Long-awaited water connection comes to Luverne

City of Luverne
Luverne, Minnesota

After 25 years of work and planning, taps were open for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System in Luverne on Monday. Julie Buntjer of the Worthington Daily Globe notes that planning started for the  three-state water project 25 years ago but construction started in earnest only in 2004. Luverne is the 13th community in the system and will get at least 821,000 gallons of water per day. Lewis and Clark Regional Water System (LCRWS) Executive Director Troy Larson said the project is 67 percent complete and seven communities have yet to be hooked into the system, including Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water and Worthington. Funding for the state’s portion to connect the final line, from Adrian to Worthington, is included in Gov. Mark Dayton’s bonding bill. When completed, the line will tap a series of wells in an aquifer near the Missouri River at Vermillion, South Dakota, and distribute water through 337 miles of pipe to more than 300,000 people in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. 

The Fargo Film Festival apparently embraces heresy. Its opening film will be “Lost Conquest” by Minnesota native Mike Scholtz. The film takes a jaundiced look at the claims that Minnesota was explored by Vikings some 1,000 years ago. John Lamb of the Moorhead Forum writes that the Moorhead native who now lives in Duluth questions the validity of the Kensington Runestone, the Elbow Lake runes and the Viking sword found near Ulen. “I want to be respectful of what everyone believes and want them to be able to share their opinions, but I definitely took a side on this argument,” Scholtz is quoted as saying. “I wanted to be nice to everyone involved, but I want people to know I don’t think Vikings were ever in Minnesota. I’m sorry.” Emily Beck, executive director of the Fargo Theatre, said several of the festival’s films have regional ties, including the documentary “Welcome to Leith” and the locally produced “Supermoto.”

The new superintendent of Willmar Public Schools is questioning a rite of spring after the district fired 100 nontenured teachers. Linda Vanderwerf of the West Central Tribune reports that, as has been the case for many years, most will be rehired but the exercise gives the district flexibility to adjust staffing to unexpected budget or enrollment changes. The process creates uncertainty among the nontenured teachers, a situation that some board members dislike. New Superintendent Jeff Holm, who started last July, wants to re-evaluate the process. “As important as the topic is, I felt we should go ahead and then do an assessment of it,” he said.

Speaking of spring rituals, the tugboats have made their way as far as Winona on the Mississippi River. Glen Olson of the Winona Daily News reports that the 2016 shipping season is under way. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened Lock and Dam 2 near Hastings for the Robert Wagonblast Sunday morning. It means all of the locks are accessible to commercial and recreational vessels. The National Weather Service predicts the chance of spring flooding along the river will be minimal.

Moorhead isn’t backing down in its fight against Menards. The Moorhead-Fargo Forum notes that on Monday the Moorhead City Council voted to put an additional $7,500 toward a legal fight in which Menard Inc. says its Moorhead store’s property tax is overvalued. The store produces about $200,000 a year in property taxes and the city claims the store is worth $12.7 million.

Speaking of the value of a local product, the Silver Bay City Council voted last week to ban Bent Paddle beer from the muni liquor store because the brewery opposes proposed copper mining in the area. Jamey Malcomb of the Duluth News Tribune reports that one Silver Bay resident sent the council an email that objected to the Duluth-based brewery’s membership in the Downstream Business Coalition, a group of 68 businesses that oppose the potential environmental damage from proposed copper mining projects in Northeastern Minnesota. In February, the city’s Liquor Commission rejected the ban, noting that government can’t treat businesses differently because of political stances those businesses may take and recommending that consumers make the decision whether to buy Bent Paddle products or not. The City Council voted 3-2 against the commission’s recommendation. 

Speaking of booze, Bemidji State University says alcohol-related incidents have dropped, although there are no figures to corroborate this statement. Kyle Farris of the Bemidji Pioneer reports that incidents involving alcohol are down about 25 percent compared to last year. University conduct officer Randy Ludeman said the difference is, “I think students are talking to each other.” A two-minute video called “No Buddy Left Behind” is played at freshman orientation. Students wear green rubber bracelets that read: “S.O.S. SAVE OUR STUDENTS.” And school leaders constantly remind students about social events that don’t involve alcohol.  

The Forum News Service reports that White Earth Tribal Police found and detonated a pipe bomb on Friday in Mahnomen. When tribal police saw the bomb, they took a picture of it and sent it to the Crow Wing County Bomb Squad in Brainerd, which confirmed it was a pipe bomb. Tribal police secured the scene until the Crow Wing County Bomb Squad arrived and detonated it at a remote gravel pit. The incident remains under investigation.

Well, why not? More than 200 people attended last weekend’s Brew Beard and B.S. event in Austin. The Daily Herald reports that the hirsute attendees tasted craft beer and bacon, entered a beard contest and enjoyed a performance by Minneapolis band 4onthefloor. Bahas Brew Labs won best brewery and Fulton Brewery’s Lonely Blonde won the tap takeover at Torge’s Sports Bar.

Worthington played host last weekend to the Region 12 United States Police Canine Association K-9 trials. Robin Baumgarn of the Worthington Daily Globe reports that 55 K-9 teams from Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin participated. Each team is certified annually by the association in obedience and detection. The teams were tested in narcotics detection in both vehicles and rooms. 

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