Newsletter: Tuesday, March 14th, 2023

Newsletter: Tuesday, March 14th, 2023

--Minnesota State Senator, Torrey Westrom was transported to a hospital after a snowmobile accident Sunday afternoon. Deputies and first responders from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a snowmobile accident at 3:30pm according to a release from the department. The responding officers then located Westrom 200 yards from the shoreline. The snowmobile was being driven by a child, when it struck a packed snowdrift on the lake, causing Westrom to be thrown from the vehicle, according to the statement. The boy was not injured and Westrom was transported to Alomere Hospital after complaining of upper body pain. A statement from the Westrom family said the snowmobile struck a chunk of ice left behind from a fish house. The Senator was a passenger on a snowmobile driven by a family member when it struck an ice chunk left from a fish house and caused Westrom to fall off the snowmobile. He was checked out by first responders and brought to the hospital where he remains for observation. The driver, who had received his Youth Snowmobile Safety certification, was not injured. The Senator and his family sent thanks to the first responders for their fast response and their care of Westrom from on Sunday's accident.

--A man from northwestern Minnesota has pleaded guilty to a felony charge involving soliciting a child for sex in Stearns County. 56-year-old Darrin Watro of Vergas has pleaded guilty to describing sexual conduct to a child through electronic communication. Two other charges will be dismissed at sentencing. Court records show an undercover officer was posing as a 15-year-old St. Cloud girl in an online chat room. The officer first logged on in July and a sexual conversation initiated by Watro allegedly continued for weeks until his arrest in October. Records show he admitted to authorities that he had been chatting with someone who said they were a 15-year-old St. Cloud girl, and admitted sending pictures of his genitalia but denied he ever was planning to meet that person. However, the charging complaint indicates Watro told the girl that he was working on a job in Clearwater and asked if she could meet up during the week. An Otter Tail County investigator had received tips through the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force regarding Watro sharing child pornography. Watro will be sentenced on April 26th.

--A St. Cloud man was hurt in a crash in southern Minnesota. The Minnesota State Patrol says the crash happened at about 7pm Sunday on Interstate 35 in Steele County. A vehicle driven by 28-year-old Terry Smith of St. Cloud was going north when it collided with another vehicle that was also northbound. Smith wasn't hurt, but a passenger 29-year-old Trevon Smith of St. Cloud, was taken to the hospital in Owatonna with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver and the passenger in the other vehicle were not hurt.

--Minnesota Legislators will see a pay increase this summer. Last Friday, the Legislative Salary Council unanimously approved an increase in legislator pay of 7.25% or about $3,500 per year. In determining the increase, the council used the current pay scale of county commissioners, salary and per diem rates of neighboring state legislatures, and other benefits, like health insurance. After a lengthy discussion about the increase in inflation and the total hours legislators put in during the session, the council approved an increase from $48,250 to $51,750 per year effective July 1st. The increased salaries mean an extra $810,000 per year in state spending.

--Taco Challenge for the Lindy Dance Team will be Thursday starting at 5:30pm at the Falls Ballroom. Come and support the dancers.

--A 41-year-old St. Joseph man is jailed after allegedly being caught on a nanny cam shaking a six-month-old baby. According to the criminal complaint, a woman contacted Stearns County Social Services on March 7th after she received the video via social media that contained information about the home where it happened and the that there were drugs at the home. The video appeared to show Nicholas Reinert grabbing the child, letting his head fall toward the floor and then holding him upside down by his ankles. Another video allegedly showed Reinert putting the baby in a bouncy chair and “violently shook the bouncer up and down.” An X-ray and CT scan were performed, and the child did not suffer any signs of traumatic injury. On March 8th, police returned to the home to execute a search warrant and said they found a shotgun lying on a table. Reinert is not allowed to own or possess any guns or ammunition due to previous felony convictions. Officers broke a window and used a drone to see what was happening inside. They deployed pepper balls into the room and repeatedly gave commands for Reinert to come out, which they say he ignored. A K9 was deployed into the room and found Reinert hiding behind a makeshift wooden door under the stairs. They again asked him to come out, which he did not. The K9 was deployed into the closet and initially couldn’t get in, but eventually broke through the door and partially pulled Reinert out of his hiding spot. Reinert was arrested and taken to the hospital for treatment. He allegedly admitted he had used methamphetamine and marijuana earlier in the day. In a sworn statement, he told police he passed out while hiding because he had been up for a couple of days and denied watching the baby alone. After viewing the video, he said it happened “a while ago,” and he was “just playing around.” He said he goofs with the child but never intentionally tries to hurt him. He also said he may have been high at the time and made statements about owning and possessing the guns found around the house. Aside from the shotgun and handgun that were initially found, investigators say they also discovered many other guns and ammunition all over the house. Unconditional bail was set at $200,000. Reinert is due back in court March 24th.

--The Avon Police Department are looking to identify some theft suspects involved with theft of vehicle parts. Pictures are available on the Avon Police Department facebook page. The St. Cloud Police Department reported a stolen vehicle on the 2600 block of 1st Street North. It was a 2003 black Cadillac Escalade with Minnesota license HSH 524. The vehicle has a bright red sticker on the back window. Anyone with information should contact their local police department.

--Mary Ann Surma, age 98 of Little Falls.
--Kenneth “Ken” Block, age 85 of Royalton.

TODAY= sunny skies, breezy in afternoon, high near 30.
TONIGHT= partly cloudy and breezy, low 22.
WEDNESDAY= cloudy skies, high around 40, rain/sleet overnight.
THURSDAY= rain early, high 36 then falling, rain will change to snow.

HS BBB= Nevis eliminated Swanville 90-62 in playoffs last night while Browerville advanced over Pine River Backus 70-58.