New Minnesota program links aging farmers with young, aspiring ones

A new Minnesota Department of Agriculture program links prospective new farmers with those who are getting older, writes Glen Olson of the Winona Daily News. “Our goal is to connect farmers looking to retire that have no heirs, desire to keep their farm in production and are willing to give an opportunity to the right person with a beginning farmer that doesn’t have a farm to inherit or take over, nor has the financing to outright buy in or purchase,” said Jim Ostlie of the MDA. So far, more than 30 new farmers and nine older farmers have signed up with the Minnesota Farm Transition Program to explore possibilities. “The department emphasizes that the program doesn’t involve any obligations until both sides are comfortable,” Olson writes.

Brian Todd of the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports“The cost to reconstruct and refurbish the bridge that carries traffic across the Mississippi River at Winona will likely jump about $30 million, according to a new estimate by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.” He writes, “Because of the cost changes — an increase of roughly 21 percent of the overall budget — MnDOT has, for the moment, put a hold on the reconstruction plans for the old bridge, which was not due to start until later this fall after the construction of the new bridge is finished.”

The Duluth-Superior port authority has capacity to spare and is hoping to diversify the cargo going through the Twin Ports. Brady Slater writes in the Duluth News Tribune that “the Twin Ports experienced a 12 percent drop in tonnage last season and 144 fewer vessel calls than the previous campaign, Duluth Seaway Port Authority Executive Director Vanta Coda said: ‘If you think of the Great Lakes and the infrastructure we have to get to the interior of North America, it’s already built. … We could triple our vessel calls and have capacity to spare.’ ” But right now, Slater notes, “For the local port, the transportation of raw materials continues to be its bread and butter, with staples such as taconite, coal and grains going out and limestone for pellet-making and clay for paper-making coming in.” Wind power is one industry that Coda sees as offering a promising commodity for the Twin Ports.

“Micro-housing” is being tested in Duluth, writes Peter Passi for Inforum, explaining that such housing is defined as having has less than 350 square feet of living space. City Center has built a 28-by-12-foot house with kitchen, living area, bedroom and bathroom. “In the next 12-18 months, Center City plans to provide the home to three successive tenants, asking each in turn to critique the structure,” Passi writes, adding that the first tenant will be an elderly homeless woman who has been living in a shelter.

Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams said Monday “that the city is parting ways with City Manager Michael Redlinger after 15 years and the decision is mutual,” writes Adrian Glass-Moore in the Fargo/Moorhead Inforum. “Citing employee privacy concerns, city leaders still will not answer questions about Redlinger’s job performance, one week after they whisked him behind closed doors for an unusual surprise performance review,” Glass-Moore reports, adding, “Williams declined to give a reason for the separation. She would not say if it should be characterized as Redlinger’s dismissal or his resignation.” The City Council will vote on the separation agreement at a special meeting on Thursday.

Austin has 30 bikes ready for the launch of the city’s Red Bike program, slated to debut in mid-April, writes Jason Schoonover in the Austin Daily Herald. The program “will feature single-speed bikes at 11 racks around town that people can borrow, use and return anytime they like for no cost,” Schoonover reports.

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