August 5 news

HERON LAKE — Granite Falls Energy has purchased a majority interest in a financially struggling southwest Minnesota ethanol company.

Granite Falls will assume management of the Heron Lake BioEnergy plant, which has been financially troubled for more than a year. The match is a good fit, Granite Falls CEO Steve Christensen said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Both Granite Falls Energy and the Heron Lake plant produce about 60 million gallons of ethanol annually.

An agreement last fall to sell the Heron Lake facility to the Guardian Cos. for $55 million fell through.
The ethanol industry has struggled over the past year, mainly because the cost of its principle ingredient, corn, surged to record levels. But the outlook is better now for the industry because it's expected U.S. farmers will harvest large amounts of corn this fall, causing the price of the grain to drop.

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa – A Minneapolis man was arrested Sunday morning at the Grand Falls Casino. Authorities at the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office received a report of illegal drug use in a hotel room at the casino at 1:22 a.m. Sunday. Upon arrival, deputies identified Allan Vonderharr, 32, of Minneapolis, who was in possession of a controlled substance. Vonderharr was subsequently place under arrest, transported to the Lyon County Jail and was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, a serious misdemeanor.

SHELDON, Iowa — Two of the biggest names in groceries in northwest Iowa and a Hawarden store are among more than two-dozen grocery stores in Iowa and Nebraska that are being accused of violating child labor laws. Scott Allen, spokesman for the U-S Department of Labor, says the list includes several Hy-Vee and Fareway stores, in addition to many smaller chains and individual supermarkets. The stores are allowing employees ages 14 to 17 to do hazardous jobs, such as working with meat slicers and trash compactors, which OSHA regulations does not allow.

The stores have agreed to pay fines, which totaled nearly 130-thousand dollars. As part of the investigation, a seminar was conducted at the Hy-Vee company headquarters to teach managers and staff about child labor requirements and how to make sure they stay in compliance with the law.

REDWOOD FALLS - The 32nd annual Farm Fest will celebrate its 20th year on the Gilfillan Estate outside of Redwood Falls with a new home for the Farm Forum panel discussions.

On Tuesday, the 10:30 a.m. panel discussion will address the farm bill currently stalled in Congress. Other topics will include renewable energy policies, managed drainage systems, livestock production and animal activists, irrigation regulations and permitting, viewing the ag industry from a media perspective and future opportunities in Minnesota agriculture.

The panel will be made up of 7th District Congressman Collin Peterson, ranking member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee; 1st District Congressman Tim Walz, U.S. House Ag Committee member; Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union President; Dale Moore, public policy director for American Farm Bureau and Bob Worth, vice president of the American Soybean Association.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken will be on hand for "The Future Direction of Renewable Energy Policy" panel discussion. That panel will also include Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson and Doug Berven, POET vice president of corporate affairs.

The keynote address of this year's Farm Fest will be given by Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday. The Farm Family of the Year recognition program is 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

RAPID CITY, SD - A Minnesota woman died in a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of U.S. Highway 385 and West S.D. Highway 44, Friday.

Tiffany Lynn Nelson, 25, of North Mankato, was the passenger on a motorcycle driven by Bradley Carl Olson, 31, of North Mankato. The motorcycle was northbound on Highway 385. A 2008 Toyota Tundra driven by Cory James Allen Nash, 22, of Ellsworth Air Force Base, attempted to turn south onto Highway 385 from West Highway 44. The Toyota pulled in front of the motorcycle, and the motorcycle struck the rear driver's side of the Toyota.

Olson and Nelson were thrown from the motorcycle. Nelson died at the scene. Olson received minor injuries. Both were wearing helmets. Nash and a passenger in the Toyota, Cecilia Nash, 21, of Rapid City, were uninjured. Both were wearing seatbelts.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol is investigating. Pennington County Sheriff's Office and Rapid City Fire Department assisted.

DORSET — Robert "Bobby" Tufts hasn't made it to preschool yet, but he's already been elected twice as mayor of a tiny tourist town in northern Minnesota.

Mayor Tufts' name was picked Sunday during annual Taste of Dorset festival to be mayor of Dorset for a second term. It has no formal city government and has a population of 22 to 28, depending on whether the minister and his family are in town.

Anyone could vote as many times as they like — for $1 a vote — at any of the ballot boxes in stores around town. The proceeds go toward organizing the festival.

Bobby was only 3 when he won election last year. His mother, Emma Tufts, said she and her son, who turns 5 in October, got choked up when his name was pulled for re-election Sunday.

Emma Tufts said her son's agenda includes raising money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Red River Valley in Fargo, N.D., and a new welcome sign for Dorset, which bills itself as the Restaurant Capital of the World.

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