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Project Morning Star receives grant from Worthington Regional Health Foundation

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WORTHINGTON – The Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation on Thursday awarded a matching grant to Project Morning Star, a transitional residential facility for people with addictions.

Health Care Foundation Executive Director Jeffrey Rotert said Project Morning Start fit the foundation’s mission of providing health and education to people in the area. The total amount of the check, with the $30,000 from the foundation, was for $60,567.69.

Project Morning Star is located eight miles south of Worthington and has two homes – one for men and one for women. It is faith-based, for safe, sober living. The residents commit to at least 90 days, but can live there for up to a year. The money will be used to pay for four computers and provide programming.

The computers will be used for job searching, resumes and educational opportunities, according to Roxanne Hayenga, who serves as the treasurer for the project.

They have a Spend Smart, Eat Smart series, in which the residents are taught to spend money wisely on healthy foods, and memberships at the YMCA, where they can learn healthy habits. In the works are coordinating CPR and First Aid classes.

Project Morning Star Executive Director T.D. Hostikka said the housing shortage in the area is well known, but for people with addictions, especially those who may be getting out of jail, is even more difficult, which is where the project comes in. Employment can be even tougher. Some of these people have burned a lot of bridges, he said, so putting things together to get a job isn’t easy without help.

Hostikka said Project Morning Star has had some success with that.

They are always on the lookout for donors and volunteers, as the entire project is funded through donations. Volunteers are needed to help teach a variety of life skills. Anyone willing to help can contact Hostikka at 507-360-7783.

Sioux Falls bank robbed at gunpoint


SIOUX FALLS, SD - Police are looking for a suspect following an armed robbery at a bank in eastern Sioux Falls Thursday morning.

Dacotah Bank on E. 10th Street was robbed at gunpoint around 11:15 a.m. The suspect allegedly entered the bank, raised a handgun, and demanded money.

The suspect is reportedly wearing a black ski mask between 30 to 40 years old, 6' tall and weighs 200 pounds. Witnesses say he had a Middle Eastern accent. Police consider the suspect armed and dangerous.

He demanded money from employees. Once he had the cash, drove off westbound in a white 1999 Ford Taurus. Police say the car did not have any license plates.

There were three people in the bank at the time; no one was hurt.

FBI investigators are on the scene of the robbery.

March 5 news


WORTHINGTON - The Minnesota West Lady Jay fan club is moving forward with a charter bus to the basketball tournament in Pennsylvania, and there are spots still available for anyone interested. At last count, 30 people had signed up, which makes the cost of the bus ride $285 per person. The more people who sign up for the bus, the more the price will go down. Each person is responsible for booking their own hotel, which is within walking distance of the tournament facility. Anyone interested in signing up for the trip, please contact Lynette Thompson at 507-842-5536. The bus leaves from the Worthington campus at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11. They will drive straight thru to make the first game on Thursday at 6 p.m. They are hoping to also do some sightseeing in New York between games.

SW MN - No lakes and only a few streams in Minnesota's southwest corner meet the state's quality standards for fishing and swimming. That bleak assessment comes from a recently released Minnesota Pollution Control Agency study that blames high levels of bacteria, nitrates and sediment in the water.

The agency examined lakes and streams across the four watersheds in southwest Minnesota that are part of the Missouri River Basin. It looked at 93 of 181 streams and found only three that fully supported aquatic life and recreation.

"None of the lakes in the Missouri River Basin met the aquatic recreation standard," the report added.

Improving the region's water health will require changes to land draining techniques, "especially reducing pollutants from farming practices," and working with land owners to limit contaminants, the MPCA said.

WORTHINGTON – The annual student art show will be at the Nobles County Art Center from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, with over 200 pieces on display. It features the work of students in grades 7 through 12. The student art exhibit will be open until March 28.

EDGERTON - Southwestern Minnesota Habitat for Humanity is again holding an Applicant Informational Meeting (AIM) on Saturday, March 14th. This meeting must be attended by any adult wanting to apply for partnership in a home build for their family. The meeting is at 10 a.m., Saturday, March 14th at the Community room in the courthouse at 416 S Hiawatha Ave in Pipestone. The deadline is nearing for applicants for the home build in Edgerton.

EDGERTON - The Edgerton Public School Board voted during a February meeting not to seek permission from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to continue with the Flexible Learning Year (FLY) that has allowed the district to start school before Labor Day since 2010, according to the Pipestone County Star.

Edgerton’s decision continues a downward trend in the number of southwest Minnesota schools participating in the FLY consortium since it began in 2010 with 25 school districts, including Edgerton Public and Russell-Tyler-Ruthton in Pipestone County. Just 22 school districts reapplied and were granted permission to continue the FLY for a second three-year cycle in 2013, and Keith Buckridge, Edgerton superintendent, said more are expected to drop out after that cycle ends at the end of next school year.

Bruce Houck, RTR superintendent, said the RTR School Board has not yet decided if it will continue the FLY. If it does, RTR would be the last remaining school district in Pipestone County to stick with the consortium.

The Edgerton School Board’s decision to opt out of the consortium was based in part on a survey of school staff and parents. Eighty-five percent of the 40 staff members and about 67 percent of the 141 parents who responded to the district’s survey said they did not want to see the school district continue with the FLY.

ST. PAUL - A just-retired Mayo Clinic doctor will serve a third term on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents after a joint House-Senate convention Wednesday night picked leaders of the state’s largest university.

Patricia Simmons of Rochester, who recently retired from Mayo, won an unusual contest for the position serving southern Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District. She had planned to leave the board after two terms, as has been recent tradition, but got into the race after another candidate with Mayo connections dropped out.

Simmons beat veterinary microbiologist Randy Simonson of Worthington in one of two contested races. The unofficial vote was 119-75.

The Simmons-Simonson contest was one of two that deadlocked the House and Senate higher education committees. Generally, the committees pick one candidate for each opening to recommend to the full Legislature.

Twin Cities lawyer Darrin Rosha won the other race in which committees could not reach agreement in the 3rd Congressional District, serving western Minneapolis suburbs.

SHELDON, Iowa — The Sheldon City Council on Wednesday approved a proposal from DGR Engineering for a hydraulic modeling and storage study for the city’s water system. Sheldon Public Works director Todd Uhl says the study is important especially if the city builds a new water tower. DGR says phase one will cost $19,700, and phase two will cost $16,500. Council member Ron Rensink says the project is worth the money and needs to be done.

March 4 news


WORTHINGTON – Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday once again tabled any decisions on the stairs in the government center, this time so they could get more information from the low bidder, Wilcon. Steve Johnson, of Vetter-Johnson Architects, has been in contact with the company, who said they are looking for ways to cut costs on the project.

The conundrum the commissioners face is getting rid of the trip hazard in the stairs in the government center – the lip that protrudes from each step – and getting the stairwells up to code without making such significant changes that they lose their status of being ‘grandfathered in’ on certain aspects of the American Disabilities Act.
The commissioners will wait until more information comes back from Wilcon before any decisions are made.

They approved labor contracts with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 65, representing the Nobles County Highway Department; and with Law Enforcement Labor Services Inc. Local 163, representing sheriffs deputies.

Memorandums of understanding were sought to extend the alternate/flex schedule for the AFSCME union members who represent public health until June 1 while they continue working to ratify their contract. Similar extensions were sought and approved for Teamsters who represent courthouse and library members and family services.
During a report from County Administrator Tom Johnson, the commissioners learned there were five possible candidates for the position of library director, and interviews will take place in Friday.

WORTHINGTON – The meet and greet for the five potential Worthington City Administrator candidates will be from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Worthington Fire Hall. The public is invited to come speak with Greg Boe, Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez, Michael Cumiskey, Steve Robinson and Randy Thompson.

All five candidates will participate in one-on-one closed interviews earlier in the day. On Saturday, they will meet with the Worthington City Council, department heads and a group of community members chosen by the council to participate in the interview process. The candidates will rotate through the three groups for interviews, beginning at 8:15 a.m.

The interviews with the Worthington City Council in the council chambers are open to the public and should be finished by 1 p.m. Deliberation is scheduled to begin by approximately 2 p.m.

WORTHINGTON – Two Worthington men escaped with non-life threatening injuries or less after their van rolled on Interstate 90 Tuesday evening in Rock County, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

Jose Zayas Claudio, age 32, was driving a 1999 Chevrolet Astro Van east on I-90 when he lost control on the icy roadway and rolled. He was taken to Sanford Luverne with non-life threatening injuries. A passenger, 17-year-old Marco Ramirez Martinez, was not injured. Both were wearing their seatbelt at the time of the crash.

IONA – The Iona Fire Department and First Responders will hold their annual chili cook-off from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, March 15 at St. Columba Hall in Iona, serving a variety of chili and soup, grilled cheese, green beer and brownie ala mode. A free will offering will be taken, and all proceeds go toward new equipment purchases for the Iona Fire Department and First Responders. All guests vote for the best chili. There are raffle drawings and door prizes.

Anyone who would like to enter chili, please contact Kay Platt at 507-264-3806 and leave a message.

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa – The Spirit Lake Police Department conducted a joint investigation with the United States Postal Service and Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement regarding an individual receiving a controlled substance from Colorado through the mail.

On Monday, Jade Allison Mankle, age 25, of Spencer, Iowa, was arrested for possession of marijuana, second offense, and booked into the Dickinson County Jail.

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa - The Dickinson County Sheriff's Office has released details into a single vehicle crash that seriously injured a Fostoria man Sunday.

Authorities say 56-year-old Jerry Peterson was driving a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado northbound on County Road M-27 when he drove off the curve in the 1500 block south of Lake Park. The vehicle went into the ditch and struck the 131st Avenue embankment.
Peterson was ejected from the vehicle as it rolled and came to rest on top of him. He was extricated by mechanical means and was transported to Lakes Regional Healthcare by ambulance. He was later flown to Avera-McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls with incapacitating injuries.

Authorities say the crash, which remains under investigation, took place shortly before midnight.

The Dickinson County Sheriff's Office was assisted by the Lake Park Fire Department, Lakes Regional Healthcare and Lake Park ambulances and paramedics, the Lakes Area Extrication Unit and Jennings Tow and Repair.

LAKE PARK, Iowa - An open house for departing Lake Park City Administrator Wade Wagoner will be held Wednesday, March 11th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Lake Park City Hall. The public is cordially invited.

SIBLEY, Iowa — A hotel/motel tax in the rural areas of Osceola County has apparently been approved by voters there. The measure passed 88.8 percent to 11.1 percent. 198 ballots were cast, with 178 voting “yes,” and 22 voting “no.”

The tax will only be paid by people who stay at motels in the rural portions of Osceola County.

According to that code section, at least half of the money raised through the tax has to be used for tourism-related activities. The other half can go into the county general fund.

March 3 news


WORTHINGTON – The Worthington Water and Light Commission discussed the possibility of a non-essential water ban Monday, but as of yet, nothing has been put in place. This time around, there has been talk of implementing a ban in stages, according to Worthington Public Utilities Manager Scott Hain, because the wells are two feet, two inches below average, but not at critical stages.

Discussed were phases in water restrictions, such as odd/even lawn irrigation, attended watering, limited hours of watering, or a total ban on non-essential use. No action was taken on the matter.

WORTHINGTON - Fans and supporters of the Minnesota West Lady Jay Basketball team are trying to put together a fan bus to the NJCAA National Tournament March 12th through the 14th out in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The Lady Jays qualified for the National Tournament with a thrilling win over Rochester on Sunday. Minnesota West will play 3 games, once per day.

This is only for the bus trip to Pennsylvania and back. The more people that ride the fan bus, the cheaper the cost of the bus will be. If interested and for more information, contact Lynette Thompson at 507-842-5536 or send an email to Please contact Lynette by noon on Wednesday.

WORTHINGTON – Recently Nobles Cooperative Electric went public with a new outage map, along with a new mobile version of their website. The outage map provides members with the general location of power outages in NCE’s service territory. This map can also be accessed on smartphones. Members can view the affected area and the number of members affected. To view the map visit and click on Outage Center.

Offering this information will aid tremendously in the coop’s communication efforts during outages and will also be very beneficial in reporting to emergency officials representatives during larger-scale outages.

WORTHINGTON – Sanford Worthington Relay for Life will sponsor a Wine & Canvas event at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Travelodge in Worthington. Cost is $30 to paint an 11x14 picture. Pre-purchase your tickets by calling (507) 372-3305. Food and drink will be available at an additional charge at Hickory Lodge.

LUVERNE — The Minnesota Historical Society announced 49 recipients of Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Small Grants totaling $421,647 in 25 counties. The Rock County Community Library was selected to receive a $9,285 grant to acquire a microfilm reader/printer/scanner to make microfilmed records more accessible to the public.

The grants are awarded quarterly to help non-profit and educational organizations, government units and tribal organizations preserve and share Minnesota history. The awards were approved Feb. 20 by the Executive Council.

Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants are made possible by the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008. The Legacy Amendment supports efforts to preserve Minnesota land, water and legacy, including Minnesota history and cultural heritage.

PIPESTONE - Pipestone County Medical Center is seeking a $125,000 Rural Hospital Capital Improvement grant to bring the hospital’s second floor into compliance with building codes.

Necessary updates include fire-rated ceiling tile and grid, fire dampers for ductwork, and covering of recessed light fixtures with fire resistant enclosures or replacement of the recessed fixtures with surface mounted light fixtures to protect the steel structure supporting the roof above the finished ceiling. Preliminary estimates put the total cost of the upgrades at $250,000.

The Office of Rural Health and Primary Care of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) offers capital improvement grants for rural, non-profit hospitals with 50 or fewer beds in communities with populations below 15,000 to help pay for modernization projects. Brad Burris, PCMC CEO, said he thought PCMC had a “fairly good” chance of receiving grant funds for the upgrades, but he wasn’t sure if it would be the maximum award amount of $125,000.

IOWA - Some area landowners in Iowa will be recognized at a ceremony later this month for their donation of land that will be permanently protected for conservation.
Jimmie and Peggy Fliss and John Erdman, all of Spirit Lake, will be among those recognized. They donated a permanent easement as part of the Kettleson-Hogsback Wildlife Management Area to enable the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to maximize the wetland for water quality and migratory waterfowl habitat in the Iowa Great Lakes Watershed.

The DNR says more than 3,200 acres of land in 10 counties that was donated will be permanently protected. The land has a total value of $2.5 million.

The ceremony recognizing the landowners will be held Monday, March 23rd from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Supreme Court Room 103 in Des Moines. Governor Terry Branstad is scheduled to attend.

SHELDON, Iowa — Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will be coming to Sheldon in April. Walker will headline a fundraiser for the Cherokee, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola, Plymouth and Sioux County Republican parties. It’s his first county party event in Iowa’s heavily Republican 4th District. Doors will open at 5:45 p.m. on Friday, April 24th, with the meal to start at 6:30 p.m. and speakers beginning at 7:30 p.m.

After a contentious collective bargaining dispute, Walker is the first and only governor to date to win a recall election. That was in June 2012.

Other confirmed speakers include Fourth District Congressman Steve King and Iowa Republican Party Co-Chairman Dr. Cody Hoefert of Rock Rapids.

SIBLEY, Iowa — Voters in the rural portion of Osceola County are going to the polls today to decide the fate of a hotel/motel tax. This is coming to a vote because the new AmericInn will be outside of Sibley, which already has a tax. Because the motel is in the rural area, only the rural people can vote on it.

This is a vote for a tax that would be paid only by people who stay at the motel.

The text of the measure reads, “Shall the Board of Supervisors, Osceola County, Iowa, be authorized to impose a hotel and motel tax at the rate of five percent (5%) in the unincorporated area of Osceola County, effective July 1, 2015 which shall be used by Osceola County according to Iowa Code Section 423A.7(4), 2013 Code of Iowa.”

The code says the county has to spend at least fifty percent of the revenues from the tax for recreation, convention, cultural, or entertainment facilities including but not limited to memorial buildings, halls and monuments, civic center convention buildings, auditoriums, coliseums, and parking areas or for the promotion and encouragement of tourist and convention business in the county and surrounding areas. The other half can go into the general fund of the county.

March 2


WORTHINGTON — Sanford Worthington Medical Center has announced that Reed Fricke has recently become the director of Outpatient and Ancillary Services, which encompasses the departments of Laboratory, Imaging, Rehabilitation, Respiratory Care and Ambulance Services.

Fricke earned his bachelor of science in radiation sciences degree in 2006 from University of Nebraska Medical Center. He also earned his master’s in business administration from Southwest Minnesota State University in 2010.

His career with Sanford Worthington Medical Center began in September 2008 as the radiology manager. Prior to that he worked as a CT technologist at Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., and the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb. He grew up in Worthington and graduated from Worthington High School.

Fricke lives in rural Worthington with his wife, Stacy, and children Ryker (3) and Rustin (1). He enjoys many things, including spending time with his family, engaging in outdoor activities and attending racing events.

WORTHINGTON - The Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce is offering an informational meeting on a "Shades of Ireland" trip at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Chamber. Receive information on the cost, lodging and the itinerary for the trip. Highlights on the Shades of Ireland trip include Dublin, Kilkenny, Waterford Crystal, Blarney Castle, Ring of Kerry Killarney, Limerick, Cliffs of Moher and Galway.

WORTHINGTON - The Grassroots Community Theatre presents "Murder at the Pie Auction" at the Elks Lodge in Worthington on March 5 and 7. This is a fun, interactive dinner theatre with Thursday night featuring chicken cordon bleu and Saturday night offering prime rib. Tickets are on sale now at Ax Photo, the Stag, Hy-Vee and the Elks Lodge. Questions, call MaryJane at 478-4474.

WORTHINGTON - The Nobles County Library and Nobles County Historical Society present The Genuine One, an original story by Doug Wolter. Meet the author and have the opportunity for a book signing on Friday, March 6 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Nobles County Historical Society on the lower level. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

PIPESTONE - Saturday hours at the Ewert Recreation Center in Pipestone will be extended through the month of May on a trial basis with earlier opening and later closing times. The new Saturday hours through May would be 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The current winter hours on Saturdays are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Extended hours were brought up during a survey conducted last November that asked people for suggestions and comments pertaining to the Rec Center specifically and city parks in general. Talk of switching to a 24/7 facility has been ongoing, but member participation would have to warrant such a move, said Stacy Claussen, Parks and Rec director, during a Parks and Rec committee meeting, Feb. 4.

To get some of those statistics, Claussen suggested that they open on Saturdays a couple hours earlier through May on a trial basis.

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa — A George woman and her daughter were taken to the hospital Friday after an accident south of Rock Rapids.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Department reports that about 4:25 p.m. on Friday, 45-year-old Jeffrey Groote of George was driving a 2001 Chevrolet pickup pulling a 2001 enclosed trailer westbound on county road A-34, about seven miles south-southeast of Rock Rapids. Thirty-year-old Kathryn Fox of George was driving a 1993 Chevrolet owned by Alvin Overholt of George, also westbound on A-34.

The report says Groote had slowed down to turn north onto K-52 and just as he began turning north, Fox rear-ended the enclosed trailer.

The Lyon County Ambulance took Fox and her three-year-old daughter to Sanford Rock Rapids.

Groote’s 2001 pickup received about $2,000 in damages; his enclosed trailer received about $5,000 in damages; and the contents inside the trailer received about $2,000 in damages. The 1993 pickup driven by Fox was a total loss.

Fox was ticketed on charges of failure to maintain control and driving while suspended, both simple misdemeanors.

Doon Fire and Rescue, The Lyon County Ambulance, and the Iowa State Patrol assisted the sheriff’s office on the scene.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa - A new facility offering psychiatric care and substance abuse treatment to children and teens in northwest Iowa is expected to address an important need in the region when it opens this spring. The new Jackson Recovery Centers Child and Adolescent Recovery Hospital is expected to open in May.

Right now the closest child psychiatric crisis centers are either about 60 miles away in Cherokee, Iowa, or about 90 miles away in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The $10.5 million project has been under construction in Sioux City since August. It will have 72 inpatient beds and a 12-bed psychiatric stabilization unit.

BRAZIL - An international manhunt has led to the capture of a fugitive Minnesota cult leader who has been charged with molesting his young female followers.Victor Barnard, 53, has been taken into custody by authorities in Brazil. Barnard was arrested Feb. 27 in Rio Grande do Norte.

In April 2014, Barnard was charged with 59 felony counts of criminal sexual assault. The Pine County sheriff’s office alleged that Barnard assaulted young women at his River Road Fellowship near Finlayson.

A statement on the website of the Public Security Secretariat for the Rio Grande do Norte state government reported the arrest. The statement said police captured Barnard in an apartment near a white-sand beach in northeastern Brazil. He was being held in the city of Natal to await extradition.

Pine County authorities say they have not yet received official confirmation of the arrest. But the Brazilian news source Globo identifies Barnard. The Globo account indicated police confiscated Barnard’s religious papers, diaries, computers, flash drives and cellphones. A 33-year-old Brazilian woman was taken into custody with him
Brazilian authorities said Barnard had been living for at least six months at the apartment where he was arrested located about 1,300 miles from Rio de Janeiro.

When a FOX 9 reporter showed a picture of Barnard in handcuffs, one of his accusers texted,“OMG, that’s him!” Last year, that woman and another woman told the station that they had endured years of sexual abuse by Barnard.

A news release from the U.S. Marshals Service said the agency joined the manhunt for Barnard after he was charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. It was thought that Barnard fled Minnesota for Washington state after some followers questioned his conduct with young women. He had been tracked to the Spokane area where the trail grew cold.

In November 2014, the U.S. Marshals Service placed him on its list of 15 Most Wanted fugitives.

February 27 news


WORTHINGTON - The City of Worthington is currently in the process of developing an Active Living Plan to help make the city more pedestrian friendly. The first public meeting will be at 5:15 p.m. March 19 at the Worthington Fire Hall, 830 2nd Ave, Worthington. During this meeting, local issues and concerns regarding walking and biking will be discussed. This information will be summarized and will help create potential goals that will be discussed at the second public meeting. Public participation is a critical component of the plan. If you cannot attend the meeting, you can still provide feedback by going to the wikimapping link at

SLAYTON - The Friends of the Casey Jones Trail Association is launching its annual membership drive. The Friends of the Casey Jones Trail Association is a non-profit corporation, formed to advocate for the continued development of the multi-seasonal, multi-use Casey Jones State Trail.

The trail runs from Rock County through Pipestone and Murray Counties to Redwood County. The designated corridor is from Schoneman Park north to Luverne, continuing to Blue Mounds State Park and Split Rock Creek State Park. The trail will continue toward Pipestone, east to Slayton and then onward to Lake Shetek State Park and Walnut Grove. From there the trail will head northeast to Redwood Falls to join the Minnesota River State Trail. The association’s goal is to have a multi-seasonal, multiuse trail to run diagonally from the southwest corner of Minnesota to the Minnesota River - trail of over 100 miles.

The first priority is to connect existing trail sections, including six miles of paved trail from downtown Luverne into Blue Mounds State Park; 13 miles of trail between the city of the Pipestone and the Pipestone/ Murray County line; a naturally-surfaced segment from one and a half miles west of Lake Wilson into the city of Lake Wilson; and a six mile, paved loop between Lake Shetek State Park and the city of Currie. Where efforts in 2015 are concentrated will depend upon what funding is available, which landowners are interested in working with the association, and where member and community interest is greatest. Contact Amy Rucker at 507-836-6023 for additional information.

SHELDON, Iowa — A Sheldon optometrist accused of assault has entered a plea of not guilty, according to court records.

Dr. Allen Jones, age 68, is charged with Aggravated Assault, a Serious Misdemeanor, in connection with an incident police say happened at a Sheldon business in December. According to authorities, a no-contact order was issued against Jones in connection with the incident. Court records indicate that O’Brien County Attorney Micah Schreurs has requested a special prosecutor in the case.

Jones’ written plea was taken at an arraignment on Thursday, February 26th. A pre-trial conference is set for April 13, with a trial scheduled to start on April 28.

MINNESOTA - Calling Minnesota's payment rates for pediatric dental care the lowest in the nation, a coalition of dental groups Thursday urged lawmakers to raise rates to the average among states.

The Help Minnesota Smile campaign estimates that legislation to increase the reimbursement in Medical Assistance, the state's Medicaid program, would cost up to $100 million over the next two-year budget cycle.

Many Minnesota dentists can't afford to treat low-income patients under current state insurance, said Peter Cannon, president-elect of the Minnesota Dental Association.
A recent study by the American Dental Association found the average Medicaid payment for pediatric dental care in the U.S. is about $49 for every $100 cost.

Cannon said the reimbursement is $27 in Minnesota.

IOWA - 73,000 Iowans may have been affected by the recent data breach at health insurer Anthem Inc.

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart said Thursday that 172,727 policyholders in Iowa may have had their personal information compromised. The cyberattack into a database of more than 80 million people was discovered earlier this month. The health insurance provider says hackers gained access to names, birthdates, email addresses, Social Security numbers and other information of people who are currently covered or previously had coverage.

Gerhart says Anthem will contact each person affected by the breach and inform them of available identity theft services and other protections. He says the Iowa Insurance Division continues to work with Anthem to monitor the situation.

IOWA — A man from Arkansas has been sentenced in Sioux County District Court to a ten-year prison term for delivery of methamphetamine.

Sioux County Attorney Thomas Kunstle says that 30-year-old James Kent Skoglund of Saint Joe, Arkansas, has been sentenced in Sioux County District Court for the crime of Delivery of Methamphetamine.

Kunstle’s office says that on November 8, 2014, an undercover officer made arrangements, through a confidential informant, to purchase an “8 ball” of methamphetamine from Skoglund for $325. Through the informant, they say Skoglund sold methamphetamine to the undercover officer in an apartment in Rock Valley. After the transaction, uniformed officers searched the apartment where the transaction took place finding methamphetamine, a scale, a pipe, and a butane lighter, all located near Skoglund.

He was sentenced to an indeterminate ten-year prison term, in addition to charges, surcharges, fees, costs, and other penalties.

Fifth candidate named for city admin position


WORTHINGTON – A fifth candidate for the Worthington City Administrator job has been identified as Greg Boe, the Senior Community Development Specialist in Scott County.

Boe, who has been in that position for more than 14 years, has an MPA and a certificate of public management from the Minnesota State University in Mankato, along with a Bachelor of Science in Toxicology, Science and Chemistry. He had oversight of a $1 million household hazardous waste building for Scott County, cut program operational expenses by 33 percent while expanding levels of service to county residents and formulated and instituted plans to fund free collection of waste electronics, appliances and tires to reduce illegal dumping and increase recycling.

Boe joins Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez as a potential candidate for the administrator position that Worthington residents are not already familiar with. Ortiz-Hernandez is the City Administrator in Kimball, Nebraska, speaks fluent Spanish, and oversees a community with an annual budget of just under $25 million. That community has entities that include includes water and wastewater, a power plant and electric distribution, an event center, a police department, a library, an airport and a golf course. The population is just over 2,400, and the city employs 46 people regularly.

Ortiz-Hernandez has a background in management and research, obtained his Master of Public Administration at Arizona State University and a Bachelors Degree in Political Science at California State University.

The other three candidates have been in the area for quite some time. Mike Cumiskey recently retired after almost 15 years as Worthington’s Public Safety Director, Steve Robinson has spent the last six months as Worthington’s Director of Public Works and Randy Thompson has been the Executive Director of the Worthington Housing and Redevelopment Authority for more than two years.

All five candidates are schedule for interviews on March 6 and 7. On that Friday, they will have one on one interviews with each council member, and will participate in an open house for chance to meet the public. On Saturday, they will sit for the formal interview process, once with the city department heads, once with a community group and once with the council. The interviews with the council will be open to the public.

According to Dr. Richard Fursman of the Brimeyer Fursman hiring firm, a decision on a candidate could be made within hours of the interviews, but the offer will be contingent on a thorough background check.

Names released on city admin candidates


WORTHINGTON – Four of the five finalists for the Worthington City Administrator position have accepted interviews for March 6 and 7, and the Brimeyer Fursman has now released the names of those four candidates.

Three of them are very familiar to the community and area.

Mike Cumiskey recently retired after almost 15 years as Worthington’s Public Safety Director, Steve Robinson has spent the last six months as Worthington’s Director of Public Works and Randy Thompson has been the Executive Director of the Worthington Housing and Redevelopment Authority for more than two years.

The new name on the list is that of Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez, who currently is the City Administrator in Kimball, Nebraska. Ortiz-Hernandez is bilingual, speaks fluent Spanish, and oversees a community with an annual budget of just under $25 million. That community includes water, wastewater, a power plant, electric distribution, landfill, an event center, a cemetery, economic development, a police department, a library, an airport and a golf course. The population is just over 2,400, and the city employs 46 people regularly.

Ortiz-Hernandez has a background in management and research, obtained his Master of Public Administration at Arizona State University and a Bachelors Degree in Political Science at California State University.

During Monday night’s meeting, it was revealed he has young children and wants to establish his family in schools and an area for long-term.

Cumiskey has been involved in law enforcement since 1986, and in his tenure as police chief, oversaw a $3.2 million general budget and also handled the new fire station building budget as project manager. He had 34 employees, and collaborated with Nobles County in establishing the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force. Other projects developed during his tenure as chief include major upgrades in public safety technology, from computers in squad cars to the transition from VHF to the ARMOR system.

Robinson is in charge of multiple budgets in his current position as Director of Public Works, and before that he spent 13 years as an engineer for Short Elliot Hendrickson, working with many cities, elected officials, staff and the public, facilitating public hearings, identifying and scoping projects, preparing budgets, and assisting with funding and financing options. For the previous decade he owned a successful and profitable bulk wholesale and retail fuel distributorship.

Thompson assisted and guided the Worthington HRA Board in the planning and development of a $6.5 million market rate rental housing development in Worthington, which is currently under construction. He managed a $15 to $20 million loan portfolio for a private bank and has been in the community for 18 years.

According to Dr. Richard Fursman, the fifth candidate chosen by the Worthington City Council has not replied to the interview request. That particular candidate was from the Twin Cities.

Minnesota Supreme Court files issues opinion in case argued in Worthington


WORTHINGTON – Cases argued in front of the Minnesota Supreme Court can have far-reaching consequences or sometimes affect only the people directly involved in the outcome. Every now and then, people simply want to know how it ended up. Such may be the case of the State of Minnesota versus Roger Schmid.

On October 1, approximately 1,000 students from southwest Minnesota listened in as the Minnesota Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the case. Twice a year, the court hits the road, and this fall, they ended up in the gymnasium of the Worthington High School. Students from all around were allowed to observe a fascinating part of the legal process.

The case involves the question of whether entering a deer hunting area and concealing oneself behind a hunting blind while possessing a loaded weapon suited to hunt deer constitutes “pursuing” deer under Minnesota statute, which requires a hunting license.

For all of those 1,000 inquiring minds out there who really wanted to know what ever happened with this case, Schmid’s guilty conviction will stand.

Schmid was caught by a game warden in that position and without a license, having tagged a deer the previous evening. He offered excuses, stating he was party hunting, he was nature watching and he was not hunting deer, but coyote. He was cited for hunting without a license. At trial, he stated he was not hunting, but awaiting help to retrieve the deer he had shot the day before. A jury found him guilty

Schmid appealed the conviction. He argued that pursuing deer implies direct pursuit, such as tracking or chasing game. The appellate court affirmed the conviction, and the case was then remanded to the supreme court.

Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the original conviction, stating that the definition of “taking” in one statute applies to the definition of “take” in another. According to Justice David Lillehaug, a jury could reasonably conclude that a person who sat in a camouflaged ATV blind in a field during deer hunting season, wore blaze orange, and had a loaded gun next to him, was “pursuing” or “attempting to take” deer, and therefore violated Minnesota statute.