Wright County News
A Wright County man who was sentenced earlier this year to prison for an August 2012 traffic crash that killed three people east of Willmar was ordered this week to also pay more than 37 thousand dollars in restitution to the victim's survivors and their insurance company. A District Court Judge in Kandiyohi County ordered that 22-year-old Paul Wickenhauser of Cokato pay the sums to Gregory Stoffers and Michael Hoffman, the survivors of 68-year-old Martha Stoffers of Atwater; her daughter-in-law, 40-year-old Michelle Hoffman of Eden Prairie; and Hoffman's 8-year-old daughter, Julia. You may remember the victims died in a fiery head-on crash August 17th, 2012, on U-S Highway 12 near the community of Kandiyohi. The Hoffman's 5-year-old son, Jason, was also injured in the crash. Wickenhauser was sentenced this past August to 67 months in prison and 3 thousand dollars in fines on felony charges of criminal vehicular homicide or operation – with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more.
Triple-A Distracted Driving Report
Most often when people talk about distracted driving, one of the first topics that comes up is cell phone talking or texting while driving, and most people automatically think that teen drivers are the biggest culprits. While teens rank high on the list, a new report shows that the age group most frequently guilty of texting or talking while driving are actually adults between the ages of 25-and-39. Gail Weinholzer with Minnesota Triple-A says while 90 percent of those surveyed believe phone use while driving is a serious threat to personal safety, the data seems to show that most people are taking a "do as I say, not as I do" approach. While talking on a cell phone while driving is currently not a violation of the law, texting while driving is, and law enforcement officials say it's just one of the things they will continue to look for on their impaired and distracted driving patrols through the holiday season.
Funeral Services Scheduled for Today for Longtime Otsego Maintenance Manager, Edward Greninger
Funeral services are scheduled for today in Albertville for a lifelong area resident. Edward Greninger passed away December 8th at the age of 89. Greninger was an area dairy farmer who also worked as the Maintenance Manager for the City of Otsego for over 20 years. He was also an active member of the Church of St. Albert in Albertville where he served on the St. Albert Cemetery Board, and was a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 4174.
Funeral Services Saturday for Former St. Michael Businessman, Norman Barthel
Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday for a former St. Michael businessman. Norman Barthel passed away December 5th at the age of 87. Barthel worked for many years at Honeywell before working at the Rockford Bakery, and later owning and operating the St. Michael Cafe. Norman had retired to Garrison, Minnesota where he was a member of the Garrison Lions, the Garrison Sr. Citizens, and where he had established Dorothy's Rainbow Foundation. Services for Norman Barthel will be held Saturday at 12 noon at the Church of St. Albert in Albertville.
Rockford Holiday Expo Saturday
The community of Rockford is continuing its preparations for the holidays with a Holiday Expo on Saturday. More than 25 local businesses and crafters are planning on taking part in the Rockford Holiday Expo Saturday from 8 AM to 1 PM. Those who attend will be able to register for various door prizes. The event will be held at the Rockford Community Center, at the Rockford High School campus.
Outdoor Living Nativity This Weekend in Buffalo
The congregation of the Buffalo Covenant Church will present an Outdoor Living Nativity this weekend as a gift to the community. The presentation is described as a "come-and-go" walk-through event, at which guests will be encouraged to enter the area and interact with the characters, pet the animals, smell the frankincense and myrrh, then warm up with home made cookies and hot chocolate in the church lobby. Animals will be provided by Tommy's Zoo, and will include sheep, goats, a donkey, a camel and more. Officials say the the event is free and open to all ages, and will run from 5 to 7 PM Saturday and Sunday, December 14th at the Buffalo Covenant Church, at 1601 North Highway 25 in Buffalo. For more information, or to make arrangements for groups to visit the Living Nativity, call the church office at (763) 682-1470.
7th Annual Festival of Trees Continues at Wright County Historical Society
The holiday season continues at the Wright County Historical Society and Heritage Center, where the 7th annual Festival of Trees is on display. Director Sally Stevens says the holiday event involves many different interpretations of the celebration of the season. Visitors may view the trees Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4:30 PM, and extra hours on Tuesday December 17th until 8 PM. The Festival of Trees is free of charge, and open to all ages. Officials with the Wright County Historical Society also remind area residents that the 3rd annual Online Auction is continuing, with bidding on a wide variety of items, with proceeds benefiting the Historical Society. Log onto; www.wrighthistory.org. Bidding on this year's items continues via email through 4:30 PM on Friday, December 13th.
MnDOT Advises Motorists of Black Ice
The combination of several blasts of winter snow, followed by bitterly cold temperatures have created the perfect condition for the formation of black ice. The Minnesota Department of Transportation says black ice forms when melting snow from natural conditions, or from the heat from tires and auto exhaust, then re-freezes. It can also form when rain, drizzle, mist or fog freezes. Black ice creates the appearance that the roadway is just wet, but is actually a thin, clear layer of ice the road or bridge deck surface. Motorists should remember to slow down on all roads in the early morning when the air temperature rises faster than the pavement temperature, and be especially careful on bridges and overpasses. Drivers should also keep a safe stopping distance from your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, use a safe speed for the winter driving conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit, and pay close attention to your driving.
Township Association Offers Scholarships
The Minnesota Association of Townships has announced that it will again offer a township scholarship program for high school juniors in the state, with up to four 1-thousand dollar scholarships to be awarded. The Minnesota Association of Townships Scholarship Program is designed to heighten awareness among young people about Minnesota's Grassroots Township government. The program encourages every high school in the state of Minnesota to offer the opportunity for 11th grade students to participate. All students currently enrolled in the 11th grade at a Minnesota public, private or parochial high school or a home study program, and who plan to further their education at a college, university, or vocational school are eligible for the program. Students who are the child, stepchild, grandchild, or step-grandchild, brother, sister, or step brother or sister of an MAT director or staff member are ineligible. Applicants must complete an application form and submit it along with a written essay discussing this year's topic, "Township Pride – Fostering the Township Community." For complete information, log onto; www.mntownships.org Applications and required forms must be submitted and postmarked by May 1st to; Minnesota Association of Townships Scholarship Program, P. O. Box 267, St. Michael, MN 55376. Winners will be notified in writing in mid-October of 2014, and will be invited to attend the MAT annual meeting to be held next November 20th through 22nd in Duluth.
Dept. of Commerce Offers Toy Safety Reminder
Parents buying toys this holiday season are urged to stay vigilant about product safety. Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman recommends consumers find out all they can about product recalls and do their research on safety issues involving toys with dangerous chemicals and other hazards. For the most up-to-date info on hazards and recalls, you can visit; www.mn.gov/commerce.
Wright County Sheriff's Office Investigating Monticello Robbery
The Wright County Sheriff's Department is investigating the report of a man being robbed at gunpoint Sunday afternoon in Monticello. Authorities say December 8th, shortly after 3 PM, deputies responded to the AmericInn at 118 7th Street East in Monticello after a 28-year-old man reported being robbed at gunpoint by a female in a room at the motel. The man reported the female pointed a small automatic style pistol at him and took cash from him. The suspect was described as an olive-skinned female with blonde hair that appeared to have been shaven on the right side of her head. The woman was reportedly wearing ripped jeans at the time of the robbery. The incident remains under investigation by the Wright County Sheriff's Office.
Wright County Announces Extra Traffic Enforcement for the Holidays
Local law enforcement officials will be a part of the statewide DWI enforcements that will be in effect throughout the holiday season. Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty announced recently that his department, along with several individual Wright County community police departments will put emphasis on preventing impaired driving crashes. Sheriff Hagerty says while the holidays are a popular time for parties, seat belts and designated drivers must be a part of the party planning to ensure travel safety during the season. Authorities ask motorists to buckle up, plan for enough travel time so you can resist the urge to speed, plan for a safe and sober ride if you plan on drinking, and pay attention on the roadways as the holiday season is one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
Busy Mailing Season in Full Swing
The busiest season of the year is underway at post offices throughout the area, and the Postal Service has some reminders. Spokeswoman Gina Hellermann anticipates a 12-percent increase in package mailing and delivery this year, so she advises sending out items early. Hellermann says standard post should be sent by December 12th, domestic first class cards and letters should go out no later than December 20th and priority mail no later than December 21st.
Property Tax Homestead Notice
The Wright County Assessor's Office reminds local property owners of the upcoming December 15th deadline for filing a homestead application. Residents who purchased a property in the past year who occupy, or a qualifying relative is occupied the property for homestead purposes on December 1st of this year, or residents or qualifying relatives who occupy a property as of December 1st that was previously classified as non-homestead need to make application with the Wright County Assessor's Office by December 15th to be granted the homestead classification. Longtime residents and property owners are reminded that once you have been granted the homestead classification, no further applications are necessary unless they are specifically requested by the county assessor. Property owners should also contact the assessor by December 15th if the use of a particular property has changed during the past year. For more information, or answers to any questions you may have, contact the Wright County Assessor's Office at (763) 682-7367.
Longtime Buffalo Rodeo Livestock Contractor Robert "Bob" Barnes Passes Away
Rodeo fans in Wright County and throughout the upper Midwest were saddened to hear recently of the passing of rodeo legend Robert "Bob" Barnes of Cherokee, Iowa. The Wright County Journal Press reports that Barnes passed away November 24th at the age of 84. Barnes got interested in rodeo at an early age, and by 1950, he and his sister, Marjorie began putting on their own rodeos. After serving in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, Barnes and his wife Donita began building the Barnes Rodeo Company, one of the most respected companies in the country. His company has decades for the Buffalo Rodeo, as well as rodeos throughout the U-S. Barnes was a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and was a past PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year. He served on the National Finals Rodeo Committee, as well as the PRCA Stock Contractors Executive Council and Board of Directors. In 1994, Bob was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, and in 2010, he was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. Outside of the world of rodeo, Barnes helped to found the Midwest Christian Children's Home near Peterson, Iowa, and was a member of its Board of Directors until his death. Funeral services for Bob Barnes were held in late November in Sutherland, Iowa.
Dept. Of Commerce Offers Money-Saving Heating Tips
It looks like cold temperatures have settled in for the winter. If you're looking for ways to save money as the temperature drops, the Minnesota Department of Commerce has some tips. Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman says you should also seal any air leaks around chimneys, vents and pipes, as that can help prevent ice dams. His full report can be heard in our on-air news throughout the day.
Be Careful On The Ice!
Despite our recent arctic blast, the Department of Natural Resources is urging you to use extreme caution if you're thinking about heading out onto the ice. The DNR's Kara Owens says even with bitterly cold temperatures, in some areas recent precipitation and snow is slowing down ice formation. She recommends anyone heading out onto the ice check with a local bait shop for the latest ice conditions, and of course, you should measure the ice before you step out.
Extreme Cold a Danger for Minnesota Pets
Dog owners are being reminded to make sure their pets can stay warm in this extreme cold. Carrie Libera with the Animal Humane Society says if it's too cold outside for your kids, it's too cold for your dog. She says most people don't think of it, but dogs can suffer from frostbite just like people. Libera says to avoid long walks with your dog and limit the time they spend outdoors in frigid conditions. She recommends that owners consider bundling their pets up with a coat, sweater or dog shoes. She adds that petroleum jelly can protect their pads from chemicals and salt on roads and driveways.
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.