While the looming state government shutdown affects the entire state, I’ve stayed away from coverage of the events in favor of my more immediate, capable and knowledgeable brethren at MinnPost. However, this tidbit from the Associate Press printed in the Winona Daily News made perfect sense. The headline: “Wanna fish? But license before Minnesota shuts down.” The story advises any Fourth of July anglers who don’t have a fishing license to get one by Thursday in case the government shuts down. The Department of Natural Resources says that while sales of all fishing, hunting and trapping licenses will be suspended by a shutdown, all regulations will be enforced. Of course, pending a settlement, all state parks are set to close at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Think what happens in Washington, D.C., doesn’t affect rural Minnesota? After more than 40 years of operation in Albert Lea, Planned Parenthood announced this week it will close its doors Aug. 1, the Albert Lea Tribune reported. Reporter Sarah Stultz sums things up nicely: “The closure comes because of cuts to the nation’s family planning funding program, which have forced the organization to consolidate its clinical services. In addition to the Albert Lea location, clinics will also close in Thief River Falls, Brainerd, Red Wing, Owatonna and Fairmont. The closest clinic for Albert Lea residents will now be Rochester or Mankato. … ‘This was a short-sighted blow to a much-needed program.’ said Planned Parenthood President and CEO Sarah Stoesz … Planned Parenthood provides low-income women with services including birth control, annual gynecological exams, sexually transmitted infections testing and treatment, and cervical and breast cancer screenings. The local office also provided pregnancy testing and counseling and referrals for adoption, abortion and prenatal care, along with general health care services such as cholesterol and diabetes screening. In Minnesota, more than 250,000 women are in need of subsidized reproductive health care, according to a Planned Parenthood news release. Stoesz said because of the clinic closures, it is likely there will be an increase in teen pregnancies and unintended pregnancies, along with an increase in abortion rates. ‘There’s no question about that,’ she said.”
Duluth’s controversial “Red Plan,” which is the moniker of the school district’s process through which it is building, closing and consolidating schools, jumped another $15 million Monday night, much to the consternation of several Duluth School Board members. Outgoing Superintendent Keith Dixon recommended bumping the plan’s cost to $311 million at Monday night’s board meeting, citing cost overruns and community requests for space for programs such as special education and early childhood education. The board voted 5-2 to approve $15.5 million. Board member Art Johnston said he didn’t know about the details of the plan in advance, called the proposal “appalling” and introduced several amendments to put off voting until incoming superintendent I.V. Foster is in place or to put the proposals to a referendum. “If the city of Duluth knew what we were doing here, they would be rioting,” he said.
Some immediate news from the Northland: The D-Newt is reporting that more than 2 inches of rain fell early Monday, filling streams and causing flooding in northern Itasca and west-central St. Louis counties. The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for parts of the North Shore, including Silver Bay, Tofte and Grand Marais. Some highways and roads remain closed. A weather spotter in Little Marais reported 0.8 inches of rain in just 15 minutes.
Speaking of flooding, Moorhead and its sister city, Fargo, have taken a step toward a Red River diversion project by approving a joint powers agreement, the Moorhead-Fargo Forum reported. In addition, the Fargo City Commission voted to hire a lobbyist for $15,000 a month for six months. Fargo officials said they hoped Moorhead and Cass and Clay counties would help foot the bill. The commission hired the Podesta Group, a nonpartisan lobbyist in Washington, to get the next round of federal funding for the diversion into President Barack Obama’s budget, which is drafted starting in September.
On Monday, the Moorhead-Fargo Forum published a story by the Associated Press that nicely outlined how agriculture colleges and extension programs are getting screwed by federal and state budget-tightening. “At a time when farmers are being asked to grow more for food and fuel to meet soaring world demand, experts warn against eroding the country’s commitment to agricultural research. ‘We’re mortgaging our future with some of these cuts,’ said Ian Maw, vice president for food, agriculture and natural resources at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. … Beverly Durgan, dean of the University of Minnesota Extension program, said cuts to agricultural colleges have far-reaching national impacts. ‘As the funding slowly erodes away, the quality and the quantity of research and extension we can do at the land-grant universities is decreasing. People may not see the impact tomorrow but they will see long-term that not investing now means we’ll have more problems in the future.’ ” The GOP-controlled House passed cuts of $35 million to extension funds. The Senate has yet to act.
Maybe it’s just me, but when a guy has a copy of High Times in his house, you gotta know something hinkey is going on. In a Waseca County News story headlined “Police confiscate 244 marijuana plants,” police gave an inventory of what was found in 47-year-old Gregory Jon Ries’ Waseca home. In the west portion of the basement, police found multiple plants on a shelving system. In another room, officers discovered four plants hanging to dry. They also found Miracle-Gro potting mix and fertilizer, one spray bottle label “Avid,” and 21 one-gallon milk jugs containing a blue liquid, as well as growing instructions clipped to the wall in a small notebook. An additional small basement room revealed multiple larger marijuana plants. According to the News, police went upstairs in the northwest bedroom and seized “several glass pipes, individually packaged marijuana bags, a spoon that tested positive for methamphetamine, two syringes, bullets, paraphernalia, a prescription bottle, a small jar containing multiple red and white pills, a small glass bulb containing residue, miscellaneous receipts, seven cell phones and a bong. Police also found a notebook and High Times Magazine located in black binder in Ries’ night stand and a large glass jar containing marijuana located on a shelf in Ries’ bedroom. In the southwest bedroom, police seized a pipe, scale, wooden dugout and a bong. From the kitchen police confiscated a scale. In the dining room officers found a marijuana grinder, marijuana shake and a marijuana cigarette. In the northeast bedroom, police found a glass pipe that tested positive for methamphetamine, four other glass pipes — three with marijuana residue, a one hitter dugout, a metal pipe containing marijuana residue and a marijuana drug poster.” Police said Ries tested positive for THC but negative for methamphetamine, amphetamine and cocaine. According to the report, Ries was charged with sale of a fifth degree controlled substance. He has had two prior fifth degree drug convictions. If convicted, Ries faces 10 years in prison and a $20,000 or both. Because this is his third offense, Ries ould have to serve at least six months. If nothing else, you have to admire this guy’s commitment to his craft.
On a lighter note, Joni Berg at the Northfield News reports on retired Carleton College professor Ian Barbour’s recent trip to Buckingham Palace. In 1999, Barbour was honored with the Templeton Prize in recognition for his writing relating science and religion. According to Berg, the Templeton Prize is “considered second only to the Nobel Peace Prize” and has been awarded by Prince Philip annually since 1972. Philip is ending his duties and this year honored previous award winners, including Barbour. “It meant a lot to me to be there,” Barbour said. “The British are good with celebrations and pageantry. The British flags were still up from the wedding and we happened to see the changing of the guard from the balcony.” Barbour taught physics and religion at Carleton and was one of the founders of the environmental and technological studies program.
Here’s one of those columns that shows you that you don’t know nothing. Headlined “Strawberry season is here,” Verlys Huntley’s Notes From the Garden column in the Albert Lea Tribune pulls out all the stops on strawberries. Some tidbits: Growers who ship their berries to stores are concerned about eye appeal after shipping and less about flavor, so they are much more apt to use herbicides and pesticides; the June bearing strawberry produces a crop starting about the second week of June but because of our late spring, the berries are running about two weeks behind normal; strawberries are not classified as a true berry because berries have their seeds inside and strawberries are the only fruit with their seeds on the outside; the flavor of strawberries is influenced by weather, the variety and ripeness, with the smaller, later-produced berries being more flavorful; strawberries are high in Vitamin C and are a good source of folic acid, potassium and fiber.
There’s only one word for this contest: AWESOME!!!! There is, however, nothing very healthy about the Wienerman World Championship planned for July 14 in Luverne, according to the Worthington Daily Globe. As part of the community’s annual Hot Dog Nite on July 14, the contest is billed as part triathlon and part competitive eating challenge. Each four-person team will begin by being served four hot dogs. One member from each team will then run seven-tenths of a mile to Sharkee’s Sports Bar where he must eat a Philly cheese steak hot dog with seasoned fries. Next, the participant will run 1.7 miles to the Rock County Pool and complete one lap before tagging off to a teammate. The second team member will eat a quarter-pound hot dog with a choice of baked beans or potato salad catered by ChitChat’s before embarking on a 2.4-mile run that ends back at the pool. There, they will tag their third teammate who will eat homemade mac and cheese with hot dog meatballs and corn chips catered by Glen’s Food Center before taking a six-mile bike ride to Blue Mound State Park, up the hill to the Interpretive Center and then back into town to tag the fourth team member at the Luverne Area Chamber of Commerce. The fourth participant must run two-tenths of a mile to the Pizza Ranch where he will eat a small hot dog pizza, then run seven-tenths of a mile to Sharkee’s Sports Bar for a mystery challenge. Finally, the team member will run eight-tenths of a mile to downtown Luverne. In the final portion of the contest, the entire team will eat hot dog cupcakes, then run the final two blocks to the Main Street finish line. For those finicky contestants, vegetarian and gluten-free options will be available. The Wienerman World Championship begins at 7 p.m. July 14 on Main Street in Luverne. For more information, call the Luverne Area Chamber of Commerce at 1-888-283-4061. Registration deadline is July 8.