The Princeton Union-Eagle http://unioneagle.com Community newspaper of Princeton, Minn. Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:12:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lowering Your 2015 Taxes http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/lowering-your-2015-taxes/ http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/lowering-your-2015-taxes/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 22:31:00 +0000 http://unioneagle.com/?guid=b72e53d000822e1e92eb521e3b8643a0 With 2014 well over and the spring of 2015 looming, you may find yourself gathering all of last year’s tax information and getting ready to file your income taxes. Maybe you expect a refund or maybe you dread writing a check to Uncle Sam. If the latter, here are some tips to reduce your tax burden for 2015.

Contribute more to your 401(k). You make these contributions in your retirement plan before you pay tax on the money. This lowers the amount of your taxable income, potentially reducing the amount you may owe at tax time and increasing your retirement savings.

Contribute enough of a percentage of your pay to get your employer match. Many employers match around 5% of an employee’s pay.

Take advantage of a deductible individual retirement account contribution. If your employer doesn’t offer a plan, set up and automatically save post-tax dollars to an individual retirement account. Your contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax-deductible; withdrawals from a Roth IRA in your retirement will be tax-free.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, your total contributions to all of your traditional and Roth IRAs this year cannot be more than $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older) or your taxable compensation for the year if your compensation was less than this dollar limit.

Generally, your deduction for the above IRAs may drop or completely disappear if you already have a workplace 401(k) available and your income exceeds certain limits.

Increase withholding. Changing the amount withheld from your paycheck can help you decrease, if not eliminate, what you owe at tax time. An IRS calculator helps you figure how much to withhold and how much of your paycheck to keep.

Events during the year may also change your marital status or the exemptions, adjustments, deductions or credits you expect to claim on your tax return. You may need to give your employer a new IRS Form W-4 to change your withholding status or number of allowances.

Make your home energy-efficient. Investing in lowering your home’s energy consumption may open up credits to in turn lower your overall tax bill.

Improvements qualifying for credits include devices to harness solar and wind energy, geothermal heat pumps and electricity-producing fuel cells. These credits often cover almost a third of the cost of installation. You can also credit up to $500 for more usual improvements such as insulation, exterior doors and windows and heating and cooling equipment.

To see if you qualify for these credits, click here.

Start or increase your charitable giving. Giving to help others not only feels good – the IRS also provides some tax breaks for charitable givers. From giving to your church to donating items to the local foundation, you can open your heart and lower your tax bill.

These breaks do come with conditions:

  • You can’t deduct contributions to specific individuals, political organizations and candidates, and you must give to a qualified organization. See IRS Publication 526, “Charitable Contributions,” for what constitutes such an organization and for income limits to claim deductions.
  • To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file IRS Form 1040 when you file your taxes, and you must itemize deductions on Schedule A.
  • If you receive a benefit because of your contribution such as merchandise, event tickets or other goods and services, you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Sterling Raskie, MSFS, MBA, CFP, is an independent, fee-only financial planner at Blankenship Financial Planning in New Berlin, Ill. He is an adjunct professor teaching courses in math, finance, insurance and investments. His blog is Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row, where he writes regularly about investments, retirement savings and financial planning.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

 

 

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With 2014 well over and the spring of 2015 looming, you may find yourself gathering all of last year’s tax information and getting ready to file your income taxes. Maybe you expect a refund or maybe you dread writing a check to Uncle Sam. If the latter, here are some tips to reduce your tax burden for 2015.

Contribute more to your 401(k). You make these contributions in your retirement plan before you pay tax on the money. This lowers the amount of your taxable income, potentially reducing the amount you may owe at tax time and increasing your retirement savings.

Contribute enough of a percentage of your pay to get your employer match. Many employers match around 5% of an employee’s pay.

Take advantage of a deductible individual retirement account contribution. If your employer doesn’t offer a plan, set up and automatically save post-tax dollars to an individual retirement account. Your contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax-deductible; withdrawals from a Roth IRA in your retirement will be tax-free.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, your total contributions to all of your traditional and Roth IRAs this year cannot be more than $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older) or your taxable compensation for the year if your compensation was less than this dollar limit.

Generally, your deduction for the above IRAs may drop or completely disappear if you already have a workplace 401(k) available and your income exceeds certain limits.

Increase withholding. Changing the amount withheld from your paycheck can help you decrease, if not eliminate, what you owe at tax time. An IRS calculator helps you figure how much to withhold and how much of your paycheck to keep.

Events during the year may also change your marital status or the exemptions, adjustments, deductions or credits you expect to claim on your tax return. You may need to give your employer a new IRS Form W-4 to change your withholding status or number of allowances.

Make your home energy-efficient. Investing in lowering your home’s energy consumption may open up credits to in turn lower your overall tax bill.

Improvements qualifying for credits include devices to harness solar and wind energy, geothermal heat pumps and electricity-producing fuel cells. These credits often cover almost a third of the cost of installation. You can also credit up to $500 for more usual improvements such as insulation, exterior doors and windows and heating and cooling equipment.

To see if you qualify for these credits, click here.

Start or increase your charitable giving. Giving to help others not only feels good – the IRS also provides some tax breaks for charitable givers. From giving to your church to donating items to the local foundation, you can open your heart and lower your tax bill.

These breaks do come with conditions:

  • You can’t deduct contributions to specific individuals, political organizations and candidates, and you must give to a qualified organization. See IRS Publication 526, “Charitable Contributions,” for what constitutes such an organization and for income limits to claim deductions.
  • To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file IRS Form 1040 when you file your taxes, and you must itemize deductions on Schedule A.
  • If you receive a benefit because of your contribution such as merchandise, event tickets or other goods and services, you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Sterling Raskie, MSFS, MBA, CFP, is an independent, fee-only financial planner at Blankenship Financial Planning in New Berlin, Ill. He is an adjunct professor teaching courses in math, finance, insurance and investments. His blog is Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row, where he writes regularly about investments, retirement savings and financial planning.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

 

 

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Boosting Singles’ Benefits http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/boosting-singles-benefits/ http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/boosting-singles-benefits/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 22:30:53 +0000 http://unioneagle.com/?guid=5d9b2a46c278bd1120ea7de1c72897be If you’re like most who think about how much you need for your golden years, you probably calculated based on still having a spouse. Widows, widowers and divorcees approaching retirement and about to file for Social Security, though, need to recognize filing options that can significantly increase monthly benefits.

While rules are different for surviving spouses and divorcees than for those still married, you have options as a single senior. You may be able to file for spousal or survivor benefits instead of your own.

Widows and widowers. I recently met with a widowed client who was approaching age 66, which Social Security defines as her full retirement age (FRA). She lost her husband more than 25 years ago, never remarried and didn’t know to claim her survivor benefits (based on the work record of her deceased husband) instead of her own.

A survivor may be entitled up to 100% of his or her spouse’s Social Security benefit if not remarrying before age 60. When we compared both my client’s and her late husband’s monthly benefits, we found that she qualified to collect either her benefit of $2,300 at 66 or her survivor benefit of $2,000 based on her husband’s account. (A deceased spouse’s benefit continually increases to adjust for inflation.)

Most people would choose the higher benefit – in this case, her own. But each person’s individual benefits grow if delayed until age 70; survivor benefits do not. In her situation, her own benefit increases to approximately $3,130 per month if she waits four more years to claim it.

Since she can do without the additional $300 per month, she decided to take her survivor benefits now and switch to her own larger monthly benefit when she turns 70. If she lives to 90, she will collect approximately $185,000 more in benefits using this strategy rather than just collecting her own benefits now, at her FRA.

Divorcees. You can also claim spousal benefits on your ex-spouse’s record. Divorcees’ spousal benefits are typically 50% of the full retirement benefits of the ex-spouse who qualified for such benefits. You must be at least 62 and not remarried and your marriage had to last 10 or more years.

The benefits of your ex-spouse must be higher than your own when you begin claiming yours. As with surviving spousal benefits, this claiming strategy allows you to collect some income before claiming your own full benefit at 70.

If your ex-spouse dies before you do, you may also qualify to collect his or her full survivor benefit instead of the 50% spousal benefit if, again, your marriage spanned at least 10 years. Note: If you are caring for a child younger than 16 or who is disabled, and receives benefits on the record of your former spouse, you do not need to meet the length-of-marriage rule. The child must be your former spouse’s natural or legally adopted child.

We recommend that you start this process at least three months before you want to start collecting these benefits. You will need your late or ex-spouse’s Social Security number and date of birth.

Rules for claiming Social Security benefits are very complicated, so it’s best to consult with a financial advisor or Social Security specialist to understand all options. Ask questions and do the math to make your retirement years even more golden.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Barry Glassman, CFP, is the founder and president of Glassman Wealth Services, a fee-only investment management, financial planning and wealth management firm in McLean, Va. He has been honored with just about every Top Financial Advisor Award from the financial planning industry and his peers in publications including Barron’sInvestment News, Reuters, Washingtonian and Virginia Business. Barry provides investment and financial planning commentary on WTOP radio in the Washington, DC area. He is a member of the elite CNBC Financial Advisors Council and contributing writer at CNBC.com, Forbes.com, WTOP.com, Investment News and Financial Planning. Follow Barry on Twitter at @BarryGlassman. His website is www.glassmanwealth.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

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If you’re like most who think about how much you need for your golden years, you probably calculated based on still having a spouse. Widows, widowers and divorcees approaching retirement and about to file for Social Security, though, need to recognize filing options that can significantly increase monthly benefits.

While rules are different for surviving spouses and divorcees than for those still married, you have options as a single senior. You may be able to file for spousal or survivor benefits instead of your own.

Widows and widowers. I recently met with a widowed client who was approaching age 66, which Social Security defines as her full retirement age (FRA). She lost her husband more than 25 years ago, never remarried and didn’t know to claim her survivor benefits (based on the work record of her deceased husband) instead of her own.

A survivor may be entitled up to 100% of his or her spouse’s Social Security benefit if not remarrying before age 60. When we compared both my client’s and her late husband’s monthly benefits, we found that she qualified to collect either her benefit of $2,300 at 66 or her survivor benefit of $2,000 based on her husband’s account. (A deceased spouse’s benefit continually increases to adjust for inflation.)

Most people would choose the higher benefit – in this case, her own. But each person’s individual benefits grow if delayed until age 70; survivor benefits do not. In her situation, her own benefit increases to approximately $3,130 per month if she waits four more years to claim it.

Since she can do without the additional $300 per month, she decided to take her survivor benefits now and switch to her own larger monthly benefit when she turns 70. If she lives to 90, she will collect approximately $185,000 more in benefits using this strategy rather than just collecting her own benefits now, at her FRA.

Divorcees. You can also claim spousal benefits on your ex-spouse’s record. Divorcees’ spousal benefits are typically 50% of the full retirement benefits of the ex-spouse who qualified for such benefits. You must be at least 62 and not remarried and your marriage had to last 10 or more years.

The benefits of your ex-spouse must be higher than your own when you begin claiming yours. As with surviving spousal benefits, this claiming strategy allows you to collect some income before claiming your own full benefit at 70.

If your ex-spouse dies before you do, you may also qualify to collect his or her full survivor benefit instead of the 50% spousal benefit if, again, your marriage spanned at least 10 years. Note: If you are caring for a child younger than 16 or who is disabled, and receives benefits on the record of your former spouse, you do not need to meet the length-of-marriage rule. The child must be your former spouse’s natural or legally adopted child.

We recommend that you start this process at least three months before you want to start collecting these benefits. You will need your late or ex-spouse’s Social Security number and date of birth.

Rules for claiming Social Security benefits are very complicated, so it’s best to consult with a financial advisor or Social Security specialist to understand all options. Ask questions and do the math to make your retirement years even more golden.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Barry Glassman, CFP, is the founder and president of Glassman Wealth Services, a fee-only investment management, financial planning and wealth management firm in McLean, Va. He has been honored with just about every Top Financial Advisor Award from the financial planning industry and his peers in publications including Barron’sInvestment News, Reuters, Washingtonian and Virginia Business. Barry provides investment and financial planning commentary on WTOP radio in the Washington, DC area. He is a member of the elite CNBC Financial Advisors Council and contributing writer at CNBC.com, Forbes.com, WTOP.com, Investment News and Financial Planning. Follow Barry on Twitter at @BarryGlassman. His website is www.glassmanwealth.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

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WQPM to host annual Easter egg hunt http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/wqpm-to-host-annual-easter-egg-hunt/ http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/wqpm-to-host-annual-easter-egg-hunt/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:49:35 +0000 http://unioneagle.com/?p=114386 WQPM Princeton “The Big Q” will be hosting its annual Easter Egg Hunt in Mark Park
on Saturday, April 4th starting at 9:00AM sharp. There is no cost associated with the event; bring
your children ages 8 and under out for a day of family fun! There will be three different “egg
hunting” levels: one for children 3 years and under, one for children ages 4 to 6, and one for
children ages 7 to 8.
There will be approximately 1,500 hidden eggs on the grounds of Mark Park, each with
candy inside. There will be several eggs with other prizes inside, and there will also be a drawing
for a brand new boy’s bicycle, girl’s bicycle, and a pool party provided by the AmericInn of
Princeton for up to 20 kids.
Children will be able to get their picture taken with the Easter Bunny starting at 8:30AM,
so families are encouraged to bring their cameras as well as a basket to collect their eggs. Meet
your favorite WQPM on-air personalities and join in for a day of wholesome family fun!

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Rand Goranson http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/rand-goranson/ http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/rand-goranson/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 19:48:43 +0000 http://unioneagle.com/?p=114381

Image-17448Rand was a Poet, Artist and a Scholar.
Rand was born in Minneapolis on June 17, 1947 to LeRoy and Jeanne Goranson. He was raised around the suburbs of Crystal and Johnsville as his dad built houses in those developing communities. He had a profound affinity for rocks and studied geology at St. Thomas during high school, beginning a lifelong quest to learn about and understand the world around him. He was an officer in the Biology Club and a natural athlete who lettered in Baseball and Gymnastics.
Rand served in the U.S. Army 101st Airborne from 1966-1967 including three tours in Viet Nam. After returning, he was involved in the early protests for Viet Nam Veterans Against the War.
Rand studied at the University of Minnesota, Dunwoody, Minneapolis College of Art Design and St. Cloud State, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Science and Fine Arts.
Rand was a true bohemian who loved everything art, reveled in nature, and found beauty in all. Always awed by beauty and nature.
Rand is survived by his wife Barb and mother-in-law Kathy, his son Brandon and wife Lisa, his daughter Brittany and husband Dan, Leah, Eric, Anna and Al, and his pets Obie, Lily and Edgar and many, many friends.
He was preceded in death by his son Dana, parents, grandparents, and his sister-in-law Chris Heath.
A celebration of his life was held Saturday, March 28, 2015 at 3 p.m. at Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Home in Princeton, MN.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Home, Princeton.

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Shirley M. Stanley http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/shirley-m-stanley/ http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/shirley-m-stanley/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 19:48:33 +0000 http://unioneagle.com/?p=114378

Image-17447Shirley M. Stanley, age 78, of Princeton, passed away on Sunday, March 29, 2015 at her residence. She was born on July 5, 1936 in Princeton, MN, the daughter of Lester and Florence (Peterson) Stanley.
Shirley grew up in the Princeton area and has lived here most of her adult life. She enjoyed camping, singing, traveling, knitting, photography, shopping, Bingo, jigsaw puzzles and trying new things. Shirley had a contagious laughter and a heart of gold. She was welcoming to anyone and everyone; always having kind words to say. Her family meant the absolute world to her; she will be dearly missed by all who knew her.
Shirley is survived by her sisters, Donna Stanley of Cambridge, Dorothy Salmon of Rockford, IL, Delores (Eugene) Meyer of Princeton; and many nieces, nephews, and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers, Lorenzo “Bunk,” Carl “Jim,” Gordon “Bobo,” and Clayton “Bojack.”
Visitation will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Home in Princeton. Funeral Services will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Home in Princeton. Interment will be in Oak Knoll Cemetery in Princeton.
Shirley’s family would like to thank Amy and Chris Anderson for their loving care and compassion for Shirley.
Arrangements are entrusted to Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Home, Princeton.

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David E. Minks http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/david-e-minks/ http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/david-e-minks/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 18:14:11 +0000 http://unioneagle.com/?p=114375 David E. Minks of rural Milaca died Sunday, March 29, 2015 in Sinton, TX at the age of 75.
He is survived by his three children, daughters Chris Cloutier (Bern) of Mounds View, Raynette Werlinger of White Wood, S.D. and son Dave (Cheryl) of Lakeville; his brother Don (Mary) of Mpls. and sister Penny Seaver (Dan) of Princeton; six grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father Edward, mother Eunice, brothers-in-law Robert Nordgren and Russ Krengel and son-in-law Scott Werlinger.
Dave graduated from Princeton High School in 1957. He served in the National Guard for six years and worked as a commercial loan officer for many years before moving to his hobby farm in 1980. He held several machinists jobs before his retirement. Dave loved traditional country music, observing wildlife and going south for the winter.
A small memorial service will be held later in the spring.

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Donna Mae Stauffenecker http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/donna-mae-stauffenecker/ http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/donna-mae-stauffenecker/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 18:13:26 +0000 http://unioneagle.com/?p=114372

Image-17442Donna Mae (Knippling) Stauffenecker, age 68, of Princeton, passed away suddenly at her home on Monday, March 23, 2015. She was born on March 18, 1947 to Merle and Merna (Smith) Knippling in Princeton, MN.
Donna grew up and lived most of her life in Princeton. She graduated from Princeton High School in 1965. She attended St. Cloud State for bookkeeping.
In Donna’s life she did many things: waitress at Sanborn’s Cafe;, office and bookkeeping at Wredberg’s Mill, cleaned at Princeton Assembly of God Church and helped out with the books. Donna had 30 years in at Princeton Plastic Products (PPC) in QC. She was an Avon rep on and off from the 1970’s. She last worked at Princeton Walmart as a cashier; she loved it there. An interesting unknown fact that few knew is that Donna actually had a private pilot’s license.
Donna loved to do many things: 4-H Bread and Butter Club with her sisters, spending time at church. Donna’s greatest enjoyment was spending time with her grandkids and kids.
Donna will be greatly missed and remembered by her children LynAnn (Brandon) Moos and Ben Stauffenecker of Princeton and all those who knew and called her “Ma”; grandkids, Sean, Summer, Christopher, James, Arizona and Ezryah; siblings, Barbara (Larry) Harris of Blacksburg,VA, Louise Smith of Costa Mesa, CA, and Carl Knippling of Big Lake, MN.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Merle and Merna Knippling; two cousins; five aunts and uncles.
Visitation Monday, March 30, 2015 from 10-11 a.m. at New Life Church, Princeton, MN. Memorial service Monday, March 30, 2015 beginning at 11 a.m. at New Life Church, Princeton. Additional Visitation Monday March 30, 2015 from 5-7 p.m. at New Life Church, Princeton.

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County decides in split vote to hire consultant for replacing administrator http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/county-decides-in-split-vote-to-hire-consultant-for-replacing-administrator/ http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/county-decides-in-split-vote-to-hire-consultant-for-replacing-administrator/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:39:33 +0000 http://unioneagle.com/?p=114367  

Mille Lacs County has hired consulting firm Springsted Inc. to find candidates to replace Mille Lacs County Administrator Roxy Traxler, who is leaving the job next month to take the Sibley County administrator position.
The County Board on March 17 passed a motion 3-1 to hire Springsted at a cost not to exceed $17,000. Before passing the motion, the board debated whether the county should return to having just a coordinator as it once had.
Mille Lacs County Board Chair Phil Peterson and Commissioners Roger Tellinghuisen and Genny Reynolds voted yes on the Springsted motion, while Commissioner Tim Wilhelmvoted no. Commissioner Dave Oslin was absent.
Traxler was first hired by Mille Lacs County as a coordinator in 2006 and later moved into the administrator position that the county opened.
Wilhelm, during the debate on whether to hire Springsted to find candidates for replacing Traxler,  brought up the board’s recent resolution to reorganize some of the county’s departmental structure and the way some of the departments and offices would be  located in the county’s historic courthouse. It houses the offices of administrative services, auditor-treasurer, assessor, land services, vital statistics, soil and water conservation district, and 4-H extension.
Wilhelm mentioned how some county residents have objected to parts of the reorganization plan and that there has been “flak” from some of the county employees about having an administrator. Wilhelm suggested that the board spend more time discussing whether it still wants to have an administrator or possibly go back to just having a coordinator assisting the County Board.
“I don’t know if we would gain anything by putting it off,” Peterson said about finding Traxler’s replacement.
Peterson said the county needs to have an administrator, calling the duties of that position “complicated.” If the county had  just a coordinator, the County Board would have to spend more time doing administrative work, he said. Traxler, who was at the board meeting, talked about the difference in duties and responsibilities between the administrator and coordinator positions. The coordinator’s job is more in the line of presenting information to the elected board and the board would then have to meet with the department heads, as opposed to the administrator meeting with department heads and making recommendations to the board, Traxler said.
There would be “more face time” between the commissioners and the department heads if the county went just with a coordinator, Peterson agreed.
Tellinghuisen defended having a county administrator. If a person looks at the county’s levy changes in the past eight years, they can see how the county has many times kept the levy change at zero, in contrast to some years before there was an administrator and the levy was as high as 13 percent, he said. “We need someone here to watch that stuff,” he added. “I’m 100 percent in favor of having an administrator.”
The board passed the motion in a 3-1 vote to hire Springsted for finding candidates. Traxler said she was familiar with Springsted’s process, noting that Springsted doesn’t just come up with a list of people to choose from, but also would indicate which ones Springsted believes might be most qualified for the position.

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Wildfire crews at airport earlier than usual this year http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/wildfire-crews-at-airport-earlier-than-usual-this-year/ http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/wildfire-crews-at-airport-earlier-than-usual-this-year/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:19:55 +0000 http://unioneagle.com/?p=114355 The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stationed aircraft at Princeton Airport earlier than unusual this year for fighting wildfires.
The early mobilization was due to worries about the fire danger being higher this year due to lack of a snow pack in the region at the end of winter.plane fire boss
The airport has been the base for aircraft to fight wildfires each spring for about a decade now, said Princeton Fire Chief Jim Roxbury.
But normally the aircraft, which includes a helicopter and planes, have been brought in after March 20, according to forestry technician Mike Peltier at the Zimmerman Forestry Station. This year the turbine-engine helicopter arrived on March 10 and the next day the turbo prop airplanes arrived. The planes include the Fire Boss, which sits high up on floats so it can scoop water out of lakes, and two Air Tractor 802s, which are single-engine air tankers.
The Fire Boss can also be loaded with fire retardants at the airport, as the Air Tractors are, until the ice comes off the lakes. The helicopter carries a drop bucket to scoop up water from lakes, but it can also load water by lowering its bucket into a drop tank full of water that the local fire department can set up at the airport. Roxbury commented last week about the fire conditions this spring. He said that besides the much drier ground following the winter of little snow, the tall grasses are standing high as opposed to winters where ample snow has tended to flatten the tall grasses.
Peltier said the DNR has been planning to place burning restrictions on a region that includes the counties of Mille Lacs, Sherburne, Benton, Isanti and Wright March 25.
Burn restrictions means people cannot get permission to burn brush piles or yard debris. The exceptions would be if someone received a variance for economic reasons, such as for agriculture purposes, Peltier said. Another exception would be if there are 3 or more inches of snow on the ground.
Roxbury added that “it’s day to day” as to whether a person can get permission to burn even when there are no burn restrictions. Even if a person has obtained a burn permit number from the DNR, the permit holder must get it activated for each proposed burning, he said. People can get an annual burn permit on the DNR’s website and the permit contains a number to call to get permission for a specific time a person wants to burn.
Fines can be given for burning without an active permit, and fines and restitution for damage can be assessed if the fire gets out of control.
The most expensive loss that a person could end up being responsible for, said Peltier, is if it spreads and burns a neighbor’s shed or home. The shed could contain some expensive items, Peltier added.
As Roxbury talked about the firefighting crew and aircraft that the DNR has contracted to have at Princeton airport, he said he feels “kind of spoiled” to have all that support nearby for fighting wildfires. “It makes our life easier,” he said. Besides the specialized aircraft and fire crews at the airport during the wildfire season, the area has long enjoyed having the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service firefighters that are attached to nearby Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, Roxbury said.
At the airport
Jody Pillatzki, one of the pilots for the firefighting aircraft at the airport this spring, said the aircraft crews based at Princeton can be dispatched to as far as southeastern Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and the Dakotas.
“We can go 350 to 400 nautical miles (403-460 miles) easily,” he added.
The Princeton airport has become one of the bases for aircraft to help fight wildfires because it is a central spot in the region and it has a “little more urban interface,” Pillatzki explained, meaning it is close to the Twin Cities metro, he said.
“I like it,” he said about flying to fight wildfires. “It’s fun, exciting, and it’s doing something to help people.”
Inside one of the mobile homes set up at the airport for the pilots and crew members assigned to the air operation were seasoned wildfire firefighters: Joe Toivonen, and Mike Wurst. Toivonen’s job is single-engine air tankers manager; he supervises the supplying and loading of the fire retardant materials into the aircraft.
Wurst is the air tactical group supervisor. His job kicks in when a certain number of aircraft are dispatched to drop fire retardants. Wurst pilots a two-engine Cessna 401B to fly over the fire area and give commands to the pilots in the helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft to make sure no one collides or hinders the firefighters on the ground.
Both Toivonen and Wurst said that the job of the aircraft crews is not to put out a wildfire, but to stop it from advancing and that the firefighters on the ground extinguish the fire.
Wurst and Toivonen added that it is challenging releasing the various fire retardants from the aircraft because of the rules for leaving margins between the ground firefighters and where the retardants are dropped.
Wurst said he spends a lot of time self-training on what he has to do once in the air because the job requires quick decision making. Wurst also noted that Minnesota is part of a  firefighting agreement called the Great Lakes Compact. It is like the mutual aid arrangement that fire departments have to assist each other, he said.
The Great Lake Compact, he explained, is between Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario and Manitoba. “We send both ground and air resources back and forth,” Wurst said. “Ontario comes down whenever needed in northeastern Minnesota,” Toivonen said.
Wurst said that using aviation to fight fires is “really tough” because it costs so much. But the aircraft are needed to get ahead of  these fires, Wurst said. The pilots make passes over big wildfires to try to knock the heat out of them to make a safer environment for the firefighters on the ground, he added.
In a perfect world, there would be aircraft like this scattered at bases all over, but because of the cost, there are only so many bases and the crews are called from those bases to fly wherever needed, Wurst said.
Normally the spring wildfire season goes for about six weeks, but this year is will likely last eight to 10 weeks, Wurst and Toivonen agreed.
Despite the challenges of fighting wildfires, Toivonen and Wurst, who have gone from full-time firefighting to just temporary firefighting work each year, like the work.
“We’ve had some fun over the years,” Toivonen said. “It’s the reason me and Mike (Wurst) are doing this after 39 years. It’s rewarding and exciting.”
“The most challenging part,” Wurst said, “is preparing for the worst event and to keep up.”
“You never know if it will be the worst day (when called to fight a wildfire),” Toivonen said.

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Five suspects in city’s graffiti case http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/five-suspects-in-citys-graffiti-case/ http://unioneagle.com/2015/03/five-suspects-in-citys-graffiti-case/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:16:40 +0000 http://unioneagle.com/?p=114353 Princeton Police have identified five suspects in the graffiti type of criminal damage to property that occurred between the evening of March 12 and the morning of March 13 in the downtown  area of Princeton.
The suspects are males ranging in age 17-19 from the Zimmerman area, according to Princeton Police Sgt. Joe Backlund. He said the department began receiving tips shortly after the graffiti reports came in and that the department had identified all five suspects by the afternoon of Tuesday, March 17.
The graffiti was found on a city retaining wall and on the exterior walls of various downtown buildings and on a piece of U.S. Postal Service property, according to police.

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