“American Crystal Sugar will default on a government loan of $71.2 million under a program that provides relief when a glut of sugar depresses prices,” writes Patrick Springer for the Forum News Service in the Grand Forks Herald. “David Berg, president and chief executive officer of American Crystal Sugar, said forfeiting the sugar put up as collateral for the loan was the best option given very low sugar prices.” Springer adds, “The forfeiture, which is the result of sugar being cheaper and more plentiful than at any time in the past decade, is under a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan program. Moorhead-based American Crystal Sugar holds about one-fifth of the $355 million in loans held by sugar processors at risk of defaulting.”
The Austin Daily Herald pulls no punches in its examination of county-wide, decades-long crime statistics. Trey Mewes reports that while crime has gone down in 20 years, “law enforcement officials say they are seeing more serious crimes. There are many theories for why this is happening, but local officials say it’s difficult to predict who will commit crimes.” That’s when the newspaper addresses the issue head on: “One popular theory for Austin’s high crime rate is its diversity. … Though Austin’s residents of color account for a smaller amount of total arrests than its white residents, the city’s black population accounts for a proportionally larger amount of arrests than any other racial group, according to a 2012 report by the Department of Public Safety. … About 990 blacks lived in Austin in 2010, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. That means about 4 percent of Austin’s population accounted for about 18 percent of the arrests. About 3,800 Hispanic residents lived in Austin at the same time, or about 15 percent of Austin’s population. Hispanics accounted for about 11 percent of last year’s arrests. And whites accounted for 79 percent of arrests in Austin in 2012, compared to Austin’s 91 percent white population.”
This raises the question of profiling in Austin. Police Chief Brian Krueger, however, isn’t buying it. Mewes writes, “Krueger said cultural training is something supervisors go over with officers on a regular basis. ‘Our job is to make sure the entire population is served with the best public safety possible. Our officers are out doing the very best job they can,’ Krueger said.”
Al Strain of the Owatonna People’s Press takes a look at “food insecurity” and the need for public help in Steele County. He talks to Julie Caldwell, of Owatonna, who works full time but has trouble affording food between paychecks. “She has had to utilize the services of the Steele County Food Shelf on multiple occasions. ‘If it wasn’t for this program, we wouldn’t be eating,’ Caldwell said.” Food shelf Executive Director Stormy Trom said 135 households need food assistance every month. Strain quotes her: “ ‘That means they’re chronically in need of our service and are here monthly because apparently they’re not getting enough from the food stamp program, which is now getting cut,’ Trom said.”
Local government at its best: Jodelle Greiner of the Fairmont Sentinel reports that Winnebago has approved the purchase of three Dumpsters so people can dump refuse from houses and yards for free. Police Chief Bob Toland has a list of about 30 properties in town that need to be cleaned up. City Administrator Chris Ziegler figured that if the city provides each property a Dumpster for one week for free, it will cost about $10,000 each year. A citywide cleanup, however, would cost between $15,000 and $20,000. Dumpsters arrive on Thursday and stay for a week. A resident can have the Dumpster once during the year for free; $75 per week after that. Dumpable items include furniture, clothes, toys, mattresses, box springs and carpet.
On the 10th anniversary of a homecoming riot at Mankato State University, police said this year’s homecoming weekend was busy but not spectacular, reports the Mankato Free Press. “On Oct. 4 and Oct. 5, 2003, a riot involving more than 2,000 people and a response from 160 officers from 41 agencies resulted in fires, smashed windows and an overturned vehicle,” the story recalled. This year, “It was a busy weekend, lots of calls for service and lots of people out and about but nothing reminiscent of 10 years ago,” said Mankato Public Safety Cmdr. Matt DuRose.” Check out this paragraph: “The only call to The Free Press came at 2:30 a.m. Sunday from a man who hoped for a story about him being kicked off the bus that runs from downtown bars to the campus. … ‘(Bus riders) wanted to start chanting “USA” and I said, “I want the USA to pull out of Syria,” and I said, “Allahu Akbar,” sharing my Muslim beliefs,’ said the man, whose slurred speech seemed to indicate that he didn’t share the Muslim prohibition against alcohol use. The man said the bus driver then pulled to the side of the road and asked him to exit the bus. ‘Now I’m walking two or three miles back to my home for sharing a belief in Islam,’ he said. ‘… I just feel it’s kind of (messed) up.’ “