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Area News

Oct. 27, 2014

Author recounts famous Orono kidnapping

Minneapolis author William Swanson recently released a book called “Stolen from the Garden: The Kidnapping of Virginia Piper,” the Lakeshore Weekly News reported.

The book details the crime and aftermath of the kidnapping of 49-year-old Virginia Piper in Orono in 1972. Two days after Piper’s husband, a prominent banker, paid the then-record $1 million ransom, his wife was found chained to a tree in Jay Cooke State Park about 10 miles southwest of Duluth, alive and unharmed.Swanson’s next bookstore reading and signing starts at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6 at the Barnes & Noble store in the Galleria in Edina.

Tractor stolen and damaged in Meeker Co.

An unknown person reportedly stole a John Deere tractor and cultivator Oct. 17, damaged the equipment on a joyride and then returned the tractor to a farm in Collinwood Township, the Litchfield Independent Review reported.

According to authorities, someone stole the tractor and attached John Deere cultivator from a farm at 71600 County Highway 18. The Meeker County Sheriff’s Office tracked the equipment using the tractor’s GPS. Meeker County road signs were found damaged along the route. The cultivator also received a large amount of damage. The tractor received minor damage.

Two drownings in 24 hours in St. Bonifacius

Two separate drownings were reported within 24 hours at Parley Lake in Carver County, including one incident that claimed the life of 6-year-old Hunter Andrew Heyrman, Fox 9 reported. Police were called to Parley Lake Oct. 17 after the boy went missing from a boat. Preliminary findings suggest the boat got loose from the dock. His father tried to swim to retrieve the boat, but couldn’t. The boy was later found in the lake, not breathing. He was taken to Ridgeview Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

In a separate incident Oct. 18, 60-year-old Dean William Beautow fell out of a boat on Parley Lake, and was pulled unconscious from the water. Beautow was taken to Ridgeview Hospital, where he later died.

Annandale school gets new solar panels

The Annandale School District expects to see a savings on its energy bill, due to two new 96-panel rooftop solar arrays, the Annandale Advocate reported.

Operation will begin after the power company hooks up to the solar arrays, which may take several weeks. A third system is planned at the high school next year, after a section of roof is replaced. The panels are part of an arrangement with Innovative Power Systems of St. Paul. The school received the panels at no cost, and the company benefits through a federal tax credit, as well as incentives offered by the state, and a 15-year power purchase agreement with the district.

Waconia ‘mathletes’ score high in meet

St. Joseph Catholic School in Waconia hosted the first meet of the season for the Metro West math division of the Minnesota Junior High Math League Oct. 6, the Waconia Patriot reported.

In the individual competition, two St. Joe’s seventh-graders finished in the top five out of more than 70 mathletes. Samuel McNulty finished first, and Jack Van Nurden finished fourth. The St. Joe’s team finished second out of six schools. St. Joe’s will compete in four more meets this season as part of the Metro West math division, which includes Delano Public Schools, Watertown-Mayer Public Schools, Notre Dame Academy, St. Therese Catholic School, and Chapel Hill Academy.

Monticello woman helps select rescue helicopters

Clinical nurse educator, Megan Hartigan, RN, EMT-P, of Monticello was recently part of a Life Link III Air Ambulance Service team tasked with selecting the new helicopters to replace Life Link’s III Bell 407 units, the Monticello Times reported.

Six Agusta AW119Kx (Koala) aircraft were purchased, at a cost of about $5 million each.Featuring additional space for patients and medical staff, these helicopters offer a cruising speed of 158 mph and a range of 155 nautical miles on a single tank of fuel.

Hutchinson dedicates law enforcement park

The Hutchinson Police Department dedicated the new law enforcement park along the Crow River Oct. 20, KDUZ reported.

The park honors all Hutchinson law enforcement personnel in general, with special consideration to those who have been severely wounded or killed in the line of duty. The focal point is a 6-foot statue with an accompanying 10-foot sheet metal cut-out. The park is located on Third Avenue Northwest between the Crow River and Luce Line State Trail and came about with the help of about $90,000 in donations.

Man buried alive in Carver County ditch

A man from Dahlgren Township near Chaska is dead after being accidentally buried alive in a drainage ditch, the Carver County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Preliminary information suggests that Dennis Peter Lenzen, 78, of Dahlgren Township was installing drainage ditch tile in his farm field south of Highway 212 when an employee pushed dirt into the ditch to hold the tile, accidentally burying Lenzen. The employee called for help and attempted to dig Lenzen out by hand. When emergency responders arrived, they found Lenzen and attempted lifesaving efforts. Lenzen was unresponsive, and was pronounced dead at the scene. The case remains under investigation.

Gaylord man found dead in water of ditch

Mike Fenske, 62, of rural Gaylord is dead after being found in the water of a ditch Oct. 20, KDUZ reported.

The Sibley County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call from a relative of the victim, who said the man was found in the water about one-half mile north of Gaylord. Authorities say that so far, the investigation reveals that Fenske accidentally entered the water and was unable to get out, after finishing some field work and attempting to return to his vehicle. Authorities believe the incident occurred while it was dark.The exact cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy.

Officials aim to prevent heroin use in Wright Co.

Hennepin, Anoka, and Sherburne counties have experienced an up-tick in crimes and deaths involving heroin, and the Wright County Sheriff’s Office is making an effort to prevent it from happening locally, the Wright County Journal-Press reported.

One of the most recent heroin related deaths in Wright County occurred Sept. 13 in Delano. Nicholas Anderson, 28, was the victim. Planning is underway for a “Know the Truth” symposium this winter, involving the sheriff’s office, area police departments, Buffalo High School, and others.