July 29 news

WORTHINGTON – After years of being powerless to stop the process of seeing a major development in their town fall into disrepair and tenants move out one by one, the Worthington City Council was able to make a positive step forward for the Northland Mall property Monday night. They approved a resolution designating PBK Investments of Minnetonka as the sole developer of the property until December 31, 2014, which allows the company to proceed forward with plans to redevelop the current site. It also gives PBK time to come to terms with current owner Mike Kohan on a sale of the property if they choose.

The agreement, worked out in coordination with Abraham Algadi at Worthington Regional Economic Development Corporation, is similar to what was done between the city event center and the private hotel. The city’s participation would use statutory tax increment financing provisions of $9 million. The resolution outlines the project as a phased development that encourages construction of a mixed use of retail, commercial and multi-family housing.

Brian Pellowski of PBK presented the council with what he called a workable plan for the city that includes scraping the existing center, adding medium-sized stores along Oxford Street, putting a new theater in roughly the location of the current K-Mart portion and adding a convenience store, restaurants and apartments.

Pellowski said he has never seen a property in worse shape than the current mall. He has been working with the current theater company, who wants to continue to be part of Worthington, he said.

The document approved is not a final document, cautioned Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark, but is a move forward in good faith.

Nothland Cinema owners Todd Frager and David Fetters attended the meeting and expressed concern that there be as little downtime as possible if the development does move forward. They said they need to be able to operate as long as possible in their current site before moving into a new one, calling the situation critical.

The city council also approved a proposal of just under $20,000 from Peer Engineering Firm for the professional services needed to move forward with demolition of the former K-Mart portion of the Northland Mall. Two bids were received for the services, which will include an environmental assessment, preparation of demo specs, and project oversight.

JACKSON - The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an alleged break-in at the Wishy Washy Laundromat in Jackson. The sheriff’s office was called to the south Jackson business at around 3:45 a.m. on July 22 to a report of a break-in. Deputies determined entrance into the building was made through a window and observed the office had been broken into through the door. An undetermined amount of quarters had been removed from the office. In-store video captured footage of an individual wearing a black ski mask; a dark, long-sleeve shirt; dark pants; and white shoes. Anyone with any information regarding the break-in is encouraged to contact the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

JACKSON - A juvenile has admitted to stealing items from parked vehicles in Okabena. Jackson County Sheriff Roger Hawkinson said the unidentified youth admitted to stealing a Ruger 10.-22 rifle from a pickup and two cell phones from a silver, four-door sedan that was parked on Okabena’s Main Street.

The admission came after the sheriff’s office began an investigation of the theft of the rifle on July 25. As a result of the investigation, the juvenile admitted to the theft of the firearm, and a pair of binoculars was also recovered. The sheriff’s office also recovered a Samsung Galaxy S3 cell phone and a Samsung Galaxy S4 cell phone with a pink and black case, both of which the juvenile admitted to stealing.

Hawkinson encourages the owner or owners of the cell phones to contact the sheriff’s office.

MINNESOTA - The state’s minimum hourly wage will increase for the first time in 10 years Friday. Under the new law, the state’s minimum wage will increase from $6.15 to $8 Friday, as it begins its climb to $9.50 by 2016.

For smaller businesses, with gross annual sales of under $500,000, the minimum wage will rise to $6.50 Friday, then $7.25 in August 2015 and $7.75 in 2016.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed the new minimum wage bill into law in April.

While President Barack Obama was in Minnesota last month, he highlighted the state’s minimum wage increase. The president is hoping to increase the nation’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, a move that has met resistance from Republicans in Congress.

WADENA - A judge in Waseca County Monday dismissed the most serious charges facing John LaDue, 17, of Waseca, the teenager who was accused of planning to kill his family and bomb his high school this spring, the Waseca County News reports.

Judge Gerald Wolf dismissed all four premeditated attempted murder charges against LaDue, saying the prosecution had not provided enough evidence to prove that LaDue’s actions went beyond “preparations.”

Wolf also dismissed two charges of first degree damage to property, for the same reason.

Wolf let stand six charges alleging LaDue was in the possession of explosive devices, saying the prosecution had shown more than sufficient evidence to establish probable cause that LaDue did possess bombs, according to the Waseca County News.


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