Friday, April 18, 2008

Jenkins Township Has At Least One More Suitor

Pequot Lakes City Council members voted earlier this month to meet with Jenkins Township officials to talk about annexation. City of Jenkins officials say they'd like to discuss the matter too. Jenkins Mayor Jon Lubke told the Lake Country Echo that "our door is open" and they'd like to talk about annexation as well. Lubke said Jenkins Township has done a good job for $149,000 a year and has more land a smaller budget than the city. A Jenkins Township resident said there were a good number of people at the Jenkins Health Communities Partnership Vision Quest in April of last year.

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Pequot Lakes School Relay For Life

Friday, May 2nd will be the fourth Pequot Lakes School American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Organizer Nikki Stark said students have organized, participated and raised money for relays every other year since 2002. Stark said the 11th and 12th grade students have been involved in the Relay before but for 9th graders, this is the first year. Students have completed rosters and organized their teams. The next deadline will be next Friday, April 25th, when they have to turn in donations. If you'd like to help the Pequot Lakes Students for this year's Relay, contact Nikki Start at the high school at 568-9248 or ask a high school student who you should give the money to.

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MN Legislative Session Begins To End

Thursday was the 104th day in the 2007-2008 Minnesota Legislative Session and the constitution calls for 120 days each two years. The final deadline of the session has been set for May 19th. Fort Ripley State Senator Paul Koering wonders if the session will all that much longer. Koering thinks that the session will end sometime after the first week in May but not much later. If lawmakers don't approve a budget bill by the end of session, Governor Pawlenty may have to un-allot money to make the books balance. At the current pace of tax collection, the state will spend roughly $935-Million more than it takes in.

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Project New Hope Selected For Honor

A Pequot Lakes-based project to help veterans adjust to civilian life has been selected as one of three finalists for an international Lions Club award. Project New Hope takes combat veterans and their families on weekend vacations. Other vets and counselors are available if the vets or their families want to talk. US Navy vet and Pequot Lakes resident Bruce Billington created the project . The winner of the award will be announced in June at the Lions Club International Convention in Bangkok.

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Music Matter Gets Close to Fundraising Goal

Officials from the Brainerd group called Music Matters say they are within $17,000 of thier $100,000 goal to pay salaries for two high school music teachers. The two non-tenured teachers were cut recently as the board tries to balance the school budget for next year. Music Matters hopes that Friday night's concert will tip them over the edge. The concert at 7:30pm in Tornstrom Auditorium at 8th and Oak will feature the Brainerd High School Jazz Band, Legacy Chorale, Windfall, the Harmony Engineers and the fourth grade honors choir. The school budget expects to be able to afford the two after next year after one grade school music teacher retires. You can get tickets to Friday night's concert at the Brainerd Dispatch, Bridge of Harmony Music Store and at the door.

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Crow Wing County Foreclosures Down

Crow Wing County Recorder Kathy Ludenia said there were fewer foreclosures in March than in the first two months of 2008. Ludenia told the Brainerd Dispatch there were 40 sheriff's forclosure sales of property in January, 35 in February, and 29 last month in March. Ludenia said its too soon to say if the worst of the recent higher rate of Crow Wing County foreclosures is over.

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Meet and Greet Brainerd's New Superintendent

The four finalists who could become the next Brainerd Public Schools Superintendent will spend two hours next Friday night, April 25th talking to anyone who has questions. The open to the public session at Forestview runs from 7-9pm. Candidates will take a few minutes to introduce themselves and explain why they're interested in the position and then go to separate areas of the cafeteria to talk with members of the community. The school board told the Brainerd Dispatch candidate's spouses will be invited but leave it up to them whether or not they wanted to participate. The four finalists will spend most of Friday touring district buildings although two of the candidates have already seen them at least once. Assistant Superintendent Steve Razidlo and Community Ed Director Todd Lyscio are finalists as well as Jerry Kjergaard from Waconia and John Longtin from Egan.

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Nisswa Hosts Run For The Lakes Marathon

Long distance runners will trot over to Nisswa April 25 & 26th for the Brainerd Jaycees Run For The Lakes Marathon. Chamber Executive Susan Mazzenga said that event plus the annual Spring Fling will make Nisswa the place to be. Mazzenga said there are 500 runners registered for the marathon and this is an Olympic-qualified race. The Spring Fling will include entertainment, clowns, special offers from merchants, and an eager, welcome to spring.

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MN House Approves Bovine TB Buyout

The Minnesota House unanimously approved a bill to establish a 10-mile Bovine tuberculosis management zone in northwestern Minnesota. Taxpayers will pay farmers and ranchers $500 for each animal destroyed because of TB contact. The bill also included more money to eradicate the deer population in the affected zone. Royalton Lawmaker Al Doty said the bill is another step towards wiping out the disease without testing every beef and dairy herd in the state. The bill was sponsored by Thief River Falls lawmaker David Olin. The USDA recently downgrade Minnesota cattle from parts of the northwestern part of the state. Cattle shipped from the affected area are now subjected to more stringent testing. The Minnesota Health Department said humans are not at risk as long as affected beef is cooked and milk pasteurized.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Senator Koering Says the State Senate is "Not My Bag."

Fort Ripley Republican State Senator Paul Koering tells KLKS, as a dairy farmer he could see a product at the end of the day, but that is not always the case for his efforts at the State Capitol. He tells KLKS, only a few power brokers determine the results in conference committee at the end of the session. Several legislative issues are currently in negotiation. Koering says he doesn't like spinning his wheels and may choose to serve only one more term.
Koering says he wants to support the transportation bill currently in conference committee because it would name Highway 210 through Staples "The Dallas Sams Memorial Highway" for the Democrat who passed away recently following a bout with cancer. However, Koering says he may not be able to do so because of a provision calling for a national I.D. card for Minnesota. He says that one is going to hard for him to swallow, and that he can't always support the Governor.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

IAAP Annual Meeting Approaches

The International Association of Administrative Professionals Brainerd Chapter will hold its annual meeting in two weeks on April 24th. Organizer Laura Larson said this year's event will be at the Timbermist and include lots of fascinating speakers and activities for those who attend. Larson said the vendor's fair offers those at the meeting a chance to catch up on the latest in the administrative field as well as make some good personal connections. Larson said last year's event drew 79 people and they're hoping for 100 this year. KLKS afternoon announcer Blenda will emcee the event. For more information or to register for the event, pull up the web site

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DNR Arbor Day Preparations

Department of Natural Resources Foresters around the state are getting ready to recognize Arbor Day, last Friday in April. Forestor Dean Mackey said its a time to repair and fine-tune the forests around us. Mackey said he and his crews will replant 300 acres or over 200,000 tree seedlings, primarily to re-plant cut-over areas. Normally, trees regenerate naturally but not always. Mackey said state nurseries grow roughly 8-Million seedlings every year that are used on public and private lands. If you need seedlings or want to know more about Arbor Day reforestation, call the DNR offices in Brainerd at 828-2565 or in Backus at 947-3232.

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Brainerd Teachers Could Help Hire Others Back

Brainerd teachers will vote on Friday whether or not to allow school administrators to spend staff development reserve funds to hire back other teachers next fall. Superintendent Jerry Walseth told the Dispatch that $300,000 could be used to hire back 5 or 6 teachers laid off in budget cuts this year. Walseth proposed reserve funds also be used to hire a curriculum director, and a Reading Recovery teacher.

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Baxter Council Approves ATV Laws

The Baxter City Council has adopted regulations Tuesday on the use of all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles within the city limits. ATVs and snowmobiles can legally use the city right of way to get to a designated trail system but no faster than 20 miles per hour. And ATVs are not allowed in an area of the city east of Highway 371 between Woida and College Drive. Baxter resident Bob Miller told the council it was irresponsible to allow ATVs in residential areas because of the damage they cause. Council member Todd Holman told the Brainerd Dispatch it was up to snowmobilers and ATV riders to educate and police themselves as to the new rules.

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Northwest History?

Northwest Airlines Cheif Executive Doug Steenland said there's no chance that Northwest and Delta officials will reconsider Minnesota for the merged airlines headquarters. Steenland said Northwest want to renegotiate with the State of Minnesota to preserve the Twin Cities hub and modify new employment levels. But he insists that the new airline will be based in Atlanta. Minnesota House Republican Tom Emmer is not ready to concede though. He'll try to suspend normal procedural rules to vote on a tax break package to lure Delta Airlines HQ to Minnesota. Emmer said Minnesota's business climate is not as friendly as it could be and by aggressively offering incentives in current law, Delta officials could change their minds.

Meanwhile, Congressman Jim Oberstar said this is only the first of future mega-mergers in the airline industry. Oberstar said he expects United to join with another, perhaps Continental and they will consolidate with British carrier Midland and Lufthansa and a Pacific Rim partner. Oberstar expects three large mega-carriers to emerge and smaller, low-fare carriers will no longer be able to compete. Oberstar said the US Congressional sub-committee on aviation will take a look at current anti-trust rules, but not just as it relates to the current mergers but the bigger picture of global competition.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ole and Lena and the Great Big Walleye

Central Lakes College Theater Department will present the children's play, Ole and Lena and the Great Big Walleye. Director Dennis Lamberson said there is only one performance open to the general public and that will be this Saturday at 1pm. Lamberson said tickets are $5 and you can reserve them ahead of time by calling the college box office at 218-855-8199.

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A Day To Think About The Fair Tax

Most income tax forms or at least a request for an extension must be filed with the Internal Revenue Service by midnight tonight, April 15th. Dennis Madden is the State Coordinator of the Fair Tax Organization. Madden said if the federal legislation proposing the Fair Tax was passed and signed this year, next year would be a very different year, tax-wise. Madden said all income, payroll, social security, business, corporate, inheritance and capital gains taxes would disappear and be replaced by a federal sales tax. Madden said politicians instead of trying to find more ways to spend money would be looking for ways to stay within budget because it would be very difficult to raise the consumption tax. The Fair Tax Act was first proposed by Georgia Congressman John Lindner and received 74 co-sponsors in this session of the US Congress. Lawmakers in the state of Michigan have also introduced the bill in its legislature. For more information, check out the web site

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Flora the Red Menace Blizzard Make-up Show

Because snow fell thick and fast last Friday, Pequot Lakes High School actors had to postpone opening night for their rendition of the Broadway musical Flora the Red Menace. They'll perform a blizzard make-up show tonight at 7pm. The 1930s Kander and Ebb musical tells the tale of an out-of-work fashion designer who falls in love with a Communist. Tickets at the door are $3 for students and $4 for adults.

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Area Candidates Seek Party Endorsement

Minnesota Senate District 4 Democrats will meet this Saturday to endorse candidates for House District 4A and 4B seats. Pequot Lakes activist Meg Bye intends to challenge incumbent Republican 4B State Representative Larry Howes this fall. Bye said the issue at the top of her list is money for education. Bye said "schools are struggling. Levies are being asked to be passed for basic educational services. We can't sit around and expect each little community to eduction its own children." Party officials told the Brainerd Dispatch they expect incumbent Bemidji Democrat Frank Moe to run for re-election in District 4A. Senate District 4 includes parts of Beltrami, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard and Itasca Counties.

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No Beer For Brainerd's Fourth

Brainerd Community Action's Nancy Cross asked the Brainerd School Board last Thursday for permission to serve beer on school grounds during this year's Fourth of July celebration. She said the Brained Jaycees wanted to operate a beer tent near the school football field to help offset the cost of the Independence Day event. Cross withdrew her request at yesterday's school board meeting and asked to use two school parking lots to sell premium parking spaces instead. Cross told the Dispatch that board members received a number of phone calls about selling beer on school grounds and she didn't want any more controversary on the matter.

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Brainerd Names Four Superintendent Finalists

The Brainerd School Board named four finalists to replace retiring Superintendent Jerry Walseth and two of them are already on the district payroll. Finalists include assistant superintendent Steve Razidlo and Community Education Director Todd Lyscio, superintendent of Waconia Schoools Jerry Kjergaard, and former Mendota Heights Superintendent John Longtin. Personnel Committee Chairman Kent Montgomery told the Brainerd Dispatch his committee began with nine candidates. The four finalists will sit through interviews later this month. The plan is to hire one by the 12th of May.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Brainerd Music Matters Concert Friday, April 18th

A self-imposed fundraising deadline is around the corner but the group raising money to pay salaries for two high school music teachers are excited about their progress so far. Spokeswoman Jennifer Pelowski said the group Music Matters has raised more than half of the money so far, hopefully enough to convince the teachers that they don't have to put their house on the market and begin looking for another job in earnest. The two younger Brainerd High School teachers are being let go because of budget cuts. Pelowski said the response from members of the community sends a very clear message to her. The next Music Matters fundraising event will be Friday, April 18th at 7:30pm. Nine musical acts will perform at Tornstrom Auditorium. Groups include Windfall, the Harmony Engineers, Hans Blixt and the Weapons Inspectors, and the Brainerd Schools Fourth Grade Honors Choir. Ticket cost is $10 and you can get yours at the Brainerd Dispatch, Bridge of Harmony music store, or at the Crossing Arts Alliance office at the Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd.

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Spring Crime Clean-up

Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl said spring brings good things and a few not so good. Sheriff Dahl said more people will be on area highways from now until next fall. Dahl said as people open up cabins, they too often discover they've had visitors of their own during the winter, but these visitors are not welcome. Dahl said he wants everyone who discovers winter break-ins to call and report. If your cabin break-in is related to another, your information may help solve a series of crimes and put some bad people behind bars.

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Watch For Slippery Spots

The massive piles of snow should start to disappear this week. Minnesota State Patrol Sergeant Curt Mower said drivers should fight the feeling of spring fever and beware of possible danger. Mower said there will be shaded spots where snow and ice won't disappear as fast, especially on secondary roads. Mower said this is the time of year when traffic increases as people open up cabins and get ready for the fishing opener.

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Buildings Near Finlayson Burglarized, Burned

Ten buildings near Big Pine Lake in Pine County were broken into on Sunday and then set on fire. Sheriff Mark Mansavage said most of the buildings were vacant cabins about five miles from Finlayson. Mansavage said five of the cabins had burned to the ground. The Sheriff said there were no reported injuries. Deputies found a set of footprints in the snow around some of the cabins. There have been similar cases in neighboring Aitkin and Kanabec Counties. Authorities are investigating the possibility that the crimes are connected.

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Health Department Wants Theater Smoking Nights Stopped

The Minnesota Health Department asked a Scott County Court on Friday to stop an Elko bar from offering theater nights for its smoking customers. Robert Ripley owns the Bullseye Saloon in Elko just south of Burnsville. Health Department lawyers want the judge to say Ripley is violating the state's smoking ban which includes an exception for theatrical performances. Ripley said he's merely taking advantage of the exception. A hearing on the case is scheduled for April 30th. Meanwhile, theater nights at the Bullseye Saloon continue from 8am until 2am, seven days a week.

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MN Lawmakers Sued Over Per Diem

A Minneapolis attorney has filed suit against the Minnesota Legislature for giving themselves an unauthorized raise. Erick Kaardahl said his clients claim that lawmakers in both the House and Senate are acting unconstitutionally. Kaardahl said leadership in both houses declared an increase in per diem payments to take effect immediately. Kaardahl said his clients want the court to stop the practice and require lawmakers to give the money back. The Minnesota Attorney General has filed a motion to dismiss the suit. That motion will be heard on April 28th.

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