The Regional Report: Aitkin County offers $100 for helping prevent AIS

AITKIN A new animal rescue facility cleared a hurdle to locate in downtown Aitkin, the Aitkin Independent Age reported June 12. The Aitkin City Council approved a request to add animal boarding facilities to the zoning ordinance as a conditional ...

Zebra mussels have been confirmed in Lac qui Parle Lake, putting them in the waters of a popular destination for anglers and hunters from throughout much of the state as well as the Minnesota River system.
Aitkin County seeks to prevent aquatic invasive species, including zebra mussels, by offering incentives to people who leave docks, lifts and other water equipment they're planning to move for 30 days. Forum News Service file photo


A new animal rescue facility cleared a hurdle to locate in downtown Aitkin, the Aitkin Independent Age reported June 12. The Aitkin City Council approved a request to add animal boarding facilities to the zoning ordinance as a conditional use, allowing Christine Harmon's request to move forward with the city planning committee. Harmon runs nonprofit Scooby's Animal Mission, or S.A.M. Her plan includes opening a facility at a blighted property in Aitkin, where rescued cats would be boarded and community members could interact with and help care for animals in need.


A new incentive in Aitkin County seeks to increase protections against aquatic invasive species, the Aitkin Independent Age reported Wednesday, June 19. If people moving docks, lifts, swim rafts or other related equipment keep those items out of the water for 30 days-nine days longer than state law requires-the Aitkin Soil and Water Conservation District will reward them with $100. This would provide extra assurance any species attached to the equipment, particularly zebra mussels, would not survive before relocation. SWCD staff will photograph and tag equipment belonging to those who opt to participate, returning 30 days later to photograph it again.



Students in the Cass Lake-Bena School District can sleep in every Monday during the next school year, the Cass Lake Times reported June 12. The school board voted to approve a two-hour late state for every Monday of the 2019-20 calendar, following a survey of parents that showed a majority of families would not have schedule impacts because of the move.


Technology will help keep K-9 Ragnar safe, the Crosby-Ironton Courier reported June 12. The pup, currently in training, will soon join the Crosby Police Department and be available for mutual aid with other organizations. A sensor will be installed in the K-9 squad car to test the temperature, alerting the K-9 officer if it's too hot or too cold for Ragnar in the vehicle.


It's been three years since the idea of a dog park arose, and now one is open in Crosslake, the Echo Journal reported June 13. The park is located at 13950 Daggett Pine Road, near the ball fields and Crosslake Community Center on city property. Although dog owners are now using the park, there are projects remaining, including running well water to the site, installing benches and adding a pavilion. Volunteers have overseen the effort thus far and asked city officials to assume ownership and maintenance responsibilities. The council asked the dog park committee to put together a list of items needing to be completed at the site and the costs involved, to be evaluated at the next city council meeting.


The installation of a series of tiered gardens to divert potentially harmful runoff from Serpent Lake was set to begin soon, the Crosby-Ironton Courier reported Wednesday, June 19. An area of Skone Park currently allows runoff to flow downhill directly into the lake at Deerwood Beach, which creates opportunity for algae growth due to contamination of the runoff. The project is a collaborative effort of the city of Deerwood and the Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District.



A historic bridge has new life following the completion of restoration efforts by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported June 12. The pedestrian underpass was constructed more than 80 years ago, and now functions as a culvert given a rise in water levels since then. The feature located south of Garrison along Highway 169 was originally intended to allow pedestrians access to a picnic area.


Little Falls dog owners will get a dog park soon, the Morrison County Record reported June 9. The city council approved purchasing fencing for the park, which will be erected on city property near Pine Tree Park. Fencing will cost $9,729, with an additional $4,000 in costs expected to finish other park amenities.


Vehicle owners in Mille Lacs County could soon pay more at the DMV, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported June 12. The Mille Lacs County Board is considering raising the wheelage tax in the county from $10 to $20. County governments are authorized to raise the tax, which goes toward highway projects, to up to $20.


A former city council member asked the council to reconsider a permanent order barring him from Motley's Converse Park, the Staples World reported Wednesday, June 19. Robert Sampson was one of two people given the order after tampering with security cameras in the park. Sampson, who lives across the street from the park, said he was trying to help the city by readjusting the cameras, which he said were facing the wrong direction and were not capturing enough of the park to be effective. He explained the numerous contributions he said he's made to the park over the years.

Council members expressed disappointment Sampson took it upon himself to move the cameras without speaking to anyone at the city, as well as an obscene gesture he made during the incident. He said he was acting to protect his children, including his daughter, who felt as though the cameras were pointed toward her bedroom window. The council requested Sampson write a public apology and then they may reconsider revoking the permanent order.



Water levels on Lake Onamia required action once again as issues with bogs accumulating at a rock dam in the lake's only outlet worsened this spring, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported June 12. Bogs in the area have caused headaches for officials from numerous entities over the past two years, and a wet spring of 2019 raised water levels to near historic heights. Flooding occurred to the point it approached the edges of homes on the lake and threatened the city's sewer system, and officials planned to dredge the outlet for the second time around Memorial Day weekend.

The water pressure was so high at the site of the blockage, however, Mother Nature flushed the problem out herself. Heavy equipment was used to remove the remaining bog pieces. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials remain concerned about the potential for more bog blockages in the future during heavy rain events.


Drones are in the future for the Todd County Sheriff's Office, the Staples World reported Wednesday, June 19. In a presentation to the Staples Host Lions Club, Sheriff Steve Och and Deputy Lonnie Marse explained the department plans to purchase one large and one small drone. The larger drone could assist with rescue or search operations, while the smaller drone could fly into buildings for surveillance. The Lions Club pledged most of the $20,000 needed for the purchase.


A proposed statue in a Walker park divided the city council at its June 3 meeting, the Walker Pilot-Independent reported June 12. The Walker Park Advisory Board recommended placing a 3-foot bronze statue of a Native American hoop dancer on a rock within the Walker Rock Garden, but at least one council member was hesitant while others had questions.

Council member Gary Wilkening said he thought the council decided the city had enough statues, while council member Jim Senenfelder offered concerns about listing the names of donors on a plaque, concerned it would serve as advertising. A community member already collected a donation from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe for the statue and was told he should've waited until the council made a decision. A motion to approve the park board's recommendation died for lack of a second, and the matter was returned to the committee for further consideration.


-- Compiled by Chelsey Perkins, community editor. Perkins may be reached at 218-855-5874 or . Follow her on Twitter @DispatchChelsey or on Facebook at .

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