Vancouver, Portland and Seattle have gotten on the tiny house bandwagon, and now Brainerd is moving with them, according to a story by Jessie Perrine of the Brainerd Dispatch. The Brainerd City Council agreed Monday to the concept of allowing 500-square-foot houses on nonconforming lots in the city. City Council member Gary Scheeler was worried the tiny-house movement would lower real estate values, but said he’s “willing to make something work with small houses for the good of Brainerd.” The Brainerd Planning Commission reports there are 465 vacant lots in Brainerd, many of which had held houses or are odd-shaped and don’t meet city codes or would leave a small yard. Allowing tiny houses on them would be a benefit, the commission said. City Council member Mary Koep agreed: “Small houses will bring in very nice people who otherwise wouldn’t buy a house here or even rent here. … It’s a trend that’s coming.” Minneapolis has been kicking around the idea of allowing houses on infill lots or in backyards for a while. Other cities — mainly on the West Coast, have moved aggressively on the issue. Portland, Oregon, is even waiving system development fees of as much as $11,000 for several years to promote growth that fits with the plan to grow within the city rather than expand outward.
Minnesota’s new medical marijuana law calls for two manufacturing facilities. No sooner had pen hit paper than Jeremy Pauling was lining up support to build the first facility in Montevideo, he told Tom Cherveny of the West Central Tribune. Not only is he the kind of guy who takes advantage of new opportunities — “I was brought up not to sit on my hands,” he said – but his daughter, Katelyn, 7, has Batten Disease. Doctors say she will live to 10 to 12 years old and Pauling and his wife, Kristy, are committed to doing all they can to ease her suffering. Gov. Mark Dayton signed the new law on May 29 and within two days, Pauling secured resolutions from the City of Montevideo and Chippewa County supporting the proposal to develop a manufacturing facility, and the city offered a site for the facility on its east side. The facility would create 30 to 40 new jobs growing a variety of marijuana strains that would create cannabinoid oils, which will be available as pills or as a liquid that would be vaporized. The extracted, cannabinoid oil does not provide a high, he said.
Katelyn suffers from painful seizures. While Pauling considered moving to a state where medical marijuana is available, he and his wife decided instead to fight for the cause in Minnesota where he has family support and where his two other daughters are comfortable. “It really makes you feel good to have a community get behind you with something that is so taboo, let us say,’’ Pauling told Cherveny. Pauling said the community’s response has been straightforward: “What can we do to help?”
Think Target is the only company with computer hacking problems? Jenn Brookens of the Fairmont Sentinel writes that the El Agave restaurant is suffering from slow business two months after hackers stole information about hundreds of credit and debit card transactions from the restaurant. Business is slow “but we don’t know if that is because of new places coming to town,” said Noe Juarez, proprietor of El Agave restaurants in Fairmont and St. Peter. To its credit, El Agave didn’t wait to take action. After it learned of the breach, the restaurant immediately went to a dial-up line so there is no longer any Internet access to the point-of-sale system. Now it has new equipment. “The upgrade was finished last week, and it meets all the newest standards,” Juarez said. “New terminals, new computers … We had to do dial-up for the past two months, and while it was a little bit of a hassle; we wanted to do whatever it takes to be safe. Now we have a system that operates as intended. We took the steps we had to do to solve this and prevent it from happening again.” Business was slow after the data breach, but loyal Fairmont customers have since returned. “We’re grateful to all the customers who support us,” Juarez said.
This is unfortunate. Seven monuments were knocked over and an undetermined number of memorial decorations were strewn about the Oak Grove Cemetery in Fergus Falls last weekend. The Fergus Falls Journal reports that one of the damaged markers belongs to former Mayor Kelly Ferber, who died in 2002. Ferber’s monument fell on the marker of his late son-in-law, Mike Schultz, cracking it and chipping off pieces of Ferber’s monument. A Fergus Falls Monument Company spokesman said it will put the monuments upright again but the cost of fixing damage falls on the family. A Fergus Falls insurance agent said a homeowner’s policy may cover the cost of vandalism up to $5,000, minus a deductible. Ferber served as mayor from 1981 to 2002. He was re-elected to his sixth term in 2000 and died in 2002 of lung cancer.
Like to fly between Minneapolis and Duluth but hate the lack of leg room? The Duluth News Tribune reports that because many of its flights to the Twin Cities are full, Delta Airlines is adding an Airbus A-319 for some flights to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The Airbus A-319 has 126 seats, 12 of which are first class. With the Airbus addition, three of Delta’s six daily Twin Cities flights will include a first-class option. Also this week, the airline will resume direct service to Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Not to be outdone, United Airlines will add a fourth daily nonstop flight to Chicago O’Hare Airport to accommodate the increased demand during the busy summer travel season.
At its annual software developer conference Monday, Apple said it is partnering with the Mayo Clinic to turn its iOS devices into health-information dashboards, the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports. The Mayo Clinic will be among the first to tap into health-related features that are a part of Apple’s upcoming iOS 8 operating system for the iPhone and iPad. The Apple app Health will collect data from a variety of sources including wearable fitness devices such as the Fitbit, along with mobile hardware that monitors heart activity, blood oxygen saturation and other variables. With users’ consent, the information will be fed to Mayo and analyzed so the clinic can offer better medical advice. John Wald, the clinic’s medical director for public affairs, said that with access to more and better information about patients at their fingertips, doctors might be able to shorten or eliminate costly hospitalizations.
This isn’t quite as high-tech, but it’s still important if you like eggs. The New Ulm City Council is considering whether to allow chickens within city limits, writes Clay Schuldt of the New Ulm Journal. The Happy Hen Committee would like the council to allow chicken coops in the city, with restrictions to limit the number of chickens allowed on a residence, whether to allow roosters, size of coop allowed, sanitation requirements and permit costs.
I don’t understand why the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Darwin isn’t among the choices. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji are in the running for the “Best Quirky Landmark” by USA Today 10 Best, reports the Bemidji Pioneer. The contest is open until noon on June 23 at USA Today. Here’s the competition: The Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama; the Beer Can House in Houston; Big Tex in Dallas; Cabazon Dinosaurs in Cabazon, California; Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas; Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska; Dog Bark Park Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho; Enchanted Highway in Regent, North Dakota; Farnham Colossi in Unger, West Virginia; Foamhenge in Natural Bridge, Virginia; Freemont Troll in Seattle; Galleta Meadows Estate in Borrego Springs, California; the Goldwell Open Air Museum in Rhyolite, Nevada; the Hood Milk Bottle in Boston; Longaberger Home Office in Newark, Ohio; the Peachoid in Gaffney, South Carolina; Prada Marfa in West Texas; South of the Border in Dillon, South Carolina; the World’s Biggest Bat in Louisville; and of course Paul and Babe in Bemidji.
Silica sand mining critic Lynn Schoen has decided to run against Red Wing Republican Tim Kelly for the House 21A seat, reports Heather J. Carlson of the Rochester PB. A Wabasha City Council member, Schoen helped deliver 6,000 petitions to St. Paul last spring asking Gov. Mark Dayton to impose a two-year ban on silica-sand mining in southeastern Minnesota. The Wabasha Democrat is on the state’s newly formed silica-sand mining advisory panel and says that while this type of mining is being done responsibly in some parts of the state, it doesn’t make sense to do it in environmentally fragile areas. Silica sand is a key ingredient in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which involves pumping sand, water and chemicals into shale formations that fracture in the rock, releasing the oil and gas trapped inside. For his part, Kelly has opposed efforts to ban silica-sand mining in southeastern Minnesota. “My position is great, you can have a ban, but all you’re doing is pushing off the real hard decisions for another year or two,” he said.