November 27 news

ROUND LAKE – The Round Lake City Council voted Tuesday evening to abate 50 percent of the property taxes on the former Farley & Sather’s building for three years, which approximates $6,500 per year. The building is currently owned by the Ferrara Candy Company. AGCO is interested in leasing the building for three years, with an option to purchase.

The first of three tax abatement discussions took place Tuesday evening at the Round Lake City Council. At the heart of the matter is whether the city, Nobles County and the Round Lake-Brewster School District will agree to a three year abatement on the approximate $48,000 the Ferrara Candy Company pays in property taxes for the former Farley & Sather’s building. Ferrara has requested the abatement to close a lease deal with AGCO, which would create 20 warehousing jobs within the building. That could lead to manufacturing taking place down the road, but there is no guarantee that would be the case.

More than a dozen people showed up for the public hearing, The biggest concerns voiced by residents were what would happen if AGCO pulled out after the three year lease was done, and if the city could afford a 100 percent tax abatement, which would equal roughly $13,000 in lost revenue for three years.

Worthington Regional Economic Development Corporation Manager Abraham Algadi offered a basic guideline. Generally, he said, tax abatements are offered up to about $15,000 per permanent job.

AGCO-Jackson senior project manager Scott Berglund confirmed that AGCO does have other options, but likes the Round Lake building. He said the lease agreement they are trying to close contains a purchase clause, and that AGCO is not going to take the tax abatement, then strike the clause from the agreement.

With a bottleneck situation growing at AGCO-Jackson, Berglund said they need something that would offer breathing room. “We’re going to get something and then we’re going to just keep right on rolling,” he added.

The plan is to put 20 jobs in two shifts in the Ferrara building, with a possibility of moving office space from Jackson in the future or adding manufacturing.

As a guest in the audience pointed out, the total of the tax abatement is a ‘drop in the bucket’ for a billion dollar company, but another guest pointed out that 18 jobs constitutes an increase in the employment base by somewhere between 8 to 10 percent.

Algadi pointed out that even if AGCO pulled out at the end of their three years, it would at least send a message that the city of Round Lake was open to business. He agreed that Ferrara is a billion dollar business, which means they could afford to abandon the building and leave it to rot.

A public hearing is scheduled with the county December 3, but currently the school district has not offered a public hearing, in essence denying the abatement.

WORTHINGTON - In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, all city, county and state government offices will be closed Thursday and Friday, including the law enforcement center at Prairie Justice Center. The Worthington Post Office will be closed Thursday, but will resume regular hours on Friday. All financial institutions will be closed Thursday, but resume regular hours Friday. The Nobles County Library will be closed Thursday and Friday. Fareway will be closed Thursday, but resume normal hours Friday. Hy-Vee will be open Thursday until 2 p.m., re-opening Friday at 6 a.m. Walmart will remain open.

Schaap Sanitation will not make pick-ups on Thursday, but will pick up Thursday and Friday routes on Friday.

The Pipestone National Monument Visitor Center will be closed on Thursday and re-open Friday. The Monument’s Circle Trail will be open on Thanksgiving Day.

WORTHINGTON – Two Worthington residents involved in a car theft and the burglary of Borch’s Sporting Goods store made an appearance Tuesday in Nobles County District Court, facing charges of possession of an assault weapon, possession of stolen property and possessing a pistol without a permit in a public place.

The court ruled Michele Lopez and Julio Hernandez would have a joint evidentiary hearing to decide whether the case will move to a trial. Both will remain in custody until that hearing is set. Lopez had asked to be released on her own recognizance, stating through her attorney she is at risk of losing her home and her government assistance, but that request was denied.

WATERLOO, Iowa - The mother of one of two slain Iowa cousins has been arrested on drug charges. Authorities executed a search warrant Monday at a Waterloo home where 36-year-old Misty Cook-Morrissey was living. She faces several charges, including two counts of delivery of methamphetamine.

Morrissey is the mother of Lyric Cook, who disappeared with her cousin, Elizabeth Collins, in Evansdale in July 2012. Their bodies were found in a remote, wooded area last December. Lyric Cook's father, Daniel Eugene Morrissey, was sentenced in September to between 30-90 years in prison on drug charges.

Police say 25-year Todd Michael Henriksen, who also lives in the home, was arrested and faces drug charges.

STORM LAKE, Iowa - A Sutherland man faces charges in connection with an alleged incident Monday at a Storm Lake business. Storm Lake Police say officers were called to the scene around 3:00 p.m. after getting a report that a male customer at the business was allegedly berating staff, yelling at them, and in one case allegedly threatened to assault one of them.

The suspect was identified as 42-year-old Darin Lowe of Sutherland. Police located Lowe in the business’ parking lot where he was arrested without incident. Lowe was booked into jail on charges of public intoxication 3rd offense, harassment in the 2nd degree and disorderly conduct. Lowe was being held on a $3,300 cash bond. No injuries were reported in the incident.

SIOUX FALLS, SD - A building on the Augustana campus was evacuated on Tuesday after a chemical spill. Authorities say the Gilbert Science Center was evacuated after the spill happened during a college chemistry class. Augustana President Rob Oliver didn’t know what kind of chemical was spilled but said those inside the building were unharmed.

STARBUCK - Right before Thanksgiving, an animal rights group has released an undercover video it says shows filthy and dangerous conditions at a western Minnesota poultry farm, where turkeys are shown to be bleeding, infected and entangled in the cages where they are raised. The farm is Hargin Inc., located near Starbuck in Pope County, which raises more than 25,000 hens.

The website for Compassion Over Killing has the video, which it says was recorded by a worker with a hidden camera. The 3-minute video shows turkeys in tight quarters with injuries to their faces, feet and wings. It also reveals workers tossing the turkeys about in order to get to their eggs or have them artificially inseminated. The narration alleges that injured turkeys do not receive veterinary care and some are left to die.

Hargin owner Randy Hagen said his farm “strives to comply with all aspects of the National Turkey Federation’s animal care guidelines, including guidelines for humanely euthanizing turkeys that are injured or sick.” He said the company will retrain employees to make sure guidelines are followed in the future.

According to the Minnesota Turkey Grower’s website, Minnesota is the No. 1 turkey producing and processing state in the U.S., with 250 family farmers raising approximately 47 million turkeys annually.

Last month, we had the story of an animal rights group called Mercy For Animals that shot undercover video at a hog farm in Pipestone, recording gruesome images they say showed abuse. The video captured hog handling practices by several workers that the group says constitute animal cruelty.

The video also revealed castrations and tail docking on young pigs performed without the use of anesthesia.


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