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Wright County News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Funds Available for Homeowners and Property Rental Owners Affected by June Flooding  

Residents of Wright County who were affected by the June flooding may be eligible for state loans of up to 70 thousand dollars through Minnesota Housing. The announcement from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency includes loan programs offering up to 70 thousand dollars to return homes to pre-disaster or comparable condition. There are two loan programs available; the Community Fix Up flood loans, which can provide up to 50 thousand dollars in repair funding for residents with qualifying credit. Those relief loans would carry an interest rate of 3 percent. For those residents who do not qualify for a Community Fix Up loan, or those who have flood repair needs beyond what is covered by the Community Fix Up loan, the Quick Start Disaster Recovery Program can provide additional assistance of up to 20 thousand dollars. Quick Start loans are interest-free and forgiven if the owner remains in the home for 10 years. Funding for rental housing properties is also available under similar terms and conditions. To be eligible for loans, residents must first contact their personal insurance company. Only damages that are not covered by insurance can qualify for the loans. The application deadline for both programs is October 24th. Residents of Wright, Carver and Scott Counties should apply with the Center for Energy and Environment, 212 3rd Avenue North, Suite 560, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401. Residents may call for more information at (612) 335-5851.  

Fire Destroys Home in Neighboring Sherburne County, Two Injured 

Firefighters from three communities battled a house fire in neighboring Sherburne County Monday afternoon that injured two residents of the home. Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott says his department was notified of the fire around 3:30 Monday afternoon at a home in the 16 thousand block of 57th Street Southeast in Santiago Township. Authorities say they arrived on the scene to find the home engulfed by fire, with flames visible going through the roof. Residents of the home, 62-year-old Terry Bentley, and his wife, 61-year-old Linda Bentley escaped the residence, but not before Linda Bentley suffered severe burns across her body. Both were treated at the scene by Centra Care Ambulance. Linda Bentley was eventually airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis where she remains in the ICU burn unit. The Becker, Big Lake and Clear Lake Fire Departments all battled the blaze, but the structure was a total loss. The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office and the State Fire Marshal. 

Health Officials Remind Parents About School-Required Vaccinations 

State health officials say over 90 percent of Minnesota kindergarteners received required vaccinations, including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, hepatitis B and chickenpox during the last school year. Yet vaccination rates for some adolescents are lagging. Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann says leaving some children un-vaccinated leaves a gap in the prevention defense system. She notes some additional vaccinations are now required. Kids entering child care and pre-school must be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. The tetanus-diphtheria booster that seventh-graders receive must also have a pertussis vaccine, and seventh-graders and high-school students must also receive the meningitis vaccine. In Wright County, many of the school immunizations are available through the Wellness on Wheels, or WOW van. Residents may of course, also get the appropriate vaccinations for their youngsters at their primary physician's office. 

Two People Injured in Motorcycle Crash in Southeastern MN 

A husband and wife from Mound in neighboring Hennepin County were injured this week in a motorcycle accident in extreme southeastern Minnesota. The State Patrol reports that a motorcycle driven by 66-year-old Gerald Miller of Mound was eastbound on Highway 16 in Fillmore County, south of Rochester when it struck a deer that ran out of a ditch and onto the roadway. Both Gerald Miller, and his wife, 62-year-old Judy Miller who was a passenger on the motorcycle, sustained non-life threatening injuries. They were taken to a Winona hospital for treatment. Officials say both riders were wearing helmets at the time of the crash. The Fillmore County Sheriff's Office assisted the State Patrol at the scene. 

Back-to-School Preview 

Just a week from today, thousands of Minnesota students will be heading back to school. Minnesota Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius encourages parents to be engaged in their child's education. Cassellius says when it comes to the up-coming school year, there's plenty to be optimistic about. While majority of school districts go back in session after Labor Day, there are some kids already back in the classroom. 

Mosquito Season Not Over Yet, Health Officials Advise West Nile Protection 

Even though we're ready to flip the calendar to September, that doesn't mean we're out of the woods for mosquito season. State health officials are reminding Minnesotans to continue protecting themselves from mosquitoes, especially after the first reported human case of West Nile virus for the summer. Epidemiologist Dave Neitzel says the risk is lower than the past couple years, but there is some risk out there. Neitzel says a Pope County woman became ill with West Nile fever earlier this month, but did not require hospitalization. The high risk period usually continues until the first frost in Minnesota. 

Albany Man Drowns in Sherburne County Lake 

The Sherburne County Sheriff's Office reports an apparent drowning in a lake in Zimmerman. Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott says his department was notified around 6 PM Saturday evening of a man feared missing on Lake Fremont in the city of Zimmerman. Authorities say the body of 23-year-old Joshua Roepke was recovered from the lake by divers around 8 PM that evening in about 7 feet of water. Roepke had been swimming and boating with friends throughout the day. Friends say they lost sight of him around 6 o'clock during a swim. Authorities say the suspected drowning incident remains under investigation. 

Late Summer Gas Prices Continue to Drop 

As summer winds down and heads toward Labor Day, gasoline prices continue to fall across the state and here in Wright County. The statewide average for regular unleaded is currently around 3-35 a gallon. Gail Weinholzer of Triple-A Minnesota says that's the least Minnesotans have paid at the pump in August for a decade. Weinholzer says crude oil prices have stabilized significantly and demand for gasoline has dropped this month. 

"Ice Bucket Challenge" Becoming Fund-Raising Phenomenon for ALS Association 

It's nearly impossible these days to watch TV or view the internet without seeing someone participating in the "Ice Bucket Challenge." People video themselves getting a bucket of ice water dumped over their head in an effort to raise money to fight against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or A-L-S, also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease." Once dowsed with water, the participant challenges others to do the same within 24 hours, or make a donation to A-L-S. Jennifer Hjelle, executive director of the A-L-S Association Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Chapter says the response has been incredible. She says though currently there is no cure for A-L-S, the fundraising gives everyone new hope. Hjelle believes there are going to be some treatment options for A-L-S patients in the next five to ten years. The Ice Bucket Challenge will take on a new local twist in Buffalo when several persons participate at 3 PM on September 7th at the St. John's Lutheran Church Family Fun Fest. The event will be to honor and support Pastor Phil Meyer of St. John's Lutheran who was recently diagnosed with ALS. Officials say between 400 and 500 people in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota are battling A-L-S. 

Highway 55 Lanes Closed Overnight Thru August 29th 

Motorists should expect overnight travel delays on Highway 55 between Rockford and Buffalo to continue this week. Officials with MnDOT say traffic will be down to a single lane at times, with delays of up to 20 minutes between 7 PM and 5 AM through Friday, August 29th weather permitting. The closures will allow crews to resurface the roadway. Motorists are advised that flaggers and a pilot car will allow one-way, alternating traffic through each night's work zone. Motorists must obey the flagger and follow the pilot car through the work zone. Drivers should plan on taking a different route if the possibility of a significant delay is unworkable. MnDOT officials say the project should provide a smoother driving surface, and will extend the life of the 8-mile section of roadway which serves more than 15 thousand vehicles per day.

Weekend McLeod County Crash Leaves Two Injured 

A single-vehicle traffic crash Friday evening in neighboring McLeod County left two people injured. The State Patrol reports that around 10:15 Friday evening, a small pickup that was westbound on Highway 212 ran off the road when the driver apparently fell asleep at the wheel. Officials say the truck ran into the median when the driver, 18-year-old Logan Pool of Glencoe, attempted to regain control, over-correcting and crossing both westbound lanes of traffic before the vehicle went into the north ditch and rolled over. The driver, and a passenger in the truck, 18-year-old Sierra Newman of Belle Plaine, both sustained non-life threatening injuries, and were transported to the Glencoe Hospital for treatment. The Glencoe Police and Fire Department, and the McLeod County Sheriff's Office assisted the State Patrol at the scene. 

Annandale Resident and Volunteer, Ronald Fremstad Passes Away 

An Annandale man who will be remembered for his support of local organizations passed away recently. Ronald Fremstad died August 21st at the age of 79. Fremstad was a U-S Naval Air Reserve veteran, and worked in the Physics Department at the University of Minnesota as a machinist until his retirement to Annandale in 1997. He was an active supporter of the Minnesota Pioneer Park in Annandale, and was a member of the Annandale Conservation Club. He also was a volunteer and supporter of the Crossroads Animal Shelter in Buffalo. Private funeral services for Ronald Fremstad are planned.

New DNR Moose Plates  

The Minnesota DNR unveiled a new critical habitat license plate recently featuring a moose painting by renowned artist Les Kouba. Wildlife research manager Lou Cornicelli says the DNR also signed a unique partnership agreement with Les Kouba Outdoors. Cornicelli says the 30-dollar contribution for the moose plate goes directly into the Reinvest in Minnesota program. It is the eighth critical habitat license plate. 

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.