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The Regional Report: PUC investigates service practices of Frontier Comm.

AITKIN

Hunters will have more land to cover next year following approval of an archery special hunt in the city of Aitkin, the Aitkin Independent Age reported. The Aitkin City Council approved the hunt 4-1, citing overpopulation of urban deer and disease concern. The city will work with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to establish and publicize the hunt.

AITKIN COUNTY

Frontier Communications customers blew off some steam earlier this month at a hearing hosted by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in McGregor, the Aitkin Independent Age reported. The hearing—and others in the future—was ordered by the PUC as part of its investigation into whether the communications company engaged in poor practices concerning service quality, customer service and billing. Several of those in attendance voiced frustrations with the company's telephone and internet services, calling them unreliable. Those who've experienced service disruptions said the company failed to respond in a timely manner, elevating fear and isolation in more rural areas.

Company officials at the hearing noted the immense expense required to expand and maintain broadband internet in rural areas, adding the Federal Communications Commission provided grant funds for broadband. Those funds will help improve internet connections for about 4,000 homes in Aitkin County by 2020.

DEERWOOD

A new water tower is in the future for the city of Deerwood, the Crosby-Ironton Courier reported. The Deerwood City Council voted to accept a loan and grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development totaling $1.66 million. Of that amount, $965,000 will be awarded as a grant, and $695,000 will be offered as a low-interest loan. To receive the loan and grant, the city must be accepted for a $600,000 loan from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development's Small Cities program. With these funds, city officials plan to build a new water tower and well and make water main improvements.

MILLE LACS COUNTY

Mille Lacs County deputies will soon join the ranks of law enforcement officers wearing body cameras, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported. The body camera technology selected by Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brett Lindgren will operate through the deputies' smartphones, which will be attached to their waists. The footage will be uploaded to the cloud or a computer database at the sheriff's office, where it will be stored. While the length of data storage is not yet determined, state statute dictates the footage can be destroyed after 90 days if not needed as part of a case.

PIERZ

Pierz students will compete in a new conference next year, the Morrison County Record reported. The Pierz School Board approved the move to the Granite Ridge Conference late last month for the 2019-20 school year. According to Superintendent George Weber, switching conferences has several advantages in store for students and the district. Travel distance will decrease for conference games and competitions, students will have the opportunity to compete in a wider array of arts and music activities, and the district will be able to compete more fully at the junior high, C-squad and junior varsity levels. The district can eliminate at least 370 miles of travel distance with the change. The Granite Ridge Conference includes Albany, St. Cloud Cathedral, Foley, Little Falls, Milaca, Mora and Zimmerman.

PINE RIVER

Area merchants and customers should double check the $20 bills they're exchanging, after a so-called practical joke put prop money into circulation, the Echo Journal reported. The Pine River State Bank received a fake bill from a customer, who said they received it at a parade in Nimrod earlier this month. The bills are the same size as authentic 20s, but sport Chinese characters printed on both sides and a dotted black line in one corner.

TODD COUNTY

An administrative specialist in the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office is the next Todd County coordinator, the Staples World reported. Jonathan Stainbrook received approval from the Todd County Board and will transition to the role Sept. 24. Stainbrook is set to earn $90,563 as the county coordinator.

UPSALA

Residents always know when it's noon in Upsala—that is, until city officials decided to turn off the noontime whistle following the complaint of a resident, the Morrison County Record reported. "If there's anything I've been beaten up about as a mayor, this was it," Mayor Rollie Johnson stated in the Record. Johnson said he received numerous comments from businesses and residents wondering why the whistle no longer sounded. Following city council approval of returning the whistle to its daily duty, maintenance man Frank Koopmeiners flipped the switch the next day.

-- Compiled by Chelsey Perkins, community editor. Perkins may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter @DispatchChelsey or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dispatchchelsey.

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