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Brainerd Hotel to close; St. Cloud window cleaner dies in fall

ALSO: Good day for waterfowl opener; badgers make a mess out of cemetery; Rochester man falls 70 feet from bluff; and more.

The Brainerd Hotel and Convention Center is going to close.

Owners of The Brainerd Hotel and Convention Center have given up and the facility is going to close, report Renee Richardson and Jessica Larson of the Brainerd Dispatch. “When it opened in 1975, the hotel in south Brainerd was the place to go. As the Highway 371 bypass changed the traffic pattern in south Brainerd, the hotel’s fortunes changed,” they wrote. The 148-room hotel had 30 percent occupancy for years. Last weekend, General Manager Joe McCurdy closed the restaurant and laid off about 40 staff members. There are several groups booked for the hotel, so about 15 employees will stay on until Oct. 6. The facility might be turned into apartments or a senior living home. It has 148 rooms, a pool, meeting rooms, the restaurant and a tennis court. 

Here’s a strange one from just past the Iowa border near Albert Lea. Sarah Stultz of the Albert Lea Tribune reports that police were called to a possible domestic assault in Northwood, Iowa, late Sunday night. They arrived to find Michael Lee Zubrod, 39, of Charles City, Iowa, severely beating Rhonda Schukei, 48. Additional deputies were called and “they subdued Zubrod, who went unresponsive after they put handcuffs on him. Efforts to revive him failed, and he was later pronounced dead, the report added,” Stultz wrote. “Schukei was airlifted to St. Marys Hospital in Rochester to be treated for stab wounds and blunt-force injuries.” An autopsy was performed on Zubrod and the report and toxicology reports are pending.

David Unze of the St. Cloud Daily Times reports on a window cleaner who died after falling 70 feet from a hotel. The accident occurred Sunday at the Kelly Inn in St. Cloud. Family members identified him as Lee Teske, 56. He was self-employed, had a lot of window-washing experience, worked alone and didn’t have any employees. He was wearing a safety harness. “Teske apparently fell onto the breezeway that connects the Kelly Inn to the River’s Edge Convention Center. He then fell from the breezeway to the ground,” Unze reported.

Here’s a fall of similar distance that didn’t have such a tragic end. John Weiss of the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports that a Rochester man is in critical condition after he fell 70 feet from a bluff in La Crosse, Wis., on Friday afternoon. A technical rescue team was practicing nearby and was able to quickly retrieve Zack Nelson, 23. One rescue team member sustained a minor injury during the “very labor intensive” rescue, the fire department reported. On a CaringBridge site, Nelson’s family says he was hiking with friends. He sat down to take pictures, but as he got up, he lost his balance and fell.

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Per Peterson of the Marshall Independent writes that the 2013 Minnesota duck opener offered perfect waterfowl-slaying weather. The opener now begins on the Saturday closest to Sept. 24 rather than Oct. 1, which was in effect from 2005-11. That, with new duck hunting zones and an increase in overall duck breeding numbers, should result in a strong opener despite low lake levels in most areas. Here’s an expert I never heard of before: “Nicole Schiller, DNR shallow lake specialist, said the drought conditions experienced this summer have lowered water levels in smaller lakes in the region but not to the point where it would affect hunting opportunities,” writes Petersen

Tim Krohn of the Mankato Free Press reports on badgers creating havoc at Calvary Cemetery in St. Peter. The Wisconsin state mascot is looking for gophers upon which to feed. “We have a lot of gophers this year,” Dave Vetter, secretary of the cemetery, told Krohn, who summarizes the infestation thusly: “Dale VanThuyne, who digs graves and does other maintenance at area cemeteries, said a badger invasion is rare. ‘Voles, gophers and woodchucks are a common problem in cemeteries, but it’s unusual for badgers to take up residence nearby and go into cemeteries,’ he said. ‘I’ve only seen it once, at a rural cemetery.’ Badgers, which can grow to near 20 pounds, are aggressive animals who dig voraciously. ‘They make a mess,’ Vetter said. “They dig and the dirt must just fly out — you can see it spread all over. The caretaker dumps a 5-gallon bucket of dirt down the holes and it disappears.’ ”

Kylie Saari of the Fairmont Sentinel reports that enrollment at Truman Public Schools dropped 14 percent since last school year. Last year, 245 students were enrolled; this year, 211. School funding is closely tied to enrollment, so any drop is a problem for schools that still are required to offer core classes. Saari breaks down the losses this way: 14 students moved out of the district. The school graduated 35 students last year and has an incoming kindergarten class of 16. Eight students left via open enrollment, four to private schools; and four eschewed open enrollment and returned to their home schools, which the district gained 15 new students who open-enrolled from other districts. No matter how many students the school gains or loses, it still needs to maintain its building and equipment, so Superintendent Tom Ames recently recommended the school board continue to go to voters with a capital projects levy request Nov. 5. “The referendum asks for $125,000 per year for 10 years for a variety of projects, including upgrading playground equipment; replacing sidewalks; technology upgrades; gym ventilation; tuckpointing; roof and ceiling replacements; and maintaining mechanical systems,” Saari writes.

The Truman referenda might not be a sure thing, but here’s something that will knock you out: a Faribault middle school teacher won his first mixed martial arts bout by a knockout over an opponent half his age. Erin O’Neill of the Faribault Daily News has the story of Jesse Armbruster, 40, who manhandled Thomas Rawson, 21, last week at Canterbury Downs. “Immediately as the fight began, Armbruster took charge, chasing (Rawson) around the ring, landing punches and at one point lifting him off the ground before slamming him to the mat. … In the final minutes of the fight Armbruster attacked with a series of punches before knocking out his opponent and winning the fight. John Ryan, an old friend of Armbruster’s, said, “Tonight he really made Faribault proud.” When O’Neill asked Armbruster if he’s ready to step back in the cage, he shook his head and yelled, “Hell, no!”