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Brown County is hard up for cash to fix its roads

ALSO: Moorhead council says no to homeless housing; show rabbits disappear or are tampered with at Winona County Fair; Brouhaha erupts over service dog at Iven’s on the Bay; and more.

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.”

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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.