Estimates of how many farms were affected by the September 20th tornadoes varied from 26 to upwards of 40. Rice County Emergency Management Director Jennifer Hauer-Schmitz has been on the front lines and said that number is actually still growing. Elected officials as well as members of the Turkey Growers Association visited Far-gaze Farms in Northfield to listen and connect with farmers and each other to help assess needs. In total, the National Weather Service
reported 16 tornadoes, 7 that touched down in Rice County alone. An overall damage assessment includes 188 homes with 39 having major damage and seven destroyed, most of those in Morristown. As for farms and businesses, 16 were destroyed, 6 had major damage, 15 with minor damage and 3 others were affected, said Hauer-Schmitz. Claire LaCanne, an Ag Educator with the U of MN Ext. said that doesn’t include crop damage, which they’re trying to assess now. The County is falling short of receiving Federal Disaster aid which only covers infrastructure. Hauer-Schmitz said they have surpassed the threshold for a States Declaration and she has put in for those dollars. They don’t know how much that might be. Turkey Growers Assoc. Executive Director Steve Olson asked about building permits, if those could be expedited to get things back up and running for farmers. Hauer-Schmitz said Environmental Services covers that and they have stepped up the process “as much as they can”. Rice Co. Commissioner Jeff Dokken said the Board will be talking about it too. Turkey Grower Assoc. President Kim Halvorson of Halverson Farms in Morristown was hit hard, they lost barns, birds and momentum. The birds were 4 days from market. They had 20 people handling the birds one at a time to get them out to the loader and working amid the debris. The process took 4 times longer. The Zimmermans in Northfield, estimate they lost 40% of their birds with 2 barns destroyed and scattered in the fields. That’s a whole other issue trying to clean up the debris and not destroy their combines. Then there’s the actual rebuilding. Far-gaze, the Peterson’s farm operation, may have been destroyed for the time being, but certainly not their determination to come back. I’ll have more on that tomorrow. Also among the Elected officials and staff attending the meeting: Dept. of Ag Commissioner Dave Fredrickson, Rep. Brian Daniels, Rep. David Bly, Senator Rich Draheim and Mayor Rhonda Pownell.
Volunteers still needed
Sheriff Troy Dunn thanked folks who took cover as there were no injuries despite the wide swath and intensity of the storms. He also mentioned there are still people in need of help and the County will be scheduling another volunteer cleanup day, likely on October 20th. Emergency Mgmt will be organizing volunteers. You can reach that office at 507-332-6119. You can also sign up to help the Northfield area by going to Northfieldshares.org. Also let them know if you need help.
Woman who tried to swallow baggies of meth is now in jail
A woman who tried to swallow baggies of meth and pills is in jail. 31 year old Lekeisha Theresa Hofbauer is accused of selling 8-balls of methamphetamine to undercover agents with the Cannon River Drug Task Force in July. On Monday, Hofbauer was seen by task force agents driving in Faribault. Deputies pulled her over. She immediately started trying to swallow baggies containing over 2 grams of meth and 5 controlled substance pills. A search of the van revealed various drug sale apparatus, a .38 special pistol loaded with 2 rounds, a bb gun, 2 counterfeit $100 bills and real cash of $544. Hofbauer, of Owatonna, is facing 3rd degree drug sale in the July arrest and now another 3rd degree drug sale and 2 counts of 5th degree drugs. The most serious charge carries up to 20 years in prison. Her bail is set at $30,000 with conditions. Hofbauer 10-10 a
Blood Drive today
The Northfield Area Fire and Rescue Service is holding a blood drive today from noon to 6pm at the VFW on Division St. Drop by and drop a pint.
Mainstream gives Cancer the Boot
Stop by Mainstream Boutique and shop for a cause today. They’re donating 10 % of today’s proceeds to Give Cancer the Boot, an organization that donates all monies to Northfield cancer treatment centers.