KLOBUCHAR TALKS TO FARMERS
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar spent part of her weekend attending farm organization conventions. The Minnesota Farm Bureau and the Minnesota Farmers Union met Saturday and Sunday. Klobuchar spoke in support of the new farm bill and said an important part of the next 5-year bill will be sending more tax money to small farmers instead of larger ones. She said the roots of the idea remain in the years of the Great Depression and making sure farmers are able to sustain their business in times of bad weather or low prices. Klobuchar said another important part of the bill pays land owners to plant vegetation for ethanol production, something besides corn. She said Minnesota could compete with oil producers someday. This year's farm bill may top $300-Billion and Klobuchar said she's heard the President may veto it because of excessive earmarked projects. The House farm bill has been approved with a price tag of $266-Billion.
GOVERNOR SIGNS MULTI-STATE EMISSIONS AGREEMENT
Governor Pawlenty and other Midwest governors and a Canadian official have signed an agreement to limit greenhouse gas emission and to strengthen the renewable energy industry. The governor said the agreement is a good balance between environmental and economic needs.
Provisions of the plan include better tracking of emissions and setting targets for greenhouse gas emissions. Other governors who signed were from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, and the Premier of Manitoba, Canada.
TODD COUNTY DRUG BUST
Todd County Sheriff's Deputies arrested two people from Morris, Minnesota early Thursday morning for first-degree drug sales and felony endangerment of a child. The two subjects, a 27-year old male and a 21-year old female, have been under investigation for the last three months, suspected of selling methamphetamine and cocaine in the Long Prairie area. The case has been referred to the Todd County Attorney's office for prosecution.
GOVERNOR'S CHRISTMAS TREE ON THE WAY
DNR foresters cut down a 50-foot balsam fir in the Chegwatana State Forest near Pine City on Thursday. The giant tree is headed for the governor's residence on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Workers will put it up on the stand Monday morning and then decoration fun begins.
RED KETTLE DAY!
The Crow Wing County Salvation Army started its Red Kettle Campaign last Friday, November 16th. Nisswa Mayor Brian Lehman is the chairman of the volunteer drive. He said there will be friendly competition between service clubs again this year and requests of businesses and organizations to sponsor a bell-ringing day to themselves. This year's goal is $100,000. If you can spare an hour or two and want to start your own Christmas tradition, call Deb at 218-829-1120.
NO SPECIAL SESSION
Governor Pawlenty said Wednesday that there will be no special session to help cities balance their budgets. Leaders from Bemidji, Hutchinson, Owatonna, Ely, Moorhead and North Mankato are to meet Thursday morning at the capitol to ask for one anyway. City leaders would like lawmakers to grant them $70-Million of state money and think about property tax relief because so many school levy referendums passed this year. Governor Pawlenty said lawmakers couldn't agree to a session focused on a tax bill. Pawlenty said a recent budget forecast suggested there may not be any extra money in the state budget.
STATE CAPITOL FOR A DAY
Breezy Point has eleven competitors to become Minnesota's State Capitol for a Day next year for our corner of the state. Other cities like Angora, Bemidji, Grand Rapids and Pequot Lakes are also in the running to represent our biome, a word describing the unique environment for northeastern Minnesota. The way to make sure Breezy Point or perhaps Hinckley, Rush City or Walker becomes a state capitol next year, vote on-line at http://www.mn150years.org/. If Breezy Point doesn't get your vote, perhaps you'd consider Orr, Williams, or the Mille Lacs Area. Voting runs through Monday, November 26th.
BRAINERD BOARD LOOKS AT THE NUMBERS
The Brainerd School Board has begun looking at ways to trim $5.5-Million from next year's budget. Members of the board had hoped taxpayers would approve a levy referendum that would have added more then $50-Million to school coffers over the next ten years, but voters said no. At the first budget-cutting meeting after the failed referendum, the board looked at transportation costs and ways to save money. District transportation coordinator Kala Henkensiefken said the district could save $300,000 a year if it required students within two miles of their school to get there on their own and require students to go to the school closest to where they live. Henkensiefken told the Brainerd Dispatch the district could save another $150,000 in transportation costs by closing Nisswa Elementary. Brainerd school administrators have said they may suggest closing two of the district's eight elementary schools to reduce the budget. The meeting on Wednesday, November 14th was to show the board preliminary data. The school board finance committee will meet on Thursday, November 29th to decide which two of the eight schools to close and look at other ways to cut the budget.
BIR SLED DOG RACES THIS WEEKEND!
Sled dog teams get ready to break out of the gate this weekend for the second annual running of the East Meets West Dryland Challenge. Danny Melville is the founder and manager of the Jamaican Sled Dog Team. He said he got started in this form of racing while on a trip to Canada looking for touring equipment. Melville said he found a sled-like contraption with wheels and was told it was made for someone who wanted to do 'dryland' racing with dogs. He thought that might work in Jamaica because the country has lots of dogs. The East Meets West Dryland Challenge runs both Saturday and Sunday, November 17th and 18th. Get your tickets at the Brainerd International Raceway and get more information on-line at www.brainerdraceway.com.
Successful deer hunters must find appropriate ways to dispose of the carcass. Minnesota DNR Crosslake Conservation Officer Nikki Shoutz tells KLKS, the remains may not be dumped on public land. She says it is considered litter. Nearby homeowners have complained in the past about pets retrieving the bones.
Officer Shoutz says unsuccessful hunters may pay the difference and gain an all season buck license, which will allow them to hunt until the end of the year.
She says there have been no serious accidents in our area. But, there have been reports of hunters falling from their tree stands.
C-I SUPERINTENDENT LOOKS FORWARD
Crosb-Ironton Superintendent Jamie Skevlund said the decision from voters was clear and he and the school board know what to do next. Skevlund said the board has already written down many of the options they face to trim next year's budget by $1-Million dollars. A C-I levy referendum failed last week. Skevlund said the board will finalize actions in a special meeting on December 17th.
SUPERINTENDENT ACCEPTS VOTER MANDATE
The Brainerd School Board certified last week's levy referendum election at yesterday's board meeting and began talking about budget cuts at a meeting this morning. A record voter turnout - 57% - defeated the referendum by 33-hundred votes; 62% of voters said no to the increase request. Superintendent Jerry Walseth said he got the message. Walseth said it may sound hollow but it's not. "We asked for a mandate and we got one," he said, and he believes "the vote was never about education but about money." The Brainerd Superintendent said it was "an overwhelming amount of tax dollars and our folks let us know it was not something they could sustain now or in the future and we respect that."
Walseth said the community's role in education will have to grow larger now that the district faces a leaner budget.
HUNTER SHOOTS BROTHER
A deer hunter from Sandy, Utah accidentally shot his Minnetonka brother late Monday afternoon while the two were hunting near Benson. 33-year old Sam Burns from saw a deer and took a shot but the slug missed and hit brother Louis in the leg. The two were able to walk to their vehicle. Sam took Louis to the hospital where he was treated and released. The Swift County Sheriff's office and the Minnesota DNR completed the investigation.
MAYORS WANT SPECIAL SESSION
Mayors from Hutchinson, Bemidji, and Minneapolis and officials from Ely, Moorhead, Owatonna and St. Paul will hold a press conference Thursday, November 15th to ask Governor Pawlenty to call a special session. The mayors want the legislature to restore nearly $70-Million in local government aid but also consider property tax relief. Two-thirds of Minnesota school levy referenda were approved last week and the Minnesota mayors think taxpayers may need some help. The meeting will be at the state capitol in St. Paul Thursday morning at 10:45am.
REFERENDUM OPPONENT HAS SUGGESTIONS
Members of the Citizens Concerned About School Taxation group, the only organized and visible group to oppose last week's Brainerd Schools levy referendum has some ideas to help the school board balance the budget. Spokesman Marv Begin read a letter to the board at Tuesday's meeting and suggested that members take back teacher and administrator wage hikes for the next two years, and get a better handle on early retirement. Begin told the Brainerd Dispatch he knows retired people in their mid-50s making $52,000 a year. "It's no wonder you can't budget the money," Begin read. The C-CAST letter also suggested letting three or four members tour the school now and then. The letter also urged board members not to close schools in the northeast section of Brainerd because closing buildings there will demonstrate "that you don't care about the children or people, just money." The board didn't discuss C-CAST's letter and will talk about budget cuts at a meeting on Wednesday, November 14. The board also approved a trip to Germany for teacher Dave Pritschet and nine students. The students pay for the trip themselves. Brainerd School's levy referendum failed by more than 3,300 votes or nearly 62% of those voting. Voter turnout was higher than normal, 57%.
SCHOOL DISTRICT CERTIFIES ELECTION
The Brainerd School Board certified the results of last week's referendum election at Tuesday's meeting. The board will meet on Wednesday to hear recommendations from Superintendent Jerry Walseth for buget reductions. Levy referenda in Brainerd, Crosby-Ironton and Wadena-Deer Creek were defeated last Tuesday. Administrators have said budget cuts and teacher lay-offs could be in the future. Most school administrators have said that state funding remains inadequate and that's why they're short of money. Roseville lawmaker Mindy Greiling is the chairperson of the House Education Finance Committee and on a task force that's taking a look at the state education formula. Greiling said the original plan was to have a report and recommendations ready in January but she doubts if the committee will be ready by then. She said education funding will probably be a topic of conversation during next year's legislative session.
HALLOCK MAYOR DIES IN CRASH
51-year old Kim Turner lost control of his pickup and rolled into the ditch Sunday night on Highway 175 west of Hallock. He had been elected mayor in 2004 and had served for a dozen years as the fire chief for the city's volunteer fire deparment. Turner also managed the Cooperative Farmer's Elevator and coached Park Board Youth Hockey. He is survived by his wife Kathi and four children.
FRANK BALL SPEAKS AT CROSSLAKE CHATAQUA
Former Brainerd Police chief Frank Ball will be the featured speaker for the last Crosslake Chataqua program on Wednesday, November 14th. Ball has also been the Crow Wing County Sheriff, head of the state's Alcohol and Gambling Public Safety Division, and contingent commander of US Police Forces in the Afghanistan Reconstruction Program. Ball spent a year training the Afghan national policemen and worked at eliminating corruption in the upper levels of the police force. The Chataqua runs from 1:30-3:30pm at the Crosslake Community Center. The program is free and open to the public.
LINDA WALKER RECEIVES PEOPLE MAGAZINE AWARD
Pequot Lakes woman Linda Walker was recognized last week with one of People Magazine's 'Heroes Among Us' awards at a ceremony in Beverly Hills. Linda was recognized as one of the founding members of the Surviving Parents Coalition, an organization that seeks to empower parents of children who were abducted and sexually assaulted and works toward legislation and prevention efforts. Linda helped convince Senator Byron Dorgan and Representative Earl Pomeroy to introduce the National Sexual Offenders Database, now signed into law as Dru's Law. Linda's daughter Dru was kidnapped and killed four years ago.
CASS LAKE BENA TEACHER WINS AWARD
Cass Lake Bena Elementary Music Teacher Linda Wagner was crowned Ms. Senior America last Saturday at a ceremony in Las Vegas. She said secret to life is being active and staying involved and when she sits around and does nothing, that's when she starts to feel old. Wagner is 61 and sang opera at the Las Vegas contest. She won the state title in September. She also teaches music at Bemidji State University and is a big supporter of the community orchestra. Wagner said at the top of the list now is making travel plans to Omaha and Atlantic City for a parade, and somehow fitting all that around her full-time job duties. The Ms. Senior America contest is for women 60 and older.
KEEP THOSE PLATES CURRENTS
Minnesota State Patrol Sergeant Curt Mower reminds you to check your vehicle license plates to make sure you're up to date. Mower said Minnesota law is fairly clear about keeping your registration current, as well as other requirements. Sergeant Mower said the plates must be secured and not swinging, must be clean and can't be covered by anything including a clear, plastic. Mower added that license plates have to be displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle, not on the dashboard or rear deck. He said you can get a ticket for leaving your plates there.
GOVERNOR TALKS ABOUT ENERGY POLICY
Governor Pawlenty is to speak at Tuesday's opening session of the Energy Efficiency Global Forum and Expo in Washington D.C. Pawlenty will talk about energy from sustainable sources as well as achievements in energy efficiency. The governor is the chair of the 'Securing a Clean Energy Future' effort for the national governor's association
STATE LAWMAKERS INVESTIGATE EDUCATION FUNDING
The Brainerd School Board will certify last week's referendum election at Tuesday, November 13th meeting at noon and talk about budget reductions on Wednesday, November 14th at 11:30am. Brainerd, Crosby-Ironton and Wadena Deer Creek referenda were defeated and administrators at all 3 schools have said budget cuts and teacher layoffs could be in the future. Most school administrators say state funding remains inadequate and that's why they're short of money. Roseville lawmaker Mindy Greiling is the chairperson of the House Education Finance committee. She participates on a task force of 4 state senators, 4 state representatives and Education Commissioner Alice Seagren. The task force is looking at the state education funding formula and looking for ways to fine-tune it. Greiling said one of the resources the committee's using is the work of education research group PS Minnesota ( http://www.psminnesota.org/.) Greiling said the committee's work was to have been done in January but she thinks now it will be more of a work-in-progress and a key part of next session.
ANTI-SMOKING GROUPS EXPAND FOCUS
Some anti-smoking groups have now turned their attention to private homes. Minnesota bars and restaurants became off-limits to smoking on October 1st. The group Live Smoke Free has begun a campaign to convince landlords to ban smoking in apartments and condos. Campaign director Brittany McFadeen said some renters have complained to her group that cigarette and cigar smoke is drifting through walls and onto their patios. Some smoke-gree groups are considering campaigns to restrict smoking in cars and in public parks.
HIBBING POLICE WANT HELP
The Hibbing Police say 45-year old Brent Arnold Ward was found dead in his apartment on Friday. An autopsy conducted over the weekend ruled the case a homicide. The medical examiner said Ward bled to death. Investigators want to hear from anyone who had contact with Ward on Thursday night or Friday morning, November 8th or 9th. Call the Hibbing PD at 1-218-263-3601 or contact any law enforcement officer.
A hunter from Melrose died Saturday monring when the strap holding his portable deer stand broke. 47-year old Anthony Vossen fell 20 feet from his tree stand. A Beltrami County Sheriff's Deputy said the accident happened in a wooded area east of Bemidji.
MNDOT MANAGER FIRED
MnDOT Commissioner Carol Molnau fired the state emergency manager Friday who was out of town when the I-35W bridge collapsed and didn't return to Minnesota for 10 days. Sonya Morphew Pitt had been director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and was charged with alleged travel and cell-phone abuse and unprofessional conduct. According to some released documents, Pitt told investigators she helped manage the emergency response to the bridge collapse by phone and email. And she said her supervisor never demanded that she return to Minnesota.
A Worthington woman has donated an 8-month old horse to replace the one killed earlier this month. Katie Symalla's Palomino pony Savannah was killed and its head mutilated on November 3rd. Investigators said they are looking for a small white pickup that was seen in the area that day. A $2,500 reward has been offered for information. The woman who's donating the horse named Rajah Sweet said she has two daughters who love horses and she can't imagine them having to face something so tragic. The cause of death has still not been determined but the veterinarian who examined the horsed said it was not a hunting accident. If you have information, call the Todd County Sheriff's department 800-794-5733 or any law enforcement officer.