Homer Simpson Gets Clipped

Hiring a guy with a fake degree to run a nuclear power plant? What's the worst that could happen?

A few weeks back, we reported that a former Minnesota nuclear power plant employee who bought fake diplomas in nuclear engineering and accounting had been hired to work in the control room of a nuclear power plant in eastern Wisconsin.

At the time, officials at the Kewaunee Power Station, just outside of Green Bay, declined to provide any information about their employee, DuWayne Huss, or the nature of his employment.

Then last week, someone purporting to be Huss's co-worker showed up on citypages.com to leave an angry comment. "Because of [City Pages' reporting] one of our best operators has been fired," the aggrieved power plant employee wrote.

Our bad.

A call to the power station receptionist confirmed that Huss no longer works there. A subsequent call to plant spokesman Mark Kanz to verify Huss's firing, however, yielded yet more stonewalling.

"I'm not at liberty to discuss personnel issues," he said. —Jonathan Kaminsky

Freeport wants money

The little town of Freeport, population 517, isn't letting anyone push it around—especially not the big state of Minnesota. In a very David vs. Goliath move, city administrator Paul Hetland drafted his third invoice to the state last week, claiming that Freeport is due $71,600.03 in state money. Interest not included.

"I want to tell the people of Freeport that the reason why their taxes go up is because the state is not keeping its obligations," Hetland explains.

According to Hetland's accounting, the state owes the city some $52,000 for work done on Freeport's Main Street, which is state-owned property near the Lake Wobegon Trail, in 2005.

"If the state is going to own property in a city, it should pay assessments like all other entities do," Hetland says. "Even exempt properties like churches and other places of worship have to pay assessments. But the state, if it so chooses, doesn't have to. And of course, it never does."

The state formula for local government aid changes every year, altering the amount of funding small towns get. Hetland estimates that since 2002 Freeport has lost $19,500 in local government aid. Next year, he says, Freeport will receive a $2,000 bump in state funding, but that's small beans to the clerk of a growing city northwest of Minneapolis. "I say whoopee to that," Hetland sarcastically laments. —Beth Walton

Rumble no more

Someone should tell Carver County administrators that before they spend $12.5 million on rumble strips, they should make sure roadside homeowners don't mind the noise.

Just months after county administrators finished Highway 10's safety overhaul between Chaska and Waconia, county taxpayers had to drop another $40,000 to pave over the work.

"We underestimated the intrusion they would have on people's lives," county administrator Dave Hemze explains.

Highway 10 is curvy and would seem to be a natural place for rumble strips, which have reduced the rate of road run-off accidents nationally by 70 percent.

But residents of the southwest metro weren't having any of it. With safety came a large roar as annoying as fingernails on a chalkboard each time a bad driver swerved over the sidelines.

"It got pretty noisy, especially in the quiet countryside," says Hemze. "Over a dozen people complained. " —Beth Walton

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