Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers Hubbard County, courts and breaking news.
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Thirty firefighters and ten trucks from Nevis, Akeley and Park Rapids fought a blaze that gutted the Whitetail Tavern and Velvet Antler restaurant/lounge on Highway 34 Tuesday night. Nevis Fire Chief Kerry Swenson said the efforts saved the building from total loss. Nevis was called to the scene by a passerby, then called in mutual aid. The fire is believed to have started in the kitchen area around 10 p.m. The lounge and restaurant had closed about an hour before, Swenson said. The kitchen area is between the two adjoined structures, Swenson said. "We got lucky," Swenson said.
Winter has settled in and our winter bird routines begin. Food, food, food. Wednesday I spent what will be many lunch hours at Deane Park communing with the growing population of trumpeter swans that has increased to three dozen. They've become quite social and eagerly honk for corn instead of scooting down the river away from people. They've always been an aggressive bunch.
A district judge has ordered Hubbard County to turn over documents in an environmental lawsuit against its variance board and to pay the costs of the plaintiffs who were seeking the documents. Meanwhile, a shift in policy has taken place at monthly Board of Adjustment meetings that may reflect repercussions from the suit. Environmental Services Officer Eric Buitenwerf said in October the change was to comport with a 2008 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that defines the criteria to use for finding a "practical difficulty," and hence, a variance. It is unclear if the county is backing away
John Wesley Defatte turned rejection into revenge. That was the finding of a Hubbard County District Court jury Friday as the 70-year-old Lake George man was convicted of three of five counts in connection with the June 2009 assault on his ex-wife, Diana. The 12-member jury deliberated three hours after the four-day trial. Defatte was convicted of the most serious charge, breaking into his ex-wife's rural home and lying in wait for her that night.
A Bloomington businessman plucked from icy Island Lake two weeks ago met with his rescuers Wednesday night, thanked them and showered them with donations of equipment including the hovercraft that sank south of Nevis. "I certainly appreciate all your efforts," said Ken "Kenny" Thompson to the two-dozen rescuers assembled at the Hubbard County Law Enforcement Center. "That two minutes really made a difference." The two minutes he referred to were the estimated remaining time to pull Thompson, his son and son's girlfriend out alive.
The Hubbard County board unanimously approved the sale of 1,000 acres of privately owned lake and forestland to the Department of Natural Resources Wednesday with the caveat that the governmental taxing units affected be made whole after the sale. The sale takes a significant portion of land off the county's tax rolls. The La Salle Lake plan envisions a state-owned recreation area managed by Itasca State Park in northwestern Hubbard County. The lake is 10 miles northeast of the park.
Three internal candidates have applied to fill the position vacated by retired Hubbard County coordinator Jack Paul. Those three include his longtime assistant Debbie Thompson, county recorder Nicole Lueth and Mikal Boettcher, a sign technician/maintenance worker at the county's highway department. The three will be interviewed by county commissioners at the Dec. 15 board meeting. A decision is expected shortly after that. Paul retired Nov. 30 after 11 years.
A Bloomington businessman plucked from icy Island Lake in Hubbard County two weeks ago met with his rescuers Wednesday night, thanked them and showered them with donations of equipment including the hovercraft that sank. "I certainly appreciate all your efforts," said Ken "Kenny" Thompson to the two dozen rescuers assembled at the Hubbard County Law Enforcement Center. "That two minutes really made a difference." The two minutes he referred to were the estimated time left to pull Thompson, his son and son's girlfriend out alive. "Their body temperatures were 89 degrees," said Hubbard F
Edward Joseph Lowen, the Hubbard County man accused of robbing the First National Bank of Walker last winter, will spend 71 months in prison. Lowen, 54, was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Duluth. He was convicted of taking $2,525 in cash from the Akeley branch bank on Feb. 26, 2010. He was indicted on one count of bank robbery in April and convicted of the single count by a federal jury July 13.
Treacherous driving conditions descended on the Hubbard County region Monday, one giant snowflake at a time. By mid-afternoon Monday authorities had responded to numerous reports of cars in ditches and one rollover near Akeley that caused minor injuries. Highway 34 was snow-packed with low visibility. "You'll get a load of snow," said National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Barrett.