Last weekend’s cold snap did a number on fruit producers along the Mississippi. Nathan Hansen of the LaCrosse Tribune writes that while 20 percent of the Honeycrisp apple crop could be lost after the freeze in western Wisconsin, grapes in eastern Minnesota fared fairly well. Scott Kee of Sacia Orchards in Galesville, Wisconsin, said while losing 20 percent of his Honeycrisp crop would be “quite a blow,” it’s a lot better than in 2012 when the orchard lost half the apple crop. Meanwhile, Linda Seppanen said the grapes at her Garvin Heights Vineyards, located across the river on a ridge overlooking Winona, escaped the cold snap mostly unscathed. The vines are on a south slope, which she said helps protect from cold wind and weather. “A good location makes all the difference,” she said.
Crosby-Ironton High School officials took a dim view of the Confederate battle flag flying outside senior Cody Nelson’s truck as he arrived for school Monday. Spenser Bickett of the Forum News Service reports that Nelson’s mother, Dorene Nelson, says her son has been suspended from school for one day, yet she also heard from Principal Jim Christenson who said Cody wouldn’t be allowed back to the school all week and put in doubt his diploma at commencement on Friday. Her son is a quiet boy, she said, who respects the military and police officers and “was just trying to respect those people that fought for everything where we are today,” she said. “He felt like he was outnumbered because he was trying to be supportive of how far we’ve come in our country . . . Then he gets this thrown at him, with controversy and racism . . . When half his family is black. He took it pretty hard.” Superintendent Jamie Skjeveland said displaying the flag is a violation of school district policy. The Confederate battle flag sends a message that may be perceived as racist, Skjeveland said, “and at our school district, that’s not a message we want to send to our minorities or the majority group.”
A Prior Lake man was killed with one punch outside Nitti’s Hunter’s Point Resort near Lake Mille Lacs on Saturday. The Bemidji Pioneer reports that when Mille Lacs County deputies arrived at the resort at 1:06 a.m. Saturday, they found David Taute, 46, of Prior Lake, being loaded into an ambulance with a crowd of 15 to 20 “heavily intoxicated males” gathered around who told deputies Taute had been talking with David Stay, 44, of Brooklyn Center, when Stay punched him. Taute was taken to a hospital in Onamia and then to North Memorial in Robbinsdale, where he died. Deputies found Stay walking up a nearby road. He admitted to knocking out Taute after he had been pushed. He then became scared and ran away, he said. Police say surveillance video shows Taute “did not provoke, push, touch or attempt to physically touch Stay in any way.” Stay was arrested and charged with felony first-degree manslaughter, felony first-degree assault, felony second-degree manslaughter and felony third-degree assault.
Vandals knocked over about 30 gravestones at Hillcrest Cemetery above Pinehurst Park in Cloquet over the last month. Jamie lund of the Pine Journal writes that about 10 others were knocked down last year. While families are responsible for the gravestones, in many cases the family has either died out or moved away, he writes. Cemetery superintendent Royce McLaughlin said a few families have come forward to have monuments — some of which can weigh up to 1,000 pounds — set back up. The cost for repairing the rest will come out of cemetery funds and the cemetery’s liability insurance. While some monuments can be repaired using a special bonding agent, more fragile stones will require a metal rod that will still be noticeable. “I hope they catch them,” said Sue Larson, who co-owns he monument company Country Creations. “They have no respect.” The Cloquet Police Department is investigating and the Cloquet Cemetery Association is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
Dissent on the Moorhead City Council has put a plan to hire an interim city manager on hold. Adrian Glass-Moore of the Fargo Forum writes that council members Nancy Otto and Mike Hulett think Deputy City Manager Scott Hutchins should act as interim city manager, but the other councilors want to hire a consultant to find someone outside the city to act as interim city manager, citing conflicts with Hutchins. This comes after former city manager Michael Redlinger was given a surprise, private performance review last month, after which he resigned and took a $75,000 separation agreement.
Austin police had an easy piece of detective work on Sunday. While officers were taking a report on a stolen 2005 red Lincoln Navigator on Sunday night, they spotted the vehicle on a nearby road, pulled it over and arrested two people, according to Police Chief Brian Krueger. The Austin Daily Herald said all property except a cell phone have been returned to the owners.
An Aitken woman who is a town native and who graduated from high school there before getting a job as a fourth-grade teacher and a coach in the high school’s junior varsity girls’ basketball and softball programs has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a student, reports the Brainerd Dispatch. The teacher, 24, started having a relationship with the female student in 2015. She was charged Friday with four counts of felony criminal sexual conduct in Crow Wing County District Court and has been dismissed from her job. After police contacted the woman for an interview, county dispatchers said they received an emergency call about a woman trying to commit suicide. She was taken to Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin and placed on a 72-hour hold. She now faces charges of felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
The Minnesota State Patrol has named a Wilmar man its 2015 Trooper of the Year. Gretchen Brown of the West Central Tribune writes that Sgt. Dennis Koenen, a 30-year State Patrol vet, was recognized for his heroic acts. Koenan “has been modeling what a state trooper should look and act like for the last 30 years,” said his State Patrol captain, Jeff Westrum. Koenan will retire later this year.