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The last bell rang an hour ago, but students are popping in Kerry Johnson's high school English classroom to update her on an achievement or chat for a moment. The rapport between the young scholars and the educator is evident. Johnson's creativity in the classroom, as a coach and Student Council advisor has earned the distinction of District 309 Teacher of the Year. "She's very well liked by the kids," said peer Angie Kuehn, who nominated her. "She's here at 7 a.m.
Gear up your appetite; fire up the taste buds. Once again, a creative band of chili chefs has stepped up to satisfy appetites and raise money for the Hubbard County Food Shelf during the March drive. Twenty-one pots of chili will be burbling when samplers arrive for the second annual Chili Challenge, hosted by the Park Rapids Enterprise. The epicurean event, seasoned with humor and music, will be held from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
On a statewide basis in 2010, visits to food shelves on average increased by 14 percent. Last year, Hubbard County Food Shelf distribution was up 36 percent, 182 tons of food given to households lacking sufficient funds to buy food. While the bump is indicative of the economy, it also reflects a change in government regulations. Beginning in October 2010, food shelves were required to distribute food to families and individuals a minimum of once a month if they received government surplus food.
Ice falling from a roof on the west side of the third block of Main street broke a line to a gas meter early Wednesday afternoon, Park Rapids police and firefighters responding. The west half of the block was evacuated. The problem was identified and corrected within a half hour, according to Park Rapids fire chief Donn Hoffman.
Park Ace Hardware is offering a new facet at its mercantile establishment on Highway 34 east. A J.C. Penney Company catalog center is now located inside the Park Rapids store. It's one of 398 similar operations in the U.S. Sherry McAuley, a JC Penney Direct Merchant Program operations manager, arrived from Texas to welcome the Park Rapids crew on board Monday.
Ole and Lena jokes are seemingly endless in creativity and imagination. And the generosity of Nevis' Uff Da Days committee appears endless as well. The Nevis-based organization hosts a weekend-long family event each summer feting Scandinavian heritage. The 8th annual Ole and Lena celebration is slated for Aug. 26-27. Proceeds are donated to a variety of charitable concerns, which last year earned the organization a local Touchstone Energy Award.
While 2010's summer will be a season not to remember by Park Rapids Main Avenue business owners, the street and infrastructure project has infused an energy in the merchants. This summer's arrival will herald a new chapter in the city's "economic vitality," with the Park Rapids Downtown Business Association planning to welcome visitors and residents with signature flower baskets and banners. This will augment the benches, bike racks, trash receptacles and granite inlays that will debut this summer. An Arts Commission has formed to develop a schematic for Main's banners and flower baskets
The Akeley Council learned plans are complete for the Highway 34 construction project that will extend from the east side of Park Rapids to Akeley, with bid letting to be April 22 and construction expected to begin in mid-June. Phil Bergem, a design engineer with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said the bulk of the work will be from July 4 to Labor Day. He indicated MnDOT is attempting to coordinate the schedule based on community events.
Akeley's Answer to Cancer, Audrey's Purple Dream, drew a record number of fisherfolk - 239 dropped lines - and the highest total donations to date for the Purple Plunge - the daring sea creatures raising $7,605. A grand total of $14,275 was raised at the 6th annual event held Saturday on 11th Crow Wing Lake. Proceeds are disbursed to area residents battling cancer, "so they can live out a dream." Twenty-five took the plunge, balmy weather contributing to the turnout.
Park Rapids Area High School theatrical performers have once again "starred" at state, earning the designation from a panel of judges Thursday at the 2011 State One-Act Play Festival in St. Paul. This is the 13th star rating in the school's 26th appearance at the festival. Representing Section 6 in Class A, Park Rapids students performed "Property Rites." The play was written by Alan Haehnel and directed by Juliann Kjenaas and Jonathan Harrison.