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Wright County News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Rockford Residents to be Able to Select From Water and Wastewater Billing Options 

Residents of the City of Rockford will have new options in how their annual water and wastewater usage will be billed. The Rockford City Council came to that decision after several residents voiced their disagreement recently to a new billing system that resulted in some residents seeing dramatic increases in their utility bills. Residents were opposed to the initial billing plan which imposed a so-called "actual use" method rather than the previous averaging method which bases a residential home's water use on winter usage. Many felt the new method unfairly inflated their water bills in the summer for lawn sprinkling and pool use. Homeowners also balked at a plan which would have allowed for a secondary water meter for water used exclusively outdoors that is not routed into the city sewer system. Most felt that while that type of system would be more accurate, they didn't like the idea of having to pay several hundred dollars for the second meter and its installation. In light of the complaints, the council modified the plan to allow residents to choose between having wastewater bills averaged based on winter water use, or being billed based on their monthly water gallons used. Property owners will be able to change their billing method if they wish any time before the end of this year, and will be able to change methods during the month of December each year in the future if they feel another billing option would be more manageable. New base fees for both water and wastewater utilities will be implemented, and city officials said that wastewater rates will go up by slightly more than a dollar per thousand gallons used beginning January 1st. Residents are asked to contact the Rockford City Hall with any questions or concerns.

Fatal Farm Accident in Clear Lake 

A Clear Lake man has died in an apparent farm accident at his residence. Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott reports that deputies were called to 8523 State Street in Clear Lake shortly after 5 PM on Monday. Authorities reportedly found 61-year-old Brad Braun pinned under a tractor that he had been operating on the family farm. Officials say Braun had been moving large round hay bales when the tractor flipped over onto him, pinning him and causing his death. The Becker Police Department, Clear Lake Fire Department and Gold Cross Ambulance assisted the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office at the scene. 

MDA Offers Scholarships for New Farmers 

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is offering scholarships for beginning farmers. Residents who have farmed less than 10 years are eligible to receive a Farm Business Management, or FBM scholarship. More than 2-thousand farmers in Minnesota participate in FBM education annually. For more information, you can visit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's website at; 

Impaired Driving Deaths Drop 

The number of impaired driving-related traffic deaths in Minnesota decreased from 104 in 2012 to 95 in 2013. The 9 percent drop continues a steady decline from a record-high 222 in 1998. Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Jody Oscarson says drunken driving crashes are preventable and Minnesotans need to continue working until the state gets to zero traffic fatalities. Sixty of the 95 impaired-driving deaths last year were in Greater Minnesota. 

Sunday Traffic Crash in Monticello Township Kills Two People, Critically Injures Another 

Two people were killed and another person was critically injured in a late Sunday afternoon traffic crash in Wright County. Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty says the crash happened shortly after 5 PM Sunday on County Road 39 Northeast and 107th Street Northeast in Monticello Township. Deputies and first responders rushed to the scene to find that a passenger car and a large pickup pulling a horse trailer had collided head-on in an "S"-style curve in the roadway. The driver of the passenger car, 37-year-old Christopher Hazel of Annandale, and a passenger in his car, 65-year-old Donna Swenson, also of Annandale were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The driver of the pickup, 48-year-old Andra Olson of Monticello, was extricated from her vehicle and airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where her condition was reported to be critical. The Monticello Fire and Rescue and CentraCare EMS assisted at the scene of the crash, which is still under investigation by the Wright County Sheriff's Office. 

Fatal House Fire in Watertown

Several agencies are investigating a fatal house fire in Watertown which happened over the weekend. Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson says his department received a report of the fire around 9:45 PM on Saturday. Firefighters, first responders and law enforcement were dispatched to the home in the 400 block of Franklin Avenue Northwest in Watertown. Officials say the home was fully engulfed in flames when departments arrived on the scene. The body of an adult male was located in the residence. The man was pronounced dead at the scene of the blaze. His name has not yet been released. Fire crews from Waconia, Mayer, Victoria, New Germany, St. Bonifacious and Delano all assisted the Watertown Fire Department at the scene. The Carver County Sheriff's Office, along with the Watertown Fire Department, the Minnesota State Fire Marshal's Office and the Minnesota Regional Coroner's Office are investigating the cause of the fire, as well as the cause of death of the man found inside the home. 

Stepped-Up Safety Requirements for Minnesota Child Care Settings 

Increased safety in Minnesota's child-care settings has resulted in the expansion of ongoing educational requirements for providers. In an industry where workers are already strapped for time, some new online tools have been developed to help providers. John Michaelson has a full report in our on-air news. More information on the new programs is available at; 

Apple Season Arrives 

Many apple orchards around the state are now open for picking and other activities. Minnesota Apple Growers Association President Charlie Johnson says the harsh winter delayed the harvest to some extent. Most growers in Wright County have reported good apple crops after a rough season last year due to an early season frost. The exception has been at the Untiedt Orchard near Waverly where a recent hailstorm wiped out the crop just a day before harvest was scheduled to begin. The Minnesota Grown Directory has information on more than 100 apple orchards. 

1st Annual Bertram Chain of Lakes Photo Contest 

Amateur photographers age 14 and older are invited to capture images of the beautiful Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park, and enter the online photography contest. Photos must be taken within the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park before September 30th. Categories include; landscapes, plants and wildlife, recreational, people and open. The deadline for online entries is October 3rd at 4 PM. Images should be submitted in a digital format, and should follow the guidelines found on the Friends of Bertram website at; Winners will be announced at a reception at the Monticello Community Center on October 23rd.

Twin Cities Motorcyclist Injured in Weekend Crash in Wright County 

A woman from the Twin Cities area was seriously injured in a weekend motorcycle crash here in Wright County. The Minnesota State Patrol reports that just before 2 PM Saturday, a motorcycle that was northbound on Highway 25, near 20th Street, south of Buffalo, was among a very large group of cycles. The group began to slow speed, and the motorcycle, driven-by 57-year-old Janice Theisen of White Bear Lake attempted to brake hard to avoid hitting other cycles. The bike went out of control and rolled over near the center line, and then entered the southbound lane. Authorities report that Theisen was taken to Buffalo Hospital, and was later airlifted to a Twin Cities hospital with serious injuries. The accident report indicated that she was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. The Wright County Sheriff's Office assisted the State Patrol at the scene. 

Premiere Bank in Albertville Robbed 

A Wright County bank was the scene of a robbery on Friday. Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty reports that around 12:45 PM Friday, the Wright County Sheriff's Communications Center received a report of a robbery at the Premiere Bank in the City of Albertville. Deputies responded to the scene, but the suspect had already fled from the area. Officials say the suspect made a verbal demand for money and that no weapon was observed. The suspect made off with an undisclosed amount of money. No injuries were reported. The robbery is under investigation by the Wright County Sheriff's Office and the FBI. Investigators are reportedly looking into the possibility that the incident is connected to a similar robbery in the metro area. 

Arrests Made in Connection With Christopher Rossing Disappearance 

The Wright County Sheriff's Office confirms that arrests have been made in connection with the disappearance of a local man last month. You'll remember that 25-year-old Christopher Rossing of rural Annandale was last seen in a bar in Howard Lake around closing time on August 22nd. The young man's car was recovered in Howard Lake, but despite weeks of searches by local authorities and by family members and dozens of volunteers, no clues as to Rossing's whereabouts had been found. Sheriff Joe Hagerty confirms however, that further investigation resulted in an arrest earlier this week that was not immediately announced, as well as another arrest earlier today. The investigation indicates that Christopher Rossing was involved in a physical altercation with Robert Nuttall at approximately 1:30 AM on Saturday, August 23rd, along Highway 12 on the west side of the City of Howard Lake. Information also indicates that a full-sized SUV may be involved in the case. Now in custody at the Wright County Jail are Robert Otis Nuttall, age 28 of Hutchinson, on kidnapping charges in connection with the disappearance of Christopher Rossing, and Gwen Maria Butcher, age 32 of Hutchinson, on felony obstructing charges. Sheriff Hagerty says despite the arrests, authorities still do not know where Christopher Rossing is, nor do they have any information on his well-being. Once again, anyone who may have witnessed an altercation or who has information pertaining to the case should contact the Wright County Sheriff's Office immediately at (763) 682-7637. 


Robert Nutall                                    Gwen Butcher 

(Photos from Wright County Sheriff's Office)


Student On-Line Safety 

State officials are urging parents to remind their kids of safe behavior on-line now that school has resumed in Minnesota. Karina Hedinger with the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says parents need to monitor what their kids are doing -- not only on the computer or laptop, but on iPads, cellphones, playstations and other devices. To learn more about cyberbullying and steps to prevent it, log onto;

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.