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January 23 news

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WORTHINGTON - The Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors will host its annual membership meeting Thursday at the Worthington Event Center.

The meeting’s featured presenter is Brian Pellowski, president of PBK Investments, a Minnetonka-based development company. Pellowski is expected to share his plans for commercial and retail investments in Worthington, including his proposed redevelopment of the Northland Mall site.

The annual meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. with social hour, followed by dinner and the presentation program. For more information, contact the WREDC at 372-5515.

WORTHINGTON — Wind development has grown into a significant industry for the Nobles and Jackson County area. Revenue from the Wind Energy Production Tax this year was already 10 times higher than it was a decade earlier. Over that same period, more than $27.9 million has been paid to counties, townships and schools in the Nobles County and Jackson County area, including $8.9 million to those units in Nobles and Jackson counties alone.

New wind development has brought significant revenue into area communities, helped create new jobs and, increasingly, put downward pressure on energy prices.

This year is likely to include several key milestones for the Wind Energy Production Tax. Not only will total payments to local units eclipse $50 million, but payments in 2015 alone will exceed $10 million for the first time.

LAKEFIELD - New Jackson County 4-H families or those interested in learning about 4-H are encouraged to attend a new member orientation on February 7th. The event will be from 10:30am to noon at the Lakefield Multi-Purpose Building.

This informal meeting for both youth and parents include information on project ideas, 4-H, county fairs, and much more. Youth activities will be led by Ambassadors while an informational meeting is being held for adults.

Please RSVP to the Jackson County Extension Office at 507-662-5293 by February 6th.

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa - A physical altercation with a woman has resulted in charges against a Spirit Lake man. 38-year-old Jeremy Wohlert is charged with domestic assault with the display or use of a weapon, child endangerment causing bodily injury, false imprisonment, obstruction of emergency communications and 5th degree criminal mischief.

A criminal complaint says Wohlert allegedly had two kitchen knives in each of his hands and told the woman to come over. He then allegedly slit his throat. Wohlert is also accused of striking a child in the face during an argument.

Wohlert was booked into the Dickinson County Jail on an $8,000 cash or surety bond.

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa - A Spirit Lake man is accused in court documents of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl. 18-year-old Corey Shanley faces three charges of of 3rd degree sexual abuse. Shanley is accused of having sexual relations with the girl three different times between December 5th of last year and January 6th. The charges are class "C" felonies.
Larchwood, Iowa — The Grand Falls Casino agreed to a $20,000 fine on Thursday for an illegal gambling violation at the facility near Larchwood.

According to Iowa Racing and Gaming administrator Brian Ohorilko, a minor entered the gaming floor unchallenged on December 14, was on the gaming floor for 30 minutes and had gambled.

Casino General Manager Sharon Hasselhoff apologized to the Racing and Gaming Commission, stating they take the situation and their jobs very seriously, and they did not ID this guest as they should have, adding there is no excuse. She said they have taken steps to ensure it does not happen again, using the opportunity to do a significant amount of retraining of employees.

Ohorilko says the $20,000 penalty is standard for underage gambling violations. He says Grand Falls has a very good record and has not had any other recent violations.

BOYDEN, Iowa — Authorities are now saying the fire on Friday and the explosion on Monday at the same location near Boyden were unrelated. Both happened at 3768 360th Street, seven miles southwest of Boyden.

Boyden Fire Chief Galen Blankers says that the fire that was reported on Friday, January 16, in the 7 p.m. hour, started in the center of the section that was destroyed and was caused by an undetermined ignition source. This fire has been ruled accidental and remains under investigation.

Meanwhile, the explosion and fire that was reported on Monday, January 19, in the 2 p.m. hour was determined to be a methane explosion with an undetermined ignition source. That explosion and fire were also found to be accidental and the incident remains under investigation.

January 22 news

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WORTHINGTON – An early morning work session of the Worthington City Council addressed two subjects on Wednesday – a rundown on the funding both spent and remaining from the sale of the hospital and a look at the future direction of the U.S. 59 Industrial Park.

According to a spreadsheet presented by Finance Director Brian Kolander, there is just short of $12 million left of the funds, which includes monies already committed to future projects and loan repayments that will come back to the city. Approximately $10.7 million of the funds are cash.

Mayor Mike Kuhle said the council needs to give some thought to what should be done with the funds – whether some should be put into an account that can’t be touched or moved around. Council member Scott Nelson said he would like to see some of the money put into economic development, a statement council member Diane Graber said she concurred with, as long as a definition of economic development was agreed upon. Her comment arose from a section of the spreadsheet in which she said a section titled Economic Development seemed to be a ‘catch-all’ without any indication of how the projects affected any significant development in the city.

The discussion regarding the industrial park on Highway 59 came at the request of WREDC Director Abraham Algadi, who has asked that the city initiate a planning process for the west side of the park, taking a proactive approach to infrastructure needs.
Algadi said he would like to see the city get the process moving on all fronts, including platting, feasibility studies, engineering, land use and planning.

The two sites Algadi focused on are located to the west of the Travel Lodge and to the north of the Travel Lodge, which means one hurdle that will have to be jumped is the question of access. One option includes putting in a road – an extension of Bioscience Drive - which requires drainage and other infrastructure.

Although the council took no action, Director of Engineering Duane Haffield will start working on a proposal. Haffield said all of the work in this area has been done previously with Bolton and Menk, so he will contact them regarding the proposal and any studies.

WINDOM - A pair of security cameras will be added to the Cottonwood County District courtroom and two more will be installed in the Court Administration lobby in the near future.

At this week's regular meeting, Cottonwood County commissioners approved a plan to purchase and install the cameras. The total cost of the project is estimated at $7,375.
PIPESTONE - After almost three years of clean inspections every six months, bedbugs have been found again at Nokomis Apartments in Pipestone, according to Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Executive Director Tammy Manderscheid.

Two apartments will be heat-treated for the pest, with a third apartment and the 12th floor TV room treated as a precautionary measure.

The first bedbug infestation in Nokomis occurred in 2011. The bugs were found after a tenant moved out and the staff cleaned out the apartment. A bed, which had been left in the apartment, was covered with the pests. The HRA eradicated the insects for a period of time. In 2012, the HRA decided to have a bedbug sniffing dog come through the apartment complex every six months to sniff for bedbugs and bedbug eggs.

The dog is highly successful at discovering the pest, but sometimes struggles if other odors are present. Manderscheid hopes that the precautionary treatments of the TV room and additional apartment will eliminate the pests from the building. Bedbug infestations have been on the rise across the country.

BOYDEN, Iowa - Authorities say a man has been seriously injured after an explosion at a hog confinement building in northwestern Iowa.

Scott Mulder, age 34, was badly burned Monday when an explosion occurred at the building, about seven miles southwest of Boyden. He was transported to a local hospital before being flown to a burn unit in Minneapolis.

Officials say Mulder had been unloading a feeder into the building when the explosion took place.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation.

January 21 news

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WORTHINGTON – Discussion regarding the Minnesota Southern Railway became heated Tuesday morning during the Nobles County Commissioner meeting when members of the public were allowed the opportunity to question Brent Polancheck, the owner of the 42 mile short-line rail road.

Polancheck leases the approximately 42 miles of short-line rail from the Buffalo Ridge Regional Rail Authority at a cost of $1 per year — a price contracted in 2013 to remain in effect for 25 years. At the heart of the anger against his railway by the community is the lack of maintenance, followed by accusations of broken promises and lies. Those who spoke against him at the meeting said he has made promises to remove ties and clean up ditches before, to no avail.

Polanchek, who was in front of the board for an informational update only, had told commissioners he would have all of the ties cleaned up and ditches repaired that were caused because of the June flooding by the end of summer.

Another issue is the Frosty Riders groomed trail that has run along the railroad track for years. Polanchek said his insurance company has informed him it is a liability that will no longer be allowed. Scott Junker of the Frosty Riders argued that since the land is owned by the county and leased to Polancheck, it should be their decision to make, but Polancheck said that it is not the case. It is his decision, he said, and unless something changes with his insurance company, there will be no snowmachining on his rail property.

WORTHINGTON – During a meeting of the District 518 School Board, a memorandum of understanding was approved between the district and Minnesota West Community and Technical College for the school’s CNA nursing course. The course is offered at the high school for college credit. Superintendent John Landgaard said the program began three years ago with 16 students. The enrollment has now increased enough to warrant three sections of the course with nearly 60 students.

There was also discussion about a weight room supervisor. Currently, coaches or other staff have filled the role, but having dedicated personnel during the sports seasons will allow students more access to the facilities. Landgaard said the hours would likely be 3-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. At this time, the weight room would only be accessible during the regular school year, however, in the future, the district might consider having the facilities available to students over summer break. The position will be reviewed after one year to see if it is warranted.

JACKSON - The Jackson County Sheriff's Office is investigating a break-in at Minnesota West Community and Technical College – Jackson Campus last week. On Monday, January 12, suspects gained entrance into the college through a rear door. Once inside the college, they broke into an ATM machine. An undetermined amount of cash was taken from the machine. Anyone with any information is urged to contact the Jackson County Sheriff's Office at 507-847-4420.

SHELDON, Iowa - A single vehicle crash Monday on Highway 60 north of Sheldon seriously injured several people from Worthington. The O'Brien County Sheriff's Office says 33-year-old Abraham Ramos of Worthington was driving a 2007 Chrysler van when he lost control on the ice-covered road. The vehicle crossed the median and rolled, ejecting one of three passengers. That person was identified as 59-year-old Pedro Magana of Worthington. He was transferred to Mercy Hospital in Sioux City.

Two other passengers, 37-year-old Savina Ramos and 23-year-old Alex Ramirez-Sandoval, both of Worthington, were both taken to the Sheldon Hospital.

The driver of the vehicle told authorities he was attempting to slow down for a semi that was ahead of him when he lost control. Abraham Ramos was charged with not having a driver's license and no insurance.

The crash took place around 6:30 a.m. Freezing rain was falling at the time.
BALATON - Ralco, an agriculture company based in Marshall, has won its bid to license Texas A&M University’s new shrimp farming technology, which would make it possible to produce 1 million pounds of shrimp per acre of water, anywhere – even far from the ocean in Minnesota, a news release said.

Researchers say this technology will ultimately reduce the price of shrimp, which is good for consumers.

Ralco is currently working on developing the technology on a commercial level at its shrimp pilot research facility in Balaton. Eventually the company hopes to make it available to producers, according to the release.

Because companies won’t have to get shrimp from halfway around the world, they’ll be able to market shrimp at more competitive prices. That’s something Michael Ziebell, the general manager of Ralco’s shrimp division, says will lead to more people eating shrimp.

This new technology is also expected to be quite lucrative for the economy. AgriNews noted one acre of the aquaculture system could have a $25 million impact. The system would also benefit soybean growers – one of Minnesota’s largest crops – because about one-third of a shrimp’s diet would be soybean meal.

SPENCER, Iowa - New Fashion Pork has apparently withdrawn its application to build a 4,400 head hog operation on the Iowa/Minnesota border in Superior Township, in the far northeastern corner of Dickinson county.

Assistant County Attorney Lonnie Saunders said he was notified by a staff member of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' Spencer Field Office that New Fashion Pork has requested it's permit application be withdrawn.

The application drew considerable opposition at public hearings the Dickinson County Board of Supervisors conducted in December. Opponents sounded off on concerns over the environment, possible manure runoff into tile lines that drain into the Des Moines River, property values and other issues. The board of supervisors then voted in favor of disapproving the Master Matrix scoring that was used in the site selection process. They sent a letter last week to the DNR urging the agency to reject the proposed operation.

LITTLE ROCK, Iowa - On January 17 at approximately 5 a.m., The Lyon County Sheriff's Office received a report that a female subject had been assaulted at 308 Clothier Street in Little Rock, IA. After interviewing the female victim, deputies went to 308 Clothier Street and arrested Scott Thomas Nasers Jr, age 25, of Allendorf, without incident. Nasers was charged with Domestic Abuse Assault, an Aggravated Misdemeanor.

MINNESOTA - State health officials want to know how many Minnesotans want medical marijuana and where they live.

The state has struggled to answer those questions ahead of the new program’s launch in July. The Minnesota Department of Health thinks they’ll have about 5,000 patients but other estimates put it at 15,000 or more.

The health department released an electronic survey Tuesday to gather information from interested Minnesotans. It’s available until Feb. 6.

Results from that survey may be used tweak possible locations for the eight dispensaries scattered across the state. The state’s two manufacturers have tentatively proposed dispensary sites in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Eagan, Maple Grove, St. Cloud, Hibbing, Rochester and Moorhead.

Lawmakers legalized medical marijuana for a handful of conditions like cancer, HIV and AIDS last year.

January 20 news

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WORTHINGTON – During the week of January 25 through the 31, St. Mary’s School, along with Catholic Schools around the nation, will be celebrating Catholic Schools Week. Each day has a special theme, such as Sports Day, Ignore Winter Day, Hat and Shades Day and more.

From Friday, January 23 through Friday, February 27, St. Mary’s is participating in the 2015 Catholic Schools Raffle, sponsored by Catholic United Financial. A $5 ticket could give a lucky winner the chance to win a 2015 Ford Escape or $25,000 cash and help raise money for the school. Catholic United covers the cost of the raffle, so the school gets to keep every penny of every ticket they sell. Contact any St. Mary’s student or the school office to purchase a ticket.

St. Mary’s School has been an important part of the community of Worthington for 64 years and has provided a Christ-centered education for thousands of children. The school would like to invite the community to a Barbecue and Bars supper and Talent Show on Wednesday, January 28 at 5 p.m. A free will offering will be taken.

For more information about the event, the raffle or the school, call 376-5236.

WINDOM — The Windom Chordhustler Chorus is sponsoring its 11th annual Youth In Harmony Festival Saturday at the Business, Arts and Recreation Center in Windom. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., and at 9 a.m. the students will begin working on music with the clinicians. Medallion, a Sweet Adelines quartet from the Twin Cities, will work with the girls, while Grand Design, a men’s barbershop quartet, will work with the boys.

A concert will be at 4 p.m. Saturday at the BARC, featuring the Windom Chordhustler Chorus, Medallion, Grand Design, Young Men In Harmony, Young Women in Harmony and a mass chorus as the finale.

The event is sponsored by the Robert and Helen Remick Foundation and Harmony Foundation.

PIPESTONE – The Pipestone County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Minnesota State Patrol during a crash Monday morning around 9:30 a.m. on Highway 75 just south of Lake Benton, when 50-year-old Steve Horsman of Luverne lost control of his 2002 Ford Super Duty pickup pulling a horse trailer and ran off the road, rolling his truck. The roadway was icy at the time of the crash, and Horsman received non-life threatening injuries. He was taken to the Pipestone County Hospital. His truck received moderate damage.

LITTLE ROCK, Iowa – Little Rock Community Foods in Little Rock, Iowa will be having a fish fry from 5 to 7 p.m. January 31st serving deep fried fish, coleslaw, baby red potatoes and a beverage, all for a free will donation. All proceeds will be going toward the purchase of a new produce cooler. The Town Country Club will be serving the event. This is also a kick-off to the Town & County raffle. $3,500 in raffle prizes will be given away. Proceeds from the raffle will also be going toward produce cooler.

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa - A welfare check on a vehicle early Saturday in Lyon County resulted in charges of minor in possession being filed against four people under the age of 21.

The Lyon County Sheriff's Office says it happened around 2 a.m. when a deputy came upon a vehicle at the junction of County Road A-34 and Highway 75 about five miles south of Rock Rapids. A passenger was standing outside the car and a second passenger had her door open.

Upon conducting a welfare check of those in the vehicle, the deputy discovered all four passengers were under the age of 21 and had allegedly been consuming alcohol. The driver, who was also under 21, was not drinking. 19-year-old Jessica Mehls of Sibley, along with three juveniles, were cited for possession of alcohol under the legal age. The juveniles were referred to juvenile court.

SPENCER, Iowa - A traffic stop Sunday evening in Clay County resulted in drug charges against a Spencer woman. The Clay County Sheriff's Office says a deputy pulled over a vehicle around 6:30 p.m. in the 3800 block of Highway 71 after observing an alleged traffic violation.

Upon investigating, it was determined the driver, 49-year-old Raymond Palmer of Spencer, had allegedly been driving with a suspended license. A passenger, 50-year-old Pamela Kohl of Spencer, was found to be in possession of what is alleged to be marijuana. Both were arrested and booked into jail. Palmer was charged with driving while suspended and Kohl was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

HARRIS, Iowa — A Milford man has been charged with drug offenses after he was arrested near Harris. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 2:20 a.m. Sunday, one of their deputies arrested 21-year-old Brandon Michael Koch of Milford. The arrest stemmed from a traffic stop on Highway 9 east of Harris.

Koch was charged with the alleged Possession of a Controlled Substance, Marijuana, a Serious Misdemeanor; and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, a Simple Misdemeanor. Koch was transported to the Osceola County Jail and was later released on bond.

BOYDEN, Iowa — A hog confinement near Boyden sustained about $750,000 in damages in a fire on Friday night.

The Boyden Fire Department reports that they received the call for a structure fire at 7:05 PM Friday night. The fire occurred at 3768 360th Street, seven miles southwest of Boyden.

Upon arrival, firefighters found a hog confinement with heavy smoke coming from inside. The building contained 2,800 pigs. One of the four 75-foot by 125-foot sections of the building was fully engulfed in flames. Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire after about three hours. There were no pigs in that particular room at the time of the fire.

At this time there has not been a loss of any of the animals, but fire officials say the the building sustained about $750,000 in damages.

Boyden Ambulance personnel, the Hull Fire Department, Hull Ambulance personnel, fire departments from Orange City and Sioux Center, and the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Boyden Fire Department on the scene.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Boyden Fire Department and the Iowa State Fire Marshal.

EMMETSBURG, Iowa - A Graettinger man wanted on a valid warrant charging him with burglary in the 3rd degree was arrested over the weekend. Palo Alto county authorities say 52-year-old Todd Friesner was arrested shortly after 7:00 p.m. Sunday. Friesner was booked into jail on a $2,500 bond.

Burglary in the 3rd degree is a class "D" felony.

MCGA President Responds to Buffer Strips Proposal

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SHAKOPEE, Minn. (Jan. 16, 2015) – The following is a statement from Bruce Peterson, a farmer in Northfield and President of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, on Gov. Dayton’s plan to propose 50-feet of buffer strips along all Minnesota waterways:

"By investing $4 million annually in third-party research through institutions like the University of Minnesota, and by supporting initiatives such as Discovery Farms, Minnesota corn farmers have taken the lead on issues related to agricultural water quality and wildlife habitat. We look forward to reviewing Gov. Dayton's buffer proposal when more details are made available. As a farmer in Northfield, I'm one of about 25,000 Minnesota corn farmers who contributes his or her own money through a voluntary check-off to support meaningful and productive efforts to take care of the land we farm and nearby waterways. We're proud of our past conservation leadership and improvements, and we'll continue working to be even better in the future."

Speaking at a Department of Natural Resources conference Friday, Dayton said 50-foot buffer zones along lakes and other waterways should be standard in Minnesota, and that the requirement would reduce water pollution and increase wildlife habitat, particularly for pheasants, the Associated Press reports.

The AP says buffer zones of grass or other vegetation are already required on some of the state’s waters, but enforcement at the local level has been spotty.

Dayton’s proposal would stiffen penalties for failing to keep a buffer zone and would turn enforcement over to the DNR, possibly using aerial inspections. The governor expects revenue from fines would balance the cost of additional enforcement.

Last month Dayton led a summit meeting in Marshall to look at ways to reverse Minnesota’s declining pheasant population. Buffer zones around rivers, streams, and lakes topped the list of suggestions.

January 19 news

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WORTHINGTON – In observance of Martin Luther King Day, all city, county and state government offices are closed today, including the law enforcement center at Prairie Justice Center. The Nobles County Library is closed. The Worthington Post Office is closed and delivery routes are not running. Outgoing mail will leave by 2 p.m.

Most Worthington financial institutions will be closed today, with the exception of First State Bank Southwest and Rolling Hills Bank and Trust.

Worthington Municipal Liquor Store will observe regular hours, as will the grocery stores and garbage collection.

WORTHINGTON – Julie Wellnitz has announced her resignation as the Nobles County Library Director. Her final day is February 20. She has taken a position as the program manager for media and information services for Moorhead Public Schools, where she begins March 2.

During her three and a half years at the Nobles County Library, Wellnitz has seen the addition of eBooks and eReaders, helped establish the Nobles County Library Foundation, and with the Friends of the Library group, she and library staff continued to provide valuable children’s programs and replaced hundreds of worn-out library materials.

ADRIAN - The Adrian American Legion is looking for younger men to bring into the organization to become charter members of their proposed Sons of the American Legion chapter.

The Adrian American Legion has about 80 members. To form a Sons of the American Legion squadron, there needs to be at least 10 individuals willing to sign up as charter members. Bob Wolf is hoping to spread the word and give all sons and grandsons of Legion and Legion-eligible men a chance to be charter members.

Wolf said the role of SAL members is to help support the Legion with various functions, from assisting with military honors at funerals to marching as the Honor Guard in parades. There is no age requirement for an individual to become a member of the Sons of the American Legion, and there is an annual membership fee. Wolf said anyone who is interested in being a member of the SAL should contact him or Curt Hendel prior to their next meeting. The plan is to develop the list of charter members at Adrian’s Feb. 11 Legion meeting.

For more information about joining the Adrian Sons of the American Legion, contact Bob Wolf at (507) 920-5155 or Curt Hendel at (507) 920-5980.

FAIRMONT - Fairmont Foods plans to close in March, putting 167 employees out of work. The frozen meal maker cites the recent economic climate and says the company is unable to recover and continue operations.

Fairmont City Administrator Mike Humpal says he was "shocked as anybody" about the announcement. Fairmont Mayor Randy Quiring says company officials told him declining business was to blame. The packaged food industry has been struggling with sluggish demand.

The fate of the company's building is unclear, but Quiring says his main concern is helping the company's employees find new jobs in the area.

Fairmont Foods began operations more than 25 years ago on the site of a former Armour Frozen Foods plant that Conagra closed.

WAHPETON, Iowa - Sketchy ice conditions have forced organizers to relocate another Winter Games event. It was announced Friday the People's Environmental Art Project is being moved off the ice and will instead be held in a field next to the First Lutheran Church in West Okoboji. The design, a snail, will remain the same, and an aerial photo will still be taken. Participants are asked to gather at the field, at 11 a.m. Saturday.

ROCK VALLEY, Iowa — A Rock Valley man’s conviction on charges of Attempted Murder and Voluntary Manslaughter was affirmed by the Iowa Court of Appeals.

Sixty-four-year-old Philip Ter Maat was accused of killing his wife Melinda in 2002. Her body was found along a recreation trail in Rock Valley.

Ter Maat plea bargained a murder charge down to Attempt to Commit Murder and Voluntary Manslaughter, and did not appeal his conviction or the sentence.
However, in 2010 he filed a motion for correction of an illegal sentence, claiming that the two convictions violated the state’s “one death, one homicide” rule. The appellate court disagreed.

The judges ruled an “Attempt To Commit Murder” is not a homicide offence, it is only an attempt to commit homicide. The court drew a definition for homicide from a 2009 case that said that homicide is the killing of one person by another. Since “Attempt to Commit Murder” does not result in the killing of another person, they reasoned that it is not a homicide offense, anallowing Ter Maat’s conviction to stand.

MINNESOTA - Gov. Mark Dayton says 50-foot buffer zones along lakes and other waterways should be standard in Minnesota.

Speaking at a Department of Natural Resources conference Friday, Dayton said the requirement would reduce water pollution and increase wildlife habitat, particularly for pheasants, the Associated Press reports.

The AP says buffer zones of grass or other vegetation are already required on some of the state’s waters, but enforcement at the local level has been spotty.

Dayton’s proposal would stiffen penalties for failing to keep a buffer zone and would turn enforcement over to the DNR, possibly using aerial inspections. The governor expects revenue from fines would balance the cost of additional enforcement.

Last month Dayton led a summit meeting in Marshall to look at ways to reverse Minnesota’s declining pheasant population. Buffer zones around rivers, streams, and lakes topped the list of suggestions.

Rep. Hamilton anticipates good year for agriculture in 2015

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ST. PAUL – State Representative Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake) said the first hearings for the Minnesota House Agriculture Finance Committee have taken place, and he is pleased with how the committee has taken shape.

“I’m honored to be the ag finance chair, and I believe this is the most bipartisan, diverse, geographically balanced group we’ve had during my tenure in the Minnesota House,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said this session’s ag finance committee, traditionally made up solely of rural Minnesota lawmakers, includes a number of lawmakers from the Metro Area and inner cities. He said he is thrilled to work with Twin Cities representatives and help them with urban ag initiatives this year.

“I have one rule as chairman, and that is we will not tear down one segment of agriculture in order to promote another,” Hamilton said. “Agriculture impacts everyone whether they live in Minneapolis or Worthington, and we will recognize that in this committee.”

Hamilton said the ag finance committee will try something new this year by honoring a Minnesotan works in the field of agriculture. This year’s first honoree was a Farmer’s Union lobbyists who not only made an impact with his support of youth in agriculture programs, but also has helped children with disabilities and wounded warriors through horse therapy.

“This is a special thing we want to do to begin each meeting to encourage and recognize those who do so much for agriculture across the State of Minnesota,” Hamilton said. “Agriculture is a noble profession that does much for many people, and that’s something none of us should ever forget.”

Martin Luther King Day observances

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WORTHINGTON – In observance of Martin Luther King Day, all city, county and state government offices will be closed Monday, including the law enforcement center at Prairie Justice Center. The Nobles County Library will be closed. The Worthington Post Office will be closed and delivery routes will not be running. Outgoing mail will leave by 2 p.m.

Most Worthington financial institutions will be closed Monday, with the exception of First State Bank Southwest and Rolling Hills Bank and Trust.

Worthington Municipal Liquor Store will observe regular hours, as will the grocery stores and garbage collection.

January 16 news

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WORTHINGTON – There is a Lady Jays Softball Fundraiser from 5 to 8 p.m. today at the Elks Lodge in Worthington, serving pork chops, potatoes, corn and a roll for $10 per person. Also available for the kids are hot dogs and French fries for $5. Call 507-360-6638 for advance tickets or purchase them at the door.

WORTHINGTON – The Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting is fast approaching. This year’s event will take place Friday, Jan. 23 at the Worthington Event Center. Social hour begins at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. and the program at 8 p.m.

Outgoing Chairperson Randy Thompson will hand over the gavel to incoming Chairperson Amber Luinenberg, and presentations will be made of three awards – Community Service, Hospitality and the Friends of Education – followed by some entertainment.

To register for the event or for more information, call the Chamber at 372-2919.

SLAYTON - The Friends of the Slayton Public Library are once again hosting the annual Chocolate Affaire’ fundraising event on Friday, February 13, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the historic Dinehart/ Holt house in Slayton. As in past years, there will be a silent auction as well as a variety of fudge available for purchase at the fundraiser.

At this time, the group is seeking donations for the auction as well as commitments for providing fudge. Examples of things sought for the auction include new craft items, books, gift certificates, apparel, gift baskets and other interesting gift items.

For more information or to drop off your donation and sign up to provide fudge, please stop at the Slayton library. The Chocolate Affaire’ is one of the Friends biggest fundraising events of the year and those in attendance are treated to a wide array of delectable chocolate goodies. In addition to the treats and silent auction, there will be live musical performances throughout the event.

ST. PAUL - Minnesota ranks third in the nation in the number of counties that have recovered from the recession, according to a report from the National Association of Counties (NACO).

Nine Minnesota counties, all located in Greater Minnesota and two of those in southwest Minnesota, have met or surpassed prerecession levels according to the study. The report measures recovery based on four categories; jobs, unemployment rate, economic output, and home prices.

According to the study, Jackson and Murray Counties in southwest Minnesota; Clay, Marshall, Pennington and Polk counties in northwest Minnesota; and Pope, Stevens and Wilkin counties in west central Minnesota have met or passed prerecession levels in the four categories. Only 65 of over 3,000 counties nationwide have done so. Oil boom states Texas and North Dakota top the list with 24 and 16 counties respectively, followed by Minnesota’s nine counties. Kansas has eight, Montana three, Iowa and Alaska each have two and South Dakata and South Carolina each one.

APPLETON — The upcoming “Postcards” program scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 25 will include a segment on the documentary about children in Worthington being united with their grandparents in Guatemala.

The program begins by telling the story of how critically acclaimed Guatemalan film director Luis Argueta found his way to Worthington to make “Abrazos,” a movie about a group of U.S. citizen children who traveled 3,000 miles to Guatemala to meet their grandparents for the first time. Argueta was inspired to make the film after he learned about Familias Juntas, a local organization dedicated to the unification of families divided by the current U.S. immigration system.

Catalina Martin, Amy and Jessica Ventura and Eugenio Lopez are interviewed about the film and what it was like to travel to Guatemala to meet family members.

The award-winning “Postcards” is a weekly art, culture and history program featuring the people and communities of western and southwest Minnesota. The 30-minute episode will be repeated at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 26 and 7 p.m. Jan. 29. The program will also be available for online viewing on the morning of Jan. 26 through www.pioneer.org/postcards.

MILFORD, Iowa - A construction accident Wednesday at the GF Land Storage facility on the north edge of Milford injured four men.

Milford police say officials were called to the scene around 3 p.m. Police Chief Vernon Flack said four men were in a lift basket about five feet off the ground when the man driving the machine hit the brakes. Flack says the basket wasn't properly strapped down, causing it to fall four to five feet.

Injured were Hector Vasquez who sustained a lower back and left leg injury; Joaquin Lopez who sustained a head, facial and back injuries; Alberto Ohilel who complained of lower back pain; and Filberto Martinez who sustained injuries to his left wrist and leg. All were transported by ambulance to Lakes Regional Healthcare. One of the men was reportedly transferred to another hospital by Life Flight helicopter.

Flack says they aren't sure where the men are from. He says it's believed the company they were working for is from Estherville. He says they were in the process of putting a roof on a building.

Milford police were assisted by Lakes Regional Healthcare ambulances and paramedics; the Terril ambulance; the Milford Fire Department; Arnolds Park Fire and Rescue; the Okoboji and Arnolds Park Police Departments and the Dickinson County Sheriff's office.

ESTHERVILLE, Iowa - Estherville police say they've arrested and charged a suspect in connection with the alleged assault of a woman on Monday.

Officers were called shortly after 10:30 a.m. Monday to an address on Central Avenue regarding a woman who wanted to report an assault. Upon arrival, police determined the woman needed medical attention for her injuries.

Officers determined the woman was allegedly assaulted at a residence on South 7th Street by her boyfriend, identified as 31-year-old Jossie Ortiz-Milian of Estherville. Ortiz-Milian allegedly choked the woman and threatened to stab her with a knife.

Police obtained and executed a search warrant at 716 Central Avenue, apartment 3, where Ortiz-Milian was located. He was placed under arrest without incident and was charged with burglary in the 1st degree, a class "B" felony, and domestic abuse assault, an aggravated misdemeanor.

Ortiz-Milian was booked into the Emmet county jail on a $25,000 cash only bond. Estherville police say additional charges are pending.