Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.
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Hubbard County Chief Deputy Scott Parks figures when it's all said and done, his annual county salary will be significantly below what he was making as a Park Rapids police officer. Both departments offered additional input into the county and city officers' salaries following Saturday's Enterprise story. Sheriff Cory Aukes' had asked the county board to start two recently hired cops at higher salaries with the county so they wouldn't take drastic pay cuts.
After a year of convalescing and rigorous rehabilitation, "Big Larry" returned to Moose Creek Village Tuesday morning. Big Larry is the name of the sculptured moose on Main Avenue that was vandalized one year ago downtown. The crime has never been solved. The moose's antlers and legs were crushed by vandals wielding weapons of mass destruction. Larry actually stopped traffic as workers from Touch of Eden Landscaping carefully lugged him into place near a man-made pond. He'll need a more few cosmetic touches before he's ready for prime time.
A gas stove regulator malfunctioned Sunday afternoon at a Hubbard home, burning Easter dinner and a kitchen. Park Rapids and Menahga firefighters responded to the home of Bradley Laabs on County Road 6 about 2 p.m., according to the Hubbard County Sheriff's Department. They were able to contain the fire to the kitchen area. State Patrol and Hubbard County officers both responded.
In search of a new source of water, the city of Park Rapids has commissioned Elsner Well Drilling to dig a test well east of the Fish Hook River, said public works superintendent Scott Burlingame. Last year a well was capped due to higher than recommended nitrate levels in the water. Some of the current wells are edging close to having high concentrates of nitrate, but the city had Elsner dig a deep water well last year and that water can be blended with water from the shallower wells, Burlingame said. "But we just need another source of clean water," he said.
A third Park Rapids police officer will be joining the Hubbard County Sheriff's Department this spring as more officers leave the city squad. Former K-9 officer Dan Kruchowski has accepted a position with the county. In approving the hire, county board members said Wednesday, "The city's gonna hate us." Sheriff Cory Aukes first hired long-time officer Scott Parks as his chief deputy after the election. Then the department, which has been chronically short-staffed lately, hired officer Dan May to fill a vacancy. Kruchowski is the latest to join what county commissioner Lyle Robinson r
Hubbard County officials reviewed the way the county appropriates money for economic development and how donated money is spent at Wednesday's board meeting. The issue of donations arose when Randy Griess, the county's Sentencing to Service supervisor, requested permission to enter into a Joint Powers Agreement with the Minnesota DNR for cleaning up area public accesses. The STS program has performed the work for several years. Last year state cuts to the STS program halved its operating revenues locally.
A Big Mantrap Lake couple's anniversary didn't quite go as planned Tuesday, although there were ceremonial flames. Arden and Betty Severson's chimney caught fire and extensively damaged the Steamboat Bay home by the time Nevis firefighters had arrived on the scene about 7 p.m. The couple, with the help of neighbors, was able to salvage the kitchen stove and dining room table. Arden Severson said the couple, from Cokato, had come to the lake to make repairs after the recent heavy snowfall, which collapsed the gas line to the home. "We needed heat so I lit a fire," he said.
The Hubbard County Board of Adjustment has been sticking to a tighter script lately and that is meeting with the approval of lake activists who sued it last year over a variance decision. Monday morning board member Charles Knight greeted Coalition of Lake Associations president Dan Kittilson as "the defender of the lakes." Kittilson addressed the board after the monthly meeting to once again stress that the two groups' mission was the same - to protect the shoreland ordinances. "You're there with us," Kittilson said.
Hubbard County's south side transfer station returns to summer hours this week. The station, off Henrietta Avenue in Park Rapids, will now be open Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The north side station's hours will remain 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.