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February 27 news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cannon said the reimbursement is $27 in Minnesota.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fifth candidate named for city admin position

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Names released on city admin candidates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minnesota Supreme Court files issues opinion in case argued in Worthington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: Hwy 169 reopened near North Mankato

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UPDATE:

MANKATO -- Minnesota Department of Transportation has reopened a section of Highway 169 that was closed about an hour Wednesday morning near Seven Mile Creek County Park.

The closure was necessary while crews cleared power lines from the road after a vehicle struck a pole.
MANKATO -- Minnesota Department of Transportation has closed a section of Highway 169 about a mile north of North Mankato.

The section between Nicollet County Road 28 and Highway 295 is blocked by downed power lines in the Seven Mile Creek County Park area

Motorists are urged to use alternate routes.

Emergency crews are on the scene.

February 25 news

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WORTHINGTON - Reserved seats for the Worthington High School performances of “Anything Goes” at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, 714 13th St., are available at the box office from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays or by calling (507) 376-9101. Tickets may also be purchased online until noon Friday at friendsoftheauditorium.com.

Shows are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. District 518 activity passes will be honored for the Sunday performance only. Advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended to avoid long pre-show lines.

SLAYTON - It’s all things baseball for the next Dinehart Lunchbox Lecture on Thursday, March 5 at noon at the Historic Dinehart Holt House in Slayton. Local historian Bill Bolin will be presenting “Murray County Baseball: A Memoir.”

If you played baseball, were a promoter of baseball or just enjoyed watching the games, you will want to be part of this nostalgic run around the bases as Bolin recounts the heyday of town-centered baseball in the 1940’s and beyond. Bolin has lots of firsthand experience with the game as well as a wealth of knowledge about how it was played from its inception. Come early for a seat and bring your lunch. The Historical Society provides coffee and tea. Cost is $3.00 and as always Murray County Historical Society members are free.

If you have questions please contact: 507-836-6533 or e-mail: jtimmerman@co.murray.mn.us

TRUMAN - State investigators have concluded an investigation into a huge fire that killed more than 12,000 pigs and hogs at a southern Minnesota swine farm in October. The State Fire Marshal division released its conclusion Tuesday that the blaze at Cougar Run near Truman in Martin County was accidental and caused by excessive heat from pressure washers.

Firefighters from 10 agencies battled the fire last fall. The blaze destroyed three buildings, 3,300 sows and 9,000 piglets. The report says the livestock loss alone is valued at $1.3 million. Investigators say the heat from the gas-fueled pressure washers operating for four hours ignited some insulation in an attic area next to a chimney exhaust stack.

A second operation with 2,800 sows about a mile away was not affected. Together they employee about two dozen people, none of whom were injured in the fire.

SHELDON, Iowa — Sheldon Community High School’s Principal and Head Football Coach will be stepping down and leaving the District for a new job in Des Moines at the end of this school year. Matt Meendering has announced that he has accepted the position of Principal at Dowling Catholic High School, and will start his new job on July 1st of this year.

Meendering has been in the Sheldon District for 16 years, with the last 8 as High School Principal.

In addition to his position as Principal, Meendering will be leaving his position as Head Football Coach, but he says he expects the transition to go smoothly. Meendering says that his job at Dowling will be limited to High School Principal, and that he’s stepping back from coaching.

MINNESOTA - Minnesota’s high school graduation rate climbed over 81 percent in 2014, the Department of Education says.

The new numbers released Tuesday show an improvement in 2013’s rate of 79.8 percent. State officials also say the gap in graduation rates between students of color and their white peers shrank last year.

Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius notes the overall rate has climbed every year since 2011 as the state aims toward the 90 percent threshold by the end of the decade.
Cassellius said earlier intervention with at-risk students is one reason graduation rates are climbing.

There’s still plenty of room for improvement, though, particularly when it comes to rates for some racial minority groups. Robert Lilligren of the advocacy group Little Earth said the 50 percent graduation rate for Native American students is unacceptable.
Last week MPR News compared Minnesota’s 2013 numbers with others around the country. They found that in all four non-white student groups, Minnesota ranked last or next-to-last in the on-time graduation rate.

As for the state’s overall rate surpassing 81 percent, Jim Bartholomew of the Minnesota Business Partnership tells the Pioneer Press that should be taken with a grain of salt. He notes that the state got rid of reading and writing tests that had been graduation requirements. Now, Bartholomew tells the newspaper:
“Unfortunately, we’re back to where we were 15 to 20 years ago, where if kids were able to put in the time and get through school they get a diploma, whether they were prepared or not.”

Education Commissioner Cassellius, on the other hand, says the state’s standards have become more rigorous and graduates are better prepared for college and careers.
The Associated Press reports Gov. Mark Dayton pointed to last year’s state investments in all-day kindergarten and pre-K education in forecasting future gains in educational achievement.

A long awaited demo

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WORTHINGTON – As of Tuesday morning, it wasn’t very noticeable from the front, but progress is definitely being made in the demolition of the old K-Mart portion of the Northland Mall. The gaping hole in the back where the building meets the main mall section is growing slowly as the crew clears away debris.

Getting to this point has not been easy or quick. Knocking down a building that isn’t yours is not something that can be done overnight, even after it is declared hazardous, which it was back in 2013. A search warrant related to a drug investigation had been issued for the building, and what law enforcement found inside gave the city the right to get involved.

Lack of maintenance resulted in roofing failure and leakage, mold growth, electrical wiring had been exposed to water, fire sprinkler systems were inoperable, HVAC systems were non-functional and the building was being used for storage purposes not authorized or approved by the city.

From there, a long legal process ensued. With each step, there were mandatory waiting periods as the city was obligated to give owner Mike Kohan time to respond or address the issues, either through abatement or demolition on his own terms. Contact with the mall owner, however, was sporadic or non-existent. His real estate management group was seriously behind on property taxes, and the city was now putting out money to start the legal process of declaring the K-Mart portion of the mall a hazardous building.

In June 2014, the city of Worthington was granted the right in Nobles County District Court to demolish the K-Mart portion of the mall. Judge Gordon Moore stated during the hearing the mall seems to have essentially been abandoned. Even then, Kohan was given the opportunity to respond with a certain amount of time. Once again, there was no word from the man who owns dilapidated malls in several states.

On October 31, 2014, Moore granted a motion allowing the city to move forward with a structural assessment of the main portion of the mall, providing access to all of the mall property. Moore said his hope was that the disruption to the few businesses still in the mall would be minimal.

Last week during a closed session, Interim Administrator Brad Chapulis told the council the assessment is progressing.

February 24 news

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WORTHINGTON – During a special session before the regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening, the Worthington City Council reviewed potential candidates for the position of administrator as presented by executive search firm Brimeyer Fursman.

Dr. Richard Fursman presented a dozen candidates by number. The names of the five finalists will not be released until they have all been contacted and agree to meet with the council for interviews March 6 and 7. A meet and greet will be scheduled for the community that Friday. According to Fursman, a decision could be made within hours of the final interviews that Saturday.

The finalists were chosen in no particular order. The first is from the Twin Cities area, has served as an elected official, but is untested in the administrative chair, Fursman said. He is a soft-spoken gentleman, aware of how policy is made and very nice.

The second is from Nebraska, fluent in Spanish, outgoing with a background as a department head and city administration in rural areas. He has young children and wants to establish his family in schools for long-term, has a solid background in community development and leadership.

The other three candidates are all known to the council and the community, Fursman said. Those three he declined to describe with much detail. One he said was mild-mannered and easy to get along with, another he said had the experience to know what needed to be done. The third Fursman said appeared a strong candidate who impressed him with his enthusiasm.

Fursman seemed surprised by some of the council’s final choices, stating there were a couple he thought would be superstars that they didn’t bite on. Mayor Mike Kuhle said he would have had a hard time choosing the candidate from California because he didn’t think he would be happy in Minnesota, and council member Diane Graber said they were looking for diversity.

During the regular meeting, the council approved a motion to prepare plans and specifications to move forward with the improvement of South Crailsheim Road with the extension of the sanitary sewer and the water main extension of County State Aid Highway 35 near County State Aid Highway 5.

One land owner, Marvin Voss, is in the process of selling his land on CR 35 and was worried the $27,000 assessment for water would stop the sale, but the buyer, Al Drost, stepped forward and said he was okay with the extension, asking if there was a plan to add sewer as well. There currently are not any plans to do so, as that would involve a much bigger project, according to city engineer Duane Haffield.

WORTHINGTON — Worthington Crailsheim International will host its annual awards banquet at 12:30 p.m. March 8 at the First Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall. The 2015-16 student ambassador to Crailsheim will be announced at the banquet. The banquet is open to the public and features a German meal. Call 376-6538 for reservations by March 4.

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa - A Spirit Lake woman faces drug charges following a weekend traffic stop. Spirit Lake police say an officer pulled over a vehicle shortly before 11 p.m. Friday at the intersection of Gary Avenue and Highways 9 and 71. Upon investigating it was discovered the driver, 27-year-old Stephanie Thiel of Spirit Lake, had a revoked driver's license.

Upon further investigation officers found what's alleged to be marijuana and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle. Thiel was arrested and charged with driving while revoked, failure to surrender plates, speeding, possession of a controlled substance - marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was booked into the Dickinson County Jail.

SHELDON, Iowa — The Sheldon Police Department is investigating thefts of delivered packages to homes in Sheldon. Anyone who was expecting a package that was not delivered, even if they called the company and had a replacement delivered, is asked to contact authorities at 712-324-2525 and leave a message at extension 253.

SPENCER, Iowa - A weekend traffic stop resulted in authorities arresting an-18-year-old wanted in connection with thefts from this past January from the girls locker room at Clay Central-Everly High School in Everly.

According to the Clay County Sheriff's Office, a deputy pulled over a vehicle for an alleged traffic violation shortly after 11:30 p.m. Saturday and observed a pair of shoes similar to a pair reported stolen in January. When the deputy approached the vehicle a second time to issue the driver, 18-year-old Kathryn Carroll, traffic citations, he noticed the shoes were missing. Carroll initially denied knowing anything about the shoes, but later allegedly confessed they were stolen and said she had hidden them in her boots.

Carroll was transported without incident to the Clay County Jail, where it was discovered Carroll had allegedly been involved in five different thefts from the Clay Central-Everly High School girls locker room, including an IPOD touch, a pair of MissMe Jeans, a pair of Sperry shoes and two thefts of cash: one in the amount of $70, another for $50.

Carroll was cited for speeding and no insurance and was charged with five counts of theft. She was being held on a $1,500 cash or surety bond.

MINNESOTA - The top Democrat in the Minnesota Senate says he is not yet ready to embrace the legislation passed by the House last week to delay DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s pay raises for commissioners until July 1.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said Monday that he needs to talk to the governor before accepting the House language.

The Senate included the pay raise delay in the deficiency funding measure it passed earlier this month. It was a move that angered Dayton and prompted his public scolding of Bakk.

Last week, the House passed the same delay, along with a subtraction of money to cover the wages already paid out in three state department. They also added a provision that shifts the authority for future raises back to the Legislature.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said the measure was based on an agreement he had reached with the governor. Dayton has not made any public comments about the deal.

Bakk said he wants direct confirmation from the governor. He also wants a House-Senate conference committee to take testimony on the matter this week.

Bakk said he has a breakfast scheduled Wednesday with Dayton. It will be their first conversation since their public dustup over the issue.

Final House and Senate votes on the conference report are expected to come on Thursday.

National FFA Week

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Each year, FFA chapters around the country celebrate National FFA Week. The week-long tradition began in 1947 when the National FFA Board of Directors designated the week of George Washington's birthday as National FFA Week in recognition of his legacy as an agriculturist and farmer. The first National FFA Week was held in 1948. Today, FFA Week always runs Saturday to Saturday and encompasses Feb. 22, Washington's birthday.

This year's National FFA Week runs February 21-28, 2015, with the FFA Day at the Capitol on February 26th. A number of organizations are honoring FFA during this important time:

The Minnesota Farm Bureau (MFB) salutes FFA during National FFA Week, February 21-28. This week is a great reminder of the many reasons why Farm Bureau maintains such strong support for the FFA program. Farm Bureau invests in FFA throughout the year because Farm Bureau sees future farmers, future agricultural leaders and future Farm Bureau members involved in this organization. Below are some of the ways Farm Bureau partners with FFA throughout the year.

  • The MFB Young Farmers & Ranchers and MFB Foundation sponsor the Minnesota FFA Discussion Meet contest.
  • The MFB Foundation sponsors the extemporaneous speaking state contest and serves as a general sponsor of the Minnesota FFA Convention.
  • MFB Foundation recognizes an FFA Advisor of the Year and sponsors the Minnesota Association of Ag Educators Young Member of the Year award.
  • The MFB has a representative on the Minnesota FFA Foundation executive sponsors board.
  • The MFB provides assistance to regional and state FFA contests.
  • Minnesota FFA state and regional officers serve as timekeepers at the MFB Young Farmers & Ranchers state discussion meet contest.
  • MFB is a sponsor of the Minnesota FFA Ag Policy Experience Conference
  • MFB is a sponsor of the Minnesota FFA Foundation Golf Outing.
  • MFB is a sponsor of the Minnesota FFA Foundation Twins event.
  • MFB assists with leadership development of the Minnesota FFA Officers and national convention delegates.
  • Many Farm Bureau members serve as volunteers and leaders for their local FFA chapters. County Farm Bureaus and Farm Bureau leaders also support FFA programs by sponsoring local FFA activities or individuals, jointly hosting events such as safety camps and serve as a driving force to maintain FFA programs in local school districts.

Farm Bureau congratulates FFA in Minnesota and all of the youth and leaders who make FFA such an impressive organization. Farm Bureau is proud to be a strong supporter of FFA.

In addition, the Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) celebrates National FFA Week as well.

 “The FFA does such great work in fostering the skills necessary for our youth to excel and succeed,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “The agriculture sector is strong in good part because FFA provides the tools needed for personal growth and success in our future generations of family farmers. We thank and salute FFA for their hard work in keeping not only the agriculture sector strong, but our rural and urban communities as well.”

Minnesota Farmers Union supports FFA by:

  • Annually donating 30 FFA jackets through the Blue Jackets Bright Futures Program
  • Working closely with the Metro Area FFA Alumni and Friends Association
  • Judging numerous FFA competitions across the state
  • Hosting the State Officers for a State Officer Professional Development day
  • Sponsoring an annual FFA essay contest encouraging students to learn about a new topic and its place in rural Minnesota and Minnesota’s economy. The winner receives $1000 for their FFA Chapter and a trip to Washington, D.C.
  • Creating and facilitating the Minnesota FFA ag policy experience, a program specifically for older students interested in public policy.

For many years MFU has been a star partner sponsor of FFA. Minnesota FFA’s theme for the year is “Reach,” and this theme is a good reminder of our relationship between the Minnesota Farmers Union and the Minnesota FFA Association. MFU encourages all students to call their school and become involved with FFA. The future of agriculture is waiting for you.

Culver's is also proud to be partnering with the National FFA Organization and urge you to help give back to America's farm families! For every viewing of the video "Signs of Thanks," Culver's will donate a dollar to the National FFA Organization, up to $50,000 or up to 50,000 views!

See video

February 23 news

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WORTHINGTON — Mark Brodin has been contracted to serve as the new technical director for Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center.

Brodin is a regional Emmy award-winning documentary video producer and technical audio video services provider who found his niche in live theater. He has provided technical design and execution for thousands of performances at the Chanhassen Dinner Theaters, the Medora Musical and the Plymouth Playhouse.

Brodin’s 2003 Upper Midwest Regional Emmy is for the documentary “Delafield,” which was based in southwest Minnesota. It is about the closing of a rural church, which was moved to Fort Belmont’s site along Interstate 90 at Jackson.

He grew up on a farm near Wilder and obtained a bachelor’s degree from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, S.D., with further studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass., and toward a master’s degree in music at Moorhead State University in Moorhead. Brodin has decided to return to the region with his wife, Sue, and son, Max, to be closer to family.

WORTHINGTON — Sanford Worthington has announced that Douglas Miedema has joined its team of health care providers.

Additionally, Sanford Worthington Medical Center has announced that Erica Berger has been hired as the manager of Counseling and Social Services.

Miedema is an emergency department physician. Miedema began seeing patients in the ED on Jan. 12. He joins Dr. Fedko as a permanent Emergency Department physician, which now makes two permanent physicians in Sanford Worthington’s Emergency Department.

Miedema is married and has three adult children. He enjoys sports, reading and traveling.

Berger earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from St. Olaf College in 2010 and a master’s degree in social work from University of St. Thomas/St. Catherine University dual program in May 2011.

Her time with Sanford Worthington Medical Center began in April 2014 as a hospital social worker. Prior to this, Berger worked several years as a clinician with at-risk youth and their families in Denver, Colo. She has found the skills learned through both education and experience to be useful in addressing the broad range of social service needs that occur within the medical setting. Berger lives in Worthington, where she has a large extended family.

ESTHERVILLE, Iowa - Drug charges have been filed against a Spirit Lake man after authorities executed a search warrant on a residence in Estherville last week.
Estherville police say it stems from a report from a citizen of illegal drug activity at 1403 2nd Avenue North in Estherville, and that the activity was possibly occurring in the presence of an infant child. As part of their investigation, officers obtained and executed a search warrant on the residence, resulting in them finding several items of drug paraphernalia. The department's K-9 was deployed and indicated on the presence of illegal substances in a coat.

Upon further investigation officers determined the coat belonged to 27-year-old Tyrell Howard of Spirit Lake. He was arrested and booked into the Emmet county jail on charges of possession of a controlled substance...marijuana, and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

Authorities say the investigation is ongoing and more charges are possible.

ESTHERVILLE, Iowa — Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials say about 100 gallons of fuel pooled on top of a frozen section of the Des Moines River on Friday.
DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins said E-85 fuel overflowed as a tank at an Estherville service station was being filled. He said the fuel reached a nearby storm sewer and flowed to the West Fork of river in northern Iowa.

Officials said they began cleaning the spill atop the ice and placed a barrel at the end of the storm sewer pipe to collect any fuel that continued to flow through to keep it from reaching the river. Baskins said the DNR doesn’t expect significant environmental impact from the spill.

MINNESOTA - Gray wolves in Minnesota and several other states are back under the protection of the federal Endangered Species List.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service implemented new rules Friday placing wolves in Minnesota as “threatened,” and those in Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan as “endangered.”

The rules were put in place to comply with a federal judge’s order in December that overruled the agency’s decision of a few years ago to remove gray wolves from protected status and give individual states the authority to manage the wolf population.
The rule means that wolf hunting seasons that were established in the states are no longer permitted. It also means that other measures Minnesota put into place to help farmers and ranchers who lose livestock to wolves are also invalid.

Under the state rules, farmers in certain areas of the state were allowed to shoot wolves to protect their animals, or could hire a trapper to catch them. Neither option is available anymore.

In addition, a state program that pays farmers for any livestock they lose to wolves is almost broke, and some who’ve made claims won’t be paid.

There is still disagreement, even among wildlife experts, over whether the wolf population still needs protection.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has not yet said whether it will appeal the judge’s ruling.
In the meantime, a bill that would essentially reverse the ruling has been introduced in Congress. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., is collecting co-authors of a bill that would also apply to Minnesota, Michigan, and Wyoming.

More than 50 scientists this week signed a letter to Congress saying wolves occupy a small fraction of their former range and still need legal protection, according to the AP.