The final planting push is under way and slightly hampered by rainy conditions, the Mankato Free Press reports. “Ninety-six percent of Minnesota’s expected corn acreage has been planted, which is just 1 percentage point behind the five-year average. Soybean planting is 86 complete. That’s 3 points behind the five-year average. … the U.S. Department of Agriculture also said Monday that corn emergence is 89 percent, or 2 points behind the average. Sixty-five percent of the soybean crop has emerged, up 27 points from a week ago.”
This isn’t a Minnesota story but it’s close enough, and given the political climate in our neighboring state it’s a story that you could file in the “hell freezes over” category. Brady Slater of the Duluth News Tribune reports on the first same-sex marriage in Superior. Vince Nelson and Alvin Berg have been a couple for 30 years. On Monday, they took advantage of legal wrangling between U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb and Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen over whether the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional. Crabb ruled Friday it is unconstitutional. Van Hollen requested a stay during a state appeal. Crabb refused the stay. Van Hollen asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to halt same-sex marriages until appeals are concluded. Until then, Van Hollen said county clerks shouldn’t issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite Crabb’s ruling. Clerks in some counties have been following Crabb; some have been following Van Hollen. Under this cloud, Nelson and Berg celebrated their nuptials, then hustled to the Douglas County Courthouse to make it official. “To me it’s about discrimination,” Nelson said. “I love who I want to love. I’m not hurting anybody.”
There’s a problem with ugly houses in St. Cloud and the City Council is taking action, writes Kari Petrie of the St. Cloud Daily Times. Since 2006, the council has taken aim at fixing run-down houses with new ordinances and enforcement, but the job still has a long way to go. City staff told the council Monday they want to update technology to track complaints and fixes, and they want to add a position to process the violations and work in the field. They are discussing an 8 percent hike in license and permit fees and an increase in administrative citation fees to pay for the new position. “We’re not going to tolerate this crap anymore,” Council member George Hontos said, referring to the decrepit houses, not the additional fees.
There’s a bad case of NIMMBY, or Not In My Moorhead Back Yard, writes Erik Burgess of the Fargo Forum. Homeowners near a planned 41-unit, $6.5 million complex at 315 34th St. N., which would offer a full range of services for the homeless, said they are worried about the kind of clientele attracted to the proposed apartment complex. Corby Nelson, a Clay County sheriff’s deputy, told City Council members Monday night that he and his family moved near the proposed apartment site just a week ago. He is worried about what would happen to any drunk and disorderly people seeking shelter at the new complex. “I’m not prepared to have that discussion with my 3-year-old daughter about what’s going on in the trees behind our house,” Nelson said, choking up. The project’s backer, Churches United for the Homeless, is asking Minnesota for a $6 million grant to help fund the project. Jane Alexander, the group’s executive director, said the proposed building is an apartment, not a shelter, and will have around-the-clock security and controlled access. Sex offenders will not be allowed in the new complex but some may have a criminal history, she said. Jen Engquist, community center director for Churches United, addressed the connection between poverty and violence. “The best way to prevent that kind of violence is to make sure everyone has a safe place to sleep at night,” she said.
Duluth ship watchers have been wondering about the fate of the Federal Mattawa, a saltie anchored outside Duluth Harbor Basin for 23 days. Mike Creger of the Duluth News Tribune reports that the ship might finally get under way if there’s enough grain at the CHS dock in Superior. “Adele Yorde, spokeswoman for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, said the ship started on the St. Lawrence Seaway in late April and, after dropping cargo in Hamilton, Ont., made its way to Thunder Bay by May 8. It was ‘repositioned’ to Duluth because of backups in the Canadian port, Yorde said, and then has had to wait out other salties loading grain, and then a grain shortage. She suspects the lack of rail space for Dakota grain on lines clogged with oil shipments is to blame.”
Here’s another story not technically from Minnesota, but it’s close enough and it’s pretty interesting. Here’s the headline: “Fargo’s Mari ‘extremely bummed out’ by runner-up Miss USA finish.’ The story’s by Robin Huebner, who is also a 5 p.m. news anchor on WDAY-TV. The best thing about the story is that the headline says it all: Fargo’s Audra Mari took first runner-up at the Miss USA pageant in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday night. It’s the best-ever finish for a North Dakotan, but Mari and her family feel “sad” and “bittersweet.” “I’m extremely bummed out, even though I shouldn’t be,” Mari said as she was headed not to New York for grand festivities, but back to Fargo Monday afternoon. “I just feel like I had high expectations,” she said. Mari is the only woman to have placed first runner-up in both Miss Teen USA and Miss USA. “One more person to beat out and my life would have changed,” Mari said. “I’d be in New York right now instead of going back to North Dakota.” As Miss USA runner-up, Mari wins a $3,000 cash prize and several scholarships to specific schools. As always, if the winner is unable to fulfill her duties, Mari would become the new Miss USA. The first runner-up assumed the Miss USA title in 1957, 1980, 1995, 1997 and 2012 when Miss USA won the Miss Universe title. In 1967, the first runner-up declined the title and the crown went to the second runner-up. For now, Mari looks forward to “doing nothing” and eating at her family’s home in Fargo. After that, she will send new photos out to modeling agents in Miami, New York and Los Angeles. She will take online classes at NDSU, where she will major in public relations and communications.
A preliminary report by the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Zumbrota Police Department say illegal fireworks may have caused the Memorial Day fire that destroyed Agri-Tech Industrial Services in Zumbrota, reports Brett Boese of the Rochester Post Bulletin. “Multiple suspects — who have been identified but are not in custody — soon might face criminal charges for accidentally starting the blaze with illegal fireworks shot off near Agri-Tech Industrial Services,” Boese wrote. Agri-Tech was founded in 1982 by Steve Groth and does mechanical work on trucks and large agricultural equipment. Four trucks belonging to clients and two of Groth’s trucks were destroyed. Groth estimates the blaze cost $1.2 million. He said insurance won’t cover the full amount. Names of the suspects are being withheld, but Groth said he has been told the suspects are three young men.
In the world of sports, the Roosevelt Stars couldn’t quite mount a comeback against the Willmar Stingers, despite having an advantage in hands and eyes, reports Linda Vanderwerf of the West Central Tribune. “The Willmar Stingers players each tucked one arm into their jerseys for a couple innings, and some of them even played blindfolded, but they still won the annual kickball game with Roosevelt Elementary teachers on a score of 7-5. The last-day-of-school tradition began several years ago. Roosevelt is close enough for students to walk to Bill Taunton stadium, and the teachers have been willing to pit themselves against a team of college baseball players from the Stingers roster. The event began with the sweet voices of more than 900 elementary children singing the national anthem. Things went downhill from there for their teachers. Soon, the teachers were down 2-0, then, with some help from the grinning Stingers, 5-3. The kids cheered, and the screaming and stomping was deafening when a teacher caught a fly ball. The teachers, called the Roosevelt Stars, were dressed in black or red Roosevelt T-shirts and red and white Zubaz pants. … At the end, Stars coach Lee Gauer said even begging the opposing team hadn’t been a winning strategy. ‘They were trying to help us out, and we still couldn’t win.’ “