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Special Faribault PD patches highlight the issue of domestic violence

Faribault’s Police Department has unveiled special purple patches which will be worn all this month in honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and in memory of the late Barb Larson, a former Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism employee murdered by her ex-husband in 2016 and to raise money for the local advocacy center.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which evolved from the Domestic Violence Awareness Project’s “Day of Unity.” The Day of Unity was first held in 1981 with the first Domestic Violence Awareness month observed in 1987. Across the country, events are held each October to mourn those lost to domestic violence, celebrate and support survivors of domestic violence and strengthen institutions working to combat domestic violence.

In recent years, federal and state funding for programs to help victims of domestic violence has remained stagnant while the needs of victims have increased. In order to provide services for victims of domestic violence, groups like the HOPE Center are increasingly turning to the generosity of the community.

With those needs in mind, the Police Department will donate the proceeds from the limited edition patched to the HOPE Center. The patches can be purchased for $20 at both the Police Department and the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism office.

“We’re excited to be able to partner with the Faribault PD and Chamber both to honor the memory of Barb Larson and support the services that we provide,” said Hope Center Executive Director Erica Staab-Absher.

Faribault Police Capt. Neal Pederson said that officers thought of the idea after they saw other departments wearing and selling pink patches in support of breast cancer awareness and research. They decided to do something in support of the HOPE Center, which they work closely with to provide resources and protection for victims of domestic violence.

Since 1995, the HOPE Center has worked to support victims of sexual and domestic violence in the Rice County area 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The organization focuses on increasing awareness and education in addition to supporting and protecting victims of domestic abuse.

Even after years of hard work to increase awareness and resources for victims of domestic violence, the rate of domestic violence remains shockingly high across the country. According to the CDC, one in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe violence during their lifetime.

Each October, Violence Free Minnesota (previously known as the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women) releases its homicide report in memory of victims of domestic violence. The report is released in October not only because October is domestic violence month, but also because domestic violence cases tend to progress slowly through the legal and judicial system.

The group’s newly released report documents at least 14 victims of domestic violence — nine females, one male and four bystanders. So far, that’s a decrease from last year’s statewide totals, when at least 21 women, one child and five bystanders were murdered as a result of domestic violence. Four of the victims were from Southern Minnesota.

On Feb. 16, 49 year old Lori Wiederhoft Moore, of rural Blue Earth County, was murdered by her husband Timothy Moore, who subsequently killed himself before police could arrive.

Timothy Moore had violated a protection order in 2015 and had continued to act in an abusive manner, according to family and friends. Lori planned on leaving the relationship and had plans to move out the following day.

On March 28, David Leonard Riess, of rural Dodge County, was found dead in his home after a welfare check from a concerned friend. Authorities believe that Riess had been dead for at least two weeks prior to the discovery of his body.

Riess’s wife Lori Ann Riess, a gambling addict, subsequently cashed more than $10,000 in stolen and forged checks and traveled to Florida, where she killed 59-year old Pamela Hutchinson in an attempt to assume her identity. She was apprehended in Texas after 10 day national manhunt and charged with both her husband’s murder and Hutchinson’s murder.

On June 16, 59-year old Scott Engelbrecht, of St. James, murdered his wife, 67 year old Joyce Engelbrecht, and her daughter, 43 year old Rachel Lindner. Police were called to the scene after Lindner’s son called 911, saying his grandmother had been shot after a heated argument. Lindner attempted to flee but was shot dead by Scott Engelbrecht on a neighbor’s property.

Because Violence Free Minnesota relies on public information and news reports, the group acknowledges that the number of domestic violence deaths is likely higher. Under reporting is likely higher particularly among underrepresented groups including people of color, people living in poverty, people living in rural areas, children, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and those caught up in prostitution or sex trafficking.

Victims of domestic violence can call the HOPE Center’s 24 hour hotline at 800-607-2330 or the Faribault Police at 507-334-4305 (or 911 for emergencies). Pederson strongly urged victims of domestic violence to seek the support they need to avoid being trapped in a cycle of abuse.

“We want people to be able to call both our Department and HOPE Center and be aware of the services that are out there to help people,” he said. “We don’t want people to think this is a family issue and not any of our business. (Domestic violence) is a cycle that will perpetuate if it’s not addressed.”


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North Star Farm Tour draws big crowds

With interest in locally sourced sustainable agriculture on the rise, even grey and drizzly weather on Sunday couldn’t stop record crowds from checking out local farms across southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin last weekend.

With 20 farms on the tour, last weekend’s North Star Farm Tour provided an unprecedented glimpse of the region’s burgeoning fabric industry. Among those 20 farms were four from Rice County and three in Goodhue.

Teri and Kraig Quamme welcomed visitors their Red Gate Alpaca Farm, a 70-acre farm set in the rolling hills of the Canon River Valley. The Quammes raise the alpaca for the luscious fiber and also sell some of their Alpacas.

Alpacas, similar to llamas, are natives of the Andean Mountain range in South America. Alpacas are bred specifically for their fibers, a luxury good which has a variety of appealing qualities including softness, fire resistance and water repellency.

Jessica and Jody Grund hosted visitors at the Grazing Goat Ranch, located in Walcott Township just south of Faribault. At the Grazing Goat Ranch, the Grunds raise angora sheep and shear them to make mohair, a prized silk-like fabric.

In addition to the angora goats, the Grunds have a full menagerie of animals, including ducks, hogs, horses, donkeys, chickens and plenty of cats. Jody Grund said that they decided to build their farm around the goats because his wife is vegetarian and didn’t want to see any of the animals slaughtered.

Mohair is one of the world’s most prized fibers for luxury goods. Once processed, Mohair is durable and shiny, naturally elastic, and takes dye well.

Each spring and fall, the Grunds shear their goats. For this fall, the Grunds decided to not shear their goats until next week, leaving the goats with long locks for the farm tour. Once sheared, some of the Mohair will be sold to the Northfield Yarn Shop while most of the rest will be sold online.

Although this was the first year the Grunds hosted visitors for the North Star Farm Tour, they’ve checked out the other farms on the tour in the past. Grund says he always enjoys seeing how other farms operate.

The Grunds invited Sarah and Mike Otis of Bidingstead farm to share some of their goats with tour goers. Six years ago, the Otises moved to an acreage located near Cannon Lake west of Faribault, and began converting it into a functioning farm.

The Otises now raises goats, hogs and chicken and sells them locally. The Otises said they were glad that they’d been invited to be a part of the farm tour this year, giving them the chance to see how a different farm operates up close.

“One of our favorite things to do is to see other farms, see how they run, ” Sarah Otis said. “(Unfortunately), we’ve been so busy with our own farm that we’ve never been able to pull ourselves away to visit other farms.”

Sarah Otis has taken an agritourism safety class and said she looks forward to hosting more agritourism events in the future. The Otises added that hope to make their farm a stop on the North Star Farm Tour in the near future.

Wendy Wustenberg of the Wind Swept Hill Farm & Studio near Farmington, who helped found the farm tour five years ago, said said that with the sustainable agriculture movement growing, she expects the farm tour to continue to grow. Already, she’s heard from area farmers who are interested in learning more about agritourism and want to join the farm tour in 2020.

She said that although every farm on the tour is involved in the production of raw fabric material, they form an incredibly diverse mosaic of agriculture, producing everything from the typical (chicken and eggs) to the exotic (yak meat and goat cheese).

Wustenberg said that the farm tour serves as a chance for families to better educate themselves on where their food comes from. Some families may be committed to consuming locally sourced, sustainable agricultural products, while others just wanted to tour a farm or are curious to see what “Minnesota grown,” “organic” and other labels really mean in practice.

Although people were still excited to visit the farms on Sunday, Wustenberg said that Saturday’s ideal weather served as an incredibly refreshing change after a rainy and cool growing season. The growing season has bedeviled farmers large and small this year, leading to a late planting and smaller than expected yields.

“To have the sunshine out it was nothing short of a blessing,” she said.


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Feehan to take another run at Hagedorn in Minnesota's 1st District

ST. PAUL — Former teacher and veteran Dan Feehan on Tuesday, Oct. 1, announced that he would again challenge U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn for his 1st Congressional District seat in 2020.

The move could tee up a rematch in one of the country’s most competitive congressional races. Hagedorn, a Republican, bested Feehan, a Democrat, in the 2018 contest by about 1,300 votes. The race flipped the congressional seat representing the band of southern Minnesota stretching from the state’s border with South Dakota to the border with Wisconsin from Democrat-held to Republican-held.

Then-U.S. Rep. Tim Walz left the seat open in 2018 as he launched his bid for governor. The Democratic governor had held the seat since 2006.

Feehan in a news release said he hoped to take a new approach to fix the “broken system” in Washington, riffing on President Donald Trump’s signature campaign slogan.

“As a former soldier, teacher, and public servant, I believe our politics should be about putting people first,” Feehan said. “After 9/11, I volunteered for the Army because I love our country — and when my platoon was taking fire in Iraq, we were in it together, regardless of race, religion or politics. That’s what makes America great.”

The Minnesota Republican Party on Tuesday lashed back at the news of Feehan’s candidacy, saying the district had already rejected him despite strong a wave of support for other Democratic candidates across the country in 2018.

“During 2018’s blue wave, voters in the First Congressional District rejected Dan Feehan and his socialist, far-left policies, but today he announced he’s back for round two,” state GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said. “Feehan would be better suited in returning to the swamp where he spent 20 years than another failed attempt at pushing his progressive policies in Southern Minnesota.”

Feehan was born in St. Paul and grew up north of Rochester. After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he signed up for the Army ROTC and went on to serve as an active-duty soldier between 2005 and 2009. During that time, he completed two combat tours as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Feehan earned the Bronze Star for Service, the Army Commendation Medal with Valor and the Ranger Tab.

Following his time in the Army, Feehan taught middle school and went on to become an acting assistant secretary of defense. He lives in Mankato with his wife Amy and two sons.

In a campaign ad released Tuesday, Feehan committed not to take any corporate PAC funds as part of his campaign. And he sought to contrast himself with Hagedorn, saying the Republican hadn’t fought for southern Minnesota’s priorities in his first nine months in Congress.

“Instead of fighting for middle-class families, he has repeatedly voted against lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, put rural hospitals at risk, and stood in silent support of economic uncertainty for our farmers while spreading hate and division in our communities,” Feehan said. “We deserve better.”


Right: Luke Leppert and Gabby Hollund smile following their crowning of Faribault High School’s 2019 homecoming king and queen during Monday night’s coronation in the FHS performing arts center. Serving as mistresses of ceremonies were Kelly Cerrillo Reyes and Maria Pierce. Other senior royalty are Becky LaCanne, Trang Nguyen, Madelyn Skjeveland, Chau Truong, Tyler Ta, Evan Larson, Nick Flom and Bryce Nolen. Sophomore escorts are Kendra Albers, Ella Beardsley, Paige Ross, Talor Velishek, Hannah Wetzel, Dayve Conde-Castillo, Juan Hernandez Alman, DJ Lee, Sebastian Melkavage and Nate Menard. Freshmen hosts/hostesses are Ricky Cordova, Alex Tuma, Brookly Zrust, Ava Korbel and Pablo Arriaza Lopez. Homecoming grand marshals are Lyle and Ruth Olson.


Junior Alex Sullivan fights for the ball against St. Peter’s Logan Moe during Faribault’s 4-3 Section 2A victory Monday, Sept. 30. (Dan Slaubaugh/Faribault Daily News)