Effort to name nameless Crow Wing County stream falls short

Stretching from Mine Lake near Barrows before entering and exiting Crow Wing Lake on its way to the Mississippi River, the watercourse flows through one of Crow Wing County’s agricultural ditches known as Ditch 14.

A photograph shows the unnamed watercourse traversing Ditch 14 in southern Crow Wing County. A proposal to name it Crow Wing Creek did not receive support Tuesday, Nov. 24, from the Crow Wing County Board. Source / Randy Bunney

A bid to name an unnamed watercourse Crow Wing Creek failed Tuesday, Nov. 24, when the Crow Wing County Board unanimously voted against it.

The push for the name was spearheaded by Randy Bunney, who told commissioners the stream plays an important role in the lives of those who live near it. Stretching from Mine Lake near Barrows before entering and exiting Crow Wing Lake on its way to the Mississippi River, the watercourse flows through one of Crow Wing County’s agricultural ditches known as Ditch 14.

Bunney, who said he lives on Crow Wing Lake and helps care for his wife’s family’s land, presented a petition signed by 18 people. He noted he also received support from others who live along the ditch and some residents on the lake. He said a majority of people who voted in an online poll favored Crow Wing Creek over other possible names.

“It shapes how we live, work and play and where we build our roads,” Bunney said. “ … It connects us to our history. We know how important waterways were to the Ojibwe who encamped at Crow Wing village about 2 miles from present-day Mine Lake.”

He noted Civil War veteran John Hartman and his family are buried near it and said the watercourse is the lifeblood of Crow Wing Lake. Bunney said if the board supported the name, it would be the only watercourse in the United States with the name Crow Wing Creek.


But not everyone supported Bunney’s naming push. Bill Jordan, who said his parents own land on both sides of the outlet on the southern end of Crow Wing Lake, questioned the process by which the project came about and was pushed forward. He noted most people he knew referred to the watercourse as a crick, not a creek.

“My circle of people knew it, if we went and said to meet at the crick, that was it,” Jordan said. “On the north end of the lake was the inlet. Guess what? Those people surrounding it called it the crick also. They, too, knew what that meant.”

Jordan pointed out the Crow Wing River could make the name confusing and said there were some concerns about what kind of impact the name might have on ditch law, a complicated set of statutes outlining responsibilities and cost burdens associated with agricultural ditches in the state. He presented his own petition of 26 names who opposed the change. The township boards of both Crow Wing and Fort Ripley townships also passed resolutions in opposition.

Bunney shared an opinion sought by Crow Wing County Engineer Tim Bray from Kurt Deter, an attorney with expertise in ditch law, who said he saw no problem with the name and it would not have an effect on the county’s rights as drainage authority. Bunney clarified the ditch itself would retain the designation Ditch 14, while the water running through it would be called Crow Wing Creek.

Pete Boulay of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said the agency would accept the name if the board approved it.

“Interesting the ‘creek’ versus ‘crick’ came up,” Boulay said. “There’s a long history in the state of creek versus crick. People are very adamant about it. Even my wife lived near a crick, and if I call it ‘creek’ I will be corrected.”

Commissioner Rosemary Franzen pointed out at least three names appeared on both petitions. Jordan said it was probably because he spoke to those people after Bunney approached them seeking support. He said many he spoke with were very upset with the way the project was handled.

Commissioner Paul Koering said he attended the Crow Wing Township meeting at which the matter was discussed. He said he’d also heard from other constituents opposed to the name.


“The townships are our grassroots government who are the closest to the people and I think they know what’s going on in the community,” Koering said.

Koering made the motion to deny Bunney’s petition, which was seconded by Franzen. All commissioners voted in favor.

In other business, the board:

Recognized retiring employee Capt. Joe Meyer, who is set to retire from the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office after 32 years. Sheriff Scott Goddard read part of Meyer’s retirement letter to the board as part of the recognition.

“Throughout the years I have experienced events that have molded me into the person that I am today. People that I have known, decisions that I’ve made, and opportunities that have been presented to me have given me the opportunity to rise through the ranks in this office to my current position of captain, of which I am extremely proud,” Goddard read. “As I reflect on my life, my career within this office, I find that it is time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life with my family and enjoy some time off enjoying the things that I truly love.”

Approved findings of fact supporting the county board’s decision to deny a preliminary plat for RJ JS Properties, which plans to build a storage facility in Lake Edward Township.

Approved a request from the facilities manager to release capital improvement funds previously frozen by the board at the onset of the pandemic. The funds will be used to pay remaining invoices on the law enforcement center remodel: $12,000 for a jail dryer, $16,000 for a jail washer, $20,000 for jail ovens, $30,000 for fuel tank cement, $35,000 for plant pumps and $40,000 for jail refrigerators.

Renewed contracts with Heartland Animal Rescue Team to serve as a holding facility for dangerous dogs in Crow Wing County and impounded dogs in Unorganized Territory.


Allowed Enbridge to remove beaver dams located on tax-forfeited property due to flooding within the Line 3 pipeline corridor.

Approved the final payment to Traffic Marking Services for pavement markings throughout the county in the amount of $214,729. The payment was $34,512 below the original contract amount.

Designated County Engineer Tim Bray and Assistant County Engineer Rob Hall as official county inspectors for the Enbridge Line 3 replacement project. State statute requires each county through which the pipeline will pass to make this designation.

Appointed David Albers to replace Trudi Amundson on the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission. Chairman Steve Barrows also reappointed Rex Roach to the Central Minnesota Emergency Medical Services Region Advisory Committee.

Set the county board meeting calendar for 2021.

Approved the hirings of EmMee Card, senior administrative/technical specialist in the sheriff’s office, and Jessica Turner, 911 operations lieutenant.


UPDATE: This story was corrected to include the accurate number of people who signed a petition in favor of naming the watercourse. It also clarified the legal opinion from attorney Kurt Deter was sought by Crow Wing County Engineer Tim Bray. The Dispatch regrets the errors.


CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or . Follow on Twitter at .
Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
What To Read Next
Get Local


Must Reads