Star Tribune from Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 28, 1983 · Page 19
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Star Tribune from Minneapolis, Minnesota · Page 19

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Minneapolis, Minnesota
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Friday, October 28, 1983
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Minneapolis Star and Tribune Friday October 281983 gg New bank union outnumbers the 'Willmar 8' by 30 By Josephine Marcotty SUM Writer Tupperware parties aren't unusual in Willmar, Minn., so when women from the First American Bank and - Trust Co. organized a few late this , summer, it really didn't attract attention. " It "was an effective camouflage. - Nobody figured out they were organizing a union. Thursday, after a six-week " organizing campaign, office workers " and tellers at the bank voted 25 to 15 - to join the United Auto Workers Trial begins in woman's Lake Superior death , , By Sharon Schmickle ; ; Northern Minnesota Correspondent i iDuluth, Minn. Members of a St. Louis County District Court jury climbed aboard the 21-foot cabin cruiser that Larry and Debbie Race rode on Lake Superior the night of their 14th wedding anniversary. Larry Race returned from that cruise on May, 11, 1982, with an account of how his wife became hysterical when the boat developed en--gine trouble and a leak, and how she " insisted on leaving in a rubber raft - Debbie Race's body was found along J the lakeshore the next day. Race, 34, is charged with first-degree 1 murder. On Thursday, jurors began hearing the first of an expected 55 - witnesses who will likely take more than two weeks to tell their stories. ' Race, of Hoyt Lakes, Minn., reported to police at about 2:30 a.m. May 12 that his wife had taken to a life raft in a panic after the boat developed engine trouble about 9 p.m. The boat was leaking, Race reported, and had " a history of being unreliable. Debbie Race, 33, reportedly didn't " swim and was terrified of the water. Because a second raft aboard the , boat leaked, Race, an experienced diver, reportedly donned scuba div-.Jng gear and tried to swim about a mile to shore alongside his wife. But, he said, he developed cramps from the cold water, lost his hold on the raft, returned to the boat, signaled for help, restarted the engine, and "Motored to shore. SLLouis County prosecutor John De-Santo said in opening statements that he has only circumstantial evidence against Race. Defense attorney William Mahlum postponed his opening Around Minnesota Mountain IronSchool board votes to merge with Buhl district by 1985 The school boards at Mountain Iron and Buhl voted separately this week to merge their school systems by July 1, 1985. The merger, which had been studied for several months by a 50-member panel representing both cities, was approved in the face of shrinking enrollments, rising costs and changing classroom needs. iTfie task force projects an annual 'savings of about $250,000, if the districts merge into a single unit iwith 1,300 students. A superintendent a business manager and half-time elementary principal position ; would be cut The districts merged athletic programs this year as consolidation was studied. The merged district would be operated by a consolidated school board ;to be elected later. The merger will take effect unless rejected by voters of either district Voters will have 30 days after notice of the merger vote is published to seek a referendum. 'The consolidation had been recom LjndstromMeat processors1 group criticizes DNR's handling of case Xqx, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to prose-Icute meat markets is "as ludicrous meat inspector trying to catch a poacher," a director of the American Association of Meat Processors 'said Thursday. Peter Nelson of Lindstrom criticized the DNR's handling of a case in which seven Wright County meat ; markets and locker plants were charged with illegally selling veni-!son. The charges were dismissed last -week on the grounds that a test used by the DNR on meat samples Compiled from staff and Associated (UAW). The 38 women and two men are the first bank employees to be represented by the UAW. (The two men are high school students who work part time.) For a small city in a rural area, Willmar has an unusual history of union organizing among bank employees. In 1977 a group of eight women from the Citizens National Bank of Willmar formed a union and went on strike for almost a year. They never gained recognition or improved working conditions. But the women, known as the Willmar 8, did become statements until the defense begins to present its case. The trial is expected to last three weeks. "There are about four hours unaccounted for in the different versions of what happened on that lake that night," DeSanto said. Yet the evidence will show, DeSanto maintained, that Race's boat was in perfect operating condition and that a bilge pump on board could have handled a leak six times as serious as the one the boat developed. It was not used on the nighty of the crisis. The leaky raft that Race described had been cut with a knife, DeSanto said. The raft on which Debbie Race had reportedly been riding has never been found although Investigators launched an intensive air, ground and water search. DeSanto said he would prove that Race never owned such a raft The Races' marriage was troubled, DeSanto said. The couple had grown apart, he said, with her pursuing church activities while he spent most of his time boating and scuba diving. DeSanto said that witnesses will testify that Larry Race had at least four extramarital sexual affairs In the two years before his wife's death, and that he complained that she was overweight and a messy housekeeper. Race had taken out five insurance policies on his wife's life, worth a total of $110,000, in the seven months before her death, DeSanto said. Dr. Volker Goldschmidt, St Louis County medical examiner, testified that Debbie Race died of hypothermia extreme cooling of the body because of exposure. He could not fix the exact time of death, he said. But her stomach contained a large amount of undigested food, suggest- mended by the superintendents of each district It was approved 6-0 by the Buhl board and 4-2 by the Mountain Iron board. Board members Gary Skalko and Harold Schur dissented. Schur said that if the same amount of effort were put into the existing district as the new one will require, improvements could be made without a merger. i But the task force report, submitted to the two boards Oct. 15, said merger "holds out the promise of balanced budgets, Improved programming and a more stable future." The merger would result in an average pay raise of about $2,000 a year for Buhl teachers because state law requires that the contract of the larger of two districts be adopted after a merger. The task force estimated that the merged district would employ about 81 teachers and classroom support staff members, the same number that serves the two districts now. is not admissible in court Nelson said the samples could have been tested more reliably through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And, he said, "We didn't like the publicity the DNR put out" One of the markets involved lost 70 percent of its business after the charges were made public, he said, and operators spent thousands of dollars to fight the accusations. Earl Putzke, DNR regional director of enforcement said last week that the test is standard and that operators of two of the markets had pleaded guilty. Press reports. famous through news reports, a documentary film and now a TV movie based on their story, scheduled to be broadcast this season on NBC The employees of the First American Bank said they were not discouraged by the failure of the -Willmar 8, but learned from their mistakes. "Because of what happened at the Citizens Bank, we didn't know how far we would be going with this. But we decided we were going to go for broke," said Cindy Reznecheck, a bank employee. Staff Photo by Sharon Schmickle Judge Jack Lltman helped a juror died. Larry Race Is being tried for ing that she had died within 1 hours of eating, he testified. The Races left a restaurant about 7 p.m., and Larry Race reported that their engine troubles started about 9 p.m. Goldschmidt testified that it would have taken one to two hours for hypothermia to start in the 35-degree water. But Debbie Race was overweight (5 feet 5 and 180 pounds), he testified, and that might have helped stave off the chilling effects for some time. Lift bridge outlived usefulness before it could demonstrate it Associated Press Cohasset, Minn. The Collinge lift bridge over the Mississippi River was opened for the first time 60 years ago, just after it was built Robert Pierce recalls. It was opened fully for the second time this fall as it was being disassembled. Pierce, now 80, helped build the bridge, and he watched it being disassembled after it was replaced by a modern concrete structure. The bridge was built in 1923 to provide an access for logging operations. But the logging business switched from the river to train and road transportation shortly before construction was completed so the bridge was used only as a means of crossing the river when traveling between Cohasset and Remer, Minn. Pierce, who lives in Cohasset said the low bridge over the Mississippi was opened fully after it was built just to prove it worked. "Since then, they've tried to open it but it only moved a few feet One time a boat had to pass through, so they dug a channel around the bridge." During years of sitting idle, the gears had frozen. Because the Collinge Bridge was narrow and old, highway officials agreed that a new concrete bridge should be built An effort was made to have the lift bridge accepted in the National Register of Historic Places, as there was only one other bridge with overhead concrete counterweight in Green Bay, Wis. and the designer, Strauss-Bascule, also built the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The proposal was rejected, however, because of upkeep and insurance costs, and a four-man crew spent two weeks disassembling Collinge Bridge. The crew had to cut the gear shafts and raise the bridge with a crane. A They were very cautious about their organizing efforts, which were underway for several weeks before managers at the bank became aware of it, employees said. And they contacted the UAW to help them organize; the Willmar 8 formed its own union, Willmar Bank Employees Association, which negotiated unsuccessfully for several months before contacting national labor organizations. Reznecheck said the UAW was chosen because it is large and powerful and has a history of promoting women's rights. A. ..... z! Ji v - a fe,. wc-; ryw-TBi aboard the boat on which Larry and Debbie Race rode the night Debbie first-degree murder in his wife's death. She was wearing a life preserver, an insulated jacket a blazer and slacks when her body was found, he said. Tests of her blood and adrenaline glands showed that "she must have been in a very stressful situation prior to death," he said. But her body was without bruises or evidence of struggle. DeSanto said that as an experienced scuba diver, Race was an expert on hypothermia. He will call another expert to testify on the subject be said. : L:j-, m Associated Press As the Collinge lift bridge over the Mississippi River was disassembled this fall, Robert Pierce, 80, recalled helping to build the bridge 60 years ago. few hours later, the bridge was lifted to its peak. About 100 local residents gathered for the occasion, but Pierce figured he was the only one who had seen the original raising of the bridge. "I remember when we started it" Pierce said. "About 10 workers made a camp down by the bridge since it took over a year to make. They began work in the winter so The First American employees decided to organize for many of the same reasons as the Willmar 8. "It was a number of things," Reznecheck said, "job security, wages, promotions. We'd heard so many good things about unions, no more job discrimination, and they recognize the women, not just the men." Glennis TerWisscha, one of the Willmar 8, said the connection between her group and the First American employees "is simple it's the fact that these women had the same feelings in their -"''AiL'y jL John Swenson, 14, testified that he discovered Debbie Race's body about 3:45 p.m. May 12 at the base of a shoreline cliff behind his east Du-iuth home. "I came home from school and had something to eat" the Duluth Cathedral High School freshman testified. "I was going down to the beach, and I stopped at the edge of the cliff and looked down. Then I spotted the body I went back to my house and had my mother notify the authorities." S L V f they could stand on the ice. "They drove long poles into the ground as molds for the cement braces. A heavy wedge, lifted by a pulley with horses doing the lifting, pounded the poles." occupations that the Willmar 8 had. They have said enough is enough." ', Reznecheck said women at First American were rarely promoted from entry-level jobs, a charge that " bank officials dispute. And she said ; that wages were so low that many -employees were below the poverty ' line even though they worked full time. ". She said she is paid $9,000 a year, a salary that forced her to find a roommate to share living expenses. Willmar continued on page 6B Princeton delays bond vote decision for airport The Princeton City Council voted Thursday night to postpone a decision on whether to hold a referendum on issuing city bonds to finance construction of a flight service station at the Princeton Airport The project will cost $820,000, according to Gregory Withers, Princeton city administrator. On Nov. 10, the council is to decide whether to ask voters to approve a bond issue, and also will decide whether to apply for a state grant to help pay for the project The city has to certify to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by Dec. 15 that it will have the funds needed to build the station, Withers said. Princeton was selected from more than 20 other Minnesota cities that bid for the project which would employ up to 80 people. Princeton has agreed to build the center and lease it to the FAA for $1 a year, he said. The station would provide' pilots with computerized weather information, flight plan processing and emergency assistance. It would be the only center of its kind in Minnesota. The city has been pursuing a variety of funding sources to raise the money. Princeton-area businesses contributed about $300,000 and the city has lined up about $300,000 In tax-increment financing, Withers said. The city has just been turned down for a federal economic development grant It is expected to apply for a state Community Development Block Grant administered by the Minnesota Department of Energy and Economic Development Whatever funding gap remains will have to filled by a bond issue or an increase in the tax increment financing and it will have to be signed, sealed and delivered by Dec. 15, Withers said. Court ruling clears state prison guard of misconduct Associated Press Madison, Wis. A female prison guard accused of engaging in sex with a willing inmate while on duty cannot be charged with misconduct in public office, the state's Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 Wednesday. The Dodge County case involved guard Jane A. Schmit who was accused of having sexual intercourse on three occasions with an inmate in 1980. The court's decision said that sexual activity occurred in a state prison in the inmate's cell and elsewhere, and that at the time it was a criminal misdemeanor for unmarried adults to engage in sexual intercourse. The revised law provides that "fornication by adults is illegal only if committed in public," the court noted. The ruling, by Judge Martha Bab-litch, said the sexual activity, while undoubtedly unethical, was not forbidden in the guard's "official capacity." OSHA moving its office The Twin Cities office of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has moved to the federal building in downtown Minneapolis at 110 S. 4th St The new phone number is (612)-349-5994. State News Bureaus Minneapolls(612) 372-4542 Rochester708 Marquette Bank Building (507)288-1417 Duluth817 Medical Arts Building (218)727-7344 X

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