Reuters is reporting in the West Central Tribune that this year’s corn crop will be the biggest in history and the soybean crop the third largest in history, but because they’ll be smaller than estimated, the futures market has moved higher. Until now, USDA’s forecasts assumed normal weather and yields, but the USDA now sees “a steady drying trend” in the western Corn Belt and rainfall is needed in some central and western Corn Belt states. By early August, most of Iowa, the No. 1 corn and soybean state, was termed abnormally dry, and much of Nebraska, No. 4 in both crops, was in moderate to severe drought, according to an interagency weekly drought monitor. The crops are also maturing later than usual because of a rainy spring and will be vulnerable if a killing frost ends the growing season early. The bumper crops will end three years of declining production and ever-tighter stocks, meaning lower commodity prices are likely through next summer.
A Duluth man was sentenced to six months in jail for stealing his landlord’s presidential lifesaving medal and selling it, reports John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune. Nathan Thomas Ostrom, 35, admitted to the theft and was sentenced Monday to six months at the Northeast Regional Corrections facility and five years of probation. Ostrom pleaded guilty to stealing multiple items from Paul Halverson, including Halverson’s rare Coast Guard Gold Lifesaving Medal, which fetched $1,950. The 24-karat, solid gold medal has not been recovered. It is believed to have been melted down. At Ostrom’s sentencing hearing Monday, prosecutors said that, since the crime, Halverson has suffered increased post-traumatic stress symptoms, depression, bought a firearm to protect himself, changed the locks on his home and installed outdoor lighting in an effort to feel safer. “It’s changed my life,” Halverson, 66, told the News Tribune after the hearing. … In 1975, Halverson was awarded the Coast Guard medal for diving 40 feet from an ore carrier on which he was a wheelsman into the frigid waters of Lake St. Clair near Detroit to rescue a woman who survived a small-plane crash … Halverson was also awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, among other military honors, for his bravery while serving two tours in Vietnam from 1966 to 1969, but he said the Coast Guard’s Gold Lifesaving medal is the award that means the most to him.
Downtown Willmar has a problem — not enough parking spaces. The city hired a consultant to examine the situation and provide a solution. His answer: Get people to stop parking in downtown Willmar. David Little of the West Central Tribune has the details: Adam Arvidson, a landscape architect from Minneapolis and half-time urban planner for the Willmar Design Center, found that there are 2,688 parking spaces in a 26-block area that is the downtown core. That number is adequate for current use and potential redevelopment. However, people who park their cars in one spot for a long time are using spots better used by short-time parkers, so “we’re trying to move those (long-term parkers, which include residents and downtown employees) a little more to the edge (of downtown) so there can be more customer turnover in that core.”
Dustin Rahier of Lakeville, has died from his injuries sustained while “popping wheelies” in New Trier at the first stop of the Northfield Historical Outlaw Run on Saturday, reports Kaitlyn Walsh of the Northfield News. he Minnesota State Patrol says traffic in front of him slowed, causing the motorcycle to roll. The 38-year-old died the same day. Hayes Scriven, Northfield Historical Society executive director, said two local EMTs were on staff during the event and helped the Lakeville resident until local public safety personnel responded. Rahier was then transported to the hospital via helicopter. Scriven said that the future of the event, which attracted 229 bikers last weekend, is uncertain. The event committee and historical society’s board of directors would discuss it in the next week, he said.
Clear Lake Airport in southwest Sherburne County is an idyllic setting for airplane lovers, a community of like-minded people enjoying their hobby surrounded by vast corn fields. This is the setting Disney chose for its new movie, “Planes,” writes Amy Bowen of the St. Cloud Daily Times. When you are looking for Propwash Junction, the rural airport in the animated film, look no further than Bob Leaders’ airport community. Its buildings and setting serve as an inspiration for the airfield in Disney’s newest animated film, “Planes,” which will follow its similar animation hit, “Cars.” “Planes” is set in Propwash Junction, a rural airport, and tells the story about Dusty, a crop duster, who competes in an around-the-world race. Leaders started the business in 1969, and it’s not uncommon for people to ask if they can look at the crop dusters, seaplanes and twin-engine airplanes parked around the airport. So Leaders, 80, didn’t think anything was unusual when some movie scouts stopped by the airport a few years ago. … According to the Disney website, the airport’s worn buildings, old airplanes, cornfields and rural charm won over the scouts.
Alfonso Hernandez will set out this week to meet the daughter he hasn’t seen in nearly three decades, writes Matthew Stolle of the Rochester Post Bulletin. The popular “Chef Al” at the Hy-Vee grocery store is affable, bubbly, quick-to-laugh, but his heart was broken in October, 1983 when two suicide bombers drove into his barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 American servicemen. Hernandez had two sets of dog tags on him and he lost one set in the explosion, leading to a letter about his death to his wife and baby daughter living on Okinawa. After he left the service, Hernandez searched for his family but was hampered by the technological limitations of the time. As it became easier to search for people, Hernandez became a “technological Luddite.” But his sister in San Diego had a friend who is a whiz at computers and together they tracked down his daughter, living in New Jersey. They have communicated and now he plans to go out to see her for the first time since she was a two-month-old girl.