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Area News

Aug. 31, 2015

Litchfield crash kills two, injures Montrose teen

A crash at Highway 24 and 277th Street in Litchfield late Aug. 25 killed two individuals and hurt two others, including a 16-year-old from Montrose.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, a 1998 Chevrolet pickup being driven by Benjamin Tate, 27, of Paynesville, was southbound on Highway 24 around 11:29 p.m. when it appears to have crossed the centerline or lost control and struck a northbound 2001 Chevrolet Lumina being driven by Travis Monson, 19, of Watkins. Monson and passenger Zachary Rohrbeck, 16, of Watkins, suffered fatal injuries. Passenger Kathleen Prestidge, of Montrose, was transferred to Meeker Memorial Hospital in Litchfield and treated for non-life threatening injuries. Tate was transported to Meeker Memorial Hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries. According to the State Patrol, Tate and Rohrbeck were wearing seatbelts, Monson was not, and it is unknown whether or not Prestidge was wearing a seatbelt. The State Patrol reported alcohol is believed to have been a contributing factor in the crash.

Waconia family plans 5K in memory of lost infant son

In early May, the baby inside Ashley Lorentz of Waconia suddenly stopped kicking, the Waconia Patriot reported. She went to the hospital and called her husband, Chris, to find a sitter for their four children.

Sadly, their baby had died, but a baby lost in the third trimester still needs to be born. So, on Mothers Day 2015, Lorentz gave birth to her son, Macklin. Now, the family has the goal of raising $10,000 to help other families with stillborn children, by bringing CuddleCots to Minnesota hospitals. The cots are refrigerated bassinets that extend the grieving period with the stillborn baby to days instead of hours. The 5K fundraising event will take place Saturday, Oct. 10.

St. Bonifacius woman charged in embezzlement

A St. Bonifacius woman is scheduled to make her first court appearance Tuesday, Sept. 1, after being charged with swindling her former employer out of nearly $700,000, the Wright County-Journal Press reported.

That employer is PenRad Technologies, now located in Buffalo. Karen Jane Breyette, 53, was charged with seven counts of swindle. Investigators believe Breyette actually stole nearly $900,000, but some of the thefts cannot be charged because of a five-year statute of limitations. Breyette is said to have taken the money in various ways, including the use of a company credit card, company checkbook, and the company payroll system.

Wright Co. couple honored for conservation efforts

The 2015 Outstanding Conservationists for Wright County are Russel and Sharon Martie of Hasty (a small community north of Maple Lake), the Wright County Journal-Press reported.

The Marties have been farming for 43 years, utilizing conservation practices such as cover crop planting, minimum tillage, subsurface irrigation, and tree planting. Russ is enrolled in the federal Natural Resources Conservation Services’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

New broadband network to be built in Annandale

Midcontinent Communications plans to construct a new broadband network in Annandale next year, and possibly to portions of the surrounding lakes, the Annandale Advocate reported.

According to Mayor Dwight “Dewey” Gunnarson, the development is the solution to the area’s problems with slow speeds and outages on the Windstream network. It also eliminates financial risks that would have been associated with a city-owned network.

New Monticello city tax one step closer to reality

Monticello economic development authority (EDA) commissioners voted 4-1 last Monday to move ahead with a new housing and redevelopment authority levy to take effect in 2016, the Monticello Times reported.

City leaders will consider adoption of the new levy and a budget at their Monday, Sept. 14 meeting. According to one EDA member, continuing downtown Block 34 redevelopment is a key reason the city needs to levy more taxes. The city has already spent about $1.7 million on Block 34, out of an estimated total of $2 to $2.5 million that’s needed. Additional costs came about due to contaminated soil after the demolition of the Montgomery Farms building in downtown Monticello.

Silver Lake hires new police chief

Kenneth Bradford accepted the position of Silver Lake police chief Aug. 21, after negotiating an employment agreement with the Silver Lake City Council, the McLeod County Chronicle reported.

Originally, the council had voted to offer the position at $19.47 per hour, plus on-call pay of about $5,000 per year. Bradford counter offered at $22 per hour and four weeks of vacation annually. The city’s current vacation time schedule is one week annually for the first three years, two weeks after three years, three weeks after five years, and four weeks after 10 years. Ultimately, Bradford accepted the city’s counter offer of $20.61 per hour (plus on-call pay), and one week of starting vacation time.

Main Street in Hutchinson gets a facelift

The overlay project on Highway 15, Main Street-downtown Hutchinson began Thursday, and was expected to be completed later in the day, KDUZ reported.

MnDOT officials said the paving work is from Fifth Avenue S to just south of Second Avenue NW, and was being done using a ultra-thin bonded wearing course, which is less than 1-inch thick.

Crews then moved on to do the same process to a section of South Grade Road Friday.

After a gain in June, MN lost nearly 4,000 jobs in July

Minnesota employers eliminated 3,900 jobs in July, according to seasonally adjusted figures that the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development released, the Hutchinson Leader reported.

The agency said the decline was offset somewhat by an upward revision of 2,700 jobs in June, bringing total gains that month to 5,600 jobs. In the past year, Minnesota has gained 43,719 jobs, a growth rate of 1.5 percent. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate climbed 0.1 percent to 4 percent in July. That is still lower than the unemployment nationwide, which stood at 5.3 percent in July.