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Heads up from police: utilities phone scam is being reported in area

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WORTHINGTON – Worthington Interim Police Chief Kevin Flynn on Friday alerted citizens that a utilities scam is making the rounds once again, warning people never to give financial information over the phone from an unsolicited call.

At least two local people have received phone calls from someone claiming to be a utility company threatening to shut off service unless a payment is made with a credit card or green dot card immediately.

Flynn said the calls are a scam, and anyone receiving such a call should simply hang up. If they have concerns regarding their service, they should contact their local utility company, but never give financial information over the phone.

According to Worthington Public Utilities, they do not accept credit cards over the phone to handle accounts that are in arrears. While they might call to notify people of late accounts, customers are asked to come down to the office to take care of the matter or contact a toll-free number to remedy the situation.

July 25 news

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WORTHINGTON – Three men are being held in the Nobles County Jail after being arrested earlier this week on drug-related charges, all stemming from a mysterious 911 call.

The criminal complaints state charges are filed against 20-year-old Gerson Mejia-Campos of Sioux Falls, SD and 18-year-old Blue Thyboualoy of Worthington for fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance and possession of methamphetamine paraphernalia in the presence of a child. 20-year-old Dao Keovilay of Worthington is also charged with possession of meth paraphernalia in the presence of a child, plus two counts of fifth-degree controlled substance possession and two counts of possession of a weapon after a conviction.

According to court documents, authorities were dispatched to a residence in the 1100 block of Seventh Avenue at approximately 12:32 a.m. July 21 for a 911 hang-up. The call registered from the phone of Keovilay.

At the residence, the law enforcement officers encountered several people, including Mejia-Campos and Thyboualoy, and were finally told Keovilay was sleeping on the couch in the living room. An office woke him, and he claimed he had not called 911. He pulled a phone from his pocket, said it was not his, and that one of his friends must have taken his sometime that day.

Another officer waited with the other individuals and saw a clear plastic baggie with a knot in the end in the center of the room. A third officer found another baggie with white residue in plain sight near the couch.

The residence was secured and a search warrant executed. During the search, numerous items associated with controlled substance use were allegedly located, as were a handgun and a rifle. The residence was found in an uninhabitable condition, covered in garbage, raw food, cockroaches and other bugs.

All three men are scheduled to make appearance in Nobles County District Court August 5.

WORTHINGTON - The Solid Rock Assembly youth group is hosting a rummage sale from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Max 493, 1303 Oxford St., with all proceeds going toward raising $15,000 for an organization that digs wells in Africa to provide clean water. The rummage sale has a wide variety of items that includes gaming consoles, jet skis, various household items, exercise equipment, guitars, games, toys, clothes and more.

WORTHINGTON - Worthington / Nobles County Law Enforcement and Worthington Fire Department / EMS will be competing to see who can recruit the most blood donors to boost the summer blood supply for the community in the 8th Annual “Heroes Behind the Badges” blood drive.

The friendly competition between the departments will take place at Sanford Worthington on Tuesday, August 5 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3 to 6:30 p.m. The public is encouraged to come donate and designate their donation to the department of their choice. All donors will receive a special t-shirt and a free Subway lunch. The department credited with the most blood donations will receive a trophy and bragging rights for a year.

Donors must be 17 years of age or older (16 years old with a signed parent consent form found at www.cbblifeblood.org), weigh 110 lbs. or more and be in good general health the day of the blood drive. Please bring an ID. For more information or to make an appointment please call 372-3319. Walk-ins are welcome.

ROUND LAKE - One person was injured Thursday morning when a car collided with the rear of a semi pulling a tanker-trailer just north of the Iowa/Minnesota border near Round Lake.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office says 26-year-old Rebecca Matthiesen of Lake Park, Iowa was northbound on Jackson County Road 5 at approximately 8:45 a.m. when she apparently became distracted and collided with a tanker-trailer attached to a 2009 Freightliner, which was parked and unoccupied on the east side of the road.

Matthiesen was taken by the Lake Park Ambulance to Lakes Regional Healthcare in Spirit Lake.

A 2011 Chevrolet Equinox she was driving was considered a total loss. Minor damage was reported to the rear of the semi tanker-trailer, owned by JASA Transit of Blair, Nebraska.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office was assisted by the Lake Park Fire Department and ambulance and the Round Lake Fire Department.

SHELDON, Iowa — The Sheldon Fire Company was dispatched to a blaze at Rosenboom Machine & Tool on Sheldon’s southwest side shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday. The plant’s workers had been evacuated by the time firefighters arrived.

At one point, smoke could be seen billowing through the open overhead doors on the building’s south side. Sheldon firefighters requested mutual aid manpower from the Sanborn Fire Department, which also responded with trucks and personnel.

While no flames were visible from outside, firefighters were kept busy inside the facility, and were rotated out to be spelled by Sanborn firefighters.

Firefighters had closed down the southern portion of Western Avenue during the call, but reopened the street about 7 pm, and Sheldon firefighters were on scene until about 7:15 pm.

In addition to firefighters from Sheldon and Sanborn, the Sheldon Community Ambulance Team, Sheldon Police Department and Sheldon EMA assisted at the scene.

PRIMGHAR, Iowa - O'Brien county authorities are investigating a burglary that occurred early Tuesday in Calumet. The Sheriff's Office says entry was forcibly gained to Dau Construction and that some small tools had been taken.

The case is still under investigation. Anyone with information should contact the O'Brien County Sheriff's Office.

PRIMGHAR, Iowa - An investigation into illegal drugs in O'Brien County has resulted in the arrest of two Calumet people.

The O'Brien County Sheriff's Office says 40-year-old Joseph Jones and 38-year-old Jennifer Eckhart were arrested Tuesday. The two live at the same address in Calumet. Jones was charged with possession of a controlled substance, marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Eckhart was charged with possession of methamphetamine. Both were booked into the O'Brien county jail on bonds of $1,000. Jones has since been released on bond; Echkhart was still being held at last report.

ST. PAUL — Minnesota will issue 500 more wolf licenses and allow hunters and trappers to kill 30 more wolves this year than last year.

The Department of Natural Resources says its latest population estimate is that 470 wolf packs and more than 2,400 wolves lived in Minnesota's wolf range this past winter - 212 more wolves than estimated in the winter of 2013. Dan Stark, the DNR's large carnivore specialist, says the estimate shows a stable population with no significant change from last year.

The DNR will make 3,800 hunting and trapping licenses available. The statewide harvest target is 250 wolves. The DNR will start taking license applications Aug. 1, and the early season opens Nov. 8.

This will be Minnesota's third wolf hunting season since the animals came off the endangered list.

July 24 news

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WORTHINGTON – A meeting of the Support Our Schools group is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Worthington High School cafeteria. The group is working to expand participation to help support the need for the referendum at the November election.

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa - Construction of Spirit Lake's new city hall is running ahead of schedule. City Administrator/Attorney Greg Owen told the city council this week the project is running roughly 30 days ahead of the contract deadline of late November.

Owen added bi-weekly meetings will be held with those directly involved in the project beginning this coming Tuesday, as the project enters a crucial stage with most of the work soon to be focused on the interior of the building.

In other business, the council approved the appointments of Bob Cosens and Brad Fullmer to vacancies on the city's Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustment, respectively.

The council also approved a utility locate agreement with the city of Orleans for the Pioneer Beach Road project.

SHELDON, Iowa — Two Sheldon men were taken to the Sanford Sheldon Medical Center in the aftermath of a pickup versus motorcycle accident that happened early Tuesday morning in western Sheldon.

The Sheldon Police Department says that about 5:50 a.m. Tuesday, a 1999 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup, driven by 51-year old Ralph Kincer of Sheldon was westbound on West 7th Street. Cops say that at the intersection with Western Avenue, Kincer attempted a left turn, and turned into the path of a northbound 1997 Suzuki motorcycle driven by 30-year old Jonathon Koerselman, also of Sheldon.

Police say both Kincer and Koerselman were transported to the Sanford Sheldon Medical Center. Kincer was cited for failure to obey a stop sign.

Sheldon Police were assisted by the Sheldon Fire Department, Sheldon EMA, and Sheldon Community Ambulance Team.

WESTFIELD, Iowa — A Plymouth County man has died after a large hay bale fell on him. The Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office reports that 76-year-old Barry Knapp of Westfield was struck by a hay bale that had fallen on him, Tuesday afternoon. Family members were at the scene at the time of the accident.

The Plymouth County Sheriff’s office and the Plymouth County Medical Examiner have ruled the death was accidental. They say Knapp was assisting in stacking bales when one rolled off the pile and landed on him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

MINNESOTA - Hunters can expect a conservative 2014 deer season designed to rebuild deer numbers across much of the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Wednesday.

According to DNR Big Game Leader Leslie McInenly, hunters should check the 2014 hunting regulations closely because only one deer can be harvested in 95 percent of the state. To shoot a doe, hunters may have to apply for a permit in areas where they haven’t in the past and, in some places, no antlerless harvest will be allowed.

In 69 of Minnesota’s 128 deer permit areas, hunters must be chosen in a lottery to shoot an antlerless deer. Only bucks can be hunted in 14 areas. In 38 areas, hunters have the choice of shooting a doe or a buck. Bonus permits allowing hunters to shoot more than one deer may only be used in seven permit areas and for some special hunts.

Hunters can enter the lottery for antlerless permits beginning Friday, Aug. 1. The deadline to apply is Thursday, Sept. 4. Hunters may apply using both their firearm and muzzleloader licenses. If hunters are selected for both licenses, they must select the one season in which they want to shoot an antlerless deer.

The DNR strongly advises hunters to review new deer hunting regulations, permit area designations and boundary changes before applying.

MINNESOTA - Michelle Larson is Minnesota’s first-ever director of the Office of Medical Cannabis.

Larson, a longtime Minnesota Department of Health staffer who most recently served as deputy director for the Office of Statewide Health Improvement, will be in charge of managing the medical pot program’s staff, as well as creating and implementing its administrative policies, the department announced Wednesday.

What that means: The medical cannabis program currently has no processes to choose anything. It all needs to be created from scratch.

Two of her main tasks, according to the release, will be implementing an application and selection process for a medical marijuana manufacturer, and also building back-end infrastructure to handle the patient registry.

Larson will begin her job as director of the Office of Medical Cannabis on August 13.

The state is also looking for a research manager to help oversee the new office, whose job responsibilities include planning and organizing a new statewide medical cannabis patient registry. The manager would also ensure the research and registry portions of the program support the state’s goal of providing patients, providers and the general public with information about the benefits and risks of medical cannabis.

MINNESOTA - The 10-member jury deciding the fate of former Gov. Jesse Ventura’s defamation lawsuit against the estate of “American Sniper” author and former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle has ended its second day of deliberations without reaching a verdict.

Jurors met from about 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Wednesday at the federal courthouse in St. Paul. They received the case about noon Tuesday after hearing closing arguments from attorneys for Ventura and Kyle’s estate.

Ventura’s lawsuit claims Kyle fabricated a story he included in is 2012 bestselling book, in which Kyle said he punched out another man he called “Scruff Face” during a bar fight in 2006. Kyle later identified “Scruff Face” as Ventura.

Witnesses called by Kyle’s attorney corroborated his account of the bar fight. Ventura denies it happened, and some of his companions backed up his account.

Ventura claims the book harmed his reputation and caused him to lose income.

The jurors must first decide whether Ventura was defamed. If they deem that he was, they must determine how much Ventura should receive in damages. Ventura is asking for millions of dollars.

The jury will resume deliberations today.

July 23 news

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WORTHINGTON – The Nobles County Commissioners Tuesday approved a proposal of more than $10,000 from a Twin Cities consulting firm that specializes in assessing buildings through exterior building surveys and recommending what maintenance will be needed over the next five years.

At the request of Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson, Inspec worked up an estimate of their services to do complete assessment of the Prairie Justice Center and the Nobles County Library, and to assess the roof on the Government Center, the Public Works building and the Adrian Library.

The total cost for the assessment is $10,600, which will be funded out of the building reserves.

The board accepted a petition for an outlet request into Judicial Ditch No. 76 for property owned by Alba Grain. It is a joint ditch into both Nobles and Jackson Counties, so a joint public hearing will take place in Nobles County at 2:30 p.m. Aug 19.
The commissioners also approved tax abatements for two more new homes in the county, bringing the total of new construction using the Nobles Home Initiative to 12 since it began this year.

Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp Director Abraham Algadi said he needs to work with Nobles County Auditor Beth Van Hove to simplify the process of calculating the tax abatement. Currently, each application has to go to the county, and any city or school district for tax abatement approval. While they made the application process as customer friendly as possible, Algadi said, they need to work out ways to make it less cumbersome for the Auditor’s Office and the other entities involved.

Nobles County Attorney Kathy Kusz brought a legal services agreement to the board for the city of Round Lake. Nobles County will provide criminal prosecution service for Round Lake for $125 an hour for legal work and $70 an hour for work completed by non-attorney staff.

ASHTON, Iowa - An Ashton man has been sentenced to five years in federal prison on a child pornography charge. 22-year-old Todd Techen was sentenced earlier this month after pleading guilty in April of this year to one count of distribution of child pornography.In addition to the prison sentence Techen must also serve a 10-year-term of supervised release.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Tremmel and was investigated by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Lyon County Sheriff's Office.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

DES MOINES, Iowa - A federal official says 122 children who entered the country illegally were sent to Iowa in the first half of the year.

According to a report Tuesday in the Omaha World Herald, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Kenneth Wolfe said the children were placed with relatives or sponsors.

Gov. Terry Branstad has been opposed to hosting any immigrant children in Iowa. Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers said Tuesday the state hasn't been notified about the children entering Iowa.

On Monday, Branstad said such children should be returned to their home countries. He contends federal officials must improve border security.

More than 57,000 youths, mostly from Central America, have crossed into the U.S. illegally since October.

MINNESOTA - Would Minnesota be a good place for some of the children who are flooding across the U.S. border from Central America? That question is becoming a political football.

U.S. House Rep. Keith Ellison, DFL-Minnesota, is urging Gov. Mark Dayton to allow some of the unaccompanied children into the state, the Star Tribune reports.
During a community meeting Monday in Minneapolis, Ellison said we have capacity to help here and we should.

Dayton said it’s not clear what Minnesota’s role might be. He said he would have to know what it would cost and where we would have sites potentially available.

But among the conservatives who are not eager for states to absorb the children is Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Honour, who last week prodded Dayton to “let the president know that Minnesota is not the place to send these kids.”

“Before President Obama looks to our state to solve his man-made crisis, it’s time for Governor Dayton to join other Midwestern governors and let the president know it’s time for him to lead,” Honour said in his statement.

Several aid group officials who help immigrants in Minnesota told the Star Tribune they do not have the resources that would be needed to help a new wave of Central American children.

CUTLER, CA - A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.

Wawona Packing says on its website that no illnesses have been reported and the recall is a precautionary measure.

The company said the recalled fruit was packed and shipped to retailers from June 1 through July 12. Retailers that received the fruit include Costco, Walmart and Trader Joe's. Fair City Foods in Huron sold lug peaches during an indoor tent sale last week. Customers can return the peaches or receipt before Aug. 1.

The recall came after internal testing at the packing house in Tulare County. Officials say they shut down the lines, retrofitted some equipment and sanitized the facility. Subsequent tests have been negative. Clovis-based Wawona Frozen Foods is a separate company and is not involved in the voluntary recall.

Listeria bacteria can cause a dangerous flu-like illness.

Hey, there, "Fargo" fans! How's about a trip to... Luverne?

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LUVERNE – The city of Luverne will be put on the map in the strangest of ways in 2015. The television crime drama based on Joel and Ethan Coen’s Oscar-winning crime caper “Fargo” is coming back for a second season on cable’s FX Network, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and creator Noah Hawley and producer Warren Littlefield said Monday the show will take place in Luverne and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Following a highly-successful first season that scored 18 Emmy nominations earlier this month, the second season of “Fargo” will be set in 1979. The details came hours after FX announced it was picking up the show for a second season.

"If you were paying attention to Season 1, we made a lot of references to Sioux Falls," Hawley says. "That was deliberate. The next 10-hour movie is going to be the story of Sioux Falls. It takes place in 1979. The stories are set in Luverne, Fargo and Sioux Falls."

The time period may eliminate some of the references to "Fargo" the movie that fans spotted in the TV series, but Hawley likes to think of all the stories as connected.

"I like the idea that somewhere out there is a big, leather-bound book that's the history of true crime in the Midwest, and the movie was Chapter 4, Season 1 was Chapter 9 and this is Chapter 2," he says. "You can turn the pages of this book, and you just find this collection of stories. ... But I like the idea that these things are connected somehow, whether it's linearly or literally or thematically. That's what we play around with."

Hawley said that no cast members from the first season will be back for the second season.

July 22 news

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WORTHINGTON – The non-essential watering ban that has been in effect in the city of Worthington for months was lifted Monday afternoon after the Water and Light Commission met and evaluated the situation.

According to Worthington Public Utilities Manager Scott Hain, the odd/even address rule will still be in effect, and no lawn watering will be allowed between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., but for now, Worthington residents will be allowed to wash vehicles, water plants and use water as they see fit.

Hain said he hopes that people will still work to conserve water.

The main reason behind pulling the ban, Hain said, was the inquiries the WPU has been receiving about deferred maintenance projects such as painting garages, homes and decks. Many of them, he said, need to power wash, and the ban prevented them from doing so.

Water levels have been above the average for the last four weeks or so, Hain said, ever since the main recharge at the end of June, so the Commission decided the time was right to lift the ban. Unless something catastrophic happens between now and then, Hain said, the ban will remain lifted and the Commission will reassess the situation at the September 2 Water and Light meeting.

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Monday declared a federal disaster area in Minnesota that covers the severe storms, flooding, straight-line winds and mudslides that occurred between June 11 and July 11 and includes the counties of Jackson, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone and Rock. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the state of Minnesota to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected.

The president’s declaration, which came after a July 9 request from Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, will deliver federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in areas affected by severe storms and flooding.

FEMA will reimburse 75 percent of approved costs. Under legislation signed by Dayton in 2014, the State of Minnesota will pay the non-federal share.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Warren J. Riley has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Riley said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

FULDA – The Fulda Fish & Game Club is hosting a fundraising breakfast from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Sunday, August 3 at the Fulda Community Center to fund the new aerators for the Fulda lake. Menu will be pancakes, French toast, sausage, juice and coffee. Suggested donation is $8 for adults, $4 for children 10 and under.

JACKSON - The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is turning to the public for help in its investigation of a stolen vehicle.

On July 17, the sheriff’s office received a report of a stolen vehicle. Dacia Broesder, 35, of Alpha reported that on July 16, she had left her 2000 Chevrolet Silverado pickup for repairs at Speedy’s Service in Jackson, with the keys in the center console. When she contacted Speedy’s to get a time estimate on repairs, it was found the vehicle was not there.

The vehicle was located the following day by the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office just outside the city of Blue Earth. Jackson County Sheriff Roger Hawkinson urges anyone who may have information about this incident to contact his office.

SIOUX RAPIDS, Iowa - A Sioux Rapids man accused of stabbing a 19-year-old man last week now faces an attempted murder charge. Online court documents show 43-year-old Pedro Orozco was initially charged with willful injury but an attempted murder charge was added Monday.

Buena Vista County Sheriff Doug Simons says the additional charge was added after police discussed the case with the County Attorney.

Orozco is accused of stabbing a Spencer man at a Sioux Rapids home on July 9th. Simons says Orozco and the victim knew each other. The victim remains hospitalized.

An arraignment on the new charge is set for August 4th. Orozco's bond was increased to $50,000.

MINNESOTA - A state agency says thousands of MinnesotaCare recipients may have been billed incorrectly after they applied for health insurance through MNsure, Minnesota’s new health insurance exchange.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services sent 3,000 letters informing MinnesotaCare households that they may have received incorrect monthly billing statements for several months, but the letters instructed people to continue paying their bills anyway.

MinnesotaCare provides subsidized coverage for low-income, working people.
State Sen. Michelle Benson, who sits on the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee, said she is seeking answers from DHS and MNsure about the mix-up.

DHS officials said they are working with IT staff and MNsure vendors to correct the issues, and that MinnesotaCare coverage for those households remains in place.

Meanwhile, an independent consultant firm hired by the state to assess its troubled MNsure website found no serious security problems, MPR News reports. Deloitte Consulting did fault the state health insurance exchange for being technologically complex and confusing to its users.

MNsure has continued to experience problems, sparking continued concern over whether the exchange is prepared for the November open enrollment period.

MNsure officials recently said 251,592 Minnesotans have enrolled for coverage through MNsure.

President declares disaster for Minnesota

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Monday that federal disaster aid has been made available to the state of Minnesota to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides and mudslides during the period of June 11 to July 11, 2014.

The President's action makes federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by severe storms, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides and mudslides in Chippewa, Freeborn, Jackson, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Renville and Rock counties.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Warren J. Riley has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Riley said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

FEDERAL AID PROGRAMS FOR THE STATE OF MINNESOTA DECLARATION
Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of Minnesota.

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:
• Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal and emergency protective measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health. Emergency protective measures assistance is available to state and eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
• Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges, utilities, buildings, schools, recreational areas and similar publicly owned property, as well as certain private non-profit organizations engaged in community service activities. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
• Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)

How to Apply for Assistance:
• Application procedures for state and local governments will be explained at a series of federal/state applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the state from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.

Non-essential water ban lifted in Worthington

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WORTHINGTON – The non-essential watering ban that has been in effect in the city of Worthington was lifted Monday afternoon after the Water and Light Commission met and evaluated the situation.

According to Worthington Public Utilities Manager Scott Hain, the odd/even address rule will still be in effect, and no lawn watering will be allowed between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., but for now, Worthington residents will be allowed to wash vehicles, water plants and use water as they see fit.

Hain said he hopes that people will still work to conserve water.

The main reason behind pulling the ban, Hain said, was the inquiries the WPU has been receiving about deferred maintenance projects such as painting garages, homes and decks. Many of them, he said, need to power wash, and the ban prevented them from doing so.

Water levels have been above the average for the last four weeks or so, Hain said, ever since the main recharge at the end of June, so the Commission decided the time was right to lift the ban. Unless something catastrophic happens between now and then, Hain said, the ban will remain lifted and the Commission will reassess the situation at the September 2 Water and Light meeting.

Letter on Biofuels Concerns

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U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Amy Klobuchar have penned a document titled "Don't Let Big Oil Bully Biofuels" in regards to the delayed RFS ruling from the EPA. See below:

It’s vacation season across America. That means family road trips are underway and the traveling public is paying even closer attention when they pull up to the pump. America’s road warriors have long cherished affordable gas prices. Today’s drivers also value clean-burning fuel choices that help the environment and boost America’s energy independence.

Look back four decades through the rearview mirror. History shows how the 1973 oil embargo exposed the economic risks and geopolitical vulnerabilities associated with perilous dependence on foreign oil. While gas shortages roiled consumers, the embargo gripped the U.S. economy and foreign policy with steep consequences. Since then, policymakers have worked to bring greater stability to U.S. energy security, such as creation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and more domestic production, conservation (fuel economy standards) and diversification, including incentives for homegrown, clean-burning, renewable biofuels.

Most recently, Congress created the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2005 to promote the development and use of domestic renewable biofuels. We also supported the expansion in 2007 to bring 36 billion gallon of renewable fuels online annually by 2022. The federal law has helped to displace oil imports, increase domestic energy security, create jobs in rural America, curb pollution with cleaner-burning fuel and lower prices at the pump for consumers. Pure and simple, the RFS is good for America’s energy, environmental and economic stability. In recent years, Congress also has enacted provisions to promote the installation of blender pumps at gas stations nationwide, providing consumers with a greater choice of fuels.

And yet, the nation’s energy policy is running into some bumps in the road. For starters, the EPA last fall pitched a misguided proposal to greatly reduce the RFS for fiscal 2014. The proposed rule would lower the volume targets for advanced biofuels from 3.25 billion gallons to 2.2 billion gallons. This proposal is causing uncertainty that may scare off future investments in this promising, innovative industry.

Biofuels also are facing stiff resistance from big oil. This time, it’s not OPEC putting a stranglehold on the marketplace, it is instead the powerful oil industry that reports show is blocking the pipeline for biofuels to get to market.

Last fall, we asked the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate possible anticompetitive practices by the oil industry. We shared concerns we heard that oil companies allegedly are mandating retailers to carry and sell premium gasoline, which as a result prevents the use of the retailer from selling renewable fuels without installing expensive infrastructure upgrades. By forcing a franchisee to carry premium gasoline as a condition of carrying regular gas, the oil company may be using its economic power to leverage unreasonable, discriminatory arrangements that are in violation of federal laws. The Department of Justice and FTC responded with assurances that they are taking steps to identify, prevent and prosecute practices in the petroleum markets that violate anticompetitive or fraudulent business practices.

It’s a long standing tactic for these big international oil companies. On the one hand, big oil argues that the RFS is broken because the industry says it can’t mix the higher blends. On the other hand, those same companies appear to be doing everything they can to prevent any widespread investment in infrastructure by their franchisees and smaller stations who are buying and selling their gasoline.

Big oil companies can cry crocodile tears, but it’s their self-inflicted actions that are standing in the way of meeting the requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard, not ethanol producers. Big oil can’t argue it should be repealed because it doesn’t work when it is the ones responsible for ensuring that consumers don’t have the choice for higher ethanol blends.

That’s why we kindly suggest the decision-makers at the Justice Department and FTC take a close look at a recent investigative study conducted by the Renewable Fuels Association. Its fact-finding analysis shows how oil companies appear to be blocking the sale of greater volumes of renewable fuels through bullying business tactics. Big oil likes to say it has no control over what’s offered at the pumps of retail gas stations and franchisees. But the facts say otherwise.

The report’s “Consumer Choice Report Card” shows less than one percent of branded stations offer E15 or E85. Specifically, of nearly 48,000 retail gas stations carrying a “Big Five” oil company brand, less than 300 offer E85 or E15. That flunks any reasonable standard of fairness in the marketplace. The report flushes out fuel supply contracts, franchise agreements and other documents that show how big oil flexes its authority to undermine the sale of E85 and E15 renewables.

Tellingly, according to the report, independent stations are four to six times more likely to offer E85 and 40 times more likely to offer E15 than stations selling a “Big Five” oil brand. It would be foolish to view these findings as a fluke. Facts are hard to fabricate.

America has mapped out a long-term strategy to pump up competition in the transportation fuels sector, secure innovative cleaner renewable fuels to protect the environment and boost more domestic oil production to help immunize the economy and consumers from dependency on foreign oil.

Let’s not let big oil spoil the route to greater, cleaner energy independence. U.S. energy security is not for sale. It’s time to hand over the keys to consumers and let renewables and traditional fossil fuels compete side-by-side at the pump.