Details on Sauk Rapids plane crash; state is close to marking rainiest June

There’s more information coming out about that plane that crashed into a house in Sauk Rapids over the weekend. David Unze of the St. Cloud Daily Times, reports that the pilot was St. Cloud commercial pilot Scott A. Olson, 60, and the passenger was Alexander Voigt, 16, a German foreign exchange student who was staying with St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis. Olson was taking Voigt on a flight so the teen could take aerial photos of the city before he returned to Germany. The home, which was destroyed, was owned by Sauk Rapids-Rice High School teacher Jeff Hille. Hille and his sister, Kristen, were not home at the time of the crash. His brother-in-law, Kole Heckendorf, escaped out of a second-floor window. So far, no cause for the crash has been cited. Kleis said Voigt’s parents will be flying to St. Cloud this week to collect their son’s remains.

We’ve had a lot of rain this spring.

The water’s rising because we’ve had a lot of rain this spring. Nothing new with that. However, a Reuters story that ran in the Brainerd Dispatch contained this tidbit worth noting: “Some parts of Minnesota in June were soaked by 1 to 2 inches of rain (2.5 to 5 cm) daily for 10 consecutive days. About half of the state’s counties have reported flood damage. The state is close to marking its rainiest June based on climate records that date to the late 19th century, said Pete Boulay, climatologist with the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

Speaking of rain, Mark Fischenich of the Mankato Free Press takes a by-the-numbers look at flooding in his area. Some highlights: “1,000: Approximate number of Mankato homes suffering water damage, mainly from flooded basements. 18: Reported number of property owners who are dealing with more than nice clean rainwater. Those are the ones where sewage backed up into the basement as well. 8: Number of landslides on city property (two on Monks Avenue, two on Warren Street and single slides on Sumner, Division and Lake, along with the Viking ravine). 300: Roughly the number of landslides on private property, with one of the most severe occurring in Glenwood Cemetery. 29.6 million: Gallons of water that flowed into the wastewater treatment plant on the peak day, about 20 million gallons of which was storm water infiltrating the sewer system by leaks in pipes, basement floor drains or illegal sump pumps and drains attached to the sewer system. 2.74 million: Gallons of water, wastewater and sewage that had to be diverted to the Minnesota River to keep the overwhelmed treatment plant from failing.

Speaking of water, the city of Brainerd just closed the deal to buy a hydro dam that used to be owned by Wausau Paper. Jessie Perrine of the Brainerd Dispatch said the dam cost $2.6 million and will cost roughly that amount in upgrades, but will generate 10 percent of Brainerd’s power on a regular day. The annual cost to operate the dam is between $600,000 and $700,000. The city is expected to save $1 million that would have gone to buying energy from Minnesota Power for a a $250,000 to $300,000 net benefit a year, said Todd Wicklund, Brainerd Public Utilities finance director. There are other obvious benefits. The dam puts Brainerd ahead of the curve when it comes to producing clean energy. “It’s the way the economy is going,” said city council member and dam proponent Gary Scheeler.

The Moorhead City Council is considering a limit to where the most serious sex offenders can live, reports Erik Burgess of the Fargo Forum. Councilwoman Brenda Elmer is pushing a proposal based on a similar law in Wyoming, Minnesota, which bans sex offenders deemed most likely to reoffend from “living within 2,000 feet of a school, day care center, park or playground. There would also be a 1,000-foot buffer around public school bus stops, places of worship that conduct classes or any spot where children regularly gather,” the Forum reported. The newspaper put pen to paper and discovered that if the council enacted the proposal, sex offenders would be banned from living everywhere within city limits except in two blocks of southeast Moorhead. Elmer said the buffer zones could be changed. “I’m not sure that I would embrace Wyoming’s ordinance right here and right now, but I’m not comfortable with the status quo … especially when we talk about vulnerable populations,” Elmer said.

Steelworkers across the Iron Range gathered to support sanctions on foreign steel, writes John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune. Nearly 2,000 Iron Rangers called for the U.S. to impose sanctions on the increasing amount of cheap foreign steel that is coming to the U.S. market. Much of the focus this time is on South Korean steel pipe headed for the growing U.S. oil and gas industry. Imports doubled from 850,000 tons in 2010 to 1.8 million tons by 2012 as foreign steelmakers rushed to cash in on the oil and gas industry boom in the United States. South Korea sent about 1.2 million tons of that steel pipe to the U.S. last year, the largest amount of any of the nine nations critics say were illegally dumping below-cost steel into the U.S.

It’s tough to run for city council when you live in another state, or that’s what Kenneth Bush is finding out. A story by Heather J. Carlson in the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports that Kenneth Bush made a mistake when he initially filed to run for the Red Wing City Council At-Large seat using his current address in Stockholm, Wis. After his initial filing was rejected because of the Wisconsin address, he filed a second time listing his previous Red Wing address at 166 Cannonwood Drive. Red Wing City Council member Mike Schultz asked the court to rule that Bush’s name had to be taken off the ballot because he no longer lives in Red Wing. Bush argued his name should remain on the ballot because he is temporarily living in Wisconsin and plans to move back to Red Wing before the election. Goodhue District Court Judge Thomas Bibus said Bush’s intention to move back to Red Wing is not enough to allow his name to stay on the ballot.

Steven Lange of the Rochester newspaper spent some time with the USS Minnesota, now in dry dock, and with her skipper, Commander Brian Tanaka of Rochester. The ship – the newest, fanciest sub in the fleet – will launch in about 10 months from now. At the helm will be Tanaka, a hometown boy known for his drive and perseverance.

When Viola Ehrig and Christian Buelters entered Minnesota, they stopped at the Pipestone Visitor’s Center and there learned about the town of New Ulm, writes Elena Kretschmer of the New Ulm Journal. The German tourists – on a trek with their son, Joren, to encounter the real United States via small towns — said their exposure at the visitor’s center was their first encounter with New Ulm; Buelters had worked for a year and a half in Neu-Ulm back home. The trio are on a seven-month tour that will end in July in Toronto. They will remember New Ulm for its friendliness and hospitality, Buelters said.

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