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Wright County News  

Friday, November 16, 2018


Kiffmeyer Presses State Officials Regarding Child Care Assistance Program Payment Glitch 

State Senator Mary Kiffmeyer is asking state officials what they're doing to fix the problem, after payments for the Child Care Assistance Program stopped last Thursday due to an apparent computer glitch. The Big Lake Republican says there's already a child care shortage in Minnesota, and problems such as this can not only discourage potential providers from getting started, it can also get them thinking about leaving the field. Kiffmeyer says there was no direct communication with those affected when the problem occurred. As of late Thursday, officials with the state's I-T department have not yet had a comment.  

USDA Invests to Improve Rural Health Care for Nearly 2 Million Rural Americans 

The U-S Department of Agriculture has announced that it will be making an investment of more than 500 million dollars in 60 projects to help improve health care infrastructure and services in rural communities throughout the country. The announcement came as a part of the USDA's commemoration of National Rural Health Day which focuses on specific health care issues facing rural communities. Projects that will be funded will include 1.2 million dollars for expansion of a 49-bed, skilled nursing home and 16-unit assisted living center in Buffalo Lake, Minnesota in neighboring McLeod County. 

44th Annual Community Festival of Praise and Thanksgiving Next Wednesday at Zion Lutheran in Buffalo 

The 44th Annual Community Festival of Praise and Thanksgiving is scheduled for next week in Buffalo. The member churches of the Buffalo Ministerial Association will again be presenting the annual Thanksgiving Eve non-denominational service which will include choirs, handbells, brass, organ and spoken passages in the community-wide service of worship and thanks. The service is free and open to the public. There will be a free-will offering to help support the community ministries of the Buffalo Ministerial Association. The service will again be broadcast live on KRWC Radio at 7:30 PM, and will also be recorded for re-broadcast on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day at 11 AM. 

Gas Tax Increase Likely to be Hotly Debated in 2019 MN Legislative Session 

Expect another fight over increasing the gas tax when lawmakers return to Saint Paul in January. Governor-elect Tim Walz says he'll propose it, but Senate Majority Leader, Republican Paul Gazelka says it's unnecessary. The DFL stance is that there's not enough money to do the job without taking funds from other programs.  

Young Woman From Wright County Injured in Traffic Crash Near Willmar 

Two Wright County residents were involved in a Wednesday evening traffic crash near Willmar. The State Patrol reports that just before 9 PM, two vehicles collided at the intersection of Highway 12 and Kandiyohi County Road 9 Southeast in Kandiyohi Township. Authorities say an SUV that was westbound on Highway 12 was turning left to go southbound onto the exit ramp, then pulled in front of an eastbound passenger car. The driver of the car, 21-year-old Joseph Kittock of Waverly was not injured, but a passenger in his car, 23-year-old Tifani Johnson of Cokato sustained non-life threatening injuries, and was transported to the Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar for treatment. The driver of the SUV, 52-year-old Maria Moreno of Marshall, and two passengers in her vehicle all escaped injury. The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office assisted the State Patrol. 

Graco Plans Expansion of Rogers Plant 

Graco, internationally recognized manufacturer of fluid handling equipment for industrial and commercial applications, plans to invest some 73 million dollars to expand its operations in nearby Rogers. The company says the project will more than double the size of its existing manufacturing, office and product development facility. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development says around 84 new jobs are expected to be created within four years, at an average wage of more than 21 dollars per hour. DEED is supporting the expansion with a 700 thousand dollar loan from the Minnesota Investment Fund, as well as an 800 thousand dollar grant from the Job Creation Fund. Officials with the department say Graco considered multiple U-S sites for the project, but ultimately chose to expand in Rogers. 

Emerald Ash Borer Update 

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is reminding Wright County residents that the county is under an emergency quarantine after emerald ash borer was detected along the I-94 corridor in Clearwater. The purpose of an emergency quarantine is to limit the movement of firewood and ash material out of the county, thus reducing the risk of spreading the tree-killing insect. Kaye Strohbehn is an Interim Program Associate with the U of M Extension Service Office in Wright County. She says there are other simple steps that everyone can take to help reduce the chances of spreading the emerald ash borer infestation including buying or gathering firewood near your camping location and using it only at that site. For more information, visit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website at;, or stop by the Wright County Extension Service offices. 

Pedestrian Seriously Injured in Buffalo When Struck by Pickup 

A Buffalo man was injured Tuesday afternoon when he was struck by a pickup truck on Highway 55. The Minnesota State Patrol reports that the incident happened around 3:30 PM when the pickup was attempting to make a left hand turn from Highway 55 onto 2nd Street South near the SuperAmerica store in Buffalo. The pedestrian, identified as 29-year-old Jacob Daniels of Buffalo was struck in the intersection as he attempted to cross Highway 55. Officials say Daniels sustained serious, but non-life threatening injuries and was airlifted to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale. The driver of the pickup, 58-year-old Dawn Jenson of Loretto, was not injured. The Buffalo Police Department, Allina Ambulance and North Memorial Air Care assisted the State Patrol at the scene.

MN Volunteers Deploy to California With Red Cross 

Six Minnesota volunteers from the American Red Cross have been deployed to California to assist with evacuations as deadly wildfires continue to burn in the northern and southern parts of the state. Red Cross spokeswoman Carrie Carlson-Guest says for those who would like to donate to help people impacted by the wildfires, visit; or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

Salvation Army Coats for Kids Drive Continues in St. Michael-Albertville 

The Salvation Army Coats for Kids Drive continues for a few more days in the community of Albertville. New and/or gently used coats are needed as well as other winter accessories including gloves and mittens, scarves and other related items. Donations may be made in all sizes, including adult sizes for older children. Donations will be accepted through November 21st at the St. Michael and Albertville City Hall lobbies, the St. Michael Fire Station, Coborn's in Albertville, the Marketplace in St. Michael, Millennium Dance Company in Albertville, and Dunn Brothers Coffee in St. Michael. Last year, over 1000 coats and outerwear items were collected, and officials hope to surpass that mark this year. 

Funeral Mass Today for Lifelong Maple Lake Resident, Community Volunteer, Stephen "Steve" Mooney 

Family, friends and colleagues pay their final respects today to a lifelong Maple Lake area man. Stephan "Steve" Mooney passed away November 8th at the age of 60 while on a hunting trip in northern Minnesota. Steve grew up in Maple Lake and graduated from Maple Lake High School with the Class of 1977. He worked in farming, as well as at Exide Battery in Minneapolis, Foam Fabricators in Silver Creek, Deltak Manufacturing in Plymouth, and NRG in Elk River. Locally, Steve was a tireless volunteer for the Maple Lake Lions where he served as the Zone Chair, and was the recipient of the Melvin Jones and Helen Keller awards. He also served on the Maple Lake City Council for 8 years, and was on the board for the Equal Opportunity Housing Committee. In 2016, Steve was honored as a Minneapolis Aquatennial Commodore. The funeral Mass for Steve Mooney will be held today at St. Timothy's Catholic Church in Maple Lake. 

Prime Time for Flu Shots 

If you haven't already gotten your flu shot, now is the time. Flu activity in the state is picking up and health officials have categorized the spread as "sporadic." Karen Martin with the state Health Department says over the last reporting week, three people were hospitalized with flu-related symptoms. During the same period, there was one school outbreak, and none in the state's nursing homes. So far this season 30 people have been hospitalized with the flu.

One Injured in Rollover Crash Near Big Lake 

One person was injured in a single-vehicle rollover crash that happened Monday evening near Big Lake. The State Patrol reports that just after 7 PM, a passenger car was westbound on Highway 10 near Industrial Park Drive. Officials say the driver made evasive maneuvers to avoid a deer, and the car rolled over. The driver of the car, 30-year-old Taylor Roberts sustained serious, but non-life threatening injuries, and was taken to the North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale for treatment. A passenger in the car, 26-year-old Dakota Tong of Monticello, was not injured. The Big Lake Police and Allina Ambulance assisted the State Patrol at the scene. 

Can Record Political Gains by Women be Sustained? 

In the 2016 election, women gained no seats in the U-S House or Senate, but they made up for it last week, running and winning at much higher rates than they have before. Political pundits are already speculating about whether the change will carry over into 2020. Roz Brown has a complete report in our on-air news throughout the day.

Buffalo / Montrose Toys for Tots Campaign Underway 

The Buffalo Rotary's Toys for Tots Campaign for 2018 is underway. Last year, Christmas for 220 families and 575 children in the Buffalo and Montrose areas was a little brighter thanks to donations and the work of numerous volunteers that helped with the project. The Buffalo Rotary hopes to surpass that number this year with the help from the generous members of local communities. Donations of new, unwrapped toys can be made at one of many drop off locations. Cash donations may be made via the Toys for Tots website, or by sending a check to Buffalo Rotary Toys for Tots, P. O. Box 501 Buffalo, MN 55313. You can also help be being a drop-off location if you have a business in the area, and simply be spreading the word about Buffalo Rotary Toys for Tots. Families residing in Buffalo or Montrose that are in need of assistance with providing toys for their children this year, you may request toys by filling out an application available at the Buffalo Food Shelf, the Buffalo Chamber office, and Wright County Human Services, or online at; Applications must be received by Friday, December 7th. For more information, contact the Buffalo Rotary at (763) 269-5739, or via email at; 

First Taste of Winter-Like Driving 

We're just one-third of the way into November, and already Wright County drivers have had to brush up on their winter driving skills. Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Joe Kelly says the most important thing to remember about winter driving is, if you can, wait out conditions that aren't safe. Kelly says if you haven't already, now's the time to make sure your vehicle is winter-ready. He says another vital component to winter driving safety is having a good battery, and now is also a good time to put that winter survival kit together and in your vehicle.

Intermittent Lane Closures This Week on I-94 in Monticello 

Motorists on both directions of I-94 in Monticello should watch for slow or stopped traffic as the road is reduced to a single lane beginning today. Both directions of I-94 will be reduced to a single lane after 9:30 PM November 12th through the 15th, though all lanes will be open by 5:30 AM the following day, in time for morning rush hour traffic. MnDOT says intermittent non-rush hour daytime lane closures will occur on both directions of I-94 November 13th through the 17th. The closures are needed while crews continue to work on the new Fallon Avenue bridge spanning I-94 in Monticello.

FDA Considers New Restrictions on E-Cigs 

The FDA is calling e-cigarette use among minors an "epidemic," and is considering new restrictions on e-cigarettes in an effort to stop minors from buying and using the products. Laura Smith with ClearWay Minnesota says starting young can have a long-lasting negative impact. Smith flavored e-cigs and other products have contributed to the first rise in youth tobacco use in Minnesota in 17 years. She says young people are very susceptible to imaging and messages whether stated, or suggested. The FDA's proposed changes include banning flavored e-cigarettes in convenience stores and gas stations and adding age-verification for online sales. 

City of Buffalo Residents Reminded of Fall Leaf Pick-up This Week 

Residents in the City of Buffalo are reminded that the city's annual fall leaf pick-up will be held throughout the week. Leaves will be picked up this week on the resident's regularly scheduled trash pick-up day. An important new item this year, in order for leaves to be picked up, residents must use compostable bags only. Non-compostable bags will not be picked up, and officials say there will be no special pick-ups this year. Leaves need to be bagged and placed in the vicinity of, or beside your normal trash receptacle by 7 AM on your scheduled day of pick-up. Any questions may be directed to the Buffalo City Center at (763) 682-1181. 

These stories and more follow the Westwood One 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.