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Wright County News  

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


January Unemployment in Wright County Lowest in Nearly Two Decades 

Wright County's unemployment rate to start 2018 was in territory not seen in nearly two decades. New statistics from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development show that Wright County's non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate in January was 4.4 percent. The winter unemployment rate generally rises due to seasonal layoffs, and January's 4.4 percent rate was up from 3.5 percent in December, but at the same time, that 4.4 percent rate in January was a full point lower than the same month a year earlier, and to find a lower January jobless rate, you would have to look back to January of 1999, when the rate was 4.3 percent, with a labor force some 26 thousand persons less than in January 2018. It all points to another very good year for Wright County employment, coming off a 2017 where the non-seasonally adjusted rate at one point dropped under two and a half percent. The seasonally-adjusted Minnesota unemployment rate in January stayed stable at 3.3 percent for the fifth consecutive month, while the national rate was posted at 4.1 percent for the fourth month in a row. With the year-ending re-cap now complete, the February 2018 jobless numbers should be released in the next week to 10 days. 

Dispelling Myths for Poison Prevention Week 

The Minnesota Poison Control System says there are lots of myths regarding poisons and when to call Poison Control. Elizabeth Braun reports in our on-air news. More information is also available at;

MnDOT to Host Public Open House in Cokato on 2020 Highway 12 Improvements 

Cokato area businesses, residents and others who travel Highway 12 through Cokato are invited to learn about a major Highway 12 road improvement project planned for 2020 through the community at a public open house next week. MnDOT will be hosting the open house on Thursday, March 29th at the Cokato Public Library. Those who attend will be able to learn more about the proposed project's current design, expected traffic changes and schedule. MnDOT staff will be on hand to answer questions and take comments about the project. The current design plan includes signal and turning improvements at the Highway 12 / County Road 3 intersection, installation of "bump outs" to improve pedestrian safety, sidewalk replacements and retaining wall repairs, among other improvements. The open house is scheduled from 5 to 6:30 PM at the Cokato Public Library. For more information, log onto;

Maple Lake Man Pleads Guilty in Connection to 2016 Shooting Death of Cheyenne Clough 

A Maple Lake man entered a plea of guilty in recent days to charges stemming from the shooting death of 19-year-old Cheyenne Clough of Buffalo nearly two years ago. The StarTribune reports that 30-year-old Justin Jensen of Maple Lake entered a plea of guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree murder for his part in the death. You may remember that Clough was shot with a small caliber handgun, and left for dead at the entrance to the Crow Springs County Park in Franklin Township on June 1st of 2016. The young woman died from her injuries some three days later. The killing came after a complex series of events tied to drugs, and possibly other crimes which Clough was believed to have knowledge of, and may have threatened to pass along information. Justin Jensen, and the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Shawn Benson of Buffalo were arrested near the Canadian border after being on the run for several days. A third man charged in the case, 27-year-old Edward Zelko, also of Buffalo was arrested after a traffic stop in north-central Minnesota. Jensen's sentence is expected to be between 27 to 40 years. Meanwhile, Shawn Benson had a scheduled court hearing on Tuesday, and officials said he could also plead guilty to second-degree murder. Edward Zelko, who is charged with first and second-degree aiding and abetting murder, has a court hearing scheduled for June 1st. 

Two Drivers Injured in Sherburne County Crash 

A woman from Dayton was one of two people injured in a Saturday afternoon traffic crash on Highway 10 in Elk River in neighboring Sherburne County. The State Patrol reports that around 5:40 PM, a Ford crew-cab pickup was crossing Highway 10 to go north on Jarvis Avenue in Elk River. Officials say the truck pulled out in front of a Mazda pickup that was westbound on Highway 10. The impact carried the Mazda truck into the path of an SUV that was southbound on Jarvis, and was approaching the turn to go west on 10. Injured in the crash was the driver of the SUV, 50-year-old Susann Harff of Dayton. She sustained non-life threatening injuries, and was transported to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids. Also injured was the driver of the small pickup involved, 61-year-old Roxanne Stoltz of Wadena, Minnesota. She also was taken to Mercy Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A passenger in the small truck, a 48-year-old man, also from Wadena, was not injured. The driver of the large pickup, 37-year-old Amy Jo Buermann of Zimmerman, and a passenger, a 38-year-old man, also from Zimmerman, were not injured. The Elk River Police and the Elk River Fire and Ambulance assisted the State Patrol at the scene. 

Young Litchfield Man Injured in Swift County Traffic Crash 

A young man from Litchfield was injured in a traffic crash Sunday evening in Swift County in West Central Minnesota. The State Patrol reports that around 7:45 PM, a pickup truck was northbound on Highway 9, just south of the community of Clontarf when it ran off the road, vaulted, and had a hard landing on its wheels. Injured in the incident was the driver and lone occupant, 19-year-old Carter Wattenhofer of Litchfield, who sustained non-life threatening injuries and was taken to the Benson Hospital for treatment. The Chevy pickup that the young man was driving was the only vehicle involved. The State Patrol is investigating. 

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month 

The month of March is recognized as Problem Gambling Awareness Month. State officials are encouraging you to "Have the Conversation" with your loved one that may be struggling with gambling addiction. Claire Wilson, Assistant Commissioner with the Minnesota Department of Human Services says while the legal drinking age is 21, the legal gambling age in Minnesota is 18. She says often casinos and other gambling venues have become a type of rite-of-passage destination, and in extreme cases, young adults can develop a problem. 

Driver's License Revocation Bill for 5-Time DWI Offenders 

A new bill at the State Capitol aims to revoke a Minnesota driver's license after a person's fifth D-W-I conviction. Representative Dario Anselmo, Republican from Edina says his bill essentially states that "enough is enough." The bill would allow five-time offenders to petition the court to have their license reinstated after a 10-year period. Roughly 25,000 Minnesotans have five or greater D-W-Is.

Tree Removal Along Highway 25 Near Montrose to Begin March 19th 

Motorists who travel Highway 25 between Montrose and Watertown may encounter heavy equipment and occasional slow traffic while crews remove trees along Highway 25. The work will be going on about a half-mile north of County Road 30 during the week of March 19th. The work is the first part of a project that will re-surface or re-construct Highway 25 between Montrose and Watertown. Road work is expected to be done from mid-May through mid-August. About 8 miles of Highway 25 will be re-surfaced or re-constructed. Three underground pipes and one box culvert bridge will also be replaced, and new LED stop signs at the Highway 25 Wright County Road 30 intersection will be installed. Other improvements will include repair of a slope north of Armitage Avenue, upgrades to guardrail, and the installation of rumble strips. For more information on the project , log onto;

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.