April 30 news

WORTHINGTON - This year marks the 63rd annual observance of the National Day of Prayer, established by Congress in 1952. The theme for the 2014 National Day of Prayer is “One Voice, United in Prayer,” emphasizing the need for individuals to join together in corporate prayer for their communities, their nation and their leaders.

There will be a noontime gathering, this year from noon to 1 p.m. on the lawn of the Nobles County Government Center. In case of inclement weather, the gathering will move indoors to the Farmers Room. There will be an evening “Concert of Praise & Prayer” at 7 p.m. at Grace Community Church, 2011 Nobles St.

ST. PAUL — Minnesota senators approved online voter registration Tuesday over Republican objections that the bill lacks adequate data security protection.
The vote came a day after a judge ruled the existing system illegal, likely meaning online registration will continue uninterrupted.

Bill sponsor Sen. Katie Sieben of Cottage Grove and fellow Democrats rejected eight GOP amendments to include more security provisions. She said it is important to continue allowing voters to register online in light of the judge’s ruling that Secretary of State Mark Ritchie take down his online voter registration site.

The Senate approved a House-passed bill 41-24 that does not contain security provisions Republicans want. Gov. Mark Dayton promised to sign it in time for Internet registrations to continue.

IOWA - Several northwest Iowa schools are receiving high marks from U.S. News and World Report. The public is out with its 2014 Best High Schools Report. Local schools that received a "bronze status" in the report include Boyden-Hull, Central-Lyon, Clay Central-Everly, George-Little Rock, Harris-Lake Park, South O'Brien and Spirit Lake.

The ratings are based on college readiness, math and reading proficiencies, as well as student/teacher ratios.

The publication analyzed more than 31,200 public high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

ORANGE CITY, Iowa — A Rock Valley man was arrested after an unusual incident at an Orange City hotel.

According to an Orange City Police report, about 6 AM on Saturday morning, April 26th, the Police Department was called to the Super 8 Motel in Orange City. The report was that there was a man there who refused to leave.

Upon investigating the incident, police discovered 23-year-old Richard Berkenpas of Rock Valley had been found asleep in the hallway of the hotel by hotel staff. The report indicates Berkenpas became argumentative and refused to leave. Police arrested him and charged him with Public Intoxication.

Larchwood, Iowa — A Larchwood business was damaged and a Sioux Falls woman was arrested after an accident in Larchwood. The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office has just now released the report of an accident that happened on Tuesday, April 22. They report that about 5:30 p.m., 49-year-old Denise Paulsen of Sioux Falls was driving a 2005 Chrysler when she lost control of her vehicle and it struck the northwest corner of the Larchwood Quick Mart gas station building.

The building sustained about $500 in damages and the vehicle sustained about $200 in damages to the front bumper. It was also determined that Paulsen was intoxicated at the time of the accident. She was subsequently arrested and charged with Operating While Intoxicated 2nd Offense.

LITTLE FALLS - A jury found Byron Smith guilty of first-degree murder for fatally shooting cousins Haile Kifer, 18, and Nick Brady, 17, after they broke into his Little Falls home on Thanksgiving Day in 2012.

The jury of six women and six men returned the verdict Tuesday afternoon, after deliberating for about three hours. They found Smith, 65, guilty on all four charges he faced: two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder.
Smith was immediately sentenced to mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole. He had no reaction after the verdicts were read.

ST. PAUL - Two bills House Rep. Chris Swedzinski of Ghent was championing this session - Drake's Law and the Brau Brothers bill - have hit respective speed bumps.
Swedzinski believes Drake's Law would easily pass off the House floor but will have to wait until next year.

The legislation, named after Drake Bigler, Brad and Heather Bigler's five-month-old son who was killed by a drunk driver in a crash nearly two years ago, was a victim of time constraints during this short session. Swedzinski said he tried to tie it in with another DWI-related bill but was ultimately encouraged not to.

The bill would increase the maximum sentence for criminal vehicular homicide occurring within 10 years of a previous qualifying DWI offense. The maximum sentence would be increased from 10 to 15 years.

The drunk driver who crashed his truck into the Biglers' SUV had a blood alcohol content of 0.351, and it was the third time he had been arrested for drunk driving since 2000. His plea deal resulted in a 48-month prison sentence.

The Brau Brothers bill, which was included in the House omnibus liquor bill and would allow for Sunday growler sales and tap room openings for rural breweries, was essentially killed by the Teamsters Union, Swedzinski said.

Growlers are regulated branded, glass jugs, normally one-half gallon in size, that can be filled and refilled with tap beer from a brewery.

RED WING – Not to be outdone by Minneapolis and Indigenous People’s Day, the city of Red Wing is changing the name of Columbus Day to Chief Red Wing Day, to honor its namesake and American Indian heritage, after a vote by the City Council Monday.

The council approved the change on a 4-0 vote, with two members voting “present” and one absent. The move is largely symbolic, because Columbus Day is a federal holiday and city offices are not closed on that day, Council President Lisa Bayley noted. But she said the change is still important.

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