July 3 news

WORTHINGTON - Centennial Park will close at 2 p.m. on July 4th for firework setup, according to the Worthington Police Department. Nobody will be allowed inside the park and all that are there enjoying the day will have to pack up and leave.

WORTHINGTON – Nobles County Commissioners Tuesday scheduled a two hour work session regarding the proposed new library, hoping to keep the process moving forward. The work session was set for July 10 at 9 a.m. The meeting would be informational only, County Administrator Tom Johnson said, and no action would be taken. There will be some initial cost information, he said, but it would be relative, because every site is so different and they don’t yet have a very good handle on costs at each site.

The commissioners also discussed the wheel tax funding option, placing it on a later agenda. The $10 wheelage tax would be used for local transportation funding, and be paid through the state when a person renewed the license tabs on a vehicle. The funding would be used for county roads, which are currently funded by local levy, according to Public Works Director Steve Schnieder. Funds from the potential tax could bring in an estimated $200,000 per year, and could be used to pave roads, replace timber bridges, expand intersections and update equipment, Schnieder said.

The wheelage tax would not be imposed on trailers, classic cars or mopeds. A more thorough discussion and action on the wheelage will take place at a future meeting.

The commissioners also approved designating approximately one-half mile of Zeh Avenue as County State Aid Highway 47, something that has been in the works for several years, and approved an extension for the NextGen 911 grant, which, according to Sheriff Kent Wilkening, is needed because the work has not yet been completed. The County and state are ready, Wilkening said, but the phone company is not.

WORTHINGTON — All federal, state, county and city offices will be closed Thursday to observe the Independence Day holiday. The Worthington post office will be closed Thursday; there will be no mail delivery. Local financial institutions will be closed, as well as the office of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce and Nobles County Library. Hy-Vee Food Store and Wal-Mart will maintain normal business hours, but Fareway will be closed. Worthington garbage pickup and recycling routes normally scheduled for Thursday will be done on Friday.

BIGELOW — A corn crib and hoop barn in Wilson Township were destroyed Monday evening after a brush fire thought to be extinguished sparked a blaze. The Bigelow Fire Department was paged to the Jeff Van Gelder farm, 5653 120th St., at 5:30 p.m. According to Bigelow Fire Chief Paul Hohensee, the corn crib was a total loss by the time they arrived, and the hoop barn was starting to collapse.

A diesel barrel in the barn had exploded before the firefighters arrived, Hohensee said. Lost in the fire were some small grain wagons, a silage wagon and some tires. Firefighters put their efforts into protecting other structures.

Bigelow firefighters remained on the scene until about 8 p.m. Monday, and mutual aid was called in from Sibley for tankers, as well as from Ocheyedan, Iowa, and Round Lake.

MINNESOTA - According to the crash data report issued by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety in June, traffic deaths rose from 368 in 2011 to 395 in 2012. This is the first time the number of traffic deaths has increased since 2007.The 2012 statistics include 116 unbelted motorist deaths, 104 drunk-driving crash victims and 55 motorcyclist deaths.

Nobles County reported the highest number of fatalities in the region, with six fatal crashes and seven deaths in 2012 — up from three deaths in 2011. Rock County had four fatal crashes. Murray, Pipestone, Cottonwood and Jackson counties each reported two fatal crashes in 2012.

JACKSON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced Monday it is charging a Jackson landlord with violating the Fair Housing Act for allegedly refusing to rent an apartment to a woman and her young daughter. HUD’s charge alleges that the owner refused to rent to the family because he preferred not to rent to families with children.

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to rent or to impose different rental terms on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status.

According to HUD’s charge, the woman contacted the owner after seeing an advertisement in a local newspaper for a one-bedroom apartment. When she told the owner that the unit was for her and her one-year-old daughter, the owner allegedly said that he had rented to families before and it “just doesn’t work.”

During HUD’s investigation, the owner admitted that he told the woman he preferred to rent the apartment to adults, not families with children. Two weeks after turning the woman down, the owner rented the apartment to an applicant without minor children. The lease included a provision limiting the unit to one person only.

HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the family. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief to prevent further discrimination, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines in order to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages to aggrieved persons.

MINNESOTA - A major component of the national health care law that requires large employers to provide health coverage to employees has been delayed to 2015.

The Associated Press reports the Obama administration made the announcement Tuesday after business groups complained that the provision was too complicated.

The law, most of which goes into effect in 2014, requires businesses with 50 or more workers to provide affordable health insurance to their full-time employees or face tax penalties–as much as $3,000 per employee.

The Associated Press says the decision is sure to anger liberals but also undercuts Republican efforts to make the health care overhaul a major issue in next year’s congressional elections.
The one-year delay for big businesses does not change the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to purchase insurance by Jan. 1. It also has no affect on businesses with fewer than 50 worker, who were already exempt from the rule.

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