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In an effort to broaden its free nitrate testing service, the Hubbard County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) offered to conduct tests at Laporte's Fourth of July celebration last summer. Shirley and Dean Schmidt were among the 80 residents who had their private well water examined that day. They were also surprised when their drinking water exceeded the nitrate concentration health limit of 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L).
The League of Women Voters (LWV) Park Rapids Area invited Chris Pathun, principal planner with the Minnesota Department of Health, to discuss management of nitrates in drinking water. Parthun spoke Oct. 2 at Itasca State Park.
The Park Rapids Fire Department is busy reinforcing potentially life-saving messages. October is Fire Prevention Month. For the next three weeks, their community outreach extends area youngsters. "We do this for daycare all the way through fourth grade," said firefighter Crystal Krautkremer. "It's super fun." On Thursday morning, Krautkremer and fellow volunteer firefighters Curt Eischens, Steve Safratowich, Zach Deshayes and Randy McFarren shared fire safety tips with Century Elementary Students.
Dr. Marla Spivak, an entomology professor and esteemed researcher at the University of Minnesota Bee Lab, is driven to bring back bees through awareness and education. Her research efforts focus on protecting the health and diversity of Minnesota's bees. Spivak was the guest speaker at a Friends of Itasca State Park event Saturday. "Minnesota actually is always one of the top five honey-producing states in the nation," she said. North Dakota is usually number one, followed by South Dakota.
Ignorance is bliss, Ron Ray told Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Association (COLA) members. In late September, an independent laboratory confirmed zebra mussel larvae in Garfield Lake, where Ray lives. He provided an update on the situation during COLA's Sept. 28 board meeting. Garfield Lake does not have a lake association, but a small group of lakeshore owners formed Friends of Garfield Lake, Ray explained. "We're trying to educate landowners as to good stewardship of the lake," he said.
Everything families love about autumn is rolled into one during the pumpkin parties held at Carter's Red Wagon Farm. The fall festival continues this Saturday and on Saturdays through October, plus Thursday and Friday, Oct. 19 and 20. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Visitors from Rochester to Duluth to Crookston travel to the family-friendly farm for the annual event. Attendance increases each year. "It's steadily growing, and thankfully not by leaps and bounds," said co-owner Linda Carter. She and husband Tony are the hard-working creators of the festival.
The Hubbard County Board approved a preliminary payable 2018 levy of $14,450,000 at their Sept. 18 meeting. That's a $550,000 increase over the 2017 final levy of $13,900,000 County department budget requests totaled $14,568,082, or a 4.8 percent increase compared to last year. "That's the dream list," said County Commissioner Char Christenson.
The Park Rapids Area School Board has proposed a 2.69 percent increase for the payable 2018 levy. At their Sept. 18 meeting, the board approved a preliminary levy totaling $5,153,458 — an increase of $135,430 over the payable 2017 levy. This is the maximum amount allowed by state formula. "This is something we always do at this juncture," said Board Chair Sherry Safratowich, adding that Business Manager Dawn Duevel will fine-tune the figures later on. The board will set the final levy at a December meeting. Last year's final levy was $5,018,028.
An independent laboratory has confirmed zebra mussel larvae in Garfield Lake in Hubbard County, according to a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources news release. The lab provided photos of two zebra mussel larvae, called veligers, found in a water sample taken from the lake. Property owners on Garfield Lake hired the lab as part of their own monitoring. Invasive species specialists from the DNR found no zebra mussels in the lake during a six-hour dive survey.
Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity is preparing to build its next home in the Park Rapids area. They hope to break ground yet this November on Third Street, a few blocks from the fairgrounds. The home is for April Bower and her two teenage daughters.