At its January 26 meeting, the Alexandria School Board approved the issuance and sale of refunding bonds that is projected to save district taxpayers $1.4 million. This amount represents the net savings in interest cost after all issuance and legal costs are considered. The bonds that were originally issued in 2008 for the primary purpose of constructing Woodland Elementary are structured to be paid off in 2028 and have a current principal balance of $17,380,000. By refunding these bonds, the district is able to realize interest savings by refinancing at a lower interest rate than when they were sold in 2008. The estimated savings of $1.4 million equates to nearly 7% of remaining principal and interest payments. The final sale of the bonds will occur on March 16, when the district will know the exact amount of interest savings that will be recognized over the remaining life of the bonds
Representative Dave Baker of Willmar, Assistant Majority Leader and first term member of the House, has been appointed to the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council by House Speaker Kurt Daudt. Baker says as a small business owner with extensive experience in the hospitality and tourism industry, he’ll work to grow the tourism industry across the state. He says the tourism industry creates thousands of jobs for Minnesotans and helps bring thousands of travelers to Minnesota each year to stay in hotels, fish on our lakes, and shop at our small businesses, all of which generate tax revenue for our communities.
There will be a second round of statewide public meetings about the 2015 update of the Minnesota State Rail Plan, and one of those meetings will be held in Willmar, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The Willmar meeting will be Mondayafternoon, Feb. 9th from 3-5 at the MnDOT Willmar District Headquarters. You’re invited to the meeting and to provide input on the plan. MnDOT personnel and local representatives will be invited to present the information and answer questions. A draft of the plan is available for your review on MnDOT’s statewide rail plan website.
Swift County Sheriff John Holtz was at the Kerkhoven City Council meeting this week. He went through all the calls the department had and the time they spent in Kerkhoven. He also informed the council the contract was due and he would like to do a one year contract and come back in August and negotiate for a longer term. Right now the contract calls for $35,000 a year for 80 hours a month so $33.65 an hour for police protection. There was also a report by the employee committee of two, Councilman Andy Thorson and Mayor Brian Thompson. They had some recommendations that were approved. One was for a one hour response time for off duty calls, the other that vacation and sick tine will now be accumulated on pay periods. There are 24 pay periods a year. Thompson said they’re also going to mark the sick days on the calendar. Right now all they do is mark off their vacation and the council wants the sick days marked on there as well. They also want Woody Nelson and Dean Nichols to continue tracking their time.
Minnesota manufacturing and industry lead the nation in pollution prevention, according to a report released by the U S Environmental Protection Agency. According to the report, efforts to reduce pollution resulted in a reduction of nearly 1 million pounds in the quantity of toxic pollutants generated between 2012 and 2013. Logic PD of Montevideo is working with its customers to create product specifications that allow lead-free solders in the printed circuit assemblies they manufacture.
Chad Duwenhoegger has been named Minnesota’s High School Principal of the Year for his service as principal of Alexandria Area High School, the flagship high school for Alexandria Public Schools. Duwenhoegger has been a principal in Alexandria Public Schools for 12 years, serving as principal since 2008 at the high school and prior to that, for six years at the middle school. Candidates for Minnesota Principal of the Year are evaluated based on the ability to achieve goals in the school community, improving teaching and learning through implementing programs encouraging student achievement, and providing a positive school environment for both staff and students. As the Minnesota High School honoree, Duwenhoegger, is a candidate among other state winners for the National High School Principal of the Year.
Governor Dayton proposed his budget proposal on Tuesday to include education, increasing broadband and upgrading the transportation system. State Representative for District 12A Jeff Backer has concerns about the Governor’s proposal and will take a closer look at the recommendations in committee. Backer says he’s disappointed that the Governor did not include any new funding to address the challenges our nursing homes face. Backer is on the Health and Human Services Reform and Health and Human Services Finance Committee. He is focusing on changing the renewing of the variance process to have the medical director in charge and not the Emergency Medical Service Board. This would allow more local control, more flexibility and less paper work. Backer is also looking at increasing a stipend to firefighters and EMT’s to $500 dollars a year.
The Morris City Council approved the resolution opposing the imposition of levy limits when it met this week. Cities across Minnesota are raising property taxes. The City of Morris has frozen their property taxes the last three years because they received local government aid. The resolution will be forward to the Governor’s office and Chairs of Committee working on taxes.
Senator Lyle Koenen of Clara City says he’s disappointed in the governor’s proposal to close the Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Services facility in Willmar. Koenen says this facility provides jobs for our community and delivers important services for children with the highest need of complex mental health treatment. However, he says, this is only a proposal. Over the coming months, Koenen says he will work with his colleagues on the Health and Human Services Budget Division to explore other options and will continue to monitor the budget negotiations concerning delivery of children’s mental health services.
Assistant Majority Leader Representative Dave Baker of Willmar has serious concerns about the Department of Human Services plans to close a children's psychiatric hospital in Willmar. The proposal also includes modifications to a program that treats those with chemical dependency including a change in the total number of available beds. He says this would have an impact on services and livelihoods in Willmar and the surrounding area, this is a shock to our community and the wrong approach to closing the Department of Human Services budget gap. Baker says these sudden changes will not help the department fix the structural problems their budget faces due to lawsuits and ever-rising costs. He plans to continue to gather additional information and work with the department, state and local officials, and other stakeholders in our community to determine the best path forward.
The city of Alexandria will be hiring two police officers following action by the city council this week. They’ll be advertising for these positions, one of which was already in the city’s 2015 budget. This one will replace an officer who is leaving the department. The other is a new one because of School District 206’s request for a new three-quarters time officer at the Discovery Middle School, plus an increase in time from 50 to 75 percent for an existing school resource officer at the high school.
The Willmar Police Department says you need to be aware of unsolicited mail from the "Multi-State Lottery Association". This is an actual organization, but the letter is fictitious and the check enclosed for "attorney's fees" is fraudulent. A citizen in Willmar received a letter and a check from this company, was suspicious about it, verified it was a scam and contacted the police department.
The Litchfield School Board this week approved financing for new facilities for the Meeker and Wright special education cooperatives. Supt. Dan Fraiser says that’s a 15 year commitment for the school district but in return the district will be supported by new facilities for special education students, headquartered in Howard Lake. The board also discussed the fact that according to state law, the school will open after labor day, which for next year will be Tuesday, Sept. 8th, a week later than this year. Fraiser says they don’t like that, they prefer to start a little early but the district is prepared to comply with state law if that’s what the law says.
48 year old James Steffen of Alexandria, formerly of Sunburg and a former DNR officer, was sentenced yesterday afternoon (Wednesday) in Kandiyohi County District Court on a felony count of charging about 435 gallons more of gasoline on his state-issue fleet card than what he used on patrol. District Court Judge Donald Spilseth sentenced Steffen to five years of supervised probation, and ordered him to pay restitution of $1,182. Steffen also has to give up his post license to serve as a conservation officer, do 200 hours of community service work, and pay fines and fees totaling $2,272. Steffen was also given a stay of adjudication on the theft charge. Two other charges of felony theft and misdemeanor theft were dismissed.
Wednesday the Litchfield police Department was called to a two vehicle crash at the intersection of Swift Avenue and Pacific Street. The drivers were Margaret Fenton of Litchfield and a 17 year old female from Litchfield. There were no injuries. Also on Wednesday, officers arrested a 27 year old Ulen, Minnesota man for driving after cancellation-inimical to public safety and obstructing the legal process. The arrest occurred at an East 3rd Armstrong Avenue location. He is being held in the Meeker County Jail pending an appearance in Meeker County District Court.
The Paynesville City Council is meeting at the Paynesville Area Center because of remodeling work in the council chambers at city hall. At this week’s meeting the council was given an update on the construction. Mayor Jeff Thompson says they also talked about making plans for the addition of a splash pad at Gazebo Park at the elementary school. Thompson said that’s been a very popular project that was installed two years ago and they’re looking at making that even more interesting and attractive to families, especially little kids who would like to cool off in the summer time.
48 year old Michael Gates of Bemidji suffered non-life threatening injuries shortly after two this morning (Thursday) in a one vehicle crash at the County Road 9 and 155th Street in Eden Lake Township near the Eden Valley and Watkins area. According to the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department, Gates lost control of his semi-tractor trailer on the icy roads and went into the ditch, sheering off a telephone pole. He was taken to the St. Cloud Hospital by the Watkins Ambulance.