Brown County is hard up for cash to fix its roads

In New Ulm, the Brown County Commission is considering adopting a local sales tax so county roads will remain usable. Fritz Busch of the New Ulm Journal jotted down some notes: It has been more than a decade since the county has done much shoulder widening or grading, focusing instead on bituminous paving surfaces. Last year, commissioners approved a $10 per vehicle annual wheelage tax that is estimated to bring in $286,000 a year, but Brown County Highway Engineer Wayne Stevens said the department is still falling behind in highway improvements. Unscheduled road and bridge projects are increasing, and current estimates show a $19 million program shortfall. The half-cent sales tax would collect about $1.5 million a year in Brown County. Authority for a sales tax dedicated to transportation projects was passed by the 2013 Legislature and while referendums are not required, a public hearing must be held before commissioners consider the tax.

A passel of Moorhead residents know all about NIMBY and how they shouldn’t succumb to its effects, but they admit they don’t care. They don’t want an apartment complex for homeless people in their neighborhood. Eric Burgess of the Fargo Forum reports that the neighbors appealed to the city council to oppose the plan and the council agreed, voting unanimously Monday to oppose the proposed complex in north Moorhead near the Arbor Park neighborhood. The vote was greeted with applause, but both were only symbolic because there is nothing the city can do to stop the 41-unit, $6.5 million apartment complex proposed by Churches United for the Homeless to help the chronically homeless. City Manager Michael Redlinger said Churches United already owns the site and it’s zoned for mixed-use. “People can buy land, and they can build things based on the zoning that it is,” Mayor Del Rae Williams said.

What evil lurks in the hearts of fair competitors? There were black deeds done at the Winona County Fair recently when two rabbits went missing and two more appeared to have been tampered with just hours before they were set to be shown. Abby Eisenberg of the Winona Daily News reports that when Lisa Douglas of Winona arrived with her family at the fairgrounds about 7 a.m. Friday, one of the rabbits her children had planned to show was missing from its cage. So was another family’s rabbit. A third rabbit was placed in a cage with another rabbit where it didn’t belong, and a fourth rabbit had clumps of hair newly missing from its face, Douglas said. They were all to be judged Friday. Douglas says one of the missing rabbits is a 4-pound ruby-eyed white mini-rex. The other is a 5- or 6-pound grey/blue tortoiseshell mini-lop. If they are returned to any vet clinic in the Winona area so they can come home, Douglas says she won’t press any charges.

A misunderstanding over reservations and proper service-dog apparel turned into a patriotic, pet-loving brouhaha at Iven’s on the Bay in Brainerd. Renee Richardson of the Brainerd Dispatch worked hard to get to the bottom of the story. Apparently, Navy veteran Paul Connolly of Brainerd went to Iven’s with his wife, Nancy, and his service dog, Cooper, on June 27; they were to meet friends. The former SEAL needs the 3-year-old Australian shepherd-border collie mix to help him with panic attacks, depression and to remember to take his medications. They didn’t have reservations, which normally would have meant a patio table on a busy night. Iven’s staff seated them in the restaurant instead. Cooper also was wearing a service-dog scarf rather than the traditional vest. Soon after being seated in the restaurant, another patron told Iven’s staff she was allergic to dogs. Because Cooper was wearing a scarf and not a service-dog vest, the patron and some of the staff thought he was simply a pet. According to the Connellys, Iven’s staff questioned whether Cooper was an actual service dog. Nancy Connelly provided an ID card, then said an Iven’s manager questioned whether the scarf and card were purchased off the Internet. A table was prepared on the patio and the couple was informed that because their party didn’t have a reservation, there wasn’t room for them in the restaurant. Nancy Connolly then addressed the diners, saying they were being denied seating because of her husband’s service dog and they were leaving. Crow Wing County Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom, who was in Iven’s at the time, said “the restaurant erupted, standing and clapping” in rhythmic cadence for vet and his dog. Sara McCabe, manager at Iven’s, said they always accommodate service dogs and this incident arose from a miscommunication and no one was refused service. “I don’t understand how this has escalated the way it has,” she said. “We certainly would never knowingly offend any guest.”

The Bemidji School Board is going to voters to ask for a $30-million bond to build a new school for up to 900 fourth- and fifth-graders, reports Malachi Peterson of the Bemidji Pioneer.  The district’s population is growing. The largest increase is in the kindergarten through fifth grades, with an estimated additional 326 students in the next five years. Several locations were proposed for the possible new schools, including land owned by the district near Bemidji High School and land near Bemidji Middle School. The layout would be based on Lincoln Elementary, thus saving on designing a new school. The district will now submit plans to the Minnesota Department of Education and if approved, the referendum would be placed on the ballot for the Nov. 4 election.

An explosive device was found in the grass at Legion Park north of Bricelyn last week, according to the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office. Sara Schafer if the Austin Daily Herald writes that the Bloomington Bomb Squad was called in and detonated the bomb at the park. No one was injured. The explosive looked like a stick of dynamite. Authorities don’t know how long the explosive had been in the park or how it got there.

Tim Fuller, a veteran driver from Watertown, N.Y., liked breaking the Late Model record at Deer Creek track in Spring Valley so much that he broke it twice Sunday. Jason Feldman of the Rochester Post Bulletin reports that Fuller “turned a lap of 13.873 seconds in hot laps, when times don’t officially count toward the record. In time trials, where records are set and broken, Fuller ran a lap of 13.900 seconds, blowing away the previous record of 14.097 seconds, set last year at the Gopher 50 by Oxford, Iowa, driver Chris Simpson.”

Food Network impresario Guy Fieri shot a segment for his “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” show at Pak’s Green Corner in West Duluth on Monday evening, reports Alysee Shelton of the Tribune. Pak Williams, the restaurant owner, said Fieri helped her cook a Bangkok pad thai chicken burrito. “This was a fantastic experience,” Williams said. “I just want to thank Fieri as well as my customers, employees and family for their help and support.” Fieri has also profiled other Northland eateries including the Duluth Grill, At Sara’s Table/Chester Creek Cafe and Northern Waters Smokehaus in Duluth, Gordy’s Hi-Hat in Cloquet and the Anchor Bar in Superior.

Deteriorated road photo by Flickr user Wonderlane and used under Creative Commons license.

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Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/15/2014 - 02:57 pm.

    Service Dog Regulations

    “Sara McCabe, manager at Iven’s, said they always accommodate service dogs and this incident arose from a miscommunication and no one was refused service.”

    I’m not sure how removing customers from the table they’d previously been seated at could be construed as anything BUT a refusal of service. But just in case anyone is still confused about the rules around service animals, here’s a handy little guide from the United States Department of Justice:

    • Submitted by Marc Post on 07/15/2014 - 03:20 pm.

      I don’t think they were refused service

      They were asked to move to patio seating, away from a patron who was already there who was allergic to dogs. The same service is provided on the patio and, to be honest, it’s better seating in my opinion.

      I think this was grossly blown out of proportion. They would have been served had they not stormed out.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/15/2014 - 06:07 pm.

        Other infractions

        They didn’t just “storm out”. In addition to being asked to move outside, they were also questioned on the legitimacy of their Service Dog’s status. Even accused of just getting the Service Dog materials off of the Internet.

        There are two questions a business owner is allowed to ask. Only two.

        One of them is “Is this a Service Dog?”.

        And the second is “What tasks is this dog trained to do for you?”

        Asking whether you’re faking it is NOT on the list.

        This goes way beyond the pale and no person who relies on a Service Dog should ever be subjected to this kind of treatment.

        • Submitted by Marc Post on 07/15/2014 - 07:41 pm.

          Of course not!

          No, of course they shouldn’t be subjected to any unnecessary scrutiny. But I do think they didn’t bring the dog with the normal vest and that raised legitimate suspicion. If it looks fake, shouldn’t they be questioned? or do we let anyone with a printer claim the animal is a service animal? That seems insulting to those who really need the help. But maybe the ACA doesn’t care if fakers are abusing the system.

          And I consider standing up and announcing to the whole restaurant that you are being denied service and leaving to be “storming out”. It’s attention getting behavior and not acceptable in a fast food joint much less a fine dining establishment. They would have been served had they not left.

          My whole point here is that if cooler, more civilized behavior had been applied, they would have been served a fine meal and the patron with allergies would not have been put at risk. Everyone would have been happy if they weren’t so quick to “get their outrage on”.

          • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/15/2014 - 09:29 pm.

            Tell you what

            Why don’t you take it up with the Department of Justice. Explain to them why the dog should be wearing a vest, even though nothing in the Federal law requires it.

            Or maybe you can just have the whole American with Disabilities Act rewritten. That would take care of it.

            And believe me, disabled people with legitimate Service Animals are fully aware that there are people out there abusing the system. If you think you find it annoying, spend a minute or two thinking about how they feel about it, and how it affects them.

          • Submitted by jason myron on 07/16/2014 - 11:25 am.

            How about the diner that complained?

            Doesn’t their alleged allergy to dogs warrant scrutiny and proof as well? If you cast aspersions on the dog owner, why not the other diner? Maybe they just hate dogs and lied about being allergic. The people with the service dog had every right to complain and let everyone know that they were being discriminated against. Why do I think if they had acted the way you wanted them to that your comments on this story would have been how they didn’t act like anything was wrong at the time and were probably just trying to file a frivolous allegation for monetary gain?

            • Submitted by Marc Post on 07/16/2014 - 02:29 pm.


              I really didn’t expect that those who advocate so strongly for accommodation for one group, in this case those who need service animals, would be so vitriol in denying an accommodation for those who are allergic to the service animals. I also didn’t expect the outrage over my suggestion that a more calm, civil approach could have made everyone happy. I stand corrected.

    • Submitted by Marc Post on 07/15/2014 - 03:23 pm.

      Your link

      Thanks for the link. I do notice it says “When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.”

      It seems that is what the restaurant was trying to do. It seems reasonable to me.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/15/2014 - 06:00 pm.

        They were asked to move

        YOU may think the patio seating is better, but not everyone necessarily shares your opinion.

        And moving someone outside is not moving them to “different rooms in the facility”. It’s moving them outside.

        They were seated, and then they were asked to move. Because of the dog. Whose well-behaved presence is protected by Federal law.

        That restaurant needs to brush up on their ADA requirements. And they’re not the only restaurant out there that should do so.

        • Submitted by Marc Post on 07/15/2014 - 06:37 pm.

          Not exactly

          They were asked to move because of another patron who was already there who was allergic to the dog. Without that, they would have not been asked to move. I think those people matter too.

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