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Beltrami County faces backlash over refugee resettlement vote

Plus: St. Louis County snowplow drivers ready to strike after rejecting final contract offer; drop in sales of XC-ski passes in Minnesota means delays in trail-grooming grants; early voting for Minnesota’s presidential primary stars Friday; and more.

Beltrami County courthouse
Beltrami County courthouse

The Forum News Service’s Bria Barton writes: “Almost immediately after the Tuesday vote was cast that established Beltrami County as the first governmental unit in Minnesota — and the second in the nation — to refuse refugee resettlement, a social media firestorm erupted, laden with calls to boycott the tourism-driven community. Comments from thousands of people across the country poured in on Twitter and Facebook, with many expressing that they would no longer vacation or spend money in the northern Minnesota county because of their disapproval of the Beltrami County Board’s 3-2 vote.”

At MPR,  Andrew Krueger reports, “Snowplow drivers for St. Louis County have rejected a final contract offer, setting the stage for a strike as early as Tuesday morning. County plow drivers represented by Teamsters Local 320 voted 117-8 on Saturday to reject the county’s proposed contract, offered at the end of a marathon mediation session on Friday. The drivers’ previous contract expired at the end of 2019, and the union filed an intent to strike notice on New Year’s Day. The earliest a strike could happen is 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.”

Says John Myers for the Forum News Service, “The number of people buying Minnesota cross country ski passes has dropped dramatically in recent years, down more than 50% from peak winters, throwing the state’s trail grooming grant fund into the red. The problem is so severe that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is delaying payments to local clubs and cities, grants used to pay for trail grooming, until more money flows in.”

The Star Tribune’s Miguel Otarola says, “Minneapolis’ intense new push to make sure residents and business owners clear their sidewalks after a snowfall is having some early success. City inspectors who have patrolled the city after three major snowfalls this season have recorded a 94.5% compliance rate, generally within several hours after a snowfall. So far, the city has sent 1,521 notices of violation and hired contractors to clear the sidewalks from 778 properties after repeated warnings.

From the AP, via WCCO: “Minnesota voters will be among the first in the country to cast ballots in the presidential primaries when the state opens early voting on Friday. That’s when Minnesotans can vote in person or request absentee ballots for the state’s March 3 Super Tuesday primary. It’ll be Minnesota’s first presidential primary since 1992, the first one that’s been binding on both parties since 1956, and only the fifth in state history.”

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This from the AP, “A police official says Moorhead, Minnesota might consider requesting a permit from the state to remove aggressive turkeys after some residents complained about the animals. … The department, which also runs the city’s animal control unit, estimates that there are about 300 turkeys currently roosting and walking in residential neighborhoods.”

KSTP-TV reports: “Several cars from a freight train derailed Sunday in western Wisconsin, about 20 miles west of Menomonie, authorities said. Officials said around 4 p.m., 35 cars in a 2-mile-long eastbound Union Pacific freight train went off the rails at the 190th Street crossing near the town of Knapp. … The cars involved in the wreck were not carrying hazardous materials, although other cars in the train were, Menomonie Fire Chief John Baus said.”

NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk reports: “The Cleveland Browns have hired their next head coach. Former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski is the Browns’ new head coach, according to multiple reports. The Browns couldn’t officially hire Stefanski until the Vikings were eliminated from the playoffs, and less than 24 hours after Saturday’s loss to the 49ers, the hiring was made.”

At MPR, Cody Nelson says, “Indy was a ‘superstar’ sled dog in his earlier days, according to his owner, Frank Moe. But three and a half years ago, Indy lost sight in one eye.  … Indy adapted well to running with one eye, Moe said — and then he lost sight in his other eye. … That could’ve spelled the end of Indy’s racing career, but the pup couldn’t stop running. … Indy’s known as a wheel in dogsled parlance — which means he runs behind the rest of the dogs, right in front of the musher. … He proved his strength this weekend, completing the 100-mile Gunflint Mail Run in Cook County, Minnesota. It’s two 50-mile legs with a few hours of rest in between.”

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