Friday, May 2, 2008

Change in the Future for Energy Production

Crow Wing Power is facing more demand for electricity and less than a clear source from to get it. Spokesman Rick Peterson said the co-op is looking at a number of different sources as well as upgrading existing transmission lines and making current power plants cleaner and more efficient. Peterson said more coal-fired plants will be needed as well as cleaning up existing plants. He said the only non-carbon electricity producing plants not used to its potential is nuclear power which have become safer and much more efficient in the last two decades. For more information about energy and saving money, check out the Green Page on the KLKS web page.

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Scandinavian Sounds Saturday and Sunday, May 3&4

The Great River Strings and director Richard Aulie will team up with Paul Wilson conducting the Skal Klubben Spelmanslag for a weekend of Scandinavian Sounds on Saturday and Sunday, May 3rd and 4th. Aulie said the music will feature the violin. Great River Strings players will perform a number of selected pieces, the Skal Klubben Spelmanslag, traditional and original Scandinavian Folk songs. Scandinavian Songs can be heard 7:30pm Saturday night, May 3rd in the Crosby High School auditorium. An afternoon show can be heard at 2pm Sunday at the First Lutheran Church in Aitkin. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for students and no more than $15 for families.

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5th Annual Good Samaritan Bowl on Monday

The Fifth Annual Good Samaritan Bowling event rolls around on Monday at Jack's House in Brainerd and Community Bowl in Pine River. Pat Johnson is the director of the organization in Pine River. Bowlers from all over the area will take to the lanes in three shifts to raise money for Good Samaritan. Bethany Campus in Brainerd is using the proceeds for community room improvements, the Pine River Care Center will buy a new tub, Woodland Campus will buy new televisions. Some of the money will go to support the Hospice Center in Nisswa. If you're not bowling and you'd like to help out, call in a pledge on Monday to 218-825-2505. Or if you're looking for a place to have lunch on Monday, Jack's House donates $1 to Good Samaritan for each meal served in their restaurant on Monday, May 5th.

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Legislature Per Diem Suit In Court Friday

A Minneapolis attorney's suit challenging lawmaker per diem payments as unconstitutional gets a day in court on Friday. Erick Kaardahl said the extra expense money beyond legislator's salary is not provided for in Minnesota's constitution. The suit alleges that per diem payments are in essence back door pay raises. Two Republican House members have joined the suit.

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Successful Food Drive

Minnesota Foodshare's March food drive exceeded its goal. Spokeswoman Julie Schanzenbach Canham generous Minnesotans donated more than expected. Schanzenbach said this year's foodshare goal was $9-Million or 9-Million pounds of food. Total raised was 9.1-Million pounds and dollars combined. If you'd still like to donate, pull up the web site,

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Brainerd School Board Hires Razidlo

Brainerd School Board Members voted unanimously to offer Assistant Superintendent Steve Razidlo the Superintendent's job. 46-year old Razidlo was one of two finalists in line to replace retiring Superintendent Jerry Walseth. Razidlo has been Walseth's assistant for two years and was the principal of Brainerd High School before that. Board member Lew Hudson told the Dispatch that Razidlo has a proven track record and stood above the other final candidate. The other finalist was Waconia Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard. Razidlo said the week has been stressful but not as bad as what his colleagues are going through with $5.5-Million budget cuts.

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New Reward in 7 Year Old Rachel Anthony Case

State investigators hope to breath new life into a seven year old investigation into who kidnapped and killed Rachel Anthony. The Pequot Lakes woman was apparently taken from her job at Ultimate Liquors in Pine River in late Feburary of 2001. Her body was found six weeks later in Breezy Point. Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Agent Dave Bjerga told the Brainerd Dispatch that investigators plan to go over evidence in the case and use tests not available seven years ago. Spotlight On Crime is offering $50,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of the responsible person. Cass County Sheriff Randy Fisher said anyone with any information at all should call law enforcement and help close this case.

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Stabbing Suspect Arraigned

21-year old James Cody Whittenton was charged in Crow Wing County District Court on Thursday for second degree attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon. Officials accuse Whittenton of stabbing 24-year old Anthony Paul Bjerkness in the stomach Monday night. Bjerkness is in St. Joseph's Medical Center recovering from his wound.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Stabbing Suspect Found, Perhaps Arraigned Thursday

21-year old James Cody Whittenton was arrested Wednesday night after apparently stabbing 24-year old Anthony Paul Bjerkness in the stomach earlier in the week. A Crow Wing County spokesman said Whittenton spent the night in custody and could be arraigned Thursday morning. The suspect allegedly stabbed Bjerkness from Crosby Mondayt night just after 7pm east of the county fair grounds in Southeast Brainerd. Bjerkness is recovering from his wound at St. Joseph's Medical Center.

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Koering Optimistic About Work Accomplished

Fort Ripley State Senator Paul Koering believes this will be an important weekend for this legislative session. Koering said the Senate Finance Committee is meeting both Saturday and Sunday to work on budget proposals. Koering said both the Governor and lawmakers know the budget must be balanced and the constitution dictates this session end no later than May 19th. Senator Koering said the Governor wants a new state park on Lake Vermillion and Democrat leadership wants the light rail commuter line connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul. Koering agrees that the session could end as early as next week because he believes the work will be done.

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Senjem Predicts Early End To Session

Senate Minority Leader David Senjem said Wednesday that the pace at the state legislature has picked up. Senjem predicts that this legislative session could be over sooner than expected, next week. Senjem said at the top of the list is a balanced budget and he believes lawmakers and the Governor can come together.

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A Change For The UWMA

Changes at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will mean changes at some area wildlife spots. DNR Area Wildlife Manager Gary Drots said most of the changes, however, will be at the office and won't affect the outdoors. Drots said control of the Upgaard Wildlife Management Area will transfer from the Non-Game Department to his department but maintenance of the 80-acre parcel will remain with the local "Grub Club" who spend Fridays cleaning and sprucing up the area. Drots added that turkey season went well, that late snowfalls did slowdown geese and woodducks a bit, and there was lots of drumming going on among the grouse population. Drots predicts a good season ahead.

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Governor Waits For Counter-Offer

Back and forth bargaining to balance the state budget is back in legislator's hands. Governor Pawlenty altered his previous offer and sent it on to the Minnesota House. Majority Leader Tony Sertich said he and his team will take a look and make adjustments. Sertich said ultimately the best way to proceed would be for all involved parties to be in the same room. The Governor said closed-door meetings to reduce the budget by $935-Million may happen this weekend. A bit of good economic news came from the Department of Finance on Wednesday. Tax revenue is up by 4.5% compared to last year.

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Go Green, Save Money

Crow Wing Power Key Account Executive Rick Peterson said a simple way to save money on anything is to use less of it. Peterson said electricity, for example, is difficult to store and use later but it can be sent along distribution lines at a different pace. Peterson said cycling energy during the summer to customers who agree to off-peak electricity use is one way to accomplish that. He said he's used the system at his house during the last couple of summers and it seems to maintain a good, liveable temperature and allows him to cut his hot month energy bill by about 50%. Listen to KLKS for more energy and money saving tips at 7:40am or check out the Green Page on the web site.

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Baxter Town Meeting Saturday

Baxter city officials will talk and listen to voters on Saturday at at town hall meeting at Heritage Assembly of God Church on College Road. Tammy Filippi is the chairwoman of Baxter's Long Range Planning Commission. She told the Dispatch that people usually aren't willing to attend town meetings unless there's some sort of controversy but she hopes this weekend's meeting is the exception. Filippi said the meeting is an informal gathering and people can come and go when they want to. Officials plan presentations on parks and trails and a conservation district proposition to restrict development in southwest Baxter. Registration starts at 8:45 Saturday morning. Hot dog, chips and drinks are on the menu for lunch at 11am.

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Brainerd Superintendent Decision?

At least one Brainerd School Board member sounds like he's not sure if the district will offer the superintendent's job to someone at Thursday's meeting. Member Kent Montgomery told the Dispatch there may be enough division on the board that members will need more information. Montgomery and board member Ruth Nelson have spent the week making phone calls to people who know the two finalists, current assistant Superintendent Steve Razidlo and Waconia Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard. The board is to meet Thursday at 12:30 to talk more.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Brainerd Area Deer Hunters Expect Changes

Gary Drotts, Brainerd Area Wildlife Supervisor for the Department of Natural Resources, says area deer populations have come down. He tells KLKS, through intensive harvest programs, numbers of white tail deer are more where they want them. As a result, he says they are considering reverting some intensive harvest and management areas back to a lottery system. One area that could see the change is area 249 in zone two located south of Brainerd, but north of Pierz. Recently, hunters could purchase anterless permits over the counter. Now, Drotts says they may have to register for the lottery in May.
Drotts says the ruffed grouse population appears to be up a little over last year. He says the heavy winter snows have been good for the upland game, and drumming counts seem to be reflecting that. He's not ready to say this will be a peak year, but numbers do appear to be on the upswing.

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Brainerd Man Stabbed

A 24-year-old Brainerd man walked into the Brainerd Medical Center with a stab wound Monday night. Anthoney Paul Bjerkness was transported by ambulance to St. Joseph's Hospital for treatment, where his condition was undisclosed. Bjerkness was stabbed in the abdomen following an assault on Oakridge Road south of Brainerd around 7pm Monday night. Police are looking for 21-year-old James Cody Whittenton for questioning.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spa Day for Families Forward Women's Fund

The Brainerd Community Foundation, Bridges of Hope and Grand View Lodge have teamed for a spa fund raiser this Thursday, May 1st. Spokesperson Marissa Engisch said fund raiser seeks to help enhance the lives of single women with children. The event runs from 4-9pm Thursday afternoon at Grand View Lodge's Glacial Waters Spa. The cost is $150. To get a ticket, call Marissa at 825-7682, and she'll set you up with the spa time.

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Go Green With K-Lakes: Saving Money

Crow Wing Power spokesman Rick Peterson said the first step to saving money on energy is to figure out how much you spend now and try to look for cheaper alternatives. Peterson said energy is priced by how much you use and using less will cost less. Peterson said energy is priced at so much per kilowatt per hour and the trick is to either use fewer kilowatts or cut down the time energy is used. He suggested teaching kids to turn off lights when they leave the room and asked anyone who figures out how to do that, to give him a call. Check out the Green Page on the klks web site for more information and tips on how to save energy.

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TV Ad Blames Democrats For Gas Tax Increase

A new 15-second television commercial is blaming Minnesota Democrats for raising the state gas tax. The commercial is based on the Democrat-controlled legislature's vote to pass the $6.6-Billion Transportation Spending Bill over Governor Pawlenty's veto. Brainerd lawmaker John Ward said in his opinion, the criticism was not fair. Ward said the investment is well worth it, that MnDOT would be able to push projects ahead. Ward said "I keep hearing from many constituents" saying thank you for making the "investments, for making our roads safer." The bill raises the gas tax by 8.5 cents per gallon by 2012. The first 2-cent raise happened on April 1st. The next 3.5-cents is due this fall.

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Highway Death Toll Rising

Minnesota drivers are still killing themselves and others in tragic crashes.
State Patrol Sergeant Curt Mower said the yearly death toll is closing in on last year's pace. More than a hundred people have died in highway crashes this year so far compared to 114 last year at this time. And one more motorcyclist has died this year compared to last. Mower said a substantial number of people who die were not wearing their seat belts, most of them thrown from the vehicle. A bill in the Minnesota Senate would establish seat belt usage a primary offense and would allow law enforcement to stop drivers for not buckling up.

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C-I Board To Consider Another Appeal

The Crosby-Ironton School Board told its attorney at Monday night's meeting to move forward with an appeal in the case of former Spanish teacher Maureen Morrow. The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently upheld an arbitration decision instructing the district to re-hire the teacher. Morrow was not tenured and was laid off in the school year following the 2005 teacher's strike. The Education Minnesota teacher's union position is that Morrow was let go because she walked the picket line during the strike. The supporting resolution passed four to zero.

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MN House Approves Welfare Reform Bill

The Minnesota House approved a welfare reform bill yesterday that would restrict those who get public assistance from using their benefit cards to buy alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets. House Republican Leader Marty Seifert said benefit cards currently include a cash portion and a grocery portion. The bill now goes to the Senate for further discussion.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Superintendent List Down To Two

The Brainerd School Board decided Saturday to pare the list of four final candidates for superintendent down to two. Board members completed hour-long interviews with each candidate Saturday morning. After the interviews, each board member wrote down the names of two candidates. Five of the six members agreed that current Assistant Superintendent Steve Rizidlo and Waconia Superindent Jerry Kjergaard were their favorites. Member Kent Montgomery told the Brainerd Dispatch that the board would meet on Thursday to select a finalist and offer him the job. Current Brainerd Superintendent Jerry Walseth will retire at the end of June.

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Brainerd's New Downtown

Brainerd Main Street Advisory Committee will hold its second open house meeting Tuesday night at the First Lutheran Church in Brainerd. Brainerd Lakes Chamber Main Street coordinator Emily Roaragen said the reconstruction of historic downtown is set to begin in the spring of 2009 and Brainerd will a particularly exciting place to be. Roaragen said businesses will remain open during reconstruction which will include sanitary and storm sewer replacement, street and sidewalk reconstruction and street furniture. Roaragen said the planners hired by the city will present the latest plans and citizens who attend the meeting will be able to offer their suggestions. The meeting starts at 6pm.

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Walleye Dan Will Fish With The Governor

Nisswa professional fishing guide Walleye Dan Eigen has been selected to host Governor Tim Pawlenty and the First Lady for the 2008 Governor's Fishing Opener. Eigen said he's very honored and he predicts that The Governor and the First Lady will catch fish on opening day. Eigen is sponsored by Mills Fleet Farm and Nisswa Marine and remembers when he was ten years old, his father hired a fishing guide and Dan was memorably impressed with all the fishing knowledge the guide had.

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MN House Leaders Offer a Counter-Offer

Minnesota House Majority Leader Tony Sertich said Friday that a counter-offer has been made to Governor Pawlenty's opening thoughts on balancing the state budget. Sertich said he believes a solution is getting closer but this probably won't be the last offer or counter-offer before the end of session. If lawmakers don't find agreement with the Governor before adjourning, Pawlenty could un-allot budget items on his own. The state contitution requires the session to end this year by May 19th.

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Northwest Talks To MN House Committee

Northwest Airlines General Counsel Ben Hirst testified in front of the Minnesota House Commerce and Labor Committee on Friday. Chairman Joe Atkins said there are more hearings scheduled and it seemed obvious from the first meeting that committee members still needed to hear from Delta about jobs, the hub and headquarters. Atkins said those who testified kept referring to Delta officials for final answers. Atkins said there are several more hearings scheduled concerning the merger of Northwest and Delta.

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Rice Man Dies When Canoe Overturns

20-year old Timothy Maehren died Saturday afternoon when his canoe capsized on Fawn Lake northeast of Merrifield. 20-year old Joshua Seehusen was able to make it to shore and call for help. Crow Wing County divers found Maehren's body about 30 yards from shore in about 17 feet of water. Neither man was wearing a life vest.

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