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Here's what the Becker Soil and Water Conservation District has been doing to fight the spread of aquatic invasive species in area lakes: It spent about $227,000 on 33 watercraft inspectors, six of them hired to operate mobile decontamination equipment. They decontaminated nearly 300 boats, mostly on Detroit Lake and Lake Melissa, both infested with zebra mussels.
The weather was kind to the Detroit Lakes J&K Beach Bar 200 snowmobile race on Big Detroit Lake Saturday and Sunday. "It went well, we had a great weekend for it," said Kevin Tinjum, owner of J&K Marine, which sponsored the event. "We had great weather for it and good visibility—people were pretty happy about it. I think it all went off pretty well." The 9.5-mile track seemed to curve and sprawl across half of Big Detroit Lake, and because of strong blowing snow prior to the race, only about a third of it was plowed, making for a rugged ride for some sledders.
Recycling is about to get easier for residents in Detroit Lakes, Audubon, Lake Park and Frazee. The county has received a $250,000 state grant to implement a single-stream curbside recycling program in those cities. That money will help pay for about 6,000 wheeled plastic containers for mixed recyclables. They will be similar to the wheeled plastic garbage containers that are most often seen in 64-gallon and 32-gallon sizes. The bins will be made available through private waste haulers, who will also handle pickup of curbside recyclables.
Flu activity is increasing in the state, and the Detroit Lakes area is no exception. "We've been seeing a lot of Type A influenza," said Dr. Bud Belk, director of the Emergency Medicine Department at Essentia St. Mary's. The main flu strain circulating this season is influenza A (H3N2), according to the State Health Department. Adults 65 and older are usually affected more in seasons where H3N2 is the dominant strain. The vaccine this year is a good match for this strain of influenza.
It's been a tough winter so far for local street and highway crews. It started off with hours of rain on Christmas that turned to thick ice, as the temperature dropped the following few days. "The ice got so bad we had to run motor graders with serrated blades to cut the ice off over 150 miles of roadway — there were spots where it was over an inch thick," said Becker County Maintenance Superintendent Jona Jacobson. "It doesn't cut with a regular straight-edge (truck) blade at these temperatures."
Be careful tonight and Friday morning. The National Weather Service expects the lowest temperatures of the season so far tonight, with readings in the low to mid minus-20s across eastern North Dakota and nearing minus 30 degrees in northwest Minnesota, including Becker County and Detroit Lakes. Although winds will be relatively light at only 5-10 mph, there will be just enough to produce wind chills in the minus 30s across the south and minus 40s, possibly nearly minus 50, across the north.
Monday was "Law Enforcement Appreciation Day" in Minnesota, recognizing the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officials. Gov. Mark Dayton directed the Minnesota Department of Transportation to light the Minneapolis I-35W Bridge blue in recognition of the day, and the windows of the Governor's Residence were also lit blue. Law enforcement has never been an easy job, but public attitudes towards officers have risen and fallen over the years.
Shivering at home in these below-zero temperatures? Is your furnace broken completely or not working quite right? Maybe it's time to talk to the warm and friendly folks at Mahube-Otwa Community Action about energy assistance help. If you qualify, you can receive from $200 to $1,400 to help pay your heating bills, and up to $600 more later in emergency situations. You can also get your faulty furnace repaired or replaced. Whether you qualify for help is based on household size, income, fuel type, and past energy usage.
Minnesota legislators should ignore the rural-led Trump earthquake at their peril, says the Coalition of Greater Minnesota cities. As new and returning lawmakers convene in St. Paul for the first week of the 2017 legislative session, city leaders from Greater Minnesota are urging them to heed the messages that rural voters sent when they cast their ballots in November.
Becker County has sweetened the pot for attorneys that work on child protection cases. Parents in those cases are eligible for help from court-appointed attorneys. Three area attorneys usually work under contract on CHIPS (Child in Need of Protection or Services) cases, receiving a set $1,300 a month from Becker County. But so far, none of them, or any other eligible attorney, for that matter, has signed a county CHIPS contract for 2017, although there has been some interest.