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WEDNESDAY - JUNE 29,  2016

CROOKSTON FIRE AND POLICE DEPARTMENTS AND OTHERS RESPOND TO A HOUSE FIRE ON NORTH BROADWAY

The Crookston Fire and Police Departments and Crookston Area Ambulance were dispatched to 817 North Broadway on a report of a house fire. At the time of the fire the home was reportedly occupied by two children ages 5 and 15. Upon arrival of emergency service everyone was out of the house. The State Fire Marshall has been notified; the exact cause of the fire is yet to be determined, the investigation is active. The damage to the home is extensive.  The Crookston Police department said no further details are available at this time.
There were four fire engines and 18 firefighters and two support vehicles and several Crookston Police and Polk County Sheriff's Deputies on the scene to assist.  And Ottertail Power Company and Great Plains Natural Gas were on the scene to shut off power and gas to the home.


   A fire truck in front of the home while the fire fighters tried to air out the home as Clayton Briggs looks on

 

 

 

POLK COUNTY COMMISSIONERS GET AN UPDATE FROM THE RED LAKE WATERSHED DISTRICT

Myron Jesme, of the Red Lake Watershed District updated the county commissioners with the annual report at their meeting this week.   Buffer strip legislation has farmers looking for more information on the proposed program to be implemented along with participation of the Red Lake Watershed district and Jesme, executive director for the Red Lake Watershed said changes will be coming,  “We took out private ditches as it could not be defined,  we still need to clarify how landowners need to comply and what programs are in place for them to cash flow the property  not in farming practice, but in permanent grass strips,” said Jesme.  “There is still a need to figure out those problems especially along rivers and public waters, legal drainage systems farmers can get assistance through purchase of the land and they should go to the ditch authority to talk about.”  
Tiling fields will now need a permit.  “Our watershed district for the first time passed rules and regulations for tiling which started last September, so now the farmers need to get a permit and a plan to see where the water goes,” said Jesme. “It is not tough, but constituents asked for the watershed to do permitting.” 

The Grand Marais project in Polk County has been completed and a tour will held on August 24 with the Board of Water Resources to examine the project and other projects.  

The one watershed one plan is moving forward. “We are working on the plan with the intent to streamline the process with the counties, soil and water conservation districts, and watershed districts so getting grants will be more available,” said Jesme.  “We want one plan to work on and make partnering with all officials better.”

The commissioners approved a conditional use permit for Gaylord and Kathy Monda of East Grand Forks for a structure for storage of bee keeping equipment and honey production on a parcel in the agricultural zoning district.  
Inactive parcels owing Polk County taxes for many years were written off in the amount of $74,314.22.  Assessor Rob Wagner said the properties are no longer viable to pay long overdue taxes.

 

 

FOUR MEN APPEAR IN DISTRICT COURT FOR DIFFERENT CASES

Scott Maves, 53 of Crookston was sentenced in district court on Tuesday on charges of controlled substance crime in the 5th degree.   Maves was sentenced to 90 days in jail with the last 30 days under electronic home monitoring, a fine of $1.071.72 and five years of supervised probation.  The charge stems from an investigation starting in May 2013 and running through October 2015 regarding internal fraud centered on Maves when he was a pharmacist at Hugo’s in Crookston which included bottles of promethazine missing from the inventory.

Brock Altringer, 41 of East Grand Forks appeared in district court on Tuesday and issues were not resolved so he will be back in court on Thursday, June 30.  A jury trial was set for July 18.  The charges are two counts of controlled substance crime in the first degree, for sale and possession of 10 grams or more of cocaine, heroin or meth which occurred in East Grand Forks on January 11, 2016.

Erick Olson, 34 of Crookston was in district court on Tuesday and will be back in court on Thursday at 8:30 for a pre hearing.  Charges include four counts of criminal sexual conduct in the 5th degree lewd exhibition.

Derek Jung, 33 of Crookston was in district court on Tuesday where a pre-trial was set for July 26 on three counts of first degree selling and possessing methamphetamine which occurred in the parking lot at Wal-Mart in Crookston in January, 2015.

 

 

RIVERVIEW HEALTH NOW OFFERING DERMATOLOGY

RiverView Health is pleased to announce the addition of Rebekah Aakre, FNP-C, specializing in dermatology. Aakre will see patients at RiverView’s North Clinic once a month, beginning yesterday, July 28.
Aakre received her undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota, Moorhead, and her Family Nurse Practitioner license from the University of North Dakota. She is certified with the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

You could be at risk for skin cancer if you:
·                     Spend time in the sun or tanning beds
·                     Have a family history of skin cancers
·                     Have many moles or some that are large or unusual looking

When detected early, melanoma is highly curable. Take control of your skin’s health today. Call RiverView’s North Clinic at 281-9595 to schedule an appointment.

 


 

CROOKSTON AREA COMMUNITY FUND INVITES GRANT APPLICATIONS

The Crookston Area Community Fund invites grant applications in support of charitable, educational and public purpose projects that will enhance or improve the quality of life for residents and/or visitors of the Crookston area.
The Crookston Area Community Fund will consider grant applications of $500 to $5,000, with a total amount available for the fourth round of grants of $5,000.
Grants will be considered from any nonprofit organization or public agency whose project addresses one of the following topics:  educations, economic development, healthcare, environment and recreation, cultural and community service.

Recipients of the prior round of grants were:  Villa St. Vincent for their Blanket Warmer Cabinet;  Golden Link Senior Center for their Refrigerator and Freezer; Crookston Area Youth Soccer for Nets for the playing fields; and Lions Club for the Mobile Stage project.
Applications are available at Crookston City Hall or you may call/email Angel Weasner at 281-4503 or aweasner@crookston.mn.us for a copy to be emailed to you.  An electronic copy of the application can be downloaded from www.nwmf.org.  
Grant applications are due July 3rd.  Grants will be awarded by August 31. 

 

 

CROOKSTON SCHOOL BOARD ACCEPTS DONATION, SUMMER PROJECTS ARE UNDERWAY

The Crookston School Board accepted a $1,000 donation on Monday for the Pirate Girls hockey program from Larry Altringer. “Larry has a soft spot for girls hockey with his granddaughter playing hockey, so the $1,000 will help supplement girls hockey and is appreciated by everyone,” said Crookston School District Superintendent Chris Bates. 

Summer projects are underway in the schools throughout the district. “Everything seems to be going really well, the window company is done and the carpet people are doing the rooms and the halls are the only thing left to do,” said Bates. “They plan to be done by the end of July.”  

Elizabeth Rust, who worked in the Crookston High School office will be retiring. “She has been here a long time so it will be different,” said Bates. “We wish her the best!” 

 

 

CROOKSTON PARK AND REC SAND VOLLEYBALL LEAGUE GOING STRONG

The Crookston Park and Rec has a sand volleyball league with eight teams competing and fun had by all participating.  They play Monday nights at the Crookston Sports Center in the new sand volleyball courts in the outdoor skating rink at the Crookston Sports Center with three nets/courts.  They play games at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30.  The standings and some pictures by Sandy Desrosier are below. 

Team                             Wins Loss
Noah Insurance              21     3
Crookston Eye Clinic     18     6
IC Muggs                        14    10
LMN Contracting            11   13
Aspen Chiropractic          10   14
SWAT Team                    10   14
Neon Spike                       7     17
Eagles Wing                      5     19


Three courts of volleyball being played on Monday at the Crookston Sports Center during the park and rec volleyball league (Picture by Sandy Desrosier)


Everybody enjoying the sun and some sand volleyball at the CSC (Picture submitted by Sandy Desrosier)

 

 

 

TUESDAY - JUNE 28,  2016

CROOKSTON SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES NEW CONTRACT WITH THE TEACHERS UNION

The Crookston School Board ratified the Crookston Education Association (CEA) agreement at their meeting on Monday for 2015-2017. The new contract with the teachers changed some insurance and gave the teachers a raise of 5.5 percent over two years.  “We agreed to look at district wide insurance policies. We have four different plans for the groups which are more popular than others,” said Crookston School Board member and contract negotiating committee member, Tim Dufault.  “We will have a committee from the bargaining units and meet with the insurance people, we will sunset two of the plans in 2018 so it will give us time to get develop some plans, the teachers contract was for a 1.5 percent increase for the first year and four percent for the second year.”
Dufault addressed the claim that the school board does not respect, value or honor the service of the teachers and as you can see in the statement the board said nothing can be further from the truth. 

To read the opening statement from Dufault, see below.

----

I would just like to make a few comments from the district board’s perspective of the details of this master agreement. 

First off, at a 1.5% and a 4% increase for the years 2015-2017, this contract is more than the districted wanted to settle for and it’s less than what the CEA wanted to settle for.  Both sides compromised and stretched as far as they could. 

So I recommend today from the negotiation committee to the full board that we approve this master agreement.

Secondly I would like to comment to the teachers here on some of the background of this process. 

You have been told that the school board did not want to meet with your negotiation team, that we were stalling.

This was not true.

We were notified by your union in March of 2015 of the formal intent to negotiate. Standard procedure.  Also standard procedure is the CEA then suggesting some dates.  We meet twice in early fall of 2015 to discuss the pending arbitration process.  But the first email request the CEA sent to negotiate was not sent until October 16, 2015.

Yes, the board was reluctant to negotiate a contract with critically important language undecided and waiting arbitration.  But we decided to start the process anyway and we began in January of 2016.

On February 18, 2016 the arbitration hearings started. Realizing quickly that this process was going to take a lot of extra time and work for both sides, Sara Geist and I agreed to hold off on contract talks during the arbitration testimony. Unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding between Sara and me as to when to resume talks.

Testimony finished after four sessions on April 11, 2016.  Negotiations did resume right after that.

I know to all the teachers that were waiting through the past year for some progress on their contract, that things did not move as fast as they would like.  And you probably don’t care about all these details about why it took so long to negotiate a new contract.  But I want you to know we wanted to complete this contract quickly too.

Health insurance premiums are another part of the total package costs that get overlooked in the process.  Many teachers view negotiations to be only about salary.  They feel health insurance is a benefit that comes to them at little cost.   

To the district, premium costs are part of the whole package. We have little control over premiums.  So in the whole package, if insurance goes up, that means less money in the package to offer you as a salary increase. 

This contract for example.  Salary scales go up 1.5% and 4%. But premiums for 2015-2017 have increased 2% and 2.3%. The 1.5 and 4 now becomes 3.5% and 6.3%.  These are cost that eaten up for insurance and are unavailable for salaries. (Or 3.5X2+2.3=9.3%)

If the premium savings for switching to a more affordable plan were put into the teacher’s paycheck, do you think a lot of teachers would find value in that?   Many would realize that the current $100 deductible family policy that costs the each teacher $10,151 and the district another $18,852 is simply a luxury no one can afford. 

Employees of district 593 have very good health insurance coverage.  But it is very expensive.

Out of the 22 neighboring school districts, Crookston’s family policy is the most expensive.  In fact it’s more than double of the average and 28% higher than the second most expensive plan.

The board views the insurance contribution as your money.  If we can save money on insurance plans that savings would go to teachers as increased salary.

We made that suggestion to your CEA negotiating team.  In one option we proposed capping the district’s contribution at the single policy contribution rate and the savings would go into the CEA salary schedule.  This option would net each teacher over $3300 a year.  Every year.

I know most of you haven’t heard of this offer.  It came too late in the two year contract lifecycle to get it implemented.  But it could be brought up for the 2017-2019 contracts.

The CEA and the board’s plan is to put together an insurance committee with members from all district bargaining groups.  The goal of this committee is to find new and affordable insurance options for all employees. 

The school continues to support the need to offer affordable, appropriate healthcare to all employees.  We will always offer health insurance to qualified employees.

The last issue I would like to address is the claim that this school board does not respect, value or honor the service of our teachers.

This cannot be further from the truth.  This board respects and honors every ounce of blood, sweat, tears and heart that you pour into your job day in and day out.

Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

So Mr. Chairman I again urge that this agreement be ratified.

Thank you.

----

 

 

CROOKSTON SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES BUDGET, NEW TEACHERS

A preliminary budget for the Crookston School District for the coming year was approved at the meeting.  The preliminary budget is about $17 million in revenues and expenses.  “We are assuming the student enrollment will be around 1,249 students,” said Crookston School District Business Manager Laura Lyczewski. “We will be buying two buses for $225,000, new laptops for the staff for $175,000, $50,000 for curriculum and we need a new lawnmower and small loader for snow removal and the CEA contract was approved so it was a very good budget and we should break even.”  To see the budget click here.
School Board chairman Frank Fee reminded the board that a bus garage project is due for discussion.  The present bus garage was under water with after recent heavy rains.

Kindergarten teachers were hired for Washington School.  Julie Christianson will teach kindergarten, Sarah Lohse, from the twin cities, will be a long term substitute kindergarten teacher and Jenni Knutson will be the school readiness teacher.  Washington is still in need of kindergarten aides and readiness aides so anyone out there who would like to work the same hours as their children in school should contact Denice Oliver at Washington School.

Travis Oliver was hired as the Instructional Construction Trades teacher and Kris Stegman was hired for the Area Learning Center at the high school.  The board accepted the retirement letter from Elizabeth Rust, administrative assistant at the high school.

 

 

CROOKSTON SCHOOL LUNCHES GOING UP FIVE CENTS, SERVING A LOT OF KIDS LUNCH IN THE SUMMER

The Crookston School Board approved a five cent increase in hot lunch meals for the upcoming school year.  Food Service Director Anna Brekken said the price increase is mandated by the federal government. Crookston students will pay $2.55 at the high school and $2.45 at the elementary schools. “The USDA requires all schools under the national average to do a calculation on the equity pool and they tell you to raise it by a number of cents,” said Brekken. “We are significantly lower than the national average so the nickel raise is to keep up with food prices and USDA requirements.”  
The summer noon meal program served 117 people on the second day and this week they will have a 4th of July theme meal serving a back yard barbeque with sloppy joes, and corn on the cob along with games and activities for the kids.

 

 

CITY OF CROOKSTON FINDS OUT THEY ARE DESIGNATED A REGIONAL TRAIL

The Crookston City Council met on Monday and learned the Red Lake River will be eligible for Legacy grants after getting designated a regional trail.  Crookston was rated high on the Red Lake River Enhancement Corridor project, a joint power agreement between three counties (Polk, Pennington and Red Lake), six cities (Crookston, East Grand Forks, Thief River Falls, St. Hilaire, Fisher, and Red Lake Falls) and the Red Lake Watershed District. 

“We found out that we were designated as a trail of regional significance and this leads toward funding for projects along the river which includes all those involved like Public Health, the Crookston Chamber, and Explore Minnesota,” said Crookston City Administrator Shannon Stassen.  “We must write a plan this week submit it and  we might know about submitting for funding by September for signage, marketing, access points, improvement at Central Park and other places along the river with funds from the Legacy program.”

The Crookston Ways and Means Committee met after the council meeting and agreed to move forward with the enhancement project connecting the trails and cities together by applying for legacy grants.  
The council approved the installation of an outdoor warning siren on the northeast end of town and extended the term of the Midcontinent Communications franchise ordinance.   Crookston High School spring sport state participants were recognized by the council and Mayor Gary Willhite presented tennis coach Mike Geffre with a container of gummi tennis balls for having taken teams to the state tournament 29 times.

 

 

MONDAY - JUNE 27,  2016

CROOKSTON SCHOOL BOARD TO APPROVE HIRING OF MORE TEACHERS, LIZ RUST TO RETIRE

The Crookston School Board meets at 5:00 this evening at Washington School gym.  Personnel items on the agenda include employment of Julie Christianson as a kindergarten teacher at Washington, Jenni Knutson as a school readiness teacher at Washington and Sarah Lohse as a long term substitute kindergarten teacher at Washington school. 
A retirement letter from Elizabeth Rust, administrative assistant at the high school will be accepted. 
The Crookston Education Association (teachers union) Agreement for 2015-2017 is up for approval.  
The main agenda includes approval of a 2016- 2017 preliminary budget.  An increase of five cents for school hot lunches for the 2016-2017 school year is up for approval.  The local literacy plan for 2016-2017 for “reading well by third grade” will be presented.   Membership in the Minnesota Rural Education Association will be approved.  Rental Agreement with Resource Management LLP for the Area Learning Center for 2016-2017 and a rental agreement with Eagles Aerie for storage for 2016-2017 are up for approval. 
A donation of $1,000 from Larry Altringer for the girls hockey program will be accepted. 
Administrators will report on activities and Superintendent Chris Bates will have a report for the school board.   Visitors with concerns may share at the beginning or the end of the meeting which is open to the public.

 

 

CROOKSTON CITY COUNCIL AND WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTE TO MEET TONIGHT

The Crookston City Council meets tonight at 7:00 in the Crookston City Hall council chambers.
The consent agenda has a resolution to approve the purchase and installation of an outdoor warning siren for the Barrette Street and Fisher Avenue area on the northeast end of town.
A resolution to temporarily extend the term of the Midcontinent Communications franchise ordinance. 
The Crookston Ways and Means Committee will meet following the council meeting.  The meetings are open to the public.


 

 

CHARLES EICKHOF AND EASTON MEYER PARTICIPATE IN BOYS STATE

Two Crookston High School seniors attended Minnesota Boys State sponsored by the Crookston American Legion.  Charles Eickhof and Easton Meyer participated in the week long program in Marshall, Minnesota.  

Eickhof ran for office which was a good way to participate.  “It teaches about government at the city, county and state level. I learned many things and expanded on what I already knew,” said Eickhof.  “I ran for the city treasurer in the city of Winona where I was placed, ran for state senate which I got elected to and then the constitutional office of state auditor which I got elected to, where the duties are overseeing the spending of the state, working with county treasurers and makes sure they stay on budget.”   Eickhof said his eyes were opened to many things especially how bills are passed through the house and senate and it is easy to understand how they can’t work together.  Eickhof was in the choir which had a concert at the end of the week.  Charles is the son of Cecilia and Paul Eickhof.  


          Charles Eickhof                                          Easton Meyer

Easton Meyer enjoyed the Boys State experience and learned a lot.  “It was not what I expected, it was a lot of fun, I thought it was going to be boring, but it turned out to be fun and a learning experience and will help me out for my AP government class,” said Meyer. “I ran for county board, city council, senate and I was a lobbyist whose job is to manipulate people to get them to do what you want, so I know what they are up to and it appears the lobbyists are passing the bills and the senators just speaking on it.”
Meyer will be a senior this coming school year and will go to college in Devils Lake after graduation and return to farm.  He is working at B & E Meats this summer and helps on the farm and is the son of Siri and Jon Meyer.

 

 

MICHELLE CHRISTOPHERSON TAKES OVER AS DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS AT UMC

Former director of the Center for Adult Learning, Michelle Christopherson is taking on new leadership responsibilities at the University of Minnesota Crookston. An employee of the campus for 16 years, Christopherson has been hired as the new director of admissions following her candidacy in a national level search.
Christopherson recently began her new responsibilities with the Office of Admissions in early May. She is charged with managing the admissions staff as well as planning and leading admissions and recruitment efforts for the campus, including: international, online, and on-campus students.
Christopherson holds an M.A. in education, curriculum and instruction from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, and a B.S. in mass communication from Moorhead State University, Moorhead. Most recently, she served as director of online recruitment, and prior to that she served as the director of Center for Adult Learning, where she successfully grew online enrollment for the last 11 years.  Michelle also led customer service and student support efforts for the U of M Digital Campus Calling Center while it was located at the U of M Crookston from 2009 to 2014.
“In the last 16 years my role has evolved from Agriculture and Natural Resource student recruitment to classroom Instructor, both online and on site, to interim admissions director to Center for Adult Learning director these past 11 years. I have created so many relationships with so many people and have witnessed firsthand the power of one's education and its importance in the region's economic vitality. Whether I am serving adult learners or all audiences traditional, non-traditional and K-16; international, domestic, on campus and online, I am excited!" 

 

 

 

FRIDAY - JUNE 24,  2016

RIVERVIEW HEALTH TO  OFFER THEIR MONTHLY HEALTH LUNCHEON ON JUNE 30

Do you want to more closely track your health? If so, RiverView Health’s Direct Laboratory Access (DLA) program might be for you.
DLA is offered to anyone who desires to further monitor lab values between regular healthcare provider visits. If you have found that your insurance or Medicare coverage does not pay for a screening test or you want testing for a personal condition, DLA may offer that option. While DLA is not a substitute for ongoing health care with your designated provider, it does provide the opportunity to take a more active role in healthcare decisions by enabling you to select laboratory testing from a limited test menu.
For more information on DLA and what tests are available, attend RiverView’s Thursday, June 30 Health Luncheon “Direct Laboratory Access: Choosing What’s Right for You’’. RiverView’s Laboratory Director Emily Nelson will present.

Health Luncheon Details
The luncheon will be held in Meeting Room #1 beginning at noon. Meeting Room #1 is located near the RiverView Clinic entrance on the north side of the hospital and across from the elevators on first floor.
The luncheon series is in its 18th year of sponsorship by RiverView Health. All men and women interested in improving their health are invited to attend. Each luncheon starts a few minutes past noon and luncheons are kept under one hour so those needing to return to work can attend. Pre-registration is required. A boxed lunch can be purchased for $3, but must be ordered while pre-registering for the event. Call Holly Anderson at 218-281-9745 for additional information and to pre-register.

 

 

UMC GRADUATE AUSTIN STRUKEL WORKING FOR THE CITY OF CROOKSTON

Story written by Junior Emily Gruber, communications assistant in University Relations, a communication major and Golden Eagle Women’s Basketball player from Monticello.

Recent graduate Austin Strukel 2016 is getting to know Crookston more as a community rather than a college town.  He was offered an opportunity to work for the Crookston Chamber of Commerce as an intern, all while finishing his last semester of college.  When his internship ended in April, another door opened.  Strukel is now currently working for the City of Crookston. “I liked getting out into the community more,” the business management major explained.  “I was able to deal with a lot of businesses that I’ve never been to before and talk with people that I normally wouldn’t have talked to.”
At the Chamber, he worked with different businesses, promoting multiple events by writing press releases for the newspaper and radio and sending out email blasts.  For the city, Strukel is focusing more on event organization and doing some marketing for them as well.  He is currently working on the Canoe and Kayak Race for the Ox Cart Days Festival that will take place August 17-21 in Crookston. 
Strukel knew he wanted to major in business management because he enjoyed the economic courses he took at Virginia High School located in Virginia, Minnesota where he grew up.  He thought about accounting, but was looking for something a little more broad.  He also has a minor in marketing, which helped him with his internship at the Chamber, working with various advertisements.
While attending the University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC), Austin was a student-athlete, playing Golden Eagle Football. Although playing a sport in college is challenging, he felt it was rewarding as well.  “I liked being a member of a team and having a special bond with my teammates,” he mentioned.  “I think I got a lot of leadership experience and definitely a lot of experience working with groups of people.”
Strukel decided to attend UMC for the chance to play college football, but also because he appreciated the small campus.  “There’s not too many places where if you miss class, your teacher emails you or even calls you to see what is going on.” 
In his spare time, Strukel loves hunting and fishing with family and friends.  His love for this hobby has inspired him to think about owning his own business one day.  He has thought about owning an outdoors shop and has recently considered owning a hunting dog business or a marketing firm.
When asked if he was planning on staying in Crookston for a while, he responded, “I would love to go back home and be closer to the cabin.” 
But for now, Crookston is home and he is enjoying it. 

 

 

 

MAYOR WILLHITE, SHANNON STASSEN AND CLAYTON BRIGGS ATTEND LEAGUE OF MINNESOTA CITIES CONFERENCE

Crookston City Administrator Shannon Stassen recently attended the League of Minnesota Cities conference with Mayor Gary Willhite and Crookston City Council member Clayton Briggs.   Stassen said the conference covered future ideas and concerns for cities.  “It was a lot about looking to the future and how cities will survive and thrive and a lot of talk about innovation and trends,” said Stassen.  “There are so many changes that are happening rapidly so we have to be prepared to adapt the changes in technology, generations as baby boomers retire and the labor force will be short nationwide,  so it gave us a  lot of things to think about and it was very positive.”
One topic at the conference was a workforce is needed throughout the state for all areas of business.

 

 

THURSDAY - JUNE 23,  2016

POLK COUNTY TAKES ONE STEP CLOSER TO FINALIZING THE AGASSIZ RECREATIONAL TRAIL

The Polk County Commissioners met Tuesday and approved renovations at Maple Lake Park and took another step towards completing the Agassiz Recreational Trail.

The Agassiz Recreational Trail along Highway 102 in Polk County is near completion, according to Polk County Highway Engineer Rich Sanders.  Final parts of the trail were purchased for $34,000.  Part A of the Agassiz Recreational Trail is the railroad grade from Crookston to Fertile along Highway 102, then south of Fertile and Norman County has a stretch from south of Fertile to Twin Valley and Clay County has a stretch to Ulen. Part B of the trail is south of County Road 1 at Beltrami to Ada on the railroad grade that was abandoned.  “Polk County owns about a mile and a half and Norman County owns the rest and the trails are paid for with the DNR off roads grant so they are to be used as an ATV trail in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter,” said Sanders.  “The commissioners approved the final three chunks of property from Crookston to Fertile, on the sides at Melvin and Harold Station and a trail piece that was missed before to develop the trail into more of a destination for ATV’s which the DNR likes so they can stop at a station and get off and have activities like climb hills or run through mud puddles.  Now we can develop those if we wish.”

D and B Construction of Mentor will perform some renovations at the Maple Lake Park for $14,200.  
The commissioners approved two temporary part time employees for the property records department at their meeting this week. 
A COPS grant proposal if approved could bring two patrol deputies to the Polk County Sheriff’s office.  
Cathy Gutterud was reappointed to the County Social Services Board by the commissioners for another two years.  
The Polk County Historical Society gave their annual report to the county board showing they had revenue over $21,000 last year.

 

 

POLK COUNTY DISCUSSES BUILDING RENOVATIONS

The Polk County Commissioners approved renovations of the Stenberg building in Fosston to accommodate the sheriff’s department for the officers located on the east side of the county.  “We purchased the Stenberg Building three or four years ago to compliment the incinerator operation and also a need for the deputies on the east end of the county.  We needed an office on the end of the county and this will work well," said Polk County Board chairman Craig Buness.  Quam Construction of Fosston will do the renovations at $98,500.  "We need this done as the deputies are in a city building which is being renovated so they will be have a presence by the school,” said Buness.
The commissioners voted against a canopy for the entrance at Polk County Public Health at their new location at the Justice Center.  Polk County Public Health is located at the south end of the Justice Center and the county attorney and public defenders were moved to accommodate public health and the entrance on the south side was an emergency entrance. "We had to make it more presentable, but the quotes for a canopy came in up to $35,000 so that was not reasonable," said Buness.
The Board of Equalization was held by the county commissioners for residents to bring their concerns on the property assessments.  Buness said five residents came in and one of them had 10 different parcels so it was a long session and one person could be handled by a letter.  "We made some changes and some we could not change as the assessments were right on," said Buness. "Most of the residents were from the potato warehouse area and bypass area in East Grand Forks.  Sales are showing that they value was right so we could not make changes.”

 

 

CHEDA ASKING FOR THE SAME STIPEND FROM THE CITY IN 2017

The Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority (CHEDA) discussed the budget for 2017 at their meeting this week.   CHEDA asks for a stipend from the city each year.  “Our budgeting process begins early like the city and we wanted to discuss the stipend for next year,” said CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth.  “We wanted to hold the line even if we did see a dip on the revenue side, we wanted to be frugal with our request.”
CHEDA is asking the city for $130,000 for 2017 which is the same as 2016.


 

 

CROOKSTON HIGH SCHOOL ANNOUNCES THE A AND B HONOR ROLLS

The Crookston High School has released their A and B honor rolls.  Click here to see the list.

 

 

 

FRIENDS OF RYDELL AND GLACIAL RIDGE TO HOST A CONSERVATION FILM SERIES 

On Tuesday June 28 and Tuesday July 12, the Friends of Rydell and Glacial Ridge Refuges Association (FRGRRA) will host the showing of a special conservation-related film on the “big screen” in the Rydell National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.  The films will begin at 6:30pm each evening and will last approximately one hour. This is a free event and light refreshments will be available.  The timing of these showings was scheduled to allow participants time to walk/bike the trails and explore Rydell Refuge after the movies and before dark.

Showing #1 on June 28, 2016   -  Duck! (a duckumentary), 2011 (60 minutes)
They swim, they waddle, and they fly. They are the subjects of art, science, history, and popular entertainment. They are cartoons, stamps, carvings, pets, livestock, urban neighbors, and even dinner. They are ducks! Across America, quirky and often comical interactions can teach us about our feathery neighbors, our planet, and ourselves.

Showing #2 on July 12, 2016  -  Everglades of the North: The Story of the Grand Kankakee Marsh, 2012 (57 minutes)
Before there was farmland, there were untamed wetlands. One of the largest in North America was the Grand Kankakee Marsh, which saturated nearly a million acres in Northern Indiana and part of Illinois.  It was home to some of the highest concentrations of wildlife on the planet. The French claimed it as part of “New France,” and it was later dubbed “Chicago’s Food Pantry” for its seemingly endless supply of fur, fowl, and fin.  For centuries, the marsh gave and man took. Today, only a fraction of this wetland survives, but all is not lost.   

The FRGRRA was formed in 1996 to assist with Refuge management, public use, and fundraising activities. This dynamic volunteer group sponsors interpretive programs, open houses, special events, and provides trail transportation for people with disabilities. They also operate a nature store in the Visitor Center to raise money for refuge activities and maintenance. In 2000, the Association was awarded the Friends Group of the Year Award by the National Wildlife Refuge Association. 

Rydell National Wildlife Refuge is located 3 miles south of Highway 2, between Mentor and Erskine, at 17788 349th St SE

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY - JUNE 22,  2016

COREY REITMEIER PLEADS GUILTY, SENTENCING TO BE HELD JULY 21

Corey Lee Reitmeier, 45 of Crookston, appeared in district court on Tuesday where he plead guilty to one count of criminal vehicular homicide.  Sentencing was set for July 21 at 9:00 a.m. which could include up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine or both.  A plea agreement is part of the plea with the Judge making the sentence. 
The charge stems from an accident on September 26, 2015 about 8:55 p.m. on Polk County Road 57, six miles east of Highway 75 where Reitmeier was driving a motorcycle with his wife Wendy as a passenger. They hit a deer and skidded down the highway and it appeared that Wendy was thrown from the motorcycle striking the road with great force, according to the Highway Patrol report.  Reitmeier was injured and transported to RiverView Health where he consented to a blood draw which revealed a blood alcohol content at 0.186.  He was then transported to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks and was interviewed by Highway Patrol officers and Reitmeier said he had a couple of drinks in the afternoon.


 

 


CROOKSTON PARK BOARD TO HOLD MEETINGS AT SEVERAL PARKS TO GET INPUT FROM RESIDENTS

The Crookston Park Board and city council is planning on hosting community meetings throughout the city to get input from residents on park and recreation activities and other city activities.  “We will be going to the larger parks for the residents to come forth and meet the park board, city staff, and council members to bring their needs for the parks and what they see is appropriate for the area,” said Park and Crookston Park and Recreation Director Scott Riopelle.

The city accepted a painting as a gift from the Hutchins family who has ties to the city of Crookston.  “The Hutchins family is in the area for a family reunion and back in 2004 they donated some property by Titan Machinery to the city and gave us a picture at that time of a skating rink and now they gave us a painting of a buffalo in the prairie and donated it to us so we appreciate the kindness of the Hutchins and thank them for their thoughtfulness,” said Riopelle. The painting will be hung at city hall for everyone to enjoy.

 

 

CROOKSTON LOOKING AT BUILDING PICKLE BALL COURTS

Pickle ball is a growing sport in Crookston and there is need for more courts to play the game according to Crookston City Administrator Shannon Stassen who was part of the discussion at the Park Board meeting on Monday.  “Pickle Ball is very popular in Crookston and throughout the country and we are trying to make more capacity and be more user friendly and get more people playing,” said Stassen. “We share the tennis court at Shuster Park and there is some discussion about having a dedicated court just for pickle ball and pour a slab just for pickle ball so that is one of the discussion points.”

 

 

RIVERVIEW HEALTH TO OFFER DEMENTIA COMMUNITY EDUCATION CLASS JUNE 28

If you or someone you know is experiencing memory loss or behavioral changes, it’s time to learn about the different forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Early detection of dementia gives you a chance to begin drug therapy, enroll in clinical studies and plan for the future.
The RiverView Care Center will offer community education titled “Effective Communication Strategies’’ Tuesday, June 28 at RiverView Health, 323 South Minnesota Street, Crookston. The session will be held from 6 to 7:30 PM in Meeting Room 4.
This session is designed to provide practical information and resources to help dementia caregivers learn to decode verbal and behavioral messages from people with dementia. The goals of the program are for participants to better understand the changes in communication that occur with the disease progression and how they manifest in the person with dementia, and to be able to identify ways to connect at each stage of the disease.
Objectives include:
- understanding the communication changes that take place throughout the course of the disease
- how to decode the verbal and behavioral messages delivered by someone with dementia and respond in ways that are helpful to the person
- how to identify strategies to help you connect and communicate at each stage of the disease

Jess Steinbrenner will present both workshops. Steinbrenner is the Western Minnesota program manager with the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota chapter. Steinbrenner provides direct services to individuals and families who are navigating their way through Alzheimer’s disease as well as providing community and professional education throughout the region. There will be time set aside for questions and answers.
Certificates of Attendance will be given at each workshop. The event is open to the public and free of charge. Refreshments will be served. For more information, call RiverView Care Center Activities Director and Social Services Designee Kalie Crayton at
218-281-9458.

 

 

VICKIE AND RAND HUGHES TO BE HONORED AS EXPERIENCED CITIZENS OF THE MONTH

Vickie and Rand Hughes are being honored on Friday as the experienced Americans for the month at the Golden Link.   Rand Hughes is a California native who went to 11 different schools from kindergarten to 12th grade and ended up in Minnesota in 1972.   “I’m a California boy and when I was a junior my parents divorced and after I graduated I came back to see my mother who was living in Mentor and never left,” said Hughes. “I started at the sheriff’s office in 1974 became and EMT with the ambulance in 1975 and stayed with the Sheriff for about 17 years and EMT until 1995.”  Rand has volunteered at the Golden Link and was president for a couple of years and worked in the Polk County Assessor’s office from 1988 until 2008. He worked for four different sheriffs starting with Paul Coauette, Earl Mosher, Doug Qualley and Mark LeTexier. 
Vickie Hughes is a Crookston native who worked for Polk County since college graduation.  “I started right out of college in Moorhead and worked for three different auditors starting with Martin Vanseth, Larry Fontaine and then Jerry Amiot,” said Vickie.  “After retirement I worked for three years at the Cathedral, where I do a lot of volunteer work now in the church and school library. I also volunteer in the RSVP shopping program.”
The Hughes raised three sons, Nicholas who lives in North Carolina and is engaged, Matt is in Crookston and Andy is married and lives in Wisconsin. 
The Experienced American reception is on Friday from 1:30 to 3:30 at the Golden Link and everyone is welcome.

 

 

THIS WEEK IS LIGHTNING SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK

It’s too easy to think we’re invincible when it comes to lightning storms—going outside, staying in the pool, or continuing a softball game as thunder sounds in the distance are not safe activities when lightning and thunder are in the area. Instead, move indoors when thunder roars—such a simple step could save more than 400 people from getting struck by lightning every year.  Consider also downloading the free FEMA app, available for your Android, Apple or Blackberry device, so you have the information at your fingertips to prepare for severe weather.

In recognition of Lightning Safety Awareness Week, this week through June 25, 2016, FEMA is encouraging everyone to get storm safety smart:

 FOR THE OBITUARY PAGE  CLICK HERE

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