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Event at Hermantown cemetery runs into controversy

Plus: Bird Island woman steals $1.7 million; bear population up near Bemidji; Worthington water levels remain OK; and Worthington will vote on booze. 

The Color Dash website shows the route for the Hermantown run around the cemetery.
Color Dash

A fun run through a cemetery in Hermantown is raising some eyebrows, but John Lundy of the Duluth News Tribune says cemetery owner Bart Porter doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. Porter’s family owns Sunrise Memorial Park in Hermantown and plenty of people jog through there each day – why not have the UV Splash 5K fun run/walk through the cemetery at night? The run is a benefit for Circle of Hope, a nonprofit that helps breast cancer patients with expenses. But Peggy Anderson, who founded Circle of Hope, is looking for a way to call it off. “We’re feeling beat up over the whole thing.” While much of the route follows a grassy path in an undeveloped section of the cemetery, people still feel uncomfortable. “I would just rather have it in a different location,” said Tracy Welhaven, who lives across the street from the cemetery and whose father is buried there.

A Bird Island woman has been found guilty of stealing $1.7 million from her former employer. Tom Cherveny of the West Central Tribune reports that Diane Marie Eiler, 48, was sentenced to 42 months in prison and three years of supervised probation, and ordered to make $1,738,459 in restitution to AgQuest Financial Services of Morgan. She took the money from 2007 through 2015 by stealing company checks, writing them to herself and then creating false entries. Eiler lost more than $1.7 million at Minnesota casinos between 2006 and 2015, according to court records.

The black bear population is up in the Bemidji area. We know this because calls reporting nuisance bears have gone up, reports Zach Kayser of the Brainerd Dispatch. Last August, Christine Reisz, Brainerd area wildlife manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said the office fielded four bear complaints. As of last Friday, they had seen 11. Although there’s plenty of food in the woods, the increase in bear complaints is likely due to an increase in the bear population, Reisz said.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ winter survey shows several more wolf packs across the northern one-third of Minnesota yet the population remains unchanged from 2015. John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune writes that there are an estimated 2,221 wolves in 439 packs in Minnesota, according to the DNR. The increase in packs from an estimated 374 in 2015 shows they have to travel less to find their favorite food, whitetail deer, a sign that deer numbers are up, the DNR says. “The consistent wolf population surveys over the last several years are further evidence of the health and stability of Minnesota’s wolf population,” said Dan Stark, large carnivore specialist for the DNR.

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Even though water usage is up this year over last in Worthington and the water in the city’s waterfields has been dropping, officials aren’t worried. Julie Buntjer of the Worthington Daily Globe writes that the city is significantly better off than it was one year ago, with water levels still above normal. “It’s a whole lot better than last year,” Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain said recently. “I haven’t seen a lot of sprinklers going.”

With a population of just over 200, the Micronesian community represents over one-half of Milan’s overall population. Tom Cherveny of the West Central Tribune offers up a profile of this small but significant group in this small Minnesota town. Most come from an island in the state of Chuuk, which wishes to secede from the Federated States of Micronesia and is eyeing closer ties with China. If that were to occur, it’s unclear where that would leave the Micronesians and their U.S. born children. “They really are just in limbo,” said Bob Ryan of Bird Island, who has worked with the Micronesian community. The island’s link to Milan is Milan native and Sun Prairie Bank owner Erik Thompsen, who served in Chuuk in the Peace Corps.  

St. Cloud police say the number of people cited during St. Cloud State University’s move-in weekend has dropped. The St. Cloud Times reports police issued 107 citations during the first three days of the St. Cloud State University school year, opposed to 223 in 2014 and 137 in 2015.  Officials said 56 were charged with underage consumption. The violations for which there was more than one citation during the three days include (not all 107 listed):

  • Underage consumption: 56.     
  • Open alcohol container: 33. 
  • Disruptive intoxication: five.
  • Noise violation — loud party: four. 
  • Noise violation — loud stereos and radios: four. 
  • Urinating in public: six.
  • Fleeing police officer on foot: six.
  • Littering: two.
  • Possession of fictitious/fraudulent driver’s license: two. 

Austin police are asking for help to find those responsible for tagging graffiti on buildings around Austin and in Lyle. Jason Schoonover of the Austin Daily Herald reports that the incidents have picked up over the last three weeks with multiple tags reported at the Mower County Fair during fair week. Police Chief Brian Krueger said “There’ve been numerous tags the past few weeks around Austin.” Krueger said. Tips will be anonymous.

Worthington will put a question on the Nov. 8 ballot about Sunday liquor sales (at local restaurants, hotels, bowling centers and clubs). Julie Buntjer of the Daily Globe reports a group petitioning for the ballot measure brought 673 verifiable signatures to Monday’s city council meeting. “We just felt like we are losing revenue that could stay in town,” said Chad Nixon, representing GreatLIFE and Duffer’s. A similar measure was on the 2004 ballot, where it lost by several hundred votes. In 1984, voters also defeated the measure by 48 votes.