Wright County News
Transportation Bill Prospects in St. Paul
Republicans in both the Minnesota Senate and the House now have their transportation funding proposals on the table, but Hamline University analyst David Schultz says prospects for passage, at least at this point, still don't look good. Republicans say "no way" on a gas tax increase, but Democrats, including Governor Mark Dayton, maintain it's the only way to raise enough money to adequately address Minnesota's transportation needs. Schultz says the GOP position on a gas tax hike is a continuation of something that goes back to Tim Pawlenty's time as governor. Just over nine years ago, six Republicans joined the Democratic majority in the Minnesota House to override then-Governor Pawlenty's veto of a gas tax increase. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's support for the measure was a critical factor at the time.
Dayton Says No More Delay on Water Buffer Laws
Governor Dayton has made it clear that he is done with pushing back deadlines on implementation of new state "buffer" laws designed to protect Minnesota's waterways. State officials announced in recent days that three-quarters of Minnesota counties are making significant progress toward complying with the new "buffer" laws to reduce farm runoff into rivers and lakes. Under current law, buffer strips must be in place adjacent to public waters by November 1st of this year, and adjacent to public ditches by November 2018.
Annual Buffalo Community Health Fair Saturday
The annual Buffalo Community Health Fair returns on Saturday. Organizer Tom Kuzma describes the 2017 theme as "mind, body, spirit." The event will be held at the Buffalo Community Middle School, where a separate gymnasium be reserved for activities for kids including games, a giant bounce house, fun with the KRWC Road Show games, and much more. Many door prizes will be given away, and those that have their event passport stamped by all of the vendors will have a chance to win the grand prize, a 3-month membership at Fitness Evolution with 12 personal training sessions, or an Apple Watch. The Buffalo Community Health Fair will run from 9 AM to 1 PM at the Buffalo Community Middle School. Admission is free for everyone. More information is available online at; www.buffalohealthfair.com.
Wright County Unemployment Up to Start 2017
Wright County's jobless rate started 2017 a bit higher than in recent years. New statistics released by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development show that Wright County's non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January was 5.3 percent, up from 4.2 percent in December of 2016, and up from a 4.8 percent rate in January a year ago. Some of the increase is based on seasonal laborers being laid-off during the winter months, but if the January rate stands un-adjusted, it will be the highest local jobless rate since March of 2014 when the local rate was 5.6 percent. Minnesota's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 4 percent in January, unchanged from the state's revised jobless rate in December. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in January.
Skywarn Weather Spotter Training Offered March 28th
The National Weather Service will offer Skywarn weather spotter training classes next week in Wright County. Tuesday, March 28th, an afternoon and evening training class will be offered at the Wright County Government Center in Buffalo. The classes include a slide and video program that teaches potential spotters about severe storm structure and how to identify cloud features and other environmental clues to spot severe storms and tornadoes. After being certified, those in attendance may join a network of other Skywarn spotters and report to the National Weather Service, or just retain the information for personal and family protection. The classes are free and open to the public, and runs about two and a half hours. Next Tuesday's classes will be held at 1:30 and 6:30 PM in Room 120 at the Wright County Government Center in Buffalo. For more information, contact Steve Berg, Emergency Management Co-ordinator with the Wright County Sheriff's Office at (763) 684-2364.
National Poison Prevention Week Observed
This is National Poison Prevention Week. Minnesota is observing the week, and this year's theme, "Educate before you medicate." Minnesota Poison Control System spokeswoman, Lauren Bul says there were 572 deaths due to drug-related overdoses in 2015. She says however, that many of these deaths were due to prescription medications rather than illegal street drugs.
Hundreds Turn Out for Community Vigil in Delano
Estimates of several hundred to nearly a thousand people turned out Sunday night to attend a candlelight vigil in Delano, in response to a recent incident of vandalism and burglary in that community that is said to have been racially motivated. Organizers have dubbed the on-going anti-racism campaign "Delano United." On March 12th someone broke into and vandalized the home of a black couple. The couple had recently purchased and moved into the home with their three foster children. Reports indicate that a message stating "Get Out" was spray-painted on the siding, and the vandal or vandals also left a note threatening that the next incident or attack might include fire. Swastikas were also reportedly drawn on interior and exterior walls, items were stolen or damaged. Delano Mayor Dale Graunke says he was sad to see the family relocate to another community. Graunke says the incident simply "...is not Delano. This is a welcoming community." Over 17 thousand dollars has been raised so far to help the family. Governor Mark Dayton weighed-in over the weekend on the incident, calling it "horrible" and "un-Minnesotan." Dayton credits the builder who was willing to buy the home back and others who stepped forward to show solidarity with the family. No arrests have been made in the case. Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty says his department is continuing a very thorough investigation into the incident.
Caution Urged for Spring Break Vacation Booking
When searching the internet for a spring break destination officials you might want to avoid using searches like "best deals or bargains." Dan Hendrickson with the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota says it's also a good idea to pay with a credit card, which gives you additional protection if something should go wrong with the travel reservation. Hendrickson says you also may want to consider purchasing travel insurance. He recommends asking a lot of questions, and always read the fine print to see what's covered and what is not.
Crossroads Animal Shelter Annual "Blizzard of a Garage Sale" April 1st
A local animal shelter will host its annual spring fundraising garage sale next month. Crossroads Animal Shelter in Buffalo will host its 18th Annual "Blizzard of a Garage Sale" on Saturday, April 1st at the Discovery School gymnasium in Buffalo. The annual sale benefits the Crossroads Animal Shelter as it continues to help the homeless animals of the area. Residents are invited to donate used treasures, but no clothing, electronics or exercise equipment will be accepted. For early drop off of items, to arrange for a pick-up, or to volunteer to help, call (763) 684-1234. Items may also be dropped off anytime on Friday, March 31st, the day before the sale. Pre-sales will also take place that day beginning at 2 PM for a 1 dollar donation. The main sale will run Saturday, April 1st from 8 AM to 2 PM.
Two Killed, One Seriously Injured When Semi Rear-ends Mini-van Taxi
Two people died and another person was seriously injured over the weekend when a semi truck rear-ended a mini-van taxi in the City of St. Cloud. The Minnesota State Patrol reports that around 7:20 AM Saturday, the mini-van taxi was southbound on Highway 10, and was stopped at a red light at St. Germain Street when it was rear-ended by the Freightliner semi. Killed in the crash was the driver of the mini-van, 66-year-old Thomas Findlay of Sartell, and one of two passengers in the van, 22-year-old Emily Letourneau of Big Lake. Another passenger in the mini-van taxi, 24-year-old Marche Price of New Hope sustained life-threatening injuries and was taken to the St. Cloud Hospital for treatment. Neither of the passengers in the mini-van taxi was wearing a seat belt, though the driver of the van was belted. The driver of the semi, 61-year-old James Cockram of Owatonna, was not injured. The St. Cloud Police and Fire Departments, and Gold Cross Ambulance assisted at the scene.
Delano Man Injured in Weekend Crash in Kanabec County
A Wright County man was injured in a two-vehicle traffic crash in Central Minnesota over the weekend. The State Patrol reports that around 4:15 AM Saturday, a northbound pickup on Highway 65 near the community of Mora in Kanabec County was struck by a southbound passenger car that had crossed the center line. The driver of the pickup, 51-year-old Gary Schedin of Delano sustained non-life threatening injuries. He was taken to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale for treatment. The driver of the passenger car, 18-year-old Jared Wiener of Mora sustained non-life threatening injuries, and was also transported to North Memorial Hospital. The Kanabec County Sheriff's Office and the Mora Fire Department assisted the State Patrol.
Buffalo City Council to Discuss Amendment to On-Sale Liquor Ordinance
The Buffalo City Council will meet tonight to receive input from the public as well as license holders regarding an amendment to the city's on-sale alcohol licensing ordinance. The proposed amendment would allow the hours and days of liquor sales to run concurrently with the hours and days laid out in Minnesota Statutes. Anyone who would like to comment on the amendment will be heard at the meeting. Written comment may also be submitted to city officials at the Buffalo City Center, or online at; www.ci.buffalo.mn.us. Tonight's meeting will be at 7 PM in the City Council chambers at the Buffalo City Center.
DNR Requests User Fee Increase Legislation
The Minnesota DNR is asking for modest fee and general fund increases during the 2017 legislative session. Commissioner Tom Landwehr says one thing that many Minnesotans don't realize is that all the fee monies raised stay in separate funds such as snowmobile, ATV, parks and several others. The department would like approval through legislation to raise state parks and trails user fees. Landwehr says the monies raised would go toward maintaining the current programs, not necessarily adding new or additional services. The proposed state park fee increase is five dollars annually, 1 dollar daily, while the proposal for increases for ATVs would be 5 dollars a year, and snowmobiles - 10 dollars a year. Boat registration would increase between 1 and 15 dollars depending on the size of the watercraft.
These stories and more follow CNN 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.