March 12 news

WORTHINGTON – Worthington’s District 518 School Board was the latest to hear the Nobles Housing Initiative, presented by Abraham Algadi of the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. The initiative is a program designed to solve the housing crunch so prevalent in the area by offering 100 percent tax abatement to new housing construction for a five-year period.

Algadi presented the idea to the Nobles County Commissioners, who approved the concept and asked the WREDC staff to work with their own on details. When the presentation was made to the Worthington City Council, there weren’t enough members to make a quorum, so a decision could not be made.

At the school board level, concern seemed to be focused on the over-crowded schools, and what more housing would do to enrollment numbers. School board member Brad Shaffer said the issue at hand would be convincing the taxpaying base to build a new school, a measure that failed during the last election. WREDC Board member Kevin Donovan said he was confident that the group of 18 board members could help the school in educating people on the referendum to get it passed.

An official decision on the school’s support will be made during next week’s regular school board meeting.

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa - The Dickinson county board of supervisors Tuesday adopted the county's budget for the 2015 fiscal year following a public hearing that drew no comments.

The levies for the General Fund and Rural Services will remain the same as in the current fiscal year, with the General at $2.45 per $1,000 of valuation and the Rural Services at $1.84 per $1,000 of valuation. The Debt Service Levy will increase two cents, from 55 cents currently to 57 cents per thousand dollars of valuation. The Mental Health Levy will decrease, from 19 cents per $1,000 of valuation currently to 18 cents in the upcoming fiscal year.

The Dickinson county board of supervisors also set the wheels in motion for a long-term project to improve the water quality in Silver Lake at Lake Park. A resolution authorizing Board Chairman David Gottsche to sign a drainage petition was approved, which will allow an engineering study to proceed on proposed improvements to a drainage district in Dickinson and Osceola counties that outlets into the Trapper's Bay area of Silver Lake. Supervisor Paul Johnson says the project is vital to the future of both Silver Lake and the city of Lake Park.

The cost of that study is not to exceed $26,000, with the cost being divided evenly between the county and the city of Lake Park. Johnson says the study will be intense and will take several months to complete.

Lake Park Mayor John Engel described the action taken by the board of supervisors allowing the study to proceed as being "historic.” Officials say that while other water quality projects have already been completed in the Silver Lake watershed, that this one is especially important.

MINNESOTA – Spring truck weight restrictions on state highways begin March 14 for Minnesota's South, Southeast and Metro frost zones, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Winter load increases and overweight permits remain in place for the state's Central, North-Central and North frost zones.

MnDOT limits truck weights to prevent damage to roads weakened during the spring thaw. Ending dates for spring load restrictions will be established by monitoring roadway strength as weather conditions change.

Road restriction maps showing the locations of weight-restricted routes and state highways open to maximum 10-ton axle weights are listed at www.dot.state.mn.us/materials. Click on "Seasonal Load Limits," and then "Spring Load Restrictions" for the most up-to-date information.

The information is also available by calling MnDOT’s 24-hour automated message center at 1-800-723-6543 in the United States and Canada or by calling 651-366-5400.

ST. PAUL - Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says there's still time in the legislative session to negotiate an agreement on medical marijuana.

Dayton's statement comes after Hibbing Democrat Carly Melin postponed a House committee hearing because of what she called an impasse with law enforcement groups that oppose medical marijuana. Melin said Dayton must become involved.

The governor has said he won't support medical marijuana unless law enforcement does. He didn't change that position in his statement.

ST. PAUL — A state Senate committee voted Tuesday to suspend Minnesota’s 2-year-old wolf hunt as a result of more information being needed.

The 8-6 vote in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee favors a milder version of bills wolf proponents want to permanently end wolf hunting and trapping. Even with the vote, changing the state’s wolf hunting law is far from passing.

The issue pits hunters and cattle producers who favor the hunt against those who want to end it.

Sen. Foung Hawj, D-St. Paul, said that he brought the bill forward because not enough information is known about how the hunting season affects wolves. The bill would order the Department of Natural Resources to conduct a comprehensive study of all known wolf kills, ranging from hunting to car accidents.

The “wolf data bill,” as it is titled, calls for an annual wolf population census and creation of an advisory wolf task force. It also would close tribal lands to the hunting and trapping of wolves if tribal leadership requests it.

The DNR opposed the bill, saying more studies like the bill demands are not needed. Minnesota has more data on the wolf population than almost any other hunted species in the state, according to the DNR’s Dan Stark.

Without the law, Stark said, the DNR plans to update the state wolf management plan beginning this year. That could affect the number of wolves allowed to be killed by hunters.

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