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Lakes remain frozen as fishing opener approaches

ALSO: Blooming Prairie shatters snowfall record; farmers delayed from fields another week; MSUM goes into lockdown, but it’s just a janitor.

The cold spring has Kristi Marohn of the St. Cloud Daily Times wondering if fishermen will be able to find open water for Saturday’s fishing opener. Most lakes in the northern half of the state are frozen, state climatologist Greg Spoden said, while some lakes in southern Minnesota have set records for the latest ice-out date and it’s possible northern Minnesota lakes could also set similar records. Sandra Calcutt, owner of Maple Hill Resort on Clearwater Lake near Annandale, said it looks like the crappie tournament planned for Saturday will have to be canceled. “There’s still a lot of ice out there,” she said. The DNR advises extra care while launching and loading boats and urges the public to have hip boots or waders and a life jacket available when helping guide boats and trailers. Go to the DNR web page for a map of ice-out conditions across the state.

WalleyeDan Eigen says in the Brainerd Dispatch if you can’t fish, try hunting turkey. Here he is, in his own words: “Turkeys (and turkey hunting) are way up on my list of all time ‘favorite things.’ … This morning, we had three tom turkeys gallivanting around our single henny penny decoy. They were at our left, they were at our right but things were never ‘just right!’ They live on this land and they know it better than anyone or anything. … So, the question of the hour is what are we going to do on fishing opener? And how much ice is out there yet? I am sorry to inform you all but I really don’t care. I know, that is selfish but in all honesty I realize that we can’t really change things so why fight it when you can go out and buy an over-the-counter turkey tag and bag the bird of all birds.”

In more news about our crummy spring weather, Derek Sullivan of the Blooming Prairie Leader notes that last Thursday, Blooming Prairie set a state record for May snow with 18 inches, which beat the previous May snowfall record of 12 inches. It was a record reached three times: May 17, 1890, in St. Cloud; May 8, 1938 in Windom; and May 3, 1954 near Leonard. Owatonna and Rochester also broke the record with 15 inches last Thursday, but they came up short to Blooming Prairie.

Meanwhile, farmers have to wait another week to get into the fields, reports Matt Peterson of the Austin Daily Herald. Jon Hillier, agronomist with Northern Country Co-Op in Rose Creek, thinks it could be more than a week before farmers get back in the field. Doug Sheely, a farmer near Brownsdale, has an uncanny memory for weather. He remembers a year like this. “The closest we’ve seen to this is April 26, 1988,” Sheely said. “It took a week to get back to the fields.” Mike Merten of rural Austin also recalled 1996, when snow fell on top of planted corn and caused some stand loss, but nothing quite like this. Though the growing season is shrinking with each day, farmers are still optimistic as they know June and July will make their crops.”

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Minnesota State University Moorhead went into lockdown Monday night after a report of an armed man in Hagen Hall, but it turned out to be a janitor with a cleaning tool, reports the Fargo Forum and WDAY.

Here’s a little more on Buford “Bucky” Rogers of Montevideo, who has been accused of being a terrorist, from Sarah Browne from the Marshall Independent, who drove to town and talked to people. Buford Rogers’ father, Jeff Rogers, says his son is not a terrorist. “All the guns are registered to me,” he said. “He doesn’t live here and hasn’t for over year.” He added that his son was on probation for a burglary conviction but had straightened his life out since. “Bucky is not a terrorist,” Jeff Rogers said. “He is not out to bomb anyone. He’s a patriot like we all should be.” Jeff Rogers’ wife, Margaret, said there weren’t any bombs in the house. “If there were (bombs in the house) we’d have known about it and we’d have told him to take them apart. And his girlfriend wouldn’t have stood for it.” Rogers was arrested Friday by federal and local law enforcement officials for knowingly and unlawfully possessing a firearm and affecting interstate commerce after a felony conviction. … According to Shawn Rogers, family members are “preppers” and members of the militia movement, but don’t believe in violence except in self-defense. “If the police and government fail to do their jobs, we’re prepared to defend ourselves,” Shawn Rogers said.

The Winona City Counsel put off a decision on what to do about new frac sand operations, writes Mary Juhl of the Winona Daily News. At issue is whether they should be required to complete a traffic impact analysis. The council wants information on operations that would generate 200 or more truck trips per day or increase traffic by 20 percent or more. The council asked staff to draft amendments that would require all new frac sand operations to conduct such traffic studies. In April, the city’s planning commission voted against the plan, saying it singled out a specific industry. So council members voted Monday to table the proposal and asked staff to research whether truck routes could be included in the proposal. Assistant City Planner Carlos Espinosa said traffic-impact studies typically cost several thousand dollars depending on the scope of the proposed operation.

In more Winona/frac sand news, Mary Juhl also reports that a group of angry citizens will confront state Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-28, over his vote against a requirement to keep frac sand mines at least a mile away from trout streams. “Hundreds of citizens as well as county, city and township officials have clearly and strongly asked for strong state regulations of the frac sand industry. You have not listened,” reads a message to be presented to him. The bill in question would place a ban on frac sand mines operating within a mile of any trout stream or within 25 feet of a water table, but it was defeated in the Senate finance committee last week. Miller’s vote was one of those against the measure. He said he supports a setback requirement but choosing a one-size-fits-all regulation isn’t the answer.

In a belt-tightening move, the Diocese of Winona is looking to close churches in southeast Minnesota, writes Christina Killion Valdez of the Rochester Post-Bulletin. The first phase of a three-year process to reconfigure pastoral services based on demographics has put the spotlight on St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in West Concord and St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Claremont. The plan will go before Bishop John Quinn on May 16. Quinn is expected to decide sometime this summer. In addition to West Concord and Claremont, churches in Geneva, Twin Lakes and Brownsdale also were recommended to close or become oratories, according to the plan. Mike Berg, president of the Tri-Parish Pastoral Council and member of St. Francis, was upset when he found out about the possible closure. In addition to the church’s historical value, he lamented the loss of community the bishop’s decision would bring. “You saw what happened when you take the schools out of a community in Claremont and now in West Concord. There’s nothing to rally around. You come home; you don’t know your neighbors anymore. You don’t see them. At least at church you visit once a week.” 

A school board turnover has cost Joseph Hill, superintendent of the Sartell-St. Stephen school district, his job, according to a report by Danielle Cintron in the St. Cloud Daily Times. Hill resigned Friday, citing differences with the board over the future of the district. Hill’s contract was renewed for three years last October on a 4-2 vote, with board members Dan Riordan, Chris Gross, Gary Schnellert and Greg Asfeld voting to extend the contract. Riordan is the only remaining member of the board from that group. Board members Mary McCabe and Lesa Kramer voted against approval. Kramer is no longer on the board. Board Chair Michelle Meyer said Hill was willing to fulfill the 2013-2016 contract approved in October. “Dr. Hill stated, however, that if the new school board wants a change in administration with a superintendent we select, he will honor that and therefore, has tendered his resignation effective June 30,” she said. The school board accepted Hill’s resignation unanimously.

Ice photo by Flickr user metamerist and used under Creative Commons License.