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The proverbial farmer's daughter has taken the helm of the Hubbard County extension service in a new role designed to adapt university research to practical community applications. Sally Shearer, a Hubbard County master gardener, will be the "Extension Program Coordinator," for the University of Minnesota's local office. The extension educator's position has been vacant since last February.
Area loggers may want to knock on wood, hoping depressed prices and wet weather will end what's been a challenging year in the timber industry. As Hubbard County prepares 27 new parcels of aspen, jack pine and tamarac for the upcoming January timber auction, loggers are having trouble harvesting their existing contracts. "Oh yeah," said Hubbard County Land Commissioner Bob Hoffman. "I mean, the whole summer and fall has been very wet. We've got very few people working. Most of it's winter wood on frozen ground.
Hubbard County's first Truth in Taxation meeting in years didn't go quite as planned and most assuredly wasn't timed to coincide with the state's announcement of a projected $1.2 billion shortfall Wednesday, but it was nevertheless a glimpse into Minnesota's future. Several county residents showed up, tax statements in hand, to question their valuations when the taxation meeting was scheduled only to discuss the county's levy and budget, not address individual complaints about property values.
Hubbard County will likely continue a longstanding practice of having township assessors conduct property valuations after the board raised its fee schedules to perform those services, making it financially impractical for county employees to do the work. Hubbard County assessor Bob Hansen told the county board Wednesday, "If we don't change our rates I think it's a matter of time before people want us to do it." Currently 100 percent of the county's property valuations, estimated between 28,000 and 29,000 parcels, are done by township assessors.
Recycling, like other sectors of the economy, is experiencing a downtrend. That was apparent when Hubbard County and the Developmental Achievement Center negotiated its 2010 contract, the fourth of a five-year agreement, for goods the two entities collect for recycling. The costs will remain stable, since the market has gone south, the two agreed. The county pays $93.84 per ton for DAC employees to recycle a ton of materials; 50 cents per pound for electronics. DAC director Ed Ranson presented a three-year picture showing the 19 percent decline in the market for recycled goods.
A Hubbard County employee was one of two men killed at the scene of a collision Thursday afternoon in Farden Township in northeastern Hubbard County. Laird Hensel, 47, of Laporte, was northbound on County Road 45 when his 1997 Ford Supercab truck was struck by an eastbound vehicle driven by Eugene McArthur Jr., 57, of Ogema. McArthur was taken by ambulance to a Bemidji hospital. His passenger, 54-year-old Richard Bunker, of Naytahwaush, also died at the scene.
When a line of squad cars roared 20 feet outside of Duane and Kristi Bessler's bedroom window last summer at 2:30 in the morning, the rural Lake George couple was jolted out of bed. Duane grabbed his gun, loaded it and herded his family into the master bedroom. The parade of vehicles whizzed through a narrow driveway that was flanked on either side by farm equipment, trucks and a front end loader, and headed into Bessler's alfalfa, clover and wheat field. "At the time they knocked 'er down pretty good," Bessler said of his crops.
Poinsettias are the nation's most popular plant during the Christmas holidays. The Mexican import was used by the Aztecs to make dye. In southern states, they grow to the size of bushes, or even small trees as perennials. They are 85 percent of the plants purchased and sent during the holidays, estimated somewhere above 65 million in the U.S., with sales topping $220 million annually They're commercially grown in every state; 90 percent of the crop is exported, according to industry figures.
Stimulus funding has added more than $3 million to the Hubbard County economy, in grants and loans. Although recipients of those funds have reported only four jobs created with the funds, that figure is misleading. Several area businesses have obtained stimulus loans to start or enlarge businesses. Job growth for these loans is not provided. Like any loans, the monies must be repaid. But the Recovery Act (officially the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, passed on Feb.
Like the economy, the market for collectible decoys has been soft. "I'm certainly not doing this for profit," said collector and seller Albin Katzner. "It's the poorest paying job I ever had." At last weekend's 12th annual Decoy Carver Show & Raffle in Park Rapids, duck decoys are almost becoming a thing of the past as collectors and carvers focus on fishing decoys. There were few feathers in the sea of fins on the carvers' tables. For fish decoys, no name is more collectible than Bethel. The Park Rapids area family of carvers has made decoys for decades.