Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers Hubbard County, courts and breaking news.
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A 35-year-old Sebeka man was killed Thursday after he was struck by a tree that he was apparently cutting down in the Pillsbury Forest in Pillager. The Cass County Sheriff's Department said Daren Rathcke was killed when the tree he was cutting toppled on him. The accident occurred around 9:30 a.m. First Responders and firefighters on the scene said the man was in grave condition when they arrived to lift the tree off him. He later died, reported the Cass County Sheriff's Office. The victim was taken to Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.
A 25-year-old man was transported to the Park Rapids hospital following a Christmas day shooting in Wadena County. The man apparently suffered multiple BB injuries to the face from a rifle shot, Wadena County authorities said. None of the estimated 10 BBs struck the man's eyes. The man's father dialed 911 to alert authorities. Wadena County and Sebeka First Responders were on the scene. The victim was conscious and able to walk to the ambulance. The shooting occurred at 12:30 p.m. No other information was immediately available
The Helga Township board voted Tuesday to approve a new Land Use Ordinance, ending a two-year moratorium on commercial development along the busy U.S.
A half-foot blanket of new snow will put the Park Rapids area back into the running for tourists on sleds. "Well it looks as if we are going to have a very nice white Christmas," stated the Forest Riders Snowmobile Club's first trail report of the year. "The groomers have been out at least once through the trail system and have started again today with the additional new 5-8 inches of snow that we have received," wrote Lou Eischens.
The star of the annual Christmas Bird Count was appropriately one well represented in holiday décor. "A cardinal!" exclaimed the dozen volunteers who came to Itasca State Park Sunday for the annual National Audubon Society's 111th census that tracks bird populations and trends throughout the United States. The count runs from midnight to midnight on that single day.
In the transition to a new Hubbard County law enforcement regime, Frank Homer has essentially become an enigma. But his staff insists things are running well in a team effort, the department is responding to the citizens' needs and the new administration is poised to take over. Aukes transition Sheriff-elect Cory Aukes, who takes office Jan. 3, said getting through the holidays would be a challenge. He and Scott Parks, his choice for new chief deputy, already have the January schedules out for dispatchers, deputies and jailers. "We're down a person even now," he said of the road staff.
Park Rapids and Nevis schools will close at the regular time today, but all after-school activities have been canceled. Tonight's Park Rapids choir and band concert has been rescheduled for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Menahga School has canceled the junior high girls basketball game at New York Mills and the elementary boys wrestling practice. All other activities will still be held.
Hubbard County officials finalized a lean and mean budget Wednesday that will result in a 2.6 percent levy increase. But because the county's tax base has seen an overall reduction of 5 percent, most Hubbard County residents were not happy when they got their 2011 tax notices in the mail. For many, taxes went up 10 percent and more.
The Helga Township Planning Commission took a fledgling step Wednesday to regulate development along the steadily growing U.S. Highway 71 corridor leading to and from Bemidji. It voted 3-1 to send a zoning plan to the township board that would create two separate commercial districts along the highway. Helga's town supervisors will take up the matter Tuesday night. The controversial proposal creates a commercial district called C-1 from North Plantagenet Road to South Plantagenet Road, using a quarter mile wide strip down each side of the highway.