Kim Ukura is the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune.
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MORRIS - A judge had ruled that a 40-year-old man who was found guilty of sexual assault in Stevens and Kandiyohi counties should not be committed to a sex offender program. Jerry Everett Pahl, 40, who listed his last address in Hancock, Minn., was scheduled to be released from prison in July after serving a prison sentence for felony domestic assault.
MORRIS - The Stevens County Board of Commissioners approved 2.5 percent cost of living raises for all non-union employees, department heads, and two of the county's four elected officials at their meeting Monday. Commissioner Ron Staples led an effort backed by Commissioner Phil Gausman to keep all salary increases to 1.5 percent, but was consistently out-voted by Commissioners Larry Sayre, Paul Watzke and Jeanne Ennen. "I really don't see how we are supposed to sit and negotiate with our unions for 2013 when we're giving 2.5 percent to everyone else," said Staples.
MORRIS -- Commissioners Larry Sayre and Paul Watzke were recognized at a ceremony and reception after their final board meeting on Monday, Dec. 31. Watzke has served on the board since 2005, and Sayre has served since 2001. The attached video includes remarks from both Sayre and Watzke.
MORRIS - Stevens County has a new sheriff and a new emergency management director after Jason Dingman and Dona Greiner were sworn into their new roles at a ceremony at the Stevens County Courthouse on Monday, Dec. 31. Dingman has worked law enforcement in Stevens County since 1992 when he was hired as a reserve deputy. He was hired to work full time for the sheriff's office in 1996 and has been working in Stevens County since.
MORRIS - In part one of our look back at the year that was, record high temperatures hit in January, redistricting left Stevens County without incumbent legislators, and both Morris Area principals announced they would be leaving the district. January Shopko and Pamida announced that they would merge and, over the next 12 months, convert 193 Pamida stores in 17 states to the Shopko Hometown format. The conversion for Morris' Pamida store began in August, with a grand opening for the new Shopko in September.
MORRIS - In the two months since Sheriff Randy Willis announced he would be resigning at the end of 2012, he has gotten many phone calls and e-mails from residents saying thanks for the little things - opening a car door or quieting a neighbor's dog. In his 12 years as sheriff, Willis has overseen some big office changes and high-profile cases, but still appreciates the ability to take care of the small problems for the citizens of Stevens County.
MORRIS - The Morris City Council approved another five year building lease with the Stevens County Historical Society and amended two loan agreements with the organization at their last meeting of the year on Thursday. Under the terms of the lease, the Historical Society will continue to pay $1 for use of the building for five years, City Manager Blaine Hill explained. The new lease includes two changes. First, it authorizes the Historical Society to sub-lease the building with the city's approval. Currently, the University of Minnesota, Morris leases space in the building for research.
MORRIS - A Stevens County man pleaded guilty to one count of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree for sexually assaulting a girl multiple times over a two year period. Cruz Mar Del-Angel, 39, agreed to a plea arrangement with prosecutors to be placed on 20 years probation, participate in a sex offender treatment program, and register as a sex offender.
MORRIS -- In the week after a school shooting in Newtown, Conn., staff in the Morris Area School District have worked to get things back to normal for students, as well as provide a consistent message about school safety for concerned students. All school districts in the state are required to have plans in place to deal with "potential violent crisis situations" - everything from natural disasters to shootings.
MORRIS - Morris Area High School science teacher Kevin Pope loves physics, but doesn't think of himself as a math person even though he acknowledges physics is mostly math. He's a science person, but muddled through college chemistry. He loves teaching, but doesn't like to be in the spotlight and doesn't know why he was voted the 2012 Teacher of the Year for the Morris Area School District.