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Willmar anglers weigh in on proposed northern pike zones

ALSO: Crops in the Winona area looking good; warm weather is keeping fall colors at bay; BIR is working with neighbors to keep the noise manageable; and more.

So you like walleye. Northern pike eat the walleye fingerlings used to seed state lakes each year. Just how much northern pike is the right amount of northern pike? That’s what the DNR is trying to determine, and in its Solomonaic wisdom, the organization is suggesting cutting the state into three zones, according to Tom Cherveny of the West Central Tribune. The idea is still being discussed, but essentially fishermen in the northeast zone can land two northern pike with a maximum size of 30 inches. In the north central zone, the limit would be 10 northern pike but anglers could keep two over 26 inches. The southern zone would have a limit of two with a minimum length of 24 inches. By doing this, the DNR hopes to strike a balance between having enough walleye to make everyone happy and allowing just the right number of northern pike to grow to good fishing size. Anglers can still comment

Longtime Brainerd Mayor James Wallin died Saturday at age 73. Brainerd City Council President Gary Scheeler told Spenser Bickett of the Brainerd Dispatch he plans to meet with city staff and decide what to do next. Options seem to revolve around appointing a mayor until the 2016 election or having a special election. In the meantime, the city charter requires the council president to serve as mayor until another one can fill the job. “I couldn’t begin to follow or step in his shoes,” Scheeler said. “But I’ll do the best I can.”

Crops in the Southeast corner of the state are doing well, reports Nathan Hansen of the Winona Daily News. In Winona County, University of Minnesota Extension educator Jake Overgaard said many farmers are reporting a surplus of hay and are looking to sell hay on the market. The conditions are perfect to start the bean harvest, Overgaard said, and many corn fields are reaching maturity. Overgaard said there was potential to see record yields for both crops.

For a harvest of a different nature, Ann Wessel of the St. Cloud Daily Times writes that warm weather has kept the spread of peak fall colors at bay.  The North Shore is expected to peak this week. Itasca State Park was approaching 50 percent color over the weekend. John Korzeniowski, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ area forest supervisor in Little Falls, said fall color is stimulated by temperatures between 35 and 60 degrees, which causes a decline in photosynthesis and chlorophyll which then allows some of the other colors in the leaves to show. With a beautiful fall display on tap, what could ruin the fall colors? “Windstorms,” Korzeniowski said.

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Everybody loves Brainerd International Raceway. Sometimes, though, they just don’t want so much of it. Ron Reph has lived near the track for 19 years and he went to the Crow Wing County Board to ask if they could get the track owners to keep the racing between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., writes Chelsey Perkins of the Brainerd Dispatch. The board agreed that was a reasonable request. They batted around some ideas about what the county board could do but made no decisions. Little did Reph know, but track owner Jed Copham was at the meeting and talked to Reph. He said the track sometimes schedules races from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but there’s no reason that can’t be shifted from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. He also said that sometimes crashes and breakdowns back up the end of a race past 6 p.m., but there’s no way of planning for that. He also said that several neighbors have noticed an increase in the noise after the July 12 supercell thunderstorm that took out 60 acres of trees surrounding the track. “A 60-acre forest that borders that whole area was pretty much wiped out,” Copham said. “It’s a horrible bummer. We did not want to lose the forest.”

Like finely honed sprinters, twitching in their chocks, waiting for the gunshot that will allow their coiled muscles to spring forward into managed mayhem, so too are Rochester taprooms and liquor stores ready to start schlepping off-sale booze until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The Rochester Post-Bulletin says the change can take effect at almost any time, and a quick check of area businesses say they are foaming at the mouth, champing at the bit, ready to stay open and sell growlers and crowlers. Both Grand Rounds Brew Pub and LTS Brewing Co. are ready for 10 p.m. sales as soon as the law allows. Kinney Creek Brewery is ready to go but wonders if it’ll have to add staff. Forager Brewing Co.’s head brewer says he’ll package 750-milliliter crowlers at the beginning of its business days and when they’re sold out, they’re sold out. The city’s Andy’s Liquor stores are taking a wait-and-see attitude to judge customer demand. Cub Liquor and Silver Lake Liquors said they haven’t made any decisions yet, and a representative for Apollo Liquors was MIA.

Paul and Babe are getting ready to take their righteous place on concrete in Bemidji, according to the Bemidji Pioneer. If the weather holds, crews could be done pouring concrete in the new $1.6 million Paul Bunyan Park by Thursday. This would keep things on track for the project’s substantial completion date of Oct. 6. Bemidji Parks and Recreation Director Marcia Larson also said the grass on site is growing successfully and that landscapers have only to make a few finishing touches.

An alleged sighting of a gun during a fight at about 3:15 p.m. outside Austin High School sent the school, along with Pacelli High and Mayo Clinic Health Systems-Austin, into lockdown Monday. Eric Johnson of the Austin Daily Herald writes that Austin Police and Mower County deputies responded Monday afternoon. “A witness stated someone had a gun,” Austin Police Chief Brian Krueger said. “We tracked down the individual but he had no gun on him.” “The liaison officer, when he responded, had heard a report of a gun being involved,” said John Alberts, executive director of education services. “For the safety of the students, (the liaison officer) responded the way he should have.” The lockdown lasted about 35 minutes.

And if a weapon leading to institutional lockdowns isn’t enough for you, consider this case in Stearns County as recounted by the St. Cloud Daily Times. Luis Dominguez, 42, of Miami, Florida, was performing field work Friday near the intersection of Stearns County Road 69 and 205th Street around 5:36 p.m. when he began to argue with a 25-year-old man. Dominguez reportedly grabbed a pitchfork, threatened to kill the man, then proved that in South Florida people mean what they say when he chased the victim and brandished the pitchfork until the man fell into a drainage ditch, at which time Dominguez allegedly stabbed the fork into the ground next to the victim. He was arrested and is being held in Stearns County Jail.

As Matthew Liedke reports, Inc. Magazine ranked the top 5,000 fastest growing companies in America, and four are in Bemidji: AirCorps Aviation; Choice Therapy; Karvakko Engineering; and EXB Solutions. Bemidji also thumbs its nose at other, bigger Minnesota towns; Brainerd, St. Cloud and Duluth each only had two companies on the list. AirCorps Aviation restores vintage World War II aircraft and is 4 years old. Karvakko Engineering has made the list two years in a row and its growth rate for the three-year period was 365 percent. EXB Solutions is an engineering services company that works in the medical, aerospace and defense marketplaces. It has offices in Bemidji and Hopkins. The fourth company is Choice Therapy, a physical therapy company. The business owners not only touted the facilities available in Bemidji, but also that it shows how healthy the business climate is in town. “It excites me to see the growth in Bemidji. I think there’s a lot of potential for more in our region,” said Erik Hokuf, AirCorps Aviation managing partner.