Area News

March 24, 2023

Waconia man injured in snowmobile crash near Plato

A Waconia man was injured in a snowmobile crash in McLeod County the afternoon of March 18 near Plato, according to the Minnesota State Patrol (MSP).

MSP said 53-year-old Robert Grohmann was taken to Glencoe Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

MSP said Grohmann was traveling east bound in the west bound ditch north of Highway 212 at Acorn Avenue when the snowmobile went airborne.

The crash happened just before 4:30 p.m.

Three vehicles stolen from Watertown recovered

The Carver County Sheriff’s Office reports that a trio of vehicles stolen from Watertown over the past month has been recovered, according to the Sun Patriot.

According to the sheriff’s office, three vehicles were stolen in Watertown between Feb. 17 and March 12. The sheriff’s office also notes that all three were left unlocked, and two had keys in them at the time of the thefts.

All three vehicles were recovered outside of Carver County, and the sheriff’s office continues investigating the thefts.

Due to the circumstances surrounding the thefts, Carver County Sheriff Jason Kamerud urges residents to take steps to minimize the risk of being victimized by vehicle-related theft.

“People with criminal intent tend to move on from a locked vehicle with no valuables in sight,” Kamerud said.

Kamerud also encourages anyone who sees suspicious activity around a vehicle to call 9-1-1 immediately.

Leak at Xcel Monticello nuclear power plant

Xcel Energy reported a chemical leak at the Monticello Nuclear Power Plant to the state and to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in November, according to a press release.

The leak involved Tritium, a byproduct left over after the creation of nuclear energy, which was mixed into water in the process and typically stored at the site. As a result, the leak was contained to the site, and the public was never in danger, according to Xcel representatives.

Xcel Energy is now pumping that water out of the ground and safely storing it at the site. However, the cleanup process could take nearly a year to complete.

Xcel Energy and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) formally announced the leak March 16, because community members will likely see more staff and equipment at the site in the coming months, and the company wanted to explain why. There is no public health concern, environmental or safety risk, according to MPCA.

Glencoe-Silver Lake board cuts nine-plus teaching positions

The Glencoe-Silver Lake (GLS) School Board made board cuts across the board to staff in its schools at its meeting March 13.

After years of declining enrollment and increasing expenses the board took action to cut nearly $850,000 from the school’s 2023-24 budget. 

The cuts came mostly from teachers in the probationary period of employment with the district. Two tenured teachers were put on unrequested leave of absence.

GLS was in statutory operating debt (SOD) in the mid-2000s. Without cuts the school was looking at the potential to go back in the SOD once again.

Winthrop Farmhand charged in landowner’s death

Travis J. Bauer, a longtime farm worker in rural Winthrop, allegedly fatally shot his 79-year-old boss, Dennis D. Weitzenkamp, in the back of the head as the man shucked corn in late September, according to to Bring Me The News.

Bauer is charged in Sibley County District Court with one count of second-degree murder in connection with the shooting. Bauer was facing mounting debt and the possibility of losing his home when he allegedly killed Weitzenkamp, from whom he stood to inherit a “significant” amount of money upon his death.

Bauer called 911 that day to report he’d found Weitzenkamp unresponsive in a machine shed on the property they farmed in the 54000 block of 266th Street. An autopsy later confirmed Weitzenkamp had been shot in the back of the head with a small caliber bullet.

Bauer claimed he returned from the store and was walking toward a tractor outside the machine shed when he saw Weitzenkamp. He told investigators he yelled at Weitzenkamp several times, returned to his vehicle, and called the police, charges state.

Bauer did not touch or approach Weitzenkamp and did not attempt to provide any aid to him. Investigators later determined cell phone location data contradicted Bauer’s story, charges allege.

Former Hutchinson Sears building given new purpose

The former Sears building might soon see new use as office space, according to the Hutchinson Leader.

The Hutchinson City Council unanimously approved a conditional-use permit for Michael Gallus Construction to remodel 756 Century Ave. SW. into an office building late last month.

According to city documents, the building will accommodate several offices. The 0.89-acre space is two buildings east of the Century 9 Theatre. According to a site plan, additional parking will be added on the east side of the building facing Market Street. A few options for the building's orientation were submitted to the city.

Litchfield woman injured in two-vehicle crash

Two drivers were injured in a two-vehicle crash west of Cokato morning of March 17, according to KDUZ.

The Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) said 65-year-old Donna Manthi of Litchfield was taken to Litchfield Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Fifty-one-year-old Shawn Stai of Dassel was taken to Hutchinson Hospital for treatment of nonlife-threatening injuries.

MSP said one vehicle was eastbound on Highway 12, and the other was westbound when they collided.

The crash happened just before 10:30 a.m.