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Duluth airport gets more use

ALSO: Winona looks at climate change; soil moisture recharges between frosts; Mankato begins watering restrictions; and more.

The number of people using Duluth International Airport is up 5 percent so far in 2013.

The number of people using Duluth International Airport is up 5 percent so far in 2013reports Candace Renalls of the Duluth News Tribune. A total of 77,711 passengers have gone through the airport since January. This coincides with the opening of the new airport terminal in January. It continues the upswing started last year when the airport posted its busiest year with numbers up 9 percent over 2011. Also, Delta Airlines, which serves Duluth with flights to Detroit and the Twin Cities, said Monday it will upgrade its 5:30 a.m. daily flight from Duluth to the Twin Cities from a 50-seat regional jet to a 76-seat jet with economy and first-class cabin seating.  

Folks at the Winona Daily News are scratching their heads and asking if all the extreme weather we’ve had in the past several years is linked to climate changeNathan Hansen and Matt Hoffman of the Winona newspaper put the question to several experts. Michael Notaro, of the University of Wisconsin’s Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research, hedged his bets. “It’s very noisy data,” he said. Climate trends are measured over decades, not years, so it’s impossible to make conclusions based on one warm spring and one cold one. Meanwhile, local officials know what they see and are making preparations anyway. Anne Morse, Winona County’s sustainability coordinator, said the county’s many low-lying areas mean preparing for extreme weather in the form of flooding and drought. “We have been getting a number of thousand-year floods in the last few decades,” Morse said. “It’s no longer that rare.”

Although the recent moisture has kept farmers out of their fields, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has some good news: After several months of drought, the department’s weekly report says topsoil and subsoil moisture levels have started slowly recharging between frosts. The report was offered by the Associated Press and printed in the Fargo Forum. Topsoil moisture is rated 59 percent adequate and 24 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture is rated 56 percent short or very short and 44 percent adequate or surplus.

Speaking of weather, Mankato is implementing water restrictions immediatelywrites Mark Fishenich of the Mankato Free Press. With snowy precipitation running well ahead of average since Jan. 1, Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges conceded the timing of the decision might seem a bit strange. But he said a broken city well and the ongoing drought still mean city residents have to conserve water. Hentges said he wants residents and businesses, including landscapers, to have fair warning about the restrictions. Leo Getsfried, a DNR hydrologist in Mankato, said the recent rain and snow help, but offer no guarantee that the region will avoid a severe to extreme drought. “We certainly haven’t replaced all of the soil moisture that we’ve lost,” Getsfried said.

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The drive to support marriage as only between a man and a woman drew more than 100 people to Calvary Baptist Church in northwest Rochester on Sunday, writes Post-Bulletin reporter John Weiss. Organizers asked attendees to contact legislators to stop a state bill that would allow same-sex marriage. The rally was part of the Minnesota for Marriage RV caravan. Crystal Crocker, director of grassroots development and messaging for Minnesota for Marriage, said, “We didn’t pick this battle,” but we have to fight it. Jennifer Roback Morse, president of the Ruth Institute of San Marcos, Calif., stressed that the same-sex marriage bill “is not a done deal in this country,” and she doesn’t believe the bill has the votes to pass in Minnesota.  

Meanwhile, up in Bemidji, Project 515 will perform a 45-minute musical about same-sex marriage. The show will be Wednesday, reports Amy Borgman of the Bemidji Pioneer. The number 515 comes from the number of statutes within Minnesota law that discriminate against same-sex couples. The show highlights the ways laws affect families in time of illness and tragedy, in planning for the future, and in a couple’s professional and political lives.

Shane Alan Wilson, 27, was taken into custody by Steele County Sheriff’s deputies on Sunday after a manhunt that began Saturday when authorities found a woman in a car near Faribault’s law enforcement center, writes Derek Wehrwein of the Faribault Daily News. Steele County Attorney Dan McIntosh said the woman sustained as many as 40 stab wounds. She was transported to a hospital and on Monday, Faribault Police Capt. Neal Pederson said the woman was in “good condition.” Faribault Police Chief Andy Bohlen said two “very young” children were found in the vehicle with the victim. Wilson was found Sunday afternoon after he knocked on the door of Curt and Brenda Volkman’s house about 12 miles southwest of Owatonna. The couple knew a suspect was at large in their neighborhood. “He was covered in mud and blood. He had blood on him and no pants on. We just knew it was him,” Brenda Volkman said. She called 911 and officers arrived within minutes, she said. The suspect is receiving medical attention for hypothermia and various cuts.

A drop box for illegal and unused pharmaceutical drugs in Waseca County brought in more than 340 pounds in 2012writes Jennifer Holt of the Waseca County News. Joan Janusz, who was on the Northfield Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Alcohol and Drug Use that implemented the program in 2010, said alcohol is still the highest drug of choice among teens, with marijuana a close second, but prescription drugs are becoming more popular. The drop box, in the Waseca County Sheriff’s lobby, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Both prescription and illegal drugs can be dropped off at no charge with no questions asked. The only thing not accepted is needles. The box is emptied every other day and pharmaceutical drugs are separated from illegal drugs for pick-up and incineration. Since the program started, 476.31 pounds of narcotics have been collected and disposed of.

A restaurant management team from Sauk Rapids-Rice High School took second place in a national competitionthe St. Cloud Daily Times reports. The school’s culinary arts team placed second in the National ProStart Invitational last weekend in Baltimore. The team created the restaurant concept of “Uffda,” a trendy food-truck fleet, said Erich Martens, high-school principal. The students created a complete concept and plan for the food trucks. It was the first time a school from Minnesota has placed in the top five, said coach Mary Levinski. “It’s awesome. It’s wonderful. We felt good going in. The judges said we were memorable. We were ecstatic,” Levinski said.