A gypsy moth infestation that has been creeping from Europe westward has appeared along the Lake Superior coast, forcing the state Department of Agriculture to begin enforcing its first gypsy moth quarantine, reports John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune. Under the quarantine, tourists have to check their campers to make sure they aren’t transporting moth eggs. Those who live in the area must inspect items such as RVs, camping equipment and patio furniture before moving them out of the area. Commercial items such as firewood, pulp wood, and saw logs harvested in the area and then moved to another county can be inspected by the loggers, truckers and mills as long as they keep track of their inspections. Gypsy moth caterpillars favor aspen, birch, willow and oak, and officials expect the first major forest defoliation in Lake and Cook counties within 3 to 5 years. Combined with drought and native pests, the foreign invader could hit the Northland hard. The area has been sprayed extensively to slow the moth advancement, and an imported fungus has shown some effectiveness in killing the larvae.
Among the oddities in a very odd, sad story, Josh Monitz reports in the Mankato Free Press that John LaDue, the Waseca teen accused of plotting to massacre his family and school classmates, had earlier donated his savings to help the survivors of another Waseca tragedy. Here’s how the story goes: In 2007, Tracy Kruger and his son, Alec, were murdered. LaDue, 10 at the time, and his sister Valerie emptied their savings accounts and donated the money to help the Kruger family. Their father, David, rewarded them with silver bars as mementos of their kindness. After he was arrested in April, LaDue told police he stole his sister’s bars and pawned both of theirs in Mankato for $500 to buy firearms and explosive materials to use in his planned massacre. He said he was unsure why he donated his savings to the Kruger family. “At the time I really cared about people, and I don’t even know why,” LaDue told police.
While lighting off fireworks is a tradition and a lot of fun and everything, state officials are reminding people that the holiday becomes a big bummer when someone loses a finger or an eye because of careless use of explosives, according to the West Central Tribune. The state Department of Public Safety reminds us that any firework that leaves the ground or explodes is illegal. These include bottle rockets and Roman candles. They also ask parents to remember there is no such thing as a safe firework: Sparklers burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit; in 2011, fireworks caused nearly 18,000 fires and 9,600 injuries that required an emergency room visit; 18 percent of firework-related injuries occurred to children ages 9 and younger, 41 percent of injuries occur in people ages 19 and younger; if you don’t have a license to use fireworks, police can confiscate them and enforce a $700 fine and up to 90 days in jail.
Speaking of bummers on the Fourth of July, the owners of a camping site on Prairie Island are looking at a huge loss during one of their busiest weeks, reports Rory O’Driscoll of the Winona Daily News. Prairie Island Campground will be closed for the holiday weekend because of flooding. Manager Russ Hoesley said only 20 or so sites out of about 200 are likely to be dry enough for camping. It will have a major effect on the campground’s revenue and will likely put it in the red for the year. “(Fourth of July weekend) is about one sixth of our income,” Hoesley said. The campground typically floods, Hoesley said, but usually around April.
A fire early Tuesday morning gutted the Moorhead Baptist Church, leaving two families homeless, reports Emily Welker of the Fargo Forum. The Rev. John Roloson lived at the church with his wife and five teenage children along with the assistant pastor’s family. He said everyone got out safely. Moorhead fire officials said the blaze was caused by a faulty bathroom ventilation fan. The Red Cross is providing shelter for both families at a local hotel, and is also helping with food and clothing. The church was insured and no dollar loss was available. The church has a congregation of about 130.
Here’s something that doesn’t happen very often. Most public libraries in the state are connected to others through a public library system that offers inter-library book loans and helps with administration and staffing. In an unusual move, the Marshall-Lyon County Library Board has removed the library from the Plum Creek Library System, reports Deb Gau of the Marshall Independent. The issue apparently is long-range planning and local control. MLCL made some demands, Plum Creek rejected them, a state mediator was called in and made some recommendations, which the Plum Creek Governing Board rejected. Now MLCL is an independent library, meaning patrons will have access to the books and services in the building and none from other libraries across the state. MLCL board member and Lyon County Commissioner Charlie Sanow didn’t like the decision and said he would ask the Lyon County Attorney to work on separating the library from Lyon County. Library board members have said it is unlikely Lyon County could support both Plum Creek libraries and MLCL; Marshall city officials said the city couldn’t afford to make up the difference if Lyon County pulled its funding.
When you see a headline that says “Ready! Set! Eat KRAUT!” you stop and take notice. Elena Kretschmer of the New Ulm Journal brought the play-by-play of the sauerkraut eating contest at Sauerkraut Days in Henderson. Lining up next to several contenders was Lauren Luffey, the New Ulm Sister Cities Hans Joohs exchange. Luffey had already eaten a bowl of sauerkraut, but agreed to participate if she got a free T-shirt. Competitors had 30 seconds to prepare two pounds of hot, steamy sauerkraut. Most prepared their kraut by squeezing the juice out of the fermented cabbage and then repiling the food. Rick Oestreich of Eagan was the first to finish and shout out “Let’s get krauty!” after a bit more than four minutes and won the kraut trophy and a $100 gift certificate. For being the only female in the contest, Luffey won the title “Sauerkraut Eating Queen 2014.” She said she might compete again in the sauerkraut eating contest in New Ulm during Bavarian Blast.
It’s just a different kind of protein. The Austin Daily Herald reports that Hormel Foods has acquired CytoSport Holdings, maker of Muscle Milk. CytoSport’s brands align with the company’s focus on protein, CEO Jeffrey Ettinger said in a press release. Based in Benicia, California, CytoSport was founded in 1998 by the Pickett family and produces Muscle Milk products, the No. 1 brand in the ready-to-drink protein beverage category. According to the Herald, total 2014 annual sales are expected to be approximately $370 million and the purchase price is approximately $450 million.