ST. CHARLES, Minn. - Southeastern Minnesota officials say they will need to continue embracing new ways to work together to provide taxpayers efficient and effective services. Several legislators and more than 60 officials from 11 counties - including Goodhue - talked Monday about redesigning and restructuring county government during a leadership summit in St. Charles. A redesign has been under way since last January, when Minnesota county officials decided the way they currently do business would no longer work.
State and local officials hope high-tech electronic signs at Highway 52 and County Road 9 south of Cannon Falls will reduce the number of crashes at one of Goodhue County's worst intersections. The Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute at the University of Minnesota developed the innovative set of signs that alert drivers crossing Highway 52 if a vehicle is nearby. A red warning will flash when an oncoming car is too close and crossing the intersection - a divided highway - is unsafe. A yellow warning tells drivers crossing may be unsafe.
A group that wants to stretch a high-voltage transmission line across parts of western Goodhue County submitted its route application this week to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The CapX2020 project will extend power poles as tall as 170 feet from a new substation near Hampton, Minn., through Goodhue County into northern Olmsted County and on to La Crosse, Wis. Officials say expanding the region's electric transmission grid is necessary to meet increasing demand caused by population and job growth.
ELLSWORTH -- With a new attorney by his side, a Hager City man pleaded not guilty Friday to 11 criminal counts that could put him behind bars the rest of his life. Wade Swenson, 39, is accused of sexually assaulting and secretly videotaping family members. He was charged in October in Pierce County Circuit Court with multiple felonies -- including second-degree sexual assault -- in connection with the incidents.
A Cannon Falls couple who bought a foreclosed home sold at public auction then tore it down will have to pay taxes this year based on the land's value with the home on it. Goodhue County commissioners on Tuesday denied Steven and Jacqueline VanGuilder's request that the valuation used for taxes paid this year be reduced by up to $46,400 to account for the house. The VanGuilder's demolished the home at 610 Stoughton St. last spring and summer, saying it was uninhabitable. They own a Cannon Falls construction company.
Goodhue County wind farm supporters on Tuesday defended a large project slated for the Goodhue area, two weeks after concerned landowners petitioned county commissioners to adopt at least one-half mile setbacks between turbines and structures, and even enact a moratorium on wind farms if more research is needed. Supporters urged commissioners to back wind power because it will help struggling farmers and the local economy.
Goodhue County Sheriff Dean Albers jokes that his chief deputy has one job. "To make the sheriff look good," Scott McNurlin deadpans when the sheriff asks about his No. 1 priority. The whimsical exchange between the sheriff and his right-hand man is all in good fun, but Albers admits there is some truth to the joke. "He's been very valuable to me as a chief deputy," Albers said Jan. 14 during a luncheon honoring McNurlin, the Goodhue County Editorial Association's 2009 Citizen of the Year.
Some local residents want to make Red Wing a Yellow Ribbon City. Businesses, churches, law enforcement and other organizations in Yellow Ribbon cities - like Farmington, Hugo, Stillwater and Woodbury - provide soldiers and their families support and resources before, during and after their deployment. "If they know we have this kind of a program in their city ... they know their family can contact us," said Jan Frazier, an auxiliary member at the Red Wing American Legion.
A Red Wing man will serve jail time for sexually assaulting a mentally impaired teenage girl early last year. Earl Young, 62, pleaded guilty Friday to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct as part of a deal with prosecutors. Under the plea bargain, the court will dismiss a more severe criminal sexual conduct charge - which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine - when Young is sentenced in March. Young will spend one year in jail and up to 10 years on probation.
CANNON FALLS - Diane Logue may have to find another place to ride her horses once the new interchange is built on Highway 52 and County Road 24 in Cannon Falls. The massive project's access roads will cut through large portions of her rural property. But Logue is not complaining. She is looking forward to the project and what it means for the city, its businesses and approximately 4,000 residents. "For the life of Cannon Falls, we need it," Logue said. "We'll die without this.