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Kanabec County mulls South Country Health Alliance membership, and more news

The Kanabec County Board of Commissioners discussed the county’s South Country Health Alliance membership during Tuesday’s meeting.

Commissioner Wendy Caswell serves on the Joint Powers Board for South Country, which is a county-based purchasing health plan between eight counties.

South Country is currently part of a court hearing seeking to return to being the sole health care provider for the member counties. Family Services Director Chuck Herd said three other health care plans have been brought into the county.

"The hearing is going to determine if it goes back to sole source and the county can stay with South Country, everybody would be with South Country again," Herd explained. "If they lose that hearing, we would anticipate the others to grow, and at some point that may cause stress for South Country."

Herd also said South Country would face a challenging position if a county or two pulled out of the alliance.

"The biggest question for you guys, in my opinion, is it comes down to risk, and it comes down to what others do," Herd said. "If a county or two pulls out, I think South Country is going to be in a challenging position at best. I've said it and I'll say it again publicly: I would not like to see Kanabec County be the last county."

The board agreed to continue their membership through 2023 at a meeting last December.

Pine County, Burnett County team up to make arrest

The Pine County and Burnett County Sheriff’s Offices recently teamed up to arrest a suspect accused of multiple thefts and burglaries near the Danbury area.

According to Burnett County Sheriff Tracy Finch, the man is suspected of stealing a pair of ATVs, an automobile, a trailer, and a camper.

He is also accused of committing two burglaries and two other attempted thefts.

The Burnett County Sheriff’s Office worked the case with Pine County, and the suspect is currently in custody at the Pine County Jail.

North Branch police seek help identifying suspect

The North Branch Police Department is seeking the public’s help identifying a suspect who fled a traffic stop attempt on Sunday afternoon.

According to the department, an officer attempted a traffic stop for a motorcyclist traveling over 100 miles per hour on Lincoln Trail, near 376th Street.

The subject fled, and radar readings indicated that the subject reached up to 117 miles per hour.

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to contact officer Adam Hanson at the North Branch Police Department.

Air quality alert issued through Thursday

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert for east-central Minnesota through 9 p.m. Thursday.

According to the MPCA, sunny skies, warm temperatures, and low humidity will create an environment favorable for pollutants to create ground level ozone on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon.

The air quality is forecast to be unhealthy for sensitive groups, including those with asthma or other breathing conditions, children, and older adults.

The MPCA recommends reducing or eliminating activities that contribute to air pollution, like outdoor burning.

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