Archive for Hot Topic

Highway 55 detour through Delano has begun

WRIGHT AND HENNEPIN COUNTIES, MN – Did it seem like there was more traffic on Highway 12 Monday morning? Motorists can expect more of the same for up to the next seven-plus weeks, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Motorists who travel Highway 55 between Division Street in Buffalo, and Autumn Oaks/Electric Drive Rockford, need to plan alternative routes throughout that time..

A signed detour is directing traffic along a 20-mile detour that follows County Road 92/Dogwood Street, County Road 11, County Road 139/County Line Road, Highway 12 through Delano, and Highway 25. The detour adds 13.5 miles to the trip.

While the road will be closed to through traffic, all businesses and local residences located along Highway 55 will remain accessible throughout the project.

All lanes of Highway 55 between Division Street in Buffalo and Autumn Oaks/Electric Drive Rockford, will open by Friday, Aug. 31, according to MnDOT.

The closure is part of a major project to reconstruct and improve Highway 55 between Buffalo and Rockford in 2018. The project will reconstruct the road between Division Street in Buffalo and Autumn Oaks/Electric Drive in Rockford, resurface between Autumn Oaks Drive and the Crow River bridge in Rockford, replace or repair underground culverts, remove cattle passes, upgrade guardrail, install a new center left-turn lane at Highway 55/Walnut Place, upgrade the Highway 55/Main Street signal, and improve sidewalks in Rockford.

When complete, the project will improve the ride along 7.5 miles of Highway 55, and improve drainage, safety and accessibility, according to the MnDOT.

Stay informed

To get the latest information and maps, or to sign up to have important project email updates including advance notice of future traffic changes sent directly to your inbox, visit the project’s website.

To follow this and other Wright County projects on Twitter, follow @MnDOTcentral.

For real-time travel information anywhere in Minnesota, click here.

This map submitted by MnDOT shows the official detour for Highway 55 during a seven-plus week closure. Note: Division Street in Buffalo west of Highway 55 does not connect to the highway as shown on the map.

This map submitted by MnDOT shows the official detour for Highway 55 during a seven-plus week closure. Note: Division Street in Buffalo west of Highway 55 does not connect to the highway as shown on the map.

Parade route and road closures reminder

The 4th of July parade route will begin at the intersection of Wright County Road 30 and River Street, snake through downtown and onto Elm Avenue, where it will end at the intersection with Tiger Drive. With this route comes a number of road closures beginning at 8:30 a.m., all of which are notated on this map.

The 4th of July parade route will begin at the intersection of Wright County Road 30 and River Street, snake through downtown and onto Elm Avenue, where it will end at the intersection with Tiger Drive. With this route comes a number of road closures beginning at 8:30 a.m., all of which are notated on this map.

Fire damages shed in Franklin Township

Investigators from Wright County and the Delano Fire Department are working toward determining what caused a fire that damaged a shed at 9037 County Rd. 17 SE in Franklin Township early Wednesday. Property owner Thomas Lemmerman reported the fire at 5:54 a.m. Firefighters from Delano and Watertown extinguished the fire, and were on scene for about two hours. The amount of loss is still under investigation due to the large amount of tools and equipment in the shed. No one was injured and no other buildings were damaged.

Investigators from Wright County and the Delano Fire Department are working toward determining what caused a fire that damaged a shed at 9037 County Rd. 17 SE in Franklin Township early Wednesday. Property owner Thomas Lemmerman reported the fire at 5:54 a.m. Firefighters from Delano and Watertown extinguished the fire, and were on scene for about two hours. The amount of loss is still under investigation due to the large amount of tools and equipment in the shed. No one was injured and no other buildings were damaged.

Delano City Council approves bias/hate crime response plan

DELANO, MN – Delano’s Spirit of Community Commission has been working with the Wright County Sheriff’s Office to draft a bias/hate crime response plan, and the Delano City Council approved that plan on a 4-0 vote, with Councilman Jon Sutherland absent, during its meeting Tuesday.

Modeled after similar plans in cities like Red Wing, St. Peter, and Chaska, it is the first plan of its kind in Wright County.

Senior and Community Services Coordinator Nick Neaton, who serves as staff liaison to the SOCC, said the definition of a bias or hate crime is defined by state statute as an offense motivated to commit the act by the victim’s race, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or characteristics identified as sexual orientation. If that statute changes, the definition in the response plan would also change automatically, a component that Mayor Dale Graunke applauded.

What does the new plan entail?

“When a bias or hate crime is committed in the Delano area, first the sheriff’s office notifies the city that a crime of this nature has occurred,” Neaton said. “Next, the sheriff’s office notifies the victim of this plan and of the Spirit of Community Commission’s role in this plan, and the support we’re able to provide.”

The victim would be able to decide whether or not to accept that support. If so, the officer would assist the victim in completing the sheriff’s office’s bias/hate crime referral report and immediately forward the referral to the sheriff, who would then contact the SOCC chairperson. If not, the officer will give contact information of the SOCC staff liaison to the victim in case support is requested in the future.

While the sheriff’s office would investigate the crime, Neaton said SOCC members would interview the victim regarding what happened, who was involved and “especially, ‘how can we ensure that what happened won’t happen again?’”

Community response is another component of the plan.

“If appropriate, this includes the Spirit of Community Commission, City Council members, local media, and, of course, the sheriff’s office,” Neaton said. “This response could be something like a letter to the editor, a community meeting, or another action step developed in cooperation with all the involved partners, especially including the victim and their wishes.”

While Neaton believes the city responded well to the racist graffiti and burglary that occurred in March of 2017, “it was off the cuff, it was improvised. This provides more of a formal blueprint for what we are going to do. What are the steps we take to make sure all our bases are covered if this happens again?”

He noted that the city’s legal counsel had reviewed the plan and found no issues with supporting it, which is what he requested the council to do on behalf of the SOCC.

“We’re asking for consideration and adoption of this plan as a formal declaration of Delano’s commitment to being an inclusive and welcoming city,” Neaton concluded later.

Councilwoman Betsy Moran, formerly known as Betsy Stolfa, asked about how the privacy of victims would be respected.

“In the policy, it mentions the person speaking to the victim reiterates the privacy policy, but there isn’t a privacy policy attached to this plan, so is that referred to in a different document?” Moran asked. “What is the privacy policy?”

“My presumption is that it lies with the victim’s legal rights,” Neaton said. “That would be something we would develop with the cooperation of the sheriff’s office, making sure that what they wish and what their right is to remain private remains private. That’s something we need to look into and consider.”

When Moran made the motion to approve the plan, she said she would “look for a privacy policy amendment in the future.”

The plan states the response coordinator would request permission from the victim to report the information to the League of Minnesota Human Rights Commission, and Councilman Jason Franzen asked if the city was under obligation to report such a crime regardless. City Administrator Phil Kern said he was not certain of any legal requirement to do so.

Before the vote, Councilwoman Holly Schrupp said, “I just want to thank the committee. It’s very thorough. I was very impressed reading through it. There was a lot of thought and care given to a very sensitive issue.”

“Hopefully, we won’t ever have to implement it,” Moran added.

Neaton agreed with Schrupp’s assessment.

“If it comes up again, we will be ready,” he said.

See Friday’s edition for more coverage of the meeting.

Prom policy changes on split vote

DELANO, MN – Monday, the Delano School Board approved a government-mandated meal price increase, bread and milk vendors, the Wright Technical Center’s long-term facility maintenance program budget, and a new boys swimming cooperative.

Amidst a full agenda, the Delano High School handbook, specifically the school’s prom policy, garnered the most discussion for the second month in a row before being approved as proposed on a 5-2 vote, with board members Carolyn Milano and Rachel Depa opposed.

With approval of the handbook language as proposed by Principal Steve Heil, following review by the DHS site-based leadership team, prom will be a junior and senior event, with younger students not eligible to attend.

Before the 5-2, Milano made and Depa seconded a motion to approve the handbook without the prom policy change until it can be further reviewed, but the motion died on a 2-5 vote.

“The reason I want to make these changes is the current language really needs to be clarified,” Milano said.

She raised concerns about the pre-registration and vetting process, the lack of a minimum age to attend prom, and no language limiting students to only have one guest at prom.

School board member Al Briesemeister did not like the idea of delaying a portion of the handbook.

“If we’re going to approve everything but that, we’re putting that back to square one,” he said.

Milano said prom language could be added as an addendum in September after review.

She asked for the limitation on prom participation to be reconsidered and to take into account the maturity of students.

“It’s arbitrary to say sophomores aren’t allowed,” Milano said. “I’m giving my sophomore a car every day to drive. He better be very mature to drive a vehicle.”

Depa agreed, saying that there are many sophomores who are the same age as many juniors.

“It’s arbitrary to say, ‘This 16 year old can go, but this one isn’t mature enough,’” Depa said.

When school board member Amy Johnson asked how many schools limit prom participation based on grade level, Heil said it’s “inconsistent,” with schools like Orono limiting participation to juniors and seniors, while schools like Wayzata allow freshmen and sophomores to attend.

Johnson also asked if parents had contacted Heil about the change, and he said, “I haven’t really received feedback on the change. I only hear about it when a sophomore wants to go and there’s some kind of issue.”

Board member Corey Black suggested following the recommendation made by Heil and the site-based leadership team.

“We go through a painstaking process of hiring competent administrators,” Black said. “Something such as this needs to be left to them . . . They know the students. They know when they should and shouldn’t make changes.”

“You’ve done research and are putting this forward,” Black told Heil. “As a school board member, I support that. It’s way out of my area of expertise.”

Though Milano disagreed with the prom policy in the handbook, she was happy with a change Heil made to the language regarding what kind of outerwear can be worn in schools.

See more coverage of the meeting in the May 25 edition of the Delano Herald Journal.

Motorcyclist seriously injured in crash

GREENFIELD, MN – A Delano man was seriously injured after 7:30 p.m. Sunday when his motorcycle hit a guardrail on Hennepin County Road 50 at the intersection of Roy Road near the Delano Sportsmen’s Club.

The motorcyclist, 26-year-old Zachary Van Erp, was flung about 50 feet from his bike and suffered internal bleeding, a broken pelvis, two broken legs, a collapsed lung, fractured face, and broken eye socket, according to a gofundme page set up for him. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, according to family.

He was airlifted to Hennepin Healthcare.

“He is still in critical condition but fighting just as we expected,” Amanda Young wrote on the gofundme page. “He is still unconscious and in a lot of pain, but he is in an induced coma. His brain injury is still to be determined.”

She asked for prayers and expressed thanks for those praying and sharing support.