July 30 news

WORTHINGTON – A request for an abatement plan regarding the Northland Mall was not returned within the 30 days allowed, according to Brad Chapulis, Worthington Director of Community and Economic Development.

In late June, two people were arrested for possession of methamphetamine in the former Kmart section of the mall. During the investigation, authorities were made aware of the unsafe conditions that exist in that part of the mall, prompting them to contact city building officials. Signs declaring that portion unsafe to enter were posted, and the city contacted owner Mike Kohan of New York, who then had 30 days to file an abatement plan. That 30 day period expired Friday.

Chapulis said the next step is to address the city council and have the offending portion of the mall declared a public nuisance, which would give Kohan 30 days to make repairs. If he fails to do so, the city will then have to decide what their next move will be. Chapulis said repairs could be made by the city and billed back to the owner or put on his taxes, but records show Kohan is already one year in arrears on his taxes on the property.

A quick search of the Internet turns up numerous articles from across the country citing instances of malls owned by Kohan plagued by neglect and management issues, including utilities shut off due to lack of payment in several locations.

WORTHINGTON -- Backpacks and other school supplies will be distributed to students in kindergarten through fourth grade Thursday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 230 Clary St. Children, accompanied by an adult, may pick up their free backpacks and supplies from 9 a.m. to noon. The annual backpack distribution is a mission project of Westminster Presbyterian.

WORTHINGTON – The construction of Minnesota 60 from Armour Road north has been delayed approximately two weeks, with the earliest completion date now slated for August 9, according to the Department of Transportation. Crews are paving concrete of the Interstate 90 ramp roundabout and Armour Road, while subcontractors complete curb and gutter work. Work continues to progress south of Armour Road, where crews are working to install storm sewer that connects into the main 48-inch line that was completed last fall. The construction was delayed because of early spring rains.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — A Hull, Iowa man who distributed and received child pornography has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison. Forty-two-year-old Gary Brummel of Hull received the sentence after pleading guilty in April to one count of distributing child pornography and one count of receiving child pornography.

At the guilty plea, Brummel admitted he knowingly used the Internet to distribute and receive child pornography. Brummel was sentenced to 84 months in prison. A special assessment of $200 was imposed, and Brummel must also serve a five-year term of supervised release. He must comply with all sex offender registration and public notification requirements.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark Tremmel and was investigated by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

MINNESOTA - The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Monday announced that it is offering hunting and fishing license purchases via smartphone. The DNR did a “soft launch” of the service in late June, and the offering made through the MNDNR Mobile Sale Site is still not quite full service, but so far 1,100 mobile license sales have been made, the DNR says.

Purchasers get a text message or email that serves as a confirmation for any conservation officer who comes asking about your license. Anyone who has never purchased a hunting or fishing license cannot buy their first one through mobile, the DNR says – those buyers have to go to a license agent or call DNR at 888-646-6367 and provide a driver’s license number so that electronic purchasing can be enabled.

MINNESOTA – Just hours after a news conference regarding the deadly weekend on Minnesota roads, two separate crashes involving motorcycles were reported – at least one was fatal. This brings the traffic crash death toll in the state over the 200 mark. At this rate, DPS projects around 450 traffic deaths for 2013, 55 more than the 395 deaths in 2012. If this trend continues, it would represent a second straight year for an increase in annual traffic deaths. There were 368 deaths in 2011, the fewest recorded since 1944.

Officials say a spike in motorcyclist deaths have been one factor for the increase. This year, 38 riders have been killed — 17 in July — compared to 24 at this time in 2012. There were 55 rider deaths in 2012. Officials encourage riders to take a rider training course to hone skills and for motorists to share the road and look twice for riders.

At 12:30 today, tune into AM 730 KWOA as I talk with local motorcycle training instructor Pat Morphew to discuss motorcycle safety.

MINNESOTA - Nationally-acclaimed Ely bear researcher Lynn Rogers will be allowed to continue his research after a settlement between Rogers and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Monday. The agreement allows Rogers to keep collars on 10 bears, but he is banned from using live web cams in bear dens. Rogers can also continue his controversial practice of hand-feeding the animals with some added restrictions.

Rogers, 72, has studied bears for nearly half a decade and has held a DNR permit to conduct research at his Ely research center since 1999. Rogers uses radio-transmitter tracking collars and den webcams to collect his data. The DNR says Rogers’ methods have caused the animals to lose their fear of humans and become a public safety threat to nearby residents. Last month, the state agency said it would not renew Rogers permit and ordered him to remove collars and shut down cameras by July 31.

Rogers took the case to court and filed a lawsuit in Ramsey County last week for a restraining order against the DNR’s decision.

Monday’s settlement approved by Judge John Guthmann provided temporary reprieve, but the DNR still wants to revoke Rogers’ research permit. The case is expected to go before a state administrative law judge in the next six to nine months for further consideration.

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