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Preston Ramon Cruz, 27, of Jalapa, Nicaragua, is spending 13 months at the Dave and Rita Wilson home at Ridgeview Farms in rural Preston, as part of the University of Minnesota’s MAST (Minnesota Agricultural Student Trainee) program. The mission of MAST is to "improve global understanding by providing educational and cultural enrichment through international exchange."
Cruz is the first Nicaraguan to participate in the MAST program. His duties at Ridgeview Farms include working in all phases of the 600-sow farrow to finish operation.
Cruz spent eight years of his boyhood in a United Nations refugee camp in Honduras during the Nicaraguan Contra war of the 1980’s. Two of his older brothers lost their lives in the conflict. An English teacher by profession, Cruz met Dave and Rita Wilson while they were on a medical/construction mission to Jalapa.
Cruz says that he enjoys the small town friendliness of the people in Fillmore County, and likened it to the area of Nicaragua where he is from. About the impending cold weather, Cruz says that some local people are trying to scare him. "I have never seen snow before," he says, "but Rita has assured me that there is a lot of beauty in winter."
Spring Valley: Spring Valley residents were notified last week, by outgoing city administrator Mike Bubany, that more land may need to be condemned by the city to construct a recreational trail to the City Farm. Earlier this year, the city council, at Bubany’s recommendation, condemned 6/100’s of an acre for the trail, believing that construction could then proceed.
Now, it appears that one of the landowners along the route never actually signed a purchase option for their property. In taking responsibility for the oversight, Bubany wrote that, "certain public officials in this town knew of the lacking option all along and for whatever reasons did not care to mention it even though it would have prevented this mess."
Bubany told the Journal last week, that the amount of land in question is 8/10’s of an acre and it is his understanding that the landowner "will not sign an option".
"If the city wants to proceed with the trail route, they will have to consider condemning this land as well," Bubany said.
Bubany’s replacement will be current city clerk/treasurer Deb Zimmer, who will serve as interim city administrator on a three-month trial basis. Bubany pointed out that he gave his notice of resignation last June, and that the current situation is totally unrelated to his departure.
Lanesboro: Cornucopia Director John Davis is pictured next to “Square Crow”, the winning entry in the 2nd Annual Lanesboro Scarecrow Contest, sponsored by Lanesboro ACT. There were 13 entries in this year’s contest. Cornucopia received $25 Lanesboro Bucks for the winning scarecrow.
Preston: PRO-CORN Ethanol plant in Preston has applied to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for an amendment to increase its production from 18 million gallons of ethanol fuel to 22 million.
In a phone call with the Journal last week, Plant Manager Richard Eichstadt said that he expects the MPCA to approve the amendment by the end of October.
Eichstadt also said that PRO-CORN’s Board of Directors is currently discussing a possible expansion of the plant to a 40 million gallon output. "We would need twice as much corn as we do now," Eichstadt said. He also said that the plant would need substantial expansion of its storage and production facilities as well as an increase in its electrical requirements.
Eichstadt said that the board is watching to see the outcome of pending legislation in Washington, which would require that all gasoline be blended with 10% ethanol.
"This would triple the demand for ethanol within ten years," Eichstadt said, "and would raise the overall price of corn by thirty cents."
In the meantime, PRO-CORN’s board is talking with bankers and going forward with the permitting process for the potential expansion. Eichstadt said that several other ethanol plants in Minnesota are planning to expand their operations as well.
The Preston plant currently has a workforce of 25 employees.
Houston: A fire was reported at 12:55 PM on Saturday, October 14, at Creative Tool, a tool and die manufacturing business in Houston. Houston Police Chief Paul Folz, who also serves as Information Officer for the Houston Fire Department, told the Journal that the cause of the blaze has not been officially determined. He went on to say that it possibly started from one of the machines that was running at the time. The 52’ x 120’ building, owned by Kevin and Kathy Jumbeck of Houston, was a complete loss.
The Houston Fire Department was assisted by the Rushford and Caledonia fire departments. "We had our hands full," Folz said, "and it certainly was a benefit to have the manpower and equipment of the Caledonia and Rushford departments. We’re very grateful for their help."
Folz said that the Jumbecks have already applied for a building permit to get their business back in operation.