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Roundabout Romors Are Not True.

Rumors about the roundabout in south Alexandria continue to swirl.
There's talk that it will have to be "torn out" and redone because it's "too small" for trucks to navigate.
We talked with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) leaders who are in charge of the project to get the straight scoop.
The bottom-line: The rumors are not true.
Let's start with the too-small-for-trucks claim.
Actually, the roundabout is one of the largest single-lane — if not the largest — on the MnDOT system, according to Jerimiah Moerke, public affairs spokesperson for MnDOT District 4.
"It was designed to handle the extra large loads that occasionally use Highway 29," Moerke said.
Moerke added that it's common practice for big semitrailers to "ride up" onto the concrete truck apron in the center.
"That's what it's designed for," he said. "Drivers hauling regular-sized loads who are familiar with roundabouts can navigate it without going into the center. As local drivers get more accustomed to it, they will feel more comfortable with it, too."
The rumor that the roundabout will have to be completely redone is also false.
"You will see a little bit of work this spring near the roundabout — basically any parts that look unfinished," Moerke said.
He explained that this is a small part of the project that still has temporary pavement in place.
"The contractor needs to remove and replace the pavement on the southbound side of the roundabout," Moerke said. "They just ran out of time last year.
"If you look closely, the transition between the concrete and pavement isn't what it should be," Moeke added. "In addition, the center island needs to be completed and landscaped, and we may make some additional adjustments to the signs."
Questions about the roundabout were expected and MnDOT appreciates the feedback from the public, Moerke said.
"Roundabouts are a relatively new traffic control feature in Minnesota," he said. "When we hear the occasional complaint or concern about them, we do look into the issue seriously and make adjustments, if feasible, and take the issue into consideration in future roundabout designs."

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Notes From The Capital

Monday, April 4, 2016

paul anderson 150An interesting hearing was held last week in the Property Tax Division of the Tax Committee dealing with a long-standing exemption that affects many towns and cities throughout Minnesota. It has to do with fertilizer and chemical containment facilities built at local co-ops and other farm supply businesses. Because of concerns about spills into the environment, the EPA along with the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture, has long required that concrete berms and other related facilities be constructed so any potential spills could be contained. The Legislature, in the middle 1990’s, passed legislation that such additions to fertilizer and chemical storage facilities should be exempted from property tax.

Fast forward to today, and a couple of problems have arisen with the exemption. First, it hasn’t been granted uniformly across the state. Some county assessors have been allowing the exemption, while others have not. And secondly, and this is where the situation gets complicated, today everything involved with agriculture has gotten bigger and more expensive. Buildings constructed in recent years containing fertilizer and other farm-related chemicals are huge compared to those built 20 or 30 years ago. And, in an effort to have this exemption carried out uniformly, the Dept. of Revenue recently issued guidance spelling out what exactly was included. They ruled that the roof should be included, along with the walls of a building that held fertilizer or chemicals. So, instead of a tax exemption for a cement floor and berms around liquid chemical tanks, for example, this ruling said that basically the entire structure was part of the containment system.

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Honduras IHS Group Sees Rise In Refugee Patients

The International Health Services group (IHS), particularly the group in Rus Rus, Honduras, saw an increase in refugees from Nicaragua during its trip in February.

Approximate numbers showed about 164 reported Nicaraguan refugees sought medical care out of the 691 Nicaraguan patients in Rus Rus. The group also saw about 261 Honduran patients during the seven days of services. Glenwood resident John Kirckof, who served as a team leader on the trip, said it’s possible more of the people were refugees than the 164.

The majority of people came from the Nicaragua towns of La Esperanza (210) and Klisnak (200).

In September of last year, hundreds of Miskito people fled their ancestral lands, some fleeing to Honduras. The Miskito accuse settlers of forcibly seizing lands long considered communal property. Violence and turmoil forced the Miskito to flee.

Kirckof said that the population of Rus Rus is about 200 people, and it more than doubled with the refugees.
“They are there because of the medical care,” Kirckof said of the refugees.

Kirckof has been going to Honduras since 1995, only skipping one year (1997). He often goes in February and October for about two weeks each time. The last few years he has gone as a team leader. This was his sixth year in Rus Rus. His job is to organize people on the team to bring the correct things needed to the particular village where the team is working. While there, Kirckof spent a few hours per day collecting information on how many patients were seen for medical, dental and eye care. He also compiled statistics for how many dental fillings and extractions, vitamins and pharmacy items were distributed.

“It is very meaningful work,” Kirckof said. “We directly see the results of what we do. We enjoy what we do because the people there are very wonderful and very appreciative.”

He said Wes and Denise Wiles play a big role in helping the people of Rus Rus. The mission couple lives in Rus Rus, and Wes is a pilot. They are part of the Missionary Air Group, whose primary mission is to find pilots and send them to remote countries to provide care. The Wiles bring supplies in and out of the village by plane.
IHS and Missionary Air Group work side by side toward a common goal of helping those in need.

Glenwood residents who went to Honduras this year were Kirckof, Grant Hanson (engineer), Dewey Essig (pharmacist), Karen DeMorett (RN) and Teri (Boyle) Houle (RN, team leader). Six medical/dental teams, three surgery teams and one eye clinic provided services to underserved villages in Honduras. There were 10 Honduras locations where teams worked.

The Rus Rus teams saw 592 dental patients, 952 medical patients and 102 eye clinic patients during the seven-day work schedule from Tuesday, Feb. 16 through Tuesday, Feb. 23 (Sunday off day). The other medical clinic teams stationed throughout Honduras each saw similar numbers of patients.

Leisure time

It’s not all work in Honduras. On the volunteers’ day off (Sunday), some of the Rus Rus team crossed the bridge over the Rus Rus River to Mahbita. There they visited the Rescue and Liberation Center where scarlet macaw birds live. This center is a United Nations bird sanctuary and research site. Team members also attended church with locals when not working.

Donations make medical care possible, volunteers needed

Recently, a second dental chair and filling machine were able to be donated to the Rus Rus dental facility. For many years, retired Glenwood Dentist Jerry Maher has donated toothpaste, toothbrushes, fluoride and dental tools to IHS.

A lot of the supplies used on the trips are purchased with donations.

Kirckof encourages anyone who has the means to go to a third-world country to volunteer. Anyone over the age of 18 can volunteer to help on one of these trips.

He said that every year, when he returns home, it is an emotional time, being blessed living in the United States.
Kirckof said compared to Honduras, we have so many material items. With the building of schools and churches in Honduras, the people there are much better off than one or two generations ago, Kirckof said.

To volunteer, contact Kirckof and visit IHSM.org. for more information.

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Annual Easter Egg Hunts in County

Spring tradition continues with annual Easter egg hunts

Kids and parents made their way to local Easter egg hunts at Barsness Park and Glacial Lakes State Park on Saturday. The Easter Bunny visited both events to take photos and help collect eggs. Glacial Lakes State Park Area Naturalist Ben Eckhoff was on hand to teach about different animals and other park-related topics. Other activities at the park included a scavenger hunt, face painting, and meet the Easter Bunny. For More pictures go to  http://www.glaciallakesstateparkfriends.com/photos_2016-egg-hunt.htm

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Pope County Man Arrested On Drug Charges

A 35-year-old Starbuck man was arrested March 20 on drug charges.

James Oneil of Starbuck was arrested for 5th degree possession of a controlled substance, a felony charge, on Sunday, March 20, 2016.
The Starbuck Police Department, with the assistance of the Pope County Sheriff’s Office and West Central Drug Task Force, executed a search warrant at 306 East 4th Street in Starbuck. During their search, officers discovered numerous items related to drug activity, including over 40 grams of marijuana and methamphetamine. Several other drug-related pipes and paraphernalia items were located throughout the house, according to the report.
Oneil was transported to the Douglas County Jail to be held for court.

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Doug Toivonen Takes Team to State

From Starbuck Times - Wednesday, March 16th

It’s been a good year for Doug Toivonen, a 1985 graduate of Starbuck High School. Last summer Toivonen, a three-sport star for the Bucks, was inducted into the Minnewaska Laker Athletic Hall of Fame. Concordia University in Moorhead had Previously inducted Toivonen into their Athletic Hall of Fame. Red Wing has been Toivonen’s home since the late 1980s, and beginning with the 1989-1990 school year, he’s worked in the Red Wing School District. The Wingers went to the state tournament in basketball for six straight years, from 1999-2004, with Toivonen on the bench as an assistant coach. In his 12-year tenure as head coach, the Wingers hadn’t made it back to the state tournament until this year.  Red Wing fi nished the regular season ranked #2 in state AAA polls. The Wingers had been to the Section 1AAA championship game four straight years until finally breaking through this year.  One of the reasons this year’s appearance at the state tournament is especially important to Red Wing and its fans isn’t that it’s been 12 years since their last trip to state. It will be the fi rst, and last, trip with Toivonen as head coach. Doug will be stepping down as head coach after this season.  There was no offi cial announcement about the retirement. It wasn’t a big secret, but it wasn’t widely known, either. Red Wing has been on a roll in recent years, racking up a 68-18  record over the fi nal three seasons. This year the Wingers rolled through the Section 1AAA playoffs, winning the three games they played by margins of 30, 26 and 16 points. Toivonen stressed the importance of winning the fi rst game of the state tournament. A loss in the fi rst game would send them back home quickly. A win would guarantee two more games, either a championship game or a third-place game.  Red Wing won that fi rst game, defeating Simley by a 73-51 score.  Travis Toivonen, a senior and Doug’s son, scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the win.  Red Wing hadn’t won a state championship since 1933, and this year wouldn’t change that. The Wingers lost to Fergus Falls in the semifi nals by a 58-55 margin.  Fergus Falls built a 37-29 halftime lead, but the Wingers closed the gap in the fi nal minutes. Red Wing missed a number of close shots over the closing minutes but still had a chance with their last possession. The Wingers hit a 3-point shot that would have tied the game had it not come just a fraction of a second after the final horn sounded to end the game.   The Wingers played Monticello in the third-place game on Saturday afternoon. Red Wing won that game, 75-59, to take third place in Class AAA. The win allowed Toivonen and the Wingers to end the season with a win, which rarely happens.  Toivonen’s humility was refreshing in an age of self-promotion and overinfl ated egos. When asked about the why there was so little attention given to his fi nal year of coaching and stepping down from the job, Toivonen replied, “I don’t need to make a big announcement. I’m a high school basketball coach.” Red Wing closed one of their most successful basketball seasons ever with a 28-3 record to go along with their third-place fi nish at state.  Congratulations to Doug Toivonen on a successful season, a successful career and best wishes on future endeavors

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Glimpses From The Past

2016 marks 150 years of Pope County.


In celebration, we feature articles from all the newspapers published in Pope County in 1916.

Excerpts from the Glenwood Herald, Thursday February 10, 1916.

The convention committee of the commercial club has extended an invitation to the National Valdris Lag to have its stevne in Glenwood next June, and there is a strong probability that the invitation will be accepted. The Valdris Lag is perhaps the best organization of all the Norwegian lags and is said to have the largest membership. Its annual conventions have been held in Minneapolis several years and Glenwood will enjoy the distinction to be the first place outside the cities to entertain the organization of Norwegians hailing from Valdris, provided the invitation which has been extended is accepted as it seems very likely will be done. The officials of the Pope County Valdris Lag will meet in Glenwood February 18th for this purposed stevne. At this meeting representatives of the national organization will be present.

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