May 20 News

LUVERNE -- Just a week away from Memorial Day, Blue Mounds State Park has some bad news. There's E. coli bacteria in the water at Blue Mounds State Park, just north of Luverne.

Here is a posting from their website:

On May 12, 2014, the water system serving the office and main campground (excluding the picnic grounds, group camp and cart-in/tipi sites) tested positive for E. coli bacteria and is not safe for consumption. The water is safe for showering, but the Minnesota Department of Health recommends that infants and small children do not use the water for bathing if they might ingest the water while showering. We are taking steps to disinfect the system and correct the problem. You may wish to bring drinking water with you, or in the interim, we will be providing gallon jugs of drinking water at the park office. Please contact the park if you would like more information.

"The Department of Health came down and found that we had E. coli bacteria in the water of the well here at the office and in the campground," Assistant Park Manager Thomas Sawtelle said.

E. Coli in water is usually linked to animal waste runoff. The park is regularly checking the water supply to find out the earliest time campers can start using the water again.

HULL, IOWA -- The Sioux County Sheriff’s Department reported a 13-year-old male from Sheldon has been charged with second-degree sexual assault following an investigation of a May 9 report of an incident that occurred May 3 at Kids Kingdom park in Hull. It was further reported that there were possibly five female victims under the age of 8 from Hull, Sioux Center and Rock Valley.

The Cottonwood County Sheriff's Department is investigating a break-in that occurred at a hog confinement building Sunday night.

According to Sheriff Jason Purrington, the incident occurred on the west side of Cottonwood County. Upon investigation, deputies learned that the burglar entered by forcing open a locked door.

So far, the only thing that appears to be missing from the building is a coffee pot. There were hogs in the building at the time of the incident.

HULL, IOWA -- Hull has received some financial aid as its lengthy saga over water availability gets closer to a resolution. The Iowa Economic Development Authority recently awarded $23.8 million in Community Development Block Grant funds to 70 communities, including Hull, across the state to support 72 community investment projects.

The federally funded grants --- Hull received $500,000 in CDBG funds — were awarded for community facilities, infrastructure improvements, downtown revitalization and single-family, owner-occupied housing rehabilitation. Hull is working with the Rock Valley Rural Water District to double the capacity of water the system offers to the Sioux County city of 2,175 over a course of several years from 450,000 gallons per day to 900,000 gallons per day.

The city must install about $4.3 million in infrastructure before that can occur. The CDBG funds will go toward Rock Valley Rural Water’s construction of a 16-inch transmission main and three wells to enable its system to provide an adequate, reliable and safe supply of water to Hull

JACKSON -- A Heron Lake woman is in jail after allegedly being found in possession of methamphetamine following a traffic stop in Weimer Township last week.

Lisa Schmidt, 31, was arrested the evening of May 15 after deputies with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office allegedly located what Sheriff Roger Hawkinson on Monday termed a “small amount of marijuana” in her vehicle. She remained in custody this week under a $5,000 bond, charged with a felony fifth-degree controlled substance crime.

Deputies initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle Schmidt was driving at around 7:30 p.m. last Thursday near the intersection of 400th Avenue and Highway 60. Hawkinson said deputies knew Schmidt was driving after the revocation of her driver’s license. The drugs were allegedly found following a search of her vehicle

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's widely used nationwide as a germ-killing ingredient in soaps, deodorants and even toothpaste, but it's being banned in Minnesota.

Gov. Mark Dayton recently signed a bill to make Minnesota the first state to prohibit the use of triclosan in most retail consumer hygiene products because of health and environmental concerns about the chemical.

The ban isn't due to take effect until 2017. But one of its lead sponsors, state Sen. John Marty, says the odds are good that most manufacturers will phase out triclosan by then anyway under government and consumer pressure.

Triclosan is used in an estimated 75 percent of anti-bacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold across the United States. The Food and Drug Administration announced last year that it's revisiting the safety of triclosan.

ABERDEEN, SD -- An Aberdeen memorial service for Don Meyer, one of the winningest basketball coaches in the nation, will be Saturday afternoon at the Barnett Center, according to a news release from Northern State University.

The NSU service will start at 3 p.m. A second memorial service will be held in Nashville, Tenn., on the campus of Lipscomb University on Sunday, June 1, on Don Meyer Court in the Lipscomb University Allen Arena.

Meyer, 69, died at his Aberdeen home Sunday morning. He was diagnosed with inoperable cancer after a September 2008 car accident.

TEA, SD -- The Tea school bond issue election will be officially decided during a recount next week.

A group will meet at 3 p.m. Wednesday to re-examine the ballots, Kathy Cleveland, the district’s business manager, said.

Sixty percent of voters needed to support the May 13 bond vote, but it failed with just 59.88 percent supporting. The bond would pay for 14 new classrooms for the elementary school and a performing arts center at the high school.

This is the third time the bond issue has failed. Residents voted in September and December.

ABERDEEN, SD -- Federal data indicate that wind turbines are not a major cause of airplane crashes.
The American News reports that a National Transportation Safety Board database lists only two crashes in which a plane struck a wind turbine - one in Palm Springs, California, in 2001, and one near the South Dakota town of Highmore in late April. That crash killed the pilot and three cattlemen returning from a sale in Texas of live cattle and embryos.

NextEra Energy Inc. operates 101 wind farms in 19 states and in Canada. Spokesman Steve Stengel says the statistics bear out the fact that wind farms are safe for aviation. He says they go through a review and approval process to make sure they are in appropriate areas.

MONTEVIDEO -- Now that it appears medical cannabis will be legalized in Minnesota, Montevideo is aiming to be among the first communities to host a manufacturing and distribution center.
The Montevideo City Council will take up a resolution on Monday in support of the construction of a medical cannabis manufacturing and distribution facility within the city, according to information from City Manager Steve Jones.

“The city of Montevideo has the land and infrastructure in place and (is) ‘shovel-ready’ to support the construction of a manufacturing and distribution facility,” according to the resolution.

The family of 8-year-old Montevideo resident Katelyn Pauling hopes medical marijuana will help reduce the trauma of her daily seizures, according to the city manager.

The oil form of medical marijuana they want for their daughter has the THC removed, and cannot get her high, according to Jones.

The city council resolution follows news that Gov. Mark Dayton said would sign a deal announced by state lawmakers that would legalize medical cannabis in Minnesota.

The new law does not allow smoking of marijuana, only vaporizing the cannabis extract and ingesting pills and oils. The law also gives law enforcement more tools to go after those who violate the law, along with stricter penalties.

The drug will be available to residents diagnosed with one of ten different ailments, including: cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Tourette syndrome, ALS , seizures, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and other terminal illnesses.

SIOUX CENTER, IOWA —A fire at reported about 8:20 p.m. Sunday, May 18, destroyed a barn at 2771 420th St., about four miles southwest of Sioux Center. The barn, a nursery for sheep, was owned by Brent Davelaar.

Firefighters at the scene were able to save all the sheep that had been inside the building. No injuries were reported. Damage is estimated at $30,000. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The Sioux Center Fire Department and Sioux Center Ambulance were assisted at the scene by the Maurice Fire Department, Ireton Fire Department, Sioux County Sheriff’s Department and Iowa State Patrol.

ST. PAUL —Sheikh Bilaal Muhammad Arafat, formerly known as Mark Edward Wetsch and known to the FBI as the “Man in Black” received a 14-year federal prison sentence from U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson for robbery. In pronouncing sentence, Nelson said the crimes were “nothing short of a reign of terror” that “caused unthinkable emotional damage” to dozens of victims.
Arafat pleaded guilty in 2013 to six and admitted to the other 25 robberies. However, as recently as May 14th, he filed a sentencing statement and in the statement he claims he only robbed one bank, the Rolling Hills Bank and Trust in Brewster which led to his arrest in January of 2012, a robbery he would pleaded guilty to.

Judge Nelson also said the 51-year-old Arafat had taken no responsibility and shown no remorse for the robberies. He went through two public defenders before deciding to represent himself, filed hundreds of court documents on a wide range of topics and tried to withdraw his plea agreement, claiming it was coerced and unjust.

In addition to the prison sentence, which was in line with the plea agreement, Nelson ordered Arafat to pay about $108,000 in restitution. He already owes about $1.5 million in restitution for a previous federal conviction for swindling with phony invoices a nursing home he used to work for. He pleaded guilty to that offense in 2005 and spent nearly three years in federal prison. Prosecutors said the money he stole paid off debts and funded fancy cars, exotic vacations and extensive home remodeling.

STATE NEWS -- Area law enforcement agencies are participating in a special enforcement effort that begins today (Mon. 5/19) and continues through June 1st. The "Click It Or Ticket" campaign is a cooperative effort among the state's law enforcement agencies and the Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau.

Officials say the enforcement campaign will focus on the importance of buckling up, slowing down and driving sober.

They say Iowa had three traffic fatalities over the Memorial Day holiday period last year, two of which were alcohol-related. Authorities also reported more than 31,000 traffic violations during the same period. Of those, 12,450 were for speeding; 2,630 were for seatbelt violations and 530 were for operating while intoxicated.

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