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Mankato earns high marks for work-life balance

ALSO: Funnel clouds spotted near Winona; New Ulm cop disciplined after double fatality; St. Cloud prison wants to stem sexual assaults; and more.

Mankato is cited as the eighth-best community in the nation for life-work balance.

The website Nerd Wallet ranks Mankato the eighth-best community in the nation for life-work balance, which includes short commutes, low median hours worked per week and salaries, writes Tim Krohn of the Mankato Free Press. “The mean travel time to work in Mankato is 17 minutes with a median work week at 36.8 hours. The median earnings for a full-time male worker is $40,860 and for a female $33,771. … The company used census data to determine work-life balance calculations based on the three factors of commutes, hours worked and income. Lisa Perez, an industrial psychology professor at Minnesota State University who specializes in stress and health in the workplace, said she agrees that two of the three criteria can clearly help indicate a good life-work balance. Cities that offer a short commute and higher average earnings are going to generally provide a better life-work experience. …” Here’s the list.

A twister ripped over the Mississippi River Monday evening, offering a beautiful sight and causing no damage, offers the Winona Daily News. “The National Weather Service in La Crosse first reported the funnel cloud just before 5 p.m. near Bluff Siding, Wis. It was heading east about 20 mph, according to trained spotters. A law enforcement officer confirmed the sighting. One man captured video of the funnel cloud near the river south of Winona and posted it on the Internet. It appeared to touch down briefly about a mile south and east of the city on the Wisconsin side of the river. … The storm dropped up to 2 inches of rain in some areas and included half dollar-size hail.”

The New Ulm Police Department has disciplined an officer after he was involved in an accident in which two people died, writes Josh Moniz of the New Ulm Journal. “Officer Mathew Rasmussen was suspended without pay in April 2012 because of the double fatality crash on July 8, 2011, and he had other issues in the department, according to his disciplinary file.  Rasmussen was suspended without pay from April 5 to April 7 in 2012, which amounted to losing pay for three days and holiday pay for Good Friday. He was also ordered to participate in a Performance Improvement Plan for one year, which is aimed at correcting his past department issues and his actions that resulted in the crash. … The 2011 crash that killed Myra Meyer, 82, and her son Brian Wichmann, 60, occurred while Rasmussen was pursuing a speeder on North Garden Street. He accelerated beyond 70 mph in a 30 mph zone without activating his emergency lights or his audible siren. He was unable to brake fast enough to avoid hitting Meyer’s vehicle as it turned across his lane while entering a driveway. Wichmann died at the scene. Meyer died 10 days later in a hospital.” … The Performance Improvement Plan details prior issues. Rasmussen showed  “critical decision making below an acceptable standard” in a Dec. 31, 2011 arrest of a DWI suspect during which Rasmussen shoved  the suspect during the suspect’s attempt to spit on him instead of “utilizing proper personal protection gear.” The plan also cites Rasmussen for reports of “aggressive driving conduct” and prioritizing traffic enforcement at a level out of sync with the department. …” 

In an effort to curb sexual abuse in prison and to comply with the 2003 federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, the St. Cloud prison will install more than 280 new video cameras, writes David Unze of the St. Cloud Daily Times. At the St. Cloud prison, which is the intake facility for the state’s prison system, about $1,121,480 will be spent for cameras and related equipment, but only a fraction of that amount is based on PREA requirements. St. Cloud is the most camera-deficient prison in the state Department of Corrections system, so by Aug. 1, St. Cloud will have 625 cameras. Studies show an estimated 60,500 inmates, or 4.5 percent of all state and federal inmates, have been sexually victimized at least once by other inmates or staff. “The reality is a whole lot different than what most people think,” Warden Collin Gau said. “To say that sexual assault doesn’t happen in prison is not truthful. But to portray it happening every day and that it’s a part of the routine life of a prisoner is way off base.”

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Adam Harringa of the Austin Daily Herald has the story of Larry Aden, a farmer and sustainability advocate from Nemaha, Iowa, and co-owner of Eden Sustainable Technologies. He hopes to buy the Johnson Floral facility in Austin and turn it into an environmentally-friendly grocery with all of its produce grown on site. He wants to create a farming co-op, renting space to local growers who will then sell their fruit, vegetables, fish and other products in year-round facility. The group hasn’t bought the property, but hopes to do so soon and start producing before this winter. Johnson Floral and its large greenhouse, which has been in Austin for nearly a half century, have been for sale for about one month. Its owner, Brad Johnson, said his 91-year-old father, John R. Johnson, ran the company, but wants to retire. Aden raises peacock bass, red claw crayfish, yellow perch and buffalo fish and plans to raise them at the co-op. He wants about six people to grow fruit, vegetables and other produce. They also could grow flowers. “The idea is to provide a supermarket type of environment where people can buy anything they need for their family table 365 days per year,” Aden said.

Residents who live near Moorhead’s two college campuses can now buy a permit to park on the street for more than three hours, writes Wendy Reuer of the Fargo Forum. Last year, the Moorhead City Council implemented three-hour parking restrictions in congested areas near Concordia College and Moorhead State University. In response to resident complains about the restrictions, the council on Monday approved a new residential permit policy. The permits would be limited to one per property and need to be renewed each year. The permits do not exempt other parking rules and vehicles must be moved after 48 hours.

Last year, Linda Westvig and Barb LeClaire of the Paynesville Dairy Queen raised more than $13,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network, second place among all the Dairy Queens in the state and the top fundraiser among the seasonal restaurants. This year, they are gunning for the top spot, writes Linda Vanderwerf of the West Central Tribune. The Dairy Queen’s biggest fundraiser of the year, Family Fun Night, will run from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday on the restaurant’s parking lot and lawn. Their annual yard sale will be Friday and Saturday, also at the restaurant. In Minnesota, the money goes to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul. Westvig, who owns the drive-in, and LeClaire, the manager, said the fundraiser is a labor of love. Both have had children who were hospitalized when young, and they want to help other families with similar circumstances.