July 2 news

WORTHINGTON – On a 4 to 1 vote the Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday afternoon voted to approve a loan to the Buffalo Ridge Regional Rail Authority for up to $750,000 to get repairs started on the short line in Nobles and Rock County. The line has an estimated $1.5 million in damages from the June floods.

Commissioner Matt Widboom was the one dissenting vote, stating he struggled with the use of public tax dollars on an antiquated rail. Commissioner Bob Demuth said it was a thought they all had, something Commissioner Don Linssen also commented on, stating he couldn’t see letting the ethanol plant in Luverne end up a non-viable business.

On a conference call with Rock County Administrator Kyle Oldre, the Nobles Board listened as Oldre listed the businesses in that county that used the short rail, included the Gevo plant, which utilizes the rail to ensure success. Oldre said the short line is used to bring fertilizer to Magnolia, to move lumber, rebar, petroleum and more. The goal is to get more business moving in both counties, he said.

After meeting with FEMA on Tuesday, Oldre said there is no question that the rail authority is eligible for FEMA dollars after a presidential disaster is declared, but that could take some time, and there is an urgency to getting the rail up and running. Rock County last week authorized a loan of the same amount so that repairs can get underway.

WORTHINGTON – Three teams with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as FEMA and Homeland Security began meeting Tuesday with counties in southwest Minnesota, starting in Rock, Jackson and Nobles Counties.

According to Rita Egan, a Media Relations Specialist with FEMA, the teams are starting in the corner of the state and will basically work their way up to the Canadian border, with 49 counties to visit, conducting preliminary damage assessments and collecting information.

Each township, city or entity is assigned an assessment member to speak with, data is collected and compiled, and it will all be turned into a report that will go to regional, then national FEMA headquarters, where a recommendation will be made for or against a presidential declaration. According to Egan, the statewide threshold of $7.3 million won’t be a problem.

Rock County alone is looking at an estimate of $4 to $5 million, she said.
Getting the entire assessment is going to take time, with so much area to cover, but it is a cooperative event between local emergency management, counties, the state and the federal teams.

WORTHINGTON - The City of Worthington and the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce will be sponsoring the fireworks on the Fourth of July. The fireworks will be over Lake Okabena at dusk on Friday, July 4th. Centennial Park and the Beach Nook will be closed at 2 pm in order to set up the fireworks. In case of inclement weather, the rain date is July 5th.

SLAYTON – The Slayton City Council Monday night voted to approve up to $5,000 in expenditures to get a Murray County Ambulance Tax District up and running, with the understanding they would get the money back in the first year funds were levied from the taxpayers.

Slayton City Administrator Josh Malchow told Murray County Commissioners Tuesday morning the city felt a tax district would be the most fair and equitable way to make sure all 17 entities paid their fair share into the ambulance fund, while giving them a firm funding source.

Unlike last week’s meeting, when talk was all about the fund being merely for rig replacement, the commissioners and Malchow said the tax district could be used in the future for any kind of ambulance needs.

Commissioner Dave Thiner seems to be the only one on the board against the tax district. He asked numerous questions about what ongoing administrative fees would be, and why the taxing needs to be mandatory, rather than by agreement as it had been in the past.

Murray County Ambulance Director Jenny Kirchner said she wants the taxing district to stop the uncertainty and provide stable funding for the future of the ambulance department.

More information about whether the tax district can be implemented by 2015, how it will all work and who has the authority to tax another entity is still being sought.

CLAY COUNTY, Iowa - Iowa is reporting its first case of West Nile Virus this year. The Iowa Department of Public Health announced Tuesday the first person infected is a man, between the age of 18 and 40, who lives in Clay County. Patricia Quinlisk, the agency's medical director, says the man is recovering. Details about the man weren't released.

About 20 percent of people infected with West Nile Virus have mild to moderate symptoms, including fever, headache and vomiting. Less than 1 percent become seriously ill, and people can occasionally die from the disease. The virus first appeared in Iowa in 2002. Last year, there were 44 confirmed cases and no deaths.

Mosquitoes carrying the virus usually lay eggs in stagnant water, so it's important to eliminate standing water whenever possible.

HOSPERS, Iowa — The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office is looking for the public’s help to try to solve a case involving the theft of a shotgun.

The Sheriff’s office reports that on Monday, June 30, they investigated a report of theft that occurred in Hospers.

Upon further investigation it was found that a Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun was stolen from a vehicle that had been parked in an alley behind 403 Main Street in Hospers. The theft likely took place sometime between 9 p.m. on Sunday, June 29 and 7 a.m. on Monday, June 30.

In a possibly-related incident, another vehicle parked on Fifth Avenue North was entered and the contents disturbed. Nothing was reported stolen.

If you saw a suspicious person or people or suspicious activity or have information about these crimes, you are asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office. If you wish to remain anonymous you can use the Text-a-Tip program. Directions can be found at siouxcountysheriff.com.

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