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February 18, 2010     Tri-County News
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February 18, 2010
 

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Pal00e 16 Stolen horse tack recovered, woman arrested Saturday, Feb. 13, the Meeker County Sheriff&apos;s Office, with the Wright County Sheriff's Office, Carver County Sheriff's Office, and the Renville County Sher- iff's Office, executed a search war- rant at 73265 640th St. in Franklin, Minn., located in Renville County. As a result, stolen property was recovered and Dena Joy Rodacker, age 44 of Hutchinson was arrested, and is currently being held in the Renville County Jail pending for- mal charges. Information was gathered dur- ing the course of several separate investigations conducted by law enforcement agencies through- out central Minnesota, involving burglary and thefts of horse tack, including a December 2009 report from Alan Koch of rural Litchfield. Mr. Koch reported to the Meeker County Sheriff's Office the loss of several thousands of dollars worth of horse-related tack. Recently Mr. Koch recognized one of his stolen saddles for sale online and alerted the Meeker County Sher- iff's Office. This particular saddle was worth about $4,000. The Meeker County Sheriff's Office, along with assistance of the Wadena County Sheriff's Office, began an undercover online con- versation with Rodacker to gather further information and addi- tional photographs of this saddle. With this and other information, the search warrant was obtained to search the residence in Frank-. lin. Several thousand dollars worth of horse tack equipment, including saddles, bridles, horse pads, stirrups, girths, breast-col- lars, horse blankets, and other var- ious items were seized. The investigation continues into these burglaries and thefts. I, el00als Government Thursday, February 18,2010 Tri-County News Kimball, MN Local government updates By Jean Doran Matua, Editor Part of my job is attending local government meetings, as fre- quently as my schedule allows. One of the positive things I've noticed is the increase in coopera- tion between varying entities, and the establishment of joint goals and projects. For instance, the Clearwa- ter River Watershed District was recently awarded a grant for $70,900 to help abate stormwa- ter runoff into Willow Creek in the city of Kimball. Their engineer will coordinate the project with the city plans for street repairs, if they are funded. Maine Prairie Township and the city have held several joint meetings in recent years, and sev- eral of these have included repre- sentatives from Stearns County. They have worked out agreements on orderly anexation and road maintenance, for example. The city completed its first compre- hensive plan, and the township is nearly finished creating its first comp plan as well. The city has a new city clerk, is in the process of hiring a new deputy clerk, and hired a new police officer. Two firefighters have left the squad. The city pur- chased the building at the cor- Sexual assault in RockviUe Tuesday morning, Feb. 16, Stearns County Sheriff's deputies arrested Derek Nelson (age 24) for third-degree criminal sexual con- duct. Nelson was arrested in Rock- ville at about 9:05 a.m. This arrest follows a complaint and investi- gation in reference to the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl whom Nelson met on the Internet. Michelle Fischbach Minnesota State Senator ....... Week in review: Feb. 4-12 he declared "that our state is chal- lenged, but our spirit is resilient." One challenge is the creation of long-term jobs. As a part of this, Pawlenty urged legislators to pass a "Jobs Creation Bill" that includes tax cuts on small business, an angel investment tax credit, "supercharged" research and development tax credit, cap- ital gains exclusion for qualified investments, and incentives for companies to invest in Minnesota small businesses. The Governor also honored the men and women who have served in our armed forces, welcoming the safe return of the Minnesota Red Bulls. He continued to focus our attention on jobs; discussing the need to allow those that have created jobs in the past to be at the forefront of continued economic development. "The future," he declared "Will demand that Min- nesota compete or be left behind." He implored the legislature to reduce spending, be job friendly, and reform our tax code, but pro- tect the military, veterans, core public safety and K-12 education. The Governor will release his supplemental budget Monday, Feb. 15, and a variety of bills will be introduced to bring them before the legislature. GAMC As the day continued, Legisla- tors saw a bill that would reinstate With the start of the 2010 Leg- islative Session, I want the Week in Review to be a place to provide updates on some of the issues fac- ing Minnesota and District 14. Throughout the next few weeks, feel free to share your comments and questions with me. Bonding But the first order of business was a fast-tracked legislative cap- ital investment (bonding) bill. Both the House and Senate major- ity parties announced their plans Thursday, Feb. 4, both bills hover- ing around $1 billion in borrow- ing. In contrast, the Governor's $685-million request announced in January was balanced between the Twin Cities metro and Greater Minnesota with a majority of funds designated for programs that are available statewide, which included funding sources to dou- ble the capacity of the Moose Lake sex offender treatment program, a need that was echoed by many Republican lawmakers. The bonding bill was debated on the Senate floor this past Tues- day, and Senate Republicans sought changes to make this bill more responsible to Minnesota taxpayers. State of the State Thursday, Feb. 11, was accom- panied by Governor Tim Pawlen- ty's State of the State speech where ner of Hazel and Main (formerly Arnold's Implement offices) and the police department is moving into the building this week. New inspection schedules (and fees) have been adopted for rental prop- erty in the city. The floors in City Hall are being refinished, part of the Historical Society's renovation project. Meamhile, the school board has had some losses and an occasional victory. A new board took office in January, with two members retir- ing off and two new members being voted on. Voters in the district failed to pass a replacement levy that would give the distric{ operational funds for next year. With the latest of the state's funding games (this time delaying money coming to the district), Kimball and several neigh- boring schools were spared addi- tional cuts because their funds were already so tight. (Schools with big- ger bank accounts and unspent money will receive their sched- uled state reimbursements several months later than planned.) The school will seek another levy vote in November 2010. Watch for - and fill out and return - your census forms next month. We all count on them, lit- erally! Chubby Checker announces new 'twist' in Medicare law By Steven Thayer, Soc. Sec. District Manager If you've been thinking about applying for extra help with your Medicare prescription drug costs, then now's the time to get on the dance floor and hop to it: Chubby Checker, the Grammy Award-winning rock and roll leg- end most known for his hit, "The Twist," has teamed up with Michael I. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, to tell people about a new "twist" in the law. The change in the law makes it easier for people with Medicare to qualify for extra help with their prescription drug costs. "The changes in the Medicare law will allow hundreds of thou- sands of Americans who are strug- gling to pay their prescription drug costs to get extra help during these tough economic times," said Com- missioner Astrue. "I am thrilled that Chubby Checker has volunteered to help us spread this important message through a new television, radio, and Internet spot as well as pamphlets and posters." "Listen up, America! For 50 years, people of all ages and back- grounds have danced the Twist," Chubby Checker said. "Now it's important everyone learn about this new twist in the law. Check it out at <www.socialsecurity.gou>." There are income and resource limits a person needs to meet to qualify for the extra help. But the new Medicare law eases those requirements in two ways: The cash value of life insurance no longer counts as a resource; and Assistance people receive from others to pay for household expenses, such as food, rent, mort- gage, or utilities, no longer counts as income. A bonus "twist" is that the appli- cation you file for extra help can now start the application process for Medicare Savings Programs as well - state programs that provide help with other Medicare costs. These programs help pay Medicare Part B (medical insurance) premiums. For some people, the Medicare Savings Programs also pay Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) premiums, if any, and Part A and B deductibles and co-payments. To learn more about the extra help program and to view the new television spot featuring Chubby Checker, visit Social Security online at <www.socialsecuritygov/ extrahelp>. CARD Act - new protections for consumers Consumers' credit card state- ments will start looking different as many of the important provi- sions in the Credit Card Responsi- bility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 take effect Feb. 22, a new law designed to end unfair rate hikes, hidden fees and deceptive practices. With the new law, for exam- pie, billing statements will be eas- ier to understand, to include infor- mation about interest rates being used, and the result of paying min- imum balances only. "This month a pared-down General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC). In an llth- hour change to the bill, which was made by the chair of the Sen- ate Health and Human Services Committee during the previ- ous night, significant portions of the measure were changed. The main source of funding would be a transfer of roughly $159 million from the general fund into a newly created GAMC account. Several Republican amendments were offered, including the exclusion of those who have been convicted of a sexual predatory conduct and a re-referral to the Finance Com- mittee to discuss the fiscal impact that the changes would make. As the session continues, Leg- islators will be making many dif- ficult decisions about the budget, and jobs will continue to take center stage, even though Minnesota is far- ing slightly better than the national average in jobless numbers. One point of interest was a change for all townships in the State of Min- nesota. The final passage of S.F. 848 adopted a November election date to return to the second Tuesday in March and extends the town super- visors term to six-years. If you would like, you can follow audio or video on the Senate Web site at <www. senate.mn. Senator Michelle Fischbach encourages and appreciates con- stituent input and can be reached at (651) 296-2084, by mail to 145 State Office Building / St. Paul, MN 55155, or via e-mail at <sen. rnicheUe.fischbach @senate.mn>. marks a new era in consumer pro- tection," said Darryl Dahlheimer, program director for LSS Finan- cial Counseling (Lutheran Social Services). Last August, the first parts of the CARD Act required credit card issuers, such as banks and credit unions, to mail the monthly state- ment at least 21 days before the payment is due, and provide a 45-day written advance notice of changes to interest rates or fees. Now, there are four new, impor- tant features of the law. First, credit card companies can no longer raise interest rates on any existing balance. That means no more "universal default" jeopardy where a single mistake creates a cascade of penalty rates often in the 30 percent APR range. Credi- tors can raise rates on future bal- anceS, or if your payment is more than 60 days late, Or if you agreed to a teaser rate, such as no interest for the first year, that expires. "Literally thousands of peo- ple we serve have experienced being trapped in universal default, where all their credit cards went to penalty rates of interest because of a single late charge on one card," Dahlheimer said. "It has been a major reason people have sought Debt Management Plans through LSS to bring interest down and get a fair chance to pay back their debts within five years or less." A second powerful feature of the law is that credit cards cannot be issued to applicants under age 21 unless an adult over 21 co-signs, or the applicant shows proof of income and ability to pay. Further, issuers can't offer sign-up gifts on campuses and must disclose any financial deals they have made with the college or university. "LSS provides budget and debt counseling on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapo- lis, as well as on the University of St. Catherine campus in St. Paul, and has seen many students who signed up for credit cards to get cookies or T-shirts, and are now dealing with debt pressure. No more under the CARD Act." Third, credit card companies cannot charge over-limit fees unless the consumer "opts in" to allow going over the credit limit. Dahlheimer said that there is worry that issuers will raise other fees to recoup lost profit from the new regulations, but that consum- ers can "vote with their feet." "All consumers need is to be sure to read what comes in the mail from their credit card company, to be sure they understand what the changes are," he added. "For example, if your card now plans to charge an annual fee, consumers may decide to cancel that card and shop for one with no fee." Finally, the new law mandates that any payments made in excess of the minimum owed must be applied first to the balance with the highest interest rate. "This makes the old tip of 'pay more than minimums' even more valuable," explained Dahlheimer. "Credit cards are a great tool if used wisely and the CARD Act makes a much more level playing field to promote wise use." LSS Financial Counseling Ser- vice, a member of the Better Busi- ness Bureau and the National Foundation for Credit Counsel- ing, helps more than 20,000 peo- ple every year with free budget and debt counseling and monthly debt-management plans. With nine offices statewide, LSS pro- vides financial counseling in-per- son at nine offices statewide and also by phone and online counsel- ing. For appointments, call (888) 577-222Z Editor's Note: The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is the oldest and most respected credit counseling association in the nation. All LSS financial coun- selors are NFCC-certified as con- sumer credit and housing coun- selors. www.tricou ntynews. M N