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Wright County News

Saturday, April 30, 2016


Heinrich Defense Attorney Asks for Change of Venue, Other Motions 

A federal judge this week heard motions from the defense attorney for Daniel Heinrich, the Annandale man charged with numerous counts of possession of child pornography. Heinrich's lawyer is asking for a change of venue in the scheduled trial because of pre-trial publicity. The defense counsel also asked that the judge consider throwing out some of Heinrich's statements, and some of the evidence found in a search of his Annandale home last year. Danny Heinrich is considered a person of interest in the 1989 disappearance of Jacob Wetterling of St. Joseph. At this week's hearing, several witnesses testified, including a former Stearns County Sheriff's Office captain, and an FBI agent who has worked on the Wetterling case, as well as the case of a Cold Spring boy who was kidnapped and assaulted in 1989. Thus far, Heinrich has not been charged in connection to the Wetterling case. Officials say it could be several weeks before the federal judge makes a decision on this week's defense motions. Heinrich's trial on the child pornography charges is scheduled to begin in the Twin Cities in July. It's unclear whether or not the start of the trial could be delayed by the motions.

Spring Clean-Up Days This Weekend in Buffalo, Clearwater, Monticello 

Springtime means spring clean-up time in most communities around Wright County, and several cities will host clean-up events this weekend. In Buffalo, the Spring Clean-Up event will be today and from 8 AM to 2 PM at the Buffalo Civic Center on County Road 134. Household appliances, personal electronics, tires, batteries, florescent bulbs, scrap metal, demolition materials, and other garbage will be accepted, though items such as petroleum products, paint, propane tanks and any hazardous materials will not be accepted. A fee will be charged to dispose of most items. The complete outline of acceptable and non-acceptable materials and a guide to disposal fees is available on the City of Buffalo website at; The event is for city residents only. City staff will be on hand to confirm proof of residency. Similar rules are in effect for this weekend's Clearwater and Lynden Township Clean-Up day today at the Clearwater Maintenance Building on County Road 75. Hours for the Clearwater Clean-Up are 8 AM to 11 AM today. This year's Monticello Recycling Day will also be held today at the Commuter Parking Lot on Deegan Avenue near the Muller Theater complex. Metro Appliance will be hosting the Monticello Recycling Day, and will be accepting appliances, tires, furniture, electronics and more. The City of Monticello website has complete information on costs and specific disposable items that will be accepted. Residents should note that the parking lot will be closed to commuters today because of the recycling event. The hours for the Monticello Recycling Day are 8 AM to 1 PM.

Tree Seedling Planting at Bertram Chain of Lakes Park Today 

The Wright County Parks Department is looking for volunteers to help plant tree seedlings this weekend at the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park near Monticello. Wright County Parks Co-ordinator Brad Harrington says the event is a good conservation effort, and another way for area residents to get acquainted with the newest park in the Wright County Parks system. Harrington says some 6 thousand seedlings are ready to be planted. Planting is expected to begin around 10 AM today, so all volunteers should be there at that time to get a briefing from Parks Department officials before beginning. The event is open to all ages, and volunteers are urged to bring their own shovel. To volunteer, contact Brad Harrington by calling (763) 682-7894, or by email at;

Buffalo Community Theater's "Tuesdays With Morrie" Continues This Weekend 

The Buffalo Community Theater will continue with its production of "Tuesdays With Morrie" tonight. Buffalo native Jason Hettinger and Kevin Courtney of Zimmerman play the roles of Mitch Albom and Morrie Schwarz in the stage play taken from the pages of the internationally best-selling book by Mitch Albom about his real-life friendship with his favorite college professor. Performances are scheduled for tonight at 7:30 PM, and a final Sunday afternoon matinee at 2 PM at the Discovery Center Auditorium in Buffalo. Tickets are available on the BCT website at; and at the door. 

Gun Law Reform Bills Fail to Move Forward From MN Senate Committee 

A pair of gun law reform bills in Minnesota will not get votes this session, but the proposals drew passionate discussion in a state Senate hearing on Tuesday. Sarah Nasset with the Minnesota Police Officer Association was among law enforcement officials who testified in favor of reforms. But Minnesota gun rights advocate Andrew Rothman said the language of the bills that are designed to combat increasing gun violence are misguided. New Hope Police Chief Tim Fornier says the system that is supposed to provide safety from guns being in the wrong hands is flawed. The bills that were proposed would require criminal background checks on all gun sales and would bolster gun violence protection orders. No vote was taken, but DFL Senator Ron Latz of St. Louis Park, who authored the measures, says his proposal will be back next year. 

Red Cross Assisting Otsego Fire Victims 

American Red Cross volunteers say they continue to assist two families in Otsego whose homes were destroyed by fire early Sunday morning. A lightning strike during a severe thunderstorm is believed to be the cause of the fires that destroyed the Rich and Jessica Wade and Chey and Keith Jones homes. Thankfully, no one was injured, but both families lost nearly everything in the blaze. Red Cross officials say 4 adults and 6 children from the two families are being assisted. Friends and family have also set up accounts for the families. 

Non-Rush Hour Delays Expected on I-94 in Rogers 

Motorists are advised of more road work that could cause some delays on I-94 over the next few days. Lanes are scheduled to close in St. Michael and Rogers, through 12 noon on Sunday, May 1st. Motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop and move over whenever possible to give crews and equipment room to work safely. MnDOT says the closures are needed while crews conduct bridge deck testing, warranty work and bridge deck sealing on the two I-94 bridges spanning the Crow River, just east of Highway 241 in St. Michael. 

Toddler Victim of Apparent Drowning in Corcoran 

A toddler has died in an apparent drowning at a home in rural Corcoran. Officials say the two-year-old boy was found by family members at a farm on Strehler Road around 4:20 Tuesday afternoon. Authorities say paramedics attempted to revive the youngster, but he was later pronounced dead at the scene. The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office says though the death appears to be from drowning, the official cause of death has not yet been released. The incident remains under investigation. 

REAL ID Bill Advances Out of House Committee 

A key Minnesota House committee has advanced a bill allowing Minnesotans to apply for federal REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses and ID cards by October 1st. Representative Dennis Smith, a Republican from Maple Grove says the GOP plan that moved out of committee will meet the federal mandate. The Republican-supported proposal would not however, allow residents to keep older, non-compliant licenses, which could prevent them from getting on domestic flights. DFL Representative Dan Shoen argues that Minnesotans should have a choice and says he doesn't see any path for the plan becoming law. Officials estimate the cost of getting Minnesota REAL ID compliant by October 1st could be up to $5 million.

Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month Recognized 

April is Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month. Jim Koppel with the Minnesota Department of Human Services is encouraging all Minnesotans to take some extra time to be aware of the needs of the children in our lives. He says in 2014, more than 25,000 children were assessed for abuse and neglect in Minnesota. For more information on child protection issues, you can visit the Department of Human Services website. 

Home Sales Pendulum Swings Back to Seller 

Home sales remain strong across the state. Chris Galler is president of the Minnesota Association of Realtors. Galler says the down side to this is low inventory. He says the number of available homes is down 24-percent from last year at this time, with a current inventory of 3.4 months. He says some areas of the state are seeing a two-and-a-half month inventory level. The current median home price in Minnesota is 190-thousand dollars. 

Culvert Replacement Notice on CSAH 5 

The Wright County Highway Department has issued a notice to the public of an upcoming four-day road closure. Officials say a short section of County State Aid Highway 5 about two miles south of the City of Annandale will be closed next Monday through Thursday due to removal and replacement of two deteriorated centerline culverts and a drain tile under the highway. The specific area that will be closed is just south of Lathrop Avenue, and north of 43rd Street Northwest. A detour will not be posted. Motorist are asked to use an alternate route. Weather permitting, the closure should begin shortly after 7 AM Monday, May 2nd and should end around 4:30 PM on Thursday, May 5th. Any questions should be directed to the Wright County Highway Department at (763) 682-7383. 

Lightning Strikes Otsego Homes, Two Destroyed 

Lightning from early Sunday morning thunderstorms was the cause of fire that destroyed two homes and damaged another in Otsego. Thunderstorms were moving through much of the area just before 6 AM Sunday. The StarTribune reports that lightning apparently struck at least two homes simultaneously in the 12300 block of 76th Way Northeast. The two homes reportedly caught fire from the lightning strike, while a third home may have been involved because of the close proximity to the high heat from the other fires. Two homes were destroyed while the other was seriously damaged. One of the families in a home that was hit was hosting a kids' soccer group sleepover, and all of the youngsters along with the hosting family had to scramble out of the house. All of the persons from the homes affected were able to escape without injury, though the Red Cross reports that it is assisting two adults and one child from one home, and two adults and three children from another. The St. Michael, Monticello and Elk River fire departments all responded to the fires. Steady rain helped fire crews in controlling those blazes. You may remember it was about this same time last year when an apparent thunderstorm sparked fires in another part of Otsego that was in the midst of a spring drought at the time. Four homes were damaged in that incident, but no one was injured.

Road Closure in the City of Albertville 

There's more roadwork for motorists to be aware of in the Wright County area. Beginning today, a section of 80th Street Northeast in Albertville will be closed. Officials say the closure will be from just west of Malver Avenue Northeast east toward the curve with Marlowe Avenue Northeast. That portion of roadway will be closed for approximately 2 months in conjunction with the new E through 8 school construction project. A handful of addresses in that vicinity will be accessible only from Marlowe Avenue Northeast, and will temporarily assigned to other emergency response crews including the Elk River Fire Department in the event of an emergency. Motorists should take note of all the roadwork areas across the Wright County area, and be sure to slow down, be prepared to stop, and be extremely cautious of workers in all work zones.


Boaters Reminded to Work to Prevent Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species 

With the fishing and boating season just around the corner, officials are offering reminders about preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. Anne Pierce with the Minnesota DNR says there is a definite need to be diligent about taking the proper steps to help prevent aquatic invasive species spreading. Pierce says overall, about five-percent of Minnesota lakes are infested with various forms of aquatic invasive species, the most notable being zebra mussels.

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.