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Winona County considers frac-sand ban

ALSO: Where can you find Paul Bunyan statues; Moorhead hires interim manager; and more.

Should Winona County ban frac-sand mining? The debate is heating up, with a public hearing scheduled for Thursday, reports Glen Olson of the Winona Daily News. The county’s planning commission will meet Thursday night to begin the process of defining which kind of sand can be mined and which can’t. The ultimate goal is to make a recommendation to the county commission this fall. [Correction: An earlier version of the Winona Daily News story stated that public hearings will also be held on Aug. 8 and 15. However, county staff says those hearings will only be held if the commission determines they’re necessary.]

Two reports – one from southeast Minnesota and one from southwest Minnesota – say crops are doing pretty well, although they could do better. Mark Steil of Minnesota Public Radio spent some time in the southwest part of the state and found that while corn is doing well, rain has taken a toll on the soybean and hay crops. Richard Peterson’s farm near Mountain Lake has seen more than 20 inches of rain this season, or three times the normal amount. Peterson still has soybeans to plant. Meanwhile, Nathan Hansen of the Winona Daily News reports that crops in southeast Minnesota are doing quite well. Good sun and timely rain has led to a USDA crop report that says 86 percent of the corn crop is rated good to excellent and 84 percent of the soybean crop is rated good or better. Not only that, but Trempealeau County Extension Ag Agent Steve Okonek said “the quality of the hay has been really good. In some places almost too good.”

Today is National Paul Bunyan Day, which is interesting, but the best part of Matthew Liedke’s story in the Duluth News Tribune is the list of where statues of Paul and Babe have been erected. There’s the famous ones in Bemidji, of course, but others exist in:

  • Akeley, Minn.
  • Brainerd, Minn.
  • Manistique, Mich.
  • Ossineke, Mich.
  • Lakewood, Wis.
  • Muncie, Ind.
  • Bangor, Maine.
  • Portland, Ore.
  • Klamath, Calif.

Who knew?

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Moorhead city councilors have picked an interim city manager. Rick Abbott of the Fargo Forum reports that former Wabasha City Administrator David Schmidt was hired for six months for an estimated $75,000. He was picked over about 24 candidates and will start on the job next week. Schmidt has been retired and running an organic farming operation near Wabasha.

When Goodhue County recently released its Comprehensive Plan, it included no language about high-speed rail between Rochester and the Twin Cities. Gunnar Olson of the Kenyon Leader writes that the lack of language is no accident. Goodhue officials say that plans for ZipRail don’t include any stops in the county yet will likely cost county taxpayers. Board Chair Dan Rechtzigel said without that language, ZipRail and North American High Speed Rail can no longer say the county is on board with this project. Despite the maneuver, NAHSR’s Chief Manager Wendy Meadley said she does not “see any final barriers that would stop the project from going forward.”

An employee was injured during a robbery at Casey’s General Store in Willmar Sunday night. Gretchen Brown of the West Central Tribune says the suspect is still on the loose. “There was a weapon brandished, and there was a struggle involved,” Willmar Police Captain Michael Anderson said. A police press release said the Willmar Police Department and the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office responded to a panic alarm at 10:35 p.m. Sunday from Casey’s at 1021 19th Ave. S.W. A male robbed the store and fled on foot. The report doesn’t state how the employee was injured, although he was taken to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar and later released.

It’s summer, and that means festivals. The sixth annual Blooming Prairie Ribfest Cook-Off attracted more than 400 to enjoy ribs, steak, chicken wings and homemade barbecue sauces. Ana Segner of the Blooming Prairie Leader said the ribfest raised money for the Boys and Girls Club of Blooming Prairie. In fact, 11 children showed their grilling skills at a hamburger competition before the ribfest. In the main contest, nine groups of grillers grilled in all of the categories.