Farm Bill reaction: At least Congress finally did something

REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
‘Farming is a long-term business. You can’t just live from day to day or month to month. You have to a plan in line, and a future, to survive.’

The Albert Lea Tribune asked several farmers about the new five-year farm bill signed into law on Friday. “ ‘Anything is better than nothing,’ said Jim O’Connor of Blooming Prairie. ‘The fact they actually got something that they could agree on and get it passed, that is positive.’ … (The bill ends direct payments to farmers and focuses on crop insurance instead). Ric Murphy, who farms near Lyle, agrees with an end to direct payments, ‘which was long overdue,’ he said. … ‘Farming is a long-term business. You can’t just live from day to day or month to month. You have to a plan in line, and a future, to survive’ ”

Lyle-Pacelli lies in the Austin Daily Herald’s circulation area, so it covered the girls’ basketball win against Spring Grove as simply a win against a tough opponent. How tough? Here’s the second-to-last line in the story: “The (Spring Grove) Lions had won their previous 87 games in the (Southeast Conference).” Sounds like the Lions fell apart in the second half. “The Athletics trailed 39-30 early in the second half when they put on a 24-1 run to take the game over. … The win puts LP (19-0 overall, 15-0 SEC) a full game ahead of the Lions with just three conference games left on the Athletics’ schedule.”

So Chuck Hendrickson is a new member of the Moorhead City Council. Erik Burgess of the Fargo Forum reports that Hendrickson shared a note on his Facebook page from a group called “Liberals Unite,” which called “the Republican Party a cult aiming to ‘brainwash ignorant people with misinformation.’ … (The post) said the Republican Party has ‘betrayed’ the Constitution, ‘hurt U.S. citizens,’ that they use ‘bullying tactics like dictators,’ and that ‘like a cult, they brainwash ignorant people with misinformation with the help of fake religious leaders and their fake news station Fox News.’ … ‘Was it appropriate? Probably not. I shouldn’t have shared it,’ Hendrickson said. ‘But, it just gets a good conversation about how the federal government is dysfunctional right now, and we just talk about it.’ Mari Dailey, a newly elected council member in the 1st Ward, commented on the post with one word: ‘Amen!’ That didn’t sit too well with Councilman Mike Hulett. Hulett wrote an email Monday morning to Council Members Nancy Otto, Brenda Elmer, Jim Haney and former Mayor Morrie Lanning, a Republican who represented Moorhead in the Legislature for 10 years. ‘I cannot tell you the degree to which I am outraged by this!’ Hulett wrote. He then cited Dailey’s comment and added ‘Are you kidding me?’ … Dailey agreed with Hendrickson, saying the post was meant to start a dialogue and that she sees a ‘definite separation’ between national politics and local government. … Dailey said she believed council members ‘running to The Forum tattling’ about a Facebook post was more polarizing than the post itself.”

Mankato is seeing the greatest increase in home sales in the state, writes Tim Krohn of the Mankato Free Press. Here are some Mankato stats: “There were 1,850 existing homes sold in 2013, compared to 1,670 the year before. That nearly 11 percent increase was far ahead of the 4.6 percent growth seen statewide and outpaced all other regions, such as the Rochester area, which saw a 4.7 percent increase, and the Twin Cities, which had a nearly 9 percent increase. The median selling price, which is the midway point of all houses sold, rose nearly 8 percent in 2013 to $132,500. The average number of days a home was on the market before selling dropped from 156 in 2012 to 142 days in 2013.”

But in the 10-county area covered by the Realtors Association of Southern Minnesota, real estate didn’t fare so well. “Deb Richmond-Johnson, president of the association, noted that in her area of Lake Crystal, and in many other smaller towns, sales were down in 2013,” Krohn writes. … “She said there remains a shortage of homes for sale valued at $100,000 to $150,000. ‘It’s almost nonexistent right now. They’re either lower than that or in the upper $200,000 or above.’ “

A beef about sand, salt and road time caused a meeting of the Walcott Township Board to become overheated Monday, writes Criseta Boarini of the Faribault Daily News. At issue is the contract the board signed last year with R & R Anderson for snow removal. At Monday’s meeting, “the three-man board laid down a policy to mitigate high costs of snow removal — but not without taking a lot of flak from the residents in attendance.” Some attendees said the roads used to be safer. “Supervisor Dave Spitzack said, in his experience, the roads are currently well maintained and the people he has seen in unsafe situations had been driving too fast. ‘You don’t represent everyone in the township,’ Spitzack said to the audience. The township’s clerk, Benet Freund, who has remained neutral on the whole snow-removal debate, piped in with the final word on the issue. ‘You want to see a change? Run for office,’ Freund said.”

To make up for lost school days due to cold and snowy weather, Willmar Public Schools will be adding minutes to each school day, writes Linda Vanderwerf of the West Central Tribune. “Schools were closed Jan. 6, 7, 16, 23, 27 and 30 because of dangerous wind chills, ice and blowing snow. The district’s calendar included enough flexibility to make up three of the days by holding school on what would have been days off. Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard told the board that he had never asked a board to extend the school day because of snow days, but he’s also never had six snow days in one month before. Kjergaard said he knows that the longer days are not an ideal solution. ‘It’s the best I could come up with beyond losing spring break,’ he said. … Students in grades 6-12 will have 10 minutes added at the beginning of the day and 5 minutes added at the end of the day. Students in grades K-5 will have 10 minutes at the end of their day.”

The Taco John’s in Fergus Falls is certifiably one of the best in the nation, writes Chris Reinoos of the Fergus Falls Journal. Last year, Taco John’s began naming stores as “Nationally Certified Restaurants,” where new licensees can observe operations and see the proper “Taco John’s” way to run a business. “In December, the Fergus Falls Taco John’s, owned and operated by Brian Fuder, became the first location in the country to receive the certification. Taco John’s has been in Fuder’s family for almost his entire life. His parents bought the Fergus Falls restaurant in 1985, and Fuder started working there in 1989 as a 12-year-old.”

Anyone over a certain age remembers the “agony of defeat” guy on the introduction to ABC’s Wide World of Sports. He was the ski jumper who wiped out spectacularly at the bottom of a giant jump. While the wipe-outs weren’t in the same galaxy as that colossal face-plant, Kelly Humphrey and Denton Newman Jr. of the Brainerd Dispatch did a nice job of photographing the Ironton Winter Bar-Stool Races. Here’s how they described it: “Each racing bar stool, hand-crafted to exacting specifications, each athlete finally tuned to superb racing competitiveness — willing to risk it all for their chance to experience the thrill of victory, or the agony of defeat! The human drama of athletic competition featured in a charity event to raise money for the Sno-Serpent Snowmobile Club.” They have 167 photos to share.

There’s some mystery about the involuntary administrative leave pending an internal investigation into actions taken by Blue Earth police officer Todd Purvis, writes Josh Moniz in the Mankato Free Press. While Blue Earth is looking into misconduct allegations, a separate criminal complaint has been dropped without any charges filed. Cottonwood County Attorney Nick Anderson confirmed that no charges will be filed against Purvis, but declined to provide any details. Blue Earth City Administrator Kathy Bailey confirmed that the incident in the criminal complaint occurred while Purvis was off duty and outside of the city’s jurisdiction. The complaint, provided after a public data request by The Free Press, says Purvis allegedly violated three portions of the police department’s policy but didn’t specify which was the focus of the investigation. Moniz lists the alleged violations: “First, Purvis is accused of violating department policy regarding ‘sexual harassment via verbal or other physical conduct or communication of sexual nature with a minor on more than one occasion over the last year.’ Second, Purvis is accused of violating policy by ‘engaging in conduct constituting lewd behavior or indecent exposure on more than one occasion over the last year’ while off duty. Finally, Purvis is accused of misusing his personal cell for personal use during work hours in an ‘inappropriate and unnecessary amount’ that violates the city’s cellphone use policy.’ ”

Up in Bemidji, the Axemen made their first appearance in the Indoor Football League, reports the Bemidji Pioneer.  The evening started with a traditional Native American drum ceremony. Then the Bemidji Axe Dancers arrived on the back of motorcycles wearing plaid flannel, easily removable shirts — shed while dancing to loud music with inflatable axe props. “The Axemen themselves ran onto the field through a giant helmet (borrowed from the Bemidji High School football team) … . Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht, IFL dignitaries, and notable Bemidji businesspeople performed the opening coin toss.” In typical IFL fashion, the Axemen scored a touchdown in the game’s first minute. Bemidjites had to get used to their proximity to the play: “One missed bullet pass sent a geyser of beer belonging to one unlucky fan shooting into the air, spraying him and his seatmates. Footballs went into the stands multiple times, but fans tossed them back like good sports. … ” Interestingly enough, the story never gave the final score between Bemidji and Cedar Rapids. I think in the IFL, it really doesn’t matter.

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