Archive for News

Delano coach Kim Finn to retire after 2023 season

For 25 years, there’s only been one face leading the way for the Delano girls tennis program. Coach Kim Finn has walked the courts for the Tigers for the past 25 years and after being honored for her commitment and dedication to the program, she announced this season will be her last.
“It’s time,” Finn said about the decision. “I always go off of what Pav (Merrill Pavlovich) said that you’ll just know when it’s time to move on. I’ll be done, but it’s not like I won’t be here. The amount of work it takes to be a head coach and run a program is a lot. That part of it, I won’t miss. If I could just come out here and coach, I would do it for the rest of my life.”

See the full story in this week’s newspaper.

Kate Leis tackles 100-mile Superior trail

Personal trainer Kate Leis recently began the grueling 100-mile Superior Fall Trail Race along the north shore of Lake Superior, only to withdraw after 62 miles due to a pre-existing injury.
It was her ninth time competing on the trail traversing the Sawtooth Mountain Range. She’s finished it seven times.
The race, founded in 1991, begins at Gooseberry Falls State Park north of Two Harbors and ends at the Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen. It is the 10th oldest 100-mile trail race in the country.
This year’s race, which takes about 32 to 36 hours to complete, began Friday, Sept. 8.
Leis, who opened Sunrise Fitness along Railroad Avenue in June 2021, ran 83 miles along the hilly, rugged trail before her body told her to quit.

See the full story in this week’s newspaper.

City Council appoints Sorensen to Spirit of Community Commission

The City Council appointed William Sorensen to the Spirit of Community Commission as a youth liaison for a one-year term.
Sorensen, a senior at Delano High School, will fill a new role created by the City Council earlier this year to provide commission members with more viewpoints from the community.
Sorensen is a “sharp kid,” Council Member Becky Schaust said before making a motion to appoint him to the commission. Her motion was seconded by Mike Mathisen and passed unanimously.
“He has accomplished more in his high school career than most of us have currently in our lives,” she said.

See the full story in this week’s newspaper.

Delano vs. Zimmerman varsity football photos

Check out our photo coverage of the Delano home varsity game against Zimmerman that took place Sept. 15!

Fire erupts at Steeple View Farm in Franklin Township

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, MN - In the early hours of Sept 15, a fire broke out at Steeple View Farm and Equestrian Center located at 9685 County Rd. 13 SW in Franklin Township, Wright County. The fire was reported at approximately 2 a.m., primarily affecting the farm’s arena area.

Deputies from Wright County responded to the incident and found the arena area of the farm engulfed in flames. They assisted farm employees in removing horses from the barn before it became fully involved in the fire. One employee sustained injuries and was transported to the hospital for treatment; these injuries are reported as non-life-threatening. There are currently no reported injuries or deaths among the horses at the facility.

The Delano Fire Department was called to the scene and received assistance from neighboring fire departments, including the Watertown Fire Department, to combat the fire. The Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s office has been called to investigate the cause of the fire.

As the investigation proceeds, further details may emerge regarding the incident.

Fatalities to continue along Highway 12 ‘Corridor of Death,’ state says

Delano Herald Journal Editor

People will continue to die along a nearly five-mile stretch of Highway 12 that connects Delano with Independence if no more safety improvements are undertaken along the road, according to a recently released report from the state.

The 4.5-mile stretch of road between County Line Road in Delano and Highway 90 in Independence “has a long history of safety challenges,” according to the report. The authors said it needs significant safety improvements.

That section had the highest frequency of fatal crashes along the 38-mile-long Highway 12 Corridor, which officials once referred to as the “Corridor of Death.”

Based on the history and a computer analysis, “fatal crashes are expected to continue occurring if no changes are made,” according to the results of a year-old study by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Fixing the road is a high priority for the communities along Highway 12, said Delano City Administrator Phil Kern, who is the chairman of the Highway 12 Safety Coalition.

“Speaking on behalf of Delano, it has been and continues to be one of our top priorities,” he said.

The MnDOT study, which focused on safety first and mobility second, examined about five miles of Highway 12, which remains a safety challenge despite recent safety improvements.

The Highway 12 Safety Coalition and communities’ efforts to raise awareness, and the addition of a median barrier east of Maple Plain, roundabouts to slow traffic at County Road 90 and 92, median delineators, and a slippery surface warning system have made a significant difference in improving safety, said Christine Krueger, a spokeswoman for MnDOT.

“While this road previously showed more severe and fatal crashes than similar roads, safety improvements have made a difference — there has not been a fatal crash on this section of Highway 12 since 2019,” she said.

Chad Erickson, a consultant project manager with MnDOT, said all the low-cost improvements have been made along the road.

“What you are really looking at then is large solutions, some sort of actual physical separation so those vehicles can’t get into each other in opposing directions,” he said.

As part of the study, transportation officials identified four options that would reduce fatal crashes and serious injuries on the two-lane highway while improving traffic flow.

The agency finished the study in June 2022, but MnDOT remained mum about its findings.

“Once the study was complete, they haven’t done anything with it to date,” Kern told the Delano Herald Journal in August.

MnDOT didn’t release the study’s results until this newspaper sent a public records request to the agency demanding a copy of the report.

Erickson presented the study’s findings to the coalition during its Sept. 7 meeting. MnDOT officials skipped previous coalition meetings despite repeated requests by the group, which wanted to be updated on the study’s findings, according to meeting minutes.

The section of Highway 12 in the study area is a rural, two-lane highway built in 1934, which has remained largely unchanged. It carries metro-level traffic volumes at 55 miles per hour through farmland, wetlands, and wildlife areas, leaving drivers with little margin for error.

The road is congested and dangerous based on the data that can be found in the report recently released by MnDOT.

The road segment under study carried an average of 14,300 to 17,500 vehicles daily in 2019. That was near the planning level of 18,300 vehicles per day for a two-lane rural highway.

Traffic is only expected to grow in the coming decades as more families discover Delano and new developments are approved and built.

By 2040, traffic volume is expected to range from 15,400 to 19,100 vehicles per day, exceeding the road’s planning level.

Crashes resulting in death and serious injuries have consistently occurred in the study area, dating back to the 1980s. Despite several recent safety projects, the crash rate along the road remains above what’s acceptable on other roads with similar characteristics, according to the report.

Since 2009, seven people died in seven crashes that involved 15 vehicles, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Four crashes were head-on collisions, two involved drivers running off the road, and one was a rear-end collision.

The most recent fatality in the study area occurred Saturday, March 2, 2019, between Lake Haughey Road and Hitsman Lane. Marleena Anna Dieterich, 18, was driving east when she lost control of her car on the icy road, according to media reports.

The Delano woman crossed the center line and collided head-on with a semi-truck traveling west. She died at the scene. The truck driver, who tried to avoid the crash, wasn’t injured.

The study identified four viable alternatives for Highway 12 that would improve safety and traffic flow along the road. Those options included:

• A two-lane concept with a median barrier from County Line Road to just west of Lake Haughey Road and a depressed median east of it.
• Two three-lane concepts that also would feature a median barrier from County Line Road to just west of Lake Haughey Road and a depressed median east of it. Both concepts would feature two lanes running in one direction and one lane in the opposite direction.
• A four-lane concept with a depressed median. Two lanes would run in each direction.

“All of these are good, feasible alternatives,” Erickson said.

The study, which did not pick a preferred alternative, presented a range of feasible options that address the corridor’s needs, he said.

A preferred solution would be chosen by officials once the alternatives move to the final design process, according to the report. That won’t happen until funding for the project has been identified.

It’s unclear where the project stands.

MnDOT hasn’t identified any funding for changes to Highway 12. During the coalition’s meeting earlier this month, transportation officials talked about the challenges and costs of applying for grant funding, but no one seems to be doing that. Instead, MnDOT employees told the coalition its members could apply for grant funding if they wanted.

Kern said the coalition would discuss the project during its next meeting, which will be held at 2 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 2, at Delano City Hall.

“The Highway 12 Safety Coalition, one of our primary goals is to advocate and make this a high priority for the state,” he said in August.

Editor’s note: Our editing software’s auto-correct feature inserted the wrong word in a sentence in an earlier version of this story. Marleena Anna Dieterich lost control of her car on an icy segment of Highway 12.