Friday, November 2, 2007


The Pequot Lakes Community Theater presentation of the Broadway musical Oklahoma opens November 9th for a six show run. Director Michael Sander said more people are probably more familiar with the movie version but except for some visual elements, there's very little difference. Sanders said the movie ends with a wildfire and there's no practical and safe way to do that on the stage. He added that Oklahoma is a very upbeat, optomistic play and that sentiment is very much a part of his production. Oklahoma curtains rise at 7:30p for the Friday and Saturday shows at at 2pm for the Sunday matinees. Contact the Pequot Lakes Community Education office for tickets. 568-9200.

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Tyler Jensen came home Thursday night. The Brainerd High School running back suffered a head injury in last Saturday's play off game, had surgery at North Memorial in Robbinsdale that night and spent the next couple of days in serious condition. Jensen's dad Ed told the Brainerd Dispatch it's pretty much a miracle and other than the scar, he looks 100%. Jensen plans to be back in school during the week of November 12.

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Fewer kids are lighting up in Minnesota, at least those that they buy tobacco products themselves. The Minnesota Health Department has results from its latest undercover compliance check of retailers. Carol Falkowski said 92% refuse to sell to minors, 20% better than ten years ago. Falkowski said its against Minnesota law to sell tobacco to anyone under 18. The Department checks 400 retailers statewide over a 3 month period.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007


KLKS Weather Guru Tony Schumacher and his team aren't sure exactly when winter will kick in, but its going to be soon. Minnesota State Patrol Sergeant Curt Mower suggests we use the time until then to brush up on our winter driving skills. Mower said more people have died on Minnesota highways this year than last but some of that increase comes from those who died in the I35W bridge collapse and some from those who died in the southeastern Minnesota floods. Still, slowing down, buckling up and practicing good winter driving techniques can't hurt.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007


The manager of the Little Falls ethanol plant thinks the cause of the explosion over the weekend was spontaneous combustion. Kerry Nixon said it appears that wood chips in the gasification silo at Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-op caught fire and the buildup of gasses blew the roof off the top. Nixon said the chips were stagnant because of a combustion tube problem. Nobody was hurt in the explosion and fire. The plant was shut down Monday but is now running at full capacity on backup burners fueled by natural gas.

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Spicer Mayor Perry Wohnoutka will get a jury trial for the two misdemeanor charges he faces for a September first brawl at Melvin's on the Lake in Spicer. The 47-year old mayor appeared with his attorney in Kandiyohi County District Court. Judge Michael Thompson set the one-day trial date for January fifteenth. Wahnoutka is charge with assault and disorderly conduct for allegedly hitting a bouncer and a bartender at Melvin's. He said he will testify in his own defense.

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Alumni of a group within the Brainerd Chamber called Leadership in the Lakes have voiced their support of public education, specifically the levy increases in Brainerd and Crosby Ironton. Andrea Holmes manages Associates in Eyecare. She believes public education is a vital part of the communities in both cities. Holmes said public education "is so important in that if I don't feel like I can pay for my child's education, my community steps up to pay for it." She said she "can't step away from the pool of children that has to be taken care of by all of us, that the minimum necessary for her own children, is necessary for all children." Holmes said she has some control of that in the public domain but no control of it in the private domain. Voters in Crosby Ironton and Brainerd and 99 other Minnesota schools will decide levy referendum questions next Tuesday.

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A Baudette woman died in a multi-vehicle crash Monday night. The state patrol said 49-year old Doris Speaker was driving her minivan the wrong way on the interstate highway when she collided head-on with a semi-trailer cab. A pick-up truck was also involved in the crash.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Tickets went on sale this week for the Minnesota State Lottery Millionaire Raffle game. Lottery Director Clint Harris said two lucky players will win $1,000,000 each. This is the second year for the Millionaire Raffle game. Tickets are $10 and only 500,000 tickets will be sold. Deadline for the game is December 31st but last year's tickets sold out long before that. Harris used to be the lottery director in South Dakota where their top prize is only $250,000.

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Firearms deer season starts this weekend and a slight variation in Minnesota law encourages those hunters who like to shoot 'em but not eat 'em. Hunters can donate the deer to a food shelf. South St. Paul lawmaker Rick Hanson sponsored the legislation. Hunters who donate don't have to pay for processing anymore, state taxpayers pick that up. The law is patterned on similar measures in Wisconsin and Iowa.

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The two old Linden Hills mansions in Little Falls are open for overnight visits, tours and receptions again. The city council approved an agreement yesterday to let a private nonprofit group manage and promote the nineteenth century Musser and Weyerhauser buildings. Friends of the Linden Hill will pay the city a dollar a year for the lease and want to put the buildings on a sound financial footing. Director of the Friends board Susan Paulson told the Brainerd Dispatch the board is relieved and excited about the future. The city will still own the buildings and still retains control of the money left for upkeep.

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Two metro area men have complained to the state legislative auditor that Secretary of State Mark Ritchie collected their names and e-mail addresses at a civic education meeting and later used the addresses for political fundraising. Mark Giga and John Tomczak believed the addresses would be used to send information about future civic education meetings. They said collection of their names was an abuse of the Secretary's position as chief elections officer and they want auditor James Nobles to investigate.

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The beginning of fall also brings on migration season and even though most open water has not frozen over yet, some feathered predators have started their trip south. DNR Small non-game specialist Pam Perry said the osprey is one of them. Perry said the osprey is neither hawk nor eagle but in a bird category by itself where as the eagle is in the same category as the red-tailed hawk. The osprey migration trip could take them as far as South America. But they'll be back next year.

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Monday, October 29, 2007


The bodies of 20-year old Adam Ostapenko and 22-year old flight instructor Annette Klosterman were recovered from the wreckage of the small plane crash in a swampy area north of Cushing over the weekend. Rescuers had to use a helicopter to retrieve the plane and the bodies of the UND student and instructor. The FAA and National Traffic Safety Board will conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.

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Voters in 101 Minnesota School Districts, nearly a third of all districts, will go to the voting booth next Tuesday to decide whether or not to increase their property taxes. Operating levy referenda are on the ballot in Brainerd, Crosby-Ironton, Pierz, Wadena-Deer Creek and Walker Hackensack Akely. State Senate Minority Leader Tarryl Clark represents St. Cloud and she said supporters are hopeful but a little nervous. She said only 42% of levy requests passed, the lowest approval percentage since 1980. Clark said levies should be more about the things that enhance education rather than paying for the basics. And, she said accountability is very important and school districts must be good stewards of the taxpayer's money. Clark said voters in her area face a school levy question as well as an increase in city taxes. The election will be held on Tuesday, November 6th.

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Golden Valley lawmaker Ryan Winkler said he will introduce a disaster victim compensation fund bill during the legislative session next year. Winkler said disaster victim's needs can be immediate, long-lasting and expensive. Lawmakers are holding a series of hearings that could lead to such a compensation fund. The I-35W bridge collapsed in August, killed 13 and injured 100 people. Lawmakers say the suggested Minnesota fund would be similar to the one developed by federal lawmakers after 9/11.

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Members of the union representing Crosby Ironton School support staff sued the school district last week saying the district committed unfair labor practices and refused to meet and negotiate in good terms. More than 50 cooks, janitors, secretaries and paraprofessionals belong to the union. Local president Pat Watson told the Brainerd Dispatch that she's glad to see the suit come about because the school hasn't treated them fairly. Watson said the suit had nothing to do with the school operating levy referendum on the ballot. Voters will go to the polls next Tuesday.

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Cass County deputies say a man drowned Saturday afternoon in Sugar Lake north of Remer when his kayak overturned. Deputies pulled 50-year old Stephen Chudzik of St. Paul from the water around 4pm. He was taken to Grand Rapids Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

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Kandiyohi County Sheriff's department rescuers recovered the body of 35-year old Martin Richard Schriner from Eagle Lake Saturday afternoon. Shriner and a friend had been fishing on the lake north of Wilmar when both went into the water. A jet skier rescued Shriner's friend and he was treated and released from an area hospital. Shriner was from Plymouth.

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Governor Pawlenty announced over the weekend that he may not support a new taconite to steel project after all. Indian company Essar Global had announced last week that it had bought Itasca County taconite operation Minnesota Steel and was going to build a new $1.6-Billion dollar plant. Part of the deal included state bonding money for infrastructure. Pawlenty said he'd learned that Essar was also doing business with Iran, a terrorist state. Governor Pawlenty said actions by Iranian groups or individuals have killed American soldiers and other innocent people and until the matters are resolved to the full satisfaction of he and the US government, he would oppose any state assistance.

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A Brainerd high school football player is recovering from an apparent head injury in a hospital in Robbinsdale. Brainerd high school senior Tyler Jensen was injured in a semi-final playoff game with Alexandria on Saturday. Jensen walked off the field but collapsed on the sidelines and was flown to North Memorial Saturday night. Football coach Ron Stolski told the Brainerd Dispatch that Jensen is the heart and soul of the team. He was listed in critical but stable condition on Sunday.

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