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November 26 news

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WORTHINGTON — All federal, state, county and city offices in Worthington will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving Day. All Worthington financial institutions will be closed Thursday, but will reopen for regular business on Friday. The Worthington Post Office will be closed Thursday, and there will be no mail delivery. Regular hours will resume Friday.

The Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce Office will be closed both Thursday and Friday. The Nobles County Library will be closed Thursday and Friday for the holiday and will be closed Saturday for maintenance.

Hy-Vee Food Store will close at 2 p.m. Thursday and will reopen at 6 a.m. Friday. Fareway will be closed all day Thursday.

Schaap Sanitation will not pick up garbage or recyclables Thursday. Routes normally scheduled for Thursday will be picked up Friday.

The Radio Works office will be closed Thursday and Friday and reopen for business on Monday, but our great programming will continue throughout the holiday weekend. Beginning Friday, FM 104.3 The Party will become The Christmas Party, with around-the-clock Christmas music.

ROUND LAKE — The community of Round Lake will host its sixth annual Winterfest celebration on Saturday with a fish house parade, food and entertainment.

The fish house parade will travel down Round Lake’s Main Street at 4 p.m. Saturday. After the parade, the fish houses will be displayed around the Round Lake American Legion.

Pulled pork sandwiches will be served inside the Legion, with The Nectorines providing musical entertainment from 7 to 11 p.m.

The event is sponsored by the Round Lake Sportsmans Club and the Round Lake American Legion.

SLAYTON - The Murray County Historical Society Museum is hosting another Lunchbox Lecture Series on Thursday, December 4.

The lecture will be held from noon to 1 p.m. at the Dinehart-Holt House in Slayton. Participants should bring their own lunch and the museum staff will set up tables and serve coffee. Cost for the lecture is $3, with Murray County Historical Society members admitted for free.

Guest speaker will be Colin Mustful, author of “Grace at Spirit Lake,” a novel that tells the story of the people and events of the Spirit Lake Massacre of 1857. This lesser known tragedy is often regarded as the critical event which foreshadowed the U.S. – Dakota Conflict of 1862. The story captures the events through the eyes of Joseph Campbell, a real life interpreter to the Dakota Indians.

According to Mustful, the novel is historically accurate. All are welcome to attend the fun and educational event.

SIOUX FALLS, SD - The Minnehaha County Coroner has ordered an autopsy after the discovery of the body of a 39-year-old Sioux Falls woman on Tuesday.

According to Public Information Officer Sam Clemens, the body of the woman was found in an apartment on the 500 block of S. Western Avenue. Clemens said the coroner thought there was something out of the ordinary about the death, and decided an autopsy should be conducted.

Clemens did not say what specifically was questionable about the death. The results of the autopsy are pending.

MINNESOTA - Minnesota hunters registered 111,000 deer through the third and last weekend of firearms deer season, down 31,000 from the same period in 2013, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

So far this year during special hunts and the archery, early antlerless and firearms seasons, hunters have harvested 127,000 deer, down from the 2013 to-date harvest total of 144,000.

This year’s lower harvest is by design because regulations were implemented to place more deer – particularly does – off limits to increase Minnesota’s deer population.

The DNR’s ongoing deer management work also includes upcoming revisions to the deer population goals for large portions of northeastern, north-central and east-central Minnesota. This is part of a multi-year goal-setting process for the entire state. People interested in helping set these deer population goals can get more information on the process and opportunities for involvement at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

MINNESOTA – To keep motorists and memories safe this holiday season, law enforcement across the state will be on the lookout for drunk drivers beginning this week. The extra enforcement campaign runs on weekends through December 27.

During the Thanksgiving holiday period over the last three years, there were 1,624 drivers arrested for driving while impaired.

Crashes involving drunk drivers have lasting effects on survivors and their families: 17 people suffered life-changing injuries in crashes involving an impaired drive during the Thanksgiving holiday period the last three years.

An increasing number of motorists are getting the message to drive sober or get pulled over. DWI arrests have gone down every year since 2006 when law enforcement officers arrested 41,951 drivers in Minnesota for DWI. The 2013 numbers statewide dropped to 25,719 — the lowest in recent history.

However, there are almost 600,000 Minnesota residents with a DWI on their record — that’s one out of every seven drivers in the state.

The consequences of a DWI are nothing to fool around with. First, there’s the loss of a license for up to a year, thousands of dollars in costs and possible jail time. Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level, must use ignition interlock in order to regain legal driving privileges or face at least one year without a driver’s license. Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.

So plan for a safe ride – designate a sober driver, use a cab/public transportation or stay at the location of the celebration.

MINNESOTA - Two young Minnesotans face federal conspiracy charges tied to their alleged efforts to provide "material support" to the radical group Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, of Inver Grove Heights and Abdi Nur, 20, of Minneapolis, were charged with "conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization." Nur was also charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota said Tuesday.

The two men conspired to join the terror group and travel from Minnesota to the Middle East "to engage in a campaign of terror in support of a violent ideology," U.S. Attorney Luger said in a statement.

Yusuf was stopped at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as he prepared to board a flight to Turkey, according to the FBI investigation.

Federal officials have identified Minnesota as a center for recruiting for terrorist organizations including ISIS and al-Shabab. The groups have focused in part on recruiting from the large Somali population in the Twin Cities.

According to the criminal complaint and other court documents disclosed Tuesday, Yusuf in April applied for an expedited passport, saying he intended to travel to Turkey. But he couldn't specify his travel plans, hotel, travel companions or address of a friend in Turkey who he claimed to have met recently via Facebook.

Nur left the Twin Cities for Turkey on May 29, also after obtaining an expedited U.S. passport and depositing $1,540 in cash to his checking account. He was scheduled to return to the United States on June 16 but did not.

The complaint and court documents allege Nur became "much more religious," in the two months before leaving for Turkey "including talking about how his family needed to pray more and wear more traditional clothing."

Nur began to talk about jihad during this time, the charges allege. On Facebook, Nur allegedly told someone we "will see each other in the afterlife" and "I'm not coming back."

Holiday Receiving Hours

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In recognition of Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 27th, the Minnesota Soybean Processors will not have bean receiving for either Thursday, November 27th and Friday the 28th.

Poet Biorefining in Ashton will not have receiving on Thursday, November 27th but will resume normal hours Friday the 28th.

AgStar Fund for Rural America Winners

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The 2014 AgStar Fund Emergency Response Grant Program recipients have been announced! Congratulations to the following area recipients

  • Ellsworth Fire & Rescue Department (for Portable ES-51 fire radios) based in Ellsworth, MN
  • Lismore Fire and Rescue (Personal protective equipment) based in Lismore, MN
  • Pipestone County Ambublance (800 mhz portable radios) based in Pipestone, MN
  • Rushmore Fire & Rescue (Protective clothing) based in Rushmore, MN

The mission of the Emergency Response Equipment Grant Program is to support rural areas in AgStar’s service area by funding emergency response equipment for volunteer fire, rescue or ambulance departments. Emergency response departments in rural areas are struggling on shoestring budgets, and many lack adequate and up-to-date equipment. Even though many of these departments have the essentials, they can't always afford new technologies to upgrade or replace old equipment.

This grant program is designed to help alleviate some of those financial constraints. This is an opportunity to fund, on a modest scale, some local departments.Get additional details on this program and others at www.AgStar.com.

November 25 news

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WORTHINGTON – There will be no interim city administrator in Worthington. The Worthington City Council on Monday voted unanimously to have the seven department heads share the workload until a permanent replacement can be found.

Back in October, after city administrator Craig Clark tendered his resignation, the Worthington City Council established an ad hoc committee to develop a plan for hiring an interim administrator until a permanent replacement could be found. Since each member of the council was interested in being on the committee, Mayor Alan Oberloh picked names out of a basket, coming up with Scott Nelson and Diane Graber. Oberloh and the department heads would round out the committee.

According to Oberloh, he, Nelson and Graber had agreed on a person to take the interim position, but word got out and the other council member did not agree. It was city attorney Mark Shepherd who came up with the idea of having the department heads - Janice Oberloh, Dwayne Haffield, Scott Hain, Brian Kolander, Brad Chapulis, Steve Robinson and Troy Appel – share the workload amongst themselves.

Even though past practice has been to hire an interim administrator, much of the actual workload has been spread to the various department heads.

In other business, the council approved the 2015 hangar lease rates at the Worthington Municipal Airport. The hangars are currently at 86 percent occupancy, and Director of Public Works Steve Robinson said there has been no interest in the few that are empty, but they are working on it.

The council also approved a limited use permit for construction of the new city signs. Two are on Minnesota 60 on private land. The third, located on Highway 59 near Airport Road, and is a bit more problematic. The permit for the sign to be in Mn/DOT’s right of way is good for nine years, with the right to renew, unless something changes, such as a design standard or if an improvement is planned. Then Mn/DOT has the right to demand the sign be removed within 90 days. City Engineer Duane Haffield said he doesn’t anticipate any such changes.

WORTHINGTON – During a work session on Monday, the Nobles County Commissioners agreed to put $10,000 into the 2015 budget specifically for the inspections of tax-forfeited parcels in the county that contain buildings, hoping to get them cleaned up, sold and back on tax rolls.

There are 23 tax-forfeited properties in Nobles County, which the county has budgeted several thousand dollars each year for snow removal and mowing.

Raising that up to $10,000 increases the levy to 5.89 percent, which will be presented to the public during the Truth in Taxation hearing at 6 p.m. Dec. 2 in the Nobles County Board of Commissioners meeting room. Commissioners have until Dec. 23 to set the final budget.

SLAYTON - The Murray County Historical Society in Slayton will hold their annual Parade of Trees Holiday Open House event on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Warm apple cider, hot chocolate and homemade Christmas goodies will be served. There will be special musical entertainment at the Dinehart-Holt house and museum throughout the afternoon.

There will be a tree honoring veterans and over 30 other trees decorated by community groups. Each tree has a donation jar nearby so you can "vote" for your favorite. The community group who has the most money in their jar at the end of December gets to keep the money. The rest of the money will be used for future Historical Society projects.

The Christmas trees will remain displayed throughout the season, starting December 2nd and throughout the entire month of December. The event is free, but donations are always appreciated. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

STORM LAKE, Iowa - A Worthington man faces multiple charges after an undercover officer conducted a sting operation over the weekend at a Storm Lake, Iowa motel. Police say the man, 27-year-old Vithoune Thammavongsa, purchased a quantity of methamphetamine around 3:30 p.m. Sunday from an undercover officer.

Following the purchase, police tracked Thammavongsa to the Sail Inn Motel in Storm Lake where he was taken into custody in his room. A subsequent search of the room turned up methamphetamine packaged for sale, a small quantity of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, multiple cell phones and cash believed to be from illegal drug sales.

Thammavongsa was arrested and charged with delivery of methamphetamine, possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked into the Buena Vista County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa — A pre-trial hearing Friday in Lyon County District Court for the suspect in a July grain bin kidnapping shed some light on the circumstances of the incident.

According to court documents, Oriana Groppetti, 32, of Visalia, Calif., said that when she and her father, Craig Olson, locked up her husband, Derek Groppetti, 33, of Visalia, they meant the kidnapping as a “joke and a wake-up call.” They allege Groppetti’s husband was adulterous and an alcoholic.

Groppetti and Olson are each charged with third-degree kidnapping. They are expected to stand trial in Rock Rapids next month.

Olson and Groppetti are accused of trapping Groppetti’s husband in a grain bin. The victim escaped and was walking to another location when his wife allegedly picked up him and took him to another grain bin, where he was held again. He then escaped and called local authorities. Deputies found the victim about 10 miles away from Canton, Iowa.

TERRIL, Iowa - A man allegedly involved in a fight over the weekend at a bar in Terril faces multiple charges.

The Dickinson County Sheriff's Office says deputies were called to the scene shortly after 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Upon arriving officers discovered the suspect, 30-year-old Thomas Mattsen, had left the bar and went to his home. Officers went there as well, only to be confronted by Mattsen who came out of his residence with a gun. Mattsen was arrested and charged with serious assault, going armed with intent and interference with official acts.

Mattsen was booked into the Clay county jail.

November 24 news

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WORTHINGTON - The Worthington Area Symphony Orchestra will perform Handel’s “Messiah” Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center in Worthington. The performance will be comprised of a 55-member orchestra, along with a 70-voice community chorus. Tickets are available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the box office, may be purchased from WASO members or at the door. A reception in the lobby will follow.

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington community Thanksgiving dinner is set to be hosted at noon Thursday at First Lutheran Church, 1200 Fourth Ave. To call in to reserve a delivery meal, call Terry Morrison at 227-1539 and be sure to state your name, address and number of meals needed to be delivered. Transportation to the dinner is also available by calling Morrison before 8 a.m. Thursday.

WORTHINGTON - Worthington High School (WHS) choral students will present a madrigal dinner event Saturday, Dec. 6. at BenLee’s Café in downtown Worthington. There will be two shows, one at noon and one at 6 p.m. Choir members will sing and entertain as the audience enjoys a full-service meal. For ticket reservations call 507-727-1173, ext. 3310 by Dec. 2 and leave a message if necessary, or contact a WHS choral student.

JACKSON - The Jackson County Board of Commissioners have announced the potential sale of the Jackson Speedway by open bid. The Speedway was previous offered for sale in 2012, but there was no successful bidder at that time.

Commissioner Bill Tusa, Chair of the Racing Advisory Committee, stated there has been renewed interest in the Speedway and the County Board would like to explore the benefits that the sale of the Speedway would bring to the citizens of Jackson County.
No official action has been taken, and further discussions are expected in December.

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa – The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office received a report of an underage party at approximately 1 a.m. Saturday. The party was allegedly taking place in the 3700 block of 140th Street in Rock Rapids. Upon further investigation, it was determined there were minors under the age of 21 consuming alcohol. Eight people were charged with minor in possession of alcohol including Nathan Hoiland of Adrian, Austin Cole and Brandi Hilbrands of Rock Rapids, Alex Ohling and Carol Thomas of George, Amanda Porreca of Sheldon, Trevor Berndt of Ellsworth and Brady Mitchell of Sioux Rapids.

SPENCER, Iowa - Special recognition was given to several area businesses and industries Friday during the Iowa Lakes Corridor's annual Business Recognition Luncheon in Spencer.

Lexie Ruter, Executive Director of the Estherville Chamber of Commerce, was named Young Professional of the Year. The Gold Star Award, a business-education partnership award, was presented to GKN Armstrong Wheels. The Small Business Excellence Award was presented to IGL Teleconnect of Spencer and the Large Business Excellence Award went to the Hillshire Brands Company in Storm Lake.

Six manufacturing firms were also recognized for outstanding collaborative efforts to create educational programs toward a skilled workforce. They include Eaton Corporation, Maurer Manufacturing, Polaris Industries, Rosenboom Machine and Tool, Shine Brothers Corporation and Tecton Industries.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The company that has proposed construction of a new transmission line through Iowa board is waiting for franchise approval from the Iowa Public Utilities Board. The board is now looking for public opinion and comments about the project. The line in question would export electricity generated by Iowa wind turbines to Chicago and points east.

The Rock Island Clean Line filed paperwork with the Iowa Utilities Board early this month, asking for a transmission franchise in Iowa. The company’s transmission line would stretch 500 miles through 16 counties in Iowa, starting in O’Brien County. State utility regulators are being asked to approve the company’s proposed route.

The Rock Island Clean Line is estimated to cost approximately $2 billion, and will have a 3500 megawatt capacity. Some landowners along the route through Iowa have raised concerns about the project. The company will be allowed to use eminent domain to seize property if negotiations with property owners for easement rights fail. A bill that would have set up a new appeal process for those landowners stalled in the Iowa House this past year.

Iowa Utilities Board Spokesman Rob Hillesland says there will likely be an evidentiary hearing at some point. The Iowa Utilities Board says that anyone seeking to file objections and letters of support for the project may do so by using the Iowa Utilities Board’s Electronic Filing System. Hillesland says it’s best if you can tell regulators specifics about why you are for or against the project. For more information, you can go to www.state.ia.us/iub and look for “Rock Island Clean Line LLC.”

MINNESOTA - Two members of Congress from Minnesota say the 700 Minnesota National Guard soldiers being sent to West Africa next spring to help with the fight against the deadly Ebola virus should receive more than $5 a day extra in hardship duty pay.

Reps. Keith Ellison and Collin Peterson, both Democrats, wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Friday urging him to increase the amount of hardship pay those soldiers will receive during their deployment, due to the challenges they will face in Liberia, the Associated Press reports.

The letter says the “arduous conditions” in Liberia qualify the Guard soldiers for extra hardship pay, which is typically implemented for military personnel who are sent to a difficult location or assigned to a particularly dangerous or difficult task. The current monthly rate for hardship duty pay in Liberia is $150, according to the Defense Department. The Secretary of Defense has discretion to increase hardship duty pay to up to $1,500 per month, the letter points out.

The Minnesota soldiers are members of the Rosemount-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, and will be deployed for about six months beginning in April, according to a news release from the Minnesota National Guard.

The soldiers will not be directly involved with treatment of Ebola patients, but will “synchronize the operations, logistics, personnel and resources of the U.S. military forces assigned to the area,” according to the release.

The troops will receive specific medical training and use special protective equipment to protect them from exposure to the virus.

EPA Delays 2014 RFS Ruling Until 2015

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In a document released Friday, November 21st, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it will not release an official final ruling for the Renewable Fuel Standard program prior to the end of 2014.

(Please note this is not the official version of the EPA's submitted document. Official version is pending signature, which will be able to be accessed via this link.)

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa made the following comment on the announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency that it will delay finalization of the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) until 2015.

“The reprieve is mixed news for the farmers and biofuel producers who have responded to the call for more homegrown, renewable energy. The Administration’s ill-conceived proposal would have caused real harm to farmers, producers, and consumers. It would have increased dependence on oil and protected the stranglehold Big Oil has on our country’s fuel supply. Still, the Administration doesn’t deserve praise. Creating uncertainty for everybody who works in this industry isn’t a good way to do business. No one knows what kind of proposal the Administration might offer next year. Uncertainty is the enemy of job creation and investment. Unfortunately, as we also saw with the Keystone XL pipeline, uncertainty, delay and indecision are hallmarks of this Administration on energy policy.”

The National Biodiesel Board released the following statement from Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel following the EPA’s announcement:

"This Administration says over and over that it supports biodiesel, yet its actions with these repeated delays are undermining the industry. Biodiesel producers have laid off workers and idled production. Some have shut down altogether. We know that fuels policy is complex, but there is absolutely no reason that the biodiesel volume hasn't been announced. We are urging the Administration to finalize a 2014 rule as quickly as possible that puts this industry back on track for growth and puts our country back on track for ending our dangerous dependence on oil. We also urge them to move quickly on 2015 so that we don’t repeat this flawed process again next year."

Also in response to the announcement, the American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser highlighted soybean farmer concerns with EPA’s inaction on the issue.

“The continued delays create great uncertainty for the biodiesel industry and soybean farmers and limits the industry’s ability to invest and expand,” said Gaesser.

“The Proposed Rule was unacceptable and would have taken biodiesel backward from the amounts produced and utilized in 2013. However, ASA believes that EPA can and should finalize a 2014 rule that sets the biomass-based diesel volumes at or above the nearly 1.8 billion gallons that were produced and consumed in the U.S. in 2013.” ASA will continue to work with the National Biodiesel Board and industry partners to secure appropriate and beneficial biodiesel RFS volume requirements from EPA and the Administration.”

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) knows these continued delays are incredibly frustrating and we are working with the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and the American Soybean Association (ASA) to make sure the Administration understands the very real damage that this flawed process has caused the biodiesel industry and our national renewable fuels goals.

“The EPA’s ruling is disappointing to say the least,” MSGA President George Goblish said. “It is really too bad that we can’t get answers to a problem that has held back the industry for two years. The Administration continues to tie the hands of farmers on the topic of renewable fuels, which is a shame since biodiesel adds healthful benefits in that it cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions, while providing 73 cents value to every bushel of soybeans sold.”

Obviously, this announcement not only affects those in the bean and biodiesel market, but those in the corn and ethanol industries as well.

he following is a statement from Chip Bowling, Maryland farmer and president of the National Corn Growers Association, in response to today’s EPA announcement related to the Renewable Fuel Standard:

“Today’s announcement by EPA shows the Administration recognizes the proposed rule was inherently flawed and based on an unworkable methodology. We will continue to work with EPA to ensure that the 2014 and 2015 renewable fuel requirements are consistent with what Congress set forth in the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“Congress created the RFS to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and to provide cleaner fuel choices for consumers. We will continue working to defend the interests of corn farmers and consumers by holding EPA accountable for implementing the law as enacted by Congress.

“Corn farmers have produced a second record crop in two years—resulting in corn prices that have fallen below the cost of production in many parts of the country. Our members have been frustrated by the uncertainty and delays surrounding the RFS. When the time came for them to speak up, they did so – loudly and forcefully. Our growers and allies sent the EPA a clear signal when this proposal was first issued, with nearly 200,000 people responding to the public comment opportunity in opposition to the reduction. Nearly 10,000 farmers called the White House directly. We have never before seen so much grassroots interest in a particular issue. Our farmers will continue to raise our voices as necessary in defense of this important policy.”

Deadline for military letters fast approaching for Minnesota Story Stones

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WORTHINGTON – Time is running out for people to submit excerpts from correspondence sent between military members and their families to the Nobles County Veterans Service Office.

Designed to honor the families of active and veteran members of the military, the Minnesota Military Family Tribute will be the first of its kind in the nation. Poised on the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol Mall, the Tribute will thank those who have made, and continue to make, sacrifices here at home.

The Tribute will consist of three main components, including the Story Stones. The Tribute has partnered with county veterans services offices throughout the state to collect correspondence from military families to assist in the creation of the Story Stones. Eighty-seven stones, one for each county in the state, will be arranges as part of the Tribute. Excerpts from the letters will be etched into the stones, providing a window into the lives of military families.

Submissions may be from any timeframe, from the Civil War to current time, and need not be from a conflict. It can be a letter, telegram or video. Only a portion of a sentence will be etched into the stones, capturing stories that depict the lives of military families.

The letters are being collected by County Veteran Service Offices across the state.

To provide a story in Nobles County, please provide the submission to Nobles County Veterans Service Officer Bill Brockberg by noon Wednesday. They can be emailed to bbrockberg@co.nobles.mn.us or for more information contact Brock at 507-295-5292.

November 21 news

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WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Police Department is warning residents of a Microsoft Windows phone call scam. There have been numerous complaints of a caller who tells a resident that they are calling from Microsoft because a virus has been detected on their computer. The caller then asks the resident permission to access the computer to remotely to fix the problem.

Once inside a resident’s computer, the scammer can copy files, install malicious software and gain access to personal information. The most common result is the resident’s computer is infected with a virus from the scammer and the computer is rendered useless, according to the Worthington Police Department. However, the department has seen cases where financial and other pertinent information is gained by the scammer.

Microsoft has no access to anyone’s computer without permission from the computer owner.

If anyone receives this type of call, hang up immediately and report the scam to the Worthington Police Department at 295-5400.

SLAYTON – Hospice of Murray County’s annual tree of Lights lighting ceremony is from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7 at 36 Park Drive in Slayton. Festivities begin at the Hospice of Murray County Office with Horse Drawn Carriage rides, a visit with Santa Claus, cookies, hot chocolate and coffee from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. Rebel Voices will entertain with Christmas Carols beginning at 3 p.m. with the Tree Lighting Ceremony at 3:30 p.m.

SLAYTON – Members of the Slayton Community Band are preparing their annual Christmas Concert, which will be presented Sunday, December 7 at 6:30 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church in Slayton. Selections will include familiar Christmas melodies and traditional carols. A freewill offering will be received to benefit the Murray County Food Shelf.

SLAYTON - Aerators will be in operation beginning on or after Dec. 8th, 2014 on various lakes in Murray County, including Lake Shetek, Bloody Lake, Lake Sarah, First and Second Lakes in Fulda, Lime Lake, Lake Wilson, Lake Louisa and Lake Corabelle.

SPENCER, Iowa - An arrest has been made in connection with a bomb threat Wednesday that resulted in the evacuation of Spencer High School and resulted in officials calling off classes early for the rest of the day. Spencer police say an investigation into the incident has resulted in the arrest of a 16-year-old juvenile male from Spencer on charges of terrorism and arson threats, both Class D felonies.

Authorities say the threat was found on a bathroom wall. An all-clear was given later in the afternoon after a search of the school turned up no explosive devices. The name of the juvenile who was arrested Thursday morning hasn't been released.

Police say they searched the suspect's residence and found no evidence there of a bomb or bomb making supplies. The juvenile has been released to parental custody.

MINNESOTA - Minneapolis will dedicate a street near the new Vikings stadium in honor of former Vikings coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bud Grant.

The Vikings and the city will hold a ceremony on Dec. 1 to rename what currently is Carew Drive on 9th Avenue between 6th and 7th street. Carew Drive, named for Twins great Rod Carew, will become a road near Target Field.

Minneapolis City Council will vote on the name change to make it official Dec. 12.
Grant went 158-96-5 with four Super Bowl appearances in 18 seasons as Vikings coach.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama imposed the most sweeping immigration reform in a generation Thursday, easing the threat of deportation for about 4.7 million undocumented immigrants and setting up a clash with Republicans.

In a White House speech, Obama rejected Republican critics who say his decision to bypass Congress and take executive action is tantamount to amnesty for illegal immigrants and urged them to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has blocked.

Republicans pounced quickly, charging Obama had overstepped his constitutional power a year after declaring he did not have the authority to act on his own.

US Congressman Tim Walz released a statement a short time later admitting that our immigration system is broken and it is the responsibility of Congress to fix it. The Senate has done its part, Walz said, having passed and sent to the House over 500 days ago a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill to secure our borders and give a pathway to citizenship for hardworking families who contribute to our communities. Unfortunately, Walz, stated, Majority leadership in the House refuses to act.

“It is very simple for Congress to override this executive action and provide a check on executive authority; pass a bill. All the House has to do is bring forward the bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate. I urge Majority leadership to take this commonsense action to provide a check on executive authority and fix our broken immigration system.”

With 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, Obama’s plan would let some 4.4 million who are parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents remain in the United States temporarily, without the threat of deportation.

Those undocumented residents could apply legally for jobs and join American society, but not vote or qualify for insurance under the president’s signature health care law. The measure would apply to those who have been in the United States for at least five years.

November 20 news

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ST. PAUL – Minnesota House Speaker-designate Kurt Daudt has appointed State Representative Joe Schomacker of Luverne as Chairman of the newly created Aging & Long-Term Care Policy Committee in the Minnesota House.

Schomacker said the new committee is necessary because there continues to be a crisis within the long term care industry – particularly with its workforce – as more and more baby boomers age and retire.

Schomacker said both Democrats and Republicans have done just enough over the years to say they’ve begun addressing long term care needs, but workers within the industry are still just getting by. The new House leadership recognizes that senior care funding and long-term care regulation issues must be made over the next two years, and he said he looks forward to helping make wholesale improvements.

Long-term care is a top legislative priority for Schomacker, as it is the top employer in House District 22A. At 28 years old, it may not seem obvious for Schomacker to chair a committee dealing with aging. However, Schomacker says his perspective will be to work towards generational improvements in long term care.

Schomacker was recently elected to his 3rd term in the Minnesota House.

FULDA – The 41st annual Holiday Craft Bazaar will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Fulda High School gym in Fulda. The event will offer over 50 vendors who will be exhibiting hand crafted, home party and commercial items. Parking is free and there is no admission charge to those attending The Holiday Craft Bazaar.

Lunch, prepared by members of the American Legion Auxiliary, will be available in the high school cafeteria. The Holiday Craft Bazaar is sponsored by the Fulda Community Club.

PIPESTONE - Over $89,700 in Pipestone County Economic Development Authority (PCEDA) funds remaining after the PCEDA’s dissolution earlier this year will be used for improvements to the Pipestone County Fairgrounds, according to the Pipestone County Star.

Pipestone County Commissioners approved during their Nov. 12 meeting using more than $60,000 in PCEDA funds to offset the cost of a property the county purchased in August just north of the Fairgrounds. The house on the property will be demolished and the lot will be used for added parking, and as a loading and unloading area for animals.

The remaining PCEDA funds and any proceeds from selling office equipment belonging to the PCEDA will be used to build a new food stand at the Fairgrounds that is estimated to cost between $80,000 and $100,000. Pipestone County 4-H has been raising funds to build the new food stand and Jerry Remund, Pipestone County Commissioner and PCEDA executive board member, said the PCEDA executive board decided it would be a suitable use for the remaining funds.

SPENCER, Iowa - At 11:25 a.m. Wednesday, the Spencer High School was evacuated due to a bomb threat on a bathroom wall. All students were bused to an alternative site. Law Enforcement along with school officials searched and cleared the building deeming the building safe at 2:15pm. All students were then bused back to the High School where they were dismissed for the day.

The investigation is ongoing. No arrest has been made at this time.

Responding agencies include the Spencer Police Department, Clay County Sheriff's Office, Iowa State Patrol, Division of Criminal Investigation, Department of Narcotics Enforcement, State Fire Marshall's Office, Clay County Conservation, Spencer Fire Department, and Spencer Public Works.

INWOOD, Iowa — A water main break in a rural water line in western Lyon County caused over fifty people to be without water and closed West Lyon School for the day.
According to Bonnie Koel, Administrative Manager of Lyon-Sioux Rural Water System, it was a break in a main line two miles east of their Klondike water treatment plant. She says it happened after midnight and wasn’t noticed until the morning when customers called in, reporting no water or low pressure.

West Lyon School called early because they had no water and had to make a decision of whether to have classes or not. At that time water crews didn’t know how bad the break was or where it was, so West Lyon made the decision to call off school.

The break was found and was repaired by 10:00 a.m. The water tower east of West Lyon School had been drained, but by noon everything was back to normal she says. The customers affected were in the Inwood and Larchwood rural area.

IOWA - Expect to see more law enforcement on the road over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday period. It's all a part of the Iowa Department of Public Safety and Iowa Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau's "Click it or Ticket" program. The special enforcement campaign will run from Monday, November 24th through November 30th.

Officials say 77 percent of all occupants ejected from a vehicle during a crash are killed. In 2013 Iowa had 317 traffic fatalities with more than 43 percent not restrained. Most local law enforcement agencies will be involved in the special enforcement, along with those in other parts of the state as well.

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa — The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the report of a missing gun, which is thought to have been stolen.

On Monday evening, November 17, the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office investigated a report of theft that occurred from a building near a home two miles west of Sioux Center. Upon further investigation it is thought that someone entered the unlocked building and stole a Uberti model 397 .357 caliber revolver.

Authorities believe the alleged crime occurred sometime in the two weeks prior to November 17. If you have any information about this investigation please contact the sheriff’s office.

November 19 news

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WORTHINGTON – DISTRICT 518 Superintendent John Landgaard shared with the School Board some current and projected enrollment numbers at the district’s three schools during Tuesday night’s meeting, showing without a doubt that the schools are overcrowded.

At Prairie Elementary, which was built to house 1,150 students, there are currently 1,201. Projected for the 2015-16 school year are 1,243, with that number up to approximately 1,274 the following school year.

At the middle school, there are currently 842 students. That is expected to rise to 886 next year and hit 935 by the 2016-17 school year. The capacity of the school is 850.
The high school is meant to house 800 students. Currently, there are 817 enrolled, with that number to go up to 837 next year and projected to be around 870 in 2017.

WORTHINGTON – The Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday authorized Nobles County Community Services (NCCS) to hire a full-time, temporary staff person. That person will be a community outreach worker, bilingual, who will work closely with medical care providers. NCCS Director Stacie Golombiecki said the hope is that within the two-year $75,000 grant program, the position will be self-sustaining.

The commissioners also appointed Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr. to a new Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Aid group at his request. The group will meet Dec. 5 to work on developing a plan for public outreach, monitoring and response for area lakes for both plant and animal invasive species. Nobles County has received one grant, with another $50,000 expected before the end of the year.

The commissioners also made some budget amendments for both expenditures and revenue for 2014 to the tune of about $4.7 million. Some of those expenditures will see payment or refund in 2015, such as the $750,000 loan to the Buffalo Ridge Regional Rail Authority. FEMA payments are still expected. Other projects just went over budget or were unanticipated, such as $115,000 in court-appointed attorney fees, $84,500 for rural signage, $60,000 for bridge work, or $7,000 for a forklift.

WORTHINGTON – During Tuesday morning’s Nobles County Commissioner meeting, Administrator Tom Johnson announced that the application put together by a subcommittee of the Nobles Economic Opportunities Network was selected for the Blandon Broadband Communities program.

According to the Blandin website, 10 new communities were to be selected and the announcement made today. Teams will receive planning and organizing support, and the opportunity to apply for grant funding for locally developed projects that address community identified needs. First-time BBC communities may apply for up to $100,000 in matching funding over a two-year period, with the average amount of grant support anticipated to be $75,000 per community. Being chosen as a Blandin Broadband Community, however, is not a guarantee of grant support.

Nobles County is considered largely underserved when it comes to Internet access. The state standard is a 10-megabyte download speed and a 5-megabyte upload speed. Johnson said Nobles County’s inclusion in the Blandin program will put the county in line to qualify for state grants for broadband.

ST. PAUL – Minnesota House Speaker-elect Kurt Daudt has appointed State Representative Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake) as Chairman of the Minnesota House Agriculture Finance Committee.

Hamilton said he is excited and humbled by this appointment and cannot wait to get to work for our farmers and residents in Greater Minnesota, adding that for the past two years ag and rural interests have been treated as an afterthought in state government, but that is about to change.

Hamilton said the Minnesota House Agriculture Finance Committee oversees and funds all state agriculture programs, including the budget of the Department of Agriculture. It will also work closely with two new Minnesota House committees – Agriculture Policy and Greater Minnesota Economic and Workforce Development Policy – to further prioritize the needs of farmers as well as workers and job providers in rural Minnesota.

Hamilton was recently elected to his 6th term in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He previously served as chairman of the Minnesota House ag finance committee in 2011 and 2012.

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa - Crews are putting the finishing touches on Spirit Lake's new city hall. City offices are closed today to allow workers to move into the new facility. They plan to start conducting business out of the new city hall on Thursday.

An open house and ribbon cutting is slated for 3:30 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, November 25.
A new flag pole in front of the building was made possible through donations of the families of the late Duane and Lois Yager. Duane was a longtime Police Chief for the city and Lois worked in city offices a number of years. Recognition will also be given to Early Maahs for his many years of service as City Attorney.

The first city council meeting in the new city hall will be held later that afternoon at 5:30 p.m.

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa — A house received extensive damage in a fire early on Tuesday near Sioux Center.

According to Sioux Center Fire Chief Dave Van Holland, at about 5:40 a.m., the Sioux Center Fire Department was called to the report of house fire at 3987 Ibex Avenue, two miles east of Sioux Center. Van Holland reports that Chris Whitaker, who lived in the home was injured when he fell on the ice outside the home. He was taken to Sioux Center Health.

Van Holland says the cause of the fire was electrical malfunction and there was extensive damage.

The Sioux Center Fire Department was assisted by Hull Fire Department.

SIBLEY, Iowa — A Sibley man has been sentenced to two years in prison on a number of charges after an arrest in Sibley.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that 37-year-old Samuel Henry Seivert of Sibley pled guilty to Driving While Barred as a Habitual Offender, an Aggravated Misdemeanor; Possession of a Controlled Substance (Marijuana), Third or Subsequent Offense, an Aggravated Misdemeanor; and Failure to Appear, a Serious Misdemeanor.

He was sentenced to the custody of the Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections for a term not to exceed two years on the driving while barred and possession of marijuana charges. On the failure to appear charge, he was sentenced to one year.
However, the sentences for all three charges will be served concurrently and also concurrent to the sentence for a Dickinson County case.