Clocks Turned Forward?
Daylight Savings Time begins this weekend and everybody will lose one hour of sleep early Sunday morning. Coincidently, this is National Sleep Awareness Week. Chris Fink is the manager of the Brainerd Lakes Sleep Health Center at the Brainerd Medical Clinic. Chris said on average, most of us need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night but there are some of us who function best on 4 hours a night. Others need between 12 and 14 hours everynight to be at our peak. Fink said the Sleep Health Center offers a number of diagnostic programs to find out more about your sleep habits and patterns. Fink added that we spend a third of our lives, sawing logs, and its a shame that we don't invest more in such an important part chunk of time.
Polar Bear Plunge Draws Law Enforcement
Police officers and other brave souls will jump through the ice into frigid water at the 3rd annual Brainerd Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday, March 8th to raise money for Special Olympics. Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl said he'll be jumping in this year and he's done it before. Dahl said he used to jump into cold water in his Bemidji State days. Anyone is eligible to take the Polar Plunge. All it takes is $75 in pledges and lots of courage. Registration at the Breezy Point Marina starts at 10am, the Kiddie Plunge starts at 11am, and Dahl and his fellow plungers begin their dives at 1pm.
Clarissa Man Arrested On Drug Charges
Erik Roger Ott was arrested last Wednesday at his home in Clarissa for selling illegal drugs. A 17-year girl was also arrested and Ott faces charges of solicitation of a juvenile in the commission of a crime. Agents of the Central Minnesota Drug and Gang Task Force recovered 14 grams of substance they believed was cocaine. Agents said they had recovered nearly 42 grams of cocaine during the course of the investigation. Ott's case was referrred to the Todd County Attorney's office for formal charges.
Brainerd VFW Dinner For Iraqi Vets Postponed
Brainerd VFW Commander Archie Katchee said the dinner to honor Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq War Veterans Saturday night, March 8th has been postponed. The dinner will be rescheduled for a later date.
Minnesota House Approves Bonding Bill
The Minnesota House approved a bonding bill on Thursday. The vote was 99-34. Brainerd lawmaker John Ward said he likes the bill. It includes money for Central Lakes College projects, money for the Brainerd-Baxter wastewater treatment plant and a mountain bike training park in the Cuyuna Regional Recreation Area. Bemidji lawmaker Frank Moe said the bill includes $15-Million to fix classrooms at Bemidji State University and $20-Million for the Bemidji Regional Events Center. House Republican Leader Marty Seifert said the bill includes too many "want" projects that may be great to fund but not during tough ecnomic times. The $965-Million bonding exceeds the 3% of state income benchmark. Economic forecasters state coffers will get roughly $1-Billion less than predicted and the 3% rule would yield about $825-Million. The House bill would pay for a gorilla exhibit at St. Paul's Como Zoo, a new brass band sheet music museum in Chatfield and a high-speed train to Chicago. The bill also includes libraries, university and college buildings and other wastewater treatment infrastructure. The Senate passed a nearly $1-Billion bill with different projects earlier this week. A conference committee will come up with a bill that combines the two.
Senator Koering says, The Roads are Fine, Gas Tax Increase Not Needed
State Senator Paul Koering of Fort Ripley says he voted to uphold Governor Pawlenty's veto of the transportation bill, which raises the gasoline tax.
The U.S. Department of Transportation says Minnesota hasn't asked for an increase in federal funding for 10 years, and describes the system as deteriorating. Despite that, Senator Koering says he has traveled around the state, and the roads look fine to him. He tells KLKS, the tax should not be increased during difficult economic times.
The Senator says his Republican party should not have stripped house Republicans of their leadership roles because they voted with Democrats in overriding the Governor's veto.
The Governor's Fishing Opener Needs Hosts
Tom Ryan, Co-Chair of the Governor's Fishing Opener Host Committee says they need more hosts. He tells KLKS, they need about 110 boats that can hold a fisherman or two for the event to be held in Breezy Point. Right now, he says they have about half the host that they need. Those who volunteer will host guests of the Governor's Fishing Opener the weekend of May 10th at Breezy Point Resort. Ryan says hosts need not have any specific fishing skills, and may fish lakes other than Big Pellican. A list of requirements will be available for the volunteers who will host members of the media who participate in the showcase of Minnesota fishing. Contact the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of commerce for more information
Wadena Man Suspected of Shooting at a School Bus
Lawmen have taken a 19-year-old Wadena man into custody in connection with a shooting incident. The suspect was arrested for shooting a pellet gun at three school buses in rural Wadena county Monday. Authorities say two children received minor injuries. The Wadena county sheriff's office says the suspect and buses were traveling on State Highway 29 at the time of the incident. A juvenile male is also a suspect. No charges have been filed yet.
Level 3 Sex Offender Meeting
Crow Wing County Sheriff's Deputies held a community notification meeting Thursday night to tell residents about a Level 3 sex offender who intends to move to Trommald. The Crosby Courier said the offender is a 34-year old white male, 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighs 260 pounds and has brown hair and eyes. The man has a history of sexual contact with two young boys who knew him. He was convicted in Crow Wing County a number of years ago. Level 3 designates a felon more likely to re-offend than other convicted sex offenders.
AL FRANKEN WANTED BY NEW YORK WORKERS COMP DEPARTMENT
The man who wants to run against incumbent Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman supposedly has a bill to pay in New York. NY State Worker's Compensation Judgment Unit Spokesman Brian Keegan said the New York Supreme Court ordered a $25,000 judgment against Al Franken last May for not paying workers compensation insurance for the years 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. Keegan said he's been sending Franken notices since April, 2005 but someone in his department did get a call from the Senate candidate Tuesday. Keegan doesn't know what the conversation was about but he knows the case is not settled. Franken employed fewer than six people during the period of June of 2002 to March of 2005. Franken is challenging Mike Ceresi and Jack Nelson Pallmeyer in a Democratic primary. The winner would run against incumbent Coleman in November. A spokesman from Franken's campaign office said they believe the problem has been caused by a clerical error.
HIGHWAY DEATH TOLL FAIRLY LOW, COMPARITIVELY
Minnesota State Patrol Sergeant Curt Mower said the number of people who died in highway crashes so far this year happily lags behind last year's pace. Mowers said so far 42 people have died compared to 63 last year at this time. Mowers said four pedestrians have died in crashes so far this year compared to seven last year. Sergeant Mowers said the rest of winter is a particularly dangerous time of the year for head-on collisions. He said the heavy, wet snow common in storms at this time of year can lead drivers to lose control easier and quicker. Too many times, head-on collisions result, the most deadly kind of crash, especially on two-lane roads. Mowers said the best thing to do is to slow down and stay as far to the right as possible. And don't forget to buckle your seat belt.
INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY EXPERT SPEAKS
International Economist Dr. Anrew T. Hook will be the featured speaker at the next Rosenmeier Forum for State and Local Government. Hook has 30 years of experience in banking, finance and economic development in Africa, Asia, South and Central America, North America, the Caribbean and Europe. Hook has also worked for the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Hook's presentation will be next Thursday, March 13th at Noon in the Chalberg Theater on the Central lakes College Campus. There's no charge for the forum and it should last about an hour.
HACKENSACK RESORTER NAMED TO BOARD
Hackensack resort owner Mark Novotny has been appointed to the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council. Novotny and his wife own and operate the Hyde-A-Way Resort. Novotny is a member of the Congress of Minnesota Resorts and currently chairs its legislative committee. There are 12 members on the council. Each has been appointed to a four-year term.
CROW WING COUNTY JAIL INMATES PAY RENT
Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl has started charging jail inmates $25 a day for their time behind bars. Dahl told the Brainerd Dispatch that state law allows the county to charge a convicted offender for room and board, clothing, medical and dental services. The fee went into effect on March 1st. Inmates will get a bill when they're released. Dahl said if the bill isn't paid, he'll send it to a collection agency. Dahl said Mille Lacs, Morrison, Aitkin and Itasca County Jail inmates pay a similar fee to stay in jail now. There's no charge to stay in the Cass County Jail.
PIERZ POLICE CHIEF RESIGNS
Pierz Police Chief Steve Boser resigned Monday from his 20-year job as the head of the police department. He was the only full-time employee and supervised four part-time officers. The Pierz City Council had planned to talk about allegations of misconduct filed against Boser Monday night in closed session. Chief Boser had been placed on administrative leave two weeks ago. The Morrison County Sheriff's Department will help patrol the streets of Pierz until a new chief can be hired. Pierz Mayor Toby Egan said neither the details of the council’s investigation nor the allegations against the chief will be made public.
COMBAT VET OPENINGS FOR PROJECT NEW HOPE WEEKEND
Pequot Lakes Lion Bruce Billington said there are still openings for the next Project New Hope weekend, March 14-16th. The weekends are an opportunity for combat veterans to get away for a relaxing and emotionally restoring mini-vacation. Billington said he's also looking for volunteer help for the weekend to help veterans and their families check in, look around Camp New Hope near McGregor, set appointments and act as a friendly face. Billington said if you're either a combat vet or a volunteer who'd like to help, contact him with an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call on his cell phone at 612-308-4914.
WALKING AROUND BRAINERD
A group of people will walk around Brainerd tomorrow with a humorist and community health expert. Mark Fenton is the host of public television program, America's Walking. Initiative Foundatoin Program Planner Don Hickman said Fenton will then share his ideas about how to make Brainerd a more walkable, bikeable city. Hickman said the walking tour continues in St. Cloud on Thursday that leads up to a Community Health Conference called Minnesota Oomph at the St. Cloud Civic Center. There's no charge for the walk around Brainerd that begins at 2pm at the Public Library. Registration for the conference in St. Cloud is $65. For more information, pull up the web site, www.ifound.org/oomph.
Brainerd Attorney Suspended
The Minnesota Supreme Court suspended Brainerd Attorney Kevin Strunk for 90 days for professional misconduct. The Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility Martin Cole said Strunk failed to competently handle a client's appeal which resulted in the appeal being dismissed. Strunk can appeal for reinstatement after 60 days of his suspension, in mid-April. Director Cole told the Brainerd Dispatch that Strunk will have to appeal to a three-member panel which will make a recommendation to the Court. Strunk also had to pay $900 and is to complete the public responsibility portion of the state bar exam in one year.
LAWMAKER WARD APPROVES GAS TAX HIKE
First term Brainerd lawmaker John Ward joined 84 other Democrats and 6 Republicans last week to override Governor Pawlenty's veto of the Transportation Finance Bill. Ward said he doesn't know if there will be a political price to pay in November and that "will be up to the voters." Ward said the "user fee for gas hasn't been updated in 20 years and our roads are crumbling and our bridges are falling." Ward said the bill to him was a bill about economic growth, public safety, and an investment that needed to happen. Ward said he's listening to his constituents and doing what he thinks is right for District 12A and the state of Minnesota.
FISHING OPENER GETS CLOSER
The Minnesota Governor's Official Fishing Opener in Breezy Point and Pequot Lakes is less than ten weeks away. Event co-chair Dr. Ryan Buell wants you to know you can still help sponsor the event. Buell said the sponsorship levels run from a minimal amount to $20,000 or higher. Buell said "cash is king but there are a lot of things needed to put on the event that can use your trade or in-kind labor." Dr. Buell said the sooner a sponsor gets involved in the event, the more publicity for their business, but there really isn't a final deadline because sponsorships can be added right up until the opener. Buell said the event will need hundreds of volunteer as well. To get more information on-line, bring up the web site www.explorebrainerdlakes.com or call Dr. Buell's office at 568-7767.
MN REPUBLICANS KICK-OFF AD CAMPAIGN
Minnesota Republican Party Executive Director Ron Carey announced a state-wide television campaign Monday pointing at Minnesota Democrats for passing the $6.6-Billion Transportation Finance Bill last week over Governor Pawlenty’s veto. The law increases the gas tax by 8 1/2 cents per gallon between now and 2014. The first 2-cent increase will take place on April First, another 3-cent increase in October. Six Republicans joined 85 Democrats in the Minnesota House to override the veto last week. Minnesota had the 28th highest gas tax in the nation but now has climbed to Number 4th. The gas tax will rise from 20-cents per gallon now to 25.5-cents by October, and 28.5-cents per gallon in six years. Carey said the ad will be sent out to media outlets and Republican organizations.
PEQUOT LAKES FESTIVAL OF ARTS NEXT THURSDAY
Pequot Lakes arts students are putting final touches on their projects for the 26th annual Festival of the Arts. Instructor Molly Wistey said the kids are excited about the free, community-wide celeration of visual and performing art, and vocal and instrumental music. Wistey said community artists can also get involved and bring their own art to display. Younger participants can help in the construction of a 3-D flower and get their face painted. The festival will be Thursday, March 13th from 5:30-8:00p at the Pequot Lakes High School.
HOUSE APPROVES TAX CONFORMITY
The Minnesota House passed the Federal Tax Conformity bill Monday night, 81-51. Two Democrats and all Republicans opposed the bill that brings Minnesota tax laws into agreement with Federal laws for those filing this year. House Republican Leader Marty Seifert said his party opposed the bill because it also included tax increases for utilities, a taconite tax increase and an increase in the deed tax for five counties. Perham lawmaker Dean Simpson proposed that everything be taken out of the bill except Federal conformity but that was defeated. Tax increases in the bill included a utility tax, a taconite tax and the deed tax for five counties. The bill also includes a number of items that were vetoed in last year's tax bill. A similar bill waits in the Senate Tax Committee.
DARFUR ROCK-A-THON RESCHEDULED
The 2008 Rock-A-Thon for Darfur scheduled for this Friday at Pequot Lakes High School has been rescheduled for later in the month. Student Council advisor Amy Wyant said because the Pequot Lakes Patriots Girl's team won their tournament game, they're heading to Bemidji on Friday to play the Crookston Lady Pirates for the 8-2A Section Finals. Wyant said there are still spots for rock-a-thon teams to register for the event now scheduled for Friday, March 28th. Registration packets can be picked up at the Pequot Lakes High School Office. The championship game starts at 7pm in the Bemidji High School gym.
TAX RELIEF FOR SEASONAL CABIN OWNERS, SENIOR CITIZENS
Republican lawmaker Ron Erhardt has introduced a bill in the Minnesota House that would grant property tax refunds to those who own cabins, summer homes or hunting shacks. The maximum refund would be $1,800. The owner couldn't make more then $96,300 to qualify.
Another bill introduced would freeze the estimated value of a home once the owner turns 65 thereby locking the property tax at the same rate until the house is sold. A similar bill would freeze property taxes for homeowners over 65 but only if they've lived in the house for more than 25 years and make less than $60,000 a year. The bills may be included in the House omnibus tax bill.
GETTING UNLICENSED DRIVERS OFF THE ROAD
A recent Star-Tribune story said that more than 14,000 Minnesotans have been cited five or more times in the last ten years for driving without a license. The worst offender is a 23-year old with 68 citations. Minnesota State Patrol Sergeant Curt Mowers said law enforcement needs help and you may be part of the solution. Mowers said many times friends and relatives will contact law enforcement if they know of someone driving impaired or without a license. And he'd like you to do the same. The number; 9-1-1.
MN HOUSE SPEAKER WANTS TO CREATE JOBS
Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said over the weekend that the next big job for lawmakers is to pass a bonding bill. Kelliher said the projects that should get approval should also supply jobs. She said lawmaker's main focus will not be this project versus that project but which will produce jobs over the next 12 months. Kelliher said that's the segment of the Minnesota economy that needs the most help. Sponsors suggested roughly $4-Billion dollars worth of public projects for this year's bonding bill. The state budget debt service segment will be handle around 1/41th of that.
12-YEAR OLD DIES FROM FLU
The Minnesota Department of Health confirmed over the weekend that a 12-year old Twin Cities girl died from influenza complications. She is the first pediatric flu death for this season. The typical number of pediatric deaths from the flu in Minnesota range from two to six. The girl had not been vaccinated but had an underlying medical condition that may have put her at risk.