Wright County News
Authorities Ask for Help in Identifying Individuals Suspected of Participating in Assault
The Wright County Sheriff's Office is asking for the help of the public in identifying two individuals who are persons of interest in an alleged assault that occurred earlier this month in St. Michael. Officials say the incident happened in the early morning hours of Saturday, March 1st at the Corner Bar in St. Michael. No further details on the alleged incident have been released, but the Sheriff's Office has released three pictures showing the persons in question. Anyone with information on the individuals is asked to contact Detective Julie Eaton with the Wright County Sheriff's Office at (763) 682-7682.
Affordable Housing Study Show Renters Overburdened
Affordable housing can be key to helping working families gain and keep financial stability, but for many across Minnesota the costs of rent and utilities are taking more than their share of the monthly budget. Kasey Wiedrich with the Center for Enterprise Development says they found that about half the renters in the state are what's called "housing cost-burdened." She says another by-product of the high cost of housing is that it doesn't allow for families on the edge to save for emergencies, a factor that's a major contributor to the liquid-asset poverty rate, which in Minnesota is about 28-percent. The group's latest "Assets and Opportunities Scorecard" also shows how Minnesota is faring in areas such as jobs, health care and education.
Cokato Prepares to Celebrate 136th Birthday
The Cokato Museum & Historical Society has invited the public to celebrate the 136th birthday of the Village of Cokato at an upcoming open house. Officials have planned the celebration for Sunday March 16th from 1 to 4 PM. A slide show on the history of the city through the years will highlight the days from the earliest white settlers around 1856, to the official birth of the village in 1878, right up to present will be shown. Visitors may also enjoy the last few days of the current display, The Keyboard That Killed Cursive, and view some of the many changes to the museum's permanent gallery, and get information on some of the planned upgrades for the future. The event will be held at the Cokato Museum, at 175 4th Street Southwest, and is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the museum at (320) 286-2427, or visit the Cokato website at; www.cokato.mn.us.
Dayton Calls For Elimination of Marriage Penalty in Tax Bill
Governor Dayton wants to eliminate the so-called "marriage penalty" on state income taxes, but his Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans is reluctant, mainly because of the changes it would create for taxpayers who have already filed, or those about to file. Frans says his department is recommending that type of change not take effect until Minnesotans file their 2014 taxes, one year from now. But the Dayton administration is still asking lawmakers to pass a tax-reduction bill by mid-March. They say there are other tax changes that it's not too late to include when Minnesotans file their 2013 taxes.
Narrowing MN Education Achievement Gap
State education officials report that Minnesota school districts are largely on-track to narrowing the "achievement gap" between white students and those of color. Cutting the difference in half by 2017 is the goal. Commissioner Brenda Cassellius says they have high expectations for white students, but expect students of color to improve even faster. School districts get another update next fall.
Wright County Seeking 2014 Farm Family of the Year Nominations
Nominations for Wright County Farm Family of the Year are now being accepted. The University of Minnesota Extension annually recognizes farm families throughout the state and each county is invited to select a farm family to represent their county. The local farm family selected will receive county recognition at this summer's Wright County Fair, as well as state-wide recognition at FarmFest 2014 near Redwood Falls in early August. Nominees should be actively involved in agriculture with one or more ag enterprises, or have made significant short term progress and / or innovative contributions with their agricultural endeavors. In addition to demonstrating a commitment to enhancing and supporting the fields of agriculture and production, nominees should also be involved in their communities and related organizations. Previous winning families should not be re-nominated. To nominate a family to be the Wright County Farm Family of 2014, call the University of Minnesota Extension Service Office at (763) 682-7394, or send an e-mail to; firstname.lastname@example.org. Nominations must be received by April 1st.
Irish Pre-Party Kicks Off St. Patty's Festivities in Maple Lake
Though the calendar will tell you that St. Patrick's Day is more than a week away, the community of Maple Lake will host a warm-up event this weekend. The Irish Pre-Party, formerly called the Irish Gala, will be held this evening at the Maple Lake American Legion. The annual event is open to anyone, and helps to raise funds for the Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce and the events and projects it supports, including the St. Patty's Day celebration. The evening begins at 5:30 PM with a social hour and silent auction, followed by dinner at 6:30 catered by The V by HH. Entertainment for the evening will include comic ventriloquist David Malmberg at 7:30 PM, followed by a program at 8:30 PM which will honor this year's St. Patty's Day Parade Grand Marshal, Greg Thomes, Aquatennial Commodore Award winner Daryl Hennen, and the announcement of the Maple Lake Business of the Year and Chamber Member of the Year winners. Organizers remind everyone that all are welcome, and that you do not have to be a Maple Lake Chamber member to attend. Tickets are 30 dollars per person in advance, or 32 dollars at the door this evening. The 37th Annual St. Patrick's Day Festival itself will be celebrated the following Saturday, March 15th.
Nolan Minimum Wage Push
While Minnesota lawmakers study the possibility of a state minimum wage increase, there's also a push for a minimum wage hike, on the federal level. Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan made his case this week to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Nolan says a significant federal minimum wage increase would bring 1 million Americans out of poverty, and according to the Congressional Budget Office, would dramatically improve the lives of 25 million workers who are struggling to get by every day. He says such a move would also strengthen families. Nolan says a minimum wage bump is also good for local communities because most minimum wage earners spend their money locally and immediately. He believes supporters are approaching the votes needed to pass a minimum wage bill.
MMB Commissioner on Latest Budget Forecast
The latest forecast shows Minnesota's budget surplus has increased 50 percent to 1.2 billion dollars, but officials caution against the state making large spending commitments out into the future. Management and Budget Commissioner James Schowalter says the latest forecast suggests the state is in solid shape for the current budget period, but there are no assurances past that. Lawmakers will continue to discuss the budget surplus, and what to do with it throughout the current legislative session.
Becker Drug Investigation Results in 3 Arrests
Three people were arrested Sunday in Becker after an investigation of possible drug activity. The St. Cloud Times reports that Becker police received a tip early Sunday about suspicious activity at a home in the 13000 block of 1st Street in Becker. Officials say they arrested 33-year-old Jesse Bodendrier of Princeton for allegedly being in possession of a stolen vehicle. Police then executed search warrants at the residence which resulted in the arrests of 29-year-old Priscilla Trepanier of Buffalo, and 33-year-old Shawn Gums of Monticello. Officials reported recovering some 2.5 grams of methamphetamine, and the Sherburne County Social Services took a child into protective custody. All 3 suspects were taken to the Sherburne County Jail in Elk River. The Sherburne County Sheriff's Office and the Big Lake Police Department assisted the Becker Police in the investigation and arrests.
Century Farms Application Deadline April 1st
Area farm families who have owned their farms for 100 years or more may apply for the 2014 Century Farms Program. The program promotes agriculture, and honors historic family farms in Minnesota. Family farms are recognized as Century Farms if the farm is at least 100 years old according to authentic land records, has been in continuous family ownership for at least 100 years, and must be at least 50 acres in size. Continuous residence on the farm during the 100 year period is not required. The program is administered by the Minnesota State Fair in conjunction with the Minnesota Farm Bureau. Applications are available by calling the Minnesota State Fair at (651) 288-4400, or by contacting county extension or Farm Bureau offices. Applications are also available online at; www.mnstatefair.org. The entry deadline for 2014 is April 1st.
BNSF Blames Winter Weather For Northstar Delays
Many commuters that regularly take the Northstar commuter train from our area into the Twin Cities have been struggling with delays this winter. Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway officials say it's the recent brutally cold temperatures, and not increased freight traffic on the tracks shared with the Northstar trains that has caused the slowdowns. Assistant Vice President Bryan Sweeney told a Minnesota House committee recently have taken a number of steps to try and alleviate weather-related problems. Sweeney says the long Northstar delays last week were caused by a switch that burned out in St. Paul which resulted in a freight train backlog. He added that B-N-S-F will do what it can to restore confidence in reliable service.
Harsh Winter Tough on Pheasants
It's likely the harsh winter will have an effect on the state's pheasant population. The DNR's Nicole Davros says the extreme cold really takes a toll on the birds. She says since the pheasant isn't a native species, it doesn't have feathered feet, and other protective adaptations that other game birds have. That makes the extremely cold temperatures a big hardship for pheasants. She says lack of food doesn't help, but surprisingly, Davros says a healthy pheasant can actually go for a couple of weeks without feeding and not starve.
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.