May 15 news

ST. PAUL — Minnesota Sen. Bill Weber and Reps. Rod Hamilton and Joe Schomacker are working to get bills to help southwest Minnesota weather a financial storm pushed through before the legislative session ends May 20. The bills request that disaster aid money be appropriated to match federal aid for the April ice storm that caused more than $26 million in damages.

After a first reading late last week, Bill HF1832 spent Tuesday night with the House Ways and Means Committee. The Committee on a voice vote approved spending $1.5 million to leverage funds to help pay for public costs.

A companion bill in the Senate also requests $1.5 million be appropriated from the general fund to provide a match for FEMA monies earmarked through a Presidential Disaster Declaration. The Senate bill was sent to the finance committee, who yesterday recommended it be passed.

WORTHINGTON - Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) officials met with representatives from across Nobles County Tuesday to outline the next steps in the process of obtaining federal recovery funds after the April ice storm.

According to HSEM Public Assistance Officer Bill Hirte, the goal for Tuesday’s meeting was to get all eligible jurisdictions signed up for the FEMA Public Assistant program by filling out the proper forms. Each jurisdiction present was given a packet full of information regarding the process, and told FEMA field staff will come out and visit each entity and collect documentation to create project worksheets. Those worksheets will contain detailed information about what was damaged, and the steps required to return to pre-disaster condition.

The preliminary damage assessment had already been concluded. During that meeting, it was determined the amount of damage exceeded the $7.2 million threshold needed to eligible for a federal disaster. At the first meeting, the damage was estimated at more than $26 million.
The next step for the applicants is a kick-off meeting, which starts the clock on paperwork deadlines. At that meeting, entities will meet the FEMA field staff and set up the steps to gather information that cities, townships and nonprofit organizations need to submit.

The date set for the Nobles County kick-off meeting is May 22.

SLAYTON — A physician assistant at Murray County Medical Center who resigned in March has now filed a federal law suit against the hospital and its CEO, according to a summons issued Tuesday. Dan Woldt, who was placed on administrative leave in January after allegations of misconduct, claims MCMC punished Woldt for reporting two cases of Medicare fraud and that the medical center and CEO Mel Snow published false, exaggerated and defamatory information about Woldt, depriving him of his right to free speech.

Two months after Woldt was placed on leave, the hospital board reinstated Woldt after an investigation was complete. The court document shows Woldt is requesting financial retribution for economic damages from past and future income loss, and that the matter be resolved by jury trial. MCMC and Snow have 21 days to respond to the allegations.

JACKSON – A 32-year-old rural Jackson man was killed Monday when he crashed his motorcycle on CSAH 4 in Round Lake Township.

According to information released by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Jason Clair Libengood was operating a 600 Yamaha on CSAH 4 near the intersection of State Highway 264 at approximately 10:30 p.m. Monday when he failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway. He entered the south ditch, struck a sign and was thrown from the motorcycle. Libengood was transported to Sanford Worthington Hospital, where he died from his injuries.

SHELDON, Iowa — After a nine month investigation, six people in Sheldon, Iowa were arrested Monday for the delivery of methamphetamine by the Sheldon Police Department and Iowa Department of Corrections, acting as members of the Iowa Great Lakes Task Force. Brian Deago Ramsey, 42, and Carlee Diana Ramsey, 43, were arrested at their places of employment in Sheldon, and Brin Keith Gadberry, 43, was arrested at his place of work in Hospers. Shawn Michael Rooney, 35, Erin Wynn Rooney, 39, and Machael Ranae Koenck, 47, were arrested at their Sheldon residences.

All were transported to the O’Brien County Jail, where they are each being held on $10,000 bond. An investigation in these cases is ongoing and additional arrests are likely.

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa — A noise complaint in eastern Rock Rapids led to a party bust Saturday. When Lyon County deputies got to the home in the 200 block of South Lincoln Street, they found a party, and underage people drinking. Two juveniles and seven people between 18 and 21 were charged with underage possession.

Those between the ages of 18 and 21 were 18-year-old Luke Grooters, 19-year-old Dalton VanBeek, 20-year-old Alex Rust, and 20-year-old Brian Friedrichsen, all of Rock Rapids; 19-year-old Ken Knoblock of Larchwood; 18-year-old Louren Williams of LaGrange, Kentucky; and 20-year-old Paige Burggraaf of Rock Valley.

MINNESOTA - Governor Mark Dayton’s signature on a bill Tuesday evening made Minnesota the 12th state in the country to legally recognize same sex marriages.

Dayton signed the bill in an outdoor ceremony in front of the Capitol, saying the measure brings liberty to all Minnesotans. Some supporters chanted “Thank you” as lawmakers and other dignitaries looked on. The action capped a long debate in Minnesota over same-sex marriage, and followed historic House and Senate votes.

Minneapolis city officials announced city hall will be open at midnight to host weddings on the first day same sex marriages are legal, which is expected to be August 1st.

The ceremony was the culmination of a long road for the sponsors of the legislation, Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Karen Clark, both Minneapolis DFLers. Clark, 67, grew up on a farm in Rock County. The law will allow her to marry her partner of 24 years in the only state where she has lived. Dibble, 47, got his start in politics managing one of Clark’s re-election campaigns.

Some legislators are taking heat from their constituents for voting in favor of the gay marriage bill. Two Crow Wing County DFLers are already the subject of recall petitions in their districts.


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Rest in Peace to those who has been victimized. -

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