Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers Hubbard County, courts and breaking news.
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An environmental makeover is taking place below the Fish Hook River dam in Park Rapids. Hubbard County Master Gardeners have embarked on an ambitious project to remove noxious weeds and invasive plants at the river's edge and replace them with native growth. Armed with a $5,000 grant from Con Agra, the gardeners and volunteers fanned out below the DNR Fisheries building, pulling grasses and planting new. "We want native plants with deep fibrous roots to hold the soil and contain the water," said Master Gardener Evelyn Lindstrom, looking over two dozen potted plants while consulting her l
Two years of back to back job losses in the nation are being felt locally with ever increasing requests for public assistance. Monthly income maintenance caseloads jumped from 2,245 in May to 2,296 in June. Summer is usually the time Hubbard County Social Services gets a reprieve in requests for assistance, director Daryl Bessler told the Hubbard County board Wednesday. Although monthly intakes declined from May to June, from 245 to 193, the caseload trend continues upward. In June 2000, the department's eight case workers had an average case load of 146 files. In June 2010, 10 worke
A complicated proposal to convert a resort on a peninsula between Lower Bottle and Emma lakes to a family co-op met opposition at the Hubbard County Board of Commissioners Wednesday, but not for the conversion itself. It was the circuitous route the proposal is taking through three separate county boards simultaneously, led by Environmental Services Officer Eric Buitenwerf that drew fire. Essentially Buitenwerf asked the Planning Commission July 13 to give the proposal a preliminary thumbs up or down without findings of fact as guidance to the county board; he then asked the county board W
Hubbard County commissioners have authorized retaining the services of an outside investigator to look into a grievance between two department heads. Auditor Treasurer Pam Heeren filed the grievance against county coordinator Jack Paul. County Attorney Don Dearstyne said his office cannot investigate the complaint, so he sought outside help, declining further comment. The motion adopted by the board also "requires employees to answer questions pertinent to the investigation." Heeren was recently evaluated by the county board behind closed doors.
An alarming epidemic of substance abuse is lurking behind every citizen's medicine cabinet and Hubbard County officials are trying to stem to tide. "Prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States," wrote Sara Bowles, Hubbard County's chemical health coordinator in sounding the alarm. "Because prescription drugs are legal, they are easily accessible, often from a home medicine cabinet.
Last week I photographed a little red fox near Big Sand Lake. My colleague Gravy spotted something I'd overlooked - a thick fur mantle beginning to grow on the little guy's hindquarters. That may be an early sign of winter, but it's somewhat at odds with the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center. The Grand Forks office predicts an average to warmer fall with ample moisture. Then LaNina moves in, carrying lots of snow and cold, a typical Minnesota winter. Maybe that's what the fox is preparing for, but he sure will sweat out the fall. Let us know if you see any changi
The case of a Lake George man accused of nearly killing his estranged wife during a domestic dispute one year ago is set for a pretrial conference Aug. 16. John Wesley Defatte Sr., 70, is free on bail and was allowed to leave the state to visit an ailing son in California.
As Hubbard County's population ages, how much should the geriatric set be accommodated to remain in their lakeshore residences? And who makes that determination? That was the weighty issue confronting the Board of Adjustment as two Gilmore Lake homeowners applied for an after-the-fact variance for a lakeshore shed they built last year well within the shore impact zone. They built it because homeowner Andrew Schneider suffered a back injury and is undergoing rehabilitation. He said he could no longer carry his 5-horse Johnson motor up and down the hill, so he needs a shed to store it in
One of the neatest programs around getting kids interested in nature is at Itasca State Park Wednesday mornings. Called "Circle Time Under the Pines," the program is targeted to the pre-school set, but babies and school kids can still come and learn something in a fun atmosphere. Naturalist Sandra Lichter does a terrific job teaching kids about nature's wonders. They play games, read stories, sing songs, color and make projects. It's a hoot. Especially Wednesday's program, "O is for Owls." Kids colored pictures of owls, learned about owl (and other bird) feathers, hugged a stuffed