Friday, December 28, 2007


Organizers of the second annual Teen Driver Safety Seminar hopes to build on the success of last year's forum. Nearly 200 teens and their parents attended last year's program that included presentations by law officers about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Convicted drunk driver Annie Bahr will be a part of the program again this year. The young Pine River woman spent six months in jail after her friend, 20-year old Jackie Saddler of Nisswa died in an alcohol-related crash. Brainerd Insurance President Pat Smith said the percentage of fatal crashes involving 16-20 year old drivers is among the highest in the nation. The seminar tries to arm both parents and teens with the information they need to be safer on the road. The seminar runs from 5-5:30pm on Tuesday, January 8th at the Northland Arboretum in Baxter. The seminar is free but you must register ahead of time. The program includes pizza, beverages, door prizes and tee-shirts. Call Sara at 218-829-3558 to sign up.

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Bemidji lawmaker Mary Olson and the Leech Lake Watershed Foundation will hold a public meeting a week from Monday to talk about a legislative proposal that could recognize lake associations for the environmental work they're doing and get them state government help on such activities as invasive species control, water monitoring and low-interest loans. Olson said the meeting on Monday, January 7th at the Hackensack Senior Center would follow-up on conversations she's had with others. She said two elements most agreed the proposal should include were the requirement that associations have lake management plans and that there should be educational outreach. The meeting runs from 10am until noon.

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State Senator Satveer Chadary suggested last week that moving the walleye fishing opener up a week to keep it from interfering with Mother's Day. Governor Pawlenty said on his Friday radio show that if the bill got to his desk, he's probably sign it. Pawlenty said he likes the idea as long as it didn't interfere with fish spawning and moving the opener up a week could be good for tourism in parts of the state.

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The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled this week that a newspaper reporter's notes of a conversation with a man who shot two police officers and them himself should not be handed over to the county attorney. Mankato Free Press reporter Dan Nienaber was among the last to talk to Jeff Skjervold before he apparently killed himself just before Christmas 2006. County Attorney Ross Arneson said he needed information not published in the newspaper account to "prevent an injustice" but the Appeals Court said Arneson didn't say which injustice he wanted to prosecute. Attorney Mark Anfinson said few cases are brought challenging Minnesota's reporter shield law. Anfinson said unless you have a compelling case, you should probably forget trying to subpoena a journalist.

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The Minnesota Supreme Court turned down Donald Blom's third try for a new trial on Thursday. Blom was convicted for the 1999 kidnapping and killing of Moose Lake convenience store clerk Katie Poirier. After he was arrested, Blom confessed to strangling the woman and burning her body. He later recanted but the confession was used in his trial. Blom continues to insist the confession was coerced.

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40-year old Dean Skogstad lost control of his 1994 Buick Wednesday night just after 6:30pm and drove off the side of Highway 11 in Roseau County. The vehicle rolled and Skogstad was ejected. He was not wearing a seat belt and died at the scene of the crash. A passenger who was not thrown from the car was treated and released from Roseau hospital.

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A $5,000 check delivered on Thursday from a Salvation Army supporter put this year's Red Kettle Campaign over the $100,000 goal. Campaign co-chair Brian Lehman told the Brainerd Dispatch that they were really happy about that. This year's bell ringing competition winners were the Rotary Noontime Club, Lakewood Evangelical Free Church, Brainerd and Onamia High Schools and Edina Realty. The Salvation Army helped more than 2,300 indivuals and nearly 1,200 children this past year.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007


Pine River Librarian Muriel Erickson said the library will be open from noon to 5pm on Mondayds after the first of the year. Erickson said an extra bit of tax money was scheduled for regional libraries. Erickson said this year's adult reading program is being trimmed back from three months to two. Adults who register for the program and read 15 books in the time alotted will get a winter reading mug. Check with Muriel at the Pine River Library for more details.

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The Brainerd School Board will hold its annual re-organization meeting next Wednesday, January 2nd to elect new officers and direct the business officer to invest surplus funds. The board will also consider board member salaries for next year and set time, date and place for regular meetings. The new board officers face cutting next year’s budget by $5.5-Million. The meeting starts at 11:30a in the Washington Administration Building board room on Oak Street in Brainerd.

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The 2008 Breezy Point Ice Fest has been canceled. Chairman Mike Weiboldt said the committee met Wednesday and decided that the ice was too thin and the chance it would thicken enough in two weeks was too much of a risk. The Ice Fest was scheduled for Saturday, January 12th. Weiboldt said the ice in front of Breezy Point Resort on Pelican Lake was about eight inches thick with about three inches of slush on top of that, not nearly enough for the snowmobile radar run or the power ice auger contest. He said the DNR wanted to see at least 16 inches of ice for the event. The major events of the festival were canceled last year too, for the same reason. Weiboldt said the land-based events went on as planned last year but they weren't enough of a draw for the event. Weiboldt said the committee is looking forward to next year where they'll be "back with a vengance, bigger and better than ever."

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The second annual Back to Basics sustainable living expo will be held on Saturday, January 12th at Pine River Backus School Commons. Organizer Barb Hines said the day includes eating and learning. If you'd like more information, you could go on-line to or call Barb at Pine River Backus Community Education, 587-2303. Registration is $25 for adults for the full day program plus lunch and snacks but $30 if you register after January 4th. Kids registration is $15. Registration forms are also available at Central Lakes College, the Pine River Public Library and the Pine River-Backus Family Center.

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More than 400 Crow Wing County families got toys from the Toys For Kids program this year, nearly 30% more than last year. Marine Corps League Heartland Detachment Program Vice Chair Jack Huber said 989 children received gifts this year. Huber said 40 businesses and organizations served as donation drop points this year. The Toys For Kids program started in 1981.

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Several Northwestern Minnesota landowners want to block the special deer hunt scheduled to start Saturday, December 29th. The Minnesota DNR believes the extra 16-day hunt will help stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis among wild deer and cattle. One landowner hopes to convince DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten to call off the hunt. If that doesn't work, other landowners want to go to court. 13 deer have tested positive for bovine TB since 2005. Three deer taken in Northwestern Minnesota this fall tested positive for the disease.

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Bird watchers are flocking to the fields of Minnesota for the 108th annual Christmas Bird Count. Department of Natural Resources Small Non-Game Specialist Pam Perry said the bird count is to birders what the fishing opener is to anglers or hunting opener is to those who like venison. The Crosby bird count was held on December 15th. The Rice Lake count in Aitkin County is this Saturday, December 29th and the final count of the season in our neck of the woods will be in Pillager next week, on New Year's Day. Get lots more information on-line at the Minnesota Ornithologist's Union web site or call Pam at the DNR, 218-833-8728.

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Sibley Station Restaurant apparently closed last Friday, December 21st until further notice. Owners Deb and Joe Hallbeck told the Lake Country Echo they decided to close until they can figure out a solution to their unpaid sales tax dilemma. The Minnesota Department of Revenue said the business owes the state $146,805 for taxes not paid between 2002 and 2006. The Hallbecks have owned Sibley Station for 14 years. They expanded in 2001. The Department of Revenue had revoked Sibley Station's sales tax permit and the Hallbecks incorporated the business and got a new tax number. The state has questioned the validity of the new permit.

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Monday, December 24, 2007


State Patrol Sergeant Curt Mowers repeated his now-familiar admonition about drinking and driving during the holidays; don't. Mowers said the DWI mobilization will continue through the end of December and that includes lots of help from city and county law enforcement. Mowers said if you see someone driving erratically, that person may be impaired by alcohol or other drugs and a danger to themselves and others. Even if they're not impaired, they could be having a medical emergency and need help. Mowers said to call law enforcement and let them do what they're trained to do. That number is 9-1-1.

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As a result of a Supreme Court decision, Cass County Judge John P. Smith has reduced sentences for two felons convicted of beating a man to death in 2003. Kenneth Conrad Conger, Jr. and Leah Danielle Harper-Jenkins were found guilty of beating Brian Jenny with a baseball bat at a party near Federal Dam. The two then abandoned him on a rural road where hunters found him the next morning. The Supreme Court ruled that sentences beyond state maximum guidelines in certain cases had to be approved by a jury. Conger's sentence was reduced from 35 to 32 years in prison, Harper-Jenkins from 30 to 28 years.

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Crow Wing County Deputies arrested three men and a juvenile last week for suspicion of mail theft. Lieutanant Dave Larson told the Brainerd Dispatch that the four may have stolen mail from more than 30 county residents in the Crosby, Ironton, Deerwood and Aitkin areas. Mail open and discarded was found most of last week along roadways. Suspects were allegedly riding in a 1993 green Infinity four-door vehicle. If you saw the vehicle last Wednesday or have found discarded mail, please call the Crow Wing County Sheriff's department to help in the investigation which could lead to federal charges.

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Emily City Clerk Pat Kestner said the recently-ended public comment period for an environmental assessment worksheet drew 45 replies from people and state agencies. The council requested the EAW for the Northern Lights Over Roosevelt Lake project and responses have come from the Minnesota DNR, Department of Transportation and Pollution Control Agency as well as others. The Emily Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, January 2nd at City Hall to review the replies and decide what to do next. One possible action would be to require the developer of the 90-acre project to complete a more exhaustive and expensive environmental impact study. The meeting starts at 2pm.

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District Four State Senator Mary Olson and the Leech Lake Watershed Foundation will hold a public meeting on Monday, January 7th to talk about Olson's 'Star Lake' legislative proposal. The proposal would recognize lake associations for the environmental work they're doing. A 'Star Lake' designation could lead to a lake assocations eligibility for faster state agency help with invasive species control, water monitoring, testing and clean-up and loans of state tax-payer dollars. The meeting will be at the Hackensack Senior Center from 10am until noon.

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Someone apparently stole a white, 1995 Chevy Astrovan from in front of a residence in Browerville early Sunday morning. If you have any information about the stolen van, call the Todd County Sheriff's office.

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Cass County Veterans Service Office Faye Dudley said both the office in Walker and Cass Lake will be closed on Monday, December 24th and Tuesday, December 25th for Christmas. The Pine River office will be closed both Tuesday, Christmas Day and Tuesday, January 1st for New Year's Day. Normal hours begin again on Wednesday, December 26th.

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American Cancer Society officials are among the folks who would like you to not overdo your exuberance this Christmas season. And that goes for New Year's Eve as well. Spokeswoman Angie Rolle said holiday treats are a big temptation but not always the most nutricious. Rolle said her advice is to enjoy in moderation and try to get some healthful snacks before they head out to a party, to limit the amount of food they take in. And if you consume adult beverages, take it easy. Rolle said lowering your consumption of alcohol can also lower your risk of cancer. And Rolle adds, if you're driving, don't have one for the road, concentrate on the road with as clear a head as possible.

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Brainerd School District officials have decided they'd like a little help with long-term budget challenges and will form an financial advisory committee. Five years ago, the district had more than $5-Million in an unreserved fund balance. Next year's fund balance will be in the red. School Business Manager Steve Dickinson told the Brainerd Dispatch that the committee will be five or six community volunteers with financial backgrounds, will meet once a month, and make suggestions about the district's budget process. The committee may be formed at the next board meeting, on January 2nd. The district has to trim $5.5-Million from next year's budget. The Brainerd board had a similar committee in 2001. That committee met for about a year.

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87-year old Eugene Segler was walking along Crow Wing County Road 8 Saturday morning just after 11am when he was struck and killed. He died at the scene. The driver of the vehicle apparently lost control on the slippery roadway and after hitting Segler, drove into the ditch. The driver and a passenger were taken to St. Joseph's Medical Center with minor injuries. The investigation by the Crow Wing County Sheriff and the State Patrol continues.

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