May 7 news

WORTHINGTON — Unionized employees at JBS voted Tuesday to authorize a strike after 10 months of contract negotiations have failed to reach agreement in key areas involving health care and wages for workers at the Worthington plant.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1161 hosted meetings for more than seven hours Tuesday with production and maintenance workers who represent roughly 90 percent of the local pork processing facility’s workforce. The result of those group meetings led to a unanimous vote to strike if necessary.

Union President Mike Potter explained this is a strike authorization, and that several steps after the vote are needed before a strike would occur. The vote gives Potter and fellow union leaders the support they need to move forward with the labor dispute. He said he could not say if or when an actual strike would occur, but that employees are ready.

Union representatives have been working with a JBS representative who handles contract negotiations at processing facilities across the country. Potter said talks broke down last October.

If the more than 1,800 unionized employees of Worthington’s JBS facility engage in a labor dispute, strike pay would be available to them.

WORTHINGTON – The Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a variety of conditional use permits, including one that was controversial when it went before the planning commission two weeks ago.

A proposed hog confinement building east of Adrian was represented by Doug Bullerman of Son-D-Farms. In opposition was Kim Kimmel, who said he would take the fight all the way to the appellate courts if he had to. Kimmel cited concerns about groundwater contamination, cancer, hog manure burning up soybean crops and the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus.

Also approved was a permit for Project Morning Star, a transitional living home that will be located eight miles south of Worthington on the current property of Josh and Jessica Noble. The two houses will be used for men’s and women’s housing for those with addictions.

The commissioners also received an update from Nobles County Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder on the installation of individual rural address signs. A&H Company Inc. of Ironton was the lower of two bidders on the project, presenting a bid of $25,300. When the signs will be erected is still unknown.

JACKSON - Rural Electric Cooperatives are reminding farmers to be on the lookout for power poles and lines while planting and doing field work.

Joe Marthaler, Operations Manager for Federated Rural Electric Association, says their linemen have responded to two farming accidents so far this spring. He says both happened near Dunnell--one resulted in a pole being snapped in half when it was struck by a planter; the other incident involved a guy wire on a pole that was snagged. No outages were reported as a result of the incidents.

Marthaler says the price for replacing one pole and labor for two linemen starts at $400 per pole. He says farmers causing damage will be billed for the repair costs.

Officials say if a power line is clipped with farm equipment and the pole or power lines fall on the tractor or vehicle, to stay inside the vehicle and call 911 or the power company that owns the pole or lines. They say you are safe as long as the vehicle doesn't catch fire. Stepping in or out of the tractor/vehicle with energized, downed power lines could result in electrocution.

SHELDON, Iowa — Two men were critically-injured in an accident on Highway 60 south of Sheldon on Tuesday.

The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 9:15 a.m., 56-year-old David Goosen of Paullina was driving a 2010 Case IH farm tractor pulling a liquid manure applicator northbound on Highway 60, about a mile south of Sheldon. Thirty-nine-year-old Jason Beckman of Omaha, Nebraska was driving a 2013 Freightliner semi-tractor pulling a container trailer, also northbound on Highway 60—following Goosen.

The semi struck the rear of the manure applicator. Both drivers were ejected from their vehicles; the vehicles then entered the east ditch.

They were both transported by Sheldon Ambulances to the Sanford Sheldon Hospital. They were later flown to Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD for treatment of critical injuries. At last report, Goosen was listed in stable condition and Beckman’s condition was not available.

The tractors and implements received a total of more than a quarter million dollars in damages.

The assistance of a crane was needed to separate the vehicles. The northbound lanes of Highway 60 were closed for about 11 and a half hours.

MINNESOTA - The Minnesota Senate approved a measure Tuesday evening to legalize marijuana use in Minnesota to treat certain medical conditions. The bipartisan 48-18 vote is large enough to override a potential veto by Gov. Mark Dayton, who has said he opposes some elements of the Senate bill.

Under the measure, patients with medical conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy and chronic pain could obtain marijuana at up to 55 dispensaries around the state. It would still be illegal to smoke the drug, but patients could ingest it using a vaporizer. The drug would also be available in pill or oil form.

The House may act on its version of the bill, which is more restrictive than the Senate’s, as early as Friday.

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