Archive for News

Sheriff on Douglas case: We’re casting a wide net

DELANO, MN – During his “State of the County” address at the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday, Sheriff Joe Hagerty provided an update on the investigation into the racist vandalism and burglary that occurred March 12 in the 200 block of Second Street Southwest in Delano.

“We are still working the case. I am confident we will solve it,” Hagerty said. “Do we have someone in Delano or in the county out doing hate crimes like that? If it is, I just don’t have a lot of experience with it, but you never know when you’re dealing with young people.”

Hagerty said his investigators are exploring a number of possibilities.

“We’re looking at former foster care kids. We’re looking at relationships with everybody in the family,” Hagerty said. “We’re casting a wide net. We’re not looking for a result that we want to find. You don’t just make assumptions that way.”

Hagerty said that electronics that were stolen might be able to be tracked. In the meantime, evidence is being examined.

“We did submit some things to our crime lab, and we’re still waiting for some of the analysis on that,” Hagerty said.

Joe Tackaberry asked if the sheriff’s office could share information like that with the public.

Hagerty said he would talk to the sergeant and lieutenant in charge of the case and said one of them or himself could speak at the upcoming task force meeting, which will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Delano City Hall.

“I know people want information,” Hagerty said. “There’s some things we can’t say because we don’t want to compromise it, but we’re looking at it.”

For more coverage of the “State of the County” presentation, which also featured Commissioner Charlie Borrell, see the April 24 edition of the Delano Herald Journal.

Controlled burn near Highland Ridge planned for Monday, April 17

DELANO, MN — Delano Fire Department is planning a controlled burn of the existing vegetation at the city park south of Highland Ridge first addition for 6 p.m. Monday, April 17.

If weather is not favorable, the burn will be rescheduled for Tuesday, April 18.

Residents in the area are encouraged to close windows and doors and to keep children and pets out of the park at the time of the burn.

The burn is in conjunction with the start of Lennar Corporation’s construction of the next phase of Highland Ridge.

Anyone with questions is encouraged to contact David Hinners at Lennar.

UPDATE: Highway 12 westbound traffic redirected due to crash

A three-vehicle crash on Highway 12 east of Tiger Drive resulted in unknown injuries and caused westbound traffic to be rerouted onto 13th Street around 4 p.m. Thursday.

A three-vehicle crash on Highway 12 east of Tiger Drive resulted in non-life-threatening injuries for one driver and caused westbound traffic to be rerouted onto 13th Street around 4 p.m. Thursday.

DELANO, MN – A three-vehicle crash on Highway 12 east of Tiger Drive resulted in non-life-threatening injuries for a Montrose man and caused westbound traffic to be rerouted onto 13th Street around 4 p.m. Thursday.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, a westbound 2011 Dodge Avenger driven by Jason Wehr, 42, of Montrose, was rear-ended by a 2009 Ford Econoline van driven by Brita Halonen, 46, of Delano.

The impact from the crash pushed the Avenger into the back of a 2015 Subaru Forester driven by Renee Johnson, 52, of Howard Lake.

Wehr was transported to Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia.

No one else was injured.

All individuals were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

Delano Fire Department, Ridgeview Ambulance, and Wright County Sheriff’s Office assisted the state patrol at the scene.

Extra distracted driving enforcement April 10-23

ST. PAUL –The tragedy of Joe Tikalsky’s death from a distracted driver in 2015 stretches beyond family and friends. He was a school bus driver from New Prague, and the generations of kids who rode his bus are now left with only memories of how he touched their lives.

Law enforcement agencies across Minnesota will be conducting extra distracted driving enforcement Monday, April 10, through Sunday, April 23, to help prevent more senseless deaths like Tikalsky’s. As distracted driving incidents and citations continue to increase, Minnesota law enforcement is extending the extra enforcement period to two weeks to specifically focus on this deadly behavior.

For 17-year-old Sylvie Tikalsky and her family, her grandfather’s death is a call-to-action to get Minnesotans to realize that driving requires your full attention.

“I’m living my life without my grandpa, and it’s not right when I think about what happened,” said Tikalsky. “I miss him so much, and it’s really hard to deal with every day. That’s why my family and I will do what we can to stop distracted driving.”

Sylvie and the Tikalsky family will be handing out 500 CELLslips to high school drivers and others with a message: “Hands on the Wheel, Eyes on the Road: In memory of Joe Tikalsky 10-28-15.” The goal is for drivers to place their phones inside the CELLslip, which blocks the cell phone signal.

Extra Enforcement and Awareness during Campaign
Deputies, police officers, and troopers from more than 300 agencies participate in the extra distracted driving enforcement campaign coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS). They use overtime funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to keep Minnesotans safe from the dangers of distraction.

“I wish I could say distracted driving may be a big problem in the rest of the country but not in Minnesota. I can’t say that because of stories like Joe and the dozens of lives that are lost each year from drivers who aren’t paying attention,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. “We live such hectic lives with appointments, activities and stress from job, school, and family demands. Because of all the pressures, the right choice behind the wheel isn’t always the easiest choice, but it’s a life-saving choice. Please pay attention.”

Disturbing Distraction Numbers
Minnesotans need to commit to keeping their eyes on the road to reduce distractions and the heartache that can result:

  • ·        Texting and driving citations continue to climb statewide.
    • o   2012 — 1,707
    • o   2013 — 2,177
    • o   2014 — 3,498
    • o   2015 — 4,115
    • o   2016 — 5,988
  • ·        In 2015, distracted driving contributed to 7,666 injuries and 74 deaths.
  • ·        When a crash occurs in Minnesota, the driver behavior that law enforcement agencies cite most often as a contributing factor is attention or distraction.

Minnesota’s “No Texting” Law
In Minnesota, it is illegal for drivers to read, compose, or send texts and emails, and access the web while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. This includes sitting at a stoplight or stop sign or stopped in traffic. It also is illegal for drivers with a permit or provisional driver’s license to use a cell phone while driving, except for emergencies to call 911.

Under Minnesota law, drivers face a $50 fine, plus court fees, for a first offense. They’ll pay an additional $225 fine (for a total of $275), plus court fees, for second and subsequent violations of the texting-while-driving law.

Make the Safe Choice

  • ·        Cell phones — Put the phone down, turn it off or place it out of reach.
  • ·        Music and other controls — Pre-program radio stations and arrange music in an easy-to-access spot. Adjust mirrors and ventilation before traveling.
  • ·        Navigation — Map out the destination and enter the GPS route in advance.
  • ·        Eating and drinking — Avoid messy foods and secure drinks.
  • ·        Children — Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle and model proper driving behavior.
  • ·        Passengers — Speak up to stop drivers from distracted driving behavior and offer to help with anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road.

About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
DPS comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.

About the Office of Traffic Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. DPS-OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.

DPS-OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety program. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes – education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma response.

Recent DPS-OTS Activity and Statistics
Law enforcement statewide arrested 2,407 drivers for DWI during the holiday extra DWI enforcement campaign. That’s compared with 2,502 arrests during the 2015 holiday period campaign.

Sheriff’s deputies, police officers and troopers from more than 300 law enforcement agencies issued 4,351 seat belt citations and 166 child seat citations Oct. 14 – 30.

Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2015 is a summary of traffic crashes derived from law enforcement reports and describes how, why and where crashes occurred and who was involved.

The 2015 Minnesota Motor Vehicle Impaired Driving Facts report highlights impaired driving data in areas such as fatalities, DWIs, repeat offenders and alcohol-related crash statistics.

This article was submitted by MnDOT.

Meet the washmasters

Ashley and Mike Maharas, of washmasters, wash windows at Bonde Bistro on a brisk March morning.  The Delano couple began washing windows together full-time in early March.

Ashley and Mike Maharas, of washmasters, wash windows at Bonde Bistro on a brisk March morning. The Delano couple began washing windows together full-time in early March.

DELANO, MN – When Mike and Ashley Maharas, of Delano, decided they wanted to leave their respective full-time careers in telecommunications and accounting to become full-time entrepreneurs together, they opted to start a window-washing company.

That company is washmasters, which the couple named and began organizing in fall of 2016.

“We had just gotten done having lunch and were enjoying the scenery around Lake Minnetonka, and she came up with the name,” Mike said. “We wanted to do a window-washing company, and that was the germination of the seed. She came up with the name and it stuck, and from there, we’ve gone gangbusters into creating a brand and some equity in that name.”

In early March, the couple made the full transition to self-employment.

Why window washing?

“It’s not the most glamorous job and company to start up, but we’ve always been the types to want to take risks, but very calculated risks,” Mike said. “Window washing was an opportunity that had a very low startup investment. It wasn’t something we had to learn like a master skill trade like a plumber or electrician. It just made sense. On paper, it looks like a much smaller task. You find out there’s a lot to learn.”

Ashley said there’s a lot more to starting a business or washing windows than meets the eye.

“It’s always about three times more (work) than you think it’s going to be,” Ashley said. “It’s just that dedication, too. We spent a lot of nights up late working on this while working our full-time jobs. That was a hard time, and yet really exciting. It gave us something to look forward to.”

The couple’s children – 7-year-old Mackenzie and 4-year-old twins Avery and Kalen – are excited about the company.

“They want business cards and they ask if they’re washmasters now,” Ashley said.

“You ask the ominous question, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ (and they say) ‘I want to wash windows like you,’” Mike said. “Obviously, it’s not a doctor or a lawyer, but it’s certainly something that will bring a lot of deep joy out of your heart to see your kids look up to what you’re doing.”

Armed with a cleaning solution of dish soap, water, and vinegar; the washmasters clean windows, exteriors, and gutters for businesses and residents throughout the area. Their tools include a T-bar, squeegee, a window-washing pole, bucket, water and towels, with the pole using ultra-pure water to wash windows up to three stories high while the window washer stays on the ground.

“The water washes the window and we can inject soap if it’s a really dirty window,” Mike said.

Mike created a water-purification system so that washmasters can take their own purified water with them, regardless of where they are working.

Even with the right equipment and resources, the proper technique is also needed.

“As far as techniques go, it’s kind of like golf,” Mike said. “It’s all in the wrist. You start on one section, and work your way down, and fan the squeegee back and forth until you get to the final move called a closeout, where you bring it all to one corner and the water falls, and you wipe it away and are left with a fully-cleaned window.”

“We do have a no-streak guarantee,” Ashley added. “ . . . If people need us to come back out and touch up windows, we are happy to do that.”

Washmasters are open 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 7 a.m. to noon Saturdays and can be reached at (612) 770-8221.

There’s no need to call to get a quote, though, as quotes and more information are available at

Extra caution needed during planting season

WRIGHT COUNTY, MN – The Wright County Highway Department would like to remind Wright County citizens to use extra caution on county highways now that farmers are in the fields and using the roadways to transport trucks and equipment from storage facilities to the fields.

Farm-related truck traffic increases significantly during the planting season, both in volume and in the number of hours on the road. Motorists are urged to watch for tractors pulling wagons at slow speeds, as well as plows, planters and other wide equipment that may go over the center line (due to vehicles taking wide turns because of their size). The leading contributing crash factors in farm vehicle crashes are inattention, speeding, and unsafe passing.

“Please be alert and prepared for slow-moving farm vehicles, especially on rural, two-lane highways,” Wright County Highway Engineer Virgil Hawkins said. “Motorists need to give them extra space and use caution when attempting to pass.”

Motorists should also watch for fallen debris from farm-related vehicles and remember that it is safer to brake or drive through the debris rather than veer into oncoming traffic or off the road. Farm-related traffic is encouraged to clean up immediately any excess mud that they track onto the roads.

Drivers are urged to:

  • Use safety belts.
  • Drive with headlights on at all times.
  • Observe posted speed limits and traffic signs.
  • Watch for excess mud tracked onto the roads and debris dropped by trucks.