Whether you’re looking to attract more birds to your yard, grow better flower gardens and trees, or want to get a tour of the West Central Research and Outreach Center, you’ll find that and much more during Horticulture Night today (Thursday) from 5 to 9. The 46th annual event offers advice for the novice to the expert with demonstrations on growing hostas, cherries and plums, shade trees, seed saving, mums, and garlic. Other activities include building a strawberry low tunnel, cow milking demonstrations, live music, food booths, vendor booths, and a children’s garden. All Horticulture Night demonstrations are free and everyone is welcome to attend. The West Central Research and Outreach Center is located one mile east of the University of Minnesota Morris on Highway 29.
Archery, fish printing, nest box building and appearances by Smokey Bear will be among the free activities in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources tent at Farmfest, Aug. 2-4, near Morton. From ten to two, the DNR Wildlife staff will help youth build wood duck houses. Youth will be encouraged to “donate” these for placement on public Wildlife Management Areas across southern Minnesota. Each day Smokey Bear will make an appearance to greet visitors. Smokey turns 72 this year and continues to teach people of all ages the difference between good fire and bad fire. The tent will also feature a live fish display, buffer table and outdoor “Wall of Shame” trailer display from Turn In Poachers, Inc. In addition to hands-on activities for kids, adults will find resources and experts available on a broad range of outdoor topics including water quality, aquatic invasive species and habitat development and restoration.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Morris City Council passed a resolution awarding a water treatment plant construction contract to Rice Lake Construction Group of Deerwood for $16,858,600. The construction is contingent on Morris receiving no less than $11.5 million dollars of grant funding through a special session of the Minnesota legislature in 2016. The contract is an effort to insure that the current bid is left open long enough for the city to receive the benefit of any funding law changes or funding that will provide additional money for the project. The city has been given an extension on awarding the contract twice already as they wait for the state legislature to hold a special session and pass a bonding bill with water treatment plant funding. If the session is held, as expected, in late August, construction could begin as early as late September. The project is expected to take two years.
The North Country Food Bank will be holding a lunch and learn session titled, “Hunger In Your Community” today (Thursday) from noon to one at Morris & Associates. The food bank serves a 21 county area of northwest and west central Minnesota and is part of a network of 200 food banks around the country that capture large donations of surplus food and make it available to local agencies. The presentation will focus on how food banks are the backbone of the domestic hunger relief system. The event is free and open to the public.
The Barn Theatre has been awarded a $15,000 operating support grant. Operating Support is a grant program that provides general operating support to high quality, established arts organizations that produce, present, or exhibit works of art; to organizations that provide a broad range of services to artists; and to community arts schools and conservatories that make arts learning available to all ages and abilities. The Barn Theatre’s mission is to provide affordable, quality performing arts to West Central Minnesota. The Barn promotes community involvement, affords opportunities for personal growth for its volunteers, displays and develops artistic talent, and provides community leadership for the fine arts.
Benson School District Superintendent Dennis Laumeyer says the school has discussed continuing issues with the facilities and ways to address those facility improvement needs. This fall the school board will be putting together a community facilities task force to work with the district’s architect to come up with ways and ultimately a recommendation to present to the board in January. The school board is looking at ways to see what the community would like to see the school look like in the next ten to 20 years and beyond. And, Laumeyer says, come up with a recommendation they feel in terms of what long term facilities will look like, new types of learning that’s happening in our schools and how our schools can meet those, along with what costs go along with that and what they feel community members would support. The community task force will gain the ideas from our public along with information from the architect that’s working with our district and hopefully have an idea of plans that might work going forward in ways that our facilities can be improved to meet long term learning and reduce our maintenance costs.
The intersection of Highway 59 and Highway 28 in Morris will close to all vehicles starting Monday. Traffic on Highway 28 will detour to Highway 9, County Road 1 and County Road 10. Traffic on Highway 59 remains detoured to Highway 9 and Highway 27. Local traffic from homes on Highway 59 north of Highway 28 will need to enter and exit Morris using an alternate route. The contractor will communicate with residents regarding any access changes to their homes due to on-going work on Highway 59. The closure will last through mid-August while crews reconstruct and resurface the intersection.
The north and southbound lanes of Lakeland Drive will be closed between Litchfield Avenue and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Crossing on Monday for water main improvements on Lakeland Drive. Traffic will not be allowed in the construction zone. This portion of the Lakeland Drive construction project is expected to be completed by Friday, August 5th.
One person was injured in a sideswipe crash yesterday (Wednesday) at the Highway 7/Yacht Avenue intersection west of Hutchinson. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, 60 year old Grace Ceruella of Cosmos was traveling west on Highway 7, crossed into the eastbound lane and sideswiped a vehicle driven by 69 year old Larry Venenga of Urbandale, Iowa. Venenga suffered non-life threatening injuries. Cerulla and 68 year old Audrey Venenga, a passenger in the Venenga vehicle, were not injured.
The Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the report of a robbery that happened Monday night at the county parking lot adjacent to Saulsbury Beach in Spicer. Chief Deputy Greg Stehn says this appears to be an isolated incident with no indication of concern for public safety. The investigation is ongoing to determine if any charges are warranted.
48 year old Robert Palmer, a former Willmar teacher, makes his next court appearance August 16th after having with accused of allegedly assaulting a student on the last day of the school year. He is facing a fifth degree assault charge and made his first court appearance last week in Kandiyohi County District Court. Palmer is not in custody.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency completed 44 enforcement cases in 32 Minnesota counties during the second quarter of this year. These penalties totaled just over $480,000. The MPCA also has 67 ongoing enforcement investigations that may or may not lead to penalties being issued. Among those completed are the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co., LLP of Benson; Gillespie Family Partnership of Elbow Lake; Bluegrass Dairy & Food Inc. of Dawson; Jennie-O Turkey Store Inc. in Willmar; and West central Environmental Consultants Inc. of Morris.
The Stevens County Sheriff's Office recently recovered some duck decoys they believe were stolen within the last two years. If you have any information on who they might belong to, contact the sheriff’s office so they can return them to their rightful owner(s) as soon as possible. A complete, detailed description of the decoys and accessories will need to be given for rightful identification. Call the sheriff’s office with any information on this case.
Jobless rates were higher in western Minnesota counties during June. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reports Stevens County had an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent, up nine tenth of a point. Other area rates include Big Stone 4.4, +.7; Grant 4.0, +.5; Pope 3.1, +.5; Swift 4.6, +.5; and Traverse 3.0, +.3. The comparable statewide rate for June is 4.0 and nationwide its 5.1 percent.