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Albert Lea: worst flooding since at least 2004

ALSO: Decades-old outhouse pits yield antiques; pumpkins in bountiful supply this year; and more.

Albert Lea dealt with flood levels last week that reached 100-year highs. Sarah Stultz of the Albert Lea Tribune writes that Fountain Lake rose to at least half a foot higher than previous records before cresting on Friday. “We are seeing some water levels higher than we have seen since at least 2004,” said Albert Lea City Engineer Steven Jahnke. “Those were the highest levels I had previously seen.” Fountain Lake was 6 feet higher than normal elevation levels by Friday night and some areas passed 100-year flood levels by at least 1 foot. Water levels started to lower Saturday morning. U.S. Rep. Tim Walz said flood mitigation measures lessened the flood’s effects on the area compared to 2007 and 2010. By Monday, Sam Wilmes reported that levels decreased 6 to 12 inches on Fountain Lake and Albert Lea Lake.

Down in Chicago, Reuters reports that heavy rains across the Midwest – two-day totals of more than 10 inches in some places – have left standing water in fields and damaged unharvested crops. Cargill stopped deliveries of corn and soybeans at its processing plants in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, because of flooding in the area. The moisture brings up the possibility of crop damage and disease, said University of Minnesota extension agronomist Seth Naeve. “Those flooded areas probably will get harvested, but farmers will have to harvest them separately, and have them accepted at elevator at a lower price or at a salvage rate.”

Here are a couple of crime notes from Baxter straight from The Brainerd Dispatch Police Blotter

“COOKIES DISTURBED — Report at 11:08 a.m. Sunday where the complainant was concerned someone was in her house on the 4400 block of Highway 210 because the cover for her cookie jar was broken on the floor. Nothing else was disturbed in the house and all the doors were locked at the time. The complainant said it could have been the vibration of nearby passing trains that knocked it off the counter.

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“ZOMBIE OWL — Report at 9:53 p.m. Saturday of a complainant hitting an owl near the intersection of Highway 210 and Timberwood Drive. When an officer arrived, the animal stood up and walked into the woods.”

And in other crime news, a home break-in in Rochester resulted in the alleged theft of two or three piano scrolls for use in a player piano. The scrolls were taken within the last three weeks.

Thieving, dirty weeds are on the prowl across Southern Minnesota. The Associated Press reports that Palmer amaranth, which can shoot up as high as 7 feet and can produce 500,000 to 1 million tiny seeds, has been spreading. Herbicide is increasingly futile against it, and the weed’s thick stems and deep roots make it hard to kill by hand. It has already turned up in Iowa, Wisconsin and South Dakota. It has turned up in Minnesota for the first time, University of Minnesota Extension experts said Wednesday. Palmer amaranth has been spreading northward in recent years from the south, where it’s been a frustrating scourge for farmers.

But all is not lost. Theopolis Waters of Reuters reports that “Halloween enthusiasts need not take fright over the state of this year’s U.S. pumpkin crop. Supplies of the orange-yellow fruit are much more plentiful than last year, easing concerns of a possible shortage for carving jack-o’-lanterns and buying filling for pumpkin pies.” Last year’s shortage was caused by damage to crops from heavy rains in parts of the Midwest.

The West Central Tribune chronicles hobbyists’ search for treasure in Minnesota outhouse pits. We’re talking here about really old pits. “While the prospect of digging up an outhouse, or privy, pit might seem — unsavory — to the average person, the sites along with dumps are the source of the majority of antique bottles and ceramics on display today,” the story says. “Unused for decades, the pits are no longer anything but dirt.” The men profiled — Mark Youngblood, Steve Showers and Brian Mann — go digging “nearly every weekend for eight months of the year” throughout Minnesota and into Wisconsin and Iowa, the paper reports, adding, “One of the most memorable the two completed together was a dig at Basset’s Creek Park in Minneapolis. ‘We actually used a skid loader to dig,’ Showers said. ‘We found thousands and thousands of bottles.’ “