September 4 news

WORTHINGTON -- Alliant Energy on Tuesday announced agreements to sell its Minnesota electric and natural gas distribution businesses for $128 million.

Nobles Cooperative Electric and Federated Rural Electric joined with ten other electric distribution cooperatives serving Minnesota to form Southern Minnesota Energy Cooperative (SMEC) as the single point of contact for the purchase of electric service territory in southern Minnesota from Alliant Energy. The transaction is contingent upon regulatory approval. Assuming the acquisition is approved by regulators, it is expected to close in 2014.

The acquisition will add approximately 43,000 electric accounts to the systems of all of the 12 SMEC member cooperatives combined.

The service territories of Alliant Energy and the 12 cooperatives overlap, serving mostly rural areas in the southern portion of Minnesota. Alliant Energy will continue to serve Minnesota through a 10-year wholesale power agreement with the 12 cooperatives. All of the Alliant Energy electric employees will be offered positions with the local cooperative.

Alliant's natural gas business will be sold to Minnesota Energy Resources Corp.

WORTHINGTON - Worthington residents are invited to attend an organizational meeting for promoting the Nov. 5 District 518 referendum at 5:30 p.m. today in the Worthington High School (WHS) cafeteria.

District 518 officials are hopeful citizens will step forward, beginning with today’s meeting, to demonstrate their support for the District 518 school system and offer their help in advancing “yes” votes for the Nov. 5 referendum questions.

The first question pertains to authorizing the local school board to issue school building bonds up to $38,975,000 for the purpose of constructing a new intermediate school (grades 3-5) and making renovations and additions to Prairie Elementary and WHS.

The second ballot question involves approval to revoke the existing referendum revenue authorization, due to expire after next year, and replace it with a new authorization for the same per-pupil amount of $1,000 that would be applicable for the next 10 years.

WORTHINGTON — Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson continues to get clarification from the State of Minnesota regarding the 2014 tax levy. During Tuesday’s county commissioner meeting, he said the county could set up to a 10 percent levy increase if needed. However, a 4.19 percent levy hike would suffice to cover next year’s budget, as well as discretionary items such as additional staff, a new vehicle and improvements to the county’s emergency operations center.

Johnson said the state changed its interpretation of levy limits in late July or early August, clarifying that the 3 percent levy cap is intended to be on general operating expenses. Approving a 4.19 percent not-to-exceed levy is within the guidelines of the state for a 3 percent levy limit, he said, adding that commissioners could reduce its not-to-exceed levy prior to December’s final budget adoption. Commissioners will meet again at 3 p.m. Sept. 10 in the boardroom to set the not-to-exceed levy, which must be done by Sept. 15.

The board was introduced to newly appointed county auditor-treasurer Beth Van Hove, who will begin her duties Monday. Van Hove will complete the term vacated by Sharon Balster, who retired June 30.

They also authorized a request for personnel in Community Services. The position of health educator will be funded entirely by a Statewide Health Improvement Plan grant, and was required as a result of Nobles County’s partnership with Cottonwood-Jackson Community Health. The individual will be hired with the stipulation that the grant begins Nov. 1 and continues for 18 months. If the grant is not renewed, the position would be cut.

WORTHINGTON - The Southwest Crisis Center, in partnership with the Northern Tier Anti-Trafficking Consortium, will be hosting a free information session to members of the community on human trafficking in Minnesota on Tuesday, Oct. 8, from 1-3 pm at the University of Minnesota Extension Office in Worthington. The purpose of the information session is to provide community members and professionals with an overview of both labor and sex trafficking, where it happens, what it looks like, and what resources are available to victims in Southwest Minnesota. The Southwest Crisis Center has contracted with the Northern Tier Anti-Trafficking Consortium to provide a wide variety of services to victims and survivors of both labor and sex trafficking in Minnesota and an overview of those services will also be shared at this information session. For more information please contact Sara Wahl at 507.376.4311 or email hope@mnswcc.org. RSVP is appreciated, but not required.

JACKSON - One person was injured in a three-vehicle accident around 8:25 a.m. Tuesday on Highway 71 at Bailey Street.

According to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, a Federated REA truck driven by 30-year-old Kollin Vandevere of Jackson was stopped on Highway 71 waiting for the vehicle in front of him to make a left hand turn onto Bailey Street.

A vehicle owned by Tennyson Construction of Truman and driven by 34-year-old Terry Kooiker of Truman was stopped directly behind the REA truck when it was struck from behind by another Tennyson Construction vehicle driven by 23-year-old Donavon Palmquist of Fairmont.

The impact pushed the Kooiker vehicle into a wooden pole that was being hauled by the REA truck. The pole went through the windshield and struck Kooiker, who was taken by ambulance to Sanford Jackson Medical Center for treatment of facial injuries.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department was assisted at the scene by the Jackson Fire and Ambulance Service.

LYON COUNTY, Iowa - The Lyon County Sheriff's Office Monday investigated a one vehicle accident in the 2200 Block of 110th Street at 6:04 AM, Jonathan Alons (35) of Larchwood, Iowa was operating a 2003 Chevy Silverado, owned by Pig Hill Co, Alvord, Iowa. Alons was traveling east on 110th Street and struck a cow that was in the roadway. Alons vehicle sustained approximately $5,000.00 in damages and the cow, owned by Summit Farms of Lester, Iowa was deceased. The approximate cost of the cow was $1,500.

OHIO - Convicted Cleveland kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro has committed suicide at a state prison facility, Ohio Department of Corrections has confirmed.

Castro, 53, was found hanging in his cell Tuesday night at approximately 9:20 p.m. local time, spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.

Upon finding Castro in his cell, facility staff tried to resuscitate him, according to Smith. Castro was taken to Ohio State University Medical Center and was pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m.

Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 1,000 years by an Ohio judge Aug. 1. Castro, a former school bus driver, kidnapped Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus between 2002 and 2004 and imprisoned them, sometimes restrained by chains, in his Cleveland home.

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