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In this photo taken Friday, June 5, 2020, Minnesota Vikings NFL football player Kyle Rudolph hands out ice cream to children waiting in line at the “Change Starts with Me” food and household supply giveaway outside a Cub Foods store in Minneapolis. George Floyd was killed less than three miles from the stadium where the Minnesota Vikings play, so this global unrest over racial relations and justice hit awfully close to home for the team. (Brian Peterson/Star Tribune via AP)

Owatonnans' generosity gets From the Heart organizers' hearts racing

Despite race day being canceled, three families selected as the 2020 From the Heart recipients were presented with significant checks to help financially support their ongoing cancer battles.

The annual From the Heart charity race, which provides financial and emotional support to families who are battling cancer, takes place annually in May but was canceled in March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This was the first year in the history of the race that the event was canceled.

“We have experienced all types of weather and still had the race,” said Beth Svenby, founder of From the Heart, said in early spring. “But this is just a storm that we don’t have control over.”

Over the years, thousands of runners and walkers have gathered at Lake Kohlmier for the From the Heart race, raising a total of nearly $400,000 to support 35 families throughout the event’s lifespan. On Saturday, the From the Heart committee traveled to the homes of its three recipients: Mark Woodrich, Jon Osmundson and Nova Maas — and presented each family with a check for $7,000.

“We really didn’t know what to expect for From the Heart 2020, we didn’t anticipate to be able to support our families even close to the same capacity as what we have been able to in the past because we really get our funds from the race, the spaghetti supper and the auction,” Svenby said. “What we found out is that our community is generous at all times. When there are others in need, everyone steps forward. It doesn’t matter if there is a pandemic, donations just kept flowing in.”

When the race was first canceled, Svenby said that the committee was pulling together funds to be able to still provide the three families with financial support. Some of the funds presented to the families on Saturday came from the proceeds of the new annual SheTime event, which typically helps fund the committee’s Random Acts from the Heart — a fund that helps support people in the community year round who are experiencing hardships.

Those who registered for the 2020 race prior to the event’s cancelation were transferred to the 2021 race at no additional cost. The registration dollars previously collected also went toward the 2020 recipients.

As far as the rest of the funds, however, Svenby said that they came strictly from the kindness in people’s hearts.

“I believe in this community 100%, I always have, and I could not be more proud to be a member of it,” Svenby said. “One of the most important things we can do is understand that when people are in need it is our responsibility to support them because we never know when it could be us. This just made your heart happy.”

Prior to delivering the checks, the From the Heart committee hosted a video chat with the recipients so that they could all be together to announce the financial contributions.

Registration for From the Heart 2021 is already open and can be accessed at FromTheHeartRun.com.

The recipients

Mark Woodrich, the owner of The Music Space in downtown Owatonna and a father of two, was diagnosed in August with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer where the bone marrow does not produce enough red blood cells. Woodrich said that the cancer directly impacted his brain in the form of apathy, an emotion he was not familiar with experiencing. On Wednesday, Woodrich officially entered remission after undergoing high-dose chemotherapy treatments and a stem cell transplant.

Jon Osmundson was diagnosed with Grade 3 hemangiopericytoma, a cancerous brain tumor, in 2019. Osmundson underwent a five-hour surgery to remove the tumor as well as 30 radiation treatments, followed by multiple rounds of physical, occupational and recreational therapy.

Nova Maas, a second-grade student at Lincoln Elementary, was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia days prior to the start of the 201920 school year. Maas has been through multiple phases of treatment for what doctors at the Mayo Clinic have said is the most common type of leukemia in children, as well as the most treatable. Though Maas wasn’t able to attend school in person this year due to both her diagnosis and the COVID-19 pandemic forcing schools to adapt to distance learning, Maas said that she always felt a part of Mrs. Wagamon’s classroom thanks to video calls and occasional visits from school staff and friends.

Blooming Prairie sells land to utilities commission for substation expansion

Council members approved the sale of 1 acre of land from the city of Blooming Prairie to the public utilities commission Monday night, in order to expand on an existing substation in the town’s industrial park.

The 1.07-acre site is roughly half of a vacant, city-owned parcel located just northwest of the intersection of Fifth Avenue NE and Fifth Street NE — almost directly north of an existing substation. The parcel will be split, with the acre sold for $30,000.

Jerry Mausbach, manager of Blooming Prairie Public Utilities, said the commission has wanted to expand generation capacity since one of its engines broke down roughly a year ago.

“We’re working in partnership with the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency to maintain capacity for the generation and allow for future capacity expansions,” he added. “We do it on a contractual basis where we lease out that capacity to SMMPA, as far as maintaining grid reliability.”

Mausbach said that a replacement for the 1940s-era engine that broke down last year will go in on the new land from the city and be connected to the current substation. He added that the next step will be for engineering consultants to put together bids, with an estimated project completion date later this fall or early winter.

In minutes from the April 14 utilities commission meeting, there was some discussion of whether to put the new engine at the main utility plant or the site off of Fifth Avenue. Ultimately, the commission opted to try and place it at the latter, where a garage-like structure could be built to house the replacement and a second potential engine in the future.

According to minutes from a May 12 meeting, the utilities commission was also exploring purchasing land from the adjacent Extreme Powder Coating, but negotiations had been slow — leading to exploration of buying part of the city-owned parcel.

The idea was first brought up to officials at the May 11 council meeting, where City Administrator Andrew Langholz asked if the sale was something the city would consider. The response was predominantly positive, and final approval was given at the June meeting.

Langholz added that there is still a small parcel of land in between the existing substation and the recent transfer, but that they are within close proximity. While the current facility is located due west of Fifth Avenue NE, the new addition will be directly northwest of where the avenue dead ends into a short stretch of Fifth Street.

Langholz added that the city will maintain the other half of the parcel for future economic development purposes.

Level 3 sex offender moving to Owatonna

A Level 3 sex offender who is scheduled be released from prison later this month is set to relocate to Owatonna, according to information distributed by the Owatonna Police Department Wednesday.

Kyle Mitchell Hood, 28, is slated to move into the vicinity of the 200 block of East Rose Street in Owatonna when he’s release Monday, June 22, police say.

Hood, whose last known address was in Owatonna, has a history of engaging in sexual contact with teenager female he knows. In 2013, Hood was convicted of two felony charges of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. The contact included penetration and in both cases Hood used force and restraint to get his victims to comply.

According to the original criminal complaint, the Steele County Sheriff’s Office responded to Medford in 2013 to meet with two females, both of whom claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Hood in separate incidents. At the time, Hood was already a registered predatory offender, according to the heavily redacted criminal complaint. The ages of the females were not available.

The first female said that Hood pressured her to have sex with him, including forcing her to perform sexual acts.

The second assault took place when the second female went to Hood’s residence to tell him she would not be in a relationship with him, according to the complaint. The female reportedly resisted having sex with Hood, even scratching his face. But he became more aggressive and “put her in pain,” according to the complaint.

One of the women went to the emergency room at Owatonna Hospital, where a sexual assault kit was performed.

According to the 2013 complaint, Hood admitted that the sex had not been consensual and the he continued the assaults after the victims told him it hurt. Hood’s cell phone also contained text messages with the names of younger females, and what were then recent texts showed he was arranging meetings with them, according to the complaint.

Hood pleaded guilty in both cases in 2014. He was originally sentenced to a total of 11 years for his convictions, but his sentence was amended in 2016.

The investigating agency on these cases was the Steele County Sheriff’s Office.

Under Minnesota law, the Owatonna Police Department is authorized to notify the public of an offender’s release from prison if it believes releasing the information will enhance public safety. The notification is not intended to increase fear. Hood will be monitored by law enforcement.

Hood is described as a white man, 5-foot-9-inches in height, weighing 165 pounds with brown hair, hazel eyes, a fair complexion and medium build.

The OPD reminds residents that Hood has served his court-mandated sentence and is not currently wanted by law enforcement. The notification is not to be used to threaten, harass or intimidate Hood. Those found doing so could be subject to criminal charges.

“Abuse of this information to threaten, harass or intimidate a registered person is unacceptable and such acts could be charged as a crime,” the police notification says. “Such abuses could potentially end the ability of law enforcement to provide these notifications.”

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Owatonna Police Department is unable to hold a community meeting regarding Hood’s release. Additional questions regarding Hood’s release and concerns about public safety can be directed to the Police Department at 507-444-3800.

Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday stood with DFL legislators who unveiled a police and criminal justice reform package on the eve of a special session. (Photo by Ricardo Lopez/Minnesota Reformer)