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Ash borer nearing northern Minnesota forests

ALSO: Brainerd pastor in hot water; Bemidji Oks Indigenous People’s Day; and more.

The emerald ash borer is taking aim at the state’s black-ash forests. John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune writes that the state Department of Agriculture will meet Oct. 12 at the Rice Lake City Hall to explain the state’s reason for a wood quarantine on Duluth and much of southeastern St. Louis County, where more of the bugs were found earlier this month. The state has more than a billion ash trees. “It’s right on the doorstep of our vast black-ash forests and this is the first time we’ve had to deal with that up north,” said Kimberly Thielen Cremers, pest mitigation supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Pastor Todd Wooden of Oak Street Chapel in Brainerd wanted to learn more about Islam, so he invited Usama Dakdok to speak to the congregation. Zach Kayser of the Brainerd Dispatch reports that the church’s board of trustees now says Dakdok’s controversial presentation didn’t reflect the congregation’s views and they are asking for Wooden’s resignation. “That was a pastor gone rogue,” Board President Dace Julifs said. Wooden, who has been pastor at the church since 2013, said he didn’t regret the speech and said he wouldn’t resign. 

The state Department of Natural Resources on Monday denied a permit to build a dam straddling the Red River of the North that would mitigate flooding. Tu-Uyen Tran of the Fargo Forum reports that the state says new dikes and emergency measures used to fight the 2009 flood should be enough for future floods. The DNR said displacing floodwater to the south would harm those who normally don’t see flooding and benefit developers who want to expand the city of Fargo. 

Joining in a growing movement, the City of Bemidji declared last Monday Indigenous Peoples’/Treaty Day. Matthew Liedke of the Bemidji Pioneer writes that the day is set aside to reflect on Native American culture and celebrate the value of what the Anishinaabe, Dakota and other indigenous nations add to the community. The dual names came about because of two nearly identical requests: A group of community leaders had requested day be proclaimed Indigenous Peoples’ Day while a BSU class made a recommendation for Treaty Day.

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St. Peter has given the go-ahead for henhouses in back yards. Deanna B. Narveson of the Mankato Free Press writes that as long as egg-lovers comply with a long list of requirements, they can keep hens in their backyards starting in January. Some of the requirements ate that they can have no more than six hens, keep the coop at least 25 feet from neighboring buildings, and they can’t raise the chickens for meat. 

A candidate for the Winona County Board remains unrepentant after it was discovered he had posted to his Facebook page a racist photo. Glen Olson of the Winona Daily News reports that several months ago, Top of FormBottom of Formreports that Brian Conner posted a photo of a baby monkey on his Facebook page with words “Obama’s baby picture.” He said he did so as a joke and took it down after others told him it was offensive. “I thought it was kind of humorous,” Conner said. 

Heavy rains are taxing the capacity of manure storage basins in southwestern Minnesota. The Worthington Daily Globe reports the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency wants farmers to communicate with the state duty officer to report if their manure basin is full or near full.

A bomb threat to Willmar’s schools posted on Facebook Monday morning by a 17-year-old girl was found to not be credible. Linda Vanderwerf of the West Central Tribune reports that the school district contacted the Willmar Police Department immediately upon finding the post. Police Chief Jim Felt said the suspect is being questioned and is not a student in Willmar. The school day was not disrupted, because the investigation revealed that it wasn’t a serious threat. No charges have yet been filed.

Minnesota State University Moorhead student Brandon Qual is one of the top StarCraft gamers in the world. He travels the globe playing in tournaments and earns enough to pay his bills and tuition. Patrick Springer of the Fargo Forum writes that no one was more surprised at his success than his parents, who frankly considered the 8 to 10 hours he spends practicing StarCraft each day a waste of time. When his family went with him to a tournament at the University of Minnesota, they were shocked to learn he was a celebrity and was rated the No. 1 grandmaster in North America. “They said he’s a really big deal. We didn’t have a clue,” Karen Qual said.