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April 20 news

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WORTHINGTON - The 2015 Spring Fling for Seniors is 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at Worthington’s American Reformed Church. This year’s theme is “Healthy Living at Home,” and includes keynote speaker Dr. Charles Dike, a family medicine practitioner at the Sanford Worthington Clinic, who will talk about the aging process and how to stay as healthy as possible.

Three workshop presenters include Molly Bishop of Navigation Music Therapy Services, Pharmacist Joe Anderson of Sterling Drug and Nobles County Public Health Director Terri Janssen. Also, 20 area agencies and businesses will be present with booths/displays, and door prizes will be awarded.

There is a slight discount for advance ticket purchase through Tuesday; contact District 518 Community Education at 376-6105 or visit the office at West Learning Center, 117 11th Ave. Tickets will also be available at the door. Admission price includes morning refreshments and a noon meal.

WORTHINGTON — A certified nurse practitioner has joined Sanford Worthington’s team of health care providers. Annalisa Cunningham began her practice at Sanford Worthington Clinic and Sanford Worthington Acute Care Clinic last month.

Cunningham received her educational training from South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D. She specializes in family practice. Cunningham lives in Luverne with her spouse, Jason, and children, Carissa, Graham, Pierce and Cole. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and classical piano.

For more information or to make an appointment with Cunningham, contact Sanford Worthington Clinic at 372-3800.

PIPESTONE - Pipestone County now has its own flag. The flag features the circular county seal, selected in 1997, which former Pipestone resident Dennis Boese designed for a contest.

The flag was created at the request of PrimeWest, a county-based purchasing health plan owned by Pipestone County and 12 other rural Minnesota counties that provides health coverage to residents in the 13 member counties who qualify for Minnesota Health Care Programs (MHCP). PrimeWest requested flags from each of the 13 counties to be flown at its new office in Alexandria.

In addition to flying the flag at the PrimeWest office, the Board of Commissioners plans to purchase additional flags to fly at the Pipestone County Courthouse, Fairgrounds and possibly other county buildings. Sharon Hanson, Pipestone County administrator, said the flags for the courthouse and fairgrounds will likely be up before the County Fair begins the first week of August.

Hanson said PrimeWest is purchasing the flag that will be flown at their office and she is waiting to find out who their vendor is and what it will cost to purchase additional flags.

GEORGE, Iowa – Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will be in Lyon County this week to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Dur-A-Lift facility in George, located at 2002 Kingbird Avenue. The event is at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to celebrate the new facility and the latest milestone in the ongoing growth and expansion of Lyon County’s largest manufacturer.

Dur-A-Lift’s building project adds 26,000 square feet to Diversified Technologies Inc’s existing facility. DTI expects to add jobs to its 260 plus person workforce and double its Dur-A-Lift production capacity with this latest expansion.

OKOBOJI, Iowa — Okoboji Summer Theatre discount voucher booklets are now on sale at Northwest Bank locations in Spirit Lake, Arnolds Park and Milford, Iowa, and Pearson Lakes Art Center in Okoboji or by emailing ostavoucherbooklet@gmail.com.

The booklets offer a savings off box office season prices. Each booklet contains three vouchers for musicals and six vouchers for non-musicals, along with a bonus voucher for one free admission.

MNSP Changes

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Please note that bean receiving and meal/pellet loadout will be closed April 30th and May 1st due to the annual shutdown at the Minnesota Soybean Processors or Brewster.

Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation presents check to Manna Food Pantry

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WORTHINGTON – The Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation teamed up with the Manna Food Pantry during the March Food Campaign, offering a 50 percent match for up to $25,000.The Manna Food Pantry, through contributions from individuals, area churches and the community, raised over $43,000, the health care foundation matched $21,609 and the total came to $64,828.14. The check for the total was presented to the pantry on Friday.

Foundation Executive Director Jeff Rotert said this is the second year they have offered the grant to the Manna Food Pantry.

Coordinator Linda Sanchez said the March Food Campaign is their main annual fund drive, and expressed her thanks to the Nobles County community for their contributions to the pantry, not only in money, but also in food. Another matching grant through the Minnesota Food Share in March earned them approximately 12,500 pounds of food, Sanchez said. They will also get a monetary grant through Minnesota Food Share, but that total will not be available until July.

Pictured above are Jeff Rotert and Linda Sanchez, as well as Manna Food Pantry board members Rick Dalrymple, Erlin Weness, LeRoy Ennenga, Linda Kuhle, Mary Pool and Carol Pospisil.

April 17 news

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WORTHINGTON — The American Red Cross Bloodmobile will accept blood donations from 1 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the American Reformed Church, 1720 N. Burlington Ave.

Donors will receive a coupon for a free pint of ice cream from Dairy Queen; and a coupon for rent one/get one video from Family Video, Worthington. Chocolate sundaes will be served compliments of Scott Rall LPL Financial Services, Worthington. To schedule an appointment, visit www.redcrossblood.org (enter sponsor code 0172267) or call 1-800-733-2767. Walk-ins are also welcome.

WORTHINGTON – A Worthington man was arrested for his fifth DWI, according to court records. Ojulu Omot Ogala, age 35, is charged in Nobles County District Court with first-degree driving while intoxicated and driving after cancellation — inimical to public safety.

The criminal complaint states authorities were called to a report of an unresponsive man on Cecilee Street, where they found a running vehicle parked on the wrong side of the street, facing against traffic. Ogala was located inside the nearby apartment complex, lying on the floor. After several attempts, officers were able to wake him and get a portable breath test sample, which registered at .224 percent alcohol concentration.

Ogala is scheduled to appear in court next week.

PIPESTONE - A man accused of murdering his girlfriend’s 3-month-old daughter one year ago was arrested in Pipestone Thursday around 2:30 a.m., according to the Pipestone County Star.

A Wisconsin deputy tipped off the Pipestone County Sheriff’s Office around 2 a.m. that the alleged murderer was in Pipestone at the trailer park. Five Pipestone County Sheriff’s deputies and a Minnesota State Trooper found Austin Gustafson, 27, where the deputy said he would be, according to Pipestone County Sheriff Keith Vreeman.

They took Gustafson into custody without incident, according to Vreeman. Gustafson was held in Pipestone County Jail until law enforcement officials from Ramsey County came to pick him up.

KARE 11 reported from St. Paul that the former White Bear Lake man was charged last year with murdering his girlfriend’s infant daughter while her mother was at work. Police officers were called to the residence on a report of a baby not breathing, according to that report, and a medical evaluation of the child revealed several rib fractures and bruises on her lower back. The baby died a few days after the April 30, 2014 incident.

Vreeman told the Star he does not know how long Gustafson had been in Pipestone and that the accused man had no known connections here.

SLAYTON - The Slayton Women of Today will once again be sponsoring a Father Daughter Prom on Sunday, April 26 at the Murray County Central High School Gym. The grand march will begin at 2 p.m. with the dance to follow until 4 p.m. All ages are welcome and the cost is $5 per father/ daughter. Family members and friends are encouraged to come and watch the grand march for a cost of $1 per person.
Families are encouraged to arrive early for pictures and to watch grand march. LA Photography will be on hand from 1 to 2 p.m. to take pictures, with packages available for families to purchase. Registration is not required and payment can be made at the door the day of the event. If you have questions you can contact Lisa Graphenteen 507-227-5402 or Kristie Blankenship at 836-8592.

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa — 37-year-old Adam Sickles, a defendant accused of arson in the Buddz’s Rec Bowl case, has entered into a plea agreement, agreeing to an amended charge of second-degree arson, according to Assistant Attorney General Coleman McAllister.

In a plea proceeding that had been moved to the Dickinson County Courthouse in Spirit Lake, District Court Judge David Lester accepted the motion to change the charge to Second Degree Arson. Sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. May 26 at the O’Brien County Courthouse.

McAllister says a second case remains pending and the jury trial on charges of First Degree Arson and Insurance Fraud is set to begin on Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

IOWA - - A northwest Iowa woman has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison on drug charges. The sentence against 23-year-old Amanda Lee of Alta stems from a guilty plea she made to conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a methamphetamine mixture.

At a plea hearing, Lee admitted her involvement from February, 2013 through February, 2014, in a conspiracy that distributed at least 1,500 grams of the drug.

Court documents state that an iPhone seized from Lee revealed several text messages with a drug-related content and drug-related photos. Authorities say they also found text messages that revealed Lee had been selling meth in the Sioux City area and that she possessed a handgun.

In addition to the prison term, Lee must also serve 5 years of supervised release.

Sirens will sound today

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Sirens will sound in Nobles County and across Minnesota today as cities and counties participate in a simulated tornado warning.

Tornado watches and warnings will be issued Thursday afternoon to test communities' warning and communications systems. Most cities and counties will activate their sirens at 1:45 p.m., and an "end of test" message will be issued by the National Weather Service at 2 p.m.

Another simulated tornado warning will be issued in Minnesota at 6:55 p.m. in an effort to help families test their preparedness at home, as well as for second-shift workers.
The test is being done as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week.

April 16 news

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WORTHINGTON — Worthington Boy Scout Pack 134 will have a recruitment night from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday at Chautauqua Park. All boys interested in scouting are welcome to attend. For more information, contact Scott Carlson, 329-5204.

PIPESTONE - Pipestone National Monument has scheduled a prescribed burn during the period of April 27 – May 22. When appropriate wind, temperature, and humidity conditions exist between these dates, approximately 92 acres of the tall grass prairie will be burned.

Historically, the 18 million acres of native tall grass prairie that once covered the central plains, including Minnesota, experienced repeated lightning-caused fires. The continual burning of the prairie reduced the buildup of accumulated organic plant material and suppressed the growth of woody tree and shrub species. This also in turn ensured native prairie growth by recycling essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphate, potassium, and trace minerals, and decreasing plant competition from invading exotic species.

Less than one percent of the original tall grass prairie in Minnesota remains. This loss has greatly changed the probability of lightning ignited fires. Therefore, to mimic the benefits that fire produces for a healthy prairie, controlled burns are conducted. The Monument has been conducting controlled burns of the tall grass prairie since 1971.

MOUNTAIN LAKE - The expansion of Highway 60 from two lanes to four lanes between Mountain Lake and Butterfield is expected to officially begin May 11, however motorists may already have seen crews working on drainage and relocating utilities.

Initially, traffic will be maintained on the existing two lanes of Highway 60 while construction of the additional two lanes takes place on the south side. A two-month detour later in the summer will be necessary to build the connections on both ends of the project.

The project, which includes grading, paving, concrete repair and lighting, is expected to be complete in October.

This is the second of three projects planned to complete the expansion of Highway 60 to a four-lane facility. The section from Mountain Lake to Windom is planned to begin in 2017.

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa - One person sustained a minor injury Wednesday in a field and slough fire in the area of Mclelland's Beach on the north side of Big Spirit Lake.
Spirit Lake firefighters were called to the scene in the area of 25101 McClelland Lane around 11 am. Firefighters were able to keep the blaze from spreading to some nearby propane tanks and homes.

Captain Mike Lloyd of the Spirit Lake Fire Department said the person who was injured was a civilian who was attempting to put out the fire before the firefighters arrived. He says the injuries were minor and did not require immediate treatment.
Firefighters were on the scene for several hours. There was no immediate word on a cause of the fire.

STORM LAKE, Iowa - A bird-flu strain that has already hit numerous turkey farms in the midwest has been found in a turkey flock in northwest Iowa.

An Iowa Department of Agriculture spokesman says the H5N2 strain of bird flu virus has been confirmed in a barn on a farm housing 27,000 birds in Buena Vista County. The disease was suspected when turkeys in the barn started dying.

An Iowa Poultry Association spokesman says the farm is under quarantine and the turkeys will be euthanized.

Animal health officials have long said the virus is dangerous to all commercial poultry. Iowa has 130 turkey farms raising 11 million turkeys a year. The state also is the nation's leading egg producer with 59 million egg layers. No chicken flocks in Iowa have been infected so far.

ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said no one knows how much it will cost to respond to a flu that has killed 1.5 million Minnesota turkeys. He said Wednesday that he would consider working with lawmakers to change state law to allow disaster funds that often flow to flood and tornado relief to also be available for the turkey crisis. However, he added, in the month remaining of the 2015 legislative session he is “confident” he and lawmakers can provide adequate funding.

A House committee Tuesday night approved nearly $1.8 million for avian influenza response, including more than $500,000 that Dayton requested to pay for immediate state staffing needs.

Federal funds will pay for many of the emergency costs, the governor said.
Dayton plans to talk to federal Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about the situation in the next couple of days, he said. The top U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarian is ending a three-day visit to the state to deal with bird flu.

MINNESOTA - President Barack Obama has nominated Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Wilhelmina Wright to sit on the U.S. District Court in Minnesota.

She would replace Chief Judge Michael Davis, who announced earlier this year that he planned to step down this summer.

Wright, 51, was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2012, and won election to a full term in November 2014.

Prior to that, she served as a state appeals court for 10 years, a district judge in Ramsey County and an assistant U.S. attorney.

April 15 news

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WORTHINGTON – Terry Gaalswyk, a semifinalist under consideration for the presidency of Minnesota West Community and Technical College, made a stop at the Worthington campus Tuesday morning for a presentation and a questions and answer session.

Gaalswyk was the second of the two finalists to stop by the campus. Martin Reimer visited Monday afternoon, and Gaalswyk said the two are well acquainted and have often served as personal references for each other. Gaalswyk is currently the executive vice president at Western Nebraska Community College, where he was previously the vice president of educational services.

Workforce development is something that is near and dear to him, and also something he currently supervises, Gaalswyk said. You have to look at dual credit opportunities, at what we’re doing to retain our youth, then start at the high schools and possibly even the middle schools to make that happen.

Community colleges used to be all about all about access, but didn’t do a very good job at retaining their students, something that needs to change, he said.

Gaalswyk said it isn’t something he can do by himself – he surrounds himself with great people. He described himself as loyal, dedicated and transparent, admitting jokingly that he is a recovering math teacher who relies heavily on numbers. He makes mistakes, he said, but learns from them and is a family man who is dedicated to having fun.

He also said he is not blanketing the area with applications for presidencies. He and his wife had long talks about the presidency at Minnesota West before making the deliberate decision to apply.

The MnSCU Board of Trustees is expected to consider Chancellor Steven Rosenstone’s recommendation at its May 20 meeting. The anticipated start date of the new president of the new president is July 1.

WORTHINGTON - Minnesota West Community & Technical Worthington Campus will host an Arbor Day Celebration at 10 a.m. Friday, April 24th in partnership with the Worthington Chamber of Commerce and City of Worthington. The Arbor Day proclamation will be read at the softball field on the Worthington Campus by the intersection of Sundown and Lexington Ave weather permitting. The proclamation will be followed by an Arbor Day tree planting with light refreshments to follow in the Commons. This event is free and open to the public. For more information contact Gordon Heitkamp at 507-372-3465 or gordon.heitkamp@mnwest.edu.

SIBLEY, Iowa — A project that has been in the works for more than two years will come a step closer to reality Wednesday morning when ground is broken for a new AmericInn Hotel in Sibley.

Harris Kruse of Sibley is one of the project’s organizers and investors, and he said the hotel will be a 36 room facility. Kruse said the investors raised a total of $1.6 million, with the remainder of the $3.6 million project being financed by the Melvin Savings Bank, Ashton State Bank and Farmer’s Savings Bank of Milford.

MILFORD, Iowa - Voters in the Okoboji School District will head back to the polls September 8 to once again vote on a proposal to build a new middle school. The board voted unanimously Monday evening to set that as the date for another attempt at getting the measure passed. The vote will be held in conjunction with the school board election.

The board also approved a lease on a portable classroom that will be placed this summer adjacent to the middle school in Arnolds Park at a cost of $42,654.

BOYDEN, Iowa— Farmers Coop Society’s board of directors has announced the approval of constructing a new feed mill in Boyden, Iowa. This $14.75 million project will help FCS meet the needs of their customers both now and in the future. The new mill will include many technological features that will improve the all-around efficiency of the mill as well as the time it takes to load and unload semis.

According to FCS’ Feed Manager Brad DeVries, Boyden is the heart of FCS’s present feed territory and this location will optimize transportation efficiencies for ingredients as well as finished feed. This new feed mill will be in addition to their existing feed mills and will have the ability to manufacture a total of 3,000 tons per day, with 1,000 of those tons being in pellets.

When this mill is fully operational it will require 45 semi loads of ingredients, up to 70 loads of corn, and produce 115 semi loads of complete feed per day.

IOWA - The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales will be making two appearances next month in northwest Iowa. The eight-horse hitch will be at the speedway on the Clay County Fairgrounds from 5 to 7 p.m. on May 15. The "gentle giants", as they are often referred to, will also participate in the Orange City Tulip Festival parade May 16.

MINNESOTA - Construction of a new office building for Minnesota senators is moving along but the politics surrounding it remain messy.

Senate Democrats included money in a state budget bill this week to start leasing the $90 million facility for its expected opening next year. The tab is $13 million for 2016 and 2017 and about $8 million a year thereafter.

Republican Sen. Paul Gazelka says the size of the lease payments was a shock.
Republicans labeled the building a poster child of wasteful spending in the 2014 election. The GOP-controlled House didn't include any money for the project in its own budget bill released Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk says the state would risk its credit rating if it doesn't pay for the building.

A musical night of stargazing

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WORTHINGTON - Minnesota West Community & Technical Worthington Campus will host a night of musical entertainment featuring the Minnesota West Choir, a student art display and showcase and a star gazing party this Friday. The Minnesota West Choir will perform beginning at 7:30 p.m. which will be followed by the student art show and reception with light refreshments at 8:15 p.m. A star gazing party will take place from 9:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. at the softball diamond on the southwest side of campus. Telescopes will be provided to look at the astronomical wonders of the spring sky. If you have a telescope, please bring it. These events are free and open to the public. Call (507)372-3432 in case the weather looks questionable regarding the star gazing party.

Sen. Franken urges Vilsack to Take Action Against HPAI

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WASHINGTON, D.C. [04/13/15]—U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is pressing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary to make sure that measures remain in place to support the hundreds of family farms in Minnesota whose production has been hurt or threatened by avian flu.

In a letter to Sec. Tom Vilsack, Sen. Franken urged the USDA to protect turkey growers in Minnesota from losing their livelihood by maintaining an all-hands-on-deck response to fighting the current outbreak. He also called for new, emergency resources to be made available if the financial support for farmers who are affected is exhausted.

H5N2 Confirmed in Wisconsin Commercial Chicken Farm

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WASHINGTON -- The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial layer flock in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. The flock of 200,000 chickens is located within the Mississippi flyway where this strain of avian influenza has previously been identified. CDC considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low. No human infections with the virus have been detected at this time.

This is the first confirmed case in a commercial chicken farm in the region.

Samples from the chicken flock, which experienced increased mortality, were tested at the Missouri Department of Agriculture Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa confirmed the findings. NVSL is the only internationally recognized AI reference laboratory in the United States. APHIS is working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection on a joint incident response. State officials quarantined the premises and birds on the property will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system.

24 farms have been infected since the onset of the H5N2 avian influenza, and more than 1.2 million birds have been killed by the disease or destroyed. The latest cases are in Kandiyohi County (Minnesota), McCook and McPherson Counties (South Dakota) and most recently, Jefferson County (Wisconsin).