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Lynn Spilman, co-chair of the Community Christmas Dinner, arrived at the Park Rapids American Legion a little after 6 a.m. Sunday to put potatoes and dressing in the oven. She and co-chair Denny Anderson were joined by a host of helpers, many of whom were first-time volunteers at the 28th annual feast. They served almost 400 guests and delivered 320 hot meals within a 30-mile radius of Park Rapids on Christmas Day. Spilman said Sunday's ice storm warning likely caused an increase in home-delivered meal requests. Last year, they distributed 250 hot meals.
The next volume of "The Talking Stick" will celebrate the short form. The local literary journal seeks short poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction. "Focus on short forms, cutting all unnecessary words. Create an elegant moment that hints of a longer, more complex story. Think of these as compressed creations," advises "The Talking Stick" editorial board. Writers must be from Minnesota or have some connection to this area. The deadline is March 1, 2017.
Park Rapids Librarian Jodi Schultz is launching a series of "casual conversations" to engage diverse community members. She calls it "Chatting in Real Time." "The idea is to bring together a group of people that might not otherwise be assembled together, include an audience, and facilitate conversation in order to expand the boundaries of the community," explained Schultz. "I picture them being relaxed and entertaining — like a grown-up playdate. We don't have to talk about serious things — we just have to talk."
The Menahga School Board selected Katie (Aho) Howard to fill an open seat. The position was left vacant by Ernest Huhta Jr.'s resignation last month. He had two years left in his term. The school board held its organizational meeting Monday to appoint a new member, welcome newly elected members, designate officers and set the 2017 monthly meeting schedule. Katie Howard, Curtis Hasbargen and Pastor Robert Smith were the three candidates to apply for the opening. Each candidate answered five questions that were selected by board members.
The Hubbard County Food Shelf is phasing out its old registration system, making it easier for people to access food. Currently, those needing food assistance must head to the Mahube-Otwa office or Hubbard County Social Services to receive a voucher. Effective Jan. 1, clients will go directly to the food shelf. "It's going to be better for the clients. It's one-stop shop," explained Hubbard County Food Shelf Director Bob Hansen.
Tom Ritter turned 90 years old at full throttle, hitting snowmobile trails on his Ski-doo two times that same week. He's been a member of the Nevis Trailblazers Snowmobile Club since 1989. After celebrating his birthday on Dec. 19, Ritter joined fellow club members on round-trip rides to Backus one day and Laporte on another. "I don't even feel like I'm 90 years old," he said. The snow was more than a foot deep on the ride south. "That was fun," Tom said.
The Menahga School Board certified a payable 2017 levy virtually identical to last year's. The final levy totals $1,123,203 compared to 2016's $1,123,427. The district's 2017 budget projects $11,650,106 in total revenue and $11,050,001 in expenditures. Free school meals Superintendent Kevin Wellen's appeal to families to fill out a free/reduced lunch application met with success.
Plot H, row 15, grave 18. There rests U.S. Army Corporal Jerome F. Unger, the eldest brother of longtime Park Rapids resident Mary Ann Bentler. On a bluff overlooking Normandy Beach, the 172.5-acre cemetery contains the graves of 9,388 American World War II soldiers. Each year, one million visitors pay their respects to those who lost their lives in the D-Day landings — the massive Allied assault on the Normandy coastline on June 6, 1944 — or in the ensuing fighting in France.
No one should spend Christmas Day hungry or alone. So goes the theme—and motivation—behind the 28th annual Community Christmas Dinner. Preparations are underway for the Dec. 25 event, which last year served 750 guests at the Park Rapids American Legion and delivered 250 hot meals to the homebound. Co-organizers Lynn Spilman and Dennis Anderson need both volunteers and monetary contributions to make this year's feast a success. Volunteers are needed to slice, dice, chop and cook from about 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23 and Saturday, Dec. 24.
The Menahga City Council adopted a final 2017 tax levy of $439,264—a $22,588 or 5.4 percent increase over last year. Last year's levy was $416,676. In September, they initially proposed a 21 percent tax hike. The 2017 budget anticipates $926,255 in general fund expenses and $603,841 in revenue (not including the tax levy). The payable 2017 general fund tax levy will add another $322,414 to the city's coffers for a balanced budget. Last year's general fund levy was $304,514.