Stuck with making small talk on the street or in the café? Newspapers across the state are giving you ammunition for that old small-talk standby, the weather.
Mark Fischnich of the Mankato Free Press offers these Mankato-centric statistics: “Since Dec. 1, 68 percent of days have been colder than average. What marks this winter, however, is the number of days it’s been way colder than normal. Starting before Thanksgiving, every week but one has brought at least one day where the average temperature was between 13 and 29 degrees below normal for that date in Mankato, according to National Weather Service data. It’s been at least 15 degrees colder than it’s supposed to be 27 days this winter, compared to just five times in the winter of 2012-2013. … Mankato has dropped to double-digits below zero 16 times so far this winter, bottoming out at -20 on Jan. 6.”
Up in St. Cloud, the Daily Times pooled its reporters to produce a weather stat story of its own. “Monday’s snow brought the total since Dec. 1 to 42.4 inches compared with the normal 21.9 inches for St. Cloud.” Monday’s snowfall set a new record for the date. “The National Weather Service reported a total of 4.3 inches based on readings at St. Cloud Regional Airport. The previous record of 3.2 inches was set in 1972. … The fresh layer meant Jeff Richard was back out plowing parking lots again for Division Street businesses. ‘Good for the pocketbook, bad for the psyche,’ he said.”
Farther north, up in Duluth, the News Tribune was reporting on the Monday storm as well. “After a low-snow January and first 12 days of February, Duluth has seen about 15 inches of snow in the past six days. … (Monday’s) weather system left a swath of 2 to 7 inches of snow across much of the region, with the highest amounts on the hills along Lake Superior’s North Shore, according to the National Weather Service in Duluth. … Authorities responded to a series of spinouts, rollovers and accidents across the region for much of the day. Roads remained in poor driving conditions into the evening in many areas, with a glaze of ice even where plows had ventured, and ruts and deep snow where they hadn’t.
And way down south in Albert Lea, Tim Engstrom of the Albert Lea Tribune offered a plaintive plea for winter respite. “After two snowstorms in three days, couldn’t the National Weather Service issue a nice weather warning? Or at least give Freeborn County a day off from warnings and advisories? Nope. The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard watch to be in effect from 6 a.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Friday. … The possible blizzard is expected to bring heavy snow, sleet and strong winds Thursday and into the evening. Totals by Friday morning could range from 6 to 10 inches in some areas. Northwest winds are forecast to increase to 25 to 35 mph with gusts of 40 mph Thursday afternoon through Friday morning. Whiteout conditions are expected to make travel dangerous.” Yep, sounds like a regular trip on I-90.
You go to a place named Whiskey Bones Roadhouse and you’re surprised something like this happens? Kay Fate at the Rochester Post Bulletin reports that “one man was arrested after a brawl broke out between two families early Sunday at a Rochester bar. Police responded about 1:40 a.m. to Whiskey Bones Roadhouse, 3820 U.S. 63, where they found what Lt. Casey Moilanen referred to as a ‘brawl.’ He said two men got into a pushing match, which turned into at least three people being hit over the head with beer bottles. A bouncer trying to break up the fight was hit in the face with a bar stool, the report says. Though he declined medical treatment at the scene, Moilanen said at least one other person was taken to the hospital by private vehicle. Juan Gasca-Gasca, 28, of St. Charles, faces one count each of second-degree assault and second-degree riot with a dangerous weapon, both felonies, as well as one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. More arrests may be made, pending results of the ongoing investigation, Moilanen said.” Another round, barkeep!
Dan Linehan of the Mankato Free Press says North Mankato is considering a ban on e-cigarettes. “Following Mankato’s move to treat electronic cigarettes like the smoldering sort, the North Mankato City Council will hold a public hearing on similar ordinances. The council will consider two ordinances; one to regulate the sale of e-cigarettes and another to govern their use in indoor public places, City Attorney Michael Kennedy said. Like Mankato’s ordinance, this one defines a new term — called ‘electronic delivery device’ in this case — and prohibits it in the same places tobacco cigarettes are banned. According to the proposed ordinance, ‘E-cigarettes produce a vapor of undetermined and potentially harmful substances, which may appear similar to smoke emitted by traditional tobacco products.’ … ”
And in Duluth, educators are pleased with the way students are responding to methods to close the achievement gap, writes Jana Hollingsworth of the News Tribune. “The Duluth school district met only a few of its 2013 state achievement gap targets, but district officials aren’t worried. The Minnesota Department of Education released new data last week that shows fewer than half of the state’s districts and charter schools are on track to meet the goal of closing gaps for reading and math by 50 percent by 2017. The achievement gap is the disparity between nonwhite and white students and those enrolled in special education programs or who come from low-income families and those who aren’t, or who speak limited English and those who don’t. Each year districts have new targets to meet for each subgroup as a part of the state’s new accountability system since it was granted a waiver from No Child Left Behind mandates. … Some of the groups, such as those in special education programs and low-income students, were just shy of meeting reading targets. American Indian students were close to meeting their math goal and did meet their reading goal. Hispanic and Asian students exceeded both targets. Black students were close to their reading goal but were 14 points from their math goal. White students were also short of both targets. … The kind of work being done in Duluth classrooms to narrow achievement disparities varies. Some students need extended class time, and get bigger chunks of math or reading; they spend more time in smaller classrooms learning things they should have already picked up, and getting extra attention from teachers.”
The Hormel Company continues to make the most of its new plant in Dubuque. Earlier this week, it announced that Spam, the iconic spiced “luncheon meat,” won’t be made in Austin anymore, but moved to Dubuque where the plant’s greater capacity can handle a greater worldwide demand for the product. Besides the plant in Austin, Hormel produces Spam in Fremont, Neb., and at facilities in Europe and South Korea.” The move is the second major decision made recently by Hormel. In January, the firm announced it was cutting work for 75 people at a Tony Downs plant in St. James, Minn., and moving that work producing Hormel Bacon Bits to its own facility in Dubuque. The Dubuque plant opened in 2010 … . Hormel declined to comment whether this will affect the amount of production work in Austin.”