The Pine Island City Council voted last week to rescind its support for a potential Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in the Elk Run development area.

The Council passed a resolution in June supporting the concept but said it needed further study.

The City Council concluded that it’s not the right time for such a facility, said Mayor Rod Steele.

“Right now the national immigration scene is just a chaotic mess,” Steele said. “Both sides are taking polarizing sides on it.”

Steele said he didn’t think the facility could be funded before 2020, adding that Tower Development was starting to “waver a bit” on the project.

The City Council voted 4-0 to rescind its support, with one member absent.

After the vote, a handful of people spoke against the detention center and thanked the City Council for rethinking its earlier decision.

Tyler Lejcher also thanked the council, but he stressed that immigrants need to come into the country legally.

“They’re taking our jobs. They’re committing crimes. A girl was just killed, I think in Iowa, by an illegal immigrant,” he said, referring to Mollie Tibbetts, the 20-year-old University of Iowa student who was allegedly killed in July by a Mexican man.

Dan Browning


Thieves are drilling holes to steal gas

Police in Bemidji are warning residents and businesses — especially those who own fleet trucks and vans — to watch out for a new tactic for stealing gas: drilling holes in the tanks.

Within about a week, around a half dozen gas tanks had been drilled on such vehicles around town and the gas drained from them, police said. Thieves are using the tactic because many vehicles now have anti-siphoning features.

“People have just resorted to apparently drilling the tank, which seems dangerous to me,” said Police Chief Mike Mastin, who said it’s the first time they’ve seen the tactic in Bemidji.

Thieves are likely targeting trucks or other vehicles that are high off the ground because it gives them the room to get underneath to drill a hole and collect the gas, Mastin said. But many of those vehicles have large gas tanks, he said, so extra gas could be spilling out and causing environmental concerns, too.

Mastin said the Bemidji gas thieves have been targeting trucks in quiet industrial areas, but he is urging residents to take precautions.

“I would recommend that people park in a really highly visible place,” he said. “Or, if they could, put [a vehicle] indoors.”

Pam Louwagie