Avian flu affects 343,000 turkeys in Minnesota; 44 people homeless in Duluth after fire

Minnesota is the largest turkey producer in the nation.

The vicious H5N2 avian flu continues its tour of Minnesota turkey farms, with Carolyn Lange of the West Central Tribune reporting Monday that at 26,000-turkey farm in Kandiyohi County and a 76,000-turkey farm in Stearns County have tested positive for the highly pathogenic avian influenza. The same strain has also been confirmed at poultry farms in Lac qui Parle, Pope and Nobles counties with a total of 343,000 birds affected in Minnesota, which is the largest turkey producer in the nation. Officials say there is no chance of infected birds entering the market for human consumption and very little chance of the disease spreading to people. No workers have exhibited any symptoms of the disease. All seven of the infected farms are under quarantine.

A fire at a Duluth apartment building has left more than 40 people, including 23 children, homelessreports Brady Slater of the Duluth News Tribune. The fire destroyed the three-story Applewood Knoll apartments at 1705-1707 E. Second St. and left 44 people homeless. The fire began about 12:50 p.m. Sunday and caused at least $900,000 in damage. Major Bill Cox of the Salvation Army said he believed it was the most people displaced by a fire in Duluth since the Kozy Apartments fire on Nov. 15, 2010, that left 57 people homeless. “Long-term housing is the No. 1 immediate need,” said Eric Adams, disaster program specialist for the American Red Cross Northland Chapter. 

John Wheeler up at WDAY and the Fargo Forum gives us a quick primer on the new weather reality for Minnesota and the Dakotas: “As the climate of North Dakota and Minnesota has warmed over the past several decades, summer heat waves have actually become less common. Despite the lack of scorching hot days, average summer temperatures have risen. This sounds counter-intuitive, but it is explainable. As the air in summer has warmed, it has also become more humid. More humidity has made our summers rainier, which has caused our topsoil to be wetter. Wet soils lead to evaporation, which takes energy that keeps the temperatures lower during the day. However, the increased humidity also keeps the temperature from falling much at night. So our summers have grown warmer, but this warming is reflected in our nighttime lows more than in our afternoon highs. The past several months have been quite dry, and the soil is not wet at the moment. Should the dry weather continue, we will likely experience more hot afternoons this summer.” So now you know.

Over in Bemidji, the Chief Bemidji statue is closer to becoming a reality, writes Zach Kayser of the Bemidji Pioneer. Plaques and a statue are planned for the Paul Bunyan/Library Park to honor Shaynowishkung, known as Chief Bemidji, as well as the Anishinaabe people. Kayser writes that Shaynowishkung was a respected leader and diplomat between the Anishinaabe and white settlers. The plaques around the statue will outline his role when 400 Anishinaabe died from disease and hunger while waiting for government agents in 1850; the Dawes Allotment Act in 1887 which partitioned Indian lands and forced many into poverty; and the Battle of Sugar Point in 1898 when the people fought against logging practices. 

A little farther to the west in Moorhead, a dog that was stabbed multiple times is on the mend with a foster family, writes Kevin Wallevand of the Forum News Service. The adult shepherd cross who’s being called Wilford was found several weeks ago in Horace, North Dakota, suffering from three stab wounds. Round-the-clock vet care has made the difference and now the dog is happy, healthy and still active. “He’s a lover. He loves people. He’s so laid back and relaxed. He loves attention. He’s a chow hound now that he has his appetite back,” foster parent Ellen Brisch said. The perpetrator has not been found. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office put out a plea Monday that anyone with information on Wilford, his owner or his home come forward.

And speaking of making a difference in Moorhead, Minnesota State University-Moorhead’s new president, Anne Blackhurst, is getting a lot of love on campus and around town for her openness and tech savvy, reports Grace Lyden of the Fargo Forum. Blackhurst is on a mission to personally raise MSUM’s profile. She started her job nine months ago by helping students move into dorms. She’s often at business meetings on both sides of the river and she is very engaged on Twitter where she isn’t shy with interacting with students – even earning the hashtag #Annefan. “She’s a rock star,” said Student Body President Cody Meyer. “People love that she’s on social media and embraces that presence, and I think it kind of humanizes her.” Last week, a student tweeted, “it’s crazy awesome that I can just be walking around my college and see the president just chilling in the cafe. #annefan.” It’s a conscious move by Blackhurst, who said “the thing I heard most often from the community was that MSUM had been invisible, and I think that rightly or wrongly, the president is the face of the institution.” 

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