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The year 2018 saw the last of the "Watergate Babies" leave the U.S. House of Representatives, bidding farewell to Capitol Hill after six terms in office—the coda for a singular career in politics and a man who was a liberal lion in a district colored conservative red. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Crosby, announced his retirement Feb. 10, 2018,—at the age of 74, he had spent six years in office between 2012 and 2018, as well as a first foray into Congress between 1975-1981.
IRONTON—Amid descending nightfall and plummeting temperatures, flames engulfed Bud's Small Engine Repair shop late afternoon Friday, Dec. 28, in Ironton. Thick smoke was visible from the highway, and people surrounded the site at 20233 Hematite Ave. and watched Crosby Fire Department crews work to extinguish the flames. Shortly before 5 p.m., the temperature was 5 degrees at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport, with a windchill of 12 below zero.
BAXTER—There were plenty of easy pleasantries and dry-humored laughs, but make no mistake, it was a tense public hearing—evidenced by the earnest looks, pensive expressions and the lingering words of a speaker who jokingly described the proceedings as a "lynch mob."
BAXTER—The Baxter City Council shot down a request by Gander Outdoors (formerly Gander Mountain Inc.) to institute an ordinance change to allow a 100-foot American flag on the retailer's premises, currently under construction. City ordinances allow flagpoles that are 50 feet high—with the notable exception of 70-foot flags at Dondelinger Chevrolet and Vikingland Harley-Davidson that predate the current ordinance and are, thus, grandfathered in. The tallest structure in Baxter is 54 feet high.
BAXTER—It looks like repavement rather than reconstruction is in the future for the Memorywood Drive reconstruction project going forward.
The Brainerd City Council opted to forgo a vote on the 2019 tax levy during a public hearing Monday, Dec. 10. Now the final vote looms Monday, Dec. 17. The proposed levy currently hovers between a 2.8 percent increase—or, essentially a non-substantial impact on taxes, with inflation and property value increases factored in—to a 6 percent increase on the high end.
The 2019 legislative session looms large for Rep. Josh Heintzeman. With ascension to assistant leader by the vote of his Republican peers, the three-term Republican state representative from Nisswa returns to St. Paul in a more prominent role and a different environment than the GOP has previously enjoyed since 2014—a split Legislature, with a narrow lead in the Minnesota Senate and a minority in the House, to say little of four more years with Democratic management in the form of Governor-elect Tim Walz.
BAXTER—The 2019 budget is pretty much set in stone for the coming year, per the unanimous vote of the Baxter City Council Tuesday, Dec. 4. The 2019 operation and debt service levies will be $6,402,800—a $399,400 increase, or 6.65 percent, over 2018. This represents a $752,800, or 13.32 percent, increase over the last nine years since 2010. Inflation was 16.98 percent during that time.
Governor-elect Tim Walz said he's in favor of legalizing recreational pot late last week—a sign of approval from the state's future chief executive and a break with his fellow Democrat, sitting Gov. Mark Dayton, who has opposed legalization. The question remains if legalized recreational cannabis—an issue gaining momentum across the nation—will become a reality, possibly sooner rather than later in Minnesota. Pundits have pointed to the issue as potentially prompting a power struggle in the nation's only split Legislature.
As 2019 looms in the calendar, Brainerd City Council members and city staff are working to formulate a tax levy for the coming budget. Drawing from a tax base of 6,520 properties, the city of Brainerd collected $5,561,860 in taxes in 2018. The preliminary levy was set at 6 percent—which may be lowered for the 2019 budget, but not increased. • For a 1 percent tax levy increase, the city would take in $55,619 in new dollars and $5,617,479 total for 2019.