Before we get to the nasty stuff, here’s some good news. The Austin Daily Herald tracked down rumors that the A&W All-American Food drive-in was going to close and sell its property to the Mayo Clinic for parking space. Not true. “A&W owner Gregg Johnson said the rumors are false, and he has not spoken to the hospital and they haven’t contacted him about selling. Rod Nordeng, vice president of operations at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, said the same thing. ‘I believe A&W and the outstanding service and product that Gregg provides is an Austin treasure,’ Nordeng added.”
A Moorhead woman who died Saturday after a fall from an I-94 bridge suffered from depression and anxiety and had left a psychiatric unit only hours earlier, her sister told Ryan Johnson of the Fargo Forum. Kristi Garden, 55, had been in a psychiatric unit for the past three-and-a-half weeks, says her sister, Julie Garden-Robinson. She said Garden, who had a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Texas at Austin and performed as an operatic soloist in both Austin and Dallas, had relied on medications and occasional hospitalization since she was 19 to deal with depression and anxiety. In July, Garden followed her doctor’s advice and went off antidepressants. On Sept. 11, Garden-Robinson brought her to an emergency room and she was admitted to the psychiatric unit. Garden-Robinson picked up Garden at the hospital Saturday, taking her to the house she shared with her boyfriend, Mel Fredricksen, and staying with her until about 7:15 p.m. Fredricksen said Garden was feeling “tense” and wanted to go for a walk, which she often did. Garden left around 7:30 p.m. Minnesota State Patrol investigator Rod Eischens said authorities received a call at about 8:20 p.m. of a collision between a pedestrian and a vehicle on the interstate, but no eyewitnesses have come forward to say they saw Garden either jump or fall from the overpass. The Minnesota State Patrol is still investigating the incident, and an autopsy is being performed. Fredricksen said Garden gave no warning she was suicidal. “I never in a million years would have expected this,” Garden-Robinson said.
State Sen. Dave Brown, R-Becker, has joined U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, as a champion of legislation to combat U.N. Agenda 21, writes Mark Sommerhauser of the St. Cloud Daily Times. Agenda 21 is a global action plan adopted at a U.N. conference in Brazil in 1992. The voluntary plan lays out actions for governments to fight poverty, encourage sustainable development, halt pollution, foster the role of businesses and unions and other goals. Tea Party activists say Agenda 21 is part of a bid to infringe on private-property rights, usurp U.S. sovereignty, or even usher in an era of one-world government. 2012 GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul is among those warning of it. The Republican Party added language to its national platform rejecting Agenda 21. At a July Minnesota TEA Party meeting, Bachmann warned of Agenda 21 and efforts to implement “global governance.” Earlier this year, Brown introduced a bill to establish a legislative commission on Agenda 21, and he expects to introduce Agenda 21 legislation again if re-elected this November. Eric Schwartz, dean of the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, says Agenda 21 “is not a treaty, and it’s not a binding international agreement. It doesn’t compel any government to do anything. Some of the concerns I’ve seen about Agenda 21 really represent, at best, misunderstandings. And at worst, they’re nonsense. The idea, for example, that this agenda seeks to promote world government is a myth. The idea that this agenda would trump domestic laws of the U.S. is a myth.”
Some Duluth high-school and middle-school classes are nearing the 50-student mark, writes Jana Hollingsworth of the Duluth News Tribune. Longtime teachers say they are seeing the largest class sizes in district history. Joe Vukelich’s senior American government class has 35 desks and 49 students. Music and gym classes go higher than Vukelich’s 49 in his 900-square-foot classroom, but several other core curriculum classes at Denfeld, East High School and Ordean East Middle School are in the upper 40s. Advanced eighth-grade math classes at Ordean East top out at 46 and 47 students. Why? For more than 10 years, the district has seen flat or nearly flat aid from the state despite rising costs, said Superintendent Bill Gronseth. On top of that, the state in recent years has held back money owed school districts for months at a time, forcing them to borrow and eat into reserves. When cuts are made each year to balance the smaller budgets, class sizes usually increase to save things such as music programs, advanced academic offerings, after-school programs and athletics, said Frank Wanner, president of the Duluth Federation of Teachers. Denfeld Principal Tonya Sconiers put it into perspective. “We still have to operate and do whatever it takes to help our kids succeed. The taxpayers of Duluth have been very generous in support of new facilities, and when it comes time for asking for any more money … I want them to know we are using the money they have given us in the best possible way.”
The threat to tear down Lincoln Elementary in Willmar appears to have spurred interest in keeping it intact, writes Linda Vanderwerf of the West Central Tribune. In September, the board discussed tearing down the building, which has been vacant for several years. There has never been an offer for the building, and the district spent about $30,000 a year to heat the empty building. After news spread that the building might be torn down, Realtor Doug Fenstra said he had been inundated with interest in the building. A Missouri company made an offer to buy the building for $7,000. Fenstra said he received another offer recently, but details of that offer have not been made public. A group of four people at the meeting said they discussed the building with Fenstra but had not submitted a formal offer. The board’s next formal meeting is Nov. 19 and board members did not want to wait that long to make a final decision, so the board voted to accept the highest bid without contingencies submitted by 4:30 p.m. Friday. Board Chair Nathan Streed said selling the building at almost any price would be beneficial to the district, which was preparing to spend $250,000 to tear the building down.
Earlier today, Winona Coca-Cola Bottling Co. filled the last 6.5-ounce returnable glass Coke bottle in the United States, reports the Rochester Post-Bulletin. The Winona plant has been bottling Coca-Cola products for 80 years.
Next year’s new Registered Nursing to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree at Southwest Minnesota State University has officials excited, writes Jenny Kirk of the Marshall Independent. The program will begin in the fall of 2013. Currently, Ridgewater College and Minnesota West Community and Technical College offer a two-year RN degree within the 19-county region, and those seeking a four-year BSN degree have to leave the region to further their education. Jan Loft, interim dean of the College of Arts, Letters and Sciences at SMSU, said the American Medical Association want 80 percent of all RNs (a two-year degree) to have a BSN (a four-year degree) by 2020. The RN to BSN degree requires 120 credits, 60 of which are transfer credits. Course delivery will include online courses and occasional on-campus classwork.
An arraignment hearing for a 72-year-old Blue Earth school bus driver who is facing a misdemeanor assault charge for allegedly slapping a 6-year-old boy on a bus was canceled today. Jane Elizabeth Brooks was charged with fifth-degree assault for the Sept. 14 incident on a Blue Earth Area Schools bus. A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Oct. 15, reports the Mankato Free Press. Video from the bus shows the boy began striking a smaller child on the head, causing the child to cry. Brooks stopped the bus and asked the 6-year-old to move to a seat behind the driver. The boy refused and resisted Brooks’ efforts to move him. Once moved, the boy began kicking other riders, and Brooks again stopped the bus and asked some older riders to sit with him. The boy then spat on children nearby. Brooks told him to cease and the boy spit again, at which point she slapped his face. When one of the other riders told Brooks she didn’t need to slap the boy, Brooks allegedly responded, “Well, maybe that’s what he needed.”
Having trouble deciding which event to attend tonight: the Tim Walz-Allen Quist 1st Congressional District debate at Minnesota State University-Mankato or the Rob Zombie-Marilyn Manson “Twins of Evil Tour” concert at the civic center? Mark Fischenich of the Free Press says that while both start at 7 p.m., there’s an excellent chance debate-goers — if they sneak out at the closing statements — could still experience the end of the Zombie performance and catch a tune or two from his current “Mondo Sex Head” album. And they’d get all of the Manson concert. Fischenich notes, “It’s hard to say which event will have more pyrotechnics, based on the previous debate between the Democratic Walz, a three-term incumbent from Mankato, and Republican challenger Quist, a retired St. Peter farmer. The two candidates aggressively went after each other several times during the 90-minute debate in Byron. And it’s possible Quist, who appears to have some ground to make up before Nov. 6, will be looking to crank up the volume even more.”