Wolverton picks up after storms; Red River is rising

A rainstorm Wednesday morning put tiny Wolverton, Minn., in its crosshairs, dropping more than 8 inches of rain and washing away pieces of the city’s streets, reports Dave Olson of the Fargo Forum. Wolverton, population 142, is about halfway between Fargo-Moorhead and Wahpeton-Breckenridge in Wilkin County. Mayor Nancy Olthoff said about 40 residents of one neighborhood were unable to use their vehicles because of washed-out roads. Faith Lutheran Church had to deal with about 3 inches of water in its basement Wednesday morning. With the help of a commercial restoration company, it was mostly cleaned up by early afternoon.

Meanwhile, the rain will cause the Red River to rise, but not enough to prompt much concern, writes Helmut Schmidt and Erik Burgess of the Forum. The recent rains caused officials to close the North Broadway Bridge and build an emergency levee in downtown Fargo. The Red was at 26.65 feet in Fargo at 5 p.m. Wednesday, with a 30-foot crest expected midday Friday. While officials called for the emergency levee, Mayor Dennis Walaker said there shouldn’t be any severe problems. Bill Barrett of the National Weather Service in Grand Forks said normal precipitation for Fargo through June 25 is a little more than 10 inches, and so far in 2013, 19.23 inches of precipitation has fallen.

The Minnesota Senate set aside another $500,000 Wednesday for future legal costs as they fight a lawsuit brought by ex-communications staffer Michael Brodkorb, the AP’s Brian Bakst reports. “Depositions, motions and other actions in the coming months are expected to drive up the state’s legal fees — paid to a private firm — that have already reached $225,000. The allowance is part of a new Senate budget for the 12 months beginning July 1.”

The man who led Cold Spring-Richmond through some of its most difficult times has turned in his resignation, reports Stephanie Dickrell of the St. Cloud Daily Times.  Cold Spring-Richmond Police Chief Phil Jones’ retirement was announced at Wednesday’s Cold Spring City Council meeting. Jones’ last day will be July 12. Jones was chief during the 2003 school shooting at Rocori High School and last November’s death of Officer Tom Decker. Sgt. Chris Boucher, the department’s canine unit officer and a 20-year veteran of the department, will be interim chief. Jones has been with the department 24 years, 21 as chief, during which the department expanded service to include Richmond and Wakefield Township, a coverage area of 36 square miles. The department now has eight full-time officers and eight part-time officers.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is reporting that nitrogen pollution in the state is so bad that current practices are inadequate to deal with it. Stephanie Hemphill of MPR  reports that 158 million pounds of nitrogen leave the state in rivers every year, and 27 percent of Minnesota’s rivers have nitrate levels that exceed federal and state drinking water standards. The vast majority of the pollution comes from tile drainage systems and groundwater leaching from agriculture lands; the most heavily polluted part of the state is south central Minnesota, where corn is the major crop and tiling is extensive. Hemphill says: “The report says if farmers optimized standard best management practices, they could reduce nitrogen pollution by up to 35 percent. … [but] national groups working on the dead zone problem in the Gulf of Mexico say reductions closer to 45 percent are needed.”

Toua Vang of St. Paul will soon become the only ordained Hmong Episcopal priest in the world, reports Tad Vezner of the Pioneer Press. Vang, 47, left Laos and lived as a refugee in Thailand before emigrating to the United States. He said his struggles with war and famine, being a refugee and learning a new language and culture in Minnesota, as well as problems with his marriage and finances, happened because  “God wanted me to live among the poor, serve the poor and demonstrate God’s love for them,” he said. He will be ordained Thursday during a service in Golden Valley.

Rochester will share part of the city’s new sales tax revenue with 17 small towns in the area. The disbursement is part of a legislative requirement after voters approved an extension to the local sales tax last fall, reports Elizabeth Baier of MPR. “The Mayo Clinic is Rochester’s main employer and is poised to grow dramatically in the next two decades. Rochester and Mayo Clinic leaders estimate the city will grow by about 32,000 residents in the next 20 years as the clinic expands its footprint in the region. … City leaders say improvements in area towns can help attract people looking for a mix of urban and rural lifestyles. To help stimulate some of that growth, Rochester’s pumping $5 million toward economic development projects across the region. [For example], Stewartville will receive about $633,000 from Rochester. ‘The bottom line is, we’re all working together. If one of us can help each other, we can all become strong by it,’ said City Administrator Bill Schimmel.”

John Fitzgerald is subbing this week for Brian Lambert.

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