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‘Powerless Balc’ turns beef with electric company into multimedia campaign

ALSO: Squirrels cause problems in Mankato; New Ulm doctor sentenced; Northfield cops look into thefts; loss of Brownsville’s top cop is trouble; and more.

Using the Internet, Facebook and YouTube, in newspapers and on television, Jeff “Powerless Balc” Balcom is taking his problems with Alliant Energy to the people. Jodelle Greiner of the Fairmont Sentinel says the problems began last year when Alliant Energy told Balcom he had to fix a power pole on his Elmore property. Balcom pulled the pole upright with a tractor but the company said he’d have to pay $747 for a new pole. Balcom didn’t like that very much. He liked it even less when he heard Benco Electric is taking over the territory sometime next year. Balcom decided to take his chances with Benco and didn’t replace the pole. On Sept. 24, Alliant shut off his power and Jeff Balcom donned the title “Powerless Balc.” On his company’s web page, on Facebook and on YouTube, Powerless Balc has advertised his predicament to the world. He has been featured on KARE and in newspapers living the powerless life, using propane to cook and heat. When will it end? When “Powerless Balc” can turn on a light at night.

It’s fall in Mankato, and that means squirrel problems, writes Edie Schmierbach of the Mankato Free Press. The furry little fellows love to collect black walnuts that proliferate in the city, leaving their stashes to fall on unsuspecting pedestrians and their stains to be cleaned by unhappy homeowners. Sean Francis has spent 20 years in the squirrel relocation business and has had squirrels land atop his head, crawl down his body and has had his hand bitten by a squirrel despite wearing a heavy work glove. Squirrels hide their acorns in trees, air conditioning units, under car hoods and anywhere else they can imagine. And the black walnut trees that are spread by the squirrels are no picnic either. The roots of a black walnut tree release a substance into the soil that can stunt the growth of nearby plants. The toxin spreads about 50 feet from the tree’s base. Gardeners and homeowners have to get the toxic little saplings out before they cause damage to their plants.

Dr. David Christopher Miller, 59, a former New Ulm Medical Center physician, pleaded to a reduced charge of felony theft, reports fritz Busch of the New Ulm Journal. Miller was charged in February after it was discovered he took pills during a meeting with a patient at as assisted living facility. The complaint alleged Miller tried to mask taking the pills from the patient by replacing them with over-the-counter drugs. With the agreement, two charges of having a felony-controlled substance were dropped. Miller was fined $2,080 and ordered to serve 45 days in jail with time off available for good conduct. He will be on 10-years’ probation. The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice has not yet taken any action against Miller.

Crooks brought a crime spree to Northfield over the weekend, where more than a dozen thefts occurred between Friday and Sunday, writes Kaitlyn Roby of the Northfield News. Items were stolen from automobiles and three reports of thefts, primarily along College Street North and Linden Street North. Many of the cars targeted were left unlocked, Northfield Police Chief Chuck Walerius said. Items stolen included small amounts of cash, a backpack containing school books, purses and multiple GPS units.

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Few answers were forthcoming at the Mower County commissioner’s meeting about the problems with Brownsville’s police chief, who is on administrative leave, reports Matt Peterson of the Austin Daily Herald. Officials were mum, saying they had to stay quiet because it’s an ongoing investigation. In the meantime, the Mower County sheriff said deputies will patrol Brownsville until the situation is settled.

Here’s a selection of crime events as reported Tuesday in the Albert Lea Tribune

“The Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office received a report at 6:39 p.m. Monday of a cornfield that was vandalized about a half mile east of 89509 210th St. in the eastern part of the county.

 “Albert Lea police received a report from Home Federal Monday afternoon of counterfeit money from two different businesses. One business had received a counterfeit $20 bill and the second a counterfeit $10.

 “Two men reportedly stole toggle switch lights from Advanced Auto Parts, 1604 E. Main St., at 3:21 p.m. Monday, according to Albert Lea police.

“A man came into the Law Enforcement Center at 6:55 p.m. Monday to report that he had been bitten by a dog at 1211 Frank Hall Drive, according to reports. The dog was taken to the animal shelter.

“Albert Lea police received a report at 7:51 p.m. Monday of three women in a black Honda SUV or Jeep offering candy to children near 1210 E. Main St.

“Tires were reported slashed on a vehicle at 724 Larimore Circle at 10:43 p.m. Monday.”