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A dozen food service employees in the Park Rapids School District have had their hours cut to keep the meal program on solid financial grounds. Each employee will lose 1.25 hours a week, 15 minutes a day. The cuts were approved last week by the Park Rapids School Board. The rising cost of food is to blame, said food service director Pat Stearns - even though more kids are eating school meals. The district's $700,000 annual meal budget ran into the red last year when some fund shifting occurred at the same time food rebate programs didn't work out as planned, Stearns said.
The deer opener began with a bang in Hubbard County over the weekend. Saturday night the line of hunters registering their deer snaked through the Emmaville Store, around the displays and out the door. The season began at dawn. Forty-eight hours after the firearms deer season got underway, nearly 300 deer had been registered in Emmaville and the numbers were growing steadily. But hunters weren't a happy bunch. "I've been coming up here 40 years," said Terry Olson of Perham. "We've been seeing deer, but haven't gotten a decent shot off yet.
The new superhighway that bisects Park Rapids won't become Hubbard County's "Autobahn." That's the warning from Park Rapids Police Chief Terry Eilers. As soon as the last traffic cones came off the construction lanes Friday, opening up a wide expanse of blacktop for the first time, drivers were already zipping through town at high speeds. "They think it's just an extension of the highway," Eilers said. "People come in and stay at 35-40 (mph). It's wide open and you don't realize it changes." The speed limit is 30 mph through the city.
Park Rapids gas stations dropped the price of fuel 15 cents overnight, but are still above the magic number of $2 per gallon. Although gas varied about a dime in price from station to station, several convenience stores had lowered the price of unleaded to $2.13 a gallon by Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, in Fargo, gas prices dipped to $1.99 a gallon Wednesday.
New faces will usher in a new year in local politics. Nearly 90 percent of eligible Hubbard County voters flocked to the polls Tuesday or voted absentee. In Park Rapids, David Konshok and Susan Tomte ousted longtime incumbents Clyde Zirkle and Gene Kinkel for seats on the Park Rapids City Council. The two won by a 10-point margin. Konshok was a council member for about a year.
Voter turnout was heavy as the polls opened Tuesday morning in Hubbard County. A long line of voters queued up in the parking lot of the Lake Emma Township Hall at dawn waiting for the polls to open at 7 a.m. Voters were in good spirits, taking the time in line to catch up with each other and enjoying the unseasonably mild sunrise. More than 1,400 people voted early, said Hubbard County Auditor Pam Heeren. She said the county anticipates heavy voter turnout throughout today. By 5 p.m. the county's largest precinct, at the Park Rapids Area Library,had seen 1,200 voters.
Hunting season brings in big bucks. By this time next weekend, Hubbard County and its neighbors will be awash in blaze orange and the countryside will ring with the sound of high-powered guns. "It's good for the local economy, there's no doubt about it," said Kevin Lempola, owner of Delaney's Sports Center in Park Rapids. "You get a sudden influx of people" staying in hotels or resorts, dining out, spending money. "Convenience stores, gas stations really do a good business," he said. Ironically, it's a tricky business for sporting goods stores, he said.
The "Henrietta Mall" is a thriving center of commerce. And like most malls, it's also the social hub of Hubbard County. That's the euphemism solid waste attendants have attached to that particular section of the county landfill, located just off Henrietta Avenue in Park Rapids. Scavengers, scroungers, entrepreneurs, bargain hunters and dumpster divers all converge looking for that rare antiquity or valuable piece of something they're missing. Or that would bring them money.
John Graham apologizes for being underdressed. He left his top hat and tails at home. The chimney sweep said he used to dress up as a gimmick, but suiting up -- and getting sooty -- interfered with the actual job. Now he dresses appropriately, donning his hunting gear and Carharts. He scrambles up a ladder to look down a plugged chimney pipe. "We do 200 of these a year," he said, hoisting a clogged chimney section for the customer to view. Graham, owner of Graham Outdoor, said use of wood-burning stoves is on the rise, due to the high cost of fuel oil and propane.
A 79-year-old Park Rapids man died from injuries he received in a two-vehicle traffic accident in Hubbard County Saturday. Thomas Murphy Smith died after being airlifted to Innovis Hospital in Fargo, according to the Hubbard County Sheriff's Department. Authorities said Smith was eastbound on County Road 15 about noon Saturday when he went through a stop sign and collided with a van that was on County Road 6. The van's driver, 40-year-old Angela Kay Brumbaugh, of rural Menahga, was taken by her husband to St.