funds from the grant.

40 year old Jeffrey Ackerman of Willmar, who set fire to two U.S. flags flown in downtown Willmar last June, has been sentenced in Kandiyohi County District Court, on two fifth degree misdemeanor arson charges. District Court Judge Michael Thompson sentenced Ackerman to 90 days in jail, gave him credit for serving 29 days, and stayed 61 days for one year; and put him on supervised probation for one year. Fees and fines total $2,000, but $1,000 was stayed for a year. He also has to pay restitution, undergo a mental health evaluation, complete a mental health assessment, be evaluated for the Cognitive Skills program, and write letters of apology.

Christopher Geisler, who was reported missing in Yellow Medicine County, has been located. Geisler hadn’t had contact with anyone since Monday night. The sheriff’s office and Tactical Rescue Team located Geisler shortly after they had asked for anyone who had contact with Geisler to contact their office.

At the end of the Willmar City Council’s meeting Monday night, Councilmember Ron Christiansen raised a number of issues. One had to do with quiet zones and why they’re not yet fully functional. City Administrator Charlene Stevens, says this has to do with the BNSF crews becoming familiar with the quiet zone. A councilmember raised some issues regarding the Acting Public Works Director, the public works director search, and a couple items regarding street projects in the city.

James Buck of Sunburg was at the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners meetingTuesday to talk about the eviction notice that had been served on him via a certified letter to vacate his home October 31 of this year because he hasn’t paid taxes since 2007. Buck is still living in the home and asked the board for ‘consideration and grace’ considering his situation. He told the board he didn’t know why he was there and it was a travesty to say the least. Board Chair Harlan Madsen told him asked that County Attorney Shane Baker research is Buck could legally make another application for abatement.

The Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission will hold their second meeting today (Wednesday) in Sartell. The commission, established this past legislative session, is responsible for developing a system plan for parks and trails in Greater Minnesota. The commission met once in October and will submit its first report to the Legislature in January. Al Lieffort, Parks Superintendent in Douglas County, serves as the commission's chair.

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