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Tore down family farm to make room for casino

Through the past year, the White Earth Nation has purchased more than 300 acres surrounding their trust land near Star Lake with hopes of building a large casino. A New York Mills man grew up on the farm that surrounded the tribe’s original 14 acres.
Although he’s disappointed to see his family farm flattened to make room for casino grounds, he has good memories from those childhood days when the White Earth Nation would cross their land to the rice patties on Star Lake.
“I felt sad, especially when the house was gone,” said Ken Harrom, during an interview last week. At 18, Harrom left the farm in the 60s shortly after graduation. His parents, Walter and Lillian, remained on the farm until the 90s. All in all, his dad farmed the land located three miles south on County Highway 41 for 39 years, 7 months, 25 days, said Harrom.
Walter and Lillian moved to a farm near Star Lake in February of 1958. Although the couple started their married life in Nebraska, Walter agreed to move back to Minnesota so Lillian could be closer to her family. The couple had three children: 12-year-old Mark, 7-year-old Ken and 2-year-old Carol.
The Harrom’s purchased the 280 acres that was originally owned by Henry Tenter. Although they lived in the original 1930 house, the Harrom family built a new barn and a pole shed during the four decades on the farm. Walter added another thing to his land–a road that ran along the edge of his fields that, in just a few years, a small group of Native Americans from the White Earth Nation would utilize in the summer.
Throughout the 1960s, the tribe would travel down to Star Lake to harvest wild rice. As far as he remembers, the group that came during his childhood years were an extended family that included grandparents, children and grandchildren. If the grandchildren were still living, they would be in their upper 60s or 70s today.  read entire story. . . .

EDA tries to reduce bite of defaults

Over the past several months, the New York Mills Economic Development Authority has been working on settling three defaulted loans, all connected to Sugar Creek Woodworking, a business that closed recently. Defaulted loans cost the EDA hundreds of dollars, on top of the $49,000 in unpaid balances on the loans themselves.
The EDA provides support to help establish new businesses in the community, as well as preserve current businesses. Run by a board of seven city business men and women, the EDA provides gap lending to qualified individuals. For example, if a business needs $10,000 and bank will only give them $5,000, then the EDA would consider a loan to fill the remaining gap.
Since the EDA began, nearly all of the businesses that obtained loans have complied with set payment schedules. As loans are paid back, the revolving loan fund grows, which then allows the EDA to help other businesses.
As the EDA found out in recent months, when a loan goes into default, the EDA is left scrambling. Since it’s a gap lender, the EDA is usually in the second position. This means, when the former Sugar Creek Woodworking building was foreclosed on, the bank obtained ownership. When the bank sold the building to a group known as Hometown Synergy, the bank’s loans were covered, but not the $17,778 balance on two EDA loans connected to the building. The hope of the EDA is that Hometown Synergy will agree to pay the EDA for the loans connected to the building, even though the investors group would not be under a legal obligation to do so.  read entire story. . . .

Five-year-old hurt in farm accident

A 5-year-old Henning girl is fighting for her life after an accident on the family farm.
Savannah Springer, the daughter of Brittany and Stephen Springer, was hurt on Monday, Aug. 22 when she was pinched between the hitch of a haybine and the hitch of a trailer.
It’s a situation no parent wants to go through. The Springer’s oldest daughter was injured at her home as she was doing something she loves—farming.
For Savannah, farming wasn’t just a hobby it was a way of life. Even at a young age, farming was already in her blood. She felt at home with the animals and life on the farm.
“She does as much as she can do (on the farm),” said Brittany, who is originally from Bluffton. “She is like our right hand man at the farm.”
Unfortunately, the vibrant young girl is now at Hennepin County Medical Center in the Twin Cities recovering from an injury that doctors said would have killed an adult. The accident caused severe abdominal injuries that resulted in a trip to the emergency room that the family will never forget.
During those frantic few minutes on the road to the hospital, Brittany said her young daughter was able to answer questions at first. Soon though she stopped answering questions and her eyes closed. Savannah’s heartbeat became more faint and the family turned to a higher power for answers and healing.
Brittany said she remembered thinking “I don’t know how you will pull this off God, but it would be pretty amazing.”
She was eventually life-flighted to HCMC where she remains today.
The recovery process will be long. Savannah will be at HCMC for at least another three weeks, said Brittany. Savannah has already gone through five surgeries lasting more than 15 hours, with more surgeries scheduled for this week.  read entire story. . . .

High school pilots hybrid course

About a year ago, New York Mills School administrators learned that the College in the Classroom program offered at the NY Mills High School may see some changes. Despite nearly 20 years of success, tougher degree requirements would block all NY Mills High School teachers from teaching college classes.
The Higher Learning Commission, which accredits more than 1,000 colleges in 19 states, issued new guidelines for teachers instructing college-level classes. In order to host an accredited college course, a teacher must have a Master’s Degree in the subject area they teach in or, at the very least, 18 credits above the graduate level in the relevant subject. Although the deadline on the new rules have been pushed back to 2020, NY Mills teachers and administrators have been discussing possible solutions. In order to find a possible solution, high school social studies teacher Jay Sorensen will be pilot testing a new program this year.
In cooperation with MState, Sorensen will work under MState instructor Jeff Bry running a hybrid course called “Intro to Sociology” with dual-instructors. The idea is the class will run through the college licensure, thus eliminating the need for Sorensen to obtain a Masters in sociology.  read entire story. . . .

New faces at the school

The New York Mills Elementary has five new faces joining the teaching staff this year. Hailey Windels and RayAnna Wegschied replaced teachers that have left the district, while Shari Henrikson has a year-long substitute position. Also working for a year is Maria Theison, who is on staff to help teachers implement the new reading program. Finally, Dinee Dykhoff was hired as a teacher for the prekindergarten wing, enabling the school to offer one more section of prekindergarten.  
The new staff includes:
Hailey Windels is the new first grade teacher, coming to the district after spending three years teaching at Ulen-Hitterdal School. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in elementary education and child development. She is in the midst of earning a Master’s Degree in differentiated instruction.
The Sebeka graduate was a student teacher in NY Mills in 2012, and also worked as a substitute teacher in the district.
“I am very excited to be back in the NY Mills School District. I am excited to meet all of my students and families for the upcoming school year,” said Windels.
“My first semester of college I went for nursing, but I didn’t have the passion for it like I had hoped.  I worked at a daycare all throughout college and peer tutored a lot throughout high school, so I decided to take on elementary education. I love seeing the growth students make from the beginning of the year to the end of the year,” said Windels.  
In her free time, Windels reads, attends sporting events, movies and spending time with family and friends. She describes herself as driven, positive and passionate.
RayAnna Wegscheid is a third grade teacher. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from Concordia College, majoring in elementary education and minoring in special education. The 2010 NY Mills High School graduate has three years of prior teaching experience from Menahga and Detroit Lakes.
“I am most excited about being a part of the school system that motivated me to become a teacher. NY Mills has had so many influential people involved within the school system and has always been a positive environment for me,” said Wegscheid.
In her free time, Wegscheid enjoys grouse hunting, fishing, walking her dogs, and spending time with family and friends. She describes herself as someone that is dedicated, organized, loyal and positive.  read entire story. . . .

OT Power proposes 9.8% rate increase

A proposed rate increase of about 9.8 percent by Otter Tail Power Company was the topic during public hearings held Aug. 24 and Aug. 25. One of the hearings took place the afternoon of Aug. 25 at Fergus Falls City Hall.
In Otter Tail County, the investor-owned electric supplier (OTP) serves customers in and near Pelican Rapids, Perham, New York Mills, Battle Lake and Parkers Prairie. Henning has a municipal electric system but Otter Tail Power serves customers near that community, as well.
Conducting the public hearing in Fergus Falls was Administrative Law Judge Eric Lipman,
On Feb. 16, 2016, Otter Tail Power asked the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) for permission to increase its electric rates by approximately $19.3 million, or about 9.8 percent.
Otter Tail was allowed to collect higher rates on an interim (temporary) basis, totaling $16.82 million.
The MPUC likely will make its decision on Otter Tail’s rate request in March 2017. If final rates are lower than interim rates, OTP will refund customers the difference with interest.  read entire story. . . .