Friday, March 28, 2008

The Brainerd Commerce and Industry Show

The Brainerd Civic Center and Gold Medal arena come alive with flowers this weekend. It's the annual Commerce and Industry show sponsored by Central Lakes College in Brainerd. The college is featuring floral designers. Look for a big display between the two arenas. Coordinator Mary Gottsch of the Chamber expects up to 12 thousand to attend the two day event; Friday, March 28th 10 am to 9 pm and Saturday, March 29th 9 am to 4 pm.
New this year is a job fair for area high school students. She tells KLKS some 800 students from six high schools will be at the show Friday morning checking job prospects.
Ms. Gottsch expects a lot of excitement as snow birds return, looking for something to do during what is expected to be a cool weekend.

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Crow Wing County Marijuana Drug Bust

A 28 year old Brainerd man was arrested Wednesday, March 26th, in connection with a drug raid on a Brainerd home. He has been identified as Scott Phillip Newman. Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl says the Lakes Area Drug Investigation Division seized five pounds of weed worth $8,000 along with a large amount of cash. Newman is expected to be charged with sale and possession of a controlled substance.
In a separate case Tuesday, police arrested 26 year old Kristin Marie Kakach of Brainerd on suspicion of felony sale of methamphetamine.

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Sad Relief for the Family of Paul Johnson-Reuben

The family of a security officer in Iraq say they feel both sadness and relief now that they finally know his fate. The body of former St. Louis Park police officer Paul Johnson-Reuben was found in Iraq recently. He was among six contractors kidnapped 16 month ago. Reuben left behind a wife, twin daughters and a five month old granddaughter he never met. The sisters say they weren't surprised their dad went to work in Iraq, because he loved to help people. They also said it was too dangerous, and he never should have gone.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

C-I Boy's Basketball Team Presses On; Bus Schedule

The Crosby Ironton boys basketball team defeated the Rockford Rockets, 73-59 Wednesday at the state tournament. Friday, they face The St. Bernard Bulldogs for the state semi-final contest in Section 2A. Tip-off is at 6pm at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis. Crosby Ironton School is selling tickets for the adult fan bus for $15. Contact Dale Sova at Community Education at 218-545-8822. Tickets for the student bus are $1 and can be purchased at the high school. The buses will load up at 2pm Friday and probably leave within 15 minutes after that. Tickets for the game are $10 for adults and $7 for students. Go-CI-Go!

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Minnesota Health Care Reform

State Senator Mary Olson of Bemidji has serious concerns about health care reform legislation moving through the state legislature. She tells KLKS, she voted against a plan voted out of committee. The DFL-er says she does not support a three percent reduction in Medicaid payments to rural nursing homes and hospitals. She says any shortage would be passed along to the private sector, which increases the costs for everyone else and harms local economies. Senator Olson also does not like the reporting provisions in the legislation which she says would increase administrative costs. As a result, she will be voting for an amendment to keep some reform provisions and remove others which she claims are counter-productive.

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Paul Johnson-Reuben Killed in Iraq

The news is devastating for a Minnesota family awaiting the fate of a former St. Louis Park policeman working security in Iraq. The FBI says one of the bodies found in Iraq recently was that of Paul Johnson-Reuben of Buffalo. His family says they held out hope for 16 months, but now are deeply saddened by the news. His family says he was adventurous, fun loving and his ever-present smile will be missed. They go on to say their hearts go out to other families grieving the loss of their loved ones taken in the same incident. Johnson-Reuben was 39 when the truck convoy he was escorting was ambushed 16 months ago by men in Iraqi police uniforms. He leaves behind two teenage twin daughters.
State Senator Mary Olson of Bemidji is expressing her condolences to the Reuben family. She says she has a son who is going to Iraq this summer, and he has three daughters who will be missing him

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The Governor's Opener Picnic May 9th

Plans continue for the Governor's Fishing Opener picnic May 9th. The event will be held at the Trailside Park in Pequot Lakes the night before the Saturday opener. Organizer Bernice Rhode, says plans are to serve 2,500 to 3,000 a roast turkey sandwich dinner. She tells KLKS, there will be a lot of other activities surrounding the annual event held this year at Breezy Point Resort on Big Pelican Lake. There will be a fish identification program, as well as a casting contest for the kids. Boat builder Crestliner has donated a pontoon boat to help pay for the event. Raffle tickets are available to win the craft. Ms. Rhode says a lot of volunteers are needed for the many events. Those interesting in offering a helping hand are asked to contact the chamber of commerce.

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Oberstar Told, No Hearings on Bridge Collapse

Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar has been told there will be no public hearings into the 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis. National Transportation Safety Board Director Mark Rosenker told the Minnesota Democrat and Chairman of the Transportation Committee, the decision not to hold the hearings was extremely difficult. Rosenker says he was concerned about losing control of the investigation. In a memo he said significant negotiations were required to keep the Minnesota Transportation Department and its technical consultants within the NTSB's investigation. He feared the delay caused by a public hearing would risk MNDOT and the feds from completing their own investigations without NTSB control or input. However, a vice chairman of the NTSB says failure to hold a public hearing would damage the board's credibility.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fish Virus Threatens Minnesota Lakes

Tim Brastrup, DNR Brainerd Area Fisheries Supervisor, says a deadly fish virus is in the great lakes. He tells KLKS news, if it spreads to Lake Superior and inland lakes, it could have devastating effects in Minnesota waters. He says one Wisconsin lake lost almost all of one fish population from the VHS virus. Brastrup says it causes fish to bleed and can be especially hard on walleye populations. Anglers who spot the condition are asked to call the DNR. Brastrup says the virus is an invasive that arrived from ocean going freighters. He urges fishermen not to stock fish from one lake to another. He says it is illegal, and has the potential of introducing disease into area lakes.

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Awaiting the Fate of Paul Johnson-Reuben

The family of Paul Johnson-Rueben of Buffalo is on pins and needles awating the fate of the Minnesota man. Johnson-Rueben was a St. Louis Park policemen who traveled to Iraq as a private security contractor. He was kidnapped along with four others by men in Iraqi police uniforms November 16th, 2006. Two bodies had been identified as fellow security officers Tuesday. Three more bodies have been found. The family waits while the state department provides positive identification.

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Crow Wing County Road Restrictions

Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl says there have already been several violations of spring road restrictions. Owners of heavy vehicles are being reminded that load restrictions are in place on all county and township roads. The weight limit is 5 tons. Area roads are vulnerable to damage as the frost comes out of the ground.

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Matthew Michael Martin Pulls His Guilty Plea

19 year old Mathew Michael Martin of Pine River has decided to change his plea to not guilty to a first degree murder charge in the August death of 15 year old Molly Jean Rice of Backus. Judge John Smith of the Cass County District court allowed Martin to remove his guilty plea Tuesday. Martin was concerned that state law may allow the judge no room to reduce his eventual sentence. Martin faces four other felony counts. The next hearing in Walker will be held April 9th. The trial is set to begin May 5th.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Governor Opposes Democrat Health Care Bill

The Minnesota Senate will take another look at a major health care reform bill this week as Senators return from Easter Break. The bill was constructed from testimony generated by the House/Senate Health Access Committee and the Governor's Task Force on Health Care Transformation but the bill has gone through variations and a number of versions. Governor Pawlenty spokesman Alex Carey said the governor won't be behind this version, primarily because its an expansion of current propgrams without saving taxpayer money and helping business lower the cost of health care and health insurance. Carey said 93% of Minnesotans have health insurance now and that's where the bill's cost-saving focus should be. The bill was supposed to be debated last week on the Senate floor but enough Republicans and Democrats found elements of the bill they didn't like and the bill was pulled from consideration. Fort Ripley State Senator Paul Koering said if the governor indicates he'll veto the final result, there's no point in going through the mostions with this bill.

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Howes On The Bonding Bill

A conference committee has been appointed to iron out the differences between bonding bill versions from the Minnesota House and Senate. Walker Lawmaker Larry Howes said the committee hasn't met yet because the main parties haven't agreed on a price tag. Howes said both Govenor Pawlenty and House Conference Committee Chair Alice Hausman agree that the bonding bill should be $825-Million but State Senator Keith Langseth wants more. The original Senate bill was more than $965-Million and Langseth agreed to lower it to $925-Million and now he wants a counter-offer from the Governor. Howes said its possible that lawmakers wouldn't approve a bonding bill this year but he doesn't think that will happen in an election year.

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CI Save Our Sports Fundraising Deadline Nears

The deadline for the group raising money to save Crosby Ironton sports for next fall is just over four weeks away, April 18th. Save Our Sports spokesman Wayne Harting said the group has made a good beginning but there's still a lot of money to raise. Harting said SOS has raised $35,000 so far and the Hallett Foundation has pledged to match money raised between now and the deadline up to $25,000. If the group can raise $250,000, sports at Crosby Ironton for next year will be just like this year. If the group raises $70,000, the school would increase activity fees for sports. Harting said SOS plans to hold a number of fundraisers in the near future. If you can help, send your check to SOS, P.O. Box 203, Ironton, MN 56455.

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Minnesota Lawmakers Back In Session

The 2008 Minnesota Legislative Session resumes once again. Brainerd Lawmaker John Ward said there are still lots of issues he wants to talk about like education, healthcare and property taxes. Ward said at the top of his list is the bonding bill and he believes lawmakers will produce a final version soon. Both House and Senate have approved final bills but now the conference committee will iron out differences. Royalton Lawmaker Al Doty said he expects a final bonding bill soon but he also expects to work on balancing the budget. Lawmakers have to reduce spending for this two-year budget cycle by $935-Million.

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Highway Fatals Down But Most Happen Outstate

Minnesota State Highway Sergeant Curt Mower said the number of vehicle crash deaths on state roadways is lower than a year ago. Mower said so far this year, 64 people have died in highway crashes compared to 80 at this time last year. But the bad news for those who live in rural Minnesota is that 70% of those crashes happen outside the Twin Cities metro area. Mower said drivers are not yielding to oncoming traffic and not coming to a complete stop and those two behaviors can contribute to deadly crashes.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Health Bill Future Uncertain

Minnesota Senators are scheduled to take up a large health care reform bill again when lawmakers return to session after the Easter Break. The bill was a product of the Governor's Task Force on Health Care Transformation and the House/Senate Health Access Committee and was scheduled for debate last Wednesday. Fort Ripley State Senator Paul Koering said all parties had doubts about the final bill, Republicans, Democrats and the Governor's office. Koering said he's on the Access Committee and he signed onto the bill as an author because he believed the committee did good work and came up with good recommendations. Koering said if the bill is not something the Governor is willing to sign, it makes no sense to continue on the current path. Koering said no matter what happens to this bill, something has to be done because health care costs continue to rise.

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Traffic Delays on 169 in Onamia

Travelers will be delayed now and then this week from Tuesday through Thursday on Highway 169 near Onamia. Crews are placing bridge sections over the highway for the future Soo Line pedestrian/bike trail overpass. Drivers should expect traffic stoppages of up to 15 minutes. Travellers should be alert for sudden stops in the work zone and watch for the flaggers.

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Lawmakers Back In Session

Minnesota Lawmakers go back in session on Tuesday. Bemidji Legislator Frank Moe said the work ahead includes balancing the budget. Moe said the state is on track to spend $935-Million more than it expects to collect in taxes by the end of 2009. Moe believes the budget can be balanced without raising taxes any more. Park Rapids Legislator Brita Sailer said passing the Transportation Package was an important part of the session so far. In addition to fixing roads and bridges, the package includes money for transit and adding busses and public transportation routes in Northern Minnesota. The session begins at noon on Tuesday.

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70s Radical Returned To Prison

Sara Jane Olson was waiting for her flight back to St. Paul when California prison authorities decided the six years she'd served was a year short of her seven year requirement. A former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, Olson had been sentenced to 14 years for bombing police cars and murdering Myrna Opsahl during a bank robbery in 1975. The former Kathleen Ann Soliah is scheduled to get out of Chowchilla California Women's Facility next March.

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Food Drive On Final Lap

Minnesota's March Food Drive is entering the home stretch and organizers are hoping for a big response in this final week. Spokeswoman Sue Kainz said the goal is to raise $9-Million cash and food to help stock shelves around the state. Kainz said Minnesotans are coming through and so far, they've given $2.5-Million in cash and food. Sponsoring groups include Catholic Charities, The Jewish Community Relations Council, the Minnesota Catholic Conference and the Minnesota Council of Churches.

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Four Men Escape Soft Ice

Four men escaped injury last Friday when their pick-up truck went through the ice on Little Pine Lake near Perham in Otter Tail County. Sheriff's Lieutenant Mike Boen said the ice was between three and four inches thick where the truck went through. The men got out of the truck and onto thicker ice before they got wet. The truck remains at the bottom of Little Pine in about 50 feet of water.

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Law Enforcement Looks For Bigamist

Dodge County Sheriff's Deputies are looking for a 39-year old Racine, Wisconsin man wanted for bigamy. Michael Lee Henderson was supposed to make his first court appearance on Wednesday but he didn't show up. A warrant was issued for his arrest. The formal complaint says that Henderson married his first wife in Wisconsin in 1995. He married a Rochester woman last year.

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