Kim Ukura is the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune.
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MORRIS -- Stevens County Auditor/Treasurer Neil Wiese has filed a civil suit against Stevens County, alleging that the Stevens County Board of Commissioners set his salary and the budget for his office in an "arbitrary, capricious, oppressive" manner with "unreasonable disregard" for Wiese's performance and the responsibilities and duties of his office. According to Stevens County Attorney Aaron Jordan, the statute for governing the auditor/treasurer's office requires that the matter be expedited, which means the lawsuit could be resolved within a month or two.
ST. PAUL -- After eight terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives, Torrey Westrom was elected to the Minnesota Senate this November. His Senate run left a seat in the House open, which his former teacher and wrestling coach, Jay McNamar, was elected to fill. In interviews at the capitol this week, the two discussed how they are adjusting to their new roles, their goals for the session, and legislation that they are working on together to help their constituents in west central Minnesota.
Because their Jan. 9 meeting was the first of the year, the Morris City Council addressed some procedural issues and gave the oath of office for council members Bill Storck and Kevin Wohlers, who were elected in November. The council elected Jeff Miller as Mayor Pro Tem, to serve as chair of council meetings when Mayor Sheldon Giese cannot attend. The council also elected Miller president of the Morris Economic Development Authority, with Bill Storck serving as vice president.
Bill Rickmeyer of Morris was awarded the 2012 Thomas B. McRoberts Human Rights Award by the Morris Area Human Rights Commission on Tuesday. Rickmeyer was nominated for the award by a group at Zion Lutheran Church of Morris. 2011 award winner Eugene Pasche said Rickmeyer was nominated for his work across the community. Rickmeyer has been active with West Central Homes, the Stevens County DAC, Meals on Wheels, the VFW and Orphan Grain Train, said Pasche. Through the VFW, Rickmeyer has also helped fund raise for local baseball programs and helped veterans by driving the vets van.
The Stevens County Board of Commissioners unanimously elected Commissioner Phil Gausman to serve as chair and Commissioner Jeanne Ennen to serve as vice chair in 2013 at a largely procedural meeting on Tuesday. Commissioners Ron Staples, Donny Wohlers, and Bob Kopitzke also took the oath of office. Staples was elected to a second term in November, while Wohlers and Kopitzke are beginning their first terms.
MORRIS - The Morris Area School Board will look virtually the same in 2013 as it did in 2012, at least through the middle of the year. On Monday, the school board unanimously re-elected Kurt Gartland as chair, Stan Wulf as vice-chair, and Dick Metzger as clerk/treasurer at their yearly reorganizational meeting. Board members Wulf, Metzger, Brent Fuhrman and Jamie Solvie also took the oath of office after being successfully re-elected by voters in November. However, there was an air of uncertainty to the proceedings due to the potential consolidation with the Cyrus School District.
MORRIS - In part two of our look back at the year that was, researchers demonstrate portable biomass power, Morris elected two new city council members, and the Tiger football team celebrated an undefeated season. July Researchers with the University of Minnesota, Morris and All Power Labs of California demonstrated a scaled-down version of the campus' biomass facility that could be used to provide electricity in disaster areas called the PowerTainer.
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.
One of my favorite things about my job is that it gives me an excuse to ask people questions. Every week, I get the chance to ask government officials, business leaders, students, and regular people to tell me what they're doing and why they're doing it. While I don't always love that this job makes people suspicious - I can't tell you how many times I've been having a casual conversation and someone will (in jest, I hope) ask whether my tape recorder is on - I feel always grateful that my job affords me the opportunity to be curious every day.
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.