Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Filling job vacancies is difficult in Southwestern Minnesota

ALSO: Sled racers laugh in face of cold; New Ulm diocese priests want names stricken from list; 3 dead, 1 missing in Winona river accident; and more.

There is huge demand for welding skills in Southwestern Minnesota.

If it’s difficult finding a job, it’s also difficult finding employees with certain skills, writes Tom Cerveny of the West Central Tribune. “Welding is huge in terms of employer demand in this region, according to Carol Dombek with the Minnesota Work Force Center in Montevideo. … Dombek said one of the challenges facing manufacturing is that a lot of young people are just not aware of the opportunities available. … A case in point: Manufacturing firms report that machinist jobs are among the most difficult to fill. The Minnesota West Community and Technology College in Granite Falls discontinued its two-year machine tools program during the recession after consecutive years with low enrollment, according to Linda Degriselles, campus dean.”

Sure it’s cold, but so what? Up north, the sled dog race goes on, writes Andrew Krueger of the Duluth News Tribune. “It was 31 below zero with a wind chill of 63 below on Monday morning at the start of the final stage of the Gichigami Express Sled Dog Race near Grand Marais. ‘You’ve got dog teams running, and trucks not running,’ race director Beth Drost said after at least two teams’ trucks fell victim to diesel gelling in the cold, or other mechanical woes. ‘You can count on a dog team, but you can’t count on a truck.’ Buddy Streeper of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, won the race and the $6,500 top prize, leapfrogging teammate and early leader John Stewart on the final day to claim the title in the second annual event.”

Two priests in the Diocese of New Ulm are taking umbrage at the inclusion of their names on a list of sex offenders and they are suing The Vatican to have the names removed, writes Dan Nienaber of the Mankato Free Press. “Two men on a list naming 12 Diocese of New Ulm priests who have faced credible allegations of molesting children have filed court motions saying their names should be removed because the allegations against them are false. Both priests, one retired and one still working in the diocese, said their names are on the list because the diocese made a confidential cash payment to a person who accused them of sexually assaulting him or her in 1971. The allegations came to light in 1991 during a therapy session through ‘recovered memory,’ the motions said. The priests, who are only identified in their motions as Priest No. 1 and Former Priest No. 2, both said the allegations against them involve a ‘15 minute incident in a church basement.’ Both priests said the cash settlement was made without their knowledge or permission. They also said they have been told the diocese is considering releasing the list for image control and because similar lists have been released by other dioceses in the state. If their names are kept on the list, their reputations could be damaged for no reason, the motions said.”

A third body was discovered Monday, one day after a car carrying four people plunged into the Mississippi River in downtown Winona, writes Nathan Hansen of the Winona Daily News. “Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand said responders at about 3 p.m. recovered the body of Blake Overland, 28, of Stewartville, Minn., one of two men missing after Sunday’s crash. Work continued Monday throughout the day to look for the second, who Brand named as Andrew Kingsbury, 29, of La Crosse, Wis. … Mathew Patrick Erickson, 30, of Chatfield, Minn., was identified Monday morning as the passenger in the SUV that crashed into the river early Sunday morning after the driver failed to make the turn on Riverview Drive near Second and Huff streets. Both Erickson and the driver, Christina Lee Hauser, 36, of Winona were found seatbelted into the vehicle when responders pulled it from the river at about noon Sunday.”

Article continues after advertisement

Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz will be Rep. Tim Walz’s guest at the State of the Union speech, reports Al Strain of the Owatonna People Press. Traditionally, Walz likes to invite public servants or community leaders. Last year, St. Peter Superintendent Jeffrey Olson was invited after he was named the Minnesota Superintendent of the Year.

The problem is that those wings are just so tasty. Bemidji is cracking down on parking violators near a new Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, writes the Bemidji Pioneer. “Craig Gray, public works director, said the city has received ‘a number of complaints’ from residents of nearby 24th Street about restaurant patrons blocking driveways and mailboxes with vehicles. Residents have also complained of people using private driveways to turn around. … That poses a public safety hazard since emergency vehicles can’t get down the narrow street if cars are parked on both sides, Gray said. To solve the alleged parking problem, the city council voted unanimously at Monday night’s meeting to prohibit parking on the north side of 24th Street from Irvine Avenue to where the street ends.”

Up in Moorhead, a zealous TV reporter is in hot water after she put herself on the line for an exposé on how easy it is to get into school buildings, writes Archie Ingersoll of the Fargo Forum. Moorhead police have forwarded the case of a Valley News Live reporter, who entered three area elementary schools without permission last month, to county prosecutors to decide whether to file a criminal charge. On Dec. 11, reporter Mellaney Moore wore a hidden camera as she walked into schools in Moorhead, West Fargo and Fargo without checking in at the main offices. The story, meant to expose gaps in school security, led police in all three cities to investigate the reporter’s actions. By state law in Moorhead, a school visitor who fails to register at the office can face a misdemeanor charge. On Thursday, Moorhead police Sgt. Robert Matheson said detectives had sent their investigation report to the county attorney’s office.”

Brainerd Superintendent Steve Razidlo has accepted a three-year contract as superintendent at The American International School in Vienna, Austria, writes Jessica Larsen of the Brainerd Dispatch. Razidlo made the announcement at Monday’s school board meeting. His last day in Brainerd will be June 30. “I hoped if the day came to leave (Brainerd), that it would be for something that might be an exceptional opportunity,” Razidlo said. “This is that opportunity.” Razidlo has been with the Brainerd School District for 17 years, the last six as superintendent.