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Area News

Dec. 5, 2016

Three Christmas displays vandalized in Wright Co.

The Wright County Sheriff’s Office said at least three homeowners reported their Christmas displays were vandalized overnight in Rockford Nov. 26-27, CBS reported.

Authorities are looking for leads. One of those homeowners told WCCO he will not let a real-life Grinch steal his Christmas spirit. Since moving to his Rockford home in 1985, Dwight Heairet has tried every year to bring holiday cheer to his neighborhood. Preparing for weeks, he spent about 25 hours assembling nearly 50,000 lights and 192 extension cords to help create the display. The lights from the display are set to various Christmas songs, which took Heairet about 10 hours per song to synchronize.

Aerial photos to be taken of Meeker County

The Meeker County Board of Commissioners recently approved a contract with Pictometry, a Rochester, NY-based company, to provide a detailed aerial photo of Meeker County for use by county government entities, the Litchfield Independent Review reported.

Two flights will be completed over six years at a cost to the county of $69,000, payable in three annual payments. Pictometry is providing aerial services to 70 of Minnesota’s 87 counties. The firm operates 114 planes nationwide while providing aerial mapping services to 1,800 counties nationwide.

Large solar project approved in Watertown Township

Potential traffic hazards and the impact on an equestrian business left local residents disappointed, after a proposal for a large solar energy system was approved for a parcel of land on Highway 7 in Watertown Township, the Carver County News reported.

The Carver County Board voted Nov. 22 to approve a permit for a 4.4 megawatt solar system by NextEra and TruNorth on Bruce Lenzen’s property in Watertown Township. The large-scale solar system will be installed on about 22 acres of the 68-acre parcel. It will include 17,604 solar panels, which will be set in a fixed tilt position and operated for 35 years, before they are decommissioned.

Hutchinson awards contract for police body cams

Hutchinson police officers could be equipped with a body-camera system sometime early next year after the city council approved a $146,000 contract with Arizona-based Taser International Nov. 22, the Hutchinson Leader reported.

Included in the five-year contract is 22 body-worn cameras, cameras for 10 vehicles, data storage, and an equipment update after 2.5 years. Hutchinson was able to move more quickly toward equipping its force with the latest technology due to a $70,000 donation from local manufacturer Ag Systems Inc.

Buffalo man supports North Dakota oil pipeline protestors

Buffalo resident Rob Gill recently volunteered to help oil pipeline protestors about an hour south of Bismarck, ND, the Wright County Journal-Press reported.

Gill, who had served as an EMT in North Dakota from 1997 to 2003, provided health care on a weekend in November, as well as took time to split firewood. Gill said he feels it is important to support the protestors, who are “peacefully uniting for a noble cause.” The protest opposes plans to run the Dakota access pipeline under the Missouri River. Gill said the protest began about eight months ago, and has been growing in recent weeks.

Meeker County privatizes license center

A former county-operated entity, the Meeker County License Center has been privatized and renamed the Litchfield License Center, the Litchfield Independent Review reported.

The county license center closed Nov. 9. As of Nov. 28, the now-private business entity known as the Litchfield License Center has opened for business at 702 Sibley Ave. N. in Litchfield. The new license center will be open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center can be reached by calling (320) 593-5932. Functions that are part of the license center are: motor vehicle tab renewal, title transfer, trailer registration, driver’s license application and renewal, instruction permitting, ID card issuance, DNR licensing of ATVs, snowmobiles, and boats; and issuance of hunting, fishing, and state, and federal stamps.

Waconia man missing after paddleboarding on lake

The Carver County Sheriff Office is investigating an incident on Lake Waconia that was reported Nov. 26 just after 3 p.m., according to a press release.

The caller stated that an unoccupied paddleboard was seen about 100 feet offshore. Deputies learned Andrew John Stifter, 35, of Waconia had gone to Lake Waconia to photograph wildlife from his paddleboard. A search began, and sheriff’s deputies were able to recover property believed to belong to Stifter, but were unable to find Stifter. Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the Carver County Sheriff’s Office at (952) 361-1231 or use the tip line (952) 361-1224.

Phone use involved in crash near Brownton

An 18-year-old Gaylord woman using her phone caused a chain-reaction crash involving four cars on Highway 15 near Brownton Nov. 23, the McLeod County Chronicle reported.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, a 2013 GMC Terrain driven by Kayla McDonald, 26, of Brownton, had slowed in the southbound lane of Highway 15 in order to turn left onto Division Street. Two other vehicles had slowed behind the Terrain. Megan J. Attenberger, 18, of Gaylord, was southbound on Highway 15 in a 1997 Ford Explorer, on her phone, and rear-ended a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, which was pushed into the rear of a 2002 Ford Escape. The Escape, in turn, struck the Terrain. Attenberger was the only person hurt and she was transported to Hutchinson Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Annandale superintendent to retire next summer

When graduation rolls around next spring, Annandale Superintendent Steve Niklaus will join the Class of 2017 in saying his farewells to students and staff, the Annandale Advocate reported.

Niklaus, 64, plans to retire at the end of the academic year after 25 years as superintendent and 31 years total with the Annandale district. Niklaus, a native of Belgrade, began his career with four years of teaching and coaching in Oaks, ND before he moved to his first principal position in Welcome. He then served as junior and senior high principal in Atwater and Atwater-Grove City before going to Annandale as a high school principal in 1986.