The July 12 supercell storm that blew through Crow Wing County left as much as $25 million in damage, according to a rough tally among resort owners, construction firms, utility providers, insurance companies and homeowners. “I’ve been here for 25 years (with Minnesota Power) and have seen a lot of storm damage and this was the worst I’ve ever seen,” Larry Tessier of Minnesota Power told Jennfer Stockinger of the Duluth News Tribune. Minnesota Power contracted with 150 crews from outside the company to help restore power. Mark Ronnei of Grandview Lodge said area resorts reported 50 vehicles destroyed, 10,000 trees down, 100 accommodation units destroyed and multiple conference centers and common buildings damaged or destroyed. The resorts had to close their golf courses, some for two weeks, at a loss of up to $15,000 per course per day. Ronnei said there were 1,000 rooms without power for three days, 600 rooms closed for 10 days and 80 rooms closed permanently at a cost of roughly $250 per night per room. “At Camp Hubert, there is a 40 acre parcel we use for mountain biking and there were 3,000 trees down there,” Ronnei said. “It’s a mess. I don’t think we have enough money to fix it.”
The Lake Winona commercial harbor saw a decrease in the shipment of frac sand. In fact, it wasn’t just a decrease — the amount shipped went from zero in 2009 to 4,742 tons in 2010 to a whopping 400,000 tons in 2014 to zero in 2015, according to Lucy McMartin, director of economic development for Winona. Glen Olson of the Winona Daily News said the decrease came from the fallout in fracking due to a worldwide oil glut brought on by, well, fracking and some serious petrol politics in the Middle East. McMartin said the ebb and flow of commodities isn’t new to the port and it relies on diversification to weather the whims of world needs. For example, in 2008 the dock had over 70,000 tons of coal come through; now that number is around 20,000.
The 1 percent may control global commodities, but there’s one way in which we’re all the same – we all get sick. And when the 1 percent want to get well, many go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester (to be fair, many 99 percenters, including me, have also gone there as well). Keeping the sultans and prime ministers safe is no easy task, so area police departments are on the list to receive surplus military equipment. Heather Carlson of the Rochester Post Bulletin cracked open a copy of Mother Jones and found that in 2013, the Austin Police Department, Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office and Goodhue County Sheriff’s Department all applied to receive Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs. Olmsted County played the Mayo card and was awarded an MRAP in 2013.
The Austin application came after a nasty incident when police had to approach men barricaded in a rural home with a long driveway surrounded by an open field. Officers hopped into the bed of a 4-wheel drive pickup, bounced through a corn field, got behind the house and arrested the men, but the incident convinced them they need better equipment. They also received an MRAP in 2013.
In Goodhue County, the sheriff was worried about protecting the Prairie Island nuclear plant. Last month, the county received a grant for a $325,000 armored vehicle with an $81,000 local match. On Monday, the county board voted 3-2 against the match over concerns about the cost. The sheriff said he’ll make do with his 32-year-old armored vehicle but says it’s “woefully outdated.”
Here’s the Mother Jones article with the archetypical Mother Jones headline “Documents Reveal the Fearmongering Local Cops Use to Score Military Gear From the Pentagon.” The article lists the requests but not the results. Besides Austin PD, Goodhue and Olmsted counties, the other municipalities that have filed for MRAPs are Cass, Morrison, Hubbard, Pine, Crow Wing, McLeod, St. Louis and Wright counties, the Minnesota State Patrol, and Elk River, Proctor, Royalton, Richfield and St. Cloud police departments.
On Monday, The Rochester Post-Bulletin added to the developing story of former Winona State University men’s basketball coach Mike Leaf. On Friday, news reports revealed that a player alleges Leaf made unwanted sexual advances toward a player while intoxicated on June 20. Leaf resigned on June 30, but no reason was given at the time, the paper reports. On Monday, the RPB reported that two former players had allegedly told WSU officials that Leaf had alcohol-related problems but the school failed to take action. In the recent complaint, the alleged victim said that on June 20, Leaf provided alcohol and touched the player after he had passed out in Leaf’s bed.
One of the two former players who discussed the situation is John Smith, a two-time national player of the year at WSU who was fired from his graduate assistant position with the basketball team via email on Thursday by WSU Athletic Director Eric Schoh. Smith says two assistant coaches approached Schoh in 2013 to express concerns about Leaf’s drinking. The other prominent former player, who would only speak under condition of anonymity, corroborated Smith’s statement. Both players said that at multiple practices and at least one game Leaf would “show up … late and smell of alcohol and fumble his words, and there were even instances when practice was canceled altogether,” the former player said.
The assistant coaches declined to comment. The university said it has “no record of any formal complaints against Mike Leaf prior to June 21.” He was hired by Winona State in 1987. The victim of Leaf’s alleged sexual advances filed a complaint with the university but has not reported it to police. The Winona Police Department has confirmed there’s no investigation underway involving Leaf.
OK. Enough of the crummy stuff. Sam Cook of the Duluth News Tribune has a nice story about Taylor Fredin and Nick Peterson, who recently finished their 60-day, 1,500-mile canoe trip down the Slave River, across Great Slave Lake and down the Mackenzie River to the Arctic Ocean. Peterson is a UMD grad and Fredin works in Duluth. Both are 23. They started their trip June 9 on the Slave River and finished Aug. 7 at the Inuit village of Tuktoyaktuk. The tale of their adventures is well worth the read. Peterson will enter graduate school at Hamline University this fall while Fredin hunts for a job. “We’re already planning our next trip,” Fredin said. “We’re thinking the Yukon, in the mountains.”
In the deepest, darkest, coldest days of January, Patrick Zerwas made a vow to himself: He was going to catch a muskie from his kayak during the summer and he wasn’t going to stop until he got one bigger than 50 inches. The Brainerd Dispatch reports that in August, he met his match: It took him and two friends 15 minutes to land the muskie as it spun Zerwas and his kayak in circles and had him skiing behind it. The 53-inch musky was caught on a Mepps Aglia Marabou lure and a rod and reel. He fishes from a Crow Wing Kayak 1080 pro angler. He and his friends pulled the muskie out, took video and photos and then put him back in for another day.
Hy-Vee is back in the game for a chunk of Austin, according to Trey Mewes of the Daily Herald. The grocery story chain is potentially restarting talks to buy the Oak Park Mall. A previous deal was in the works, but balancing the needs of the mall’s two owners in Chicago along with Younkers, Shopko and Cinemagic 7 to demolish the part that Hy-Vee needs proved to be too dificult. In February, the city was forced to drop its purchase agreement after a 90-day agreement period expired. Negotiations were close again in April, but Younker’s parent company – which had already negotiated for a $250,000 incentive and 18 months of free rent – added 22 new stipulations on maintenance and security to the agreement at the last minute and the city walked away from the deal. Hy-Vee continued to talk with the other companies and the talks are far enough along that the city can now get involved now.
The Bemidji Community Food Shelf has a good suggestion, the Bemidji Pioneer reports. As cabin owners are closing up for the summer, they can bring their unused food to food shelves instead of throwing it out or letting it sit over the winter.