A new city administrator has been chosen for Brainerd. Patrick Wussow, the current county administrator for Aitkin County, will take his post in Brainerd Feb. 10. The Brainerd City Council unanimously voted for Wussow at its meeting Monday. Wussow’s salary will start at $105,000. His salary will be reviewed and set by the city council starting Jan. 1, 2015. The city began its search for a new administrator in September after the current administrator, Theresa Goble, announced her retirement.
Ruth Nelson will now lead the Brainerd School Board. Nelson was unanimously voted as chair of the board at the annual re-organizational meeting Monday. She replaces outgoing chair Tom Haglin. “You’ve done one of the best jobs I’ve ever seen,” school board member Bob Nystrom said of Haglin’s performance in the position. Nystrom continued that Haglin excelled in communication with the public and audience, while always keeping the board on track during meetings. Because the board rotates chairs, Nystrom said, he nominated Nelson.
Even though a petition halted proposed capital improvement bonds the projects are still possible, said Bob Olson, a former Brainerd City Council member and one of the people responsible for the petition. At the Brainerd City Council meeting Monday, Olson presented alternatives he said the city can do to get those projects completed without “putting an extra tax burden on the city taxpayers.” A small group of residents attended the meeting to show support.
Brainerd Superintendent Steve Razidlo will leave the school district at the end of the year. He accepted a three-year contract as superintendent at The American International School in Vienna, Austria. Razidlo made the announcement Monday at a school board meeting. His last day in Brainerd will be June 30. “I hoped if the day came to leave (Brainerd), that it would be for something that might be an exceptional opportunity,” Razidlo said. “This is that opportunity.” Razidlo has been with the Brainerd School District for 17 years, the last six as superintendent.
Public schools statewide will be closed Monday because of the forecasted dangerously cold weather. Gov. Mark Dayton made the announcement early Friday in order to give school administrators, teachers and parents enough time to plan for the change. “The safety of Minnesota’s schoolchildren must be our first priority,” Dayton said. “I have made this decision to protect all our children from the dangerously cold temperatures now forecasted for next Monday.”
Hold on for just one more day. The Brainerd lakes area will get a short, but much-needed, break from the icy winds come Friday. But until then it’s bitter cold as usual. Thursday’s predicted high is 2 below zero, with windchill values between 30 and 40 below, according to the National Weather Service in Duluth. Thursday night will dip to around 14 below, with wind chill values between 20 and 30 below. A small breath of relief will come Friday when the high hits 19 degrees above zero. There’s a 50 percent chance of snow Friday night.
About 80 Central Lakes College student veterans may have to find other ways to pay for classes after two tuition assistance programs are reduced or eliminated because of government funding cutbacks. The first, a program called the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), disappears March 31, 2014. It serves veterans who are unemployed and want to get back into the workforce, but have used all other veteran benefits. The second program is called Army Federal Tuition Assistance Program, which will be drastically reduced Jan. 1.
About 1,000 Brainerd residents lost power in the overnight hours late Monday and early Tuesday. Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) received the first report around midnight Monday. The outage stretched from Tamarack Street to South 13th Street. All of the power was fully restored at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. “It couldn’t have happened on a worse night,” said Trent Hawkinson, acting line supervisor at BPU. Temperatures dipped to dangerous lows, with wind chill values ranging from 35 to 45 degrees below zero.
The sonic boom that shook the Brainerd lakes area Friday night was likely a meteor, according to the National Weather Service in Duluth. Reports of flashes of light and building-shaking booms started flowing in between 9:30-10:30 p.m. Friday. There hasn’t been any official confirmation that the event was from a meteor, said Kevin Kraujalis, meteorologist at the National Weather Service. But the reported sightings describe what a meteor would look like, and there were reports of meteor sightings the night before in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa.
Despite just about every setback possible, the Brainerd Salvation Army surpassed its Red Kettle Campaign goal. The effort pulled in $121,000, which is $1,000 more than the 2013 goal. “I’m blown away,” said Salvation Army Capt. Scott Strissel. “We were worried we weren’t going to make it.” Strissel became really concerned during the last week of the campaign — the organization was down $40,000 from its goal. “It was so disheartening,” Strissel said.