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Dual-credit classes in rural schools could suffer under new guidelines

ALSO: Army worms take a pass in 2016; Austin finally reaches agreement on rec center construction; Beltrami County GOP chair resigns rather than work with Trump; and more.

The Higher Learning Commission wants those who teach dual-credit classes to have at least a master’s degree plus 18 credits in relevant subject matter.
REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

New teacher standards for classes that offer dual high school and college credit could jeopardize rural schools’ ability to offer the classes. A Pioneer Press story in the Duluth News Tribune says the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits colleges and universities in 19 states, including Minnesota, wants those who teach dual-credit classes to have at least a master’s degree plus 18 credits in relevant subject matter. Currently, a master’s degree in education is good enough to teach the classes. Fred Nolan, executive director of the Minnesota Rural Education Association, said the change could limit the number of teachers in outstate districts who can teach dual-credit classes and create another urban/rural education divide. More than 20,000 students took dual-credit courses through MnSCU in 2014. Since the courses were offered in high school, student received the college credit without paying college tuition. 

Minnesota forests are due for the cyclical invasion of army worms, but it looks like it’s not going to happen this year. John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune reports that forest tent caterpillars – sometimes called army worms – hits every 10 to 15 years and the last infestation was in 2001 and 2002. We’re due, but state foresters and etymologists say there’s no sign of any infestation from the leaf-eating caterpillars. “There’s really nothing to talk about. It’s just not happening in most areas,” said Val Cervenka, forest health program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The 2001 and 2002 infestations were the largest outbreaks in recorded history, when up to 4 million caterpillars per acre defoliated more than 7.3 million acres of forest each year. The invasion ends when the caterpillars overpopulate and eat themselves out of food.

After four years of hard negotiations, a deal has been struck to build a recreation center in Austin. Jordan Gerard of the Austin Daily Herald writes that the city council approved the $35 million rec center Monday night. The city will buy the downtown Austin Municipal Plant for about $2 million and the community group Vision 2020 will build the Austin Community Recreation Center there, to be run by the Austin YMCA.

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Donald Trump’s ascendance to the top of the GOP ticket has cost another official: Longtime Beltrami County Republican Chair Ken Cobb resigned Sunday after calling Trump’s influence a “cancer on the party.” Matthew Liedke of the Bemidji Pioneer writes, “I had been considering it for some time,” Cobb said. “In the early campaigning season last year, Trump was viewed as a sideshow and not as a serious candidate. There came a point, though, right before the South Carolina primary, where I realized he could be the nominee and that was not a pleasant thought.” Cobb was one of the organizers of the “Never Trump” group at the Republican State Convention and helped form Conservatives for Candidates of Conscience in an unsuccessful attempt to distance the party from Trump. “I’m definitely in the minority, that was obvious at the convention,” Cobb said. “It left me with only one possible course of action, because I can’t fulfill the role the party requires of me as chair.”

More than 600 people on 466 motorcycles participated in Sunday’s Ride for the Troops in Bemidji — the largest turnout in the event’s 11 years. Rachel Newville of the Bemidji Pioneer writes that the ride will likely bring in more than $20,000. Mike McNeil of Marketplace Foods said “we easily fed 600 people for breakfast and around 450 in the afternoon.”

A Roseau man tried to break up a fight and received a fractured skull for his efforts. The Fargo Forum reports that a GoFundMe page for Jordan Brateng said he tried to break up a fight last weekend and sustained serious injuries. He was airlifted from Roseau to the Hennepin County Medical Center and underwent surgery for bleeding in his brain. The Roseau County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the incident but didn’t release any more information.

One of North America’s most endangered songbirds has found a nest of safety right here in northern Minnesota. The West Central Tribune writes that only about 400,000 breeding adult golden winged warblers remain in North America, a decline of 66 percent since the 1960s. However, half of all golden winged warblers on the continent spend their summers in Minnesota, and they especially favor a plot of Blandin Paper land in eastern Itasca County. Last week, researchers for the Natural Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota Duluth conducted a survey on the land, distinguishing between the calls of veeries, red-eyed vireos, purple finches, nashville warblers, cedar waxwings, rose-breasted grosbeaks, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, red-winged blackbirds and more. In the cacophony, they heard more than three dozen golden winged warblers across the square-mile study area. “That’s the highest concentration of golden winged warblers anywhere that we know of,” said ornithologist Jerry Niemi. 

The first medical marijuana store has opened in St. Cloud. David Unze of the St. Cloud Daily Times reports that LeafLine Labs opened Monday, the first care center LeafLine has opened outside the Twin Cities. LeafLine plans to open care centers July 1 in St. Paul and Hibbing. The care center offers pharmacists who consult with patients to create specific formulas of medical marijuana for them that can be delivered via vaporization, capsules, oral suspensions and sublingual sprays. Previously, medical marijuana users in Central Minnesota has to travel to the Twin Cities. The opening coincides with the release of a study by the Minnesota Department of Health that shows most people using medical cannabis report benefits from the medication.