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Wright County News

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Pickup Truck Driver Identified And Charged With Injuring Three Otsego Students

"He failed to exercise even a scant level of care", that, according to a criminal complaint against the driver of a pickup, that struck three Otsego students on Thursday. Cody Pech, age 22 of Lexington, was charged with three counts of criminal vehicular operation by negligence...two counts of causing great bodily harm and one count of substantial bodily harm. Pech has prior convictions, including those for speeding three times, within an eight month span. The three students who were struck, were Greta Jenson, Beckett Olson and Ian Orina. As of Friday, Olson is listed as still unconscious and in critical condition, Jensen has a ruptured spleen, and Orina is also listed in critical condition with many injuries, including a broken collar bone. According to charges, Pech indicated he did not see the teenagers, school bus or it's flashing lights, until it was too late. Two other students who were crossing with the three that were struck, were not hurt in the incident. The complaint does not reference intoxication or cell phone use as the cause of the crash at this time. Pech remains in custody in the Wright County Jail.

State Labor Market Finishes Strong in 2016 

Minnesota employers added 11,900 jobs in December. New numbers just released from the Department of Employment and Economic Development show government jobs had the biggest jump, up 3,700 jobs in December, followed by 3500 construction jobs. Education and health services had an increase of 2800 positions, followed by professional and business services up 2200. The biggest job losses were in leisure and hospitality, down 1,800. Overall the Minnesota labor market had a strong finish to the year, adding 24,600 jobs in the final two months. The state's unemployment rate now sits at 3.9 percent. Local county-by-county unemployment numbers should be released in a week to 10 days. 

Women's Voices Being Heard in Minnesota 

State lawmakers are being encouraged to take up topics in the 2017 legislative session that impact women in the state. Veronica Carter has a full report in our on-air news throughout the day. Meanwhile, more information is available at; 

Minneapolis Man Injured in SUV vs. Semi Crash in Dassel Township Crash  

A Twin Cities man was injured in a Wednesday morning SUV vs. semi crash in neighboring Meeker County. The State Patrol reports around 1:30 AM Wednesday, an SUV that was westbound on U-S Highway 12 near 745th Avenue in Dassel Township crossed the center line and collided with an eastbound semi truck. Officials say the driver of the SUV, 21-year-old Jaden Ritz of Minneapolis, sustained serious, but non-life threatening injuries, and was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. The driver of the semi, a 63-year-old man from Granite City, Illinois, was not injured. The Meeker County and Wright County Sheriff's Departments, Gold Cross Ambulance, and Dassel Fire Department all assisted at the scene.  

2016 Deadly Year on MN Roads 

Based on preliminary numbers, the Department of Public Safety is projecting more than 400 traffic deaths on Minnesota roads in 2016. Spokeswoman Donna Berger says speed, drunk driving and distracted driving are among the top factors in road fatalities and she has this request. Early numbers show that 53 motorcyclists, 7 bicyclists and 60 pedestrians were among those killed in crashes in 2016. 

10-Year Low in Home Foreclosures 

In 2016 there were just over nine-thousand properties foreclosed on in Minnesota, down 16-percent from the year before. Daren Blomquist with Attom Data Solutions says this is a significant drop from where we were, during the peak of the housing crisis. In fact, he says, the numbers indicate a 10-year-low in foreclosures. Nationwide in 2016 there were just over 933-thousand properties foreclosed on, down 14-percent from 2014. 

Positive Outlook for Minnesota Manufacturers 

Minnesota manufacturers are upbeat about the economy, with 90-percent expecting production levels to increase or stay the same in 2017. Shane Delaney is with the state Department of Employment and Economic Development. Manufacturing accounts for more than 315-thousand jobs in Minnesota. 

St. Cloud Man Identified as Monday Auto Crash Victim in Stearns County  

Authorities in neighboring Stearns County have identified the man who died Monday in an auto crash in Lynden Township. Officials say the victim was 22-year-old Marcus Sabel of St. Cloud. Sabel's car had run off County Road 75 near 221st Street East near Clearwater. Authorities say the car struck a tree and caught fire. The Clearwater Fire Department was called to extinguish the fire, but Sabel was found unresponsive in the driver's seat. The crash happened around 1 PM Monday. The investigation into the incident is continuing.  

Still Not Too Late to Sign-up for Health Coverage Through MNsure 

Even though the future of the Affordable Care Act is up-in-the-air, Minnesotans are still being encouraged to obtain healthcare coverage through MNsure. Allison O'Toole, Mnsure's CEO says don't wait for Congress to act before buying your 2017 policy. She says over 60 percent of private health plan enrollees are receiving tax credits for 2017, which is providing real relief for consumers. Minnesotans have until January 31st to obtain coverage for 2017 through MNsure. 

City of Monticello Looks to Fill Advisory Positions 

The City of Monticello reminds residents in that community that applications are being sought for open positions on two of the city's advisory boards. Positions are open on the Monticello Planning Commission and the Economic Development Authority. The planning commission provides formal recommendations to the city council regarding long-range and short-range land use and zoning issues. The commission meets on the first Tuesday of each month. Applicants must be residents of the City of Monticello to be considered, and applications must be received by the end of the business day on Monday, January 30th. The Monticello Economic Development Authority coordinates and administers the City of Monticello's economic development and redevelopment plans and programs, as well as overseeing statutory Housing Re-development Authority responsibilities, with an emphasis on attracting new businesses and jobs, business retention and expansion, enhancing the downtown area, and facilitating redevelopment. The Monticello EDA meets on the second Wednesday of every month at 6 PM. Applicants must be a business or property owner, or resident of Monticello to be eligible for consideration. The application deadline for the EDA is Wednesday, February 1st. Anyone interested in applying for either volunteer position should mail, e-mail, or fax completed application forms to the City of Monticello's Human Resources department. 

New State Grants to Help Outstate Schools With Broadband Internet Accessibility 

New state grants totaling $500,000 will provide schools in greater Minnesota with better broadband Internet access. State Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius says the goal is to help close "the digital divide" which can leave some students at a disadvantage. She says the money is being used to buy wireless hotspots, data cards and other broadband devices that students will be able to check out and use from home.

Health Officials Say Influenza Now on the Rise  

Flu activity has been categorized as regional across the state. Over the latest reporting week, 53 people were hospitalized with influenza. The state Health Department's Karen Martin says it doesn't appear we've peaked yet this season. She says it's not too late for a flu shot. Anyone six months and older is encouraged to get a flu shot.

Moderating Temperatures Present Problems for Pets  

As temperatures begin to rebound it's likely families will get back in the routine of walking the dog. Zach Nugent is with the Animal Humane Society and says keep in mind road salt can really irritate a dog's paws. Nugent says it's always a good idea to wash your dog's pads off after a winter walk.

Investigation Continuing into Fatal Pedestrian Crash Friday in Howard Lake  

The investigation continues into a fatal pedestrian crash in Wright County over the weekend. The State Patrol reports that shortly after 6 PM Friday evening, a Waconia man was struck by a pickup truck at the intersection of U-S Highway 12 and Wright County Road 6 in Howard Lake. Authorities say the pedestrian, 59-year-old Richard Jacobs of Waconia was struck by the pickup driven by 55-year-old Kent Mattson of Howard Lake. Officials say Mattson's truck was northbound on County Road 6 when it struck the man. Jacobs was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis where he later died from his injuries. Authorities reported that roads were snowy and icy at the time of the crash, and that alcohol was detected in the driver's system. The State Patrol says the driver was held on charges of criminal vehicular homicide.

One Injured in Car-Truck Crash in Monticello Early Sunday 

One person was injured when a passenger car collided with a truck and trailer on Highway 25 in Monticello early Sunday morning. The Minnesota State Patrol reports the crash happened around 1:20 AM on Highway 25 at Kjellberg Court. Authorities say a truck pulling a trailer was southbound on Highway 25, and was attempting a U-turn in the designated area just south of Kjellberg Court when it was struck broadside by a southbound passenger car. Officials say the driver of the car, 21-year-old Luke Palmer of Big Lake escaped injury, as did one of the passengers in the car, 21-year-old Jaymes Jarnagin of Monticello. Another passenger, 21-year-old Austin Westphal of Elk River sustained non-life threatening injuries and was treated at the Monticello Hospital. The driver of the truck, 38-year-old Luke Reichert of Andover, was not injured. The State Patrol reported that alcohol was detected in the system of the driver of the car, but did not indicate whether or not that played a part in the crash. The Wright County Sheriff's Office assisted the State Patrol.

St. Cloud Man Injured Saturday Afternoon on I-94 Near Monticello 

A St. Cloud man sustained injuries in a single vehicle rollover crash on I-94 near Monticello Saturday afternoon. The Minnesota State Patrol reports that shortly after 1 PM, a westbound car on I-94 struck a snowpile that was up against the median near Fenning Avenue, and the car rolled over onto its roof. The driver, 20-year-old Kyle Douvier of St. Cloud sustained non-life threatening injuries, and was taken to the St. Cloud Hospital for treatment. The Wright County Sheriff's Office, and Monticello Fire Department assisted the State Patrol at the scene.

Klobuchar Bill Calls for Crackdown on Senior Fraud 

U-S Senator Amy Klobuchar is introducing a new bi-partisan measure that calls for a crackdown on fraud targeted at seniors. The bill, authored by Senator Klobuchar and Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine calls on the Federal Trade Commission to have a more specific focus on senior fraud.

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.