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This winter, I thought volunteering would be a good way to get in the holiday spirit during a season traditionally associated more with consumerism, capitalism and conflict at the store. The Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign is its largest fundraiser, so telling people I had again signed up for a two-hour shift as a bell ringer for the nonprofit had a nice "ring" to it.
Future generations will be able to enjoy and appreciate the land surrounding Indian Jack Lake if plans to create a wildlife management area come to fruition. The Crow Wing County Board Tuesday unanimously approved the purchase of the property by The Trust for Public Land as part of the Mississippi Headwaters Habitat Corridor Partnership. The property will be donated to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Michelle Mink sometimes struggles to learn and do things other people take for granted, but she was busy Wednesday preparing for a holiday craft sale on the campus of Brainerd High School. "I got to walk with my class, but I have to make up a few credits," said Mink, an 18-year-old disabled woman from Pine River who has not graduated from high school. Mink is in the Paul Bunyan Transition Plus program for adult students with disabilities, ages 18 to 21, in the Paul Bunyan Education Cooperative. She wants to be a cosmetologist some day.
The Crow Wing County Board unanimously passed a reduced levy for the eighth consecutive year after Tuesday's public hearing, at which no one spoke or asked questions. The passage guarantees the streak of not increasing the tax burden on property owners in the county continues, as far as the county's portion. "The property tax levy is the amount of money that we collect from the citizens of Crow Wing County—from the property owners within Crow Wing County—to fund the operations of Crow Wing County," County Administrator Tim Houle explained by way of introduction.
Pastor Bob Evans feels like "It's a Wonderful Life," the Frank Capra-directed feel-good Christmas classic that's a perennial favorite of the holidays. The manager of Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen in Brainerd is thankful because of the outpouring of donations the non-denominational nonprofit received by Thanksgiving, keeping it afloat.
Peter Wells can add another accolade to his resume when he graduates from North Dakota State University, a resume already including working full time as a software engineer. The Brainerd native and Brainerd High School graduate was recently named a "student of distinction" by the NDSU computer science department—an honor bestowed to 15 of the department's 600 students. "I plan to work in mobile development when I graduate," said Wells, who was on the high school robotics team. "I feel the market for Android developers will continue growing for a while."
Crow Wing County Administrator Tim Houle is convinced more can be done for the mentally ill in the county jail who either had nowhere else to go or fell through the cracks in the system. Houle and others would like the county board to "sign on" to a "call to action" to reduce those with mental illnesses in jail by learning from other counties, developing a plan with measurable outcomes and implementing research-based approaches to addressing the problem.
Crow Wing County and Cass County just got a little cozier. The Crow Wing County Board authorized entering into a memorandum of agreement between Cass County and the Cass and Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation districts for the Pine River Watershed "One Watershed, One Plan." "Water doesn't necessarily stop at an invisible county line," Land Services Director Gary Griffin told the board at its Tuesday meeting.
NISSWA—Trust seemed to be in short supply at an open house Wednesday intended to clear the air about a proposed Crow Wing County road project that had some residents up in arms. Residents near County Road 115 packed into Nisswa City Hall to voice questions and property concerns about altering the almost 35-year-old winding, scenic road encircling Round Lake. "The pavement is basically shot," said Ron Bray, vice president of WSB & Associates, who along with Crow Wing County Engineer Tim Bray and a majority of the county board, was at the event.
Crow Wing County Administrator Tim Houle wants to handle settlements involving county employees accused of inappropriately accessing private driver's license information. Houle requested at Tuesday's county board meeting that he, Sheriff Todd Dahl and County Attorney Don Ryan be allowed to deal with such lawsuits that involve settlement agreements. "Crow Wing County has access to a lot of private information. One of the areas of private information that we have access to is driver's license data," Houle told the board.