January 8 news

WORTHINGTON – In their first meeting of the new year, the Nobles County Commissioners Tuesday nominated and elected Commissioner Marv Zylstra as their 2014 Board Chairman, also approving Commissioner Matt Widboom as Vice-chair.

The commissioners approved the sale of almost $5.7 million in general obligation refunding bonds, which will save the county more than $503,000 over the life of the bonds. George Ellertson of Northland Securities said they received 14 bids for the bond, rather than the usual 2 to 3 bids. The general obligation bonds were used to finance the Prairie Justice Center.

Another change order for Government Center repairs was approved to the tune of more than $20,000. Administrator Tom Johnson said while other repairs were in progress, more issues were discovered. There was a discrepancy in lighting, Johnson said, a cracked floor drain, electrical code issues, power feed problems and a need for back-up lighting in the stair towers. Also, fire alarm panels were out of compliance. This is the third change order needed since repairs to the building began several years ago.

Commissioners also accepted a state grant contract for approximately $60,000 to cover costs FEMA did not approve after the ice storm in April. Johnson said the grant will help cover the cleanup costs incurred by public works employees, and the acceptance of the grant should wrap up ice storm issues for Nobles County.

The Commissioners also recognized Nobles County Environmental Services Director Wayne Smith as the county’s Excellence in Performance Award recipient for the month of December.

WORTHINGTON – The Governmental Affairs Committee of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a Legislative Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at the Hickory Lodge. The breakfast is open to the public at a cost of $7.50 per person. The program begins at 8 a.m. Invited to attend are District 22 Senator Bill Weber, District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton and District 22A Rep. Joe Schomacker. To submit a question or reserve a seat at the breakfast, please contact the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce at (507) 372-2919, 1121 Third Ave., Worthington 56187, by fax at 372-2827 or by email at wcofc@frontiernet.net.

MOUNTAIN LAKE – An Owatonna man received non-life threatening injuries when his 2009 Peterbilt semi went off the road on Highway 60 near Mountain Lake Tuesday morning. Robert Nappin, age 63, was traveling westbound on 60 when he had to swerve to avoid another vehicle and rolled the semi. He was taken to the Windom Area Hospital, and the semi received moderate damage.

JACKSON - The Iowa Department of Corrections says an inmate who escaped from a work-release facility in Fort Dodge has been apprehended in southwest Minnesota. Department spokesman Fred Scaletta says 21-year-old Austin Dean Runnells was taken into custody Sunday in Jackson County. The department says Runnells failed to return Friday to the facility from a job-seeking furlough.

Runnells is serving a 10-year sentence for a willful injury causing bodily injury conviction in Webster county. He began serving his sentence in June 2012. He was transferred to the work-release facility in November.

CHEROKEE, Iowa - A northwest Iowa hospital is reviewing its security policy after a person committed suicide in one of its restrooms. Officials at Cherokee Regional Medical Center say the incident happened Sunday evening. Additional information has not been released.

Cherokee Regional CEO John Comstock says the person was not a patient and did not have contact with staff or other patients. Comstock also says officials have found no fault with the hospital's security policy, but they're considering small changes.

IRETON, Iowa — A house in Ireton is still standing, thanks to the quick work of two northwest Iowa fire departments. Ireton Fire Chief Richard Steckelberg says the call went out about 5:42 a.m. on Tuesday morning to a rental property owned by Duane Bonnema at 409 Main Street in Ireton. The chief says that they have an agreement with the Hawarden Fire Department that they both get paged to structure fires in Ireton — a concept called “auto aid."

Steckelberg said the fire departments arrived to find flames in the attic of the home. He said they were lucky that the fire was starving for oxygen when they got there. They were able to put out the fire with minimal water, but they did have to tear down the ceiling in that room and tear a hole in the roof for ventilation. He says the damage was limited to one room. The chief reports that the tenants are not able to live in the home at this time, but it shouldn’t take too much to repair the damage.

Steckelberg said there were no injuries reported. Fire crews were on scene for about an hour and a half.

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa State Fair will shift to a new system for buying food and drinks this summer. Fair spokeswoman Lori Chappell said patrons will no longer buy items with cash. Instead, they will buy tickets at about 50 spots scattered around the fairgrounds and pay for food and beverages with those tickets. Tickets will be worth 50 cents each.

Chappell says the system will be more secure and make it quicker to buy food because vendors won't have to make change. The fair switched to an all-ticket model at the Grandstand several years ago.

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