Applications for the 2014 spring turkey hunting season will be accepted wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold and online through Jan. 10th, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The spring hunt will consist of six, five-day and two, seven-day seasons. A regulation change in 2014 means hunters need to apply for only the first three time periods, seasons A through C. All licenses for the last five time periods, seasons D through H, are unlimited and available over-the-counter. A second regulation change closes the portion of Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area (permit area 511) surrounding the wildlife office headquarters to hunting. The remainder of Carlos Avery will remain open to wild turkey hunting.
Representative Mary Sawatzky of Willmar says the unemployment tax cut will save Minnesota businesses $346.4 million over two years starting in 2014. She says more than 120,000 Minnesota businesses will be positively impacted by this tax cut. She describes it as a responsible, targeted tax cut that will provide businesses with more money that they can use to hire new workers, expand their business and grow our economy. Sawatzky says currently Minnesota businesses pay unemployment insurance taxes on the first $29,000 of annual wages per employee. Effective Jan. 1, the base tax rate they pay on the amount will be reduced from 0.5 percent to 0.1 percent. An additional 14 percent assessment that employers paid on their total unemployment insurance tax bill, will also be eliminated starting in 2014.
The United Way of West Central Minnesota is beginning the Agency Review process for the 2014-15 funding cycle. Those interested in finding out new funding criteria, use of the new United Way website, or interested in completing an applications are encourage to attend an upcoming training session. The Willmar Public Library has two training sessions One Dec. 2nd from 3-5 and one for Dec. 10th from 1:30-3. Master’s Coffee in Olivia has a session scheduled for Dec. 3red at 2:30. The training session at Media USA in Litchfield is Dec. 4th at 2:30, and the training session in Benson is Dec. 11th at 1:30 at the Chamber of Commerce Office. RSVP to the United Way by Dec. 1st for training.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is ready to fuel innovative bioenergy projects to the tune of $2,37 million in 2014. The enrollment period for request for proposals is up, running and ready for applicants. Examples of qualifying projects include current or future producers of biobased energy and organizations providing onsite research of how these systems impact our environment and economy. Anyone awarded a grant must contribute at least 50 percent to the total proposed bioenergy project cost. Proposals will be accepted until January 10th.
A Hoffman woman has turned to social media and online forums for help finding a missing truck. Tammy Saurer-Petersen says her vehicle was stolen from her driveway during the daylight hours on Saturday, November 11. The missing truck is a 2002 black Ford F-150 with chrome accents. The Minnesota license plate number is 021-AUZ. Saurer-Peterson says, after posting details about the theft on several online forums, she had hundreds of pledges to look for the missing truck. The Grant County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident. You are encouraged to call the Sheriff's Office at with any information.
Leaders from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees met last week to attempt a compromise on the farm bill. Each committee sent their top Republican and Democrat. Congressman Collin Peterson, a Democrat, is the ranking member of the House committee. He reports its unfortunate those talks ended without an agreement. Peterson says the problem is, the committee is trying to craft a bill that could pass both the House and Senate, a task that has not yet found a solution. Peterson believes it's still possible to finish a bill this year but with the upcoming Thanksgiving recess and differing House and Senate work schedules for December, time is running out.
Schools across Minnesota are still waiting for a portion of their state funding, following years of ever-larger withheld payments. The state has routinely withheld part of schools' funding to balance the state budget, one year delaying payments on 43% of school funding. Morris Superintendent Scott Monson says the state's accounting affects the school's budget and cash flow. Monson says the state only withheld about 10% of funds for schools this year. For the Morris schools, that means between $500,000-600,000 have been temporarily held until later in the school year.
Jobless rates in western Minnesota counties decreased in the last two month. The unadjusted unemployment rate in Stevens County was 2.8 percent in September, a decrease of 0.2 percent from August, according to figures from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Unemployment in Stevens County dropped even further in October, down another 0.2% to 2.6 percent unemployment. The release of September numbers was delayed by the federal government shut-down. Other county numbers include: Big Stone 3.5 -0.4, October: 3.3 -0.2; Grant 4.3 0.0, October: 3.7 -0.6; Pope 3.4 0.0, October: 3.0 -0.4; Swift 4.5 -0.3, October: 4.0 -0.5; Traverse 4.1 -0.0, October: 4.1 0.0. The comparable statewide jobless rate in October was 4.8 percent and the national rate was 7.3 percent.
The 25th annual observance of World AIDS Day is Sunday, Dec. 1st, a day to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and to demonstrate solidarity in the face of the ongoing pandemic that continues to affect millions around the world. An estimated 7,516 people are reported to be living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota, and an average of 300 new infections are diagnosed each year. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 35.3 million are living with HV worldwide.
32 year old Amanda Peltier of Starbuck has been indicted by a grand jury on first degree murder charges while committing child abuse and murder in the second degree while committing malicious punishment of a child. Peltier, according to an article in the West Central Tribune, is accused of killing four year old Eric Dean, the son of her live-in finance, by launching him across a room February 26th. He was airlifted to the St. Cloud Hospital and died their early the next morning. According to the medical examiner’s report he had multiple injuries to his scalp, mouth, face and lower extremities. His bowel had been perforated from blunt force abdominal trauma, which was ruled the cause of his death.
44 year old Gregory Rousch of Olivia, was sentenced yesterday on fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle. Rousch appeared in Kandiyohi County District Court where Judge Donald Spilseth sentenced him to 25 months in prison, which was stayed. He was given credit for serving 144 days, was put on supervised probation for four years, was ordered to serve 144 days in the county jail, was given credit for already serving 144 days, has to pay fines and fees totaling $1090, and has to complete a chemical assessment evaluation.
The Minnesota State Patrol was called to a rear-end crash yesterday (Tuesday) on Highway 212 at the County Road 20 intersection in Renville County. Both vehicles were traveling west on Highway 212 when they collided. The drivers were 63 year old Judith Knaak of Stewart and 34 year old Jolyn gibbons of New Auburn. Gibbons sustained non-life threatening injuries. Knaak, and her passenger, 75 year old Otto Knaak of Stewart, were not injured.
If you’re planning to drink before getting behind the wheel this Thanksgiving think twice, says the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Law enforcement agencies around the state are adding extra DWI patrols in an effort to combat drunk driving related crashes. Last year 104 people were killed in drunk driving crashes; 2,644 people suffered injuries in alcohol-related crashes, 28,418 people were arrested for DWI, with the average alcohol concentration at 0.154. The enforcement begins tonight (Wednesday) and runs through December. Plan for a sober ride home, buckle up and report drunk driving.
With the holiday season beginning tomorrow, be mindful of the weather as your traveling. MnDOT (Minnesota Department of Transportation) urges you to use caution while driving across the state and to take advantage of the tools MnDOT makes available for safer, more predictable travel. Getting people safely from A to B during this holiday season is a team effort, according to Commissioner Charlie Zelle, and MnDOT does its part to keep the roads in good shape and clear of snow and ice. You are responsible for driving attentively and according to road conditions.
An animal rights group called ‘Compassion Over Killing,’ is infiltrating turkey growing farms, taking undercover videos and claiming cruel and inhumane treatment of the birds. They recently shot an undercover video at a farm near Starbuck. Erica Meier, executive director with Compassion Over Killing, says the video shows filthy conditions and hens being artificially inseminated. She says the video also shows hens getting entangled in the mechanical nesting boxes, and hens injuring themselves while trying to get free. Meier says some of eggs from this farm go to Willmar Poultry, the nation’s largest turkey hatchery. Officials with both operations say they adhere to National Turkey Federation guidelines on animal care and well-being.
The Morris City Council has voted to enter into negotiations with Riley Brothers Properties for the sale of the old Eastside School property, an empty 17.75 acre lot in the heart of the city. City Manager Blaine Hill will handle the negotiations. Riley Brothers Properties, along with their development partner INH Properties, presented their plans to the council last night (Tuesday), suggesting student housing, multi-family housing, and affordable housing options are all on the table. Mike Stoebe of INH Properties, says his company's role will be to facilitate development and manage any buildings INH Properties builds. Riley's original bid offered to purchase the entire lot for $135,000. Last night, John Riley suggested that price might change, depending on negotiations with the city.
The Paynesville City Council met Monday night. They approved an EDA loan to Eats and Treats, a new business in downtown Paynesville located in the Old Tucks Café building. Mayor Jeff Thompson says they also approved some pay equity issues, approving going from the Princeton Point System ranking and rating job titles positions to the SAFE method. They also approved the step chart that goes along with that, expanding from seven to nine steps. This was all for the non-union employees. Now they’ll begin discussion with the two unions they have remaining and get the contracts taken care of. They received reports from the city engineer on the wastewater treatment facility re-scoping project, the water plant rehabilitation project, with an upcoming project in 2014 involving streets, sewer and water.