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Wright County News

Sunday, December 21, 2014



Flu Outbreaks Spike in Minnesota 

There was a big jump in Minnesota flu cases for the week ending December 13th. 203 new outbreaks were reported in schools, more than 10 times the amount reported the week before. 18 nursing homes reported flu outbreaks, compared to four the week earlier. Flu-related hospitalizations dropped from 124 to 60, but state Epidemiologist Brad Krier says that doesn't necessarily indicate a trend. Officials say two children under the age of 18 have died from flu-related causes so far this season in Minnesota. That compares to just two in the entire flu season last year. Influenza activity is now classified as widespread in Minnesota. 

Three-Vehicle Crash Injures Kimball Woman 

A Thursday afternoon traffic crash in neighboring Meeker County left a Kimball woman with injuries. The Minnesota State Patrol says around 3:30 PM a passenger car that pulled out from the intersection of Meeker County Road 2 and Highway 55 sideswiped another car that was eastbound on Highway 55. The impact pushed the eastbound vehicle into the westbound traffic lane where it was struck again by a westbound SUV. The driver of the eastbound car that was sideswiped, 48-year-old Patricia Dorman of Kimball, sustained minor injuries. She was transported to the Meeker County Memorial Hospital in Litchfield for treatment. The driver of the northbound car that pulled out from the county road, 30-year-old Dustin Nelson of Litchfield, and a passenger, 29-year-old Kalie Nelson, also of Litchfield were not injured. The driver of the westbound SUV, 45-year-old Kevin Ebensteiner of Annandale was not injured. The Meeker County Sheriff's Office, and the Watkins Fire, Ambulance and Rescue assisted the State Patrol at the scene. 

Salvation Army Details Need for Red Kettle Donations 

Christmas is close and the Salvation Army is making the final push in its annual Red Kettle campaign. Spokesman Jeffrey DeMars says donations are important when it comes to delivering their services to those in need. There are Salvation Army Red Kettles at numerous locations around Wright County, but if you don't run across one this holiday season, donations can also be made on-line at; 

Outdoor Living Nativity at Buffalo Covenant Church This Weekend 

A reminder to area residents that the annual Outdoor Living Nativity will be presented this weekend at a local church in Buffalo. The Buffalo Covenant Church will present the Living Nativity Saturday and Sunday from 5 to 7 PM. The Living Nativity is a walk-through event with live character portrayals of the wise men, shepherds, soldiers, angels, Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, along with a whole stable full of live animals. Admission is free, and cookies and hot chocolate will be served. For more information, or to make arrangements for a group visit to the Living Nativity, contact the Buffalo Covenant Church office at (763) 682-1470. You may also learn more online at; The Buffalo Covenant Church is located on Highway 25 in Buffalo, just north of Walmart. 

Single Vehicle Rollover Leaves Annandale Woman Injured

A Wednesday evening traffic crash in neighboring Stearns County left a Wright County woman injured. The State Patrol says around 6:30 PM Wednesday, an SUV that was traveling southwest on Stearns County Road 142 apparently overcorrected at a sharp turn at Highway 15 and rolled over. The driver, 46-year-old Angela Carter of Annandale sustained serious, but non-life threatening injuries according to authorities. She was taken to the St. Cloud Hospital for treatment. Two children in the vehicle, 6-year-old Shelby Carter and 4-year-old Ruby Quinn were not injured. Officials report that alcohol was detected in the bloodstream of the driver, though it was not reported whether or not that was a factor in the crash. The Stearns County Sheriff's Office, the St. Augusta Fire and Rescue, the Kimball Fire Department, Gold Cross Ambulance and Paynesville Ambulance all assisted the State Patrol at the scene. 

Clear Lake Man Involved in Martin County Crash 

A Sherburne County man was involved in a two-vehicle traffic crash Wednesday morning in Martin County in southern Minnesota. The State Patrol says a full size pickup rear-ended a small pickup in the left lane of eastbound Interstate 90 around 11:20 AM Wednesday. The driver of the small pickup that was struck, 20-year-old Shianne Poulson of Sherburn, Minnesota sustained non-life threatening injuries and was taken to the Fairmont Medical Center in Fairmont, Minnesota. The driver of the larger truck, 23-year-old Jacob Long of Clear Lake was not injured. The State Patrol says alcohol was detected in Long's system, though they did not indicate if that was a factor in the crash. The Martin County Sheriff's Office assisted the State Patrol at the scene of the crash, which remains under investigation.

Holiday Mail Season Reaching Fever Pitch 

If you're planning to mail gifts to family and friends far away, time is running out if you want those packages to arrive in time for Christmas. U-S Postal Service C-E-O Patrick Donahoe says they have to be at the post office by Saturday. If you're a true last-minute gifter, he says packages can be sent by express mail up to December 23 for Christmas delivery. Donahoe says keep in mind though that there is a price for that very last-minute delivery. Priority Mail prices start at close to $5 per parcel, Express Mail prices starting at about $10 per package or letter.

Some Holiday Toys Present a High Risk of Eye Injury 

Toy guns are the most often cited when it comes to toys and childhood eye injuries in the U.S., but they're not the only danger. Those kids receiving video games, cell phones and tablets this Christmas could end up with vision problems if they spend too much time in front of the screens. John Michaelson has a full report in our on-air news today. More information is available online at; 

Wright County Historical Society Festival of Trees Continues

The holiday season just wouldn't be the same for many people without a visit to the Wright County Historical Society's Festival of Trees. This year, some 35 trees with various themes are on display, and highlight various businesses and services throughout the region, as well as numerous trees decorated by local groups and organizations. A Santa writing station, animated characters, and an electric train exhibit are also a part of the annual display. The Festival of Trees is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4:30 PM, with extra hours on Tuesday evenings until 8 PM. The exhibit will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but will re-open on December 26th, and will remain open through January 9th. 

Spending Bill Prevents Fed Crackdown on Medical Marijuana 

A measure in the 1.1 trillion-dollar spending bill could provide some certainty for Minnesota's medical cannabis manufacturers. Assistant Health Commissioner Manny Munson-Regala says it prevents the U-S Department of Justice from using federal money to shut down state programs. He says the provision of the spending bill means he would no longer have to tell potential new employees that they could be involved in the trafficking and distribution of an illegal drug. MinnMed in Otsego was recently named as one of the first 2 plants in Minnesota to be allowed to produce medical cannabis. 

Wright-Hennepin Members to Receive 1.2 Million in Capital Credit Refunds During the Holiday Season 

Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association members will share in a capital credit return of 1.2 million dollars to members who purchased electricity from the cooperative during 1988, 2012 and 2013. The Wright-Hennepin board recently declared the capital credit return due to strong operational and financial condition of the cooperative. Capital credit refunds in the cooperative business model are similar to dividends in investor business models. Each member's share of the capital credit refund is based on their energy use during the years being retired. Wright-Hennepin officials say this is the 34th consecutive year that capital credit refunds have been distributed to the cooperative's members. 

MN DHS Launches Caregiving Campaign for Seniors 

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has launched their "We Call It Caregiving" campaign. Jean Wood is with the Minnesota Board on Aging. Wood encourages caregivers to call the Senior LinkAge Line at 1-800-333-2433, or go on-line to; She says specialists are on hand and can provide an array of resources to help older adults and their caregivers. 

Funeral Services Held for Longtime District 877 Custodian, Marvin Yonak 

Funeral services were held Monday for a well-known Buffalo resident. Marvin Yonak passed away on Friday at the age of 85. Marvin worked as a machinist in Mound from 1955 to 1971, then worked as a custodian in the Buffalo School District from 1971 until his retirement in 1991, and also continued to work as a substitute custodian until 1999. He was also an active member of the Monticello Covenant Church. 

Longtime Rockford Teacher, James Ringquist Remembered at Funeral Services 

Friends, family and colleagues remembered a longtime Buffalo resident and Rockford School District teacher at funeral services on Monday. James Ringquist died December 10th at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. He began his teaching career teaching high school chemistry, physics and science for 5 years each in Britton, South Dakota and Ogilvie, Minnesota, and spent the last 25 years teaching in Rockford. A Funeral Mass for Jim Ringquist was held Monday at the St. Francis Catholic Church in Buffalo. 

Holiday Season Pet Hazards 

Local veterinarians are urging pet owners to be cautious during the holiday season for potential dangers to your pets. Decorative items such as tinsel, broken ornaments, mistletoe and holly, certain spices, sweets like chocolate, and even the water from a Christmas tree stand all present possible danger for pets if they are ingested. Prompt veterinary care can help to reduce the risk for serious illness or lessen the chances for complications from injury associated with holiday hazards. If your pet encounters one of these holiday hazards, be sure to contact your veterinarian immediately. 

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Incidents Higher in the Winter Months 

As the temperatures go down, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning goes up. State Fire Marshal Bruce West says in addition to having a working carbon monoxide alarm within 10-feet of every bedroom in your home, which is Minnesota law, we need to be careful in our garages as well. West says symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, fatigue and disorientation.

So Far So Good on Propane Supplies, Pricing 

The Minnesota Department of Commerce says the news on propane issues is pretty good so far this winter. Commissioner Mike Rothman says after a significant propane shortage in 2013, things look better for this year. That said, Rothman advises consumers to keep a close eye on their supply of not only propane, but fuel oil as well. In 2013, propane shortages caused prices to nearly quadruple.

Despite Surplus, Strength of MN Economy Questioned 

The state budget has a billion-dollar surplus according to the latest forecast released recently, but the economic outlook may not be all that rosy. Wage growth is now expected to be lower than originally predicted, and state economist, Dr. Laura Kalambokidis, says it could be due to how the state recovered from the Great Recession. She says another problem that may be on the horizon is a slower recovery of the housing market than expected. Kalambokidis notes a number of important Minnesota industries depend on housing construction.

Toys for Tots Collection Continues in Buffalo and Montrose 

The annual Toys for Tots collection continues in the communities of Buffalo and Montrose. Numerous collection boxes are out at various retail and service locations throughout the two communities, and will remain out until December 22nd. The Buffalo Rotary, the Buffalo Food Shelf and the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce are helping to sponsor the collection. For more information, contact the Buffalo Rotary at (763) 269-5739, or email at 

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.