The Fargo Forum takes a look at the Upper Midwest’s attempt to rebrand itself. In a piece written by Tu-Uyen Tran, Jill Halvorson of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau discusses how beer koozies made by a Fargo knitting club are selling like hotcakes at trade shows. It’s part of the convention bureau’s plan to embrace the area’s “northern-ness,” much as Eric Dayton has proposed. The Midwest can include Missouri and Oklahoma, and “they don’t know what a hot dish is!” Halvorson said. Dayton’s idea is to define “The North” as the Dakotas (my opinion: from the Missouri River east), Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan (my opinion again: just the UP, thanks). Maureen Kelly Jonason formerly taught a class about Midwestern identity at Minnesota State University Moorhead. She said Midwestern “defines a certain esthetics more than geography. It has to do with common sense and no need to be cool. Values like that that distinguish us from the coasts.” Truth to power, my friend.
Even though there are early signs of drought, experts say there’s still enough winter left to alleviate the problem, according to The Associated Press. Nearly all of Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas have been dry for the past several weeks, and with temperatures in the 50s and low 60s this week, most of the snowpack should disappear. Not to fret: “We’ve frequently seen situations where we go this early in the spring into a dry situation and then we gain relief from it when it turns wetter in April and May,” said University of Minnesota Extension climatologist Mark Seeley.
OK everybody, take a deep breath and relax. It appears as though 2015 will be a good year for banks. According to the Brainerd Dispatch, the Fed in Minneapolis says Minnesota banks should do well in earnings, loan growth and asset quality in 2015. Loan growth will be between 5.6 percent and 9.6 percent. The share of problem loans will remain far below historic levels.
In Minnesota-adjacent news, Superior saw eight drug overdoses in the last 30 days – six of them linked to heroin in a six-day period in February, reports Maria Lockwood of the Duluth News Tribune. The six victims all survived. The cause of the overdoses appears to be linked to higher purity in the heroin. “It’s like playing Russian roulette, because you don’t know what you’re getting,” said Sgt. James Madden with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. “That’s eight potential deaths there, including six in one week, if help had not been provided.”
It was bloodletting time in Willmar schools as they cut $1 million from the district’s budget and laid off their least-experienced teachers, writes Linda Vanderwerf of the West Central Tribune. The school board laid off about 100 teachers, more than a quarter of the district’s teaching force. Director of Human Resources Liz Fischer said some may be rehired. The district also cut 30 percent of the budget for curriculum purchases and 15 percent for general supplies.
Gary Miller of the West Central Tribune took a photo of Doug Van Hauern fishing on 2 feet of ice on Foot Lake in Willmar on Monday. He only caught a few crappies.
Meanwhile, a little farther south but still in “The North,” Jesse Trelstad of the Worthington Daily Globe took a photo of geese on open water on Lake Okabena Monday. So keep an eye on that ice depth when you’re fishing.
I don’t know who was having the worse day, the suspect or the cop. William Morris of the Owatonna People’s Press reports on a 25-year-old Owatonna man who allegedly damaged a squad car and threatened a deputy early Sunday. The story goes like this: A Steele County Sheriff’s deputy pulls over a car at 12:55 a.m. Sunday. The passenger seems drunk so, after checking his ID, the deputy realizes the passenger is on probation with the condition of no use of alcohol. One thing leads to the other, and he after the man kicks out a passenger window he’s taken to an emergency room for treatment. At the hospital, the suspect tells an officer “I am going to [expletive] kill you,” and said he knows were the deputy and his family live. On Monday, the suspect was charged with making terroristic threats, 4th-degree intentional damage to property and obstructing legal process.
Speaking of bad days, some newly minted University of Minnesota Duluth education program graduates will have a degree but no teaching license, reports Jana Hollingsworth at the News Tribune. The College of Education and Human Service Professions’ integrated elementary and special education program is under review by the state Department of Education because it hasn’t filed the proper paperwork. Therefore, the 24 students who will graduate in May with the degree will have to get temporary teaching licenses. “This situation is unacceptable and we take full responsibility,” Andrea Schokker, executive vice chancellor of academic affairs for UMD, wrote in a letter to students of the program. “The issue is not with the program, but rather with a lapse in ensuring we followed proper documentation with the Board of Teaching,” Schokker said. The College of Education dean, Jill Pinkney-Pastrana, called the issue a “glitch.” If the program is approved, graduates will receive the appropriate license.