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Trump son derides Dems, calls for father's reelection in farm visit

NORTHFIELD — President Trump’s middle son, Eric, derided Democratic party leaders on a number of issues and praised his father’s accomplishments during a Tuesday speech to a few hundred supporters in rural Northfield.

Trump’s visit to Felton Farms came exactly three weeks before the Nov. 3 general election pitting Donald Trump against Democrat Joe Biden. Several times during his visit the 37-year-old businessman portrayed Republicans and Democrats as having different views of society. He said Republicans support the nuclear family structure and God. He also chided the decision made by some athletes to kneel for the national anthem to protest racial injustice and the opposition of some to the inclusion of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

“It’s no longer Republicans versus Democrats,” Trump said. “It’s right versus wrong.”

Trump attributed his father’s upset 2016 victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton to divine intervention, noting Donald Trump’s victory came despite a 2-to-1 fundraising disadvantage.

“It was David versus Goliath,” Eric said.

Trump successfully energized the crowd a number of times in his address. He said the U.S. had “the strongest military in the world,” a statement met with chants of “Four more years!” He then spoke of the work his father has done to improve the lives of veterans and called for quick, efficient military operations to prevent long conflicts such as the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. “USA! USA!” the crowd cheered.

Eric Trump praised his father for following through on his promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recent peace deals he said will foster harmony among nations. He attributed a decrease in illegal immigration and human trafficking to the Trump Administration and said it had constructed 360 miles of border wall fencing, more than the 220 planned.

“Build the wall!” the crowd chanted, echoing a common slogan used at Trump campaign rallies.

While Eric Trumps statement is accurate, a fact check last month by USA Today reported that while over 300 miles of wall have been built since Trump took office, only 5 miles are new.

Trump briefly touched on the COVID-19 pandemic, criticizing the decision of some state leaders to deem liquor stores essential while limiting capacity for church services. Many of those in attendance did not wear masks.

Trump ties Biden to controversial progressive policies

Trump said Biden has not drawn the crowds indicative of a person with much support. He also took issue with what he said is media bias favoring Biden, the candidate’s reluctance to attend in-person rallies and his gaffes.

“He won’t leave his basement,” Eric said of the former vice president. “He doesn’t know where he is going.”

Echoing comments made by others associated with the Trump campaign, Eric Trump predicted vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris would quickly assume control if Biden is elected.

“Is this really the best and the brightest of the far left?” he added. Perhaps his most cutting comment directed toward Biden, however, was his pejorative comment that the former vice president had been in politics for 47 years.

“What the hell do we have to show for it?” he asked.

Trump extolled law enforcement officers attending the rally and attempted to tie Biden to calls from some progressive leaders to either cut Minneapolis Police Department funding or abolish the entire department. He also brought up Ilhan Omar, the progressive Minnesota congresswoman who has drawn both extensive support and controversy for past statements. Upon hearing her name, the crowd booed.

Another progressive policy Trump linked Biden to was Medicare for All, a plan he said would eliminate 180 million private health care accounts. Biden hasn’t expressed approval of the plan. He also derided the Affordable Care Act, legislation he called “the worst” and lauded his father for using a most-favored-customer clause in an attempt to lower prescription drug prices in the U.S.

President Trump has long promised a replacement for the ACA, but despite support for a lawsuit before the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the legislation, he has yet to produce a concrete plan.

Trump chided Biden for proposing a tax increase if he is elected. According to the Tax Policy Center, Biden’s plans call for increasing taxes by $4 trillion over 10 years, “with nearly all the revenue coming from corporations and the highest-income 1% of taxpayers.”

Trump spoke of social media companies’ bias toward conservatives like his father. He described Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who is in the middle of a Supreme Court nomination process that will likely result in her being named a justice, as “a tough cookie” who will help protect the Second Amendment and religious liberty. Trump criticized Democrats for what he said is their support of packing the Supreme Court and Biden’s refusal to take a stance on the issue.

The rally also included appearances by prominent Minnesota Republicans, including 2nd District Congressional candidate Tyler Kistner and Minnesota Republican Party Chair Jennifer Carnahan.

Before the rally, Faribault resident Deb Voorhees, a member of the Women for Trump organization, said she voted for the president in 2016 and planned to do so again this year. To her, Trump represents the values she agrees with and has eased the division she said was in place during the Obama administration. She also chided Democrats for what she deemed as their failure to work with Trump on his Supreme Court nominees and COVID-19 relief measures.

“I’m just excited,” she said of his possible reelection. “I hope Trump wins again.”

Fellow rallygoer Jeremy Robinson, who described himself as a former “lifelong Democrat” who voted for former president Barack Obama, said he supported Trump in 2016 because he had become disillusioned with existing free trade policies and that the Democratic party has become overrun by billionaires.

“I was glad that he took the time to talk to us,” Robinson said of Trump’s visit.

‘America can’t afford another four years’

Trump’s visit drew approximately two dozen protestors who set up camp across the street from the farm. Another group planned to gather in Northfield’s Bridge Square to oppose his appearance.

In a statement issued before the rally, DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said Trump’s visit was made “in an attempt to distract from his father’s failures to support our state’s family farmers these last four years.”

“(President) Trump has been no friend to farmers and has enacted policies that set them up to fail,” Martin said. “His failed trade war with China wreaked havoc on industries across the country and had disastrous ripple effects for communities, small businesses and families who rely on the agriculture economy to put food on the table and keep their small businesses afloat.”

To Martin, “America can’t afford four more years of Trump playing political games.”

“The best thing we can do in 2020 to support our farmers is vote Trump out and elect Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Democrats up and down the ticket,” he said.

Doug Peterson, a former member of the Minnesota House and past president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, agreed.

“Farmers are among the hardest workers in the state,” he said. “And they just want to earn a fair living in the marketplace. Trump’s administration has done real economic harm to producers and their communities by kicking the legs out from under the ethanol industry for three plus years.”

Couple recollects support after miscarriages

Ashley and Brent Glende of Owatonna have experienced the heartache of losing a child they never got a chance to meet not once, but three times.

“We got married in June 2016 and we always knew we wanted kids so we started trying right away,” Ashley Glende said. “We had our first miscarriage in September of that year.”

Glende said the couple’s excitement of finding out they were pregnant ended within the first trimester when no heartbeat could be detected. The same thing happened the following February and then for a third time that fall, their hopes of becoming parents ended within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy when the doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat.

“We have so many ultrasounds, we could see our babies, but there was never a heartbeat,” Glende said. “We felt pretty defeated; we were doing everything by the book: I didn’t smoke, I didn’t drink, we were being active and eating healthy. There was a lot of crying and tears.”

She said she looks forward to Oct. 15 every year: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

“It’s an extra special day,” she said. “We remember our babies and little ones who are gone too soon every day, but this day is specifically for them.”

After the first miscarriage, she said she got home and took a nap, exhausted with emotions. It was then that she said she had a dream about a group full of support and understanding with one name ringing through her mind: IRIS.

Founded in 1987, Infants Remembered in Silence – or IRIS – provides a variety of services for grieving families, including support groups and bereavement packages that are delivered to area hospitals and funeral homes by a dedicated team of volunteers. Located in Faribault, IRIS started small and in some ways remains so, with just one paid staff person in addition to founder Diana Kelley. Kelley created IRIS two years after her son was stillborn and local doctors began referring patients to Kelley for support.

But for the Glendes, the small organization made a world of difference along their journey to becoming a family.

“They are just there to listen to you, cry with you, support you, and give you resources,” Glende said, adding that connecting with the nonprofit allowed both her and her husband to not feel isolated and alone in their loss. “It helped me – they helped me.”

In January 2019, the Glendes were blessed with their daughter Harper. Since then, Glende said she hasn’t been as involved with IRIS as she was in the past, but she will always remember the strength and support she found within the organization.

The organization primarily serves Dodge, Goodhue, Le Sueur, Rice, Steele and Waseca counties, where it distributes typically about 500 care packages a year. The Glendes were the recipients of three of the packages, which include a teddy bear and a small gift box with mementos to remember the child.

During a recent Owatonna City Council meeting, Mayor Tom Kuntz read a proclamation recognizing Oct. 15 in honor of children lost before they had a chance to truly live. Glende attended the meeting to accept the proclamation and represent IRIS, providing an emotional thank you in return.

“It really means a lot that the city does this every year,” Glende said. “I think it reminds everyone to maybe say a little extra prayer for the extra little ones in our hearts.”

Owatonna’s Ari Schornock tracks down a loose ball against Northfield earlier this season in a Big Nine Conference game at the Owatonna Soccer Complex. Both the OHS boys and girls open the postseason on Thursday against Rochester John Marshall at home. Tickets have been limited to the immediate families of the players and will not be sold on game day. (Jon Weisbrod/SouthernMinn.com)


MPCA fines Owatonna facility for air quality violations

Crown Cork and Seal has agreed to pay the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency a $60,173 civil penalty for air quality violations at its Owatonna manufacturing facility, according to the state agency.

The manufacturer’s air permit sets a limit of 100 tons a year on the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a class of commonly regulated air pollutants. However, Crown Cork and Seal disclosed that the facility had exceeded that limit in its required reporting to the MPCA in March. In 2019, the Owatonna facility exceeded its limit by 2.9 tons in October, 1.7 tons in November and 1 ton in December, according to the MPCA.

The international company, which has several facilities in Minnesota, manufactures metal beverage cans, food cans, metal aerosol containers and other specialty packaging.

The increase in demand for one of Crown Cork and Seal’s products is what caused the facility to exceed its limit, according to the MPCA. Under its permit, the company is required to estimate the effect of increased emissions due to increased production, as well as take action to avoid exceeding the permit limit. Failing to do these required actions is a violation of state and federal laws, according to the MPCA. Beyond the company paying the fine, Crown Cork will have to take corrective actions to prevent future excess emissions.

Crown Cork and Seal has had several air quality violations with the MPCA in the past decade.

The company received a notice of violation from the MCPA in 2010, which is issued for violations more serious than those needing a warning from the state. The MPCA issued a nonforgiveable penalty order against the company in 2014, which included a $2,100 fine for the company.

The MPCA issued a forgivable penalty order to Crown Cork and Seal in 2017, which allows the company up to 30 days to resolve the compliance issue. The company wasn’t fined for that penalty, according to the MPCA.

MPCA takes into account how serious the violation affects the environment before determining a penalty amount. Other aspects taken into account include whether it’s the company’s first violation or repeat violators, how quickly the violation is reported to authorities. In addition, the MPCA tries to determine the economic benefit the violating company gained as a result of failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner, according to the MPCA.