July 14 news

WORTHINGTON — Six of Worthington Public Utilities’ seven wells at the Lake Bella Wellfield lost ground in the last week, dropping in water levels anywhere from 1 inch to 1 foot, 3 inches.

General Manager Scott Hain said Well 26, the one used to gauge the city’s water supply, dropped 7 inches in the past seven days, and as a result, the ban on non-essential watering will remain in place within the city of Worthington. This means city residents are not allowed to water their lawns or gardens, or wash their vehicles in their yard. The ban is being enforced and violators should be reported to law enforcement.

WORTHINGTON – A GMC Sierra rear-ended a Ford Ranger pick-up Saturday morning just north of Worthington, causing the Ranger to roll and the driver to suffer non-life threatening injuries.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, the GMC, driven by 57-year-old James Gehl of Dundee, was northbound on Highway 59 when he struck the Ranger of Matthew Thiner, age 31, of Fulda, who was stopped in the northbound lane waiting to make a left turn onto 210th Street. Thiner’s vehicle was sent into the east ditch, where it rolled, coming to rest on its roof. Thiner was transported to Worthington Regional Hospital. Gehl received no injuries.

WINDOM – Cottonwood County Commissioners on Friday suspended a deputy for four days after meeting in closed session with that deputy and a union representative regarding a grievance.

Cottonwood County Deputy Eric Haken was suspended for four days, with the action calling for three days of suspension with pay and one day of suspension without pay. Haken's vacation days will be used to cover the three paid days, according to Board Chair Jim Schmidt.

Haken was on unpaid leave at the time of his suspension. He went before the commissioners last week to discuss a grievance against the county related to Sheriff Jason Purrington's decision to place Haken on unpaid leave. However, commissioners expressed concern about a legal matter, particularly an order that Haken have no direct contact with his ex-wife. The "no contact" rule stems from a divorce decree Haken signed in May.

JACKSON - Josephine Nuñez of Jackson was the winner of the inaugural Jackson Sings Competition on Saturday as part of Rhythm of the River. Nuñez won $100 in Jackson Bucks and will represent Jackson in the Minnesota Sings competition in St. Paul on September 28. Nuñez, who will be a Sophomore at JCC High School this fall, sang “On My Own” from Les Miserables.

Brittany Parker of Trimont was second, winning $50 in Jackson Bucks. Parker performed “Over the Rainbow” from the Wizard of Oz.

FAIRMONT – Local law enforcement and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office are investing two fires in Fairmont that are thought to be arson. Fairmont firefighters were called out Friday morning just after 2 a.m. to a blaze at an old gas station on Albion Avenue near the intersection of South State Street. While responding to that incident, firefighters were notified of some vegetation and trees reported on fire at the Calvary Cemetery on South Albion Avenue. Both fires are suspected of being intentionally set and an arson investigation continues. No damage estimate was given from the fires and no injuries were reported.

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa - A longtime lakes area physician is retiring. Avera Medical Group Lakes Family Practice physician Steven Carlson, D.O., will be retiring Wednesday - 35 years to the day he started practicing medicine.

A retirement celebration is planned for Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon in the east atrium at Lakes Regional Healthcare, just off Zenith Avenue. A complimentary brunch, cake and beverages will be served and various memorabilia from Dr. Carlson's years of practice will be on display.

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa - The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced low-interest federal disaster loans are being made available to residents and business owners in several northwest Iowa counties affected by severe weather and flooding recently.

The loans are being made available to residents in the primary counties of Lyon and Sioux, and contiguous counties of Cherokee, O'Brien, Osceola and Plymouth.

The SBA will be manning two offices in the region to give residents an opportunity to get more information. They will be located at 114 First Avenue in Rock Rapids and the Faith Reformed Church in Rock Valley. Both offices will be open daily, Monday through Friday, beginning Tuesday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Low interest disaster loans are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. Businesses of any size and private, non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery, equipment, inventory and other business assets.

Loan amounts are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant's financial condition.

ROCK VALLEY, Iowa — Rock Valley flood victims are going to be getting a little help from an unlikely source — seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong has been in northwest Iowa for RAGBRAI before. In 2007 he dipped his bike tire in the Rock River in Rock Rapids. That was years before the international athlete was stripped of his Tour de France titles, in August of 2012 after a doping scandal.
This time, according to RAGBRAI, Armstrong plans to be a guest bartender at a Rock Valley street party to raise money for the town that was among those struck by flooding last month.

Armstrong says RAGBRAI was the first organization to support and welcome him back after he was stripped of his titles, and he will always remember that.

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