Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.
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Sam Smith's 11 pontoon boats bobbed quietly on a blistering Thursday afternoon before Minnesota's busiest holiday weekend was to start. Ideally, those boats should have been ferrying tourists up and down the shores of Lake Itasca. The co-owner of Itasca Sports Rental was securing his fleet of 150 rental bikes, locking down the kayaks and laying off his staff of 10. One of three park vendors, Itasca Sports Rental will sit behind heavy wooden gates barring the public from the park and the Mississippi Headwaters. He characterizes his and wife Caren's financial losses for the weekend as "m
A Moped driver was transported to St. Joseph's Area Health Services in Park Rapids following a near collision with a motorist Saturday at the city's busiest intersection. Traffic backed up as ambulance personnel worked on the man at the scene. Authorities there said the man was not seriously injured, and "laid the bike down" to avoid being struck by the vehicle. The accident happened about 11:10 a.m. at the intersection of Highways 34 and 71, which were bumper-to-bumper traffic at the time. The man, believed to be around 50, was sent to the emergency room for observation.
Paving has begun on Highway 34 between Park Rapids and the Dorset corner and with minor exceptions, the resurfacing and turn lanes should be done by the July 1 deadline. There may be some items such as striping that won't get finished, said DOT project supervisor Larry Randall. But it's a quick turnaround for the Alexandria contractor who one week ago was expressing doubt his company could meet the deadline. Allan Minnerath did not attend the weekly contractors meeting Thursday.
The former executive vice president of a Park Rapids bank has been ordered by the FDIC to pay a civil penalty of $10,000 for alleged breach of his fiduciary duty. Jon P. Smythe left his position at State Bank of Park Rapids in November 2010. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which regulates banks, sent down two orders in the case, one in December and one May 26 that was released Friday. In the second order, the civil penalty was reduced from $20,000 to $10,000.
Hubbard County has some prime office real estate but it's been caught in the midst of a chaotic round of "which department draws the short straw" to relocate there. Almost 12,000 square feet of space is available above the five-year-old jail. Three years ago the county formed a building committee that met for nearly two years to determine how best to use the existing office building and adjoining law enforcement center. The county's old jail also figured into the mix.
The tornado-damaged grandstand at the Hubbard County fairgrounds is coming down, but the show will go on - the whole show. Fair board members determined the grandstand was structurally unsound after tornado force winds peeled the ceiling and boards from the supporting walls off the structure.
If you have a driver's license renewal coming up, better get on it. Ditto for a July wedding. Get the license now. As Minnesota moves closer and closer to a government shutdown, county offices that perform state functions are preparing for the worst and asking questions they aren't getting answers to. Loretta Mattson wants to know if county personnel can even take driver's license photos in Hubbard County and send them into the state, pending test results. They know they cannot administer the tests. Are we essential or not?
Accounting transparency is coming to Hubbard County, compliments of its newest commissioner. Businesswoman Kathy Grell, since taking office in January, has questioned public donations to various county programs, such as K-9, Explorers and Sentence to Serve. "The donations and expenditures are not reflected in the budget," Auditor Pam Heeren agreed. "They're kept in a little slush fund," Grell suggested. "Let's not call it that," Heeren responded. The donations have been segregated into separate accounts, from which program expenditures are taken, but Grell has pushed for those funds
As Hubbard County's Board of Adjustment continues to fine tune the granting of variances, it loosened the time limit for public input on projects due to pressure from lake activists. Two weeks ago the county's Planning Commission tried to enforce a strict three-minute time limit for members of the public to voice their objections or support on various projects.
Amendments to the county's Shoreland Management Ordinance came under scrutiny Wednesday at a public hearing when members of COLA suggested citizens be given the right to view projects requesting a variance or Conditional Use Permit. Citizens have the right to view projects when a quorum of county board members go as a whole to site visitations.