WORTHINGTON – A roomful of people burst into applause Tuesday when the Nobles County Commissioners officially approved the concept of the Nobles Home Initiative, a tax abatement program that would provide 100 percent tax abatement for new residential construction for a period of five years from the date of issuance of a certificate of occupancy.
Representatives from local businesses, banks and real estate offices, along with other area officials, gathered in the Board Room at the Nobles County Government Center to hear the presentation and offer their thoughts. To a person, they all encouraged the commissioners to make a motion furthering the implementation of the initiative explained to the board by Worthington Regional Economic Development Corporation Manager Abraham Algadi.
The abatement would apply to single family homes and multi-family housing, both owner-occupied and rental markets. Algadi told the commissioners the initiative could be used as a model in an area that lacks adequate housing, and if they made the first move to support the concept, they would be declaring their leadership while announcing that Nobles County is open for business.
Algadi showed background of the initiative’s conception and what could be accomplished if the county, city and school districts work together to approve the tax abatements. About 500 housing units are needed to meet expected demand by 2020.
WREDC Board member Kevin Donovan said a developer in Sioux Falls, SD heard about an accident involving some people who commute each day to Worthington and is ready to commit to a $2.5 million project right off the bat if the abatement goes through.
After approving the concept, the commissioners asked that county staff work with WREDC staff to hammer out guidelines and details, which can be brought back to the commissioners for approval.
Algadi will take his presentation to Worthington city and school district leaders next week.
In other action, the board appointed Pamela Friesen to Nobles County Assessor. Friesen has experience as deputy assessor in Pipestone and Murray Counties They also recognized Ed Busch, from the county’s public works department, as the February Excellence in Performance Award recipient.
MINNESOTA - The Lewis and Clark Rural Water Project in Southwest Minnesota will get an additional $5.2 million this year as its share of an additional $27 million that Congress allocated to water projects in its most recent budget agreement. The added funds, which still far short of full federal funding for the project, will more than double this year's funding level to $8.4 million.
According to Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota communities across the region have in good faith paid their full share to fund this project, and have been waiting for the federal government to do the same. While this added funding will be helpful to our efforts to get the project moving, Franken said there is still a long way to go to get water to the Minnesota communities that need it.
The total cost for the entire project is still $203 million. The inflation on the remaining federal cost share of $203 million increases each year by roughly $8 million.
Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed budget for 2015 could add some money to the pot, but details have not been released.
READING – Two Reading teenagers received non-life threatening injuries when their vehicle rolled on Highway 91 Tuesday afternoon. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Logan Rogers, age 16, was driving northbound in a pickup when he lost control on the ice and rolled. He and Landon Rogers, age 14, were both taken to Sanford Worthington Regional Hospital.
ARNOLD’S PARK, Iowa - The cause of a fire that destroyed one home and damaged another Monday in Arnolds Park has been listed as undetermined. Fire Chief Chris Yungbluth says that was the determination following an investigation by the Arnolds Park-Okoboji Fire Department and the State Fire Marshall's Office.
The blaze destroyed a home at 184 Park Place, west of the Central Emporium, and caused an estimated $25,000 in damage to a neighboring residence at 180 Park Place. No one was home at either residence at the time and no injuries were reported.
HULL, Iowa - The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says sludge from a northwest Iowa cheese processing plant overflowed from a storage tank and flowed into a nearby stream.
The DNR says the sludge overflowed a tank at the Agropur plant in Hull.
The sludge flooded a wastewater treatment building and then flowed into a stream. It moved about three-eighths of a mile downstream before stopping about four miles upstream of the West Branch of the Floyd River.
The company estimates 1,200 gallons of sludge flowed into the stream before workers managed to stop the flow.
Crews were pumping the sludge from the stream and applying it to nearby fields.
KINGSLEY, Iowa — Three people face multiple felony drug charges after authorities found a marijuana growing operation in northwest Iowa.
On Sunday at approximately 4 p.m., a Plymouth County Deputy stopped at a home in Kingsley to serve a court document. While talking with a woman at the front door, the deputy could smell a strong odor of marijuana coming from the home. She attempted to slam the door and flee into the home, but the deputy was able to detain the woman near the front door. Additional officers responded and two men were found inside the home.
Officers obtained a search warrant for the home, and as a result of the search, a marijuana grow operation was located in the upstairs of the two-story home containing over 30 growing marijuana plants. Deputies also located processed marijuana in the main living area and a bedroom on the main floor along with numerous items of drug paraphernalia.
Charged with manufacture of marijuana and failure to affix drug tax stamp and possession of drug paraphernalia were 70-year-old Norma Bowman; 52-year-old Billy Fletcher, Sr.; and 25-year-old Billy Fletcher, Jr., all of Kingsley.
Bowman and the younger Fletcher were charged with possession of marijuana. The senior Fletcher was charged with possession of marijuana, third offense.
Kingsley, Remsen, and Moville Police Departments, the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa State Patrol assisted the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office.
MINNESOTA - A committee in the Minnesota House approved a bill Tuesday night that would legalize medical marijuana in the state. The House Health and Human Services Committee voted to refer the bill to another committee — the first of many legislative steps facing the measure.
The vote came after three hours of emotional testimony from patients and their loved ones who said marijuana is often the most effective way to treat the symptoms of a variety of health conditions.
Rep. Carly Melin’s bill, House File 1818, would allow patients with some debilitating health conditions access to certain amounts of marijuana. The bill defines a debilitation disease as “including, but not limited to, cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C, HIV, seizures, and other commissioner-approved conditions or treatments.”
Patients and caregivers would need ID cards issued by the state Department of Health, which also would regulate a network of dispensaries. Those living 15 miles or more from a marijuana dispensary would be allowed to grow a limited amount of marijuana, according to supporters of the bill.
The legislation “would allow legal, safe and regulated treatment for patients who need … treatment with medical marijuana,” Mellin said during the hearing.
The Legislature approved a medical marijuana bill in 2009, but then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed the measure because of objections from law enforcement groups. They remain staunchly opposed to legalization because of concerns over unintended consequences — including the danger of more drug-impaired drivers on the roads, and teens gaining easier access to the drug.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is also leery of legalizing marijuana, and has said he wants proponents of the bill and law enforcement officials to work out a compromise.
Tuesday’s hearing, however, was focused solely on the health implications of legalizing the drug. Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson lined a table with the pill bottles he was prescribed to treat his glaucoma, and said his doctor confided that he would have preferred to just prescribe him marijuana instead.
“I have less vision than I should” because the doctor couldn’t prescribe the drug he wanted, Johnson told committee members.
One Republican lawmaker offered an amendment that would limit marijuana therapy in Minnesota to forms of the drug that are not smoked, but taken in other forms. That amendment failed on a vote of 8-10.