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October 22 news

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WORTHINGTON – The Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday authorized Steve Johnson of Vetter Johnson Architects to move forward with the redesign for the stairs at the Nobles County Government Center before sending the project out to bid.

The process will involve adding plexiglass to the inner stairwells, covering the stair treads, peeling up some tiles in the lobby, adding a moisture barrier or insulation in some areas and shirring in others. While Johnson had no inkling of an estimate on the job, according to board chair Marv Zylstra, “it looks spendy.”

The authorization for the project came just a few items down the agenda past the approval of a motion to have the fencing in front of the government center powder-coated, at an estimated $10,000. County Administrator Tom Johnson said the fence is rusting in spots and broken in others. The fence will be removed and repaired, sand-blasted, powder-coated and baked at a cost of $300 to $350 per section.
Commissioner Matt Widboom pointed out that would be a perfect time to re-evaluate the landscaping around the building.

The cost of beautifying the fence and grounds, the commissioners decided, could be moved into the 2015 budget. They opted to work out the details at a later date.

The commissioners voted to spend approximately $1,500 boarding up two tax-forfeited properties in the city of Ellsworth, hoping to keep critters and people out over the winter before the buildings can be demolished or sold. The two Ellsworth properties have belonged to Nobles County since June of 2012. Nobles County Auditor-Treasurer Beth Van Hove said there are currently 23 tax-forfeited properties on the books. She is currently working her way through the many stepped process so some of the properties can be auctioned off.

WORTHINGTON – The papers are signed and it is official – after working as the Worthington City Administrator since 2008, Craig Clark is leaving for a position in Austin. He turned in his resignation with the city of Worthington first thing Tuesday morning, and later admitted it was bittersweet.

You look forward and you look back, too, he said, adding that there have been a lot of good things in Worthington. There will be differences in his new city – no golf course or liquor store to oversee, but a library under the city’s control and a population that is about double that of Worthington’s.

For the next few weeks, Clark will be focused on business as usual in some respects, but he’ll also be thinking about packaging everything off for handing it off to someone else – taking care of loose ends, bringing small projects to a conclusion, and summing up the larger projects for whoever steps into the position.

While it will be up to the council to make decisions on how that position is filled, Clark said he will be there to provide advice and information as they need it.

While there are new challenges he anticipates in Austin, Clark admit there are a few things he will miss not being a part of in Worthington, such as the growth of the commercial park on I-90 and Hwy 59, and the mall redevelopment. Both are projects he has worked to move forward and wishes he could see to completion.

Of Worthington in general, Clark said he has never seen a harder working community, which has always impressed him. He thanked the mayor, the council, and the staff and said he appreciated being part of the team.

WORTHINGTON – Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark officially handed in his resignation Tuesday, which means the city will now begin the search for someone to fill the position. According to Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh, the first step is to meet as a council and decide whether they whire a firm or advertise the position.

Oberloh said Clark has kept them filled in on his negotiations with the city of Austin since he began speaking with them, just as he did the other two times he was a finalist for a different position, once with the city of West St. Paul and once with a city in Illinois.

The council has not discussed what they would do in the event Clark was hired, Oberloh said, because there was no reason to be reacting to something they had no control over. Typically, he said, they city has used a firm to assist them in the search to fill this type of position, because they have better contacts across the United States.

There is a strong possibility, Oberloh said, that an interim administrator will be brought in, because hiring someone to run the city isn’t something you do overnight.
Clark will be in Worthington until mid-November. He starts as the Austin City Administrator Dec. 8.

WORTHINGTON – A mobile home at the Sungold Heights Trailer Park was completely destroyed by fire Tuesday morning, killing a family’s pet dog.

The Worthington Fire Department was paged at approximately 8:20 a.m. to the mobile home park at 1328 Spring Avenue, trailer 49. According to Worthington Fire Chief Rick von Holdt, orange fire was rolling out a bedroom window when he arrived at the scene. He tried to open a door, but quickly closed it to keep the fire contained to one end. The blaze quickly engulfed the back half of the trailer.

Firefighters were able to to keep the fire contained to the back of the trailer, but von Holdt said items in the front portion were smoke damaged and melted beyond saving.
The owner of the mobile home, a single parent, was not home at the time, having left to take his two children to school, von Holdt reported.

The fire originated in a back bedroom from a space heater that was sitting too close to bedding. The American Red Cross has been called in to assist the family.

SHELDON, Iowa – The man who wants Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s job is going to be in northwest Iowa on Wednesday.

Jack Hatch, the Democratic candidate for the Iowa Governor’s chair will be in Garner, Estherville, Rock Rapids, Sheldon, Sioux Center, and Le Mars.

At 8 a.m., Hatch will be at Matt’s Place in Garner. Then it’s on to Estherville for an appearance at the Estherville Public Library at 11 a.m.. At 1:15 p.m., Hatch will be in Rock Rapids for an appearance at Shari’s Kitchen and Catering. Then at 2:45 p.m., Hatch will meet with the public at the Prairie Queen Bakery in Sheldon. From there it’s on to an appearance in Sioux Center at the Fruited Plain at 4 p.m.. Finally, he’ll host a meet and greet in Le Mars that evening.

Jack Hatch is a State Senator from Des Moines who chairs the Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee. He’s served 22 years in the Iowa Legislature, in both the House and Senate. He also managed Senator Harkin’s statewide operations for three years. A nationally-recognized legislative expert in health care, he chaired the President’s advisory group of state legislators as the Affordable Care Act was drafted.

Fire at Sungold Heights

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WORTHINGTON – A mobile home at the Sungold Heights Trailer Park was completely destroyed by fire Tuesday morning, killing a family’s pet dog.

The Worthington Fire Department was paged at approximately 8:20 a.m. to the mobile home park at 1328 Spring Avenue, trailer 49. According to Worthington Fire Chief Rick Von Holdt, orange fire was rolling out a bedroom window when he arrived at the scene. He tried to open a door, but quickly closed it to keep the fire contained to one end. The blaze quickly engulfed the back half of the trailer.

Firefighters were able to to keep the fire contained to the back of the trailer, but von Holdt said items in the front portion were smoke damaged and melted beyond saving.
The owner of the mobile home, a single parent, was not home at the time, having left to take his two children to school, von Holdt reported.

The fire originated in a back bedroom from a space heater that was sitting too close to bedding. The American Red Cross has been called in to assist the family.

October 21 news

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AUSTIN – The City of Austin voted 4-3 Monday night to accept a contract agreement with Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark to hire him as the new Austin City Administrator, starting Dec. 8.

Clark will be paid a starting salary of $124,000. After six months, the city will review Clark’s job performance, and a good review would increase his annual salary to $128,000.

The contract calls for Clark to get 20 days of vacation each year and up to 40 days of sick time. It also includes a $400 a month car allowance, and up to $3,500 for temporary housing.

Council members who supported the agreement say Clark is the right man for the job and the terms of the contract were fair. Dissidents said they weren't pleased with the large amount of vacation and sick time Clark would receive, or the bump in pay after a satisfactory six-month job evaluation. Some believed Clark's contract wasn't fair to the city and Council member Jeff Austin openly wondered about Clark's commitment to the city if he had spent so much time dickering over smaller details.

Austin City Attorney David Hoverstein said it appeared Clark was very enthusiastic about starting a new job in their city. Clark will be working in a similar situation, as he'll manage about 140 employees and a $31 million budget, compared to Worthington's 100 or so employees and $37 million budget.

Austin fired former administrator Jim Hurm last December. He was making just over $109,000 a year. During the process of hiring a new administrator, the Austin council announced plans to offer a contract of $120,000 to $130,000 a year.

Clark is currently under contract for $109,079 per year with the city of Worthington.
The Austin council normally preliminarily approves an issue at a work session and formally approves it at the following public meeting two weeks later, but the council put on a small session before Monday's public meeting to approve the terms.

WORTHINGTON - All members of King Turkey Day, Inc. are invited to attend the 2014 Annual Meeting on Friday, October 24th at BenLee’s Cafe. 6:00 p.m. social, 6:30 p.m. meeting.

Membership, as defined in the By-Laws, is such persons, natural or corporate, who contribute to and assist in the conduct of any of the promotional activities by this corporation.

The meeting consists of reports on this year’s celebration, election of officers, new members of the Board of Directors, and comments concerning the 2014 celebration.

WORTHINGTON – There will be a Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting ceremony for TD Auto Sales at 2 p.m. Monday at 1506 Oxford Street in Worthington.

SLAYTON - There will be a Southern Minnesota Tourism Summit at Key Largo on Lake Shetek on November 6th. It will be an interactive gathering of communities, businesses, elected officials, organizations and tourism professionals from a large region. The event will focus on how the entities can work together to increase tourism, foster economic growth, build a sense of community and provide a better quality of life.

The event registration begins at 9 a.m. and discussion will wrap up around noon. Invited are elected officials, park staff and trail organizations, lodging properties, outfitters, restaurants and attraction owners, tourism professionals, business owners, convention and visitor bureaus and anyone who has an interest in area tourism.

The general communities involved in the summit will include those of southwest Minnesota, moderated by Explore Minnesota Tourism staff. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in each of the round table discussions, learn what others are doing and share ideas and thoughts with other attendees.

Please RSVP your attendance by November 1st to Christy Riley at criley@co.murray.mn.us or 507-836-1147.

CURRIE – The grand opening of the White Space in Currie will be an all ages Halloween party from 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 25. The White Space is a new multi-use space for special events located in the old Currie hardware store building.

The Halloween party includes an all ages costume contest, caricature drawings, party games and prizes, poetry readings and Halloween-themed fine arts and screen prints on display.

SIOUX FALLS, SD - At approximately 12:56 a.m. this morning, Sioux Falls Police responded to a robbery at SuperAmerica on 41st Street.

Authorities said a white man entered the gas station, displayed a hunting knife and demanded money from the clerk. He was given an undisclosed amount of cash and left the business walking west.

The suspect was last seen wearing a green hooded sweatshirt, dark-green shorts, black gloves and a black bandana over his face. He is about 6'0" with a medium build and in his mid-20s.

ROLFE, Iowa - A student and his mother face felony charges after authorities say they searched the boy's home in Rolfe and found enough explosive materials to level a two-story building.

Pocahontas County Sheriff Bob Lampe says the 14-year-old boy, who was not identified, reportedly planned to blow up a building in November.

Lampe says the boy apparently researched how to make the explosive material and had perfected the formula. The boy was charged with possessing explosive materials with intent to use the material to commit a public offense.

The teen's mother was charged with possession of explosive materials, child endangerment and aiding and abetting reckless use of explosives. She was not named.

Authorities say a teacher saw the boy researching explosives on a school computer.

CHASKA - A farmer in Carver County died after he was accidentally buried in a ditch on his farm Sunday.

Dennis Lenzen, 78, of Dahlgren Township, was installing drainage tile in a ditch in his farm field when an employee pushed dirt into the ditch to hold the drainage tile in place and accidentally buried Lenzen, according to the Carver County Sheriff’s Office.

The employee called 911 for help and then dug with his hands in an attempt to rescue Lenzen. Emergency responders arrived and located Lenzen, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

The farm is located southwest of Chaska along County Road 43, just south of Hwy. 212.

Clark headed for Austin

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UPDATE: AUSTIN – The City of Austin voted 4-3 Monday night to accept a contract agreement with Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark to hire him as the new Austin City Administrator, starting Dec. 8.

Clark will be paid a starting salary of $124,000. After six months, the city will review Clark’s job performance, and a good review would increase his annual salary to $128,000.

The contract calls for Clark to get 20 days of vacation each year and up to 40 days of sick time. It also includes a $400 a month car allowance, and up to $3,500 for temporary housing.

Council members who supported the agreement say Clark is the right man for the job and the terms of the contract were fair. Dissidents said they weren't pleased Clark would get 20 days of vacation a year, up to 40 days of sick time, and a bump in pay after a satisfactory six-month job evaluation. Some believed Clark's contract wasn't fair to the city and Council member Jeff Austin openly wondered about Clark's commitment to the city if he had spent so much time dickering over smaller details.

Austin City Attorney David Hoverstein said it appeared Clark was very enthusiastic about starting a new job in Austin. Clark will be working in a similar situation, as he'll manage about 140 employees and a $31 million budget, compared to Worthington's 100 or so employees and $37 million budget.

Austin fired their former administrator Jim Hurm last December. He was making just over $109,000 a year. During the process of hiring a new administrator, the Austin council announced plans to offer a contract of $120,000 to $130,000 a year.

Clark is currently under contract for $109,079 per year with the city of Worthington.

The Austin council normally preliminarily approves an issue at a work session and formally approves it at the following public meeting two weeks later, but the council put on a small session before Monday's public meeting to approve the terms.

(Some information provided by Trey Mewes of the Austin Daily Herald)

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AUSTIN – Worthington could be about to lose their city administrator.

During a work session Monday night, the Austin City Council voted 4-3 to approve a preliminary contract that would pay Craig Clark a starting salary of $124,000 a year as Austin City Administrator, according to the Austin Daily Herald.

After six months, the city will review Clark’s job performance, and a good review would increase his annual salary to $128,000.

The contract calls for Clark to get 20 days of vacation each year and up to 40 days of sick time. It also includes a $400 a month car allowance, and up to $3,500 for temporary housing.

If the City Council voted to finalize the contract at tonight’s public meeting, Clark would start on Dec. 8.

October 20 news

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WORTHINGTON - Minnesota West Community & Technical College will be hosting an Artist Reception for Annie O’Fallon from 2 to 5 p.m. Friday, October 24th in the lobby of the Center for Performing and Fine Arts. Refreshments will be served. For more information please contact Leah Gossom by email at leah.gossom@mnwest.edu or by phone at 507-372-3492.

WORTHINGTON - Minnesota West Community & Technical College Department of Theater presents Dracula October 31st at 7:30 p.m., November 1st at 7:30 p.m., and November 2nd at 2 p.m. This adaptation is by Minnesota playwright Steven Dietz and restores the suspense and seduction of Bram Stoker's classic novel to the stage. All performances will take place in the Fine Arts Theater on the Worthington Campus of Minnesota West. Tickets are available at the door a half hour before curtain. $6 Adults and $4 Students.

WORTHINGTON — Sterling is inviting its local communities to help stock the shelves of local organizations in preparation for this year’s holiday season. Individuals dropping off a bag of non-perishable food items at their local Sterling location from Wednesday through Saturday will receive an exclusive Sterling coupon — 40 percent off on up to four gift or toy items — as a thank you for supporting the Fall Harvest Food Drive.

In addition to collecting non-perishable food items, Sterling will donate $2 to local food shelves for each bag of donated canned goods — up to $500 per Sterling location.
Sterling will collect and deliver all donations to local food shelves after the Fall Harvest Food Drive ends.

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa - The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office has released a report about a gunshot victim in Little Rock, who received her injuries on Tuesday, October 14th.

The report states that about 11:45 p.m. that night, deputies and the Little Rock Ambulance were called to 308 Clothier Street in Little Rock for an 18-year-old female gunshot victim.

She was taken to Osceola Community Hospital in Sibley and then by air ambulance to Avera Hospital in Sioux Falls. The victim had suffered a gunshot wound to her arm and stomach.

At last report, she was listed in stable condition. The incident is still under investigation. The circumstances surrounding the shooting have not been released.

OKOBOJI, Iowa - The native gardens outside the nature center's Butterfly House in Okoboji is expanding.

The Dickinson County Conservation Board received a $6,200 grant from the Dickinson County Endowment Fund to expand the gardens within Kenue Park in Okoboji. The grant funding will be used toward three specific additions in and around the existing gardens.
According to naturalist Karess Knudtson, the goal of the project is to create a 'pollinator's paradise' that will be used by pollinators and enjoyed by visitors, by planting native prairie plants, constructing a shade structure and adding self-interpretive identification signs to the garden.

Besides increasing habitat and forage for native bees and our resident honey bees, a very important part of the native garden area is to educate residents and visitors of all ages, Knudtson said.

The garden will show people what native plants look like and how they can easily be planted in your own backyard.

The Dickinson County Nature Center is located at 2279 170th St. in Okoboji and is open 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. People can use the outdoor areas and Kenue Park until 10 p.m. daily. For more information, contact the nature center at 712-336-6352 or e-mail naturecenter@co.dickinson.ia.us.

MERRILL, Iowa — A Le Mars, Iowa man has died after a combine accident near Merrill on Friday.

According to the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office, 55-year-old Eugene Robert Sitzmann was eastbound on a combine on 220th Street on a gravel road, just east of Impala Avenue near Merrill on Friday at approximately 7:50 p.m. The combine was pulling a bean head on a trailer.

Due to a mechanical failure, the trailer broke loose and struck the left rear of the combine. The impact forced the combine into the south ditch, and it is believed Sitzmann was thrown from the cab of the combine. Witnesses following behind the combine immediately called 911.

Sitzmann was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City where he died of injuries suffered in the accident. The investigation continues.

The Merrill Fire Department and Ambulance crew, Le Mars Fire Department, Merrill Police Department and the Iowa State Patrol assisted on the scene.

MANKATO - A man has been arrested after Mankato authorities say he falsely reported that he had received a bomb threat regarding the city's marathon.

City spokeswoman Shelly Schulz says a 911 caller told the Nicollet County Sheriff's office he had received an anonymous call saying four bombs had been placed on the Sunday race route.

Schulz says authorities identified the caller and worked with his phone provider to determine that he never received any such threat.

The man was arrested Saturday on probable cause of terroristic threats, a felony.
The Associated Press is not naming the man because he has not been formally charged.

Congressman Walz speaks at Freedom Veterans Memorial Park flag dedication

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WORTHINGTON – First District DFL Rep. Tim Walz was in Worthington Friday morning for the dedication of a flag that once flew over the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. and is now snapping in the breeze at Freedom Veterans Memorial Park.

Walz, who rose to the rank of command sergeant major during his 24-year career with the Army National Guard, is the highest ranking enlisted soldier ever to serve in the U.S. Congress.

With his daughter Hope standing nearby, he lauded the efforts of those who worked to build the memorial park and those present who had braved the cold winds to see the flag dedicated in the names of three World War II veterans from Nobles County who had given of themselves to ensure the freedoms of others. The flag, purchased through Walz’s office by the Nobles County DFL, was presented to the park in memory of Alan Swanson, Norman Larson and Lester Jensen.

Of all the rights and privileges we have, Walz said, the idea of self-governing is important. The three gentlemen being honored helped give everyone present that freedom, he said.

Walz also pointed out that 50 percent of our warriors come from rural areas.

He thanked the veterans present, which included the VFW Color Guard, for giving us the right to live, and thanked the Freedom Veterans Memorial Park committee for creating a place that allows us to remember the sacrifices that were made.

Simon Koster and Tom Tracy unfolded and hoisted the new flag into place while Eric Parrish sang the National Anthem, followed by Terry Morrison playing Taps.

October 17 news

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MOUNTAIN LAKE – The Minnesota State Patrol reports a one-vehicle rollover on Highway 30 in Cottonwood County near mile marker 76 at 11 p.m. Thursday. A 17-year-old female lost control of a 2005 Chevy Classic traveling westbound and rolled. She suffered non-life threatening injuries and the vehicle was totaled. Mountain Lake Ambulance assisted at the scene.

BREWSTER – Three vehicles collided at the intersection of Minnesota 60 and Nobles County 1 in Brewster at 11:52 a.m. on Thursday, causing four people to suffer non-life threatening injuries. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Amedia Colan, age 82, of Dundee, was southbound on County Road in a Dodge Dakota when she entered the intersection, colliding with the Honda CRV of Gail Klassen, age 65, of Windom and a Ford Focus, occupied by Todd Dibble age 57, of Westbrook and Jacob Weiler, age 89, of Mountain Lake. Klassen was taken to Sanford in Sioux Falls, the rest were taken to Sanford Worthington.

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa - The Spirit Lake city council will appoint someone to fill a vacancy created when Clyde Ihrke resigned to go to work for the city.

The council Tuesday adopted a resolution stating they intend to appoint someone to fill the position at their meeting October 28th. That person would have to stand for election to a full term in November of 2015.

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa - A meeting to update the public on the status of Iowa's Water and Land Legacy and efforts to fund a state trust fund devoted to natural resources and outdoor recreation, which Iowa voters approved in 2010, will be held next week in the Iowa Great Lakes. Among those scheduled to be on hand at the meeting is Mike Shannon of Ducks Unlimited.

The October 22nd meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. at the Dickinson County Expo Building in Spirit Lake.

SHELDON, Iowa – A two month-long investigation into several business burglaries in Sheldon has resulted in the arrest of a Sheldon man.

Sheldon Police say that on Wednesday, October 15th, at approximately 9:30 p.m., officers from their department executed a search warrant at 602 6th Avenue at an upstairs apartment in that home, where officers reportedly seized numerous items of potential evidence, including marijuana, drug paraphernalia, clothing related items, and burglary tools. Officers say they arrested the tenant at that apartment, 27-year old Travis Dean Staab, on multiple charges.

Police say Staab was charged with one count of Burglary in the 3rd Degree for his alleged involvement in the Digital Plus burglary on September 2nd, one count of Burglary in the 3rd Degree for his alleged involvement in the Verizon Wireless burglary on September 14th, and another count of burglary in the 3rd Degree for his alleged involvement in the Shopko burglary on October 7th. Additionally, Staab was charged with possession of burglar’s tools, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Staab was transported to the O’Brien County Jail where he is being held on these charges.

Additionally, police say, Staab is being held on a warrant for parole violation.

Police say the investigation into these and other burglaries is ongoing, and additional charges are likely to be filed as this investigation develops.

Assisting the Sheldon Police Department were Deputies from the O’Brien County Sheriff’s Department and Officers from the Iowa Department of Corrections Probation and Parole Department.

ORANGE CITY, Iowa — Rochelle Sapp, the in-home daycare provider who was charged with causing the death of an Orange City toddler last year has been sentenced to 100 years in prison following a plea agreement in Orange City.

The 34-year old Sapp pleaded guilty to one count of Involuntary Manslaughter, a Class D felony and one count of Child Endangerment Resulting In Death, a Class B felony. Sapp also entered an Alford Plea to multiple additional acts of Child Endangerment. An Alford Plea is a guilty plea, whereby the defendant doesn’t admit the criminal act, but acknowledges that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.

Following the announcement of the plea agreement, District Court Judge Edward Jacobsen sentenced Sapp to a 5-year prison term for Involuntary Manslaughter and a 50-year term for Child Endangerment Resulting In Death. Those sentences are to be served concurrently. Jacobsen sentenced Sapp to an additional 50 years on the multiple acts of Child Endangerment, for a total prison term of up to 100 years. Sapp will be eligible for parole under the terms of the plea agreement.

Sapp must also pay $150,000 of restitution to the Elgersmas, over $7500 restitution to the Sioux County Clerk to go to the crime victim’s assistance division, court costs, room and board, and other expenses. She also waived the right to an appeal under the current agreement. If she does appeal it will make the plea agreement null and void.
The charges against Sapp stemmed from an incident in October of last year, in which 3-year old Autumn Elgersma of Orange City suffered fatal injuries while in Sapp’s care.

LE MARS, Iowa — Plymouth County Authorities are looking for a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run accident on Wednesday.

They say the driver of some sort of red vehicle fled the scene after smashing into the back of a small tractor early Wednesday morning near Le Mars.

They are looking for a red vehicle with what they believe may be substantial damage to the right front.

The 1940’s era Farmall tractor was going northbound on a county road when it was struck from behind and split in half. Seventy-six-year-old Mark Schroeder of rural Le Mars was driving the tractor. He was found lying on the road, next to the tractor, and was treated at the scene for a head injury. Schroeder was taken to a local hospital, but authorities say his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Anyone with information about the accident is urged to call the Plymouth County Sheriff.

Optimistic Propane Forecast

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The propane industry reported a positive winter outlook as officials met to brief governors at the Midwestern Governor’s Association Propane Meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Wednesday.

Last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration released its Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook. The report projected warmer winter temperatures and a 34 percent reduction in heating bills for propane-heated homes in the Midwest this season compared with last winter. The report also showed propane stocks in the Gulf Coast and Midwest were 10 million barrels, or 17 percent higher, than last year for the same period, and overall propane production is up 12 percent from the previous year.

“These are positive signs,” said Roy Willis, president and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council, “but our industry is working hard to ensure our customers are prepared. Propane retailers across the country remain focused on safety and encouraging customers to consider early fills, automatic refills, and payment programs now before cold weather hits.”

PERC launched a $5.5 million consumer safety and preparedness campaign in early September directing residential heating customers and agribusiness operators, among others, to propanecomfort.com. On the site, propane customers can take a quiz to determine if they are prepared for winter and review energy efficiency tips. Visitors can also sign up for news updates from PERC.

“Preliminary numbers for the campaign show that nearly 20,000 customers have already taken advantage of our online resources and we expect to see continued engagement as we get closer to winter,” said Willis.

Television ads will continue to air through Thanksgiving in 30 states most affected by deliverability challenges and temporary price increases last winter. Willis says the PERC is also continuing to drive investments in new technology that will even out seasonal demands during winter months.

“We’re remaining focused on monitoring the seasonal demand for propane and implementing strategies to even out yearly demand. That includes commercializing new technologies that run on clean, American-made propane.”

October 16 news

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WORTHINGTON – Sanford Health has purchased the downtown Worthington property located at 508 10th street where the former Avera Clinic located for the purpose of eventually expanding the emergency room after demolishing the building.

According to documents filed with Nobles County, the Sanford Health Network purchased property in August, which was recorded with the county October 1. The non-verified Certified Real Estate Value document lists the purchase amount at $1,150,000.

According to a news release issued Wednesday, the current clinic building is not suitable for health care purposes. Plans call for the building to be demolished to clear the way for potential outreach space and a future emergency room expansion.

CEO of Sanford Worthington Medical Center Mike Hammer said the purchase is another example of how Sanford is investing and partnering in Worthington to do what is best for the community. He also said purchasing the building was not in the plans, but Sanford saw it as an opportunity to expand the campus and benefit the Worthington community.

WORTHINGTON – MNSure Navigators will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Goodwill to help with applications and answer questions related to eligibility for insurance through MNSure.

WORTHINGTON – Congressman Tim Walz will be in Worthington Friday for a flag dedication at Freedom Veterans Memorial Park that will honor three World War II veterans and the work of one tireless community woman on behalf of veterans and the community of Worthington.

A large flag that once flew over the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. will be presented to the memorial park in memory of Alan Swenson, Norman Larson and Lester and Edith Jenson. The flag was purchased through Walz’s office by the Nobles County DFL. The flag will be formally presented to the park association by DFL officers and veterans at 10:30 a.m. Friday. There will be a short dedication ceremony with a VFW color guard and Walz will give a short address.

PIPESTONE - The groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday afternoon at Pipestone County Medical Center attracted elected officials from around the state including State Sen. Bill Weber and U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson.

The estimated $31 million project is now underway with an expected completion date of November 2016.

SHELDON, Iowa — Two men are in the O’Brien County Jail after allegedly attempting to steal change from the Splish Splash Auto Bath car wash in Sheldon Monday night.

Sheldon Police say that about 9:45 Monday evening, 27-year old Timothy Mark Gough of Sioux City and 37-year old Jason Samuel Bates of Lexington, North Carolina were reportedly observed attempting to steal change from the automatic car wash bay. Police say the pair was arrested before they were able to access any money from the machine.

According to police, Gough was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance (Vicodin), Possession of a Controlled Substance (marijuana), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Open Container, Failure To Have A Valid Driver’s License, and Possession of Burglary Tools. Bates was charged with Possession of Burglary Tools. Both men were transported to the O’Brien County Jail in Primghar.

Assisting the Sheldon Police Department with the arrests were Deputies from the O’Brien County Sheriff’s Office.

SPENCER, Iowa - Spencer residents are celebrating the designation of Grand Avenue to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Grand Avenue Improvement Corporation Monday unveiled one of three plaques that will mark North Grand Avenue as a Residential Historic District, which encompasses Grand Avenue. Mary Jean Montgomery says the avenue's new status was a long-term goal of the corporation that began six years ago.

She says the neighborhood is an "eclectic" group of houses that range in style, from Victorian to modern. She says driving down Grand Avenue is like going through an architectural history book.

SIOUX FALLS, SD - A major Sioux Falls drug bust has landed six men in jail and taken nearly two pounds of meth off the street. The Sioux Falls Area Drug Task Force say it's the result of a year-long investigation.

Undercover agents descended on a home near 21st Street and Summit Avenue Tuesday afternoon following their investigation into a major drug ring that authorities believe was being run out of the home at 1209 S. Summit. It's where 30-year-old Malek Malek lives - a man described as the 'main person' behind the operation.

When the agents showed up at the home Tuesday, Malek Malek was nowhere to be found. Investigators did arrest four men who they believe are connected to the drug ring. Detectives also found more than five grams of meth and got enough information at the home to lead them to the Super 8 hotel on 10th Street.

When authorities arrived at the Super 8 they found Malek and another man, along with 72 grams of meth. Once authorities took Malek into custody they also got the key that unlocked the rest of the case – a key card for a room at the Days Inn.

That key unlocked a room in the Days Inn near 41st Street, where they found more than 700 grams of methamphetamine and two handguns.

In total, 1.7 pounds of meth was taken off the street, putting an end to hundreds of potential drug deals.

Malek is being held on a $50,000 cash only bond. Investigators believe the meth was being shipped into South Dakota from out of state.

Sanford Health buys former Avera Clinic in downtown Worthington

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WORTHINGTON – According to documents filed with Nobles County, Sanford Health Network purchased the downtown Worthington property located at 508 10th Street where the former Avera Clinic was located for approximately $1.1 million. The purchase was made in August, and recorded with the county October 1.

The non-verified Certified Real Estate Value document lists the purchase amount at $1,150,000.

Sanford Worthington Medical Center plans to eventually expand the former Avera Clinic area into an emergency room by demolishing the building. According to a press release from Sanford Health, the clinic building is not suitable for health care purposes. Plans call for the building to be demolished to clear the way for potential outreach space and a future emergency room expansion.

“This purchase is another example of how Sanford is investing and partnering in Worthington to do what is best for the community,” said Mike Hammer, CEO of Sanford Worthington Medical Center. “Purchasing this building was not in the plans, but we see this as an opportunity that will allow us to expand our campus and services for Worthington.”

Hammer said in the release that several other organizations and groups had looked into purchasing the property, but none of the ideas seemed to fit.

“I see this as an opportunity for Sanford to step up to create a space to benefit everyone in the Worthington community,” said Hammer.