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Area News

June 27, 2016

Five-vehicle west metro crash claims life woman

A woman who crashed her car into a guardrail in the west metro and soon after caused a five-vehicle crash after being pursued by law enforcement has died, the Star Tribune reported.

Barbara Belka, 73, of Rockville, died last Monday at Hennepin County Medical Center from injuries she suffered in the pileup June 7 along Highway 55 near Maple Lake. Before the multi-vehicle crash, she hit a guardrail in South Haven, prompting the pursuit. Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow said investigators are trying to determine whether Belka was fleeing law enforcement or was unable to stop for some reason.

Zebra mussel found in Annandale’s Lake Sylvia

According to the Greater Lake Sylvia Association, employees of Anchor Dock and Lift discovered a zebra mussel attached to weeds in about 15 feet of water at the southernmost part of the east lake June 13, the Annandale Advocate reported.

A preliminary Minnesota Department of Natural Resources survey didn’t find any additional mussels, but more investigations are planned. Zebra mussels were discovered in nearby Clearwater Lake and Lake John last summer, and a decontamination unit was established in Annandale this spring to clean boats and lake equipment moving between lakes in an effort to prevent the spread of mussels. As an additional precaution, a boat access monitoring program has been in effect on Lake Sylvia for several years.

Five NYA school staff retire after many years in district

Five staff members at Central Public Schools in Norwood Young America retired this year, the Norwood Young America Times reported.

Irene Yaeck taught business for seven years and served as the school counselor for the past eight years at Central, along with several years teaching in other school districts and serving as an accountant at Chanhassen Dinner Theater for 18 years. Nancy Swiggum served as the school social worker at Central for the past 26 years, along with prior experience as a social worker for the county. Rick Willhite is retiring after teaching high school social studies at Central for 29 years, along with one year in Appleton. Tom Doyscher is retiring after teaching social studies and math for 28 years at Central. Also retiring is administrative assistant Bonie Schrupp.

Buffalo student breaks state records in wheelchair races

A year after setting state records in both the 100- and 200-meter wheelchair runs, Buffalo High School junior Jayson Gorton broke both his marks with two first-place finishes in this year’s Class AA state meet June 11 at Hamline University in St. Paul, the Wright County Journal-Press reported.

After receiving his two gold medals, Gorton mentioned that his win is not what is important. He added that having people to race against is what he enjoys most about state competition, and he encouraged more people to go out for track and field. Gorton’s future plans are to attend Southwest State University in Marshall, where he wants to play Paralympic college basketball.

Hutchinson’s $5.9M aquatic center is one year away

Work began recently to remove the 30-year-old outdoor pool at Hutchinson’s Recreation Center, the Hutchinson Leader reported. By this time next year, Hutchinson residents should be enjoying their new $5.9 million aquatic center. The project is on schedule to be completed by late May 2017.

New locker rooms, office space, and concession stand construction are being handled in the earlier stages of the project, so that locker rooms can be used during the busy winter sports season at the adjoining rec center gym. The footprint of the center will be about triple the size of the original pool and decking, stretching almost to the sidewalk along Sunset Street, along the west side.

Litchfield dog trainer focuses on emotional connections

Pat Cram, owner of Star Dreamer Ranch north of Litchfield, has trained dogs for the past 30 years, but the way she runs her business has changed, the Litchfield Independent Review reported.

Eight years ago, she became a Telington TTouch practitioner. Named after the creator, Linda Telling-Jones, TTouch focuses on the emotional well-being of owners and their pets, as well as addressing physical and behavioral issues of the pet. The extra “T” in TTouch stands for trust. One of the defining elements of the practice is small, circular, massage-like motions that owners do on their pets.

Silver Lake to seek legal action for hazardous sites

Two buildings in Silver Lake have been deemed hazardous, prompting the city council to take action, the McLeod County Chronicle reported.

On May 19, the building inspector declared the adjoining buildings of 121 and 125 Main Street W. unsafe for occupancy or entry. The roofs have collapsed into the center of the two buildings, along with a common wall and the flooring on the first and second levels. Terry Bakke of Hutchinson owns 125 Main St. W., and it was last occupied in 1998. The property at 121 Main St. W. is a tax forfeiture currently owned by McLeod County. The council voted to file orders for repair with the district court. Property owners will then have 30 days to resolve the issues.

Glencoe hires new public works director

James Voigt will be the new public works director for streets and parks for the City of Glencoe, the McLeod County Chronicle reported.

Voigt, who was a volunteer with the city’s fire department for 18 years, will replace current director Mike Drew when he retires in September. City Administrator Mark Larson said three internal candidates applied for the job, and he felt Voigt would be the best fit. Council Member Allen Robeck asked if both Voigt and Drew would be paid top wages until Drew retires. Larson said Voigt will make 91 percent of the top wage, and that will continue for about two years.

Minnesota elder abuse reports increasing

A June 15 conference, hosted by the nonprofit Minnesota Elder Justice Center, was one of many nationwide marking World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which began in 2006 to shine a light on financial crimes and other abuse targeting older people, the Star Tribune reported.

Erica Yarlagadda, an assistant Hennepin County prosecutor, said crimes against the elderly are “doubling year-over-year,” and the most common involve financial exploitation by family members. She said abuse by professionals, including investment advisers and insurance agents, probably ranks second. Thomas Haines, an assistant Carver County attorney, said his office is preparing for “a tsunami of financial exploitation” crimes that prey on older people.