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The Regional Report: Pequot to get 2nd bobber tower; developer plans 2 hostels for downtown Crosby

AITKIN A road improvement project in Aitkin will be more expensive than planned after petroleum-contaminated soil was discovered, the Aitkin Independent Age reported. The estimated size of the contamination was about 275 yards near First Street N...

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AITKIN

A road improvement project in Aitkin will be more expensive than planned after petroleum-contaminated soil was discovered, the Aitkin Independent Age reported. The estimated size of the contamination was about 275 yards near First Street Northwest, and some of it might exceed the threshold permitted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. If so, the soil must be transported to the landfill. Once removed, the soil will be stored on an impervious surface until its final location is determined.

AITKIN COUNTY

Hops are now among the crops grown in Aitkin County, the Aitkin Independent Age reported. Dan Bandt is the farmer who brought the plant used in brewing beer to the county. He told the Age his research showed the area offered good conditions for the crop. The closest farm to Bandt's is one in the Foley area, which at 20 acres happens to be the largest in the state. Bandt's 5 acres place it as the second largest in Minnesota, and the first harvest will be next September.

What the Cuyuna Range is to mountain biking, Aitkin County wants to be to kayaking, the Aitkin Independent Age reported. A draft for a countywide water routes master plan will be presented to the Aitkin County Board next month, the first step in the process of mapping all possible kayaking routes along the Mississippi and Ripple rivers. A study examining the waterways would identify infrastructure needs, potential obstructions and sensitive areas, including fish habitat. Eventually, the maps might also include trails for snowmobiling, all-terrain vehicle riding, walking and biking, along with campground locations.

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CROSBY

A charity effort last year expanded to an ongoing effort, the Aitkin Independent Age reported. Doug Gillette of Crosby Mattress recently launched Beds for Kids North, an organization seeking to provide bed sets for children in need in the Crosby, Aitkin and McGregor areas. In 2017, Gillette donated six sets, based on school district recommendations and essays written by the children explaining why they needed a new bed. For more information, visit www.crosbymattress.com and click on "Beds for Kids North."

Two new businesses are planned in downtown Crosby, the Crosby-Ironton Courier reported. Doug Arndt of Cuyuna Hospitality Co. told the Crosby City Council he plans to convert the building at 30 W. Main St. to a taproom and wine bar with a wood-fired pizza restaurant, while adding a hostel upstairs and possibly meeting rooms downstairs. The company also intends to tear down an apartment building at First Avenue and First Street Southwest, replacing it with another hostel called Crosby Lodge. Arndt said the company is seeking grant opportunities from the Iron Range Resource and Rehabilitation Board.

Crosby Police Chief Kim Coughlin told the Crosby City Council she intends to retire in 2019, the Crosby-Ironton Courier reported. Upon retirement, Coughlin will have served in law enforcement for 30 years.

CROSSLAKE

A new face will join the Crosslake Community School Board, the Echo Journal reported. Following the resignation of member Jeremy Max, the board appointed Mitch Swaggert to fill the seat. Swaggert will serve out the remainder of Max's term through next October.

It just became easier for telecommuters and small business owners to conduct business in the city of Crosslake, the Echo Journal reported. Telecommunications company Crosslake Communications and the Crosslake Economic Development Authority partnered to establish a small business resource center. The center, located at Crosslake Communications, features high-speed internet, access to copying and faxing, and the availability of conference and video calling. Mayor Patty Norgaard said the EDA hopes the center offers residents and short-term visitors the ability to stay in town longer to work, with about 40 percent of the city not yet connected to fiber internet.

CUSHING

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Those who see the movie "Brother's Keeper" when it hits the silver screen will see a local face, the Staples World reported. Cushing resident Brian Sams is currently filming the movie in which he plays Coach Del Van Cox. The movie depicts the true story of the Abilene (Texas) High School football team, which after losing in the first round of the playoffs one season, went on to form a unique bond, according to the World. Sams, a Staples-Motley High School graduate, was the head speech coach of his alma mater in 2017-18 along with his wife, Heather.

HACKENSACK

A chain saw sculptor from Hackensack recently won a major event in the artistic field, the Walker Pilot-Independent reported. Chris Kuehn placed first among some of the most elite carvers in the world at the Lake Superior Chainsaw Sculpture Championships. Kuehn sculpted a whitetail buck appearing to jump over a log, with a trout depicted beneath the log.

ISLE

Visitors to Father Hennepin State Park will soon have the opportunity to use a paved trail connected to the Soo Line Trail, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported. The non-motorized trail was paved earlier this month and connects to an 11-mile stretch of the Soo Line Trail between Isle and Onamia. A grand opening for the trail is to be announced.

LITTLE FALLS

Although officials broke ground for a portion of the planned Camp Ripley Veterans State Trail, the start of the project was delayed until 2019, the Morrison County Record reported. The Little Falls City Council rejected a bid exceeding its own estimates by nearly $200,000, deciding instead to wait for more favorable bidding conditions next year. Trail board Chair Frank Gosiak said the high bid was due to late timing in the construction season. Once built, the 1-mile trail segment will extend from Lindbergh State Park to Mill Park in Little Falls.

MILLE LACS LAKE

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A new scenic byway circumnavigating Mille Lacs Lake received approval from the state commission responsible for those decisions, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported. A five-road route is now part of the statewide system, denoting scenic opportunities for motorists. The byway route includes Highway 169 along the western shore, Highway 18 to the north, Highway 47 on the east side and Highway 27 along the southern shore. Shakopee Lake Road is also included in the route.

MOTLEY

The interim police chief in Motley is now the permanent chief, the Morrison County Record reported. The Motley City Council approved the appointment of Jason Borash to the post after he was first selected as the interim in May in the wake of the retirement of former Chief Ron Smith. Borash served as a police officer in the city since April 2015 and previously served in the Morrison County Sheriff's Office. The city council also approved posting a job for a full-time police officer. If the council hires for the post, it would mean a 6 percent property tax levy increase for 2019, assuming all other budget requests by city departments are approved.

NISSWA

The city of Nisswa has a new park on the other side of a tunnel from downtown, the Echo Journal reported. Nisswa Lake Park, located across Highway 371 on the shores of Nisswa Lake, features walking paths, a pavilion, a water garden and docks. Plans call for additional docks as funds allow. Also in the works is a 3.1-mile trail connecting the city of Lake Shore to the Nisswa tunnel as part of the Gull Lake Trail.

PEQUOT LAKES

The bobber water tower in Pequot Lakes will soon have company, the Echo Journal reported. The Pequot Lakes City Council approved spending $61,871 to repaint the city's active water tower, located on Pillsbury Avenue, to also appear as a fishing bobber. The white tower is more visible from the new segment of Highway 371. The council decided not to spend an additional $11,700 to add the red top to the new bobber, however.

Council members Scott Pederson and Mimi Swanson opposed the painting, both expressing concern the new bobber would take away from the iconic nature of the original bobber.

A group of residents concerned about the future of Pequot Lakes formed, and members said they intend to endorse mayoral and city council candidates in the upcoming election, the Echo Journal reported. Those involved in nonprofit People for Pequot said they're concerned about plans for the city's Trailside Park, including the plan to tear up a portion of the former Highway 371, now Patriot Avenue, to accommodate park expansion.

PINE RIVER

Have a bumper crop of vegetables in the garden this summer? Those organizing Pine River Heritage Days could use that excess for a community-wide hobo stew feed, the Echo Journal reported. Those able to donate potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, string beans, onions or turnips are encouraged to do so by Sept. 3 at the Pine River Chamber Information Center. The stew will be served beginning 11:45 a.m. Sept. 8 in Forbes Park.

SCANDIA VALLEY TOWNSHIP

A majority of Shamineau Lake residents support a plan to lower the lake's water level, the Morrison County Record reported. Survey results presented at a Morrison County Board meeting showed of the 80 percent of taxpayers on the lake who responded, 85 percent agreed the water level was too high. Seventy-four percent were in favor of a plan to address the water level. The issue came before the board in October 2017, when the lake improvement district sought approval to raise its property tax assessments to support the cost of pumping the water into nearby Lena Lake before piping it into Fish Trap Creek.

Also reporting on the issue, the Staples World noted in July, the lake was 1.9 feet above the ordinary high water level, and 1.5 feet above in June.

SWANVILLE

After years of frustrating drainage problems near the entrance of Swanville Public Schools, officials hope a new sidewalk will prevent the pond formed in heavy rains, the Morrison County Record reported. The old sidewalk included a very low curb leading to a street with a downward angle toward the front doors. The new sidewalk is wider with taller curbs, and the parking area near the sidewalk was leveled to reduce the steep angle.

WADENA COUNTY

With a difference of just two votes for those placing second and third in the primary election for auditor/treasurer in Wadena County, a recount was conducted, the Staples World reported. While Heather Olson received the most votes at 772, Brian Hagen received 392 and Judy Taves received 390. The recount took place Wednesday, Aug. 22.

Joy Weyer of the Wadena County Auditor's Office reported Friday the recount resulted in no changes to vote totals. Requested by Taves, the recount was performed by Wadena city staff to avoid a conflict of interest and will be paid for by tax dollars. Olson and Hagen will go on to the general election.

There's a new K-9 patrolling the streets of Wadena County, the Staples World reported. Nitro, hailing from the Czech Republic, joined the Wadena County Sheriff's Office June 23. Already the pup assisted with tracking a murder suspect near Fergus Falls, a SWAT Team call and searches of the county jail.

WALKER

A new public works director received approval from the Walker City Council, the Walker Pilot-Independent reported. Michael Ridlon was hired for the post, following the firing of previous director Neil Lange. The city council sent Lange a letter announcing its intent to terminate his employment in June, and Lange was advised it would be in his best interest to resign. Lange refused to resign, according to the Pilot-Independent, and is in the midst of arbitration proceedings with the city.

-- 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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