Friday, October 26, 2007


About 100 people attended a forum last week on the future of Pequot Lakes portion of Highway 371. The forum was sponsored by the Brainerd Lakes Chamber and held at the Pequot Lakes High School. Minnesota Department of Transportation engineer Tim Bray told the Brainerd Dispatch that the project has been in the works for 5 years and this is the last part before the council votes. The council has passed resolutions supporting both a through-town and around-town route. Bray said this has been a challenging project for him. He said he thinks a lot of people in Pequot Lakes just want a decision. The city council could consider a municipal consent resolution in December. Construction is scheduled to start 8 or 9 years from now.

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Workers at the Weyerhauser I-Level plant in Deerwood completed initial meetings yesterday with members of the state's rapid response team. Sue Hilgart is with the Brainerd Workforce Center. She said the next step will be for the workers to complete surveys and fill out career assessment forms. She said the workers seemed very focused and engaged and seemed ready to make some good decisions. Hilgars said funds from the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program will lead the workers in one of three tracks, toward immediate employment, toward short-term training to fine-tune transferrable skills, and long-term training into anothe line of work. Weyerhauser announced earlier this week that it was closing the plant but would maintain the equipment on the possibility that the housing industry would show new growth.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007


The Bob and Ronnet Johnson 14th annual Dezarae Hope Harvest Festival and Hayride happens this weekend, this Saturday in fact out at the Johnson farm north of Crosby. Bob Johnson said this is a free family event with games, a bonfire, barbecue and beverages. If you do attend, the Johnson family would like to bring a side dish to share and a non-perishable food item to be donated to a local food shelf. And a used coat for the "Coats for Kids" program. The farm is on River Road twiles west of County Road 30. Or call for directions, 546-2650.

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Baxter, Deerwood, Pequot Lakes or even Breezy Point could become an honorary state capital for a day next year, and all you have to do is nominate your favorite city and then convince lots of people to go online and vote. Walker lawmaker Larry Howes said the promotion is part of next year's sesquitennial celebration; Minnesota became a state 150 years ago, in 1858. Vote counters will name five cities to represent the state's biomes or distinct geographic and environmental regions. Go online to by November 7th to nominate your city. Online voting takes place from November 11-24th. The winners will be announced during the week after Thanksgiving.

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Todd County Sheriff Pete Mikkelson said two people died in the small plane crash near Cushing northwest of Browerville in Turtle Creek Township. A Civil Air Patrol crew spotted the plane Wednesday afternoon just after 4pm. 22-year old University of North Dakota flight instructor Annette Kosterman and 20-year old aviation student Adam Ostapenko left St. Paul just before 9:30pm Tuesday night heading for Grand Forks. Sheriff Mikkelson told the Brainerd Dispatch no one knows what caused the crash yet. Minneapolis air trafic controllers last spoke to the pilot around 10:15pm Tuesday on a routine conversation as the plane was flying through the Little Falls area.

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Minnesota has an Indian sister-state. Governor Pawlenty signed a partnership agreement with the State of Haryana's Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda yesterday in New Delhi, India. The governor is on a ten day trade mission that includes travel to New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. Haryana has 21-million people and is a primarily agriculture state with some industry and became Minnesota's second sister-state.

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At the current pace of traffic deaths, more Minnesotans will die in highway crashes this year than last. So far this year, four hundred people have died on Minnesota roads, about three weeks ahead of last year's pace. Highway Patrol Sergeant Curt Mowers said roughly 83% of us are wearing our seat belts but its not enough. Mower said of the 2,344 vehicle occupants who died between 2002 and 2006, more than half were not wearing seat belts. 494 people died on Minnesota roadways last year, the first year since 1945 that total crash fatalities were fewer than 500.

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This is Red Ribbon Week, an effort to take a current look at illegal drug and alcohol use with a special focus on methamphetamine. Crow Wing County Health Nurse Rose Hauge said a special forum tonight in Baxter offers lots of solid information. Derrick Crim from Hazelden will be the keynote speaker. Tonight's community forum in Baxter will be at the Heritage Church on Berrywood Drive. Sign in for the event from 6:30-7pm. The presentations are scheduled to be finished by 8:30pm.

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Pequot Lakes citizens will gather tonight to hear the information gathered so far about the future of Highway 371. Ruthanne Hanson is with the Brainerd Lakes Chamber. She said the goal is to present information on both the around and through-Pequot Lakes routes and let people to make an informed decisions. Hanson said the chamber is not advocating over route over the other but want citizens to have as much information as possible. She urged citizens to attend the meeting and then contact their city council members as to their preference. The city council will vote on a resolution of municipal consent sometime next year. The meeting tonight starts at 6:30pm. A formal presentation of the plans for Highway 371 through or around Pequot Lakes begins at 7pm.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007


All five people running for a 3-year seat on the Brainerd School Board are supporting the $5-Million levy referendum. But challenger Phillip McConville said he wasn't convinced at first, until he had a meeting with Superintendent Jerry Walseth. McConville has never run for public office before and thought the school board would be a good place to start. Voters will select three candidates from the five running on November 6th, a week from Tuesday.

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The location for this weekend's DFL Senate Forum and Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser has changed location. It was to be at the Breezy Point Resort this Sunday at 2pm. Instead it will be at the Breezy Point City Hall on County Road Eleven. Four candidates seeking the Democrat endorsement to run against incumbent Senator Norm Coleman are to be on the program. Cass County DFLers will hold their annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser at Antlers Restaurant after the candidate's forum. Call County Chair Dan Bye if you need more information, 568-5530.

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Crews will start working on a stretch of Highway 169/210 in downtown Aitkin today to fix the sewer system. The road will be closed one block east of the downtown traffic signal and traffic will be detoured through city streets. The repairs should be completed in about a week and a half, by Friday, November second.

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The Northland Arboretum will hold its 33rd annual meeting tonight. Executive Director Dale Braddy said if you've ever wanted to know more about black bears, you shouldn't miss this program. Featured speaker Dr. Lynn Rogers - The Man Who Walks With Bears - is a recognized expert on black bears. The Northland Arboretum is across Excelsior Road from the Movies Ten Theater in Baxter. The meeting Thursday, October 25th starts at 6:30pm and includes coffee and dessert. Cost is $10 for members, $20 for non-members.

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Kandiyohi County Prosecutor Boyd Beccue said juvenile proceedings concerning a 12-year old boy held in a Raymond man's shooting death have begun. Juvenile court proceedings are sealed so no other official information is available. Beccue said because of the boy's age, he won't be tried as an adult. The county dispatcher received a call Monday from a child who said his father had been shot in the arm. 36-year old Keith Amborn was taken to a Willmar hospital where he died. Law enforcement officials are not allowed to confirm the young boy's name or relation to Amborn but MacCray School District Superintendent Greg Schmidt said the boy is a sixth grader in his district. The investigation continues.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Two Long Prairie men have been charged with second degree arson, released on bail and are waiting their next court appearance. The Todd County Sheriff's deputies arrested 22-year old Anthony Michael Civilla, 21-year old Timothy George Taylor and 20-year old Brandon George King last week on suspicion of setting fire to a Browerville house earlier in the month. Taylor and King are to appear in court next Monday. Civilla has not been formally charged.

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A Baxter dentist is suing the United States federal government because immigration officials have failed to grant him citizenship. 29-year old Doctor Atif Rizvi passed his naturalization exams 3 years ago. The legal waiting period is 120 days. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman Maria Elena Upson said the FBI is backed up on background and fingerprint checks. Rizvi works for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. He was born in Pakistan and was fingerprinted for a third time in August. The FBI backlog is delaying the naturalization process for roughly 150,000 people.

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All five candidates for the Brainerd School Board said last night they would vote for the operating levy referendum on November's ballot. And all five said the Brainerd district was not overstaffed with administrators. Incumbents Ruth Gmeinder, Kent Montgomery and Reed Campbell as well as challengers Mark J. Olson and Phillip McConville told the Brainerd Dispatch that passage of the referendum was necessary to maintain the quality of education in District 181. None of the candidates criticized administrators and teachers for recent pay increases they received, even though the district was facing tough financial times. Superintendent Jerry Walseth turned down his raise this year. Current board chair Kent Montgomery and challenger said a wage freeze for teachers would have been great but the board was dealing with real people. Board member Ruth Gmeinder said everyone deserves a cost of living increase. The referendum on November sixth would raise over $5-million dollars the first year and could be adjusted for inflation during the next 9 years.

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The sister of the man sentenced to death for the kidnapping and killing of Pequot Lakes' woman Dru Sjodin says her brother needs treatment not death. Ileanna Noyes shared her thoughts while on a panel discussion Sunday. The forum was sponsored by an organization opposed to the death penalty. Noyes said she called state correction officials to try to keep her brother in prison or at least in a treatment program after his 23 year sex offender sentence. She said her family couldn't afford a half-way house. Noyes said her family supports punishment for Alphonso Rodriguez Jr. but she said he's an ill man who needs mental health care not a lethal injection.

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Walker lawmaker Larry Howes will host a town hall meeting tomorrow night to talk about dock regulations. Howes said the DNR may announce later this year, in December that it's firming up rules and requirements, and he wants people to have one last chance to voice their opinion. Citizens can now get a permit for a larger platform at the end of their docks, up to 10' X 17' or 170 feet square. The DNR wanted to start issuing tickets last year for docks larger than current law allows. The agency advertised its intention in the State Register but Howes said he doesn't know too many non-government people who read that paper. Howes said people have a right to be heard before the state imposes new rules. The meeting runs from 7-9pm, Wednesday night, October 24th at the Pequot Lakes High School.

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