Area News

Sept. 22, 2023

Waconia fires city’s longtime public works director

The long-serving Waconia public services director, Craig Eldred, has been relieved of his responsibilities within the city, according the Patriot.

Mayor Nicole Waldron made this announcement at the outset of the Waconia City Council meeting Monday. Eldred's removal from the director role came as a result of a special closed session held with city leaders Sept. 6, where concerns regarding the work environment were discussed.

“During this meeting the city council reviewed the work environment assessment completed regarding the department,” the mayor read in a statement Monday.

“The city council discussed the assessment feedback and then Mr. Eldred’s management, communication, and leadership style and abilities. The city council expressed dissatisfaction with Mr. Eldred’s qualities and performance in these three areas and directed the city administrator to develop options for consideration for the separation of employment of Mr. Eldred from the City of Waconia.”

City Administrator Shane Fineran will temporarily assume the role of public works director.

There is no set timeline for filling the position, with that decision to be made at a later date.

Original Norwood fire department member retires

Paul Lano, a dedicated member of the Norwood Young America (NYA) Fire Department for over three decades, has retired, according to the Patriot.

He was the last remaining member of the original Norwood Fire Department, having served as a volunteer firefighter since 1991, six years before its merger with the Young America Fire Department.

Lano, who officially retired in August due to health issues, hails from a family of firefighters, with his father, Dick, and brother, Jack, also serving as volunteer firefighters for a combined total of 100 years. Lano credits his parents for instilling in him a sense of volunteerism and community service.

Apart from health concerns, Lano decided to step back from his volunteer role to focus on his family-owned business, Lano Equipment. Throughout his years with the NYA Fire Department, Lano was known for his commitment to responding to emergency calls, especially during daytime hours, and for his hands-on approach in emergency situations.

Lano held various roles within the fire department, including Training Officer and president of the fire department’s relief association. He also led the annual fundraising event, Stiftungsfest, for two decades, contributing all proceeds to the NYA Fire Department.

Although Lano will focus more on his business in retirement, he plans to remain involved with both the fire department and Stiftungsfest to maintain the relationships he has built over the years. He emphasizes the importance of recognizing the dedication of the NYA Fire Department's fully staffed members, who respond to numerous calls each year. Lano encourages the community to appreciate and support these firefighters even in his retirement.

Shoplifting suspect assaults Hutchinson police officer

Hutchinson police received a dispatch call shortly after 4 p.m.  Sept. 15 regarding an adult male involved in shoplifting at Walmart, according to a press release from the department.

The officer encountered the suspect within the store's vestibule and, during the process of making an arrest, the suspect physically assaulted the officer by striking the officer in the head repeatedly.

Authorites said contrary to information circulating on social media, it is confirmed that the officer did not sustain any stabbing injuries.

The injured officer was subsequently transported to Hutchinson Health for medical attention and has since been released.

The suspect, a 30-year-old man from Hutchinson, attempted to flee the scene but was apprehended shortly thereafter.

The Hutchinson Police Department and the McLeod County Sheriff’s Office are jointly conducting an investigation into the incident.

CSAH 12 in Buffalo to close for railroad track repair

The Wright County Highway Department has been informed that Canadian Pacific Railway will close County Road 12 at the railroad crossing south of State Highway 55 in the City of Buffalo, according to a press release from the county.

The work will take place Tuesday, Sept. 26 to Friday, Sept. 29 to complete a track repair. This is expected to be a four-day closure, weather permitting.

The county asks that traffic follow the detour and allow for extra travel time. They also advise Northwinds Elementary School traffic to use the 8th Street NW to access the school.

Litchfield City Council rejects developer's TIF request

David Tysk of Litchfield Opportunity Zone Inc. expressed frustration to the Litchfield City Council over its apparent inaction regarding his 96-unit housing development proposal, according to the Litchfiled Independent Review.

Despite requesting tax icrement financing (TIF) assistance, the council had reservations. Joe Egge, a former Meeker County development commission director, argued that TIF primarily supports job-creating business expansions and questioned whether Tysk's undeveloped land met the necessary criteria for TIF. Egge and consultants noted alternative funding sources for affordable housing.

Council members raised concerns about the project's details, particularly traffic access and housing affordability, for which there was insufficient information. The housing committee requested more project specifics. It was suggested that Tysk could proceed if he funded the infrastructure himself, aligning with the city's interests.

The council ultimately voted 4-0 against pursuing a TIF application for Tysk's project in its current form, as there were concerns about financial impact, a lack of project details, and deviations from TIF rules.

New playground in Annandale met with smiles

The new Annandale Elementary School playground was officially opened by AES Principal Jon Klippenes with a ribbon cutting recently, according to the Annandale Advocate.

Once the ribbon was cut, the large crowd of AES students filed in to try out the new equipment.

The money from the project came from the facilities maintenance fund.