Steele County auditor Laura Ihrke has tallied the numbers and says the proposed Voted ID amendment could cost the county close to $100,000, writes Derek Sullivan of the Owatonna People’s Press. The Secretary of State’s office estimates that Steele County has 2,386 eligible voters without state-issued IDs or with invalid IDs. “If (the Constitutional Amendment) passes, a lot of what will happen is unknown,” Ihrke said. “We don’t know who is going to pay for the additional poll books. Is it going to be the responsibility of the county?” A poll book allows election officials to review and process voter information during an election. Ihrke said poll books cost $2,000 to $4,500. Steele County has 26 voting precincts, so if one was placed at each precinct, the cost would be $52,000 to $117,000. Ihrke said that estimation may be conservative. “We will most likely have to have more than one at each precinct to avoid extremely long lines,” she said.
Southeastern Minnesota farmers are bringing in a bumper crop of corn. Tim Clemens, general manager of the Greenway Cooperative, which runs grain elevators in Byron, Kasson, Dodge Center and West Concord, said, “I believe this is one of the largest harvests ever, if not the largest, for this area.” With about 95 percent of this year’s harvest completed, farmers are bringing in an average of 170 bushels per acre with prices running more than $7 a bushel, writes Jeff Kiger of the Rochester Post-Bulletin. Clemens said the corn harvest is running 10 percent to 15 percent better than even the most optimistic forecasts. That’s following a bumper crop of soybeans, which filled more grain bins than expected. Greenway’s 5 million bushels of storage is full, so Clemens has about a quarter million bushels on the ground outside storage bins. Of course, the rest of the country is suffering from drought, which is driving up prices, along with talk of grain rationing, while livestock and dairy producers are selling off animals because they can’t afford to feed them and some ethanol plants are halting production. However, much of Minnesota’s corn probably won’t be sold for the sky-high prices. Farmers often contract early in the year to sell their future grain at a certain price. That means a lot of the bounty from this area could be sold for $5 to $6 a bushel. “However, there is no question that it is much better to be bringing in a record harvest than scraping together grain from drought-blighted farms, like the majority of U.S. grain farmers are doing,” Kigel writes.
In a perfect example of the suburban-rural divide, homeowners near Corning are upset over plans to build a hog buying station nearby, writes Jason Schoonover of the Austin Daily Herald. Leonard Grant already had a feedlot permit for a property between Corning and Highway 218, but he is now looking to build a hog buying station for up to 1,200 head of hogs. More than six nearby home owners have objected, saying it would damage their property values and hurt their standard of living. Most of the animals would be hogs that didn’t fit the criteria to sell to Hormel Foods Corp., which stirred property owners’ concerns the animals would be unhealthy, and would lead to many deceased, decomposing animals on the property. Though they were assured a rendering truck would pick up any deceased animals, the property owners argued rendering trucks aren’t always able to get to a farm right away. They also argued that the smell would attract wildlife and disturb their pets, and were concerned about increased traffic and the smell from the facility. The Mower County board will make its decision on the hog buying station later this week.
About 50 airmen arrived in Duluth Monday, the first wave of about 300 National Guard troops returning from a tour providing support to ground troops in Afghanistan, writes Mike Creger of the Duluth News Tribune. Some of the fighter wing’s new F-16 jets came back as well, and more airmen will return in the coming days. About 30 percent of the personnel on the base were involved in the deployment. Tech. Sgt. Paul Nelson’s parents, wife and three children were at the airfield waiting for him impatiently. He has been gone a little more than two months, and this isn’t the longest of his deployments. Paul’s mother, Teri, said he was in Iraq for 10 months in 2006 when he was with the Navy. Nelson has served 21 years in the military, switching over to the air base when the Navy closed its Duluth Operational Support Center in 2007. Nelson’s children — Megan, Jacob and Brandon — said they most missed their father at their fall sports events. Nelson said he plans to make a big pot of chili at home and enjoy it without a military chow line. “A sit-down dinner,” he said, beaming. “No paper plates.” Barracks were only 200 yards from the runway at Kandahar Air Field, so he’s also looking forward to some northern Minnesota quiet.
About 3,800 people participated last year in the Mankato Marathon, so organizers set a goal of 5,000 for this year’s race. While the number of racers did increase to 4,064, organizers were a little disappointed, writes Amanda Dyslin of the Mankato Free Press. Anna Thill, president of the Greater Mankato Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the 5K and KidsK registrations were lower than expected. But that’s not to say that 4,100 people isn’t a great reflection on the event, Thill said. She said the estimated economic impact of the weekend-long event was about $1.5 million.
Here’s a story that doesn’t pop up every day. In a shop between golf shoe wholesaler GoBe Golf and lighted screen printing producer Ellumilite in Austin, Dr. Doug Bibus will expand his St. Paul business, Lipid Technologies. Adam Harringa of the Austin Daily Herald writes that Bibus is an understudy of Dr. Ralph Holman, the scientist who named Omega-3 fatty acids. Lipid Technologies is an analysis and consulting firm that specializes in fatty acid and lipid research, working with companies such as Hormel, athletes —including Olympians and the Jacksonville Jaguars — and others to measure fatty acids in food, medicine and basic research. Basically, Bibus said, his business is about using science to make food and people healthier. “A lot of what we’ve done over the years is changing the kinds of fats in foods, making foods healthier by adding Omega-3 fats,” Bibus said. To start, Bibus will have one other employee in Austin, but sees potential for growth.
The Willmar School District has approved an offer to sell the empty Lincoln School building for $21,000, writes Linda Vanderwerf of the West Central Tribune. The School Board voted to sell the block where the school and its parking lot are located to the Casa de Misericordia Church of Willmar. The name means House of Mercy in English. The cash sale is expected to close on Nov. 16. Realtor Doug Fenstra said other offers had been received for $8,500 and $15,000. Lincoln, located at 511 Julii St. S.E., was on the market for about two years and never had an offer until the board in September discussed tearing the building down. Several offers were received after that. Demolition of the building would have cost about $250,000. Fenstra said the district’s engineer told him there is still fuel oil in the tank of the backup heating system. However, it would cost more to remove and recycle the oil than it is worth, he said, so board members said they would leave it as is.