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Wright County News  

Thursday, April 25, 2019


Minnesota Unemployment Up Slightly in March 

Despite Minnesota employers adding 13-hundred jobs last month, the state's unemployment rate increased slightly. State job analyst Steve Hine says the unusually rough late winter weather played a role in the unemployment picture. Minnesota's unemployment rate sits at 3.2 percent. This compares to the national jobless rate of 3.8 percent. The county-by-county jobless numbers for March should be released in the next week to ten days. 

CSAH 9 Construction Work in Waverly to Resume 

Road construction season is getting underway, and work is set to resume today (Thursday) on Wright County State Aid Highway 9 in Waverly. The Wright County Highway Department says CSAH 9 will be closed to thru-traffic during the work. Officials say work will include construction of stormwater retention ponds, ditch grading and a bituminous trail. Many privately-owned utility changes will also be taking place. Various buried cables and overhead lines will be re-located within the new highway right-of-way limits. This work will be done by private utility companies or sub-contractors, and could occur at the same time as other work on the actual roadway area. The posted detour route will utilize CSAH 8 and County Road 107. The roadway will be open to local traffic, but the highway department notes that depending on construction activities, access may not always be open from each direction. Officials say the contractors should be coordinating and communicating with residents, schools and the City of Waverly. County staff will also assist in those efforts. Completion of the project is estimated to be June 30th, weather permitting. The Wright County Highway Department thanks residents and motorists in advance for their patience during the on-going construction project. Questions on the project should be directed to the Waverly City Engineer at (320) 231-2365. 

Litchfield Man Injured When Motorcycle Strikes Deer 

A Meeker County man was injured early Wednesday morning when his motorcycle struck a deer. The State Patrol reports that the incident happened around 5:45 AM Wednesday on U-S Highway 12 in Darwin Township. Officials say 57-year-old Scott Durken of Litchfield sustained non-life threatening injuries and was taken to the Meeker County Memorial Hospital in Litchfield for treatment. Authorities remind all motorists to watch carefully on the roads as springtime is a prime time for wildlife movement especially around dawn and dusk. 

Former Cokato Museum Director Mike Worcester to be Honored by Local History Museum Organization 

A longtime director of the Cokato Museum will be honored tonight (Thursday) by a local history museum organization. Mike Worcester will be one of nine recipients of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums. The group is holding its annual meeting and conference at the Treasure Island Resort and Casino near Red Wing. Worcester left his position with the Cokato Museum near the end of 2018 for a new position in Little Falls, but not before logging some 25 years of service to organizations across the state, including the Cokato Museum and the Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums. History Awards Committee Chair Adam Smith says the Alliance is proud to honor the 2019 award winners for the great work being done by local history organizations across the state and each individual's commitment to serving the local history community.

Spring Burning Restrictions Begin in Wright County and 19 Other Minnesota Counties 

Warm temperatures and dry conditions mean increased wildfire risk, so effective immediately, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will restrict open burning in 20 Minnesota counties, including Wright County. The state will not issue burning permits for brush or yard waste in these counties until restrictions are lifted. DNR officials say burning restrictions have reduced wildfires by nearly a third since the state started applying them as necessary in 2001. Residents are encouraged to use alternatives to burning, such as composting, chipping, or taking brush to a collection site. Anyone burning debris or yard waste will be held financially responsible if their fire gets out of control and burns other property. Officials say burning restrictions will be adjusted, including the extension of restrictions to other counties, as conditions change. In addition to Wright County, neighboring Anoka, Benton, Hennepin, Sherburne and Stearns counties, plus 14 others are included in the burning restriction area. For more information and daily updates on current fire risk and open burning restrictions, visit the Minnesota DNR website at; 

Two Injured in 3-Vehicle Crash in Big Lake 

Two people were injured in a three-vehicle traffic crash late Tuesday afternoon in Big Lake. The Minnesota State Patrol reports that the crash happened around 5:30 PM Tuesday when a passenger car that was eastbound on Highway 10, ran a red light at Eagle Lake Road, and struck an SUV that was southbound on Eagle Lake Road. After the first impact, the passenger car then deflected off the SUV and struck another car that was northbound on Eagle Lake Road. Injured in the crash was the driver of the vehicle that authorities say ran the stoplight. 19-year-old Paxton Metcalf of Big Lake sustained serious, but non-life threatening injuries and was taken to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale. The driver of the SUV, 48-year-old Nicole Bauer of Big Lake had non-life threatening injuries and was treated at the Monticello Hospital. The driver of the third car involved, a 29-year-old woman from Zimmerman, was not injured. 

No Quick Fix for Wet Fields 

It's hurry up and wait for farmers itching to get the spring season underway. U of M Extension educator Angie Peltier says farmers in many parts of the state continue to try to stay patient. She says soil temps are still cold and the spring snow followed by rain have been complications for what earlier was looking like a chance for some early field work. Peltier says when the soil does dry out, many farmers will first have to make up the fertilizing and tilling some were not able to do when last fall abruptly turned to winter cold. 

"Stomp Out Parkinson's" Fundraiser Saturday in Maple Lake 

You can help "Stomp Out Parkinson's" this weekend in Maple Lake. The annual event to help the work of the National Parkinson's Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation is scheduled for Saturday afternoon and evening. Events from 3 to 6 PM will include a silent auction, and an Italian dinner. A full bar menu will also be available. A live auction will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 PM, followed by music from Mitch Gordon from 8 to 11 PM with a 5 dollar cover charge. The events will be held at The V in Maple Lake. More information on the fundraiser is available on Facebook, or by calling Claire Austin at (612) 245-9571. You can also find out more about the on-going battle against Parkinson's at; 

Minor and Moderate Flooding Along Crow River and South Fork Crow River 

For the second time this spring season, the Crow River and its South Fork are in minor to moderate flood stage in our listening area. The first crest came after the melting of the large amounts of snow that Wright County received along with much of the state in the late weeks of winter, including a couple of major blasts in March. Some near-perfect weather then settled in for the last two weeks of March, and although the melting snow did result in some flooding along the Crow River, most everyone agreed it could have been much worse if temperatures had suddenly surged into the upper 60s, or low to mid 70s. River levels crested without major problems. Then came some the April snow, followed by some significant rain, and the whole process had to start all over again. The result is a second crest of the Crow River and the South Fork. The latest update from the National Weather Service indicates that at the reporting station along the South Fork of the Crow River at Mayer, the level was expected to crest at around 13.5 feet on Monday, well into the minor flood stage, but not quite enough to register as a moderate flood crest, which would be at 15 feet or greater. The flood waters in Mayer are expected to stay around the 13-plus foot level until late this week when they should start to drop. Officials believe that the river level in Mayer should drop out of flood stage by late Saturday or early Sunday. In Delano, the South Fork of the Crow is expected to be back to the moderate flood stage of 17.5 feet for the next several days, then should start to slowly fall back through the minor flood stage this week before hopefully falling below flood stage by this weekend. In Rockford, levels are continuing to rise to above the moderate flood stage of 12 feet on the Crow River, and aren't expected to crest until Friday at just under 13 feet before beginning to drop back to the minor flood stage by this coming weekend. All communities are closely monitoring the situation and any factors that could cause any significant jump in the river level projections. 

1 Dead, 1 Seriously Injured in Wrong-Way Crash in Waconia 

Two Wright County residents were involved in a three-vehicle crash in Waconia Monday afternoon that resulted in one fatality and left another driver with serious injuries. The State Patrol reports that around 5 PM Monday, three pickup trucks collided on Highway 5 at Hartmann Drive. Authorities say one of the pickups, a 2015 Chevy Silverado, was driving east in the westbound lanes of Highway 5 when it struck a 2002 Chevy Silverado head-on. Another pickup that was westbound on Highway 5 then crashed into the trucks after the initial collision. Killed in the crash was the driver of the westbound '02 Silverado, now identified as 45-year-old Michael Clarkson of Rockford. The driver of the Chevy pickup that was headed the wrong way on Highway 5 was identified as 57-year-old Lisa Welch of Cokato. She sustained life-threatening injuries and was transported to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. The driver of the third pickup involved, a 28-year-old man from Minneapolis, and a passenger in that truck, a 25-year-old man from Hastings, had minor injuries that did not require hospital treatment. The Carver County Sheriff's Office and responders from HCMC assisted the State Patrol. 

Wide Separation Between Governor and Republican Lawmakers on State Budget 

State lawmakers return from the Easter-Passover break today. They have until May 20th to come to an agreement on the state budget, and Governor Walz and Senate Republicans remain far apart on a solution. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says with a roughly billion-dollar budget surplus, Minnesotans shouldn't have their taxes raised. Governor Walz says to even begin talking about budget compromises, the GOP first needs to come up with some specifics. Among the main budget areas lawmakers need to finalize are education, transportation, healthcare and taxes. 

Two Killed in Seperate Easter Weekend Crashes in Wright County Area 

It was a tragic and deadly weekend on roads in and around Wright County when two fatal crashes happened within minutes of each other on Saturday morning on opposite ends of the county. The State Patrol reports that around 10:45 AM Saturday, a passenger car that was eastbound on Highway 55 in Greenfield, just east of Rockford was struck head-on by a semi truck. Officials say the semi was westbound on Highway 55, and somehow crossed over the median curb at County Road 50, colliding head-on with the passenger car. The driver of the car, 49-year-old Steven Cullinan of Buffalo was killed in the crash. The driver of the semi, a 51-year-old man from Coon Rapids, and a passenger, a 40-year-old man from Anoka, had minor injuries. The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office assisted the State Patrol among other first responder agencies.

Just moments later on Highway 55 near the western border of Wright County, another fatal crash occurred. The State Patrol reports around 11 AM Saturday, a westbound SUV ran off the road near 90th Street Northwest, just east of South Haven. The vehicle vaulted off a driveway approach and came to rest near J & J Marine. The driver of the vehicle, 47-year-old Chad Rannow of Silver Lake died in the crash. Authorities say he was not using a seat belt. There was no word on what might have caused the vehicle to veer off the roadway. The Wright County Sheriff's Office assisted the State Patrol.

Safety Officials, Law Enforcement Gear Up For Education on Hands-Free Cell Phone Law 

Sate Patrol Chief, Colonel Matt Langer promises a "full court press" to educate Minnesotans before the new hands-free cell phone law takes effect for drivers. Colonel Langer says while enforcement will certainly part of the strategy, better education will mean fewer tickets. Langer says they'll have information on how drivers can become compliant with minimal or no investment.

Allina Health EMS to Offer Paid EMT Training Program 

Allina Health Emergency Medical Services has announced that it will launch its own EMT training program beginning in June. The Allina Health Emergency Medical Technician Academy will recruit a first class of 14 students who will be paid for their time training. All expenses for books and test fees will also be covered and transportation assistance is available. Allina says the goal is to train, certify and potentially hire community members as EMTs at Allina Health EMS. The first class will start June 10th and run through October 31st. Classes will meet Mondays and Thursdays from 9 AM to 1 PM at the Allina Health EMS Mounds View base. After completion of the program and certification testing, the successful interns will be able to apply for open EMT positions at Allina Health EMS. More information is available at;

These stories and more follow the Westwood One and MNN network news in our Wright County News at 6:10, 7:10, &  8:10 AM and 12:10, 4:10, 5:10, & 6:10 PM on AM 1360 / KRWC.