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    POWER 96 News Brief for Tuesday 01-26

    01/26/2021

    The Minnesota Department of Health announced that its Public Health Laboratory has found the variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus known as the Brazil P.1 variant in a specimen from a Minnesota resident with recent travel history to Brazil.

    While this variant is thought to be more transmissible than the initial strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, it is not yet known whether the variant causes more severe illness.

    This case marks the first documented instance of the Brazil P.1 variant in the United States.

    The patient with the Brazil P.1 variant is a resident of the Twin Cities metro area. The patient spoke with MDH case investigators after the initial test came back positive for COVID-19, and reported traveling to Brazil prior to becoming ill.

    In addition to the Brazil P.1 strain, a total of eight UK variant cases have been identified in Minnesota, although more are suspected to exist.

    Freeborn County Public Health reported 6 new lab confirmed cases of COVID 19 yesterday. Currently there are 118 active cases in Freeborn County.

    Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan announced the Due North Education Plan, a sweeping agenda for the future of education in Minnesota. Developed from a robust engagement effort with educators, school leaders, students, and families across the state, the Due North Education Plan is centered on ensuring every child in Minnesota receives a high-quality education, no matter their race or zip code.

    The plan includes actions to support students during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, reform school financing, expand opportunities for students in Greater Minnesota, and build the most qualified and diverse teaching workforce in the nation.

    This week Gov. Tim Walz is expected propose a two-year budget with a heavy focus on helping Minnesota recover from the impact of COVID-19.

    The governor"s budget, which is expected top $50 million, will emphasize assistance to small businesses, help for working families affected by the disease itself or the related fallout, and measures to get students caught up after a year of mostly distance learning. And it will set up the debate over spending, taxes and other priorities at the Legislature, which must adopt a balanced budget before the current one expires June 30.

    Walz hinted to the Star Tribune that tax increases on wealthy Minnesotans would be part of his equation, but he wouldn"t give specifics.

    POWER 96 News Brief for Monday 01-25

    01/25/2021

    The number of Minnesotans who have received at least the first dose of the two-shot COVID-19 vaccine is nearing a quarter-million, or less than 5% of the population, the Minnesota Department of Health reported Sunday.

    A total of 247,415 Minnesotans have received at least one dose. More than 63,000 people have received both shots to complete their vaccinations.

    Minnesota officials say more than 13,000 people received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this weekend.

    The Iowa Democratic Party chose a state representative from Ames to lead the party as it works to retain its spot as the nation"s first caucus in presidential elections.

    Rep. Ross Wilburn was elected Saturday to replace outgoing chairman and former state Rep. Mark Smith who decided not to seek a second term.

    Minnesota's Supreme Court Chief Justice has issued a statewide order extending the current limitations on in-person court meetings through March.

    As a result, no new criminal or civil jury trials can begin before March 15 due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19.

    For criminal jury trials, the chief judge does have the option to grant an exception if three criteria are met: the defendant has requested a speedy trial, the defendant is in custody, and the case regards a felony or non-felony person crime.

    Two Minnesota lawmakers will introduce a bill this week to legalize sports betting.

    Republican Rep. Patrick Garofalo, who is co-sponsoring the bill with Democratic Sen. Karla Bigham, says if Iowa can do it, why can"t Minnesota?

    Garofalo says revenue isn"t a primary motivator for legalizing, but he estimates sports gambling could bring in $40 million to $50 million a year to the state.

    Gambling on games is currently legal in almost half of the United States, including Iowa and South Dakota.

    Albert Lea's City Council will be in session tonight, January 25 at 7 p.m. This meeting will be conducted Via Zoom teleconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    A road closure in Albert Lea will have some commuters scrambling. Sibley Avenue will be closed on Monday, January 25th from approximately 8:00 am to 5:00 pm from Marshall Street to the Salvation Army parking lot entrance. The closure will be to allow Minnesota Energy Resources to make needed repairs to their gas main and valves in the closure area. Access to businesses on Sibley Avenue will be available via E. Main Street.

    Freeborn County Public Health reported 26 newly reported cases of COVID 19 over the weekend bringing the number of active cases in the county to 138.

    POWER 96 News Brief for Thursday 01-21

    01/21/2021

    After a bit of a lull and falling numbers, Freeborn County Public Health reported 26 new positive cases of COVID 19 and 2 deaths. Currently there are 183 active cases of COVID in the county.

    The City of Albert Lea reports that Sibley Avenue will be closed on Monday, January 25th from approximately 8:00 am to 5:00 pm from Marshall Street to the Salvation Army parking lot entrance. That closure will be to allow Minnesota Energy Resources to make needed repairs to their gas main and valves in the closure area. Access to businesses on Sibley Avenue will be available via E. Main Street.

    The Minnesota Department of Health reported that all of the available COVID-19 vaccine appointments for adults 65 and older have been filled for the week.

    The vaccine pilot program, which was announced Monday, targets teachers and school staff, child care workers and seniors.

    MDH said since noon Tuesday, an estimated 6,000 Minnesotans 65 years old and older registered for appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Almost 6,000 additional appointments have been reserved this week for educators and child care workers.

    Those with appointments are set to begin to receive does of the vaccine Thursday through Saturday.

    Time is running out for local businesses and non profits to apply for relief grants. The application period for a second round of COVID Relief Grants is open through Friday, January 22 to Freeborn County small businesses and non-profit agencies.

    Businesses and non-profit agencies that are eligible to apply are those with 35 or less employees that have been affected by or continue to show financial hardship related to COVID-19, specifically Executive Orders since March of 2020.

    The fund will give preference to agencies that have not received federal or state COVID-19 relief funds. All businesses and non-profit agencies are encouraged to apply.

    Guidelines and application are available on the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency's website, www.growalbertlea.com/covid19relief

    According to the Minnesota Department of Health, State health officials are asking Freeborn County residents to be more vigilant with mitigation efforts to curb the spread of COVID 19. According to Dan Huff, the assistant commissioner for the Health Protection Bureau of MDH, as of Wednesday, the county's most recent data shows a 7-day positivity rate of 11.4% .

    Free coronavirus testing is available in Freeborn County and can be found at the Albert Lea National Guard Armory. The armory was one of 11 new testing sites MDH added in November to expand testing.

    Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea also has space for testing.

    Yesterday, Freeborn County Public Health reported 26 new cases and 2 deaths in the county.

    POWER 96 News Brief for Wednesday 01-20

    01/20/2021

    The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded $3.98 million in grants to nine cities across Minnesota to cleanup 10 contaminated sites approved for redevelopment including one right here in Albert Lea.

    The city of Albert Lea was awarded $1,443,100 in cleanup funding for the 3.41-acre Blazing Star Apartment site that was contaminated with petroleum and other contaminants. Historically a part of the river channel, this site is part of a larger 33.29-acre former meat packing plant which burned down in 2001. The site will be redeveloped into a three-story, 48-unit apartment building. It is anticipated this project will create one new job and increase the tax base by $21,042. Matching funds will be provided by the city of Albert Lea.

    DEED's Contamination Cleanup Grant Program awarded the funding, which will leverage more than $300 million in private investment and create or retain 178 jobs. The redevelopment projects are expected to add 1,485 housing units, of which 373 units will be affordable housing. Local tax bases are expected to increase by $3.9 million through redevelopment of the sites.

    Freeborn County public Health reported their lowest COVID positive test number in quite some time with only 6 positive tests yesterday. Currently there are 179 active cases in the county.

    Minnesotans 65 and older can schedule appointment times for the COVID vaccine. The state is asking for seniors to visit www.mn.gov/vaccine first before calling to make an appointment. If you do have to phone in your request you can do so by calling 1-833-431-2053. Appointment windows reset every Tuesday. The vaccine is available by appointment only. Walk-ins will not be accepted. The closest MDH pilot program vaccination site to us is located in Rochester. Those that are unsure of an appointment date can get on a waiting list.

    A 22-year-old man from Owatonna is in federal custody for allegedly trafficking homemade firearms and threatening to kill members of law enforcement ahead of protests at the State Capitol last weekend, according to court records.

    Federal agents arrested Dayton Charles Sauke on Friday.

    Records show Sauke was already under investigation for illegally selling firearms when he posted on social media that he intended to murder members of law enforcement or public officials days before protests of the presidential inauguration.

    Sauke allegedly told agents he could make additional firearms and that he had trafficked more than 100 Glocks over the past year.

    In several social media posts, Sauke was seen pointing a gun at the camera. On Dec. 20, he wrote, "I got one of the most liberal states armed to the teeth in ghost glocks.".

    Due to COVID-19 concerns, the prosecution is calling for a Hennepin County District Court judge to reconsider his decision to split the George Floyd case into two trials for the four former Minneapolis police officers charged in his death.

    Last week, Judge Peter Cahill ordered that Derek Chauvin's trial will begin on March 8, while the trial for 3 other officers will begin on Aug. 23.

    On Tuesday, the state filed a motion asking the judge to consider re-joining the trials as one and hold the trial later this summer. To make their case, they called upon University of Minnesota epidemiologist Dr. Mike Osterholm for his expertise. Osterholm is also a part of President-elect Joe Biden's COVID-19 taskforce. Osterholm wrote in an affidavit that "From a public health perspective, it would be substantially safer to hold one combined trial in the summer of 2021 than two separate trials in March 2021 and August 2021,".

    POWER 96 News Brief for Tuesday 01-18

    01/19/2021

    If you're curious as to whether you might have had COVID-19 in the past a simple process could give you answers.

    Hy-Vee is offering rapid COVID-19 antibody testing at many of its locations. With a quick finger stick, you can get the results in as little as 15 minutes at a Hy-Vee pharmacy.

    Many Hy-Vee locations are offering the test, including Albert Lea, Austin, Owatonna, Rochester and Mason City. You can call the Hy-vee pharmacy or go online to schedule an appointment.

    Fears of violence at the Minnesota State Capitol this weekend did not materialize.

    Reporters, state troopers, and National Guard members far outnumbered the handful of peaceful protesters who showed up.

    Gov. Tim Walz says the state will stay the course with heavy security, especially through this week. adding, "We will certainly keep that posture in place through the inauguration".

    Governor Tim Walz has directed all flags at state and federal buildings in Minnesota to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 to remember, mourn, and honor lives lost due to COVID-19.

    Governor Walz announced on Monday that Minnesota has launched a COVID-19 vaccine pilot program, partnering with local public health and school districts. These sites will initially serve adults 65 years of age or older, as well as prekindergarten through grade 12 educators, school staff, and child care workers. The community vaccination pilot program will be the foundation for mass vaccination clinics in Minnesota communities once the federal government increases vaccine supply.

    Freeborn County Public Health announced 13 new COVID-19 cases and 1 death yesterday. Those test results are from Sundays collection. With the additional cases reported, there are not 200 active cases in the County.

    A federal judge has ordered a Florida company accused of selling counterfeit N95 face masks with 3M"s name on them to stop using the Minnesota company"s trademarks and representing itself as aa authorized distributor or retailer for 3M.

    3M sued Nationwide Source Inc. accusing the company of selling more than 10,000 of the counterfeit masks to Hennepin County Medical Center. The hospital allegedly paid more than six times above 3M"s standard price for the mask.

    A U. S. District Judge granted 3M"s request for a preliminary injunction.

    Officials with Nationwide Source, located in Delray Beach, Florida, reportedly declined to comment.

    POWER 96 News Brief for Monday 01-18

    01/18/2021

    For the second day in a row, law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators at the Minnesota State Capitol. Earlier last week Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington urged people to stay away from the State Capitol unless it was absolutely necessary.

    Freeborn County Public health reported 48 new lab confirmed COVID-19 cases over the weekend along with 2 probable positive tests bringing the total active cases to 215.

    This coming week FCPH will be vaccinating community health care providers such as dental, home care and chiropractic offices with the remaining 120 doses of vaccine. It is not known when the county will receive more vaccine. When the county receives more vaccine, they plan to vaccinate the remaining community health care providers and then the 65 and older population and teachers and childcare providers.

    Freeborn County Public Health is working closely with Mayo Clinic Health Systems - Albert Lea to coordinate their vaccination efforts.

    Lottery players have another chance to win big this week since there were no winners of the top prize for both the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots in their most recent drawings.

    The Powerball jackpot grew to an estimated $730 million after no one matched all five numbers and the red ball in the drawing on Saturday night. If a lottery player wins the next Powerball drawing on Wednesday, it would be the fifth-largest jackpot ever.

    No one had the winning numbers in Friday's Mega Millions drawing, so that jackpot grew to an estimated $850 million. That would be the third-largest jackpot ever if there's a winner of the top prize for the drawing on Tuesday.

    The Freeborn County Historical Museum Board of Directors will meet on Tuesday, January 19, 6:30 PM, to hold its Annual Meeting via Zoom.    

    The meeting will be recorded and made available to members immediately following the adjournment. The Annual Report, Balance Sheet, 2019 Annual Meeting Minutes and a video highlighting what they have been working on through COVID and road construction will be posted to the FCHM website, www.fchmmn.org.

    The Freeborn County Commissioners will be meeting Tuesday morning via Teleconference at 8:30 a.m. That meeting will be streamed on the county website at www.co.freeborn.mn.us The board is expected to receive reports from the Auditor-Treasurer, Human Services and County Administrator Tom Jensen. The board is also expected to hold the final hearing on the improvement to County Ditch 15.

    The Albert Lea School Board will be in session tonight at 5p.m. at the Brookside Education Center to conduct the official business of the district.

    No services will be available at the Albert Lea Public Library and City Offices today in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

    Computer Use by Appointment at the Albert Lea Public Library will restart on Tuesday, January 19. Appointments are available Monday-Thursday from 9am-6pm, with the last appointment starting at 5 pm. To make an appointment, call the Information Desk at (507) 377-4353.

    POWER 96 News Brief for Thursday 01-14

    01/14/2021

    Governor Tim Walz has signed Executive Order 21-04, extending the peacetime emergency that gives the state flexibility in responding to the pandemic, including safely and effectively distributing the vaccine. Forty-eight other states remain in a state of emergency.

    Minnesota"s peacetime emergency gives the state the tools necessary for the timely acquisition of supplies and technology to support the vaccine effort.

    Freeborn County Public Health reported 43 new lab confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3 probable cases yesterday bringing the total active cases in the county to 240.

    38-year-old Brandon Johnson of Albert Lea was taken into custody after leading a deputy on a chase in a stolen vehicle early Wednesday morning.

    The deputy attempted to stop the vehicle for driving with no lights just before 2:30 a.m. when a short pursuit began.

    The sheriff's office said the pursuit ended when the driver lost control of the vehicle and drove through a barb wire fence and got stuck in the snow.

    Johnson was booked into the Freeborn County jail on 2 felony charges and a misdemeanor.

    Gov. Tim Walz has activated the Minnesota National Guard to protect the state Capitol amid rising fears of violence ahead of President-elect Joe Biden"s inauguration. The governor"s statement and his executive order did not say how many troops would be called up or from which units. The Guard will supplement the State Patrol, which has already stepped up security at the Capitol complex, which has been fenced off since the unrest last summer.

    Two adults and two children were injured in a single-vehicle rollover on I-90 between Wells and Kiester late Wednesday morning according to State Police reports.

    The Minnesota State Patrol says a 29 year old Fairmont woman was driving eastbound on I-90 when it left the roadway, entered the center median, and rolled.

    Another adult male and two six-year-old old children were passengers in the vehicle, according to the state patrol.

    All of the vehicles occupants were transported to United Hospital in Blue Earth with non-life threatening injuries.

    Albert Lea Man Arrested on Multiple Felonies After Vehicle Chase

    01/13/2021

    On 13 Jan 2021 at 0224, a Freeborn County deputy sheriff attempted a traffic stop on a 1998 Honda Civic for driving with no lights on near St Peter Av and Eberhardt St, in Albert Lea. The driver refused to stop and a short vehicular pursuit ensued. The vehicle turned east on SE Marshall St, south on Morningside Rd, and then east on Neale St. The driver lost control on Neale St and drove through a barbed wire fence and the vehicle got stuck in the snow.

    The deputy was close behind and was able to take the driver/suspect into custody without incident. The driver was the sole occupant and he is identified as: Brandon Johnson, age 38, and he lives on Morningside Rd in Albert Lea.

    The vehicle was recently stolen from Virgil"s Tow and Travel, in Albert Lea, and the business wasn"t aware of the theft.

    The Freeborn County Sheriff"s Office will charge Johnson with:    

    1) Flee in a motor vehicle—felony   

    2) Possession of stolen property—felony

    3) Criminal damage to property—misdemeanor

    The sheriff"s office was assisted by the Albert Lea Police Department who is currently investigating the theft of the vehicle.

       

    POWER 96 News Brief for Wednesday 01-13

    01/13/2021

    Yesterday, Freeborn County Public Health reported 33 new lab confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1 probable case bringing the total number of active cases to 213.

    Minnesota launched a dashboard Tuesday to provide more information on the status of the state"s vaccination efforts.

    The dashboard includes data on the number of doses promised to the state by the federal government, doses shipped to Minnesota providers and doses administered.

    That dashboard can be found at: www.mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/data

    Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he will likely issue an executive order to mobilize the National Guard today to provide security assistance at the State Capitol.

    The governor"s announcement comes after an FBI memo warned of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington D.C. in the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

    Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has banned a veterans" charity from seeking donations in the state.

    Ellison"s office says Healing Heroes Network solicited about $56,000 from Minnesotans between 2015 and 2017, and despite claiming that 100% of their proceeds went to wounded veterans, very little actually did.

    The former directors of the nonprofit Healing Heroes Network, Inc. - Allan Spiegel, Neal Spiegel and Stacey Spiegel - are being required to pay $95,000 to the state as part of a settlement filed Tuesday.

    The Spiegels are also barred for five years from running any charities are soliciting charitable contributions.

    43 year old Jason Alan Roe of Albert Lea, was sentenced after pleading guilty to forgery and 5th degree theft.

    Roe was accused of writing over $1,000 in bad checks at various Mason City businesses between December 21, 2019, and February 1, 2020.

    Roe was ordered to spend five years on supervised probation and pay a $100 fine.

    The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Emergency Communication Networks division is learning more about the incident that affected 911 service to Dodge, Freeborn, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha and Winona counties.

    CenturyLink (now Lumen Technologies) is the state"s 911 service provider. Representatives now say that a bad card that supports a large national fiber in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is to blame for the issue- and not a fiber line cut as they previously indicated. Lumen Technologies is still investigating and will provide a Reason for Outage in three to five business days as required by its contract.

    The Freeborn County Historical Museum Board of Directors will meet on Tuesday, January 19, 6:30 PM, to hold its Annual Meeting via Zoom.    

    The meeting will be recorded and made available to members immediately following the adjournment. The Annual Report, Balance Sheet, 2019 Annual Meeting Minutes and a video highlighting what they have been working on through COVID and road construction will be posted to the FCHM website, www.fchmmn.org.

    POWER 96 News Brief for Tuesday 01-12

    01/12/2021

    The application period for a second round of COVID Relief Grants is now open through January 22, 2021 to Freeborn County small businesses and non-profit agencies.

    Businesses and non-profit agencies that are eligible to apply are those with 35 or less employees that have been affected by or continue to show financial hardship related to COVID-19, specifically Executive Orders since March of 2020. The fund will give preference to agencies that have not received federal or state COVID-19 relief funds. All businesses and non-profit agencies are encouraged to apply.

    The Albert Lea City Council approved an additional $150,000 in funding to help small businesses at their November 23, 2020 meeting. The Albert Lea Economic Development Agency (ALEDA) is also contributing $150,000 and Freeborn County is contributing $250,000.

    Guidelines and application are available on the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency's website, www.growalbertlea.com/covid19relief

    The head of the Minneapolis police union, said that he is retiring a little early.

    Lt. Bob Kroll confirmed the announcement and In a letter to union members obtained by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Kroll said he had planned to retire in May.

    Kroll said, “After reviewing the bigger picture, it is in my family"s best interest for me to retire four months early,”.

    Law Enforcement officials are warning people of a Mayo Clinic insurance scam.

    In a Facebook post, the Dodge County Sheriff's office says residents have reportedly been receiving calls received a call from a person claiming to be an insurance seller for Mayo Clinic and Methodist Hospital in Rochester.

    Law enforcement says never give personal information to anyone you didn't call and assume every solicitation call is a scam until proven otherwise.

    Freeborn County Public Health reported 8 new COVID 19 cases and 1 probable positive test yesterday bringing the total number of active cases in the County to 211

    Emergency Service has been restored to area 911 systems.

    Yesterday afternoon several counties in SE Minnesota reported experiencing issues with the 911 system.

    The system was reportedly down in Dodge, Freeborn, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele and Winona counties.

    Minnesota Emergency Communication Networks says CenturyLink found a large fiber line had been cut near Green Bay, Wisconsin, affecting a number of telecommunication services.

    911 systems came back on line about 8pm last night.

    In the wake of last week"s events in Washington D.C., Governor Tim Walz will visit American history monuments across Minnesota this week to call for reflection, civility, and peace. Drawing on his roots as a high school history teacher, Governor Walz will encourage Minnesotans to reflect on the greater context that led to this dark moment in history

    The Minnesota Department of Public Safety reports that the Minnesota State Patrol will increase its presence at the State Capitol to "respond to various threats and prevent unlawful entry into the building."

    The move comes after last week's demonstration at the U.S. Capitol, as well as reports from FBI warning of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals.

    POWER 96 News Brief for Monday 01-11

    01/11/2021

    The United States attorney for Minnesota and FBI special agent in charge are committing to prosecuting any Minnesotans who traveled to Washington, D.C. to commit violence.

    A release from the U.S. Attorney's Office condemned the violence at the Capitol and surrounding area, adding that the office is committed to upholding the rule of law and holding those who traveled from Minnesota that took place in illegal actions accountable.

    Police say the death of a 3-year-old girl early Sunday morning St. Paul's Dayton's Bluff neighborhood is being investigated as a homicide, the city's first of the year. After calling the non emergency line and hanging up, officers responded about 2:30 am and made contact with the father who said the man thought his 3-year-old daughter was dead on the back porch.

    The mother, Ciasha Lee, 29 and father, John Lee, 42, were transported to the St. Paul Police Department to be questioned. After being interviewed, both were booked into the Ramsey County Jail on suspicion of murder.

    The Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Traffic Safety division announced that 1,383 people were arrested during extra DWI patrols that ran from Nov. 25 through Dec. 31st.

    Officials had previously announced there would be more patrols on the roads for the remainder of last year, as part of its DWI enforcement campaign.

    According to the department, fewer people were arrested during the extra enforcement period than the same time frame in 2019, when 2,353 people were arrested.

    The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed the first cases of a COVID-19 variant that was first identified in the U.K. has been found in Minnesota.

    The MDH confirmed that the B.1.1.7. variant of the virus was found in five residents of four different Twin Cities counties.

    While it's not believed to cause more serious illness, the U.K. variant is believed to be 50% more transmissible than the strains of COVID seen so far.

    Over the weekend, Freeborn County Public Health reported 72 new cases of COVID 19 bringing the total number of active cases to 216.

    In accordance with a proclamation issued by the President, Governor Tim Walz has directed all flags at state and federal buildings in Minnesota to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Wednesday, January 13, 2021 to honor the service and sacrifice of United States Capitol Police Officers Brian D. Sicknick and Howard Liebengood.

    The Albert Lea Economic Development Agency has announced that the application period for a second round of COVID Relief Grants is now open through January 22, 2021 to Freeborn County small businesses and non-profit agencies.

    Businesses and non-profit agencies that are eligible to apply are those with 35 or less employees that have been affected by or continue to show financial hardship related to COVID-19, specifically Executive Orders since March of 2020. The fund will give preference to agencies that have not received federal or state COVID-19 relief funds. All businesses and non-profit agencies are encouraged to apply.

    The Albert Lea City Council approved an additional $150,000 in funding to help small businesses at their November 23, 2020 meeting. The Albert Lea Economic Development Agency (ALEDA) is also contributing $150,000 and Freeborn County is contributing $250,000.

    Guidelines and application are available on the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency's website, www.growalbertlea.com/covid19relief

    Freeborn County Public Health reported 72 new cases of COVID 19 over the weekend, bringing the total number of active cases in the county to 216.

    The COVIDaware MN exposure notification system is expanding to allow more Minnesotans to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

    Beginning today, some iPhone users in Minnesota will get a notification about activating the COVIDaware MN setting on their phone. State officials say the new exposure notification setting, available on iPhones using operating systems (iOS) 12.5 or 13.7 and higher. Officails say it does not track individuals" locations but the user"s phone and the phones of other users they are near anonymously exchange this privacy-protected information.

    If a person receives a positive test, state or local public health officials will provide a unique code that the person may voluntarily enter into their phone. If the code is entered, users with whom they"ve been within six feet of – for 15 or more minutes over a 24-hour period in the past 14 days – will receive a notification of an exposure.

    Albert Lea's City Council will meet tonight at 7 p.m. via Zoom teleconference. The city will look to extend the City"s Declaration and Ordinance in an effort to decrease the spread of COVID19 and protect the community.

    The extension of the Emergency Declaration and accompanying Ordinance allows the terms and conditions contained within to

    remain in full force and effect through February 8, 2021 or Gov. Walz cancels the states emergency order.

    While most restaurants prepare to open today at 50% capacity following Gov. Walz executive order, a Freeborn County District Court judge found The Interchange Wine & Coffee Bistro in contempt of court for violating a restraining order to close indoor dining, as mandated by executive orders issued by Governor Tim Walz according to the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison"s office.

    The Interchange must pay a $3,000 fine for each day it is open for indoor dining, starting last Friday. Ellison"s office had sued The Interchange on December 21, 2019, and asked the court for a temporary restraining order on December 22, 2019. That order was granted the next day.

    Bruins Announce Schedule Changes

    12/21/2020
    Changes Made to Late December and Early January Games

    AUSTIN, Minn. - Amidst the ever changing landscape of live sports in the world of COVID-19, the Austin Bruins have announced some changes to the final games of the 2020 calendar year and first games of 2021.

    The Bruins have announced that the next three games have been postponed and will be rescheduled for a later date. The games affected are  December 31 vs. Chippewa Steel at Riverside Arena, January 1 at St, Cloud Blizzard, and January 2 vs Minnesota Magicians. Ownership and management groups for all four teams involved in the postponement are working diligently to assign new dates for the games. Information will be made available to the public once these decisions have been agreed upon.

    For fans who purchased tickets to the Bruins home games scheduled for December 31 or January 2, the Bruins will be issuing an automatic refund in the coming days. If a refund is not showing by December 28th, please contact the Bruins front office at 507-434-4978.

    The news comes after the Governor of Minnesota extended his restrictions which prohibit the use of ice rinks in the state. To make room for not only the three most recently postponed games but all Bruins games still needing dates, three weeks will be added to the end of the schedule. The regular-season will now come to a close during the weekend of May 14. Previously, the regular season was set to end on April 24.

    Along with the rest of the NAHL, the Bruins are doing everything in their power to play a complete 56-game season.

       

    State Reports 1 New COVID Case for Freeborn County

    08/10/2020

    State of Minnesota Reports 1 New COVID-19 Case for Freeborn County.

    In today's Minnesota Department of Health's morning update, the State of Minnesota reported Freeborn County holds at 360 positive cases of Coronavirus, or COVID-19 and 1 death.

    As of today's 11:00 results, Mower County had reported 1,103 cases and 2 total deaths. Faribault had 87. Waseca County with 149. Steele reported 351 and 1 death, Olmsted County topped the area with 1,747 and 23 total deaths.

    In total, Minnesota reported 61,516 positive cases, up 625 from yesterday, and 1,660 deaths, up 3 since yesterday. Over 1,172,118 tests have been conducted. 54,364 of the 61,516 cases no longer need to be isolated.

    The MDH reported that Community, (no known contact with confirmed case), is now the most likely source of transmission.

       

    Albert Lea City Council to Meet Tonight

    08/10/2020

    Albert Lea's City Council will hold a work session tonight at 5:30 via zoom teleconference the move into the regular session of the council beginning at 7 p.m.

    During the regular session, the city will look to accept a bid and award the contract for 2020 bio-solids removal. The council will decide on extending the Minnesota Proclamation and Declaration of Emergency that was approved back on March 17th after Gov. Walz put Minnesota in a state of emergency due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

    The city will look for a resolution approving a joint powers agreement between Freeborn County Family Services and Children"s Mental Health Collaborative.

    The city will also look to add $76,600.00, and designate those funds, along with the prior $150,000, be paid from the city"s CARES funds and put into the joint grant program which includes Freeborn County and the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency.

    That program aids local small businesses directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Both meetings will be recorded and uploaded to the city's YouTube channel www.youtube.com/cityofalbertlea. The regular meeting is also aired on the Government Access channel, 180 on Charter Communications.

        

    State Reports 0 New COVID Cases for Freeborn County, 1 for Mower

    08/07/2020

    State of Minnesota Reports 2 New COVID-19 Case for Freeborn County, 6 for Mower.

    State of Minnesota Reports 0 New COVID-19 Cases for Freeborn County, 1 for Mower.

    In today's Minnesota Department of Health's morning update, the State of Minnesota reported Freeborn County holds at 358 positive cases of Coronavirus, or COVID-19 and 1 death.

    As of today's 11:00 results, Mower County had reported 1,095 cases, up 1 and 2 total deaths. Faribault had 85, up 2. Waseca County with 138, unchanged. Steele reported 338, unchanged and 1 death, Olmsted County topped the area with 1,700, up 12 and 23 total deaths.

    In total, Minnesota reported 59,185 positive cases, up 556 from yesterday, and 1,640 deaths, up 4 since yesterday. Over 1,121,299 tests have been conducted. 51,940 of the 59,185 cases no longer need to be isolated.

    The MDH reported that Community, (no known contact with confirmed case), is now the most likely source of transmission.

       

    State Reports 2 New COVID Cases for Freeborn County, 6 for Mower

    08/06/2020

    State of Minnesota Reports 2 New COVID-19 Case for Freeborn County, 6 for Mower.

    In today's Minnesota Department of Health's morning update, the State of Minnesota reported Freeborn County now has 358 positive cases of Coronavirus, or COVID-19 and 1 death.

    As of today's 11:00 results, Mower County had reported 1,094 cases, up 6 and 2 total deaths. Faribault had 83, unchanged. Waseca County with 138, up 5. Steele reported 338, up 4 and 1 death, Olmsted County topped the area with 1,688, up 39 and 23 total deaths.

    In total, Minnesota reported 58,640 positive cases, up 867 from yesterday, and 1,636 deaths, up 7 since yesterday. Over 1,105,094 tests have been conducted. 51,604 of the 58,640 cases no longer need to be isolated.

    The MDH reported that Community, (no known contact with confirmed case), is now the most likely source of transmission.

       

    I-90 Will See Overnight Closures Next Week

    08/06/2020

    The Minnesota Department of Transportation will detour Interstate 90 motorists next week for bridge beam placement over the highway north of Stewartville.

    Detours are planned for 7 p.m.-5 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 11 and Wednesday, Aug. 12, when I-90 will be closed at Stewartville.

    Crews will be placing the bridge beams for the Hwy 63 northbound bridge over I-90.

    Detours will be in place to facilitate the replacement of those beams.

       

    Auto Dealers Join Forces and Merge

    08/06/2020

    Motor Inn Co. and Chevrolet of Albert Lea announced via press release on Wednesday they have merged and will now be known as Wuerflein Honda and Wuerflein Chevrolet Buick GMC.

    The Buick and GMC brands are moving to the Chevy dealership on Bridge Avenue, which is now Wuerflein Chevrolet Buick GMC, and the Honda brand will remain at its existing location on Main Street, which is now Wuerflein Honda.

       

    County Commissioners to Hold Work Session

    08/06/2020

    The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners will be holding a workshop via zoom teleconference Tuesday, August 11th, from 8:30 to 11 a.m.

    Commissioners will be conducting a 2021 budget review, discuss their travel policy in the wake of COVID-19, and receive a County COVID update. Commissions will also receive updates on public works projects such as the Bridge Avenue reconstruction project and the UP Public Trails project.

       

    State Reports 1 New COVID Case for Freeborn County, 4 for Mower

    08/05/2020

    State of Minnesota Reports 1 New COVID-19 Case for Freeborn County, 4 for Mower.

    In today's Minnesota Department of Health's morning update, the State of Minnesota reported Freeborn County now has 356 positive cases of Coronavirus, or COVID-19 and 1 death.

    As of today's 11:00 results, Mower County had reported 1,088 cases, up 4 and 2 total deaths. Faribault had 83, down 1. Waseca County with 133, up 3. Steele reported 334, up 1 and 1 death, Olmsted County topped the area with 1,649, up 14 and 23 total deaths.

    In total, Minnesota reported 57,779 positive cases, up 629 from yesterday, and 1,629 deaths, up 9 since yesterday. Over 1,090,303 tests have been conducted. 51,223 of the 57,779 cases no longer need to be isolated.

    The MDH reported that Community, (no known contact with confirmed case), is now the most likely source of transmission.

       

    School District 241Sets Start Date for School Year

    08/04/2020

    After months of doubt and speculation, Albert Lea Area Schools now have a start date. The first day of school was voted on and passed by the School Board, and that first day is Monday, August 24th. The date allows for more planning and getting things situated including setting up distance learning for those students who's parents opted for that via a survey that was sent out by the district late last week.

    There will be changes for this school year at all schools in the district. Temperatures will be taken and screening questions asked each day. Masks will be worn by all students in attendance with the only exception being gym class and outdoor recess. Lunch will be served in the classrooms. K-5 will be in attendance Monday thru Thursday, and Friday will be a distance learning day so the schools can be deep cleaned. Grades 6-12 will be a hybrid model with both in class and distance learning Friday will be a distance learning day for those students as well.

    If your child is not enrolled in Kindergarten yet and needs to be, the kindergarten round up will be held at all schools on August 17th.

    For those parents looking for school supply shopping lists, they are available on the district website at www.alschools.org. Just select your school from the drop down menu and the grades shopping lists are listed.

    For those that are looking for more information about reopening and the three educational models available, the district has a new page that outlines the COVID plans for the district, that web page can be accessed at www.alschools.org/covid19

       

    1 New COVID Case for Freeborn County, 3 for Mower

    08/04/2020

    State of Minnesota Reports 1 New COVID-19 Case for Freeborn County, 3 for Mower.

    In today's Minnesota Department of Health's morning update, the State of Minnesota reported Freeborn County now has 354 positive cases of Coronavirus, or COVID-19 and 1 death.

    As of today's 11:00 results, Mower County had reported 1,084 cases, up 3 and 2 total deaths. Faribault had 84, up 1. Waseca County with 130, up 2. Steele reported 333, up 3 and 1 death, Olmsted County topped the area with 1,635, up 6 and 23 total deaths.

    In total, Minnesota reported 57,162 positive cases, up 606 from yesterday, and 1,620 deaths, up 4 since yesterday. Over 1,078,695 tests have been conducted. 50,426 of the 57,162 cases no longer need to be isolated.

    The MDH reported that Community, (no known contact with confirmed case), is now the most likely source of transmission.

       

    No New COVID Case for Freeborn County

    08/03/2020

    State of Minnesota Reports 1 Additional COVID-19 Cases for Freeborn County, 5 for Mower.

    State of Minnesota Reports No New COVID-19 Cases for Freeborn County for Second Day in a Row.

    In today's Minnesota Department of Health's morning update, the State of Minnesota reported Freeborn County now has 354 positive cases of Coronavirus, or COVID-19 and 1 death.

    As of today's 11:00 results, Mower County had reported 1,081 cases, and 2 total deaths. Faribault had 83. Waseca County with 128. Steele reported 330, and 1 death, Olmsted County topped the area with 1,629 and 23 total deaths.

    In total, Minnesota reported 56,560 positive cases, up 622 from yesterday, and 1,616 deaths, up 2 since yesterday. Over 1,070,925 tests have been conducted. 49,565 of the 56,560 cases no longer need to be isolated.

    The MDH reported that Community, (no known contact with confirmed case), is now the most likely source of transmission.

       

    1 New COVID Case for Freeborn County, 5 for Mower

    07/31/2020

    State of Minnesota Reports 1 Additional COVID-19 Cases for Freeborn County, 5 for Mower.

    In today's Minnesota Department of Health's morning update, the State of Minnesota reported Freeborn County has 353 positive cases of Coronavirus, or COVID-19, that number is up 1 from Thursday.

    As of today's 11:00 results, Mower County had reported 1,064 cases, up 5 and 2 total deaths. Faribault had 80, up 2. Waseca County with 128, up 5. Steele reported 321, up 3 with 1 death, and Olmsted County topped the area with 1,588, up 21, and 23 total deaths.

    In total, Minnesota reported 54,463 positive cases, up 779 from yesterday, and 1,600 deaths, up 6 since yesterday. Over 1,024,916 tests have been conducted. 47,289 of the 54,463 cases no longer need to be isolated.

    The MDH reported that Community, (no known contact with confirmed case), is now the most likely source of transmission.

       

    3 New COVID Cases for Freeborn County, 5 for Mower

    07/30/2020

    State of Minnesota Reports 3 Additional COVID-19 Cases for Freeborn County, 5 for Mower.

    In today's Minnesota Department of Health's morning update, the State of Minnesota reported Freeborn County has 352 positive cases of Coronavirus, or COVID-19, that number is up 3 from Wednesday.

    As of today's 11:00 results, Mower County had reported 1,059 cases, up 5 and 2 total deaths. Faribault had 78, up 3. Waseca County with 123, up 4. Steele reported 318, up 3 with 1 death, and Olmsted County topped the area with 1,567, up 20, and 22 total deaths.

    In total, Minnesota reported 53,692 positive cases, up 745 from yesterday, and 1,594 deaths, up 5 since yesterday. Over 1,007,882 tests have been conducted. 46,965 of the 53,692 cases no longer need to be isolated.

    The MDH reported that Community, (no known contact with confirmed case), is now the most likely source of transmission.

       

     

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