Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.
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Making personal health decisions can be confusing and unsettling, but when faced with the need to make those choices for a relative or friend, it can be even more difficult. That's why many health officials recommend setting up advance directives.
Warmer weather has hit the Red Wing area, but flooding remains mild for now, with the Mississippi River yet to reach flood stage. The river crested at 13.38 feet on the last day of March. Levels gradually went down and reached a low of 12.96 Tuesday, but have been rising slightly since then. The National Weather Service expects a second crest at 14.4 feet, just above the 14-foot flood level, by Wednesday.
Goodhue County has not received any permit applications for a sand mine near Hay Creek, but many residents have expressed concerns that a land purchase this winter could lead to such an operation. Windsor Permian, LLC, part of the Oklahoma-based Windsor Energy, purchased about 155 acres in two parcels split by Highway 58 near Hay Creek. The company bought about 61 acres for $1.1 million in mid-January and another 94 acres for $1.5 million about three weeks later, according to information from the Goodhue County Assessor's Office.
The Goodhue County Board moved forward with a grant application to the Department of Natural Resources for purchasing land near Lake Byllesby. On Tuesday, commissioners passed a resolution required as part of the application, which is now complete. The county plans to work with the DNR and the Minnesota Parks and Trails Council to purchase the property. The DNR needs a portion of the land for a bridge that is part of the Mill Towns Trail project, and the county would be able to use its portion of the land as it sees fit, Public Works Director Greg Isakson said.
Goodhue County has good clinical care but residents have some unhealthy habits, according to a recent study ranking the health of counties. The 2011 County Health Rankings, released last week, place Goodhue County 36th out of 85 counties in Minnesota for health outcomes and 53rd for health factors. Health outcomes include premature death and self-reported overall physical and mental health, while health factors involve those aspects that could influence health such as behaviors and the physical environment.
Red Wing's garbage incinerator has been a key point in budget and policy discussions for years, and Red Wing City Council is continuing to explore options before making any final decisions. The incinerator, located on Bench Street, takes up an average of about $500,000 from the city's general fund each year, but burning trash is considered a more environmentally friendly alternative to landfills. A main problem for the city's incinerator operations has been a lack of waste, said Jeff Schneider, deputy director of solid waste.
As Goodhue County considers countywide social host and seller/server ordinances, Chemical Health Initiative and local police chiefs encouraged area leaders to consider passing the ordinances in their jurisdictions as well.
After years of planning and many delays, Goodhue County's public safety entities will switch to a new radio system Monday. The 800 megahertz system will replace a 35-year-old VHF system, offering more options for communicating and better reception, the Sheriff's Office said. "It will be connectivity like we've never had before," Chief Deputy Lyle Lorenson said. Exploring new radio options started about eight years ago, Sheriff Scott McNurlin said.
Wendell Pittenger has proposed constructing a hotel at Mississippi National Golf Links, but bills in the state Legislature and zoning issues could make the prospect difficult. A data request from the group Save MNGL unearthed a proposal by Pittenger to build a hotel on the Mississippi National property.
The risk of major flooding has decreased due to recent cold weather, but some Red Wing area roads and parks are still seeing closures. On Friday, the Mississippi River was measured at 13.38 feet, the same as Thursday's reading. Minor flood stage is 14 feet. City officials said Friday's level should be the extent of the first crest. Depending on rainfall, water levels are expected to remain steady over the weekend and begin dropping next week, leveling out around 13 feet. But once warm weather returns, the water likely will rise again.