The Willmar City Council this week established a land write-down policy which is a tax incentive policy for the Industrial Park so if a company wishes to create new jobs, they can purchase the Industrial Park land at a discounted price based on the number and types of jobs they create. City Administrator Charlene Stevens says the council also took action that would allow them to accept the former Rule Tire Company property as a gift if a potential buyer does not accept the property. She says the city doesn’t have formal plans for the property, and the Rule family is working with a nonprofit entity that’s looking to establish a parking lot, which is the city’s preference. The Rule family is wanting to take some action on that property and if the first offer falls through with the nonprofit, the property would likely come to the city and the council would then look at what opportunities it would present for the city before it went into tax forfeiture, Stevens said.
Several thousand Minnesota children last year had elevated levels of lead in their blood, even though significant progress has been made in recent decades in decreasing children’s exposure to lead. This is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and state officials remind you that lead hazards still exist in many homes. Lead can cause learning impairment, behavioral problems and event death. Children under six years old, living in homes built before 1978, are most at risk. The Minnesota Department of Health urges you to get your home tested, get your child tested and get the facts from your local health department.
A record 69,400 gypsy moths have been trapped in Minnesota this year, a number that will continue to climb as Minnesota Department of Agriculture staff collect the 14,500 insect traps set out this spring. Trapping is not meant to control the insect population, but counting the number of moths caught in the traps gives MDA officials a sense of the size and location of the gypsy moth population. The department of agriculture, along with state and federal partners, have battled the invasive pest for nearly 40 years. Gypsy moth caterpillars can defoliate large sections of forest, the pests eat the leaves of many trees and shrubs, and severe, repeated infestations can kill trees.
The Morris Area Yellow Ribbon Network continues to monitor services for veterans in Stevens County and surrounding communities, having officially been recognized by the state as a veterans' network last year. Committee member Blaine Hill says veterans from different service years have unique needs. Older veterans come to a lot of events, Hill says, while younger veterans often need more outreach efforts. Several veterans events are upcoming, including meals and a program on Veterans Day: Monday, November 11.
The Morris Area Schools continue to feel the effects of federal cuts--known as sequestration--with new annual cuts to funding for programs like special education and tutoring groups. Morris Superintendent Scott Monson says he expects funding cuts every year for the next 10 years between 3-9%, unless Congress acts to end sequestration. Monson says it's unfortunate that predicting the annual cuts is now a step in attempting to plan a balanced budget.
The Morris City Council has voted to allow public infrastructure, funded by two state grants, to be placed in a private business. Denco II, an ethanol plant in the city, will maintain and operate a $1.1 million water filtration system, designed to reduce the amount of water used by the plant during ethanol production and treat wastewater before it returns to the city's wastewater system. Tuesday night, plant manager Mick Miller explained the funding at a hearing before the City Council, noting the project will cost the city nothing. Two state grants--one from the Department of Employment and Economic Development and one from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency--will pay for the bulk of the project.
A new exhibit opens in the University of Minnesota, Morris gallery today (Thursday). Artists Andrew Nordin and Lisa Berg bring their exhibit, "Holus Bolus: A Rural Aesthetic Initiative" to the Edward J. and Helen Jane Morrison Gallery. There will be an artist’s lecture tonight at 6 with a reception to follow at 7 in the gallery. The exhibit will be on display through November 29.
The students at the Morris Area High School are in second place in a nation-wide safe driving program. The school district is participating in "Celebrate My Drive," a safe driving initiative during National Teen Driver Safety Week. Celebrate My Drive calls for on-line pledges to drive safely. The school that gets the most pledges through October 26 will win a $100,000 grant from State Farm. They could also win one of two hometown concert events with Grammy Award winner Kelly Clarkson.
On Tuesday, the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Minnesota Department of Corrections at a residence on Axel Avenue East, Grove City. 33 year old Richard Ahlbrecht of Grove City, was arrested for 5th degree possession and paraphernalia.
29 year old Octavious Barlow of Montevideo has been arrested on an Indiana Warrant for Aiding in a Homicide. He was arrested after a brief foot chase at his Montevideo residence. The Montevideo Police Department received a tip from the FBI that Barlow was living in town and wanted by Indiana authorities. According to the Indiana warrant, Barlow is accused of aiding by purchasing items used in homicide, including a large tote in which a homicide victim was found inside of.
The Minnesota State Patrol was called to a broadside crash yesterday (Wednesday) on Highway 15 in McLeod County. The drivers, 31 year old Robert Strand of Elysian and 51 year old Barry Hillmann of Sleepy Eye, sustained non-life threatening injuries. According to the state patrol, Strand was traveling south on Highway 15, and turned left in front of Hillman, who was traveling north on Highway 15.
Representative Torrey Westrom of Elbow Lake says after several years of working to increase the speed limit on rural roads with his DFL and GOP colleagues, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has announced a speed limit increase on all of Highway 75, most of Highway 59, and part of Highway 7 to 60 mph. The speed limit will be effective once the signs are installed. Last session, Westrom worked to pass legislation that would have created a statewide speed limit increase from 55 mph to 60 mph. The proposal passed both the House and Senate in an omnibus bill, but was pulled out by a conference committee before it would have received its final passage. The new 5 mph increase seems to be reasonable, Westrom says, and some have even argued that it should be increased to 65 mph, but 60 mph is a good option to try for the motoring public. No matter what the speed limit, drivers need to continue to practice safe and defensive driving. Safety comes first, Westrom says, and starts with each individual driver.
The Meeker Sheriff’s Office will be participating in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday from ten to two. The take back boxes will be located at the Meeker County Law Enforcement Center in Litchfield, and the Dassel City Hall. The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposal, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of these medications.