A resignation that makes you say hmmmm: Annette Wiles, the University of Minnesota-Duluth women’s basketball coach, resigned Monday and is the third female head coach to leave the university this year. Matt Wellens of the News Tribune reports that she was with the Bulldogs for seven seasons, taking UMD to the NCAA Division II tournament in 2010 and 2012, and finishing with a 109-86 record. She follows Shannon Miller, the former women’s hockey coach, and Jen Banford, who served as women’s hockey director of operations and head softball coach. Wiles cites an unhealthy work environment at the university. Miller and Banford have filed a complaint against the university with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and Wiles is expected to join them.
The folks in Austin are taking a deserved victory lap after former TV and radio news director, Riverland Community College instructor and former mayor John O’Rourke has been named to the Minnesota broadcasting Hall of Fame. Jenae Hackensmith of the Daily Herald writes that O’Rourke came to Austin in 1961 to work with sports at KAUS and Channel 6 and later became news director. He became an instructor at Riverland and said teaching others how to do broadcasting was as rewarding as working in the industry. “I liked the people, I liked the job itself — you got to go to ballgames and got the front seat,” he laughed. “I liked everything about it.”
Who are the other inductees? Glad you asked. The 2015 Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame inductees are:
Al De Rusha: A producer/director at WTCN-TV, and the producer, director, referee, and ring announcer for Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association.
Paul Douglas: A nationally recognized meteorologist, author, entrepreneur, and 40-year radio and television broadcaster.
Doug Johnson: Spent 35 years as general manager and part owner of KKOJ-AM/KRAQ-FM in Jackson, Minnesota.
Odis “Oats” LeGrand: (deceased) He broadcast more than 4,000 sporting events throughout the Fergus Falls Lakes Area.
Steve Linder: He owns Lakeland Broadcasting Company’s family of four radio stations in West Central Minnesota.
John O’Rourke: The “Voice of Austin, Minnesota,” John was a longtime broadcasting instructor at Riverland College, former Mayor of Austin, and former news director at KAAL-TV and KAUS Radio.
Ron Schara: Ron is the owner of Ron Schara Productions, producer of “Minnesota Bound,” owner of Raven the dog, and was formerly a columnist at the Minneapolis Star & Tribune.
Sue Zelickson: Sue has more than 20 years as a restaurant and food reporter at WCCO-AM. She is a James Beard Award winner, the highest honor for food and beverage professionals in America.
Distinguished Service Award: Rey Lark: (deceased) Rey Lark was a radio engineer at many stations including KDWB/630 and WYOO. He later founded WXCE/1260 in Amery, Wisconsin. He was known by everybody who worked with him as “Radio Rey.”
The awards will be handed out Sept. 12 at the Sheraton West Hotel in Minnetonka.
More good news! FedEx has announced it is building a 54,000-square-foot distribution factory in Brainerd. Chelsea Perkins of the Daily Dispatch tells us that construction will be at the Brainerd Industrial Park for the first time since the Great Recession. Work begins next week on 9 acres of land was finalized Thursday after the city council first learned of the company’s interest last October. “You talk about a big deal for Brainerd, this is huge,” said Gary Scheeler, city council president. “There’s a lot of things happening in our town right now and this just adds to it.”
Do you like the idea of living in a small town? Reports from two web sites (written by people I suspect do not live in small towns) have ranked Minnesota cities at or near the top of the nation’s most livable small towns. First, Liveability.com has ranked all the small towns in the country. They came up with a bunch of benchmarks, then worked their mojo to come up with a list of the Top 100 Most Livable Small Towns in America. Minnesota did well: Alexandria is No. 22, Marshall is No. 28, Northfield is No. 33, Fergus Falls is No. 62 and Bemidji is No. 74. Your top 10? Lebanon New Hampshire, Los Alamos New Mexico, Durango Colorado, St. Augustine Florida, Bar Harbor Maine, Louisville Colorado, Hood River Oregon, Spearfish South Dakota, Sebastopol California, and Port Angeles Washington.
Not to be outdone, an outfit called Nerdwallet has come up with its own list of the top 100 small cities in the nation, and Minnesota does considerably better under their criteria. In fact, Moorhead comes in No. 1, Winona No. 2, Mankato No. 5, St. Cloud No. 47 and Austin No. 70. What’s interesting is there’s no crossover. I guess Mr. Rogers was right: We’re all unique in our own special way. Here’s the top 10: Moorhead, Minnesota; Winona, Minnesota; Marion, Indiana; Cedar Falls, Iowa; Mankato, Minnesota; Wooste, Ohio; Stevens Point, Wisconsin; Marquette, Michigan; Terre Haute, Indiana; Helena, Montana.
And if out good news parade isn’t cheerful enough, here’s a little ditty from Tom Chervey in the West Central Trib headlined “Area job opportunities increase.” “Minnesota is adding jobs at a clip of more than 7,000 new positions a month. We’ve not only regained all the jobs lost during the Great Recession, but have added more than 159,000 jobs since, according to DEED. The unemployment rate in the 14 southwestern Minnesota counties is under 3 percent, as compared to a peak of 8.4 percent in March 2009. All the projections show that job opportunities for young graduates will only grow. Most of the counties in the region are continuing to lose population, and more and more baby boomers are reaching retirement age and leaving the workforce.” Play your cards right and you can find a unicorn at the end of the rainbow, too.
Beans and corn are doing well, according to the USDA as reported by the Associated Pres and printed in the Winona Daily News. “According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 95 percent of Minnesota’s corn crop has emerged. That’s 17 days ahead of last year and 16 days ahead of average. Corn condition is 70 percent good or excellent, a slight increase over the previous week. Soybean planting is 94 percent complete. Seventy-four percent of the soybean crop has emerged, 12 days ahead of last year and 11 days ahead of average.” But on the flip side: “Producers remain concerned about the spread of bird flu in both turkeys and chickens.”
Guy walks in to the Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin early Sunday morning with a gunshot wound to his foot. The Austin Daily Herald writes that hospital workers reported the man, a 23-year-old from Austin, to police. Capt. Dave McKichan said the public was not in danger and it’s unclear if the man shot himself or if someone else shot him, as the man has been uncooperative with police.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation will soon finish a three-year project installing signs to mark the 800-mile Mississippi River Trail in Minnesota. MnDOT crews installed signs along the route in southeastern Minnesota in 2013 and in the Twin Cities Metro area in 2014. They will install 640 signs from the Twin Cities to Itasca this summer, according to the Brainerd Dispatch. The Mississippi River Trail runs from Itasca State Park to the Iowa border and is part of a 10-state route that ends at the Gulf of Mexico. Funding for the signs came from the National Scenic Byways program, the National Park Service and the Transportation Alternative Program.
Wabasha law enforcement officials began a large-scale search Saturday for the body Donna Ingersoll of Wabasha, who disappeared 25 years ago. Matthew Stolle of the Rochester Post Bulletin writes that, with the help of resources never before at the disposal of investigators, they may discover what happened to Ingersoll who was last seen leaving her Wabasha apartment Dec. 16, 1990, and hasn’t been seen since. Experts and volunteers used cadaver dogs, ground-penetrating radar and kayak searches to find any remains. They did find something that will be tested to see if it is human or animal remains. The experts and tools come from North Carolina-based Community United Effort of the Center for Missing Persons, a nonprofit that provides trained professionals in search and recovery efforts. Wabasha Police Chief Jim Warren said the search was the product of both new leads as well as due diligence to make sure that everything be done to find out what happened to Ingersoll, who was 25 when she disappeared.
Woodrow Wilson’s wife, Edith, stayed there several times in the 1920s. Dawn Wells, “Mary Ann” from “Gilligan’s Island” and the former Miss Nevada, spent summer vacations there in the 1980s. Malcolm Forbes once rented the entire Cedar Lodge before a motorcycle trek along the Mississippi River. Jane Russell was born just west of Birchmont Lodge in the Jacoby Cabin. Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton helped Chelsea check in to German camp at the Concordia Language Villages. Cindy Crawford waterskied behind the lodge’s boat one summer. Govs. Rudi Perpich (1986) and Arne Carlson (1996) stayed at Ruttger’s when Bemidji hosted the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener.