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Cass County voters to consider tax for flood diversion

ALSO: Lake City to limit lanes; Willmar sees a building boom; DOT workers save wayward golden retriever; and more.

Sandbagging in Fargo in 2009.

Looking for ways to pay for the $2.2 billion Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion, Fargo and Cass County leaders will put forward ballot measures to extend a half-cent sales tax to as late as Dec. 31, 2084. Tu-Uyen Tran of the Fargo Forum reports that the sales taxes should pay for about half the cost of a project to divert flood waters on the Red River of the North around Fargo and Moorhead. State and federal funds will pay for the remaining half, he wrote. The Cass County ballot measure will ask voters to extend the half-cent sales tax dedicated to flood control past the expiration date of 2031 and to use whatever funds are left over on flood control elsewhere in the county.

Lake City leaders have voted to drop U.S. 61 as it passes through town from four lanes to three. John Weiss of the Rochester Post-Bulletin writes that the City Council hopes the 4-year project will keep traffic moving, be safer for pedestrians, and revitalize the downtown. The project came about when the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced it will resurface the parts of the highway and that if Lake City wanted to reconfigure the road, it would have up to $5 million to help. Those opposed to the change like on-street parking and say three lanes will make it difficult for trucks to turn. Those in favor of the change say it’s difficult for pedestrians to cross the four lanes.

Willmar is experiencing a building boom as the city has issued more new home construction permits in 2016 than it did all of last year. Shelby Lindrud of the West Central Tribune reports 31 single-family dwelling construction permits issued so far this year, while last year saw 12 single-family and 10 twin homes. Bruce Peterson, the city’s Planning and Development Services director, said young professionals and retirees are looking to rent rather than buy, which changes the dynamics of homebuilding. “These are not built as affordable housing,” Peterson said, estimating rent could easily exceed $1,000 per month.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported Monday that a 12-year-old retriever managed to climb down the rock wall at the U.S. Highway 53 bridge construction site in Virginia, and got caught behind the netting that keeps rocks from falling. Forum News Service reports that after trying to coax the dog out, a worker went up on a man lift and the retriever jumped right into the basket. Once on the ground, the dog was given a bowl of water. “The pup had a collar and I.D. tag with a phone number on it. Within half an hour the lucky dog was on her way home with her family,” MnDOT reported.

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Duluth-based Cirrus Aircraft shipped 153 aircraft during the first six months of this year, more than a 30 percent increase compared with the same period last year. Peter Passi of the Duluth News Tribune said this is the strongest start for Cirrus since 2008. Meanwhile, sales of planes designed for noncommercial civil aviation are off 11 percent for the first half of this year, and total shipments for the same period slid 4.5 percent. But Ben Kowalski, vice president of marketing for Cirrus, warned onlookers not to read too much into the early numbers. “We’re working to adjust for some of the seasonality we’ve had in past. … So that resulted in us delivering more aircraft to the market in Q2 this year,” Kowalski said.

While experts welcome the rising interest in beekeeping as a hobby, Dan Gunderson of Minnesota Public Radio says they may be putting hives for miles around in danger because they aren’t keeping the varroa mite population in check. Varroa mites arrived in the United States nearly 30 years ago, but they’ve become a bigger problem partly because backyard beekeepers don’t treat their hives. Many prefer a natural approach, which is often a deadly decision for the bees, said University of Minnesota bee expert Marla Spivak. A new online mite monitoring project lets beekeepers anywhere in the country share data on mite infestations and will help researchers track the spread.

Fewer than 6 percent of registered voters took part in last week’s primaries in Mower County. Jason Schoonover of the Austin Daily Herald writes that the number compares to about 7 percent throughout the state. In Mower County, 5.8 percent took part in this year’s primaries: 14.2 percent took part in the 2012 primaries and 9.6 percent took part in the 2014 primaries.

A scam involving a website with fictitious Crow Wing County markers has been making the rounds near Brainerd. The Brainerd Dispatch reports about a website that asks for residents’ contact information after the June storm that produced a tornado south of Deerwood. A news release from the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s emergency management division said the Facebook page and website have the county’s logo and wants you to divulge information. Neither are affiliated with the Crow Wing County government. Sheriff Todd Dahl is asking the public to report any suspicious activity in the area of the storm damage, along with reporting any suspected fraud dealing with storm cleanup.