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Fairmonters gird loins for hotdish battle

ALSO:  Rocori leans away from metal detectors, Duluth approves bow hunting in city, Polaris buys Fargo-based electric car maker; and more.

News From Greater Minnesota

It may be a cliché, but how can a Minnesota roundup start with anything but a hotdish story? Meg Alexander of the Fairmont Sentinel reports that a large crowd is again expected for this year’s Holy Hotdish Cookoff, which starts tonight. The event was so popular last year that St. Paul’s Lutheran served nearly 500 people and almost ran out of food. This is the second hotdish cookoff with the same seven churches competing to serve up the tastiest meal. The winner will be announced June 11. The hotdish has to be made at the church and must include some kind of soup, a protein and a starch.

Rocori School Board frowns on metal detectors
Dave Aeikens of the St. Cloud Times attended Monday’s school board meeting in Cold Spring and reports that despite two incidents in which weapons were found in the middle school, board members were reluctant to look to metal detectors as a solution. It’s not the first time metal detectors have been discussed in Rocori: In 2003, two students were shot and killed by another student at the high school. “Most people want schools to be a welcoming warm place, not a jail with armed guards and metal detectors,” board member Lynn Schurman said. On April 11, a seventh-grade boy brought a gun to school and pointed at some other students. On April 20, a girl brought a knife to the middle school.

Duluth OKs targeted deer hunt on public land
The Duluth City Council agreed Monday night to again thin the city’s deer herd
, according to a story by Peter Passi of the Duluth News Tribune. The Arrowhead Bowhunters Association will oversee a hunt on public land and in some private areas. Last year, the ABA reported that 514 of the 602 deer taken were does. This prompted some discussion about how to tag and record the deer taken. The city will continue to consider the matter.

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Austin home market is trending up
There is optimism on the streets of Austin. Jason Schoonover of the Austin Daily Herald reports there were 74 homes sold between January and March in Austin, a 51 percent increase from 2010, according to the Southeast Minnesota Association of Realtors. In March, 30 homes were sold, compared with 23 last year. Talk on the streets also shows an upturn in small construction projects or expansions showing modest job growth.

WSU study finds casual sex leads to lower grades
A study conducted at Winona State University shows that the average grade point average among women who engaged in casual sex was a full point lower than that of the women who had not. The story, by Jerome Christenson of the Winona Daily News, said assistant psychology professor Jess Siebenbruner studied the correlation between one-night sexual encounters between near-strangers and academic performance. The survey of 197 undergraduate women, mostly freshmen and sophomores, found that 78 said they had participated in one or more “hook-ups” and of that number, 48 said that sexual intercourse was part of the experience. Connie Gores, vice president for student life and development, said understanding the extent of casual sex can help the university address the issue and deal with the potential consequences.

Polaris to buy Fargo’s Global Electric Motorcars
Medina-based Polaris is buying Fargo-based Global Electric Motorcars, the Fargo Forum reports. “GEM provides Polaris with an established position in the low-emission small vehicle market and supports Polaris’ strategy of penetrating on-road market segments poised for growth,” said Scott Wine, Polaris chief executive officer, in a news release. Polaris recently took over Indian Motorcycles and will add it to its existing Victory bike line.

Little Falls death ruled ‘suicide by cop’
Four officers — two from the Little Falls Police Department and two Morrison County Sheriff’s deputies  — have been cleared in a fatal shooting Dec. 30 that an outside investigator said was “suicide by cop,” reported Mike O’Rourke of the Brainerd Dispatch. The review found that family and friends suggested the man was suicidal. When law officers responded to a call about a man who was armed and considered suicidal, the man began moving into an apparent shooting position. He fired “somewhat simultaneous” with the officers’ first shots. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

County ain’t got no love for muskrats
Tom Hintgen of the Fergus Falls Journal is all over the story about the way muskrats are ravaging Otter Tail County riverbanks and roads. When they breed, muskrats burrow a chamber underground, yet above the waterline. Anytime the waterline rises, the rodents dig further in and up. Soon the shoreline or roadway develops sinkholes. “A large population of muskrats, which are cyclical, and high water levels are at the root of the problem. Muskrats seeking high ground near roadways will dig and tunnel with destructive results,” he wrote. County officials are asking residents to call them when they notice muskrats so they can relocate them.

Longtime assistant city manager leaves for Peace Corps
After working for the City of New Ulm for 23 years, Assistant City Manager Tom MacAulay and his wife, Marcy, are selling it all to work for the Peace Corps. In a story by Josh Moniz of the New Ulm Journal, MacAulay plans to leave Aug. 3 for Uganda, where they will perform volunteer work. They have put their house up for sale and plan to sell their vehicles. They haven’t decided what they will do when their 27-month tour is up.  Meanwhile, City Manager Brian Gramentz said that, depending on the outcome of Local Government Aid in this year’s state budget, MacAulay’s position may not be filled until 2012.

Doors keyboardist lights Austin on fire
Having been inducted in 1993 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Doors, Ray Manzarek knows a thing or two about making fans happy, and he wasted no time doing so in his Saturday concert with slide guitarist Roy Rogers in Austin Saturday night, the Daily Herald reported. The pair received a standing ovation before playing a single note. They played to support their album “Translucent Blues,” which is set to release May 24. The show was not without its faults: one unruly fan and stuck A and C keys on Manzarek’s keyboard. They played mostly blues and rock, but also delved into classical and jazz. They played three songs by The Doors: “Love Me Two Times” and “Riders On The Storm,” which closed the set. Manzarek also performed a solo instrumental version of “The Crystal Ship.”

John Fitzgerald, a longtime journalist and Minnesotan, lives in Buffalo.