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Wright County News  

Saturday, October 21, 2017


Discussion Continues on Tracking of Students' Electronic Devices 

If a computer or other electronic device is issued by the school to a student, does that give school officials the right to use tracking, or other means to monitor that equipment, the student, or both? Those are some of the questions being considered as state lawmakers discuss a bill dubbed the Student Data Privacy Act. The measure would put additional regulations on how school officials and others can access data on students' electronic devices. The bill's sponsor is District 30B Republican Eric Lucero of Dayton, who represents a portion of northeastern Wright County in the Minnesota House. Lucero says under provisions of the bill, a school district would have to document that there's "reasonable suspicion" to warrant monitoring or tracking. Ben Feist with ACLU Minnesota says under the proposed new law, a warrant would be required to GPS track a student's device, unless it's stolen or lost -- or there's a threat to life or safety. But some caution that similar regulations are already in state law, and unless legislators first evaluate those, a new statute will just create a confusing patchwork of regulations. 

Road Work on I-94 Means Slow Traffic Between Monticello and Clearwater 

Road work continues on I-94 between Monticello and Clearwater means slower travel for many motorists. MnDOT says crews will be working to grind rough pavement to smooth the ride along the 14 mile stretch of both east and westbound I-94, causing intermittent lane closures, limiting traffic to just one lane during non-rush hours. Officials say the work will continue for the next week to 10 days, wrapping up on or around November 2nd, weather permitting. Motorists planning travel on I-94 in the work zone should be prepared to slow down and stop if necessary, and to move over as needed to give crews plenty of room to work. For more information on this, and other work zones throughout the state, log onto; 

Elk River Woman Injured in Mille Lacs County Auto Crash 

A woman from neighboring Sherburne County was injured in a two-vehicle traffic crash in Mille Lacs County Thursday morning. The State Patrol reports that shortly after 11 AM, a southbound passenger car on Highway 169 was broadsided by a westbound pickup truck at the intersection with Highway 27 north of Onamia. Authorities say the driver of the southbound car, 49-year-old Pamela Stigen of Elk River sustained non-life threatening injuries in the crash, and was taken to the Onamia Hospital for treatment. The driver of the pickup, a 59-year-old man from Onamia, was not injured. The Mille Lacs County Sheriff's Office assisted the State Patrol at the scene. 

Rural Elk River Boy Dies After Being Struck by Tree at his Home 

A youngster from rural Elk River has died after what authorities call a "freak accident" on Tuesday. Five-year-old Eddie Michalek was playing on a backyard hammock with three other siblings at his family's home in Big Lake Township Tuesday afternoon when one of the trees that the hammock was tied to, reportedly snapped and struck the youngster. The tree narrowly missed striking the other children as well. A gofundme page has been established for the Michalek family. A funeral Mass for Eddie Michalek will be held on Saturday morning at the St. Michael Catholic Church in St. Michael. 

Local Victim of Fatal Motorcycle Crash in Minneapolis Identified 

A local man who died earlier this week in a motorcycle crash in Minneapolis has now been identified. The State Patrol says the victim was 44-year-old Bartholomew Leuer of Buffalo. Authorities say Leuer was northbound on Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis, and was exiting to Westbound I-94 when his cycle ran off the road. Leuer was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis where he was later pronounced dead. Officials say Leuer was not wearing helmet. Authorities also reported that alcohol was not a factor in the crash. The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and first responders from HCMC assisted the State Patrol at the scene of the crash that happened around 11:30 PM Tuesday evening. 

Coats for Kids Collection Continues 

The Coats for Kids collection is continuing in the communities of Buffalo, Montrose and Hanover. Community organizations, businesses and churches are combining forces in the collection of new and gently used coats, hats, mittens, snow pants and other winter outerwear to be distributed to children in need throughout the 877 School District. Donations are being collected through Monday, October 23rd at most Buffalo area churches, as well as at the Buffalo High School, the Buffalo Community Center, and various Buffalo businesses. Distribution will take place during regular hours during the week of October 30th at the Buffalo Food Shelf. Winter outerwear will be distributed based on availability and size. Children ages 0 to 17 must be present at distribution, and must live in the Buffalo, Hanover, Montrose School District. Similar drives are also being conducted in other parts of our region. 

One Injured When SUV Hits Median Barrier on I-94 Near Silver Creek 

One person was injured when an SUV struck the median barrier on I-94 in Wright County Tuesday evening. The State Patrol reports that just before 7 PM, a Chevrolet Uplander SUV was eastbound on I-94 in the vicinity of County Road 8 in Silver Creek when the front left tire blew out. The vehicle was drawn into the median, and came to a stop after striking the median barrier. A passenger in the vehicle, a 20-year-old man from Indianapolis, Indiana sustained a minor injury and was treated at the Monticello Hospital. The driver, a 54-year-old woman from Indianapolis, and 5 other passengers, all also from Indianapolis, were not injured. The Wright County Sheriff's Office assisted the State Patrol. 

St. Michael Man Involved in 3-Vehicle Traffic Crash in Winona 

A young man from our area was involved, but was not injured in a three-vehicle traffic crash that happened Tuesday evening in Winona. The State Patrol reports that just before 8 PM, a mini-van was northbound on Highway 61, and struck the passenger side of a passenger vehicle as it was making a turn across the northbound lanes of the highway at the intersection with Highway 43 in Winona. The driver of the mini-van, a 20-year-old woman from Rochester, the driver of the passenger car that was struck, a 52-year-old woman from Winona, and a passenger in that car, a 29-year-old woman from Chicago all had non-life threatening injuries, and were taken to the Winona Hospital for treatment. The impact from the crash of the two vehicles, pushed the passenger car into another vehicle that was stopped at the traffic lights. The driver of that car, 22-year-old Daniel Lund of St. Michael, was not injured. The Winona County Sheriff's Office assisted the State Patrol. 

MNsure Health Insurance Comparison Tool Now Active 

MNsure's 2018 health insurance comparison tool is now active on-line. Mnsure's CEO Allison O'Toole says the new on-line feature lists premiums and deductibles, plus estimated out-of-pocket costs based on health status and expected use of medical services. MNsure's comparison tool is at; The first day of open enrollment for 2018 is November 1st. 

Single Lane Traffic Tonight in St. Michael 

Drivers in our area should take note that traffic on I-94 will be down to one lane tonight for road repairs. MnDOT says slow or stopped traffic will be encountered by motorists in both directions on I-94 from 7 PM tonight to around 5 AM Thursday morning for eastbound traffic. The westbound lanes should be restored to two lanes of traffic by 9 AM Thursday. The closures are needed while crews work on the I-94 bridges spanning the Crow River, just east of Highway 241 in St. Michael. Drivers should be ready to slow down, and stop if necessary. Motorists should also move over to give crews plenty of room to work safely. 

1 Adult, 3 Children Injured in Early Morning Traffic Crash in Buffalo Monday 

Four people, including three children, were injured in an early morning traffic crash in Buffalo on Monday. The Minnesota State Patrol reports that just before 7 o'clock Monday morning, a passenger car and a mini-van collided at the intersection of Minnesota Highway 25, and Wright County Road 138 in Buffalo. Authorities say the passenger car was southbound on Highway 25, and failed to stop for a red light at the intersection with County Road 138. The car struck an eastbound mini-van that was entering the intersection. All four occupants of the mini-van were injured. The driver, 42-year-old Courtney Brenny of Buffalo, and three girls who were passengers, ages 8, 4, and 3, all sustained non-life threatening injuries. All were treated at the Buffalo Hospital. The driver of the passenger car, 56-year-old Jeffrey Boehmke of Sartell, was not injured. The Wright County Sheriff's Office assisted the State Patrol at the scene.

Traffic Control Change Coming Soon in Otsego 

Wright County Highway Department officials say that significant changes will be made at an intersection in Otsego in the coming weeks. Crews will be converting the intersection of County State Aid Highways 39 and 19 to an All-Way Stop control intersection. The work will be completed in phases over the next few weeks, and will include a new thin lift of paved surface, new stop signs with L.E.D. lighting, and new pavement markings. The pavement work is expected to be done today. Drivers should expect minor delays as traffic will be restricted to one lane as the paving continues. The new stop signs on Highway 39 will be installed as soon as they are received, and the new pavement markings will be completed in conjunction with the installation of the new solar-powered L.E.D. stop signs. Officials say work will be completed under traffic, but flaggers will be in place to control traffic as needed. Delays should be expected, and motorists should drive very carefully through the work zone. Anyone with questions should contact the Wright County Highway Department at (763) 682-7383, or 1-800-362-3667. 

Record Job Openings in Minnesota 

State officials are reporting a record number of job vacancies in the state. Oriane Casale is with the state Department of Employment and Economic Development. She says statewide, health care and social assistance accounted for 20-percent of the vacancies, followed by accommodation and food services and retail trade. Casale says the job market is extremely tight as baby boomer retire and moderate job growth continues. 

Farm-to-School Month in MN; Not Just for Apples Any More 

October is Farm-to-School Month. Minnesota has grown its local foods programs in schools, and this year, a new initiative aims to reach the state's youngest learners. Laurie Stern has a full report in our on-air news throughout the day. More information is also available at the MDA website at;

Fatal Crash on County Road 39 NE 

The investigation continues into a fatal traffic crash that happened in Wright County early Thursday morning. The Wright County Sheriff's Office reports that around 5:25 AM, the Wright County Communications Center received a report of a two vehicle crash in the 7000 block of County Road 39 NE in Monticello Township. A driver of a semi-tractor with an attached trailer reported the truck was backing out of a residential driveway onto County Road 39 NE when the trailer was struck by an eastbound pickup truck. Prior to any emergency vehicles arriving on scene, the trailer was struck by a second eastbound vehicle. The driver of the pickup that first struck the semi-trailer, 67-year-old Robert Olson of Monticello, was pronounced dead at the scene. The second vehicle that struck the trailer sustained moderate damage, but the driver was un-injured. The driver of the semi-tractor was transported to Monticello Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Neither of the other drivers involved have yet been identified. The crash is still under investigation by the Wright County Sheriff's Office with assistance from the Minnesota State Patrol Commercial Vehicle Inspector.

Wright County Woman Involved in Three-Vehicle Crash in Benton County 

A woman from Wright County was involved in a three-vehicle traffic crash early Friday morning in Saint George Township in Benton County that left 4 people injured. The State Patrol reports that around 7:45 AM, a pickup truck that was eastbound on Highway 95 failed to stop at the stop sign at Highway 25 and struck a passenger car that was northbound on Highway 25. The impact pushed the passenger car into another car that was stopped on the west side of Highway 95. The driver of the pickup that reportedly failed to stop was 73-year-old Karen Nyren of South Haven. She was not injured in the crash. The driver of the car that was struck by the pickup, 19-year-old Anna Mazacek of Foley, sustained non-life threatening injuries. A passenger in her car, an 8-year-old girl, also of Foley also had non-life threatening injuries. Both were taken to the St. Cloud Hospital for treatment. The driver of the third car involved, 37-year-old William Nichols of Princeton, and a passenger, a 63-year-old man, also from Princeton, both sustained non-life threatening injuries, and were transported to the Fairview Hospital in Princeton for treatment. The Benton County Sheriff's Office assisted the State Patrol at the scene.

State Ag Department Expects Action on Nitrogen Fertilizer Draft Rule Soon 

State Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson says his department will issue a draft rule, probably within four to six weeks, on farmers' use of nitrogen fertilizer. Frederickson says the rule will look at practices that don't degrade the water supply. He says water quality is important to all Minnesota residents no matter if they live in the metro, outstate towns or in the countryside. He says farmers can rest assured it will take soil types into account. New fertilizer application practices are expected to compliment the new buffer laws that will take effect over the next two years in the state.

Franken Supports Bill to Ease College Textbook Expense 

U-S Senator Al Franken is backing a bill that would help make at least one area of college more affordable. Franken says in some cases, Minnesota students are paying more than a thousand dollars a year on textbooks and other supplies. The senator says The Affordable College Textbook Act would expand access to free online textbooks.


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.