The Grand Rapids Public Utilities Commission is warning residents about a suspicious person. A resident on South East 3rd Avenue had some one come to her door yesterday wearing a blue jumpsuit with Public Utilities on the shirt. This man asked for a child named “Lila”. There was no child there by that name. The man then left in a small silver car. Utilities personnel do not wear jumpsuits. Grand Rapids Police would like to talk with this person. If you have any information, please call 326-3464. If you are suspicious of a Grand Rapids utility worker, you can call the PUC to verify his or her identity.
24-year Itasca County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Bliss is back on the job- after an administrative law judge found his termination was unjustified. According to WDIO-TV, the administrator ruled Deputy Bliss did violate two department rules, but that was NOT sufficient to require termination.”
The incident regarding Deputy Anna Cass, and Deputy Bliss was central to Bliss’ termination. Sheriff Vic Williams, according to court documents, terminated Bliss in December citing thirteen instances of misconduct.
Documents say the arbitrator characterized the testimonies of Sheriff Williams, Chief Deputy Denise Hirt, and Cass as “not credible” and said that the three gave accounts that conflicted with all other witnesses.
In at least one instance the arbitrator said he believed the sheriff wasn’t truthful and that it “colors all of his testimony.”
Through an attorney, the Sheriff’s office declined to comment, saying it was a personnel issue.
Western Itasca County is being held captive- and its hurting businesses. Burlington Northern is the only rail road service serving western Itasca County- and the lack of competition is costing residents and businesses money. Matt Radzak, Renewable Fuels Coordinator at Minnesota Power, said Minnesota Power is looking at its options. During the “Polar Vortex” a few years ago, Minnesota Power had only a week’s worth of coal on hand, forcing it to purchase more expensive power. At the same time, Burlington Northern was too busy hauling coal to ship in coal. \
Minnesota Power, UPM Blandin, and Itasca County have already investing time and money in studies to determine whether the cost of putting in a rail line from Grand Rapids to Taconite- to meet a second carrier- is worth it. The entities involved are also still determining who would own the rail line if it is built.
A federal judge has approved a $750,000 settlement agreement between Magnetation Executive Officers Larry and Matt Lehtinen and Magenetation employees who alleged that they were not paid in full for overtime. The payment is in addition to the $804,000 already paid for unpaid overtime.
A seldom-used provision of the federal overtime laws provides that corporate officers may be held personally liable for the corporation’s overtime violations if the officers played a direct role in establishing the corporation’s employment terms.
Magnetation has been in Bankruptcy since May of 2015.
According to the Operating Engineers Local 49 web site, a “global” bankruptcy settlement was approved that will potentially allow Magnetation to cease operations later this year and sell off its remaining assets. Magnetation’s initial bankruptcy filings in May 2015 listed liabilities in excess of $1 billion and assets worth less than half that amount.
Yesterday was the grand opening of Beacon Hill, a 48-unit affordable rental housing development. While this development doesn’t solve Grand Rapids affordable housing crisis, it does show how nine agencies- working together- can build a community.
Minnesota Housing authorized housing infrastructure bonds for the $8.6 million project. Beacon Hill, built and designed by D.W. Jones, features 48 units, 20 of which are supportive housing and 28 two and three bedroom townhome style units. Twenty one-bedroom apartments will serve those with some type of disability or someone transitioning from GRACE House.
Residents who use the Horn Bridge in Grand Rapids will have a slightly longer commute. The Horn Bridge is being repaired.
The intersection of 5th Street North and 1st Avenue NE (Fire Department) will be closed for reconstruction starting August 29th, and will be closed for approximately 3 weeks.
According to a press release issued by the Grand Rapids Police Department, one man entered a home on northwest 17th Street and pointed a gun at female at gun point demanding to know where cash and suspected drugs were located in the home. He was wearing a mask and brandishing two semi-automatic pistols. He reportedly held the female at gunpoint for close to half an hour.
A second male remained in a vehicle parked outside.
A third male entered the home and confronted the gunman. During the struggle, the two females were able to escape and one of the pistols discharged. No one was injured. The gunman fled on foot and was located by officers running through the neighborhood. Two pistols were found on the suspect.
The second male, who stayed in the vehicle, was later arrested by law enforcement in Aitkin County.
Grand Rapids Assistant Police Chief Steven Schaar said this was not a random crime.
38 year old Emery James Jenkins entered a plea of guilty to an amended charge of manslaughter in the first degree- malicious punishment of a child. According to the Itasca County Attorney’s office, Jenkins stated he was innocent but agreed that the evidence against him would be sufficient for him to be found guilty if there were a trial.
Manslaughter in the first degree is committed when a person causes the death of another while committing the crime of malicious punishment of a child. The maximum penalty is 15 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine.
According to a criminal complaint, Jenkins’ 3 month old son died Oct. 18, after two days in the hospital. The boy had biting injuries on his chest, hands, fingers, feet and toes. Jenkins allegedly told police that he dropped the baby on his head and the neighbor’s dog attacked him. The boy’s mother later told police that she and Jenkins made up the story before calling 911.
Cliffs Natural Resources CEO Lourenco C. Goncalves promised the Direct Reduced Iron plant that Essar Steel Minnesota couldn’t. Tuesday, 150 people gathered at the Cloverdale Town Hall to hear Governor Mark Dayton pledge the state’s support to Goncalves and Cliffs. Goncalves told the steelworkers that three and a half years after he gets his hands on the Essar plant, he will be producing steel.
Essar Minnesota, current owner of the half constructed plant in Nashwauk, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy minutes before the Governor directed the Department of Natural Resources to terminate Essar’s state mineral rights.
Essar General Counsel Mitch Brunfeldt told the Itaca Regional Rail Authority on Tuesday that the state does not own the Essar company and that the state mineral leases are in the Essar bankruptcy estate.
Minnesota Congressman Jason Metza said he expects the issue to end up in court.
Thousands remain without power today as severe storms hit the area. The city of Deer River was hard hit- with trees overturned and some buildings flattened. Local residents who need assistance can find food, water, shelter, and information at the Deer River Fire Hall.