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Minnesota farmers prepare for new livestock antibiotic rules

REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
Nationally, 40 percent of farm-raised hogs are fed antibiotics.

Livestock producers in Minnesota are prepared for a new federal regulation that will require farmers to get a veterinarian’s OK before giving antibiotics to their farm animals. Mark Steil of Minnesota Public Radio via the Austin Daily Herald reports that farmers have anticipated the change and are ready. “We’re going to be just fine,” said Seth Spronk, who farms near Edgerton in southwestern Minnesota. Spronk said he and his family could see the practice of using antibiotics for animal growth likely would be banned, so they adjusted before they were forced to change. “We just need to make sure that we’re staying vigilant and using all the methods available to us to manage our herd health and raise those pigs the best way we know how,” said Spronk. Nationally, 40 percent of farm-raised hogs are fed antibiotics and health officials say the practice is a serious threat to human health. An estimated 23,000 Americans die from drug resistant bacterial infections annually.

“Today I lost my daughter to the evils of depression.” Annika Belle Stenglein, 16, a sophomore at Willmar High School, died at her home last week. Linda Vanderwerf of the West Central Tribune writes that her parents, sister, friends and the Willmar community are working to deal with her death. Annika’s obituary said she was a three-sport athlete, an aspiring actress and a member of band, choir and orchestra. “She was someone who would always think of others before herself and would do everything to make others happy,” her family said in her obituary. “She just could not win her battle with depression and lost her fight to the disease.” In a Facebook post, her father, Ray, wrote to people struggling with depression or who are suicidal to talk to someone. “If you can’t say anything, remember Annika Belle, and ring a ‘Belle’ and keep ringing it until someone answers.”

If Wells Fargo isn’t feeling welcome in the Twin Cities, Fargo city commissioner Dave Piepkorn has another set of cities he’d like to suggest for the bank’s “hubquarters.” Tu-Uyen Tran of the Fargo Forum writes that when Piepkorn heard that Minneapolis City Hall wanted to break ties with banks supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline, including Wells Fargo, he told colleagues he'd like to encourage the bank to move more of its operations here. Wells Fargo is based in San Francisco but the bank's predecessor, Northwestern National Bank, was founded in the Twin Cities in 1872. According to the Star Tribune, the bank employs 11,000 in Minneapolis.

There’s hunting, and then there’s hunting. Sam Cook of the Duluth News Tribune writes about bowhunter Frank Jerks, 48, who shot a 10-point buck in the shoulder. He tracked the buck and thought he was bedded down and dying. With an arrow nocked in his bow, Jerks approached the buck “but it was like an electrical bolt hit him," Jerks said. "He jumped up. I went to draw, and he jumped at me." The arrow fell off its position on Jerks' bow. "I sidestepped him. I stiff-armed him and drove his head into the ground." He picked up his arrow and began pushing it through the buck's rib cage to its heart. "He gave one good lunge and pushed me back 3 feet," Jerks said. But Jerks was finally successful. The buck died beneath him.

St. Louis County commissioners are expected to approve an 8.5 percent levy hike. John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune reports that the board is looking to raise the tax levy from $117 million in 2016 to nearly $126.6 million for 2017. New construction and increased property values means the actual impact on property owners will be less than 8.5 percent. The money will go mostly toward increased social service costs, which accounts for 75 percent of the overall proposed budget hike for 2017. There were 588 human service workers in 2012, 640 this year and 668 are projected for next year.

Six hundred memorial trees are slated for the ax along Highway 22 between Mapleton and Mankato, a stretch of highway known as the “Victory Highway.” Mark Fischenich of the Mankato Free Press reports that about 700 trees were at first planted during the 1950s, each one to honor a specific Army, Navy or Marine veteran. In the 1990s, 400 more trees were planted in the memory of more veterans who had died. However, of the 1,170 trees, about 60 percent of them are dying or are a safety hazard. Highway 22 is slated for a $27 million refurbishment, and the trees will have to come down. State highway officials, however, are open to ideas on how to preserve the original sentiment behind the "Highway 22 Victory Drive Memorial.” "I myself was in the Air Force," said Robert Jones, the project manager for MnDOT, "so I want to do this right."

It was pretty cold last weekend, but that didn’t stop the dedicated bird counters in Owatonna. William Morris of the Owatonna People’s Press reports that despite the heavy snow and bone-chilling cold, 4,379 birds were spotted. For 45 years, the bird count produces a snapshot of the bird population.

Restaurant and bar owners in Worthington and Luverne are excited to start selling liquor on Sunday. Karl Evers-Hillstrom of the Worthington Daily Globe reports that referendums allowing Sunday sales overwhelmingly passed in November. “I've been pushing for it for decades,” said Craig Sailor, owner of The Tap. “You can't imagine all the people I have to push away every weekend. Because we’re one of the only towns that didn’t allow liquor on Sundays, everybody who came in on Sunday expected us to sell it.” Deb Jaycox, general manager and director of operations at GreatLIFE Worthington Golf and Fitness Club, said the law wasn’t about drinking, but helping the city grow. “We want to keep the money in town and not have it go elsewhere.”

So this happened in Winona, according to Jerome Christenson in the Winona Daily News: A Winona officer saw two young men carrying a 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of plywood down a residential street at 1:45 a.m. Upon questioning, the men admitted they hadn't bought the plywood, reversed course and returned the plywood. Being a cold night, one of the men asked the officer for a ride home. The officer offered to call him a cab. The man said if he didn't get a ride from the officer, he would call 911. He was told 911 was to be used in emergency situations only. The officer then drove away. Moments later, 911 dispatch received a call from one of the young men asking for a squad car to take him home. The original officer responded and wrote a citation for misuse of 911.

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