Saturday, May 23, 2009

Better Buckle Up!

(AP) Starting June 9th, Minnesota motorists can be pulled over just for not wearing a seat belt. Governor Pawlenty has signed the "Primary Seat Belt Law". The change is that it used to be police had to spot another violation before ticketing someone for not wearing a seat belt.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Airports Get Grants From FAA

Washington DC - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is making two grant awards to airports in Aitkin County and on the Iron Range, Congressman Jim Oberstar announced today. The Chisholm-Hibbing Airport will receive a grant of $414,324 to purchase new snow removal equipment. The Aitkin Municipal Airport has been awarded $43,225 to conduct an environmental study of a runway expansion.

The grants were made from the FAA Airport Improvements Program. It is important to continue investing in our transportation infrastructure in rural America, said Oberstar. Efficient, well run airports help create jobs in rural communities.

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Park Rapids Student Wins National Art Contest

Park Rapids Area High School junior Greta Ertl has been named the winner of the 2009 Congressional Art Competition for Minnesota's 8th District for her painting "The Path Within."

As an aspiring artist, Ertl says she often looks inward when she is creating a painting. "The Path Within" explores the concept of coming together, which in turn creates harmony.

Southwest Airlines has donated three tickets so Ertl can attend the reception for contest winners in Washington DC on June 24th.

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Pawlenty Taps a Former Lawmaker as His Legislative Liaison

(AP) A former lawmaker has been tapped by Governor Pawlenty as his Legislative Liaison after a rough session. Chris DeLaForest, former State Representative, will join the Governor's Staff on June 22nd as Director of Legislative and Cabinet Affairs.

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Paxton Predicts Strong Year for Tourism

Gasoline prices have risen nearly 40 cents a gallon in the last two weeks. Despite that, Lisa Paxton, Executive Director of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce, is predicting another good year for tourism. She says visitors are making last minute plans, sometimes calling on their cell phones one the way up north.
Paxton says the price of gasoline a year ago was $3.80 a gallon, and they still had a successful year.
Incidentally, if you are in your car and heading north, you can call the Brainerd Chamber at: (218) 829-2838.

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Project 515 Comes to Brainerd

The Brainerd Public Library will be the site of an information meeting on Project 515. Spokesman Laura Smidzick says they got their name from the 515 statutes they say discriminate against same-sex couples and their families. She tells KLKS News, they have had a recent success on medical assistance leaves, which the Governor signed Thursday.

The meeting will be held at the Brainerd Public Library at 7 p.m. this evening.

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Keeping Your Flowers Blooming

Now that the frost potential is waning, a lot of folks will be planting their flowers this Memorial weekend. Meteorologist and gardener Tony Schumacher says the best way to keep them blooming in flower pots is to water them every day with a half strength fertilizer solution.
Schumacher says if it's windy and hot, watering twice a day may be required.

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Fifty Lakes Youngester Injured on Building Site

A five year old Fifty Lakes boy has been airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robinsdale after having fallen several stories at his parents home Thursday evening.

Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl says Tristan Veit was leaning against a newly installed wall, when he fell through and landed in a hole designed for a basement.

His condition is not known. The accident happened shortly before 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

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Lad Killed in Skid Loader Accident

A two year old boy was killed in a skid loader accident northwest of Walker in Hubbard County Wednesday. He was sitting in his father's lap on a skid loader near the town of Benedict when the accident occurred. His father was lowering some pipe when the machine rocked resulting in severe head trauma.

Names have not been released. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's office will perform an autopsy.

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Tourism Forum Comes to Brainerd

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar will hold forums on tourism in Duluth and the Brainerd Lakes area Wednesday, May 27. She chaired a Senate hearing on the tourism industry last week in Washington.

Klobuchar said the two forums are an opportunity to examine the challenges and opportunities facing Minnesota's travel and tourism industry in the midst of the current economic downturn.

Minnesota's lone senator says she wants to make sure tourism continues to a strong, vital part of our economy, drawing visitors from across the country and around the world.

According to an Explore Minnesota survey of 350 lodging and camping businesses across the state, half expect business this summer to continue at normal levels, with 32 percent anticipating occupancy to match last summer and 21 percent expecting an increase in occupancy.

The Brainerd forum will be held 1 p.m. at the Lodge at Brainerd Lakes. Klobuchar will be joined by the Director of Explore Minnesota, John Edman.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

HealthEast Hospitals Agree to Pay Feds

(AP) Three HealthEast Hospitals of the Twin Cities have agreed to pay the Federal Government nearly $2.3 million. The Justice Department says those hospitals had over-charged MediCare for treating certain spinal fractures with in-patient instead of out-patient procedures.

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Local Lawmakers Unhappy with Session

State Senator Paul Koering of Fort Ripley described the legislative session just concluded as "Very sad." He said the DFL majority was unwilling to "Work things out" and fix a budget that is $3-billion out of balance, forcing Governor Tim Pawlenty to cut programs.

Koering tells KLKS News, counties and cities over 2,000 will have to freeze wages and lay-off some employees for a while. He says the impact on nursing homes should be minimal. However, hospitals will have to adjust the way they do things. He figures in seven months we will be able to say everything is OK.

State Senator Mary Olson of Bemidji is not as hopeful. She says time will tell if local government, schools, hospitals and nursing homes are saying the same thing.
Senator Olson says they had an opportunity to correct the budget. Now, the state is going to face an on-going budget deficit.

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Celebration and Uncertainty at the Lindberg Home Today

There are mixed emotions at the birthplace of Charles Lindberg today. This is the 82 anniversary of the famed aviators crossing of the Atlantic. His home in Little Falls is a featured tourist attraction for the city. However, state budget cuts may force its closing. The landmark should remain open through June, after that the future is uncertain.

The house is maintained by the Minnesota Historical Society. Their budget, along with many in the state, is being slashed to help balance the state budget, which is facing a $4.5 billion revenue shortfall.

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Brainerd Brush Fires on a Red Flag Day

Some nervous moments in the Brainerd Lakes Area yesterday with the Red Flag Warning. An air drop was called in Thursday afternoon to dowse a grass fire south of Brainerd. The fire consumed about one and a half acres. From there, the tanker was called to make a similar drop west of Baxter.

A Red Flag Warning is issued with strong wind, heat and low humidity combine to create explosive fire conditions.

A third of an inch of rain over-night and cooler temperatures have lessened the fire threat.

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Child Car Seat Clinic to be Held in Breezy Point

Over 85 percent of children are not appropriately restrained when traveling in a motor vehicle. Because of those kinds of facts, the Crow Wing County Passenger Safety Coalition, along with the North Crow Wing First Responders, will be hosting a child car seat check-up event at the Public Safety Building in Breezy Point, MN on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 from 4-7pm. The Public Safety Building is located north of the Breezy Point Resort Main Gate.

Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will be on hand to answer questions and help you make sure you are transporting your children safely. They will also help with correct installations, correct fit for your child, and check car seats for defects or recalls, as well as providing information about brand new legislation concerning child car seat safety. There is no charge for attending this clinic.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Target's Profits take a Hit

(AP) Profit for Target Corporation's first-quarter fell 13%. Sluggish consumer spending was primarily to blame for the Minneapolis-based retailer's latest results. For the quarter ending May 2nd, Target earned $522 million--or $.69 per share.

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Red Flag Warnings for the Brainerd Area

Red Flag Warnings have been posted for the Brainerd Lakes Area. Strong winds combined with low humidity and temperatures in the 80's have prompted the warnings. These conditions and the lack of recent rain have created conditions favorable for the rapid spread of fire. Crow Wing, Cass, Aitkin and Pine Counties are all included.

No burning permits are being issued. However, foresters are asking anyone who had a camp fire in the past three days to make sure it is completely extinguished. Any outdoor activity that could create a spark, such as metal cutting, grinding or welding should be conducted with extreme caution.

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Cabin Break-Ins in Todd County

The Todd County Sheriff's office is investigating a number of lake cabin break-ins in the Sylvan Shores area and along Turtle Lake. A cash reward is being offered.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Todd County Sheriff's office at: (320) 732-2157, or (800) 794-5733.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More Cut-Backs at M.E. Global in Duluth

(AP) Nearly 40% of M.E. Global's employees in Duluth are being layed off next week due to reduced demand in the iron ore business. Weekly hours for employees have already been cut to 32 from 40. Just about 40 of 100 employees are being layed off next week.

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CLC Establishes Schluender Scholarship Fund

A memorial scholarship for Steve Schluender, Heavy Equipment Operation and Maintenance instructor at the Central Lakes College, has been created by his wife Wendy.

The initial donation of $25,000 has been made to provide financial assistance to a third-semester CLC Heavy Equipment student.

Schluender was a heavy equipment operator and worked for several construction companies. He taught for 26 years in the CLC Heavy Equipment program until his retirement in August of 2008. Steve died in January after a battle with brain cancer.

Donations to this fund may be sent to the Central Lakes College Foundation, 501 West College Drive, Brainerd Minn., 56401.

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DNR Tells Boaters to Pull the Plug

Beginning Memorial Day Weekend, the DNR is joining forces with other law
enforcement agencies to prevent the spread of invasive species from lakes in the Brainerd, Lake Mille Lacs and Prior Lake areas.

The increasing zebra mussel populations at Lake Mille Lacs and Rice
Lake near Brainerd, and the new zebra mussel infestation at Prior Lake
in Scott County are a particular concern.

Minnesota's water resources are threatened by numerous aquatic invasive
species such as the zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and purple
loosestrife. These species can easily spread within the state unless boaters take preventative measures.

John Hunt, DNR water resource enforcement manager is asking boaters to
drain bait buckets, bilges and live wells before leaving any water
access is a good habit to develop; Rrmove aquatic plants from boats and trailers and drain all water, including pulling the drain plug.

Violators could face fines of up to $500. Officers will also give out
informational cards on transporting infested waters to all boaters.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

No Budget Deal at the Capitol

With just hours left in the Legislative session, there is no agreement between Governor Tim Pawlenty and DFL legislative leaders on how to balance the budget. The Governor says if they can't agree, he will act unilaterally to make the cuts necessary to match spending with revenue.

State Senator Mary Olson of Brainerd fears cuts planned by the Governor will have a devastating impact on hospitals.

House Minority Leader Marty Seifert says, if hospitals and the poor suffer consequences, the DFL is to blame.

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Click-It or Ticket Begins Today

The May mobilization begins today, in which law enforcement will be out ticketing for lack of seat belt use. Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl tells KLKS news, seat belts and air bags offer the best protection in an accident. He says it is ironic that drivers must buckle-up, but motorcyclists don't have to wear a helmet. Dahl says that is a matter of personal choice, but when he rides, he wears the helmet.
Sheriff Dahl estimated 20% of the motoring public does not use a seat belt.

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Best Time to Prune is After Blossom Time

Flowering trees and shrubs are beginning to show their spring colors. Meteorologist and gardener Tony Schumacher says the best time to prune them is after they are done flowering. Examples are forsythia, lilac and azalea. He says any newly planted shrubs and trees need lots of water now. Schumacher says moisture looks spotty for the next week to 10 days.

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