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Wright County News

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Careless Smoking The cause of Watertown Area Grass fire 

Extremely dry conditions, due to lack of snow cover, has authorities concerned about the possibility of major grass fires. That concern became a reality Tuesday, when a 60 acre fire occurred in some swamp land, north of Watertown. According to the Star Tribune and Watertown Fire Chief Wade Stock, smoking was the cause of the blaze.  Apparently, the property owner was working in the area, cutting some trees and was careless with his cigar. The blaze started at about 4:25 PM, and spread to adjoining properties until fire crews put it out, three hours later. Stock indicated his Department won't be sending the landowner a bill for the fire fighting effort, citing the incident was accidental, though careless. No structures, firefighters or civilians were harmed in the incident.

Monticello Intersection To Receive Improvements 

Monticello Motorists will soon encounter the first road construction project of the year. According to a Monticello Times article, the intersection of highway 25 and 7th street, will undergo a number of changes, starting next week. The intersection, where the Monticello Perkins is located, will see crews start to install a temporary signal system on April 10th. City Engineer Shibani Bisson indicated that 7th Street, may be down to two lanes, with one lane in each direction. The actual construction will begin April 17th, with hopes of completion before July 4th. Improvements include additional turn lanes, flashing yellow arrows and a new streetscape. The good news, is a majority of the construction, will be done late at night.

St. Cloud Student Still Missing 

Authorities are still searching for a St. Cloud State University student, who went missing early Saturday morning. After using boats to search the Mississippi river on Sunday, Investigators returned to the area, this time using a Drone to view the river banks from the air. As of yet, still no sign of 21 year old Jesse Aaron Dady (Day-Dee), who last seen in downtown St. Cloud, at 12:30 AM. Authorities have also asked for the public's help in identifying and speaking to a driver of a vehicle seen in the area where Dady was last located. The vehicle was shown on a surveillance camera near the Empire Apartments. However, Police at this time, do not suspect foul play. Dady was last seen wearing an orange baseball cap, grey sweatshirt and jeans. 

Buffalo Council Votes to Amend City Ordinance on Sunday Liquor Sales 

The Buffalo City Council this week passed an amendment to the city's Sunday liquor sales ordinance. The change will allow the city's municipal off-sale to open for business on Sunday after the Governor signed a bill passed by the Minnesota Legislature which changed the state statute. Beginning July 2nd, Minnesota liquor retailers may sell on Sundays from 11 AM to 6 PM. Early indications are that the Highway 55 store in Buffalo will open for Sunday business, but thus far it appears that the downtown store will remain closed. The council also ok'd a change to the city's Sunday on-sale liquor ordinance to run concurrent with the state statute. That means venues that serve breakfast, and have a Sunday on-sale liquor license will be able to serve customers beginning at 8 AM, two hours earlier than under the previous ordinance. Though some of the city council members were hesitant, the amendment passed unanimously. 

National Poison Prevention Week Continues 

The Minnesota Poison Control System is encouraging you to program their 800 number into your phone during this National Poison Prevention Week. The toll-free number is 1-800-222-1222. Spokeswoman Lauren Bul says also be sure you're properly disposing of your medications. Locally, the Wright County Sheriff's Office, as well as some city police departments in our area have safe disposal programs for prescription meds. 


MN Budgets Outlined, Work to Begin on Finding Common Ground 

Those who watch the Minnesota Legislature say there's a lot of ground to cover between the Republican-controlled House and Senate and Governor Dayton in order to find a compromise budget plan. Governor Dayton has called for $46 billion in spending over the next two years, and Republicans are budgeting for about a billion dollars less. Tax cuts, as well as transportation and education funding are among the key issues of contention between the two sides. Dayton and lawmakers have until the current legislative session's end this May to come to an agreement. 

Study Finds Electronic Devices Making us Edgy, Sleep Deprived 

A new report by the American Psychological Association finds that our electronic devices are a source of stress. APA spokeswoman Vaile Wright says the biggest stressors were technology not working properly and political and cultural discussions on social media. She says most of us could benefit from a digital detox. Wright says it's also a good idea to limit your screen time before bed. The study finds that on a ten point-scale, where one is little or no stress, the average overall reported stress level was 5.3. The full report may be found at;

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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 



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.