Local News

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    Power 96 News Brief for Thursday 6-23

    06/24/2022

    Vortex Cold Storage held a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday to celebrate its brand new warehouse in Albert Lea.

    The 170 thousand square foot facility will employ about 30 people, and will provide temperature controlled storage for companies.

    At the ribbon cutting ceremony the Vortex team was presented with a C-PACE Alliance Award for best environmental impact for its 2021 energy efficient build.

    Gov. Tim Walz announced on Wednesday income parameters for his direct payments proposal.

    On Sunday morning, Walz said he wanted to call a short Special Legislative Session, with the sole intent of passing his beefed up 'Walz Checks' proposal.

    The proposal would dish out at least half of the states' $9.25 billion dollar budget surplus back to Minnesotans, which is around $4 billion.

    Walz said individuals would receive $1,000 checks, while married couples would receive $2,000 checks.

    And on Wednesday, Walz said income limits for individuals would be capped at $164,000 and $273,470 for married couples.

    Because testing demand is falling rapidly around Minnesota, to preserve state resources and capacity for any future case surge, and due to widely available free testing through other providers, MDH is resizing its Community Testing network.

    Free COVID-19 testing is available from providers including clinics and pharmacies. Minnesotans can receive free at-home rapid testing in the mail from the state (at Order your free at-home rapid tests) and federal governments (at COVID.gov), and through reimbursement from health insurers.

    June 25, 2022, will be the final day of regular COVID-19 testing at the Albert Lea testing location.

    The state"s three busiest Twin Cities testing sites, and four busiest Greater Minnesota testing sites, will remain open

    A woman's body was discovered Friday evening in rural Olmsted County.

    In a joint press conference, authorities said 28-year-old Tia Mercedes Arleth was found just before 6 p.m. near County Rd. 2 and 70th Ave. NE. in Haverhill township.

    Arleth was discovered after a person mowing tall grass adjacent to a corn field saw a tarp with a human arm sticking out the side.

    The condition of the body was in an advanced state of decomposition making it difficult to determine the identity of the victim.

    Law enforcement is calling both the condition of her body and the location it was found "suspicious in nature."

    The Sheriff"s Office requested the assistance of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension who arrived on scene and began investigative methods to determine the identity. The autopsy came back on Monday, June 20. At that time, the identity was still unknown.

    On Tuesday, the Medical Examiners Office got partial prints and were able to identify Arleth. She was one of the persons RPD had identified as one of the two missing persons they shared with the Sheriff"s Office.

    Arleth had a listed address out of Minneapolis but had significant ties to Rochester and was last seen May 30. She was reported missing to authorities by her mother on June 12.

    The Sheriff's office is currently investigating the incident.

    Power 96 News Brief for Wednesday 6-22

    06/23/2022

    The Albert Lea Charter Commission will hold its annual meeting on Thursday, June 23, at 4:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 221 E. Clark St. The meeting is open to the public.

    This commission considers changes to the City Charter, which is like the City"s constitution. This 7-member commission is responsible for reviewing and revising the City Charter to make sure it meets all applicable state and federal laws, and meets the needs of Albert Lea residents. Members are appointed by the Chief Judge of the Third Judicial District.

    Tuesday afternoon, Freeborn County Public Health reported 4 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths, and no residents were reported as being newly hospitalized. No children under the age of 10, and 1 child between 10 and 14 were included in the total of those who tested positive.

    The number of active cases within the county now stands at 29. In addition to the current numbers, Public Health also reported that there has been a cumulative total of 554 people who have been reinfected with COVID 19.

    A Glenville man was killed Monday morning after a truck versus semi crash in Freeborn County.

    The Minnesota State Patrol says a 2007 Kenworth Semi well-drilling truck driven by a 45-year-old Scott Kirton from Hammond, Wisconsin blew out a tire on southbound Interstate 35 near exit 2 just after 8 a.m.

    The semi crossed the median and hit a northbound 2001 Dodge Ram pickup truck driven by 22-year-old Hunter Robertson from Glenville. Robertson died at the scene.

    A multi vehicle crash has claimed the life of a Bricelyn man while injuring three others Tuesday evening on Interstate 90 in Faribault County.

    According to the Minnesota State Patrol, John William Brooks, 80, of Bricelyn died in the crash.

    Chad Ryan Yarrington, 44, Elena Marie Yarrington, 15, and Sara Susan Yarrington, 44, all of Plymouth, Michigan, were taken to Blue Earth Hospital with injuries that were deemed not life-threatening.

    That crash occurred at 5:01 p.m. when a 2004 Ford F150, driven by Joel Luther Robinson, 36, of Wells, was eastbound on I-90 near milepost 123 in Blue Earth Township and collided with an eastbound 1978 Chevrolet Nova, driven by Brooks.

    The Nova crossed the centerline and collided with a westbound 2016 Winnebago Motorhome driven by Chad Yarrington.

    Four other youth passengers in the motorhome were not injured. Robinson was also not injured.

    Power 96 News Brief for Tuesday 6-21

    06/22/2022

    A crash in involving a semi and a pickup truck in Freeborn County killed at least one person.

    The Minnesota State Patrol says a 2007 Kenworth Semi well-drilling truck driven by a 45-year-old man from Hammond, Wisconsin blew out a tire on southbound Interstate 35 near exit 2 just after 8 a.m.

    The semi crossed the median and hit a northbound 2001 Dodge Ram pickup truck driven by 22-year-old man from Glenville.

    The names of the drivers have not been released.

    The Freeborn County Sheriff"s Office, Albert Lea Fire Department, Glenville Fire Department, Mayo Ambulance, and Minnesota Department of Transportation all assisted with this accident.

    Additional details are expected to be released later today.

    Child care providers across Minnesota are upset that they're not eligible for the state's COVID-19 "hero pay" program.

    Gov. Tim Walz signed the program into law in April. It enables people who were employed for at least 120 hours in at least one front-line sector job outside their homes between March 15, 2020, and June 30, 2021 to apply for state-funded bonuses. State officials have estimated about 667,000 workers will receive about $750 each.

    About 6,450 child care providers who operate out of their homes are likely ineligible if they are sole proprietors rather than limited liability companies.

    The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry has said sole proprietors and independent contractors aren't eligible because they're not considered employees.

    A Rochester man has been arrested for fleeing police after a traffic stop, leaving his 7-month son in his car on the hottest day of the year.

    Sean Blass, 29, faces charges of child endangerment or neglect, fleeing an officer on foot, obstructing the legal process, and 4th-degree burglary for attempting to enter a home on 4th St. SE during the chase.

    At about 10:46 p.m. Monday, June 20, Rochester police say Blass' vehicle cut off another vehicle at 11th Avenue SE and Center Street.

    After seeing the car make a lane change without signaling, officers pulled him over.

    Blass, the driver, reportedly exited the car and approached officers, while an adult male passenger got out and stood by the vehicle.

    When police told Blass to return to his vehicle, he allegedly began to comply, then ran off on foot.

    One responder approached the car and passenger, and noticed an infant in the back seat.

    The referred charge of child endangerment is based on the extreme heat Monday.

    Officers located Blass in the entryway of a residence in the 800 block of 4th Street SE, was apprehended and taken to Olmsted County Adult Detention Center.

    The infant was released to his mother.

    The state trial for two former Minneapolis police officers who are charged in the death of George Floyd has been moved once again.

    Court documents state the trial is now moved up to Oct. 24, 2022, the second time the date has moved.

    The request was made because J. Alexander Kueng"s attorney told the court and other parties he was unavailable for trial from January through March of 2023 due to a scheduling conflict of a personal nature, according to court documents.

    They"re each charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

    Power 96 News Brief for Monday 6-20

    06/21/2022

    The District 241 School Board will be in session this evening at 5 pm in the Board Room at the Brookside Education Center to conduct the official business of the district.

    The board is expected to enter a Memorandum of Understanding with Albert Lea Schools Directors/Coordinators Association. They are also expected to accept the Albert Lea Schools Executive Director of Finance and Operations 2022-2025 Master Agreement and accept the Freeborn County Truancy Officer Agreement for the 2022-2023 school year.

    Board members will receive a Superintendent report, along with reports from Teachers, Student board members and elected board members. The board is also expected to take action on the Long Term Facilities Management Plan, give Approval of 2021-2022 Final Budget, Approve the 2022-2023 Original Budget, and vote on a Resolution Relating to the Election of School Board Members and Calling the School District General Election.

    Jeffrey Mitchell Weir, 53 of Albert Lea has entered a guilty plea in a child sex abuse case in Mower County.

    Already a predatory offender for an incident in Wisconsin, Weir was charged in March of 2019 with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

    Weir was accused of sexually abusing a child in Mower County in 2015.

    Weir had originally pleaded not guilty and his trial was to begin Monday but has accepted a plea deal in the case. Under the plea deal, Weir has pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and is set to be sentenced on September 15.

    The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners will be in session Tuesday morning at 8:30 in the Boardroom at the Freeborn County Government Center. Doug Host will deliver a CLA presentation on the 2021 Freeborn County Audit. Commissioners will receive reports from the Finance Department and Consider a resolution setting parameters for issuance for bonds and setting authorized committee. The board will also hear from the Auditor Treasurer Department and

    Consider a resolution approving updating the 2022 Change Fund/Impress Cash Fund appropriation.

    Commissioners will discuss a tabled Resolution, 22-173, Permission to Fill Office Eligibility Worker Position.

    discuss the Summary of Candace Pesch evaluation from June 7th closed session.

    And consider an interim County Administrator.

    On Friday, Freeborn County Public Health reported 19 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths, and no residents were reported as being newly hospitalized. 3 children under the age of 10, and no children between 10 and 14 were included in the total of those who tested positive.

    The number of active cases within the county now stands at 43. In addition to the current numbers, Public Health also reported that there has been a cumulative total of 552 people who have been reinfected with COVID 19.

    Power 96 News Brief for Thursday 6-16

    06/17/2022

    Tuesday afternoon, Freeborn County Public Health reported 20 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths, and two residents were reported as being newly hospitalized. 2 children under the age of 10, and no children between 10 and 14 were included in the total of those who tested positive.

    The number of active cases within the county now stands at 37. In addition to the current numbers, Public Health also reported that there has been a cumulative total of 548 people who have been reinfected with COVID 19.

    The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is stepping in after a nursing home in Pine Island failed to pay its employees wages, healthcare insurance and other vendor fees.

    Pine Haven Care Center is now under a receivership with MDH.

    The receivership gives the Minnesota Department of Health the authority to oversee the facility to address concerns about health and safety of Pine Haven residents

    The United Way of Freeborn County on Wednesday announced 93 Thousand dollars in awards for the 2022 Community Impact Grant cycle.

    Programs receiving funding grants include, Albert Lea Family Y, Life Center of Freeborn County, STARS Mentoring, Cedar Valley Services, Daybreakers Kiwanis, SEMCAC, Senior Resource of Freeborn County, The Children"s Center, First Lutheran Church and Grace Lutheran Church.

    Community Impact Grants are available through the financial support of individual donors, corporate partners and successful workplace campaigns.

    To learn more and apply for grant funding, visit www.unitedwayfc.org

    Autopsy results for the woman found dead near Gage Elementary School in March have been released.

    According to the Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner's office, 22-year-old Mercedez Rocha of Northfield, MN died as a result of ingestion and/or injection of illicit drugs, specifically Fentanyl and Methamphetamine.

    For the first time in 13 years, Austin Public Schools is raising its fees for school athletics and activities starting in the 2022-2023 school year.

    Austin Public Schools Executive Director of Finance and Operations Andrew Beenken-Adams said when district officials were looking at the financials they realized the costs of coaches, buses, referees, spaces to practice, participate and compete have gone up to the point the district had to reassess its athletics and activity costs.

    APS offers a flat fee per sport. Starting this upcoming school year, high school athletes will pay $100 per sport while middle school athletes will pay $70 per sport. In years past, high school athletes would pay $80 for their first sport, $65 for their second sport and $0 for their third.

    For fine arts, activities and school clubs, the price has jumped from a $25 fee to $45.

    APS said it still has one of the lowest fees in southern Minnesota school districts, if not the lowest. That's even with the rate increase.

    The school board said families who are eligible for free or reduced lunches are qualified for free or reduced activity fees as well.

    U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announced on Thursday that both a corrections officer and an inmate at the Stillwater corrections facility have been charged for their alleged roles in a methamphetamine distribution conspiracy.

    Luger says 24-year-old corrections officer Faith Rose Gratz worked with 34-year-old inmate Axel Rene Kramer to distribute meth within the prison complex.

    Power 96 News Brief for Wednesday 6-15

    06/16/2022

    Tuesday afternoon, Freeborn County Public Health reported 20 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths, and two residents were reported as being newly hospitalized. 2 children under the age of 10, and no children between 10 and 14 were included in the total of those who tested positive.

    The number of active cases within the county now stands at 37. In addition to the current numbers, Public Health also reported that there has been a cumulative total of 548 people who have been reinfected with COVID 19.

    The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is stepping in after a nursing home in Pine Island failed to pay its employees wages, healthcare insurance and other vendor fees.

    Pine Haven Care Center is now under a receivership with MDH.

    The receivership gives the Minnesota Department of Health the authority to oversee the facility to address concerns about health and safety of Pine Haven residents

    On May 27th, the MDH received a complaint about employees not being paid at Pine Haven Community Center. Early this month, MDH staff members discovered a number of concerns at the nursing home. Along with employee payroll issues, Pine Haven also failed to pay a pharmacy, a food vendor and its payroll service provider.

    Temporary orders for receiverships can last up to 18 months, but MDH says it"s too early to tell when exactly the order will end.

    In the past nearly 15 years, there have been four receiverships issues by the Minnesota courts.

    Rochester police have not made any arrests after an early morning shooting at Holiday gas station on 7th Street in Rochester.

    Police officials said no one was injured in the shooting.

    A 42-year-old man told police her was walking between the gas pumps around 12:43 a.m. when a passenger in a vehicle at one of the pumps began shooting at him.

    The victim ran away from the station, as the shooter kept firing.

    Witnesses in the area reported they heard 3-8 shots.

    Rochester police found the 42-year-old man in the area of the gas station, as well as two bullets in a nearby apartment building, in the 700 block of North Broadway.

    No one is in custody, and Rochester police are continuing to search for the suspect.

    Minnesota cities and counties this summer will start to see an influx of funds from a multistate settlement with opioid manufacturers and distributors, an agreement that will bring $300 million to Minnesota for their role in the proliferation of pills that sparked a crisis nationwide.

    A majority of Minnesota"s share of the $26 billion settlement will go to 230 local governments, totaling $222 million, according to the Minnesota Attorney General"s Office. The funds, which collectively will be dispersed over 18 years, can be used for prevention and treatment programs to fight the opioid epidemic in their communities.

    Power 96 News Brief for Tuesday 6-14

    06/15/2022

    A Historic hire took place last night as Albert Lea Fire Rescue swore in their very first full-time female firefighter.

    Congratulations to Brandi Krenz who was sworn in at Monday night's city council meeting.

    Krenz was a paid on-call firefighter since 2018 and recently became an Emergency Medical Technician. She is a graduate of Albert Lea High School and holds bachelors" degrees in Psychology and Photojournalism.

    In other city council actions, the council approved seeking bids to improve the drainage at Snyder Field this fall instead of spring 2023 to make sure the improvements are in place for baseball and softball season in 2023. The City Council approved contributing $30,000, from Albert Lea Police Drug Forfeiture Account, toward the purchase of an armored vehicle for the South Central Drug Investigation Unit.

    The council also approved a grant of $25,584 to C & H Holdings, owner of an apartment building at 214 S. Washington Ave., to cover half the cost of stabilizing the building, tuck-pointing, fabricating and installing a fire escape and garage door.

    James Joseph Vinton of Glenville received a sentence of two years" probation in Freeborn County Court, after firing a rifle at a would-be truck thief.

    Vinton pleaded guilty to felony intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers the safety of others.

    Vinton"s wife told deputies someone stole their blue Chevy pickup and that her husband had shot his .243 rifle into the air in hopes of trying to scare off the thief.

    When Deputy Josh Partlow arrived to the scene, the truck was in a ditch and hung up on a fence.

    The victim told Partlow he couldn"t stand because he was shot.

    The victim admitted to stealing the truck and was airlifted to Saint Marys in Rochester and is expected to make a full recovery.

    Vinton originally pleaded not guilty to all charges, but later amended his plea.

    Austin police are searching for a suspect in an armed robbery that took place Sunday morning.

    At about 10:32 a.m. Sunday, an unknown man used a large, silver-bladed knife to rob Reed's 4th Ave. convenience store.

    The suspect pulled the knife out, pointed it at an employee, and demanded money. The employee complied and the suspect fled with an undetermined amount of cash.

    A witness followed the suspect to a nearby home and alerted the police. Austin's Special Incident Response Team cleared the residence, but did not find the suspect.

    The suspect was described as a Black man with brown eyes, wearing a "Boys in the Hood" white t-shirt, black pants, and a white medical mask at the time of the robbery.

    The employee said she recognized the man as a frequent customer, but didn't know his name.

    An Algona Iowa man was killed Sunday night after a two vehicle crash while another man was life-flighted to the hospital.

    The Iowa State Patrol said Brian Freeman, 45, of Garner, was taken by Mercy Air to MercyOne North Iowa following the crash on Highway 18 east of Cylinder.

    Landon Schiek, 26, of Algona, was killed in that crash.

    Power 96 News Brief for Monday 6-13

    06/14/2022

    The East Main Street/Highway 65 construction project keeps moving forward as crews have completed replacing the watermain along East Main Street and storm sewers between Newton Avenue and William Street. They continue work on the stormwater ponds at the former Godfather"s site.

    Work expected this week includes: Water service replacement between Clark Street and the Shell Rock River bridge.

    Storm sewer replacement east of William Street.

    Pavement removals on Clark Street and the eastbound lane of East Main Street and Watermain and sanitary sewer replacement on Clark Street.

    Other work expected for the week includes storm sewer work at the intersection of Blake Avenue and ditch grading between Blake Avenue and I-35.

    The Albert Lea City Council meets Monday evening to consider several matters, including:

    Improving the drainage at Snyder Field this fall instead of spring 2023 to make sure the improvements are in place for base- and softball season in 2023. The council will vote on ordering bids for the project, which is expected to cost $475,000.

    The council will be voting on contributing $30,000 toward the purchase of an armored vehicle for the South Central Drug Investigation Unit, which includes the Albert Lea Police Department. Enforcement officers use this type of armored vehicles when responding to active shooters, barricaded suspects, response and rescue situations, and high-risk warrants.

    The coucil will also be voting on providing a grant of $25,584 to C & H Holdings, owner of an apartment building at 214 S. Washington Ave. The City maintains a reimbursement grant program to help owners of buildings in the historic downtown comply with certain requirements.

    This grant represents half the cost of stabilizing the building, tuck-pointing, fabricating and installing a fire escape and garage door.

    The Albert Lea City Council meeting will start Monday at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

    20 former employees are now suing Mayo Clinic and the Mayo Foundation for religious discrimination.

    Six different lawsuits have now been filed in U.S. District Court for the State of Minnesota over Mayo terminating employees who failed to abide by the healthcare provider"s COVID-19 vaccination mandate. The former employees worked at Mayo Clinic or Mayo Foundation facilities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Arizona.

    All the lawsuits make similar allegations that Mayo refused to grant religious exemptions to its COVID-19 vaccination mandate and then refused to explain why those exemptions were not granted.

    Mayo Clinic fired roughly 700 employees for refusing to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

    Power 96 News Brief for Thursday 6-09

    06/10/2022

    Freeborn County and the City of Albert Lea announcing paving operations scheduled by Ulland Brothers on Bridge Avenue from Marshal Street to Hammer Road.   

    The work is scheduled to begin on Friday morning, June 10.

    There will be intermittent disruptions to normal traffic flow that include blocked side streets, lane closures, and flaggers in order to control traffic. The County and City request that residents who need to travel through the construction zone use caution, obey construction signage, and slow down or plan for the use of alternate routs.

    The work is expected to progress into the evening hours with the hope that only minor work will remain for Saturday.

    Traffic striping will be installed early next week and may also involve disruptions to traffic flows.

    One man was found dead after an apparent motorcycle crash in Eagle Lake on Wednesday.

    A 911 call was placed by some concerned citizens after they discovered an unresponsive motorcycle rider on the south side of Eagle Lake.

    That motorcycle rider was identified as 43-year-old Troy Josef Tabor of Eagle Lake.

    Sheriffs Deputies arrived along with Eagle Lake Police and Fire and ambulance personnel. Lifesaving efforts at the scene were unsuccessful.

    According to officials, Tabor was riding a 2002 Yamaha V Star alone and possibly lost control on a gravel road and was ejected causing his injuries.

    Tabor was not wearing a helmet and did not have a valid license or motorcycle endorsement.

    That crash remains under investigation.

    The Minnesota State Patrol is reporting that an Iowa man was injured Tuesday afternoon after his vehicle went off of Interstate 35 near Albert Lea and ended up in a ravine embankment.

    Terry Charles Olson, 72, of Ames, was taken by Mayo Ambulance to Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea for non life threatening injuries according to the MSP.

    According to the report, Olson was driving a 2016 Honda Fit southbound on I-35 near milepost 7 when the vehicle left the road, entered the right-side ditch and ended up in the embankment.

    The road was dry at the time of the crash and alcohol was not a factor.

    The report stated Olson was wearing his seat belt.

    The Freeborn County Sheriff"s Office and Albert Lea Fire Department assisted at the scene.

    The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will have a free park visit day Saturday (which is also National Get Outdoors Day). Visit a state park, including Myre-Big Island State Park in Albert Lea, without a state park vehicle permit. For more information visit mndnr.gov/freeparkdays.

    Power 96 News Brief for Wednesday 6-08

    06/09/2022

    Minnesotans who worked on the frontlines during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency can start applying for bonus pay on Wednesday.

    Minnesota lawmakers approved $500 million for the frontline bonus checks. Around 667,000 Minnesotans are expected to be eligible for the payments.

    However, to get the bonus, eligible frontline workers have to apply between June 8 and July 22.

    Workers from sectors ranging from health care to food service, public transit and manufacturing services are eligible for the checks, as long as they worked at least 120 hours between March 15, 2020 and June 30, 2021, couldn"t work remotely, worked close to others, didn"t get any unemployment insurance benefits for more than 20 weeks during the peacetime emergency and doesn"t exceed the income cap.

    After applications are processed, workers can appeal a denial within 15 days. Then, the final list of eligible applicants will get an equal payment. Lawmakers said the checks are expected to be around $750 but can"t exceed $1,500.

    Applications can be completed on line at https://frontlinepay.mn.gov/submit

    Motorists in Albert Lea will need to use a detour starting today and lasting for about 1 week, around a section of County Road 38 (780th Avenue) south of East Main Street.

    Construction crews will be installing storm sewers under the road. Motorists will be asked to follow the signed detour, which will route traffic from Blake Avenue to County Road 91 (S.E. Marshall Street) to County Road 38.

    Motorists may still reach Myre-Big Island State Park by taking the detour.

    Motorists are asked to slow down in construction zones and give crews plenty of space to do their work.

    The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is hosting “Take a Kid Fishing Weekend” June 10-12.

    The weekend allows people to go fishing without a fishing license if they take a kid age 15 or younger fishing with them.

    Kids ages 15 and younger never need a fishing license to fish. Adults looking to purchase a fishing license can do so here. The DNR says that people can usually also fish at state parks without a license if the body of water in the park does not require a trout stamp.

    Power 96 News Brief for Tuesday 6-07

    06/08/2022

    Albert Lea Area Schools has a new superintendent, as the board voted 4-2 Monday in favor of a contract with Ron Wagner, an associate superintendent, negotiated by the school board chairman and a team.

    Board members Angie Hoffman and Jill Marin voted against the contract. Hoffman stated that the feedback she received was that the board was moving too fast to fill the position.

    Once the contract is signed, Wagner will earn $181,500 for the upcoming school year, $185,130 for the 2023-24 school year and a to-be-determined amount in 2024-25. Wagner will receive 25 vacation days. The district will match up to $5,000 a year in contributions to a 403 (b) plan, and Wagner will also participate in the district"s group health plan at no cost to the employee.

    Tuesday morning, Freeborn County Public Health reported 28 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths, and two residents were reported as being newly hospitalized. No children under the age of 10, and no children between 10 and 14 were included in the total of those who tested positive.

    The number of active cases within the county now stands at 37. In addition to the current numbers, Public Health also reported that there has been a cumulative total of 541 people who have been reinfected with COVID 19.

    The Austin City Council took time out of the regular meeting to honor former basketball coach Kris Fadness.

    Fadness retired earlier this year after 25 years as the high school boys' basketball coach.

    In that time his teams accumulated 407 victories, the most in school history, with fifteen consecutive winning seasons, six Big 9 Conference Championships, and three State Championship appearances.

    Even though his career as coach has ended he plans to continue teaching in the community.

    Governor Tim Walz will hold a ceremonial bill signing to celebrate the mental health package investing in the state"s mental health system. The legislation will increase hospital bed capacity, attract new mental health care professionals, and expand the use of mobile crisis services.

    Power 96 News Brief for Monday 6-06

    06/07/2022

    The District 241 School Board will hold a Study Session Monday evening at 5 pm in the board room at the Brookside Education Center. The board is expected to take action on the superintendent contract. There will also be a resolution designating Medsurety LLC and Matrix Trust as Health Reimbursement Arrangement Trustees, and the board will be presented with a Resolution to enter into a Solar Contract with iDeal Energies. Afterwards, the board is expected to move into a closed session for labor negotiations.

    Filings for the Albert Lea City Council closed May 31 with a full slate of candidates. Albert Lea will have a new mayor after incumbent Vern Rasmussen Jr. has decided to step down after serving as mayor since 2012 and as Ward 1 councilor before that. Ward 1 will have a new councilor after incumbent Rich Murray filed for mayor. And Ward 6 will have a new city councilor after incumbent Al “Minnow” Brooks – first elected in 1998 - has decided not to run again.

    In addition to Rich Murray as a candidate for Mayor, Murray will be joined by Ryon McCamish on the ballot for the position of mayor.

    The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners will be in session Tuesday morning at 8:30 am in the Freeborn Room at the Freeborn County Government Center. There will be a public hearing to consider projects eligible for funding using Freeborn County Transportation Sales and Use Tax dollars. The Commissioners will receive reports from Personnel where resolutions will be presented for the tentative Agreement between Freeborn County and the Minnesota Public Employees Association representing the Detention Sergeants Unit for the calendar years 2022-2024.

    Commissioners will also Consider a resolution approving the tentative agreement between Freeborn County and Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc. representing the Licensed Deputy Unit for the calendar years 2022-2024.

    Other reports and requests will come from the Probation Office, Public Health, Human Services, and the County Administrator.

    A Clear Lake, Iowa man is facing attempted murder charges after police say he intentionally hit two motorcyclists with his vehicle.

    Chad R. Gustin, 43, of Clear Lake, IA was arrested on May 30 on two counts of attempted murder, a Class B Felony, and one count of violating a no-contact order.

    Clear Lake police said officers were called to the area of N. 8th Street and 3rd Ave. North on May 29 for a report of a person who had intentionally struck a motorcycle.

    Gustin is currently being held at the Cerro Gordo County Jail.

    Power 96 News Brief for Thursday 5-26

    05/27/2022

    The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners will hold a special session and a workshop in the Boardroom at the Freeborn County Government Center Tuesday May 31st at 9 am.

    The commissioners are expected to to enter into a closed session for preliminary consideration of allegations or charges against an individual(s) subject to its authority to begin the special session.

    After the closed session is adjournment, the board will begin its workshop.

    The workshop will consist of discussion of payment for CIP if bonding is not available. There will also be continued discussion with the Department of Human Services staff movement for mental health programming. The board will then open discussion to set the boards wishes on how to proceed filling the Administrator position which is being vacated by County Administrator Tom Jensen.

    The Minnesota State Patrol reported alcohol was a factor in a crash that left an Austin man was injured late Wednesday night.

    Logan Conley, 28, of Austin collided with a Tow Truck that was assisting a motorist with a stalled vehicle on Highway 14 in Dover Township.

    Conley was taken to St. Marys with non-life-threatening injuries.

    The Worth County Board of Supervisors has voted to make Emergency Medical Services an essential service within the county.

    The resolution was passed in its third reading in front of the board.

    In the resolution, the board recognized the importance of maintaining and advancing the level of care for citizens within the county.

    The resolution will now move to voters to be approved and it will require at least 60% voter approval to be passed.

    Minnesota front-line workers can start applying for hero pay checks from the state starting next month, the Department of Labor and Industry said this week. The department said it would open the application portal beginning June 8 and would leave it open through July 22. Eligible front-line workers could then expect to see their checks sent beginning September 5th. Lawmakers approved the legislation and the governor signed into law a $500 million plan to send funds out to those who remained on the job in person during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Power 96 News Brief for Wednesday 5-25

    05/26/2022

    Harbor Freight Tools, has announced that it will be opening a new store in Albert Lea, MN. The new store will be located at 307 Hamilton Street and is expected to open this summer. An official opening date will be announced closer to opening.

    The store is expected to bring between 25 and 30 new jobs to the community, including Sales and Logistic Supervisors, Senior Associates, Sales Associates, and seasonal opportunities as well.

    The family-owned company started in Southern California in 1977, when 17-year-old Eric Smidt began transforming his father "s small phone sales business into a successful mail order company, bypassing the resellers, dealing directly with factories, and passing the savings on to the customer.

    Harbor Freight Tools has over 1,300 stores across the country, 24,000 associates and more than 40 million customers who depend on Harbor Freight "s quality and value to earn a living, repair their homes and cars and pursue their hobbies.

    With 100% of the precincts reporting in the Minnesota 1st Congressional District primary, 1%, or 389 votes separate Republican candidates Brad Finstad and Jeremy Munson.

    Finstad coming in at 38% (13,835) of the vote and Munson at 37% (13,446).

    The winner will face former Hormel Foods executive Jeff Ettinger, who won the Democratic nomination.

    Madeline Marie Young, 36 of Austin, and Marcos Daniel Brito, 35 of San Jose, California have entered not guilty pleas after being caught with more than 4.4 pounds of methamphetamine.

    Court documents state a tracker was installed in Young"s vehicle after being involved with the sale and transportation of meth. Officers initially pulled Young over on Oakland Avenue in Austin for too-dark window tint.   

    A sheriff"s deputy stated that Young showed signs of being under the influence and failed multiple field sobriety tests. A search of the vehicle found a plastic baggie containing 44.31 grams of meth and two plastic pool boxes, one holding two bags of meth and the other three.

    Court documents say officers also found marijuana, a plastic bag of crushed pills that tested positive for fentanyl, THC wax, and drug paraphernalia.

    A trial date has yet to be set for either Young or Brito.

    Governor Tim Walz has directed all flags at state and federal buildings in Minnesota to be flown at half-staff effective immediately until sunset on Saturday, May 28, 2022 to honor the lives lost in the school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

    Minnesota joins the nation, in accordance with a proclamation issued by President Joe Biden, to remember, mourn, and honor the lives lost in Uvalde. Individuals, businesses, and other organizations are also encouraged to join in lowering their flags.

    Power 96 News Brief for Tuesday 5-24

    05/25/2022

    The Albert Lea City Council voted unanimously Monday to eliminate the fees at the public library in an effort to make the library more accessible to children and teens.   Starting June 1, the Albert Lea Public Library will no longer have late fees for youth materials checked out.

    Under the new resolution, the library will send a billing notice to patrons when their items are 30 days past the due date. When an item is returned, the charge will be removed from the account and people can check out items again. Fees will still be collected for lost and damaged items.

    In other actions, the Council voted to call for the sale of about $4.98 million in general obligation bonds to pay for a series of improvement projects in the city. The bonds will have a 10-year term, and will be callable in February 2031.

    In a special meeting Monday evening, the District 241 School Board selected their 2 finalists for the superintendent position within the district. The board has selected Bryan Boysen who is superintendent and K-4 principal at Kenyon-Wanamingo Schools and Ronald Wagner, who is the associate superintendent with Minneapolis Public Schools as finalists for the position vacated by Dr. Michael Funk who accepted the superintendent position with Stillwater Public Schools.

    Early Tuesday, Freeborn County Public Health reported 15 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths, and two residents were reported as being newly hospitalized. 1 child under the age of 10, and one child between 10 and 14 were included in the total of those who tested positive.

    The number of active cases within the county now stands at 34. In addition to the current numbers, Public Health also reported that there have been a cumulative total of 522 people who have been reinfected with COVID 19.

    Rochester man Sterling Haukom received a sentence of 96 months in jail for the 2021 death of a young woman, the maximum punishment for his charge of vehicular homicide.

    He will receive credit for 433 days served.

    Haukom pled guilty in December 2021 to a charge of criminal vehicular homicide-operating a motor vehicle in a negligent manner, which resulted in the death of 18-year-old Erika Cruz.

    The normal sentence in a vehicular homicide case is four years. But, the state asked that Haukom's sentence be doubled, saying his crime was worse than others of the same charge.

    Power 96 News Brief for Monday 5-23

    05/24/2022

    A man wanted in connection with a shooting in Albert Lea is behind bars.

    Javen Moreno was identified and taken into police custody during a traffic stop on US-90 West of Bridge Avenue.

    Moreno was transported to the Freeborn County Adult Detention Center on charges of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and ineligible person in possession of a firearm.

    Moreno was wanted for a shooting on May 1 on the 13 hundred block of Louis Street in Albert Lea.

    Police say a 34-year-old man suffered a non life threatening gunshot wound and was transported to Mayo Clinic Hospital System in Albert Lea.

    Friday, Freeborn County Public Health reported 19 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths, and one resident was reported as being newly hospitalized. 1 child under the age of 10, and no children between 10 and 14 were included in the total of those who tested positive.

    The number of active cases within the county now stands at 51. In addition to the current numbers, Public Health also reported that there have been a cumulative total of 512 people who have been reinfected with COVID 19.

    The Albert Lea City Council will be in session Monday evening at 7 pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall. The council will vote on its annual bonding in order to finance major projects, most of them being street construction. If the council approves, the City would borrow nearly 5 million dollars in general obligation bonds to finance the:

    East Main Street/ State Highway 65 resurfacing, trail Improvements and flood mitigation.

    Reconstruction of Pillsbury and Freeborn avenues.

    Overlay of Washington Avenue.

    Resurfacing of the parking lot at the corner of West Main Street and Washington Avenue.

    Resurfacing of 209th Street and Happy Trails Lane.

    Replacing the rubber roof on the City Arena and part of the interior flooring.

    The council will vote on eliminating fines on youth materials checked out from the Albert Lea Public Library, effective June 1. The Library Advisory Board voted May 18th to recommend eliminating the fines to increase access to library materials for youth.

    The council will also hold public hearings and vote on removing three hazardous structures. Vacant homes at 924 Fountain St. and 604 Giles Place would be razed because they are structurally unsafe. The third property, 819 Bridge Ave., is occupied, and would have the remains of a garage removed.

    Power 96 News Brief for Thursday 5-19

    05/20/2022

    28 year-old Joseph M Johnson, was cited for three subdivisions of animal neglect after police stated they received a complaint of mistreatment of animals at 1034 S. Broadway from the Freeborn County Humane Society. Police obtained a search warrant and discovered animals were in unfit conditions and seized three puppies, two lizards, a chameleon, three turtles, a hamster and a snake. The animals were taken into protective custody.

    Family members of the late Minnesota Congressman Jim Hagedorn have sued his widow for medical expenses.

    Hagedorn died in February at the age of 59 following a long battle with kidney cancer.

    Two lawsuits filed by his sister, mother and stepfather say Hagedorn and his widow, Jennifer Carnahan, asked for their help paying for his treatment in Arizona after Mayo Clinic said it had exhausted its options for treating him in January.

    Hagedorn"s sister says she paid $10,000 for his treatment and was promised that she"d be reimbursed by Carnahan. Likewise, Hagedorn"s mother and stepfather claim that they got a loan on the equity in their home to help pay for the treatment, which ended up costing $10,383, and they were also promised by Carnahan that they"d be reimbursed.

    In a statement, Carnahan called the lawsuits “a political stunt,” adding that Hagedorn"s estate has to go through the probate process first but wishing Hagedorn"s family well.

    A Plainview man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of taking several guns and an X-Box from his brother"s Rochester home.

    A 29-year-old Rochester man called police stating he"d noticed two glock pistols, a shotgun, and an X-Box missing from his house, and he believed his brother, 24-year-old Zachary Koetz, had taken them. Rochester police located Koetz at a house in the 4400 block of London Lane NW.

    He “bolted” out the back door after police rang the bell, and was arrested shortly thereafter.

    Koetz admitted to stealing two handguns and the X-box but not the shotgun.

    Koetz faces a felony second-degree burglary charge, as well as two charges of felony theft of property over $1,001.

    The unemployment rate ticked down three-tenths of a point to 2.2% in April from 2.5% in March, its lowest level ever recorded since such information started being reported back in 1976, according to numbers released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). The decline in the unemployment rate over-the-month was entirely due to people moving from unemployment to employment. The labor force participation rate rose from 68.1% to 68.3%.

    Power 96 News Brief for Wednesday 5-18

    05/19/2022

    The Albert Lea School Board has decided on the finalists to fill the open Superintendent position in District 241.

    The first round of interviews will begin next and will include Bryan Boysen who is the superintendent and K-4 principal at Kenyon-Wanamingo Schools. Michelle Mortensen who is superintendent of Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart Schools. Donita Stepan who is superintendent of Thief River Falls Public Schools and Ronald Wagner who is an associate superintendent at Minneapolis Public Schools.

    The first round of interviews is scheduled to start Monday May 23 at 3 pm.

    The Albert Lea City Council is looking into possibly eliminating late fees for youth materials.

    In a resolution, to be voted on on May 23rd, city councilors laid out several reasons for the elimination of the fees. According to that resolution, 625 of the library's patrons under the age of 18 cannot check out materials because of too many fines.

    The resolution also explains that the cost of collecting late fines on youth materials are actually grater than the fines themselves.

    If passed, this would go into effect on June 1.

    Tuesday evening, Freeborn County Public Health reported 26 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths, and no residents were reported as being newly hospitalized. No children under the age of 10, and no child between 10 and 14 were included in the total of those who tested positive.

    The number of active cases within the county now stands at 53. In addition to the current numbers, Public Health also reported that there have been a cumulative total of 504 people who have been reinfected with COVID 19.

    The Albert Lea Community Theatre (ACT) recently awarded the 2022 John C. Campbell Memorial Scholarship to Abigail Chalmers and Gretta Larson.

    Both students are graduating Albert Lea High School seniors, and each will receive a $1,000 college scholarship. Chalmers plans to attend Bethel University to pursue a degree in English and business. Larson will attend the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree in film studies.

    Power 96 News Brief for Tuesday 5-17

    05/18/2022

    Charges have been filed against Ck Kyle Kasio in the Monday stabbing in Albert Lea that sent 3 people to the hospital.

    Kasio is facing two counts of 1st-degree assault, and 2nd-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.

    According to Public Safety Director J.D. Carlson, police were called to 221 Main St. E around 8:45 a.m. on Monday, May 16.

    Authorities found two adult male victims with knife wounds, who were taken to the hospital. Then officers went to a second crime scene on William St. W where officers found another adult male victim who was also sent to the hospital.

    "We could tell right away this was a little more urgent," Carlson said.

    According to Carlson, "He walked into the law enforcement center and we apprehended him right at the front doors,".

    Filings open today, May 17, for five of the seven seats on the Albert Lea City Council, including mayor.

    Recently, Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. announced that he will not seek re-election. Rasmussen has served as mayor since 2012 and as ward 1 councilor for six years before that.

    In addition to mayor, the following are up for election: ward 1, 2, 4 and 6 city council seats, now held by Rich Murray, Larry Baker, Reid Olson and Al “Minnow” Brooks, respectively.

    Although ward 1 voters elected Rich Murray only two years ago, the seat is up for election this year due to redistricting.

    To file for office, candidates need to complete an affidavit of candidacy and pay a $25 fee at the City Clerk"s office on the third floor of City Hall, 221 E. Clark St. For more information about filing, contact City Clerk Daphney Maras at 507-377-4335.

    Filings close May 31 with the general election held on Nov. 8th.

    The Albert Lea School Board will hold hold a Special School Board session Tuesday at 5 pm at the Brookside Education Center outlining the progress and plans for the new Superintendent search.

    A teen accused of three Austin break-ins has taken a plea deal.

    Elias James Wells, 19 of Austin, was arrested on March 14. The Austin Police Department says Wells broke into two homes and tried to break into a third that night

    Wells was originally charged with three counts of first-degree burglary, first-degree attempted burglary, and theft.

    He entered a guilty plea Monday to theft and one burglary count.

    No sentencing date has been set.

    Current Austin City Councilman, Oballa Oballa announced Tuesday that he will run for the At Large seat on the Austin City Council.

    He will resign his Ward 1 seat to run for the At Large seat. The Primary Election is set for August 9 and the General Election is set for November 8.

    Power 96 News Brief for Monday 5-16

    05/17/2022

    Albert Lea Police were investigating two active crime scenes after a Monday morning stabbing that sent 3 people to the hospital. The suspect is known to both the victims and to law enforcement.

    At 8:44 Monday morning police were notified of a stabbing at an apartment in the 200 block of East Main Street involving 2 victims. Another victim was found in the 100 block of West William. Two victims, ages 18 and 22 were flown to St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester in critical condition. The 3rd victim, who is also an adult male, was transported to MCHS Albert Lea for treatment and is in non critical condition.

    Law enforcement officials say that the incident is an isolated situation and there is not a threat to the general public.

    The Albert Lea Police Department reported that a suspect was taken into custody, without incident, as of 11:28 a.m.

    Albert Lea Fire Rescue battled two fires in Albert Lea over the weekend.

    Officials say no one was injured in either of the incidents, the first of which was reported at 9:27 P.M. inside the A-Lea Apartments at 909 Janson Street on Friday evening.

    After evacuating residents from the building, Albert Lea Fire Rescue determined the fire was started by overheated oil on the stove of a first floor apartment, which had spread to the unit's kitchen and cupboards. That fire caused an estimated $20,000 in damage.

    A few hours later at 12:53 A.M. Saturday morning, firefighters responded to a second blaze at a home on 1208 Garfield Avenue.

    Residents had evacuated by the time fire crews arrived, but fire rescue saved multiple pets from the home's basement as they extinguished flames. That fire is believed to have been started by a dryer in the basement, causing an estimated $4,000 in damage.

    The Albert Lea School Board will be in session Monday night at 5 pm in the Board Room at the Brookside Education Center in order to conduct the official business of the district. On the agenda will be the setting of school meal prices for the 22-23 school year. The proposed fee is unchanged from last years prices. There will also be a proposal for a band trip to Florida.

    Board members will receive reports from the Superintendent, Board Members, Student Members and Teachers. There will be discussions on a potential solar project. The board is expected to take action on numerous items including approving the Food Services Management Service Contract, a Memorandum of Understanding with Albert Lea Education Association, the Licensed Practical Nurse Association 2021-2023 Master Agreement, a Resolution Placing Individual on Unrequested Leave of Absence, and a Resolution Disciplining an Employee. On Tuesday, the board is expected to hold a Special School Board Meeting at 5 pm on the Superintendent Search.

    Power 96 News Brief for Thursday 5-12

    05/13/2022

    An Alden man charged with possession of more than 100,000 child pornographic items was sentenced Wednesday.

    39-year-old James Rambo was sentenced to 100 months in prison and probation of 15 years after release. Rambo was credited with 211 days of time served.

    Rambo pleaded guilty back in April to three counts of Possess Pornographic Work-Computer Disk/Electronic/Magnetic/Optical Image w/Porn and four counts of Possession of Pornographic Work of Minor under 13.

    Minnesota voters may choose to vote early by using an absentee ballot instead of voting in person at the polling place on Election Day. Absentee ballots are now available at the Freeborn County Auditor-Treasurer"s Office at the County Government Center located at 411 Broadway Avenue South, Albert Lea, Minnesota. Minnesotans no longer need an excuse to vote absentee?a reform also known as no-excuse absentee voting.

    You may have received several absentee ballot applications in the mail from various sources. None of them have been initiated by the Auditor-Treasurer"s Office unless you have specifically called our office and requested an application. The applications from various sources other than the Auditor-Treasurer"s Office are legitimate and are accepted by our office. One application is all that is necessary to mail in. Please do not send multiple applications.

    You can request an absentee ballot safely on?ine on the Freeborn County Website at www.co.freeborn.mn.us     

    Go to the Auditor-Treasurer? page, click on the Elections Link which will take you to an absentee voting link. Clicking the absentee voting link will give you several options in which to submit an absentee application to Freeborn County. You can also request an absentee ballot at www.mnvotes.org

    Election officials will mail the absentee ballot materials to you soon after receiving your application.

    Congressional candidate Jennifer Carnahan said a man threatened her and swerved his car toward her while she was campaigning in Faribault.

    During the evening hours of May 10th, Faribault detectives identified and contacted the suspect at his home. The department is no longer seeking information from the public regarding the suspect of the suspect's vehicle. The incident does remain as an active investigation at this time.

    One woman was killed in a crash in southern Minnesota after a power line went down on Interstate 90 during Wednesday night"s severe storms.

    According to the Minnesota State Patrol, three vehicles headed eastbound on the interstate in Lorain Township in Nobles County crashed just before 6 p.m.

    A Chevrolet hatchback was traveling along the interstate when it stopped to avoid hitting fallen electrical wires. A semi truck then crashed into the hatchback.

    A Pontiac sedan also crashed into the wires.

    A passenger in the hatchback, identified as Martha Lilian Llanos Rodriguez, 30, of Mexico City, was killed in the crash.

    The driver of the sedan sustained non-life threatening injuries in the crash and was taken to the hospital, while the semi driver was uninjured.

    Power 96 News Brief for Wednesday 5-11

    05/12/2022

    A Byron teen was arrested for obstructing the legal process in a Byron car prowl investigation last night.

    A deputy responded to a 10:18 p.m. call about a car prowl in the 10 block of 2nd Street NW.

    The caller reported a person inside their neighbor"s vehicle. The deputy left the scene in the direction the suspect walked, and made quick contact with a 17-year-old boy that the sheriff"s office recognized as a suspect in other car prowls and thefts.

    The deputy attempted to handcuff the teen, who resisted by tensing his arms and trying to pull away from the deputy. The deputy “took the juvenile to the ground,” was able to deescalate the situation, and finished handcuffing him.

    Other deputies made contact with the victim, who said the car had been “gone through,” but nothing was missing.

    The Byron teenager is now facing charges of gross misdemeanor obstructing the legal process with force and misdemeanor tampering with a motor vehicle.

    Tuesday evening, Freeborn County Public Health reported 29 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths, and 2 residents were reported as being newly hospitalized. 3 children under the age of 10, and no child between 10 and 14 were included in the total of those who tested positive.

    The number of active cases within the county now stands at 55. In addition to the current numbers, Public Health also reported that there have been a cumulative total of 500 people who have been reinfected with COVID 19.

    Congressional candidate Jennifer Carnahan was apparently threatened on the campaign trail Tuesday.

    Faribault police were dispatched at 5:25 pm. to a threats complaint in which Carnahan identified herself as the victim.

    Carnahan told police she was going door-to-door to campaign for Congress when she was approached on the 1000 block of 1st St SE by a man who made several threatening comments to her. Carnahan also reported the man swerved his vehicle at her as she walked away.

    Carnahan described the suspect as white and approximately 18 to 20 years old, driving a blue Ford Focus.

    Police say they are working to identify the suspect.

    Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman announced Wednesday morning she has tested positive for COVID-19.

    Hortman said she will participate in end of session negotiations remotely. She said she is “fully vaccinated, boosted, and feeling fine.”

    The Legislature still has plenty of work to do before the session ends on May 23. Each chamber is continuing to move ahead with its own supplemental budget bills on public safety, education, transportation and more — and many of those proposals are very far apart. Republicans and Democrats also have dueling tax proposals.

    Power 96 News Brief for Tuesday 5-10

    05/11/2022

    Albert Lea High School administration and local law enforcement conducted a contraband search in the ALHS parking lot with K-9 units from SE Minnesota on Monday, May 9.

    During the search, an unloaded handgun and ammunition was found in one of the vehicles. Police have seized the weapon, and an individual will be charged with possession of a firearm on school property, a felony offense.

    All students and staff were safe, as school was minimally disrupted by this event.

    Today, motorists on Hwy 65 near Albert Lea between Interstate 35 and the Iowa border may see smoke, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

    MnDOT crews are conducting a prescribed burn,

    Signs will alert motorists on Hwy 65 as they approach the burn area where there is the potential of smoke and should be attentive, watching for the burn crews, who are monitoring these efforts.

    Prescribed burns are scheduled during optimal weather conditions to ensure safety and effectiveness.

    While the burn season is nearly complete, motorists should continue to be alert for burning efforts in southeast Minnesota.

    Brandon Lee Crews, 31 of Emmons, was sentenced Monday to up to two years of supervised probation for pleading guilty to third-degree assault.

    Crews was accused of hitting his father several times with a baseball bat and deliberately crashing his father"s pickup truck into a semi driven by Crews" brother.

    Court documents state a dispute over personal property led to Crews becoming violent. Investigators say the father suffered a broken jaw and other injuries while over $2,000 in damage was done to the semi and around $5,000 in damage was done to the pickup.

    Charges of second-degree assault and first-degree criminal damage to property were dropped as part of a plea deal.

    Scott Woitas, who has been the IT director at Freeborn County since 2008 has announced his candidacy for the District 2 Freeborn County commissioner seat. Current District 2 Commissioner Dan Belshan last month announced he will not seek reelection after about 24 years on the board.

    Woitas said if he is elected, he will retire Jan. 1 from his full-time position with the county, and if he does not win, he will retire a little later next year.

    Power 96 News Brief for Monday 5-09

    05/10/2022

    Road construction projects around town are still making progress. On the East Main Street/Highway 65 project, crews have completed replacing sanitary sewer lines between Elizabeth and Clark streets, removing and disposing of contaminated soil in the project area, and replacing the culvert west of Blake Avenue.

    Upcoming work includes storm sewer improvements between 777th Avenue and County Highway 38. Some of the private utilities have begun relocating their facilities that would conflict with the new storm sewer or pedestrian trail.

    On the Bridge Avenue project, crews completed electrical work for the new traffic signal at Hammer Road, and reseeding some areas. Bridge Avenue will remain open for the majority of the work activities, but there may be traffic impacts that require short-term lane closures. Please proceed with caution through the work zone. For more information, visit the project webpage.

    And the central water tower on Fountain Street project, the construction is moving along according to schedule. Crews are hoping for no rain and wind, along with warmer temperatures, to keep construction on time. Fabrication is expected to continue through fall.

    Newton Avenue will remain closed to through traffic while construction is ongoing.

    Albert Lea's City Council will be in session Monday evening at 7 pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall.

    The City is considering a 2-acre solar field to help meet the plant"s energy needs. Because the solar field is estimated to cost $2.5 million, the city would need grant funding to make it possible.

    City staff would like to apply to the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, which is funded by lottery proceeds, for a $1 million grant. Proposals for funding are due June 10.

    The solar field would reduce the cost of operating the plant and help make the city more resilient to climate change.

    The Albert Lea City Council will vote on authorizing the grant application at its meeting Monday, May 9.

    The council is also expected to award contracts for bids received on the 209th Street Bituminous Paving & Happy Trails Lane Overlay Project as well as the contract for the Washington Avenue & East Main Street Parking Lot Reconstruction Project

    The council will also look for a resolution granting a variance to the maximum total square footage allowed for carports, garages, and sheds in a residential zone.

    The council will also hold the 2nd reading Amending Chapter 4 Alcoholic Beverages – Restrictions And Regulations. The final reading of this ordinance removes the distance allowed to serve alcohol near a church.

    The amendment is consistent with state statute.

    Hy-Vee has announced another round of layoffs.

    The Iowa grocer announced that another 57 positions have been eliminated. The most recent layoffs came from the IT, engineering, equipment, real estate, and construction departments.

    There have been 415 corporate positions eliminated from the company in recent weeks. Workers were offered retail positions and will be provided with 30 days of pay and benefits, according to the company.

    A 70-year-old man was shot and killed after investigating a suspicious vehicle on his property Sunday night.

    Olmsted County Sheriff's Office Deputies were called to a home on the 5000 block of County Road 105 in Kalamar Township around 10:45 p.m. for a reported shooting.

    The sheriff's office said the victim was shot in the upper body area, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

    Authorities said the suspect, identified as William Shillingford 31 of Kasson, was taken into custody about a half-mile away.

    Shillingford is facing a possible charge of 2nd-degree murder and will be arraigned on Tuesday.

    Power 96 News Brief for Thursday 5-05

    05/06/2022

    Austin Police are investigating after a catalytic converter was sawed off a vehicle in southwest part of town.

    According to police, on April 30, the victim went to start her vehicle when she noticed it was very loud and discovered the catalytic converter had been sawed off.

    The investigation revealed the theft occurred around 4 p.m., and video of a possible suspect vehicle was found.

    Police also discovered video of a red or similarly colored 4-door Mitsubishi Lancer stopping next to the victim"s car and sawing sounds could be heard.

    Authorities said this is the 4th case of a stolen catalytic converter reported in the City of Austin within the last week.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact the APD Investigations at 507-437-9400.

    Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Wednesday that Minnesota has joined a multi-state coalition of eight attorneys general in urging President Biden to fully cancel federal student debt owed by every federal student loan borrower in the country. ELLISON said: ‘My job is to help everyone afford their lives, and canceling crushing federal student debt will help the economy as a whole.

    The Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force seized a large amount of fentanyl pills, and a pair of firearms, during an investigation.

    The Taskforce said during the week of April 27 agents executed four search warrants in which they seized a large number of fentanyl pills and two firearms.

    36-year-old Geramy Durrell Hopson was arrested but posted bail on May 2. As part of Hopson's conditional release, he was subject to GPS monitoring, and on May 3 authorities said GPS data showed him visiting a storage locker in rural Kasota.

    On May 4, agents executed a search warrant at the storage locker and found 1,064 Mbox 30 Fentanyl pills.

    Hopson was found, arrested, and charged with 1st-degree controlled substance sales and 1st-degree controlled substance possession.

    A guilty plea in an Austin murder case has been entered, but not by the alleged killer.

    Keith Forrest, 21 of Austin, has pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree murder in a court hearing on Wednesday. No sentencing date has been set.

    Investigators say Forrest was involved in the fatal shooting of David Harris on June 5, 2021.

    The Court documents state Forrest drove Miguel Nunez Jr., 19 of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to a home in the 100 block of 12th Street NE to buy some marijuana. Investigators say that turned into a drug robbery where Nunez shot and killed Harris.

    After the shooting happened, it was alleged that Forrest drove off with Nunez and took him to Sioux Falls.

     

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