Local News

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    Power 96 News Brief for Tuesday 10-26

    10/26/2021

    An Albert Lea woman was charged with receiving packages in the mail that contained methamphetamine hidden in teddy bears pleaded guilty Monday in Freeborn County District Court to one count of second-degree controlled substance possession.

    Marivel Ramos, 46, was initially was charged with first-degree methamphetamine possession, but as part of a plea agreement, the charge was amended.

    Court documents state three packages that were set to be delivered Sept. 18, 2020, were intercepted with a federal search warrant on Sept. 17, and each was found to contain a teddy bear with what tested positive as meth. They weighed a combined 10.5 pounds.

    The plea agreement calls for up to 25 years of probation and a stayed jail sentence.

    Ramos is due to be sentenced Jan. 10 of 2022

    A bill has been introduced by all members of the Minnesota delegation in Congress led by Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Ilhan Omar to honor Prince with a Congressional Gold Medal.

    The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States Congress. Only 163 have been awarded since 1776, the first going to George Washington.

    According to a press release, it honors Prince for his "legacy of musical achievement and...indelible mark on Minnesota and American culture."

    The judge who oversaw the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin said that he will make the names of 15 jurors and alternates who sat in the courtroom public next week.

    Judge Peter Cahill"s order said he will make the list of jurors public on Nov. 1. The written questionnaires of all 109 potential jurors who were formally evaluated will also be made public.

    Cahill initially kept the names of the jurors sealed, citing the high-profile nature of the case, and had ordered that their identities remain secret for at least 180 days after the verdict.

    Freeborn County Public Health reported 12 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases as of 4 am Friday. Public Health also reported no new deaths and no 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 74.

    Power 96 News Brief for Monday 10-25

    10/25/2021

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

    The council will look to add an Investment Broker to the city's investor pool, this additional broker will increase the options for the city to invest funds.

    The city will look for a resolution a grant agreement for a building facade.

    The city will also be asking for a resolution approving the authorization of bond funds for a food truck plaza. The project area located at 804 East Main Street is slotted to have design services provided by Bolton and Menk. The estimated cost of the project would be 50 thousand dollars. If the project moves forward, it would be paid for by tax exempt bonds.

    There will also be a resolution and public hearing on proposed assessments for delinquent water and sewer accounts. There will also be a resolution approving a contract for private development With Ulland Brothers, Inc.

    Back On September 27, 2021 the City established a TIF District to support the redevelopment of the former Freeborn Mower site into Ulland Brothers corporate headquarters.

    The agreement provides up to $760,000 in tax increment financing for eligible costs such as demolition of the existing building, soil corrections and construction of storm water facilities.

    There will also be resolutions and public hearings authorizing a housing tax abatement on the development of 3 new single family homes.

    The Bridge Avenue Reconstruction Project is continuing to move along as last week, construction crews worked on roadway grading through the Hammer intersection. Began work on new traffic signal at Hammer and placed concrete curb & gutter between Glenview & Troy.

    This week, crews are expected to work on the Hammer Road traffic signal. Complete roadway grading at Hammer Road.

    Install concrete curb & gutter between Troy & Hammer and prepare for new bituminous pavement.

    Residents are asked to be aware that the Hammer Road intersection will remain closed while the work is in progress and are asked to please use caution in and around the construction zones and while taking posted detours.

    One man is dead after a fatal UTV crash in Albert Lea Saturday night, according to the Freeborn County Sheriff's Office.

    Steven Allen Reese, 65, from Austin was driving the UTV with his wife Elgene Van Dyk, 70, as a passenger Saturday night.

    Around 11 p.m., they lost control and the UTV swerved into a ditch along 180th St. in Albert lea. The sheriff's office reported the UTV rolled over.

    Both Van Dyk and Reese were taken to Mayo Clinic Health Systems Albert Lea where Reese died from his injuries.

    A Mason City woman was arrested Friday after police say she fired a gun at a hotel in Albert Lea Friday morning.

    Albert Lea Police said a man called just before 9 a.m. saying a woman had fired a bullet into his hotel room door at the Motel 6 and then ran away.

    Police were able to find the woman within minutes a short distance from the hotel. The woman was arrested and police found the firearm believed to have been used in the shooting.

    31-year-old Jessica Ann Hutfles will face charges but are currently undetermined due to an ongoing investigation into the incident.

    Power 96 News Brief for Thursday 10-21

    10/22/2021

    A multi-state outbreak of Salmonella infections was announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The cases include 23 Minnesota residents, according to state health officials. The Minnesota cases, who range in age from 7 to 77 years, fell ill between Aug. 8 and Sept. 18, four were hospitalized and none have died. Contaminated onions from a specific distributor and growing region in Mexico have been identified as the likely source for the outbreak.

    The CDC says these onions were sold to restaurants and grocery stores throughout the United States.

    ProSource Inc., the distributor, indicated onions were last imported on August 27, but these imported onions can last up to three months in storage and may still be in homes and businesses.

    The CDC says Do not sell or serve fresh whole red, white, or yellow onions that were imported from Chihuahua, Mexico and distributed by ProSource Inc.

    Governor Tim Walz announced a further expansion of rapid testing availability at community sites across Minnesota.

    New rapid testing sites will launch next week in Inner Grove Heights, Wadena, Hibbing, and Albert Lea to serve Minnesotans in the community. The sites are being supported by the Minnesota National Guard.

    Walz says, " By helping Minnesotans get the speedy test results they need, we are taking action to make sure Minnesotans have access to rapid testing options at our free community testing network.”

    To help Minnesotans access free, quick testing resources in their communities, the Governor has activated the National Guard to help stand up these new community rapid testing sites. These sites will allow Minnesotans experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to take an antigen test and receive results in a matter of hours.

    Power 96 News Brief for Wednesday 10-20

    10/20/2021

    A man accused of sexually abusing a minor in Mower County has pleaded guilty to the charges.

    31-year-old Jerome Anthony Watkins, was arrested back in June 2020 on two charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. According to investigators, Watkins had sexual contact with an underage victim multiple times over the course of several years.

    Watkins entered a guilty plea Monday to two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. His sentencing has been scheduled for February 4, 2022.

    One sure sign that the spooky season is here is the fall Halloween themed events, and some of them kick off this weekend.

    Albert Lea's Hy-Vee will be hosting a socially distanced Halloween children"s event outside this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon. There will be several activities for young ones, including pumpkin decorating and coloring, plus there will be treats for the kiddos to bring home to enjoy.

    Also this weekend, the Albert Lea Seed House will be hosting its fifth-annual Pumpkin Palooza Friday and Saturday with pet pictures, pumpkin prizes, children"s crafts and many other activities. Pumpkin Palooza will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

    Freeborn County Public Health reported 26 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases yesterday. Public Health also reported no new deaths and 1 resident was reported as being newly hospitalized. 3 children under the age of 10, and 4 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 91.

    Power 96 News Brief for Tuesday 10-19

    10/19/2021

    Governor Tim Walz announced the launch of “Kids Deserve a Shot,” a vaccine incentive program encouraging Minnesotans 12-17-years-old to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The program consists of two sets of rewards: a $200 Visa gift card for 12-17-year-olds who start and complete their vaccine series over the next six weeks, and five drawings of $100,000 Minnesota college scholarships for any Minnesotan 12-17 years old with a complete vaccine series.

    The “Kids Deserve a Shot” program comes as the state continues to drive vaccination efforts and awareness across the state, with a focus on boosting vaccination among this least-vaccinated age group. It is designed to encourage teenagers to get vaccinated and increase vaccination rates among adolescents. Currently, only 50% of Minnesotans 12-15 and less than 60% of Minnesotans 16-17 are fully vaccinated, the lowest vaccination rates of all eligible age groups.

    Minnesotans can read full program details and rules and register online at https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/vaccine-rewards/kids-deserve-a-shot/.

    In accordance with a proclamation issued by President Joe Biden, Governor Tim Walz has ordered all United States and Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff at all state buildings in the State of Minnesota effective until sunset on Friday, October 22, 2021, to remember, mourn, and honor the life of General Colin Powell who passed away Monday morning from COVID related complications. Walz added, “General Powell embodied the highest ideals of both a warrior and a diplomat and led with his personal commitment to the democratic values that make our country strong,” Powell was 84.

    Traffic fatalities on Minnesota roads continue to rise in 2021, and this year could be one of the deadliest driving years on record, according to Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) officials.

    According to DPS data, 2021's fatalities are quickly approaching 400, and the year is on pace to surpass 2007's record-setting traffic deaths. The agency is calling on all drivers to drive smart and help reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on the roads.

    As of Monday, there have been 384 traffic fatalities this year. That's a 23% increase over this time last year.

    At the current pace, Minnesota could record around 475 traffic deaths this year, with the potential to eclipse 2007's total of 510.

    Freeborn County Public Health reported 18 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases yesterday. Public Health also reported no new deaths and no residents were reported as being newly hospitalized. 1 child under the age of 10, and 2 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 152.

    Power 96 News Brief for Monday 10-18

    10/19/2021

    The Bridge Avenue Reconstruction Project is continuing to move along as last week, construction crews worked on Storm sewer replacement between Glenview Road and Hammer Road. Street lighting between Goose Creek and Glenview Road. A shared user trail installation south of Goose Creek. Excavation and aggregate base installation south of Glenview Road.

    Concrete curb & gutter installation south of Glenview Road and boulevard tree planting south of Richway Drive.

    This week, crews are expected to work on Storm sewer replacement between Troy Road and Hammer Road. Excavation and aggregate base south of Troy Road. Curb & gutter installation south of Glenview Road. Street lighting work south of Glenview Road. Conduit installation & wiring for the new traffic signal at Hammer Road and boulevard tree planting south of Goose Creek

    Residents are asked to be aware that the Hammer Road intersection will remain closed and are asked to please use caution in and around the construction zones and while taking posted detours.

    One man is dead and a second has life-threatening injuries after a collision in Goodhue County Sunday.

    According to the State Patrol, at 6:16 a.m., a Buick Enclave headed east and a westbound Chevy Impala on Highway 61 in Welch Township collided. Nathan Bradley Hase, 35, of Red Wing, died at the scene. Aaron Patton Ferguson, 70 — from Marion, Iowa — was airlifted to Mayo Clinic Hospital, St. Marys Campus with life-threatening injuries.

    Both drivers were wearing a seatbelt and no alcohol was involved in the incident.

    The Albert Lea School Board will be in session tonight at 5 pm in the Brookside Education Center's Board Room in order to conduct the official business of the district. On the agenda will be a public hearing regarding tax abatement for new home construction program. A Star of Innovation Gold Award will be presented to Southwest Middle School. A Southwest Middle Schools Cyberians Robotics Student Activity Account review. The Board will also receive reports from the Superintendent, School Board Member Reports, Student Board Member Reports and Teacher Report.

    The board will receive a District COVID-19 Update as well as a COVID-19 Medical Update. Officials are also expected to receive a Referendum Update that is scheduled to be voted on next month by taxpayers. Officials will also look for a resolution regarding fund balance transfers.

    A west metro emergency room and urgent care department are closed because of a strike.

    Fifty nurses who are part of the Minnesota Nurses Association and work at Abbot Northwestern"s WestHealth location are striking through Wednesday morning. The strike resulted in a temporary suspension of the location"s emergency and urgent care services.

    Picketers were outside the Plymouth clinic from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, and they plan to continue on Monday and Tuesday.

    According to the MNA, nurses have been negotiating a new contract for months. The main sticking point right now is with holiday pay for summer holidays — nurses are pushing for time-and-a-half pay when they work a holiday shift.

    Allina called the MNA and has asked that the nurses return to work on Wednesday morning. Nurses plan to do so and hope contract negotiations continue.

    Minnesota Energy Resources and Freeborn Mower Cooperative Services are offering residential customers in-home energy saving audits for 50.00. The inspection is a 300 dollar value. Minnesota Energy Resources will provide a third-party auditor with up to 24 months of usage and billing information. The energy companies are currently scheduling appointments for Oct. 26-28. With the expected increases to heating bill this winter, the audits may help homeowners lessen the big bills with preventive measures to increase savings.

    Enbridge has failed to meet a deadline set by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for cleaning up a site where an aquifer ruptured during construction of the Line 3 oil pipeline.

    The DNR had given the company until Friday to repair the damage to the artesian aquifer near Clearbrook.

    Regulators will require compensation for the additional time it takes to stop the groundwater flow.

    Regulators are also investigating two other sites where the company may have caused additional groundwater damage. Enbridge spokeswoman Julie Kellner says the company is “fully cooperating” with the DNR.

    The 2021 boating season was Minnesota"s deadliest in 16 years.

    The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says 17 people lost their lives in boating-related drownings and crashes, which is the most since 2005.

    Of the 17 casualties, 16 of them were not wearing life jackets when they went into the water.

    The DNR is reminding people to stay safe on the water since it"s still boating season and it"s getting colder.

    Power 96 News Brief for Wednesday 10-13

    10/13/2021

    Minnesota"s COVID-19 test positivity rate soared to 8.3% as of Tuesday, the highest mark since vaccines first rolled out late last year.

    The seven-day rolling average for the state"s positivity rate continues to climb toward the high risk category. The state draws that line at 10%.

    The Minnesota Department of Health on Tuesday reported 10 new COVID-19 deaths and 7,942 more coronavirus infections, reflecting pandemic activity identified over the weekend. Despite the irregular reporting schedule, the data indicates the latest surge, which began in August, is showing no sign of ebbing.

    School-age children continue to be the group suffering the most new infections in Minnesota with 10- to 14-year-olds leading the pack.

    Minnesota government"s revenue shattered expectations again to the tune of $657 million more during the past three months, another signal that the Legislature will have plenty of money to work with in their election-year session.

    The quarterly economic update released Monday covering July through September showed all tax types ran way ahead of projections and the combined total is 12.4 percent more than officials forecast back in February. Corporate tax receipts were nearly double what was expected. The Department of Minnesota Management and Budget report said tax refunds across the categories were also lower than predicted.

    In data reported by Freeborn County Public Health as of 4 am Friday until 4 am Monday, Public Health reported 62 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths and 2 residents were reported as being newly hospitalized. 11 children under the age of 10, and 9 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 161.

    Power 96 News Brief for Tuesday 10-12

    10/12/2021

    Monday morning in Waseca, Officer Arik Matson was given a customized golf cart that resembles his old Waseca Police squad car. Shelly Bartlett, who helped organize the surprise donation said I'd heard he really missed driving, so I thought this was the best thing possible. The golf cart was paid for by donations from the community and was intended to increase Matson's mobility.

    Matson was critically injured after being shot in the line of duty in January of 2020. He's undergone reconstructive surgery, speech therapy and physical therapy since then. He was finally able to return home last October.

    The first passengers, besides his wife Megan, were his daughters as Arik picked them up from their bus stop after school.

    Albert Lea's City Council approved a resolution and declared Oct. 23 as Hometown Pride Fall Cleanup Day at the city"s transfer station and demolition landfill. There will be free and reduced price disposal charges for city residents. Proof of residence is required.

    Brush and yard waste, household garbage and demolition debris will be free. Appliances, sofas and mattresses will be $10, and other furniture pieces are $5. Passenger car tires will be $3.

    In data reported by Freeborn County Public Health as of 4 am Friday, Public Health reported 32 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths and one resident was reported as being newly hospitalized. 6 children under the age of 10, and 4 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 182.

    Power 96 News Brief for Monday 10-11

    10/11/2021

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

    The council will have the second reading of 3 ordinances. The renaming of a portion of James Avenue to Eddie Cochran Street, a residential land use change, and regulations related to livestock.

    The city will hold a Public Hearing and look for a resolution levying special assessments for miscellaneous delinquent water/sewer accounts and Miscellaneous Delinquent Accounts Receivable. The city will also hold public hearing and look for resolutions authorizing final assessments for two improvement projects. The city will also look for a resolution ordering preparation of feasibility reports For 2022 improvements which include 2 overlay projects and one street reconstruction project. The city will also look for a resolution announcing Hometown Pride Clean-Up Day for residents from 9AM to 12 Noon on Saturday, October 23.

    A shootout at a busy bar in St. Paul, Minnesota, early Sunday left a woman dead and 14 other people wounded, authorities said.

    The shooting happened shortly after midnight at the Seventh Street Truck Park bar. Police said preliminary information indicated several people fired gunshots.

    Police arrested three men who were being treated at a hospital for injuries from the shootout. All three will be booked into the Ramsey County jail once they are discharged.

    The woman in her 20s who was killed is the 32nd homicide victim in the city so far this year.

    Westbound Interstate 90 motorists from Highway 13 to Interstate 35 will encounter a left lane closure in the westbound lanes beginning today as crews begin installing high-tension cable median barrier, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

    The lane closure in Freeborn County will be approximately 4.9 miles in length. Mattison Contractors is the prime contractor on the $644,693 project. Work is scheduled to be completed by the end of November.

    The barriers are made of three or four steel cables strung on posts. When a car hits the barrier, the posts break and the cables flex, absorbing much of a crash"s kinetic energy. This redirects the vehicle along the median, preventing a cross-median crash.

    Minnesota state prosecutors will ask a judge to raise the sentencing level in the Kim Potter case.

    The filing was submitted on Friday.

    The state notified Judge Regina M. Chu that it will seek an upward sentencing departure, which would allow a possible sentence to be greater than the state guidelines would typically call for. Potter faces first- and second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop earlier this year.

    The maximum sentence for first-degree manslaughter is 15 years and a $30,000 fine, and for second-degree manslaughter, it's 10 years and a $20,000 fine.

    The trial is set to begin on Nov. 30.

    The Bridge Avenue Reconstruction Project is continuing to move along as last week, construction crews worked on storm sewer replacement between Glenview Rd and Hammer Rd, Excavation and aggregate base installation between Goose Creek and Troy Rd, replaces concrete curb & gutter between Goose Creek and Glenview Road, continued boulevard tree planting south of Richway Drive, worked on grading for the new stormwater pond near Goose Creek and street light installation north of Goose Creek.

    This week, crews are expected to work on excavation and aggregate base installation between Glenview Rd and Hammer Rd

    begin concrete curb & gutter between Goose Creek and Troy Rd and street light installation north of Goose Creek.

    Residents are asked to be aware that the Hammer Road intersection will remain closed and are asked to please use caution in and around the construction zones and while taking posted detours.

    More than 160 soldiers from Minnesota are headed overseas.

    A Minnesota National Guard deployment ceremony was held Sunday at Fort Snelling. Those soldiers will head to Kuwait as part of Operation Spartan Shield.

    The soldiers will provide technical and tactical guidance to help strengthen military defense relationships in southwest Asia and the Middle East.

    Power 96 News Brief for Thursday 10-07

    10/07/2021

    Westbound Interstate 90 motorists from Highway 13 to Interstate 35 will encounter a left lane closure in the westbound lanes beginning Oct. 11 as crews begin installing high-tension cable median barrier, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

    The lane closure in Freeborn County will be approximately 4.9 miles in length. Mattison Contractors is the prime contractor on the $644,693 project. Work is scheduled to be completed by the end of November.

    The barriers are made of three or four steel cables strung on posts. When a car hits the barrier, the posts break and the cables flex, absorbing much of a crash"s kinetic energy. This redirects the vehicle along the median, preventing a cross-median crash.

    An Austin man made his first appearance on murder charges after being extradited back to Minnesota.

    27-year-old Me'darian Ledale McGruder was booked into the Mower County Jail on Monday evening. McGruder is facing charges of 2nd-degree murder with intent not premeditated, 2nd-degree murder without intent as well as a violent felon in possession of a firearm.

    McGruder was wanted in connection to a homicide that killed 20-year-old Tyesha Tahne Gills on July 31st in Austin, Minnesota.

    According to court documents, at about 2 a.m. on July 31, police got a call about a woman in distress. When they arrived at the house, they found 20-year-old TyEsha Gills with a gunshot wound. Austin police said they tried to keep her alive, but they were not able to save her life.

    McGruder was later arrested in the State of Mississippi by the U.S. Marshall's Service and local authorities there and then extradited back to Minnesota.

    McGruder's bail has been set for 2 million dollars with no conditions and 1 million dollars with conditions, he is expected to be back in court on October 18th.

    Freeborn County Public Health reported 30 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths and 4 residents were reported as being newly hospitalized. 3 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 193.

    Power 96 News Brief for Wednesday 10-06

    10/06/2021

    Albert Lea Police responded to two reports of gunshots fired in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

    According to the Albert Lea Deputy Police Chief, Darren Hanson shots were fired in the area of the 500 block of Euclid Ave just before 4:00 a.m.

    Officers responded to the area and found multiple shell casings as well as a vehicle and a home that had gunshot damage.

    Right around that time, a male wearing a white hooded sweatshirt was seen leaving the area on a bicycle. Police would like to talk to that person to see if they know anything or saw anything.

    Witnesses living in the area say they were sleeping during the time of the shooting but were woken up by the sound of 11 gunshots.

    Then, about an hour later around 5:00 a.m., police got more reports of gunshots in the area of the 1000 block of Dunham Street. Once again, officers found multiple shell casings and a home with gunshot damage.

    Police believe the incidents are related, but don't believe there is an ongoing threat to public safety.

    They are asking anyone with security cameras in the area, or any information, to contact the Albert Lea Police Department at 507-377-5200.

    A 35-year-old Garner Iowa man has died and another is facing a murder charge in connection to a police involved shooting that took place early Sunday morning in downtown Mason City.

    Police said that Christoper Tucker of Garner was airlifted to Rochester with multiple gunshot wounds. He died Monday from his injuries.

    On Tuesday afternoon, Jelani Faulk, 25, of Chicago,Illinois was placed into custody and will be charged with first-degree murder.

    Faulk was shot during the incident by Mason City police officer Noah Friese.

    Friese was patrolling in the area at the time of the shooting and identified two males who were running at him following Tucker being shot.

    Friese ordered the subjects, Faulk and 24-year-old Kristopher Keys, of Dubuque, to the ground. Keys complied, while Faulk pointed a handgun at the officer.

    Friese then shot Faulk, who was hospitalized prior to being taken into jail.

    This incident remains under investigation by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

    In data reported by Freeborn County Public Health as of 4 a.m. Friday until 4 a.m. Monday, Public Health reported 54 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths and no residents were reported as being newly hospitalized. 12 children under the age of 10, and 5 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 163.

    Power 96 News Brief for Tuesday 10-05

    10/05/2021

    In a 7-0 vote on Monday night, the Albert Lea School Board moved to approve changes that allowed for more time to be allotted to the open forum portion of regular session school board meetings.

    Under the new policy, the open forum will be increased to 30 minutes, up from 10 minutes in previous meetings. Each person who signs up to speak at the board meeting will receive two minutes of time. The topic does not have to be listed.

    A sign-up sheet will be made available at 4 p.m. before each school board meeting when the board meets in a regular session to conduct the official business of the district. In the event that more than 15 people sign up to speak, members of the public will be chosen at random electronically before the start of the forum.

    In data reported by Freeborn County Public Health as of 4 am Friday, Public Health reported 34 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths and 3 residents were reported as being newly hospitalized. 5 children under the age of 10, and 5 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 155.

    Four people are in the hospital after they were shot Monday night near a gas station in north Minneapolis, police said.

    According to the Minneapolis Police Department, officers responded to the sound of gunshots near North Lyndale and West Broadway avenues around 8:14 p.m. in the area of Winner Gas.

    Police said arriving officers came across three male victims who'd been shot. They were all taken to the hospital and are expected to survive. A fourth victim later walked into North Memorial Health Hospital.

    Police said one of the victims at the gas station could be a juvenile.

    The shooting remains under investigation, and police are checking surveillance footage in the area in search of a possible suspect.

    Power 96 News Brief for Monday 10-04

    10/04/2021

    The District 241 school board will conduct a study session tonight in the Boardroom at the Brookside Education Center beginning at 5 pm. Because this is a study session there will be no public input portion of the meeting. The board will look to pass a resolution Appointing Election Judges for the November 2, 2021 School District Special Election and discuss the open forum procedures. The board will study the energy report as well as receive a budget update.

    Minnesota families who get their health insurance through MNsure average of $684 per year and will have more plans to choose from in 2022.

    The Minnesota Department of Commerce and MNsure released information Friday on rates and options for 2022 in advance of open enrollment, which begins Nov. 1. They say average premiums will be lower because more Minnesotans than ever before will be eligible for tax credits to lower their costs, thanks to federal stimulus funding.

    Every county in Minnesota will have at least two insurers offering individual market plans, with all but seven counties having three or more insurers.

    The Bridge Avenue Reconstruction Project is nearing completion for 2021. Last week, construction crews installed water and sewer service replacement between Glenview Road and Hammer Road.

    Storm sewer replacement between Glenview Road and Hammer Road, and began grading and aggregate base installation between Goose Creek and Troy Road.

    This week, crews are expected to work on Storm sewer replacement between Troy Road and Hammer Road. Continue grading and aggregate base installation between Goose Creek and Troy Road, install concrete curb & gutter between Eastgate Road and Glenview Road, work on the shared user trail installation between Richway Drive and Goose Creek, and begin boulevard grading and sod installation south of Glenview Road.

    As a reminder, the Hammer Road Intersection is closed, and will remain closed for several more weeks.

    Reconstruction of Albert Lea's central water tower has begun with crews cutting the top of the tank into pieces, letting them fall into the bowl, and removing them with a crane. This week the contractor will be closing portions of Newton Avenue and Fountain Street so they can set the crane in the street to better allow their work to continue. Motorists and pedestrians are urged to use caution in and around the construction zone.

    Officials are investigating a shooting that later lead to an officer-involved shooting in Mason City early Sunday morning.

    At approximately 1:13 a.m. officers responded to a fight/shots fired call near State Street and Federal Avenue. When an officer arrived, they found several people fleeing the area and that is when an officer-involved shooting took place.

    Two people, including the suspect, were injured and taken to MercyOne North Iowa. The severity of those injured has not been released.

    The Mason City Police Department has requested the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to investigate the original shooting incident and the officer-involved shooting. The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on leave pending the outcome of the shooting investigation.

    More information will be released regarding this incident on Tuesday, October 5.

    Power 96 News Brief for Wednesday 09-29

    09/29/2021

    A Glenville man is facing felony charges after an incident involving a stolen truck left another man wounded in rural Freeborn County.

    38-year-old James Joseph Vinton is facing 2nd-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers the safety of another.

    According to the complaint, on September 26, deputies were called to 11800 block of 800th Ave in Freeborn County on a report that someone was in the process of stealing a truck.

    When deputies arrived, they found a man with wounds in his upper back sitting on the ground next to the vehicle. The victim who has not been identified admitted to stealing the truck and said he had been shot.

    He was taken to the Albert Lea Medical Center and eventually flown to St. Mary"s hospital in Rochester and is expected to make a full recovery.

    Vinton told detectives he could see his blue pickup being driven out of the farmyard, past the arena on his property. He told his wife to call 911 and he grabbed his rifle out of the bedroom closet.

    The complaint said he fired one shot over the pickup in hopes of scaring them.

    Vinton said he fired a second-round from his rifle as the pickup turned left to head north on 800th Avenue.

    The complaint said he thought he was shooting at the rear driver"s tire to get the vehicle to stop. The vehicle continued driving on 800th Avenue and eventually got stuck. Vinton said that the victim was asking for help and that he had been shot.

    Vinton is scheduled to be in court on October 7.

    A Charter Spectrum spokesperson said Monday's outage was caused by a third party working on underground sewer lines when they cut a fiber optic cable.

    Services were restored just before midnight for Spectrum customers.

    Nearly 200 Minnesota health workers are suing their employers to block a pending requirement that they be vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk getting fired.

    The lawsuit was filed in federal court late Monday against federal officials and about 20 providers that operate hospitals and clinics across Minnesota. It contends the lack of alternatives to vaccination infringes on the constitutional rights of those employees, who range from doctors and nurses to technicians.

    The lawsuit seeks a temporary injunction to bar any terminations or steps to put unvaccinated health workers on unpaid leave while the case plays out.

    From 4 am Friday through 4 am Monday, Freeborn County Public Health reported 54 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths and 1 resident was reported as being newly hospitalized. 11 children under the age of 10, and 3 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 121.

    This weekend you can go back in time at the annual Big Island Rondevous. This will be the 35th year for the event at Bancroft Bay Park. The Rondevous takes you on a walk back into early Minnesota history.

    Traders will demonstrate different skills, such as woodworking, candle making, crafts, blacksmithing, silversmithing, pottery, cooking over an open fire, making clothing and printing fabric.

    Cost is $14 for adults, $8 for ages 6 to 11, free for children 5 and under; family passes are $30.

    The Rendezvous is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

    Also taking place this weekend is the Annual Eddie Cochran Weekend. The Car Show and Music Festival kicks off at 3 p.m. Friday with a cruise-in social on North Broadway in downtown Albert Lea. At 7:30 p.m., The Whitesidewalls will perform in Fountain Lake Park at the Gazebo. People should bring their own lawn chairs for the concert.

    On Saturday, the car show will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with registration from 8:30 to 11 a.m. There will be live music near the corner of Clark St and Broadway at Noon.

    Awards will be given out at 2 p.m., and a cruise will follow at 4 p.m. around Fountain Lake.

    Food trucks will be available both days.

    Cochran was a musician and performer born in Albert Lea in 1938. He is known for his contributions to rock ‘n" roll, country and rhythm and blues. He was killed in a taxi accident in England in April of 1960.

    Cochran had hits in the 50's such as "Twenty Flight Rock", "Summertime Blues", "C'mon Everybody", "Sittin in the Balcony"and "Somethin' Else".

    Power 96 News Brief for Tuesday 09-28

    09/29/2021

    Albert Lea's City Council approved an initial preliminary tax levy of 9.98% for fiscal year 2022, 6th ward Councilor Al Brooks was the lone “NO” vote, however, Councilor Rich Murray indicated that the proposed levy rate was unacceptable, but voted to pass the initial levy. Councilor Jason Howland, also voiced concern stating the the final levy has to come down significantly and said as part of the budget committee, that he will go through each line item with a fine tooth comb.

    Although the council passed the initial levy at a 9.98 percent increase, it is not the final levy amount. The levy, now that is set, can not go up, but can be worked on and lowered by the time the final levy is set in December. The final levy amount will be set on December 13th of 2021.

    In other actions, the city awarded the sale of General Obligation Utility Revenue Bonds in the amount of 7,155,000 for the removal and construction of the Central Water Tower.

    Passed a Tax Increment Financing district plan for the former Freeborn County Co-operative property that is expected to be taken over by Ulland Brothers for the relocation of their construction company.

    The city also voted to approve the renaming of a portion of James Avenue to Eddie Cochran Street.

    If you missed the Taste of Albert Lea event a few short weeks ago, the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau along with Albert Lea Economic Development Agency and the Main Street Program are happy to announce that you'll have a second chance to enjoy food and music today as the CVB and company kick off their Fall Frenzy event from 11 am to 8 pm.

    This event will feature 6 food vendors and live music. The Fall Frenzy kicks off at 11 am with Food vendors lining Fountain St at the end of N Broadway to serve you up lunch, 2nd lunch, & dinner. Live music featuring some of the areas finest local musicians will begin at 4 in the afternoon at Fountain Lake Park at the gazebo.

    The Austin Public School Board voted to implement a universal mask mandate.

    According to Austin Public School Board Chairperson Kathy Green, The mandate will only apply during daytime hours.

    Currently, Austin Public Schools has 110 students isolating or quarantining due to either a possible COVID-19 exposure or a positive test result.

    Austin Public Schools has roughly 5,000 students, with COVID infections amounting to two percent of the student body to date.

    Currently, There is no timeline for when the mandate will expire.

    As of 4 am Friday, Freeborn County Public Health reported 19 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths and 1 resident was reported as being newly hospitalized. 2 children under the age of 10, and 5 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 101.

    Power 96 News Brief for Monday 09-27

    09/27/2021

    Albert Lea's City Council will be in session tonight in the council chambers in City Hall at 7 pm.

    The council will hear the 2nd reading of the Amending of Part 1 Charter – Chapter 1, General Provisions.

    The council will hear a resolution awarding the sale of General Obligation Utility Revenue Bonds in the amount of 7,155,000 for the removal and construction of the Central Water Tower.

    The city will also look to pass a resolution adopting the 2022 preliminary budget and property tax levy as well as resolution approving Albert Lea Housing And Redevelopment Authority's preliminary property tax levy For fiscal year 2022.

    There will be a first reading of an ordinance renaming a portion of James Avenue to Eddie Cochran Street. Eddie Cochran street will run from Frank Avenue to the termini currently located at 108 James Avenue. This roadway portion accommodates the Pelican Breeze, the city"s main lift station, the city"s impound facility and the Freeborn County Humane Society.

    The city is also expected to award a contract For demolition of the Godfathers Pizza building located at 509 East Main Street. Engineering and WHKS are recommending the low bid of $42,000 as submitted by Fitzgerald Excavating of Goodhue, Minnesota.

    The Bridge Avenue Reconstruction Project is nearing completion for 2021. Last week, construction crews installed Sewer and water service replacement between Glenview Road and Hammer Road, installed storm sewer replacement between Glenview Road and Hammer Road and stated Excavation and aggregate base installation between Goose Creek and Glenview Road.

    This week, crews are expected to work on Storm sewer replacement between Troy Road and Hammer Road.

    Sanitary sewer replacement between Troy Road and Hammer Road

    Concrete curb & gutter installation north of Goose Creek

    Street light installation north of Goose Creek and boulevard tree installation south of Richway Drive.

    As a reminder, the Hammer Road Intersection is closed, and will remain closed for several more weeks.

    If you missed the Taste of Albert Lea event a few short weeks ago, the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau along with Albert Lea Economic Development Agency and the Main Street Program are happy to announce that you'll have a second chance to enjoy food and music on Tuesday September 28th when the CVB and company kick off their Fall Frenzy event from 11 am to 8 pm.

    This event will feature 6 food vendors and live music. The Fall Frenzy kicks off at 11 am with Food vendors lining Fountain St at the end of N. Broadway to serve you up lunch, 2nd lunch, & dinner. Live music featuring some of the areas finest local musicians will begin at 4 in the afternoon at the Fountain Lake Park gazebo.

    The first phase of Albert Lea's Central Water Tower reconstruction project will get underway today with the demolition of the tower. The demolition involves torch cutting into manageable pieces and lowering to the ground with a crane. U.S. SiteWork Inc. from Elk River MN is the prime contractor.

    This project will require sidewalk closures on the north and east side of the block containing the Central Water Tower (Fountain Street and Newton Avenue). Temporary road closures and detours of will also be required on an as needed basis.

    City official ask that the public please exercise caution and reduce speed when driving around this construction area.

    Anoka police arrested a 13-year-old Sunday after he threatened a school shooting.

    At 2:36 p.m. Saturday, the Anoka Police Department got a tip of a threat on social media, which included a threat of an Anoka school shooting.

    On Sunday, police interviewed the teenage suspect who admitted to making the post, but told police he didn't plan to act on the threat. Police investigation revealed that the boy doesn't have access to firearms. They arrested him for probable cause threats of violence and took him to the Anoka County Secure Program, which houses juvenile boys ages 10 through 18 who are referred by courts, corrections and law enforcement.

    Three people were taken to the hospital after a crash in Mower County on Saturday morning, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

    Around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, a 2016 Ford Fusion was traveling south on Highway 63 and a 2014 Chevy Silverado was heading west on Highway 16 when the two cars collided.

    The driver and passenger of the Ford Fusion and the passenger of the Chevy Silverado were all taken to Saint Marys with non-life-threatening injuries, according to Minnesota State Patrol.

    Power 96 News Brief for Thursday 09-23

    09/24/2021

    In a surprise move, The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted 4-1 on a preliminary 5% increase in the county"s tax levy. The vote was not on the original agenda that was distributed and added prior to the meeting causing Commissioner Dan Belshan to be the lone “no” vote on the measure.

    Because the preliminary levy and budget has to be set by Sept. 30, the action items were added to the agenda at the start of the meeting. County Administrator Tom Jensen said the board needed to vote on the levy or there would have to be a special meeting if they did not approve it because of the looming deadline. Jensen said the increase in the preliminary levy covers cost of living and step increases for county employees, an additional almost $100,000 for the county highway department for road improvements and between $200,000 and $250,000 for the county"s portion of the Northern Natural Gas pipeline settlement.

    The levy can be lowered in December when the budget is finalized, but it cannot be raised any further than the 5% voted upon.

    An Albert Lea EMT is being honored for his commitment to providing exceptional prehospital emergency medical care on a national level.

    Albert Lea Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Jeff Laskowske was recently recognized by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians for achieving 20 consecutive years of National EMS Certification.

    This distinction is an honor held by few EMS professionals.

    To maintain his status as a Nationally Registered EMT, Laskowske completed, on a biennial basis, the most comprehensive re-certification program for EMS professionals in America.

    By maintaining his National EMS Certification and completing regular continuing education courses, Laskowske has demonstrated his commitment to providing exceptional prehospital emergency medical care.

    An Austin woman is sentenced for changing bar codes at the Mason City Walmart.

    Tonya Jean Turvey, 40, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree theft at her court apperance. She was arrested for going into the Walmart and changing bar codes in order to reduce the price of items. Officials say it happened on at least three occasions and when confronted by store employees, Turvey fled every time.

    Turvey was given 20 days in jail and ordered to pay a $430 fine and $568.76 in restitution.

    A group of north Minneapolis residents have sent an open letter to Gov. Tim Walz, calling the area a “war zone” and are requesting the Minnesota State Patrol or National Guard to assist police.

    Sent Wednesday, the letter from 26 residents says they have been left to “twist in the winds of violence” for over a year, with the violence including deaths of children due to gunfire. The group says the city as a whole has seen 69 “murders” this year so far, and things are getting worse with more incidents including automatic gunfire.

    The group is calling on the governor to send “any and all available resources” immediately — the state patrol or National Guard — to Minneapolis to assist the Minneapolis Police Department.

    Freeborn County Public Health reported 4 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases yesterday. Public Health also reported 2 new deaths 1 being a resident between 70 and 74 years of age, and another being between 80 and 84, no residents were reported as being newly hospitalized. No children under the age of 10 were included in the total of those who tested positive.

    The number of active cases within the county now stands at 80.

    Power 96 News Brief for Wednesday 09-22

    09/22/2021

    The Mower County Sheriff's Office responded to a hog confinement fire near Adams Tuesday afternoon.

    Just after 5:30 p.m., fire departments from Adams, Leroy, Rose Creek, and Staceyville all responded to the 70000 block of 110 St.

    Earlier in the day, the reporting party stated that the building had received a chemical treatment indicating a possible chemical release. The building was unoccupied with humans and animals.

    Residents in the area were evacuated while crews evaluated the affected area.

    There have been no injuries of humans or animals reported at this time, and there is no longer concern for the safety of residents in the surrounding area, and evacuated residents are cleared to return.

    A semi/car collision in Freeborn County sent one person to the hospital Tuesday evening.

    The Minnesota State Patrol reports that the accident happened around 5:13 pm on northbound Interstate 35. The State Patrol says a semi driven by Todd William Meehl, 57 of Holdingford, and a car driven by Nicole Jo Drosdal, 22 of New Town, collided near mile marker 8.

    According to the State Patrol, Drosdal suffered what are described as non-life threatening injuries and was taken to Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea for treatment.

    The Freeborn County Sheriff"s Office assisted with this accident.

    Albert Lea Community Theatre (ACT) has announced that auditions for the musical “A Christmas Story” will be held Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 4 and 5, starting at 6 p.m. at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center, 147 N. Broadway in Albert Lea.

    This musical is based on the movie classic that runs round-the-clock on TV every Christmas. Set in the 1940s in the fictional town of Homan, Indiana, the show follows 9-year-old Ralphie and his quest for the Holy Grail of Christmas gifts — an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model air rifle.

    Directed by Glen Parsons, eight performances are scheduled for Dec. 2?12. Children should be at least 8 years old to audition. Those auditioning should be prepared to sing, read from the script and learn a few dance steps.

    Anyone age 12 and over must be vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to audition. You must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination status when signing in for auditions.

    The City of Albert Lea will be spraying for mosquitoes Wednesday evening this week with Thursday as the alternate in case of weather. Spraying will begin at sunset.

    Power 96 News Brief for Tuesday 09-21

    09/21/2021

    On a 4-2 vote, the Albert Lea school board voted to pass parameters pertaining to the district"s universal masking policy.

    Under the new guidelines, the district will remain with a universal masking policy until the COVID-19 daily case rates, provided by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, drop below 150 cases per 100,000 people for seven consecutive days in Freeborn County.   

    After those perimeters are met and the masking mandate has been lifted, should the county"s daily case rate rises above the 150 per 100,000 threshold, the superintendent will direct the district to go back to the universal masking mandate for all kindergarten through 12th-grade students and staff.

    Currently, Freeborn County currently is sitting at 416.

    The district also voted 6-0 to pony up just under 17 thousand dollars in dues to the Minnesota State High School League. This includes $9,000 in back COVID-19 fees for 2020 which the district did not pay. Due to newly adopted language by the MSHL in their bylaws, any member schools with unpaid dues would be removed from the league, meaning all of the district"s sports and fine arts would not be allowed to compete.

    Two years ago MSHL fees were reportedly about $4,000.00.

    An investigation report from the Minnesota State Fire Marshal shows the cause of a fire in Brownsdale can not be determined.

    The report said the fire started somewhere on the south side of Rohler Rink earlier this month. The lead investigator Steve Wolf said he was able to eliminate all natural causes for the fire but could not rule out accidental causes or arson. Wolf was not able to identify an area of origin or any potential ignition sources.

    Wolf further notes, at this time, the owners are not believed to have been involved in starting the fire. There is also no signs of forced entry or theft to the building or anything inside.

    An 18-year-old man is facing charges after a weekend burglary in Austin.

    Sunday, police were called to the 600 block of 19th St. NW after the homeowner reported that money, ammunition, and a .380 handgun had been stolen from their vehicles in the garage.

    Officers and Deputies were able to make an identification based on a neighbor"s surveillance video.

    Austin Police along with the Mower County Sheriff"s Office recovered the stolen handgun and ammunition following a search warrant in the 500 block of 18th St. NW. Monday morning.

    Elias James Wells, 18 of Austin, was arrested and taken to the Mower County Jail on a probable cause arrest related to the burglary.

    The case is being sent to the Mower County Attorney"s Office for formal charges.

    Power 96 News Brief for Monday 09-20

    09/21/2021

    It has been determined that the city of Albert Lea has too much chloride in its wastewater discharge to the Shell Rock River to meet the state water quality standard designed to protect aquatic life. Water softening is the likely source of chloride in the city"s wastewater. Softeners use chloride salts and the resulting brine goes down the drain to the city"s wastewater treatment plant. Like other facilities, it is not designed to remove chloride from the wastewater and the chloride is discharged to the river.

    To gain time to study the problem and develop solutions, the city has applied for a variance in its wastewater discharge permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The application requires a public meeting, which the MPCA will host Tuesday, Sept. 21, starting at 5:30 p.m. via Webex. The MPCA will provide information about Albert Lea"s proposed permit and chloride variance, as well as state resources for addressing this issue. Those attending will have also an opportunity to ask questions and provide comments.

    Instruction on how to join the meeting are posted on the city's website.

    The District 241 School Board will be in session tonight at 5 pm in the Boardroom at the Brookside Education Center in order to conduct the official business of the district. The Board is expected to review various activity accounts, Enter into a use agreement with the City of Albert Lea over use of the City Arena, Hayek Field, Snyder Field, Bancroft Park, Lakeview Park and Edgewater Park for team athletics and events. The Board will receive reports from the Superintendent, School Board Members, Student Board Members, and Teachers. The board will also receive a COVID-19 update and vote on a resolution of Health and Safety Measures for the school year. The board is expected to adopt an Approval for Proposed 2021 Pay 2022 Certified Levy at Maximum. The board will also receive a Referendum Update and take action regarding the Minnesota State High School League.

    A pre-construction meeting was held last week to discuss the Central Water Tower Demolition. The demolition contractor plans to begin removing the existing water tower on September 27th, with work expected to take two to three weeks depending on the weather. Their process will be to torch-cut the steel into manageable sized pieces and hauling them away, starting at the top of the tower.

    The Bridge Avenue Reconstruction Project is nearing completion for 2021. Last week, construction crews installed sanitary sewer and watermain replacement between Glenview Road and Hammer Road. Replace storm sewer between Glenview Road and Goose Creek and continued street light installation south of the Goose Creek crossing.

    This week, crews are expected to work on sewer and water service replacement between Glenview Road and Hammer Road.

    Continue storm sewer replacement between Glenview Road and Hammer Road and continue the excavation for and installation of aggregate base between Glenview Road and Goose Creek.

    As a reminder, the Hammer Road Intersection is closed, and will remain closed for several more weeks.

    The Blazing Star Trail planning is moving forward with a public meeting set for tonight. Plans are set to expand the trail across Albert Lea Lake and connect to the trail from Hayward. The public meeting will be held Monday, Sept. 20, at Edgewater Bay Pavilion, starting at 6:30 p.m., The event is hosted by the Freeborn County Trails Assoc.

    Some of the details that will be discussed include plans to repave parts of the trail. Build a bridge across Albert Lea Lake and connect to the trail from Hayward, and pave the gravel section within Myre-Big Island State Park.

    The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners will be in session on Tuesday morning beginning at 8:30 in the Boardroom at the Freeborn County Government Center. Commissioners are expected to hear a presentation from MN Department of Transportation, and approve drainage repairs. Commissioners will also receive reports from various county departments including Public Heath who are involved in a pending resolution to contract with Alden Conger Schools, Glenville Emmons Schools and Hollandale Christian School to provide school health services.

    Commissioners will consider a resolution accepting the resignation of Holli Mayer, Assistant County Attorney effective September 23, 2021. Consider a resolution to approve Freeborn County joining Albert Lea School District 241 Well@Work clinic operated by HealthPartners. Consider a resolution approving a lease with the State of Minnesota for the Department of Public Safety, Driver and Vehicle Services, as well as consider a resolution approving the termination of group medical coverage with SSC Service Cooperative effective January 1, 2022.

    Power 96 News Brief for Wednesday 09-15

    09/15/2021

    With flu season just around the corner and cases of COVID-19 increasing, experts at Mayo Clinic say it's time to schedule your flu shot.

    Both viruses cause respiratory illness, often leading to mild to severe or life-threatening symptoms in children and adults. People should be vaccinated against both Covid-19 and the flu.

    Last year because of the pandemic, fewer flu cases were seen because of taking precautions like social distancing and wearing face masks.

    But ahead of this flu season, those at Mayo Clinic say it is important to get your flu vaccine because sometimes you just don't have the symptoms for either illness.

    Individuals can get the flu vaccine and covid vaccine at the same time. It takes two weeks for the flu vaccine to be completely in effect.

    Minnesota House DFL leaders say Rep. John Thompson has now been removed from the caucus after finding himself in legal trouble and refusing to resign.

    House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler released the following statement Tuesday night:

    "Rep. Thompson's actions, credible reports of abuse and misconduct, and his failure to take responsibility remain unacceptable for a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. It would be best for Rep. Thompson, his family, and the institution for him to resign. In the absence of a resignation, the Minnesota House DFL has voted to remove Rep. Thompson from the caucus."

    While Thompson is still part of the House, his expulsion from the caucus further isolates him and keeps him from certain meetings and resources.

    The City of Albert Lea will be spraying for mosquitoes Wednesday evening this week with Thursday as the alternate in case of weather. Spraying will begin at dusk.

    Freeborn County Public Health reported 40 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Public Health also reported no new deaths, and 1 resident was reported as being newly hospitalized. 7 children under the age of 10 were included in the total of those who tested positive.

    The number of active cases within the county now stands at 144.

    Power 96 News Brief for Tuesday 09-14

    09/14/2021

    Plans are being set to expand the Blazing Star trail across Albert Lea Lake and connect to the trail from Hayward. There will be a public meeting outlining the details Monday, Sept. 20, at Edgewater Bay Pavilion, starting at 6:30 p.m. The informational meeting is hosted by the Freeborn County Trails Association.

    Parts of the plan include Repaving parts of the trail. and a second step in the plan includes Building a bridge across Albert Lea Lake and connect to the trail from Hayward. Step 3 includes paving the gravel section within Myre-Big Island State Park.

    23 year-old Colin Charles Belden, of Austin, is pleading guilty to sex abuse again. Belden was arrested back in April 2020 and charged with four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim who was under 13 years old.

    Yesterday, Belden plead guilty to one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. His sentencing has been set for January 7, 2022.

    Authorities say Belden was already sentenced to 15 years of supervised probation in December 2019 after pleading guilty to one count of 3rd degree criminal sexual conduct.

    Pheasant numbers have declined by 25 percent from 2020, but numbers remained on par with the 10-year average, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources" annual roadside wildlife survey.

    Tim Lyons, DNR upland game research scientist, said, “While the decline from last year sounds significant, pheasant numbers are actually fairly good and hunters will likely still see plenty of birds when the season opens Oct. 16,”

    While down from last year, this year"s pheasant indices are on par with or exceed 10-year averages in all regions of the state.

    Weather and habitat are the main influences on Minnesota"s pheasant population. Weather causes annual fluctuations in pheasant numbers, while habitat drives long-term population trends.

    Freeborn County Public Health reported 36 new lab confirmed positive COVID-19 cases over the weekend. Public Health also reported no new deaths, and 1 resident was reported as being newly hospitalized. 8 children under the age of 10 were included in the total of those who tested positive.

    The number of active cases within the county now stands at 179.

    Power 96 News Brief for Monday 09-13

    09/13/2021

    Due to the high the high COVID-19 case counts within Freeborn County, Albert Lea Area Schools announced universal masking will be implemented for all staff and all students kindergarten through 12th grades starting today.

    According to an announcement on the districts website, the Administration will bring a resolution to the school board at their next meeting on Sept. 20 regarding the issue. That resolution will provide a COVID data target that the district will need to meet before being able to remove the universal masking requirement.

    Freeborn County currently has the second highest level of COVID-19 infections per capita in the state.

    Albert Lea's City Council will be in session this evening beginning at 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall. There is expected to be a Resolution Calling A Public Hearing on Proposed Assessments For The Delinquent Water/Sewer Accounts and Miscellaneous Accounts Receivable. A resolution approving professional engineering services agreement with Bolton & Menk for construction management services on the central water tower construction project. A resolution amending the city's travel policy from a receipt based method to a flat fee method, and a resolution approving no parking signs - Eberhart Street / Columbus Avenue West to the Alley to facilitate better traffic flow and allow for larger trucks to turn.

    The Bridge Avenue Reconstruction Project is nearing completion for 2021. On Tuesday, September 7, the Hammer Road Intersection was closed and will remain closed for seven weeks. Drivers are to follow the signed detour that is in place. This is the final stretch of road to be constructed. Once it is completed, Bridge Avenue will be paved and reopened, with the final lift of bituminous paving to occur in 2022. Last week, crews closed the Hammer intersection and removed pavement, installed sanitary sewer and watermain up to Hammer Road, and concrete curb was placed near Eastgate.

    This week, crews are expected to Continue utility work at Hammer, install storm sewer north of Eastgate, and build the roadway section north of box culvert.

    Authorities say a vast majority of the Greenwood Lake wildfire in northern Minnesota is contained, one month after lighting ignited the blaze in the Superior National Forest.

    The U.S. Forest Service reported that the nearly 27,000-acre fire was 67% contained as of Sunday morning.

    Authorities say the fire is not expected to grow now that cooler weather is moving into the Great Lakes region.

    The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners will hold a study session on Tuesday Sept 14th at 8:30 am in the Freeborn Room at the Freeborn County Government Center. Commissioners are expected to review the final 2022 budget and hold discussions. Commissioners will meet with representatives of National Insurance Services and will review the 2022 insurance rates and discuss recommendations. There will be a presentation of a Joint Work Place Clinic with School District 241. Commissioners will also hear staff recommendations. The board will then hear ARP planning and wrap up with reports from the Highway Department to hear about MnDOT District 6 Planning and Construction Program Updates.

    Minneapolis police are investigating a homicide on the city"s south side Sunday afternoon.

    According to police reports, a man was found unconscious with an apparent gunshot wound in a vehicle parked in an alley.

    Authorities located the vehicle on the 2400 Block of 24th Avenue South around noon.

    Police say residents in the area reported hearing gunshots overnight but no witnesses have come forward.

    This case is under investigation and is the 66th reported homicide in Minneapolis.

    Power 96 News Brief for Thursday 09-09

    09/09/2021

    The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics announced Tuesday it is investigating Rep. Jim Hagedorn for the spending issues brought up last year.

    The Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee of Ethics released the following statement regarding Hagedorn:

    "the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Ethics have jointly decided to extend the matter regarding Representative Jim Hagedorn, which was transmitted to the Committee by the Office of Congressional Ethics on July 23, 2021.

    The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.

    The Committee will announce its course of action in this matter on or before Thursday, October 21, 2021."

    Issues were first brought to light last year when Rep. Hagedorn was listed as one of the highest spending member of congress.

    Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced a new policy to end felony prosecutions that stem from low-level traffic stops.

    His office says the policy is designed to fundamentally change the use of traffic stops that are not initiated for public safety reasons.

    The attorney's office reports the new policy was developed in collaboration with local law enforcement, philanthropic leaders, county residents and national partners, such as the Vera Institute of Justice.

    Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Executive Director Brian Peters issued the following statement Basically, the county attorney just announced his office won't uphold the law and won't prosecute those break it. That's absurd, and is a slap in the face to victims of crime. Ramsey County residents be warned: those that break the law won't even get a slap on the wrist—they'll get a high-five from the county attorney and be left to commit more, and more serious offenses. Reduction of crime and public safety for all should be our focus as the crime rate escalates—and this isn't it.

    Additionally, Allison Schaber — president of the Ramsey County Deputies' Federation — issued the following statement in response:

    Ramsey County John Choi's announcement that his office will enact a new county-wide policy to stop prosecuting cases that originate, in his opinion, as a "non-public-safety traffic stop" is another example of the Ramsey County Attorney's Office circumventing the legislative process to satisfy his own political ambitions. Choi is engaging in furthering the misnomer that valid traffic stops for expired registration, muffler violations, burnt out license plate lights, and windshield violations are anything less than legal stops that target activity already deemed illegal.

    Freeborn County Public Health released their long holiday weekend COVID report in which over a 5 day span saw 6 county residents hospitalized. 78 residents tested positive for COVID-19 over the reporting period which went from 4 am Friday until 4 am Tuesday. No new deaths were reported. 10 children under the age of 10 reportedly tested positive. The number of active cases is reported to be 179.

    Power 96 News Brief for Wednsday 09-08

    09/08/2021

    Officials in Albert Lea are investigating a garage fire that may have been intentionally set Monday evening.

    Fire crews were called to 714 Jefferson Ave just before 10 p.m. for a fully engulfed garage fire.

    The property owner indicated there was no one in the garage and it was locked and secured at the time of the fire.

    No other property was affected by the fire. The Minnesota State Fire Marshal"s Office assisted with the investigation.

    Officials said, "The cause of the fire is determined to be incendiary. The fire appeared to have started inside with a heat source introduced from the outside through holes where the siding had rotted away. "

    The Albert Lea Fire Department said the fire caused an estimated $20,000 worth of damage

    If anyone has information that will aid in the apprehension of the arsonists please call the arson hotline at 1-800-723-2020.

    The final day of the Minnesota State Fair saw 123,578 fairgoers walk through the gates, bringing the 12-day attendance total to 1,301,584.

    Labor Day's attendance was over 61,000 fewer people than 2019's record-setting final fair day when 184,740 people attended.

    Overall, fair attendance was down dramatically from the last five state fairs.

    The pandemic and multiple rainy days are both presumed to have attributed to the lower attendance this year.

    Former Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka is shedding his title as a state legislator, but he's looking to move to the executive branch in 2022. He's set to announce his run for governor on Wednesday.

    Last week, Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said he planned to step down from his post as his chamber's top Republican and would not seek reelection during the midterms. During a news conference at the Minnesota State Fair last Wednesday, Gazelka said he was "leaning towards running for governor."

    Freeborn County Public Health reported 28 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 were included in the total of those who tested positive.

    The number of active cases within the county now stands at 180.

     

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