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The Akeley Regional Community Center (ARCC) hopes to open a women's shelter in the brick building that was formerly the Akeley School by 2020. Larry Holm, chairman of the ARCC board of directors, shared a little about their plans at Wednesday's Akeley City Council meeting. He said the decision to move forward with the women's shelter was a controversial one. "It was a hard-fought battle," he said. "Two of the board members were against it and resigned because they didn't want us to go that way."
A work session led by MnDOT to discuss options for a Hwy. 34 project was held Thursday in Akeley. The project is scheduled to begin in 2022. Council members Bobbie Wosika and Dan Riggs attended, along with business owners Nancy Lewis and Jill Walker from T&M Express and Zita Howard from Zappy's Cafe. Akeley resident Frank Lamb also attended. Laura Hadrava, project manager from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), facilitated the meeting.
Now that the snow cover has melted, fire danger in the area is high. Burning permits are required and caution is advised with anything that could spark a fire, as grass and dead leaves are dry tinder until things green up. According to Brad Witkin, a program forester at the Park Rapids Department of Natural Resources (DNR) office, a fire weather watch was issued for west-central Minnesota, including the Park Rapids area, Thursday.
Heartland Homes has been helping a special group of people live full lives for 40 years. While they have developmental disabilities, that is not what defines them. Like everyone else, they have dreams and want to be part of the community. Executive Director Bill Simpson, who has been with the program for 28 years, said they bring joy to his life and his job. He started out as a weekend staff member. "I enjoyed it so much I quit my regular job," he said. "When you find your niche, it's enjoyable.You don't call it a job. It's just what you do."
Kinship of the Park Rapids Area is celebrating 25 years of matching kids with mentors. Similar to the national program "Big Brothers, Big Sisters," many of the children mentored are from single-parent homes or living with grandparents. The program serves children ages 6-17. A vision The non-profit organization was founded in 1992 by a group of area citizens concerned about youth in this community and is part of the Midwestern organization Kinship Incorporated.
The long winter and thick ice could make the May 12 fishing opener a case of déjà vu, when Park Rapids hosted the Governor's Fishing Opener and visitors arrived to find most lakes frozen. Doug Kingsley, Park Rapids area fisheries supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said this winter is similar to the winter of 2013 in many ways. "For starters, there isn't a single lake in the state that I'm aware of that is ice free," he said Monday.
By the middle of a typical April, dandelions are showing their yellow faces, most of the snow has melted. But this is not a typical April. While the ice was off Fishhook Lake by April 7 last year, this year it's anyone's guess. "In general, this winter has been significantly colder than the past two winters," said Brittany Peterson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "The last winter that was this cold or colder was the winter of 2013-2014."
Akeley Police Chief Jimmy Hansen said threats have been made towards law enforcement in the area following a major drug bust March 28 that netted 28 arrests and one warrant. Hansen said the threats, some that may be from people in the Akeley area, aren't going to stop him from continuing his work to get drugs out of his community.
Snow continues to fall, making this a late spring even by northern Minnesota standards. But eventually the snow will melt and ticks will be out in full force. Having snow cover into the spring is both good news and bad news. According to Kirby C. Stafford III, Ph.D., the chief entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) in New Haven and one of the leading tick researchers in the nation, tick forecasting is a tricky business.
An ice-fishing contest to encourage students at Park Rapids Area High School to enjoy the outdoors was started in late December by teacher Thomas Coborn. A total of 67 students participated. "My idea was to give kids more incentive to get off their phones and go outside," Coborn said. "As a teacher, it concerns me that fewer and fewer students are taking part in outdoor activities and more are spending their off-time on social media or playing video games. Some kids spend entire weekends or longer without going outside."