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The 12th grade American government class held a mock election Tuesday in the Park Rapids Area High School commons. The students' choice for governor of Minnesota was Republican nominee Jeff Johnson, not to be confused with the PRAHS principal by the same name. Student Kinley Nordin said the purpose of the project was "to let us experience the vote before we get to vote in the real world."
The Park Rapids Airport Commission voted Oct. 22 to recommend that the city council approve a five-year contract with TKDA of St. Paul for on-call engineering services at the airport. John DeCoster of Trillion Aviation, advising the city regarding airport business services, told the commission that TKDA's current contract does not expire until the end of 2019. However, with the prospect of a multi-year capital project starting next year, TKDA recommended accelerating the selection process, "so that you've got one engineer through the entire process."
The Headwaters Center for Lifelong Learning program on Oct. 16 gave participants 19 things to think about over the winter. That, according to speaker Adam Regn Arvidson, is the number of endangered species in Minnesota. A Chicagoland native, brought up in central Indiana, Arvidson is a landscape architect who works for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. On the side, he does freelance writing for environmental journals. His interest in nature led him this year to publish the book "Wild and Rare: Tracking Endangered Species in the Upper Midwest."
Fire Chief Donn Hoffman is retiring after 30 years with the Park Rapids Fire Department. On Oct. 4, Hoffman submitted a letter of intent to city staff, announcing that he will step down both as chief and as a firefighter effective Jan. 2, 2019. A vote to accept his resignation is slated for the Park Rapids City Council's Tuesday, Oct. 23 meeting. In his letter, Hoffman said, "This decision was based on the fact I no longer feel I have the energy, dedication and commitment" to fulfill the responsibilities of fire chief.
Both candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot for mayor of Park Rapids were present at a League of Women Voters candidate forum Thursday in the new city hall council chambers. However, incumbent Pat Mikesh sat it out, watching challenger Pam Hauber field pre-screened questions alongside official write-in candidate Ryan Leckner.
The Park Rapids City Council on Tuesday approved Ryan Mathisrud's resignation as city planner, effective Oct. 26, in order to accept another position. Mathisrud told the Enterprise he is moving to Thunder Bay, Ont. City Administrator John McKinney voiced appreciation for Mathisrud's work. "We wish him well on his new venture," said McKinney, quipping that Mathisrud "had to leave the country to find a better place." Fire Chief Donn Hoffman said that Mathisrud was "really good to work with," adding, "I hope we fill his shoes with somebody who can get done what Ryan did."
The Park Rapids City Council agreed Tuesday to serve as the fiduciary "pass-through" for a $550,000 grant to provide affordable housing for local workers. City Planner Ryan Mathisrud introduced the proposal by the Hubbard County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), working with Headwaters Regional Development Commission (HRDC), to build a 28-unit apartment building adjacent to Walmart.
Oct. 8 update: The Park Rapids Mayor candidate forum, slated for 6 p.m. Oct. 11, has been moved to city hall. Park Rapids Mayor Pat Mikesh announced Wednesday that he is withdrawing his bid for re-election. Mikesh had previously filed for candidacy in the Nov. 6 election, running a fourth two-year term against challenger Pam Hauber. "Since the official ballots have been prepared, I cannot remove my name as a candidate for mayor for the two-year term commencing Jan. 1, 2019," Mikesh said in a written statement. "However, because of my obligations to my family and my employer, I will not be available to serve if elected. I shall complete my present term ending Dec. 31, 2018."
A fire that had apparently been put out flared up a second time early Monday morning and destroyed Byer's Liquor in Osage. According to owners Kevin and Christy Byer, the fire was apparently kindled by heat from a halogen bulb inadvertently left on in the crawl space under the off-sale store, where work was being done to prepare the building for the winter. Fire Chief Mike Harvey with Carsonville Fire and Rescue said the cause of the fire is still under investigation by the state fire marshal.
A question-and-answer forum Thursday night at the Guthrie Township Hall gave a group of potential voters a perspective on the two candidates running for Hubbard County Sheriff. Sponsored by the League of Women Voters Park Rapids Area (LWV), the event spotlighted the differences between incumbent Sheriff Cory Aukes and his challenger, State Trooper Dion Pederson. The candidates were questioned about their views regarding drug crime, police pursuits, gender equity in hiring deputies, preparedness for Line 3 protests, budgeting priorities and police dogs.