Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
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A woman who was a third-generation member of the Christian Science Church in Brainerd is in jail for embezzling money from the congregation. Theresa Marie Barrett, 48, is serving a 15-day sentence in the Crow Wing County Jail and was ordered to pay $79,966.92 in restitution and court costs after pleading guilty to theft-divert corporate property, a felony offense. Barrett's known address was listed as a Brainerd Post Office box in the court documents.
Savannah Cole, Brainerd's own Miss Minnesota, is following through with her platform on epilepsy by helping to promote the Brainerd Jaycees' Feb. 7 Curling for a Cause amateur bonspiel.
Randy Bjerkness thinks the Little Falls City Council is a Grinch for forcing him to take his outdoor Christmas display down by Friday. A complaint alleging an apparent violation of the city's sign ordinance led to a letter from the city's zoning administrator, instructing Bjerkness to remove the excess Christmas-themed flags and/or signs on his property that are in violation of the city code. Meanwhile, Little Falls activist Robin Hensel thinks the city is turning a blind eye to sign ordinance violations and outgoing Little Falls Mayor Catherine VanRisseghem thinks it's extremely difficult t
Rep.-elect Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, is just starting his legislative career but the rookie politician has already had his fill of smoke-filled rooms. The newly elected lawmaker, his wife, Keri; and his five children; were all displaced from their home Nov. 28, when a nearby outbuilding that contained a wood boiler was destroyed by fire. The wood boiler, located about 150 feet from the Heintzeman home, provided heat to the family's home.
Good ice? Bad ice? Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl isn't saying. As anglers get antsy to drive vehicles out onto the the rapidly freezing ice, Dahl knows that conditions vary widely on Crow Wing County's 400-plus lakes. "I never say that ice is good or bad ice," he said, noting that ice thickness ranges from 10 inches in one spot and 1 inch in another.
Nine area radio stations - six in Baxter and three in the Wadena area - were part of the announcement of Hubbard Broadcasting Inc.'s asset purchase agreement to acquire 16 Minnesota radio stations. The overall acquisition also includes radio stations in the Alexandria and Bemidji radio markets. The Brainerd market stations, owned by BL Broadcasting, include WJJY-FM, 106.7; KLIZ-FM, 107.5; KBLB-FM, 93.3; KVBR-AM, 1340; KUAL-FM, 103.5; KLIZ-AM, 1380. The Wadena market stations, also owned by BL Broadcasting, include KKWS-FM, 105.9; KWAD-AM, 920; KNSP-AM, 1430. Hubbard Broadcasting's announc
Falling short of his goal by less than 2 percentage points, Stewart Mills on Wednesday conceded defeat in his bid to unseat Rep.
For Dale Lueck, the second time was a charm. In a rematch, the former Aitkin County commissioner of rural Aitkin defeated first term Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, two years after a 323-vote loss in 2012. With all precincts reporting Lueck won 9,209-8,523 or 51.86 to 48 percent. Contacted early Wednesday morning, Lueck said he was pleased and honored at his election.
Josh Heintzeman, a political newcomer, unseated four-term Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, Tuesday. Heintzeman outpolled Ward 8,646-7,539, or 53.7 to 46.54 percent, in the unofficial results. "I think it boils down to connect with people who felt they haven't been represented in the last two years," he said.
Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., won re-election to Congress early Wednesday with The Associated Press calling the election at about 12:30 a.m. and his opponent deciding to wait until all the precincts are counted before issuing a statement. Nolan, 70, congratulated his opponent, Mills Fleet Farm vice president Stewart Mills, for his part in what he called his toughest campaign and one of the most expensive House races in the nation. "So many millions of dollars of negative campaigning," he said. "Both parties are guilty of it.