The Regional Report: Violent incidents becoming more common at Mille Lacs Academy
News briefs from around the lakes area and beyond.
Serious injuries to a staff member at Mille Lacs Academy in Onamia led to felony charges for a juvenile resident of the facility, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported Jan. 15.
According to a police report, the injury occurred Dec. 23 when the staff member tried to physically hold the resident from behind after he’d acted aggressively and pushed her. The staff member was treated at Mille Lacs Health System in Onamia for a possible dislocated jaw and other injuries.
Mille Lacs Academy offers a variety of residential programs for boys ages 10-19 years old with significant mental health issues. Specialty programming includes treatment for boys that have problematic sexual behavior, according to the organization’s website.
The Messenger reported in November violent incidents are on the rise at the facility, including riot and disorderly conduct charges against seven minors in the program for a Sept. 1 incident during which residents barricaded doors and assaulted staff members, requiring five law enforcement agencies to respond.
A longtime unofficial snowmobile route passing through airport property in Backus could put the airport’s license in jeopardy, the Echo Journal reported Jan. 9.
After a denial by the Backus City Council of the Ponto Knight Riders snowmobile club’s request to designate the trail an official route in December after the old route became inaccessible, the matter drew the attention of a Minnesota Department of Transportation official. That MnDOT representative contacted the airport, demanding something be done to prevent snowmobiles from crossing the flight lines. Temporary signage was erected and then taken down after angering snowmobilers. A possible solution is to put signs closer to the area where snowmobiles aren’t permitted to travel, so access remains available to the nearby road right of way.
A new attraction honoring a part of Crosby’s history was erected in Crosby Memorial Park, the Crosby-Ironton Courier reported Wednesday, Jan. 15. A “your face here” cutout featuring riders on two Scorpion snowmobiles allows visitors the opportunity to get their photograph taken. The display coincides with the Scorpion Homecoming and Cuyuna Lakes Ice Fishing Contest Feb. 1.
MILLE LACS COUNTY
Another lawsuit is on the plates of Mille Lacs County officials, but this time, they’re the ones suing, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported Jan. 8.
Mille Lacs County Attorney Joe Walsh and Sheriff Don Lorge are suing the state of Minnesota, claiming the state is derelict in its duty to cover the costs incurred to Walsh and Lorge as defendants in the federal lawsuit filed by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Walsh told the Messenger the state attorney general’s office in 2016 advised him to do his duty serving the county by providing guidance in the law enforcement dispute between the band and the county. In exercising that duty, he became one of the officials targeted personally in the federal suit. As employees of the state, Walsh said he and Lorge are required to be defended by the state by statute. The lawsuit requests compensation to Mille Lacs County to cover legal costs associated with the suit, which is ongoing in federal court concerning boundaries of the reservation.
A new wastewater treatment plant will go up in Staples, along with the utility bills of most city residents, the Staples World reported Jan. 8.
The $17 million project was covered in part by $10 million in state grants. Another $6 million came in the form of loans from the Public Facilities Authority. Residents should expect a $6 per month increase to their bills to pay for the city’s portion of the costs. Staples City Council member Dave Case suggested instead of building a new plant, perhaps fixes to the current one would be sufficient. But council member Roy Miles noted the state was requiring Staples to replace its plant, and council member Ron Murray said he believed workers at the plant faced jeopardy in the current facility.