Flooding around Minnesota becomes a concern

Minnesota’s rains mean potential flooding in several areas. Here’s a soggy roundup:

John Weiss of the Rochester Post-Bulletin says the Mississippi River could reach flood stage by next weekend, with near-flood-stage readings at Red Wing, Lake City, Wabasha and Winona by Saturday.

• Up river in St. Cloud, the National Weather Service says the Mississippi could reach flood stage early Thursday, according to the St. Cloud Daily Times. The river is forecast to crest at 9.2 feet Friday; it was at 7.6 feet Sunday morning.

• Even farther upriver, Jennifer Stockinger of the Brainerd Dispatch writes that the NWS predicts the Mississippi near Fort Ripley and Aitkin will continue to rise with minor to moderate flooding. On Monday, the water level was 10.4 feet near Fort Ripley. Flood stage is 10 feet. The NWS expects the Mississippi will continue to rise to nearly 12.5 feet by Thursday night.

The Dispatch is also reporting that Gull Lake Reservoir is at near record level. The site has had 7.71 inches of precipitation since May 19, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The agency warns property owners to move boat lifts and docks to higher ground.

Farmers are facing unique problems this season, thanks to the additional precipitation. Agweek, a sister publication to the Grand Forks Herald, writes that normal weed and insect problems have arrive early and new issues are popping up. “It’s a double-edged sword,” said Ian MacRae, an entomologist with the University of Minnesota Extension Service. Astor leafhoppers, which are seldom a problem in the Northern Plains, have surfaced in the Dakotas and Minnesota. Waterhemp — “the most satanic weed there is” — is an even greater threat because of this year’s extended growing season, said Rich Zollinger, weed specialist with the North Dakota State University Extension Service. Extension agents have confirmed that waterhemp and kochia weed on about 2,000 acres in north central and eastern South Dakota no longer respond to the herbicide glyphosate, a popular weed killer.

A Welcome City Council tour of the city’s wastewater treatment plant was abruptly canceled when other people wanted to join and then cited state open meeting laws when they were denied access, writes Jenn Brookens of the Fairmont SentinelCiting safety issues, Mayor Bocky Borchardt asked two attendees to not participate in the tour. The two — former Mayor Eric Anderson and ex-Council Member Wes Strausser — said the council meeting was announced and open to the public. Borchardt then canceled the tour, and the five current council members left the scene. “It was a … council walk-through. It was planned as a work session,” Borchardt later said. Strausser disagreed. “It doesn’t make sense why (the council) is so paranoid … They won’t even allow us to speak at the meetings anymore.” Max Longley of the public works department said the only area that would be unsafe is the inflow building. “The sewage is raw and has no treatment. … We would have had a short safety briefing before we started.”

Duluth East High School was hit by vandals using spray paint, eggs and toilet paper. Not unusual high jinks at the end of the school year. However, the damage is at such a massive amount that a school official estimated the damage would reach felony-level, writes Jana Hollingsworth of the Duluth News Tribune. Eggs were splattered nearly to the top of the three-story structure. There was also egg on windows closer to the Superior Street side of the building, where vandals had strung toilet paper on the trees there. Profanities and depictions of male genitals were spray-painted on the parking lot. Kerry Leider, the Duluth school district’s property and risk manager, said the damage is serious because of what eggs can do to a building and the costs to clean and repair the egged glass and remove spray paint. He expected an official damage estimate later in the day.

Dewey Goodwin has respect for Dolomite. “Tough, tough rock,” he said after completing a bald eagle sculpture out of the carbonate mineral which will grace the front entrance of the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School near Bena. Monte Draper of the Bemidji Pioneer writes that the slab started as a 2,000-pound rectangular piece of stone from which the Bemidji artist shed more than 500 pounds from the rock. Here’s a photo. The project was paid for through a collaboration grant with the Minnesota State Artist Board, Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig and Goodwin. Asked how many hours he put into the sculpture, he laughed. “I spent a full 10 hours one day using 800 grit wet sandpaper to finish it,” Goodwin said. “That much I do know.”

With a newly purchased set of hydraulic rescue tools known as “the Jaws of Life,” Winnebago firefighters can extract a person from a vehicle in five seconds rather than 30, writes Jodelle Greiner of the Fairmont Sentinel. The purchase also helped the Delavan Fire Department, which bought Winnebago’s old equipment. “This allows them to get a 20-minute jump on it, instead of waiting for us to get there,” said Winnebago firefighter Jesse Haugh. The new tools cost $27,000. The department has raised about $19,000 through fundraisers, donations and selling the old equipment.

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