It was several paragraphs into Kelli Lageson’s article in the Albert Lea Tribune about the heated discussion over a possible referendum for a new school in the United South Central School District in Wells, but it was there. The meeting was held by the school board and district Superintendent Jerry Jensen to gather ideas about the possible school. Jensen started the meeting with a slide show about the school’s state of disrepair. He said the state only allots so much funding each year to schools. He said each year the school receives about $200,000 from the state to use on building repairs, upgrades, new technology, textbooks and more. “That money is basically just not adequate,” Jensen said. “There just hasn’t been enough money. The board is trying very hard, but they’re also here to provide the best education for the kids.” The district has needed serious upgrades or a new building for about 20 years. Last fall the board decided to move forward with a plan to build a new building at a cost of almost $29 million. The election will be in August.
This story is mildly interesting, but I would direct you to the photo that accompanies it. The Duluth News Tribune is reporting today that a man has been taken into custody after police responded shortly before 8 a.m. to reports of a suspicious vehicle outside the Charter Communications building in Duluth. Check out the photo. Nobody messes with the DPD.
This story also has little reason to appear in this column except the headline tickles my interest. Apparently, two small Corvettes in the Classic Car Club collided during the North Mankato Fun Days parade and veered into the crowd at Belgrade Avenue. An 11-year-old and a 23-year-old were treated for injuries and released from the health clinic. The headline in the Mankato Free Press: “Pedestrians hit by Fun Days parade vehicles.”
Jason Schoonover of the Austin Daily Herald wrote this piece about how the Mower County grandstand is suffering from dry rot as well as issues with support beams and columns. Commissioner Jerry Reinartz said Monday that a structural engineer deemed the grandstand unsafe and suggests repairs that could cost as much as $500,000. For this year’s fair, Reinartz said the county board is looking into temporary bleachers for events like the demo derby and motocross. Reinartz said the $500,000 price tag is cost-prohibitive for a structure that’s used primarily once a year. “Even with major repair, you still have an old structure there,” he said. The grandstand was built in 1934 and repaired in 1960, Reinartz said.
Two and a half weeks after the big storm, Barnum’s sewage treatment plant is still off line and pushing untreated sewage into the river system, writes John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune. The main pumping station flooded, but the damage has not been repaired yet and sewage is still bypassing the treatment plant entirely and flowing directly into the Moose Horn River. Jaramie Logelin of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s wastewater treatment office in Duluth expressed frustration with the parts supplier for Barnum — South Dakota-based Dakota Pump Inc. — saying he personally called them to speed up the process. Untreated sewage contains E. coli and other fecal bacteria that can affect human health. Because there was so much rainwater moving down the rivers, and so much rainwater mixed in with the sewage, Logelin expects no long-term environmental or public-health issues and said he expects no violation notices or fines for the cities because the scope of the flooding could not have been predicted or prevented.
The Fergus Falls Journal picked up the Associated Press’s weekly crop report from the USDA and everything is growing like craaaaaazy. Forty-one percent of corn was silking and beyond, compared with 0 percent last year and 8 percent for the five-year average. Corn was rated 77 percent good to excellent. Soybeans were rated 72 percent good to excellent. Spring wheat was 62 percent turning ripe, compared with 1 percent last year. Barley was 70 percent turning ripe compared with 0 percent last year, and oats were 69 percent turning ripe, compared with 4 percent last year. Statewide average temperatures were 9 degrees above normal. As of Sunday, topsoil moisture supplies were rated 60 percent adequate to surplus, down from 78 percent a week earlier.
St. Cloud educators are sick of too much skin in their schools. A recent policy change, reported by Danielle Cintron of the St. Cloud Daily Times, requires skirts, skorts and shorts to come to the knees instead of the previous 2 to 3 inches above the knee for middle-school students. Flip-flops are verboten because they are not appropriate for recess or physical-education classes. Here are some of the other policy changes: iPods are banned in elementary schools; students are required to have a physician’s note for 15 absences; and volunteers will now pay $20 for a background check by the district.