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The Le Sueur County and Rice County Sheriff’s offices recently purchased a drone capable of conducting search and rescue operations, monitoring traffic collisions, collision reconstruction, analyzing crime scenes, finding drugs and illegal items, and investigating and locating potential threats and suspects. (Carson Hughes/ Le Sueur County News)

Lonsdale residents, businesses can apply for up to $3,500 through CARES grants

Small businesses, families and nonprofit organizations have each dealt with their share of struggles as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s economic impacts.

Applying for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act grant program is one step Lonsdale residents may take to make ends meet. At its Thursday meeting, the Lonsdale City Council approved the Lonsdale CARES Act Economic Development grant program policy and application.

Minnesota, as a whole, received $841 million through the CARES Act. Gov. Tim Walz and the Legislative Advisory Committee determined counties, cities and township will receive approximately $78 per resident, and with that formula applied, Lonsdale received approximately $311,000 in CARES Act funding. The city will offer grants of up to $3,500 to approved applicants, on a first come, first serve basis.

City Administrator Joel Erickson listed a variety of ways grant applicants may spend the CARES Act funding.

Small businesses may use funds to reimburse the cost of closing, whether required or voluntary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Funds may also reimburse businesses that lost income as a result of decreased customer demand. Unemployment insurance costs and employment training programs for furloughed employees are other funding options.

Nonprofit organizations may apply CARES Act funding to reimburse decreased revenue, particularly if fundraising events that keep the nonprofits afloat were cancelled to prevent the spread of the virus.

Individual residents could get a piece of the pie as well. CARES Act funding could help renters avoid eviction if they have overdue payments or help homeowners avoid foreclosure by covering mortgage payments. Unexpected costs for emergencies, like funerals, and electrical utility bills are also included in the list of funding options. For water bills, which the CARES Act will not reimburse, Erickson recommends families look into opportunities through Three Rivers Community Action of Rice County.

The city of Lonsdale will likely use a portion of the funds to reimburse itself for telecommuting, personal protective equipment, sick and paid family leave as a result of the coronavirus, and overtime pay for employees who worked to resolve coronavirus-related issues.

Non-essential businesses will be given first priority, said Erickson, if funds remain after the first 60-day grant application period, the city may accept another round of applications.

Rice County will receive any leftover funding the city of Lonsdale doesn’t exhaust by its mid-December deadline. If the county does not use the funding after a certain period, it will return to the state.

For questions, contact Erickson at 507-744-2327 or

Minnesota schools get some flexibility on back-to-school

Tri-City United Titans will likely set foot in their classrooms again this fall, but not 100% of the time.

Minnesota state officials on Thursday unveiled a plan to reopen schools this fall that gives districts some flexibility to toggle between in-person and online learning, but reserves the right for the state to step in if the coronavirus gets out of control.

Gov. Tim Walz, a former teacher, acknowledged the importance of schools and the value of in-person learning, but said the state’s top priority is safety. Districts will work with the state Health and Education departments to determine whether to use in-person instruction, online learning or a hybrid model, and will have the ability to become more or less restrictive depending on the virus.

The plan requires both public schools and charter schools to allow students and teachers to choose remote learning no matter what model the district chooses.

“I’m happy to see it wasn’t a ‘one size fits all,’” TCU Superintendent Lonnie Seifert said.

Based on the current cases per 10,000 in Le Sueur and Rice counties, Seifert said the hybrid model would be most appropriate for TCU Schools as of July 30. However, further feedback from parents will help the district solidify the plan moving forward.

TCU families already completed a survey earlier in the summer to share their preferences for a 2020-21 classroom model with the options of face to face, distance learning or a hybrid format. The district will release a second survey to gauge parents’ input now that the mask mandate is effective and Walz has made his announcement. Results will give the district an estimate of how many families plan to enroll their children in distance learning full time even if the hybrid model is an option.

Ultimately, Seifert said the district will have a more solid plan in place by Aug. 10. The administration will communicate with families and post updates at

Republicans and some school officials had pressed Walz to leave reopening plans up to individual districts, arguing that local administrators know best how to protect students.

The guidance comes as coronavirus cases have been moving upward in some parts of the state. Minnesota reported 745 new cases on Thursday — slightly higher than the seven-day average — and five new deaths. State officials have warned of rising hospitalizations, but that number dipped slightly in Thursday’s data.

State health and education officials last month asked school districts to prepare for three scenarios: in-person learning for all students, distance learning as in the spring, or a hybrid learning scenario with social distancing and capacity limits.

President Donald Trump has pressed schools nationwide to open for in-person learning, and as many teachers have expressed fears of doing so. Education Minnesota, the state teachers’ union, last week released a survey with just one in five teachers supporting in-person learning.

Administrators for Minneapolis Public Schools, one of the largest districts in the state, said Tuesday they plan to start the school year Sept. 8 with distance learning. Their plan would require remote learning as the primary method of instruction, though buildings would remain open for tutoring, technology and mental health support for students and families.

Walz ordered Minnesota public and charter schools to close and switch to distance learning in mid-March as COVID-19 cases began to appear in the state, affecting nearly 900,000 students and their families. As the number of coronavirus cases in Minnesota grew, the governor extended the closure through the school year and prohibited large-scale high school and college graduation ceremonies.

Montgomery fire fighters stand by as the state Fire Marshal looks to complete its investigation. (Michelle Vlasak/Faribault Daily News)

GALLERY: Food trucks, vendors call for outdoor celebration at Holy Cross

Holy Cross families often regard Family Fun Night as the last big gathering of the summer, but this year, it may have been the first big outing in a while for some.

The line to Robert’s BBQ & Grill outside Holy Cross extended across the outdoor basketball court Thursday evening. (Misty Schwab/Lonsdale News Review)

Cash Tolzman, left, and Tyler Vinge, both 6, pet the turtle Reptile and Amphibian Discovery brought to the Holy Cross Family Fun Night. (Misty Schwab/Lonsdale News Review)

Vehicles filled the Holy Cross parking lot Thursday evening, when students and families gathered outside the school to enjoy food truck selections, browse about 20 vendor booths, meet some reptiles, and catch up with their school community.

It wasn’t too hot or too cold when Holy Cross community members gathered at Family Fun Night. Pictured from left: Randy Stangler holding Sylvia Simon, Bo Simon, Terinee Stangler and Jackson Simon. (Misty Schwab/Lonsdale News Review)

Missy Baker, Halle Walgrave, Levi Walgrave and Landen Walgrave sat on the curb of the Holy Cross parking lot after retrieving their food truck dinners. (Misty Schwab/Lonsdale News Review)

Nick and Kayla Simon posed by the Lonsdale Knights of Columbus grand prize drawing at the Holy Cross Family Fun Night. (Misty Schwab/Lonsdale News Review)

“I like that I get to see some of my classmates I haven’t seen in the past five months,” sixth grader Maggie Harms said as she sat in the grass with some of her friends.

Holy Cross friends and siblings gathered in the grass Thursday to enjoy their food truck selections. Pictured from left: James Havlicek, Jada Erickson, Anna Havlicek, Graham McAllister, Lexi Nicolai and Maggie Harms. (Misty Schwab/Lonsdale News Review)

Joe Flicek, who attended Family Fun Night with his wife and daughters, said, “It’s nice to see people outside.”

His daughter, 2018 Holy Cross graduate Maggie Flicek, said the best part of the event was “the delicious food.” In her case, that meant the grape Kona Ice.

The annual food truck event expanded to include vendors for the first time in 2019, when 15 local vendors signed up to participate. While some vendors returned for a second year, several newcomers set up tables as well.

Angelica and Jacob Bisek sold their Bisek Bees products at the Holy Cross Family Fun Night. That included lip balm, honey, pickled vegetables, jams, and hand pies. (Misty Schwab/Lonsdale News Review)

Glenda Burgeson, “The Soap Lady,” explained her products to some customers at the Holy Cross Family Fun Night. (Misty Schwab/Lonsdale News Review)

Nicole Tyrrell, of Montgomery, heard about the Holy Cross vendor event via social media and jumped at the chance to bring her Young Living Essential Oils to the free event. She considered Family Fun Night an important opportunity for small businesses to bounce back from the economic impact of the pandemic. Thankfully, she said her own business, which focuses on health and wellness, continued attracting customers during the health emergency.

For Paige Jandro of Elko New Market, Family Fun Night marked her first time selling her homemade bread. With about one hour remaining, her rosemary sea salt and jalapeño cheddar focaccia bread had sold out.

From left, Adam, Juniper and Paige Jandro of Elko New Market sold their bread for the first time at the Holy Cross Family Fun Night. (Misty Schwab/Lonsdale News Review)