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Wright County News  

Saturday, April 21, 2018


Lung Association "State of the Air" Report Released 

Minnesota earns passing grades in the American Lung Association's annual State of the Air Report. Spokesman Bob Moffitt says two counties in the state saw improvements in grades for ozone pollution. But he says, when it comes to particulate pollution, Wright County was one of four counties that saw their grades drop. The report looked at three years of air quality data for the years 2014 through 2016. Lung Association officials salute those Minnesota counties that participate as they do so on a voluntary basis. The full report is available at;

Carver County Will Not Bring Criminal Charges in Death of MN Music Icon, Prince 

No criminal charges will be filed in the death of Prince. That's the word from officials in neighboring Carver County. Carver County Attorney Mark Metz made the announcement Thursday, just two days ahead of the second anniversary of the Minnesota music icon's death from an accidental fentanyl overdose. Metz says there is also no evidence suggesting that Prince knowingly ingested fentanyl. He says Prince most likely believed he was taking Vicodin. A Minnesota doctor who provided Percocet for Prince under another person's name prior to his death is paying $30,000 in a federal civil settlement. 

Buffalo Community Theater's Second Weekend of "On Golden Pond" Returns 

Better weather is promised for the second weekend of performances of the Buffalo Community Theater's production of "On Golden Pond."  The production is the stage version of the famous, Academy Award-winning movie, is the story of an aging couple navigating their golden years and re-building family relationships. The events are played out at the family's summer cabin "On Golden Pond." Performances are scheduled for tonight at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, April 22nd at 2 PM at the Buffalo Discovery Center Auditorium. Tickets are available at;, and at the door.

With Most Bids Now Accepted, Work Expected to Begin on New Wright County Courts Facility 

Work is expected to begin soon at the site of what will be a new Wright County Courts Facility in Buffalo. Wright County Commissioner Mark Daleiden says the County Board was very pleased with the bids that were received. Officials say bids were some 5 million dollars less than early projections from the architects. Daleiden says most pieces are now in place for work to get underway soon. The new courts facility will be constructed adjacent to, and will be connected with the Wright County Law Enforcement Center on Braddock Avenue Northeast, off north Highway 25 in Buffalo. Officials say the new facility should be ready for occupancy sometime in the first quarter of 2021. 

Dayton Urges Funding for MN Suicide Prevention Line 

Governor Dayton is calling on lawmakers to approve nearly a million dollars in grant funding for a statewide Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Dayton says the 969 thousand dollars in grant funds would help Minnesota non-profits operate call centers. Since 2010, the suicide rate statewide has increased 19-percent. Officials say 745 Minnesotans took their own lives in 2016.

Wright County Woman Injured in 4-Vehicle Crash in Elk River 

A local woman was one of 4 drivers involved in a multi-car crash this week in Elk River. The State Patrol reports that the crash happened around 11:30 AM Tuesday. Authorities say all four vehicles involved were southbound on Highway 169 in the left lane. Three of the vehicles were slowing and stopping for a red light at School Street. The fourth car involved, driven by 23-year-old Annie Johnson of Zimmerman did not stop, and rear-ended a car driven by a 63-year-old woman from Brainerd, which in turn struck a mini-van driven by 82-year-old Shirley Hary of Otsego, and the van then struck the last car in the chain reaction, driven by 26-year-old Jennifer Cleveland of Elk River. Persons injured in the crash included Shirley Hary of Otsego who was treated for non-life threatening injuries at the Fairview Hospital in Maple Grove, and the 63-year-old driver from Brainerd, Debra Walker, who was treated for non-life threatening injuries at Fairview Northland. All drivers were buckled-up properly according to authorities. The Elk River Police and Allina Ambulance assisted the State Patrol at the scene. 

Addressing Opioid Use in Wright County 

The opioid crisis that is gripping the nation is also very prominent in our area. In 2016, Wright County ranked 8th in the state of Minnesota in the number of opioids prescribed, according to the Minnesota Prescription Monitoring Program. Since 2000, Wright County has ranked 10th in the state for the number of opioid-involved fatalities. Wright County Attorney Tom Kelly says in the last 18 months, 7 young people have died in Wright County because of the opioid-heroin epidemic. Recently, Wright County's Public Health Department was selected to be one of two counties to pilot opioid prevention strategies by the Minnesota Department of Health. Implementation of the strategies will be funded with Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, or SHIP funds. The main focus of the work will be convening organizations who have the ability to directly address these issues, including health care organizations, law enforcement, and other partners involved in the Methamphetamine Education and Drug Awareness, or MEADA Coalition of Wright County. Some of the strategies will include working with prescribers to adopt an opioid management program, monitoring prescription trends, raising public awareness of the dangers of opioid use, identifying protocols for opioid prescriptions in health systems and helping community partners to adopt SBIRT, or screen, brief intervention, refer to treatment, which is an early detection tool that helps people get treatment for substance abuse. The Wright County Sheriff's Office has taken other steps to combat the opioid crisis, including placing secure prescription drop boxes at several locations to dispose of old and unused prescriptions and educating citizens on the consequences of drug use. For more information; log onto;

Rough Flu Season Hopefully Coming to an End 

This year's flu season will go down as one of the worst on record. Jennifer Heath with the State Department of Health says the good news is flu activity continues to slow down, and is now categorized as "local" after several weeks of being ranked as "regional" and "widespread". Heath says there have also been five pediatric flu-related deaths in the state this season. In addition, there have been nearly 700 flu outbreaks in Minnesota schools and just over 200 in the state's nursing homes. 

Proposal Aims to Better Prepare 911 Dispatchers for Guiding CPR 

Proposed legislation will better prepare Minnesota's emergency dispatchers for emergencies requiring CPR. Elizabeth Brown has a complete report in our on-air news throughout the day. The American Heart Association says about 350-thousand cardiac arrests happen outside of a hospital every year, and in almost every case, someone calls 9-1-1. Officials say getting C-P-R assistance in the five to 10 minutes between that call and the arrival of an ambulance, could mean life or death.

DNR Looks for Input on Deer Management Plan 

The Minnesota DNR is looking for public input on the state's new proposed deer management plan. Wildlife population manager Leslie McInenly says the plan puts a focus on public engagement that begins with taking comments early in the process. McInenly says the plan sets a target harvest of 200-thousand deer and introduces more ways for the DNR to track deer population statewide. Comments are being accepted through May 9th.

Minor Injuries in Monday Afternoon Traffic Crash in Delano 

A Wright County woman was injured in a single-vehicle traffic crash Monday afternoon in Delano. The State Patrol reports that around 3:30 PM, an eastbound passenger car on Highway 12 ran off the roadway at Ebersole Avenue in Delano and struck a light pole. Authorities say the driver, 40-year-old Lisa Novotny of Montrose became distracted and ran off the road. Novotny had minor injuries that did not require hospital treatment. Officials say roads were dry at the time of the crash. The Wright County Sheriff's Department assisted the State Patrol at the scene.

"Pulaski Nail" Case Leads to Charges Against Buffalo Man

A Buffalo Police Department investigation has led to 1st Degree Criminal damage to Property charges. Authorities say charges were filed by the Wright County Attorney's Office against 75-year-old Joseph Kurimay of Buffalo in recent days. Officials say about a year ago, Mr. Kurimay had filed complaints with the Buffalo Police Department regarding the speed of numerous cars that travel past his home on Lake Pulaski, and the lack of speed limit enforcement on the part of the Buffalo PD. Kurimay had reportedly purchased a radar gun with which he had apparently recorded the speeds of vehicles that had gone past his home. Fast forward to last fall, when on October 13th, Buffalo Police responded to the first of many reports of damage to tires from what was found to be a mason's nail. The nail is unique by design, as it is about one and a half inches long with a sharp, pyramid-shaped point and a half inch steel cap. When more reports of damaged tire continued to come in, investigators learned that local tire shops had repaired or replaced numerous tires. So many in fact, that some of the businesses had dubbed the damage "The Pulaski Nail." Buffalo Police obtained subpoenas from the Wright County Attorney's Office in order to access customer invoices from tire repair shops relating to damage from such nails. In mid-November, Buffalo Police published through social media a release about the case with pictures of the nail and asked anyone who had damage to tires from such a nail to report it. Officials say to date, some 115 victims have provided statements to the Buffalo PD attesting to the damage caused to tires on their vehicles, as well as the location it had occurred, and copies of invoices related to the costs of tire repair or replacement. That total is currently more than 22 thousand dollars and counting. Officials say many of the victims had multiple tires damaged at once. Most of the victims were private motorists, but several instances of damage were on fleet carriers such as school buses, ambulances and law enforcement vehicles. A search warrant was executed at Kurimay's home at which time, according to a police report, he denied ever having possessed, or purchased nails like those believed to be causing the tire damage. One box however was located in the search, and was reportedly found to contain some remaining nails that matched the nails recovered from various service shops. Officials say that prior to executing the search warrant, Buffalo Police had obtained video surveillance footage of Kurimay, along with receipts for several different purchases totaling some 600 nails from the Buffalo Menards location. If found guilty, the Buffalo man could face a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, 10 thousand dollars in fines, or both. 

Aftermath of Huge April Snowstorm

The dig-out continues after a huge April snowstorm that hit over the weekend across much of the southern two-thirds of Minnesota, dropping at least a foot, to up to 18 inches of heavy, wet snow. Other parts of the storm also contained rain, freezing rain, hail, lightning and thunder! The storm made April of 2018 the snowiest April on record for the Twin Cities area, and much of the surrounding area. The storm that dropped 7 to 8 inches of wet snow just two weeks ago paled in comparison to the weekend storm that snarled traffic, causing hundreds of crashes, and leaving thousands of cars and trucks in the ditch across the state. Hundreds of flights were grounded at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and it could be a day or more before things get back on track. Today classes were delayed at all Wright County schools. As we face another round of snow clearing, Steve Berg, Emergency Management Coordinator with the Wright County Sheriff's Office reminds us that especially with this extremely wet, heavy snow, everyone has to take their time. At least one fatality was recorded in the area over the weekend, likely tied to weather conditions. The State Patrol says a pedestrian, 54-year-old Paul Piekarski of Hamel died when he was struck by an SUV Friday evening in Medina. Piekarski was struck on Highway 55 near Pinto Drive around 9 PM Friday. The driver of the SUV, 55-year-old Janet McMullen of Buffalo, was not injured. The Medina Police Department assisted the State Patrol.  

New Minnesota IT Commissioner Lays Out Goals for Repairing Troubled MN-LARS System 

Lawmakers continue to have questions about deficiencies at the state's information technology agency. MN-IT Commissioner Johanna Clyborne was grilled by legislators recently about the agency's troubled handling of the state's licensing and registration system or MN-LARS.  Clyborne says "failure is not an option." She took over in January for Tom Baden who stepped down amid widely reported failures in the agency under his watch.

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.