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After Bachmann decision, Peterson is mum on his own future

ALSO: Spottail shiner shortage frustrates anglers; Winona wants road analysis before new frac sand mining; copper theft causes flooding in Moorhead building; and more.

Rep. Collin Peterson said that while he’s begun raising money for another election, he hasn’t decided if he’ll run or not.
File - REUTERS/Mike Theiler

In the wake of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s decision not to seek re-election to the 6th District U.S. House seat, Per Peterson of the Marshall Independent put the same question to Rep. Colin Peterson, the longtime holder of Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District. While Bachmann’s 6th District is statistically the state’s most conservative, the 7th isn’t far behind. Peterson, a veteran Democrat who turns 69 next month, said Bachmann’s decision won’t change the way he makes a decision, and that while he’s begun raising money for another election, he hasn’t decided if he’ll run or not. “There’s always speculation about me; they’re trying to run a campaign against me to try to get me to retire,” he said. “It’s actually making me more inclined not to retire. But I never decided until January or February of an election year.” Peterson, the lead Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, also said a farm bill will get passed this year. “[Republican House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank] Lucas and I are very much in agreement on everything. We’re going to stick together and hopefully it will pass, but it’s not going to be easy. But we have come up with a compromise, and we’ll stick together.”

The spottail shiner is the bait of choice for walleye fishermen, but when the Department of Natural Resources closed the main spottail shiner breeding lake because of zebra mussel infestation, the supply dried up, leaving anglers, bait shop owners, wholesale bait dealers and the towns that attract walleye fishermen angry and frustrated, reports the Bemidji Pioneer. If you want to catch walleye in north central Minnesota, you use a spottail shiner from Lake Winnibigoshish, but the DNR is afraid that bait pails with the shiners will also carry zebra mussel larvae, so they made the lake off-limits for spottail harvesting. That leaves bait hunters taking their traps to other lakes, many of which had late ice-outs, which affected the spottail harvest. Spottails sell for twice as much as fathead minnows, so the loss affects everyone down the supply chain. Meanwhile, the spottail shortage continues to plague trappers, dealers, bait shops and anglers. By mid June, anglers will switch to leeches and other baits, but for now, the shortage remains a big issue to the regional fishing economy.

Some folks in Winona don’t like the idea of frac sand mining. Some don’t like the idea of mines in their back yards. Almost all agree, however, that having trucks heavily laden with sand that tear up the streets isn’t fair, reports Tesla Rodriquez of the Winona Daily News. That’s why the Winona City Council on Monday decided that all new frac sand facilities and mines in the city will need to complete a traffic impact analysis. “It’s basically, can the roads handle the traffic, and if they can’t, what would need to be upgraded to handle the traffic?” said assistant city planner Carlos Espinosa.

It’s no secret that copper is valuable, and that when thieves steal copper tubing from buildings, they put tenants in danger. Such was the case in Moorhead, where a man faces two felony charges after allegedly stealing copper piping from a building, causing the first floor of the apartment building to flood and doing more than $1,000 worth of damage, reports Emily Walker of the Fargo Forum. Mason James Smith, 39, was charged in Clay County District Court with one count of second-degree burglary and one count of first-degree damage to property. Police say the building’s caretaker reported the missing pipe and ensuing flood Thursday morning. Police later linked the stolen pipe to Smith.

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Now that the state is fully behind the expansion of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, citizens met for the first time with local leaders and Mayo Clinic officials to discuss their roles in what is called Destination Medical Center, or DMC, writes Edie Grossfield of the Rochester Post-Bulletin. The first action will be to hold a public hearing, adopt the legislation and put a 20-year plan into effect, said Assistant City Administrator Gary Neumann. The total public funding for the $3.5 billion DMC expansion is $455 million, of which the state will provide $327 million and Rochester $128 million. Rochester will decide how to raise its portion of the public funding using tools such as tax abatement, tax-increment financing and extending Rochester’s half-cent sales tax.

Beef prices are high and they’re only getting higher, reports Amy Bowen of the St. Cloud Daily Times. Thielen Meats in Pierz is charging its highest prices ever for steak. Its porterhouse steaks cost $9.99 and its ribeye costs $10.99 per pound. Manea’s Meats in Sauk Rapids is charging about $1 more per pound on steaks and $0.20 more per pound on ground beef compared with this time last year. Ground beef and sausage sales are doing well, as cooks are paying attention to their wallets, owner Don Manea said. The rise in prices has roots that go back to 2008, says Ricky Volpe, an economist at the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service. Prices for feed and fuel surged in 2007 and 2008, so ranchers responded by culling their herds to keep costs down. At the same time the United States fell into a recession, which cut demand, so 2009 and 2010 saw flat food prices. In 2011, the economy began to recover and beef prices started to rise. Normally that would have caused ranchers to increase the size of their herds, but in 2011 and 2012 there were massive droughts that led to some of the highest prices for corn and soybeans in history. Feed was expensive, and once again ranchers culled their cattle. Now there is increasing demand, but the smallest number of cattle in the national herd since the 1950s — just 89.3 million head.

Blue Earth Area Schools board member Vickie Hanson died of a brain aneurysm Saturday, leaving the Blue Earth community saddened, reports Jodelle Greiner of the Fairmont Sentinel.  A 12-year veteran of the school board, Hanson would have been up for re-election in 2014.Since there was less than two years left on her term, the board can appoint someone to fill her position.

Willmar police are investigating two incidents of someone burning a U.S. flag during the early morning on  Saturday, reports Gretchen Schlosser of the West Central Tribune. Willmar Police Chief David Wyffels said there is no danger to the public. Multiple young males are believed involved, according to surveillance video footage. Wyffels said there are two confirmed incidents, at Kitchen Fair and at the Midas Auto station, on Litchfield Avenue Southwest. The incidents are believed to be connected and happened within a close time proximity, Wyffels said in a news release. Police have video footage of one of the incidents recorded just after 1 a.m. Saturday.