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The Regional Report: Randall ditches fireworks display, Little Falls keeps employee on despite stock ownership

CROSBY A sewer force main beneath Highway 6 remains a sticking point when it comes to a planned tunnel construction project, the Crosby-Ironton Courier reported Wednesday, April 24. The pipe is located within the right of way of a Minnesota Depar...

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CROSBY

A sewer force main beneath Highway 6 remains a sticking point when it comes to a planned tunnel construction project, the Crosby-Ironton Courier reported Wednesday, April 24. The pipe is located within the right of way of a Minnesota Department of Transportation project that would construct a new underground tunnel connecting the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area bicycle trails with the city of Crosby. The pipe, owned by the Serpent Lake Sanitary Sewer District, must be moved to complete the project, according to MnDOT. The sewer district, meanwhile, sent a letter to the city of Crosby stating it does not intend to move the pipe. In the meantime, MnDOT cannot seek bids for the construction until the issue is resolved and the state agency requested it be moved by June 28.

An invention by a Crosby-Ironton graduate will soon be built at the high school for student use, the Crosby-Ironton Courier reported April 24. A GroShed will be erected, allowing students the opportunity to grow fresh produce year-round. The structure is a fully automated hydroponic growing system that automatically controls temperature, light cycles, watering cycles, wind, humidity and pH levels. Inventor Jon Friesner donated the GroShed to the district. Officials hope produce grown in the shed will be served in the lunchroom.

LAPORTE

The possibility of the Laporte School District joining Walker-Hackensack-Akeley for cooperative sports appears off the table, the Walker Pilot-Independent reported Wednesday, April 24. District officials considered the move as part of an attempt to save costs, but a series of budgetary moves mostly covered the expenses pushing the district into the red. Although no staff members were laid off as part of covering the $352,000 gap, the district will eliminate cross-country, will not fill a part-time special education teacher position and will increase the local operating levy from $300 to $424, among other changes.

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LITTLE FALLS

Despite an admitted conflict of interest and failure to disclose stock ownership in an engineering company, Little Falls Public Works Director Greg Kimman will keep his job, the Morrison County Record reported April 21. As a former employee of Short Elliott Hendrickson, Kimman retained ownership of stock in the company while serving as the engineer for Little Falls. Over the course of his employment with the city, Kimman played a role in selecting SEH for professional services, for which seeking bids is not required. Kimman's failure to disclose also appeared to violate standards set forth by the Professional Engineers Ethics Review Board.

In a hearing Kimman requested be public, he told the city council as a lifelong resident of Little Falls, he'd dreamed of being the city's public works director and hoped this mistake wouldn't destroy that. Kimman said he never made recommendations about hiring without the city's best interests in mind. He was not permitted to sell the stock in the employee-owned engineering firm until five years after he left employment, which means he can sell the stock in May.

The council voted unanimously to retain Kimman's employment, although noted it would be helpless to counter any action to remove his license by the engineering board.

PINE RIVER

The seed library in Pine River grew dramatically in size, thanks to seed donations and grant funding, the Echo Journal reported Thursday, April 25. A grant from the Minnesota Power Foundation and seeds from Prairie Road Organic Seed Co. and the Ratliff family added to the collection of free seeds. Anyone can "borrow" from the seed library and they are encouraged to save seeds from their produce when the growing season is complete, returning those to the library. The seed library is housed at the Pine River Library, and is available whenever the library is open.

RANDALL

Rather than spending $3,500 for an 11-minute fireworks display, city officials in Randall said there are more effective ways to spend that cash, the Morrison County Record reported April 21. Donna Lundgren, a member of the city's Fourth of July committee, said the show's been disappointing for a few years, and she'd rather see the money invested in adding Christmas decorations to the city's display or supporting increased handicapped-accessibility at the city's parks.

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The council agreed to shift its fireworks funds toward Christmas decorations. Council members still showed their support for Fourth of July festivities in the city, however, by agreeing to appropriate $1,000 toward a street dance.

WAHKON

Spam Baked French Toast-that's the recipe that led Wahkon resident April Weinreich to national prominence, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported Wednesday, April 24. Weinreich bested 26 others to earn the grand prize in the Great American Spam Championship, which includes a trip to the Spam Jam Waikiki Festival in Hawaii. Hormel reported it received more than 600 entries nationwide.

-- 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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