The Fergus Falls police responded to two men who were reportedly jumping into the Otter Tail River. Once confronted, the men said that they “were doing this for fun” and had jumped in the river “all the time.” The two were told about the seriousness of moving water in freezing temperatures and the danger first-response medical staff would be in if they had to save them. The men were warned and not charged.
A man who worked for Braun’s Vending in Fergus Falls for more than four years is accused in Otter Tail County District Court of embezzling money. 36-year-old Jason Waasdorp is being accused by the company of stealing about $43,000 from the business during his employment with them. Waasdorp has been charged with two counts of felony theft. On Nov. 23, Waasdorp met with authorities and told a Fergus Falls detective: “I have taken some money, a few dollars, yes,” according to the complaint. Through further investigation, Waasdorp reportedly admitted to taking money from vending machines during work hours. He also claimed that he had an addiction to stealing. Waasdorp’s first appearance for the case is slated for Feb. 13.
A Garfield snowmobile enthusiast was on his way to fulfilling a lifelong dream Sunday when things suddenly went very wrong. Brad Klinkner, his son Adam and a good friend were planning to fulfill Klinkner's dream of snowmobiling from the Iowa state line to the Canada border, and then across the entire state of Minnesota. The group reached the Bemidji area in northern Minnesota on January 15th when Klinkner hit the embankment of a driveway and was sent airborne. Upon landing, he was thrown from his snowmobile and landed in the trail, where he was hit by another sled. Klinkner was taken to the Bemidji hospital, where it was determined that he had internal bleeding and had lost two to three units of blood inside his chest cavity. He was then airlifted to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale. Klinkner has five broken ribs, a possible concussion, both shoulder blades were broken, a punctured lung, a damaged disc between two vertebrae and a bruised aorta.
A 35-year-old Fergus Falls man was given five years of probation in Otter Tail County District Court on Tuesday for vandalizing a car in a garage and breaking windows last spring. Isaiah Gross was sentenced on felony-level third-degree burglary and misdemeanor order for protection. Gross reportedly entered an unlocked garage and smashed in several windows on a vehicle. Gross then entered the home by breaking a bedroom window. The homeowners were inside the residence. Gross made an attempted escape and was apprehended by the Fergus Falls police. Gross also has a restraining order from the home owners and violated that order. The damage was $1,500, and the damage to the home about $400.
The Kandiyohi County Commissioners held a bid letting for three quarters of a mile bituminous overlay, with the bid coming in about $30,000 under the estimated engineer’s price. The bid will be awarded at the next meeting. Commissioner Harlan Madsen says the bids ranged from a low bid of $611,000 to a high bid of $918,000. He says it’s been a good partnership between Dovre Township and Kandiyohi County. Dovre applied for a local road safety improvement project and they were awarded that two years ago. The project was to start last year but there were some changes and alterations and they felt it was better to move it so it will be done this year.
Kandiyohi County Commissioner Jim Butterfield says the county board this week, increased the lease to Rice Memorial Hospital for the rescue squad building by $56.59 a month. Butterfield says ambulances are parked there and some of the ambulance drivers will stay there so it’s a win, win situation for Rice Hospital, Kandiyohi County and the citizens of Kandiyohi County.
The Minnesota House has passed legislation that begins to address our state’s health care crisis. The proposal allocates $300 million to help eligible Minnesotans with their premiums this year while maintaining their continuity of health care. State Representative Tim Miller supported the bill, and successfully added a provision to it that would give farmers a better opportunity to secure affordable health insurance. He says the provision in the bill will basically allow organizations that have member owners, farm cooperatives to provide health insurance to their members. One of the needs they had to address is farmers practically don’t have insurance in Greater Minnesota and with the amendment Miller added to the bill they will be able to and hopefully it will get signed into law.
On a bipartisan vote of 73-54, the Minnesota House approved the 2017 Health Care Emergency Aid and Access bill, which provides direct premium relief and preserves access to life-saving and end-of-life care. While lawmakers work toward long-term state and federal health insurance reforms, this legislation institutes immediate consumer-driven improvements that stand alone and will not be impacted by those future changes. Representative Dave Baker says they moved this bill quickly through the committee process because Minnesotans need immediate health insurance premium relief. The House Republicans' plan offers a 25 percent premium reduction for those Minnesotans who need it most. In addition, it allows for patients with serious illnesses or those receiving end-of-life care to continue seeing their doctor. Lastly, the plan increases affordable options through timely reforms that stand independent of impending federal action. The bill is expected to enter conference committee where differences between the Senate and House versions will be reconciled.
Landowners can generate revenue by allowing public hunting on their private land in 46 Minnesota counties through the Department of Natural Resources’ Walk-In Access program. Sign-ups are open from January 23rd to April 28th. Eligible parcels must be at least 40 acres and covered by high quality natural vegetation. Landowners are paid by the acre to allow hunting access from Sept. 1 to May 31. Bonuses are paid on parcels that enroll in a three-year contract, are more than 140 acres and are located near a state wildlife management area or federal waterfowl production area. Walk-In Access parcels are for public hunting only; no motorized vehicles are allowed on conservation land. Bright yellow-green signs identify area boundaries and parking is along roads or in designated parking areas. Recreational use laws provide extra liability protection for acres enrolled in the Walk-In Access program. Landowners should contact their local soil and water conservation district office for enrollment information.
Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office staff will be in Willmar next week to gather input on the current Farm Bill, which Klobuchar helped craft. Minnesota agriculture leaders, including Commissioner Dave Frederickson will also be there. The purpose of the meeting is to gather input from Minnesotans on ways to strengthen the 2018 Farm Bill. The meeting is Tuesdaymorning at 8:30 in the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Building. The Farm Bill was designed to reduce the deficit, strengthen the crop insurance program, eliminate direct payments, boost conservation, maintain the sugar program, and keep nutrition programs strong for Minnesota families. Klobuchar’s measure to help beginning farmers and ranchers access crop insurance by reducing the cost of insurance by 10 percent for these producers in their first five years was also included in the final bill.
The speed limits on several highways in west central Minnesota will increase from 55 to 60 miles per hour beginning next week, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The new speed limits will take effect when the new signs are posted. Highways that will receive new speed limit signs include Highway 114 from Starbuck to I-94; Highway 119 from Highway 40 to Highway 12; and Highway 104 from Glenwood to Sunburg. Speed limits lower than 55 miles per hour along these sections of highway will remain unchanged. The speed increases are based on a traffic and engineering study of each location, which looks at past crash rates, physical attributes of the highway (such as shoulder widths and access points), and an analysis of current driving speeds.
Two major grants for telecommunications in the county have been received. Kandiyohi County and Consolidated Telephone out of Brainerd Baxter applied jointly. Just under $5 million was received. Commissioner Harlan Madsen says they do have to match that in a bond which will be paid by the CTC Company after installation. Also, Frontier Communications received about $1.1 million to be matched by the same dollars within their organization. They will be doing improvements in Blomkest, Lake Lillian, Atwater, Kandiyohi, Prinsburg, and there may be some in Raymond, but all with Frontier Company will have some upgrades in fiber switches. The next opportunity is for the Broadband committee, citizens and the company are to sign up people in those areas that are permitted. In the permitted area there are 149 businesses, and about 2200 consumers. It will be the largest single investment in communications in the county ever, which is significant due to the eight and ten years of commitment for continuing with this. Madsen says there was a lot of team effort to put this ahead and the next challenge is to get people signed up.