Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
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It's been 40 years since local attorney Lynn Hummel first began contemplating writing a column for the Detroit Lakes Tribune. "I woke up early on New Year's Day, Jan. 1, 1977, and went downstairs," Hummel recalls. "The house was quiet." So his thoughts turned toward New Year's resolutions, and he said to himself, "What am I not doing that I want very much to do?" As it turned out, writing was at the very top of his bucket list, so Hummel sat down that morning and wrote a couple of sample columns to take to then Tribune publisher John Meyer.
Fossil fuels, tar sands, fracking, pipelines, oil production, oil spills... these are terms that have been part of the lexicon of U.S. and Canadian culture for decades now. But it is only within the past decade that they have been featured prominently in regional news headlines — thanks in no small part to Enbridge's catastrophic, 1-million-gallon oil spill on the Kalamazoo River in 2010, and recent protests over construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
Like any mostly-outdoor festival held during the oft-frozen peak of a Minnesota winter, Detroit Lakes' Polar Fest has had its weather-related challenges over the past couple of decades. This year, however, Mother Nature smiled upon the community's celebration of all things winter, with nary a snowflake or subzero temperature reading in sight through its 12-day run. "The weather was finally in our favor for pretty much everything," said Amy Stoller Stearns, a longtime member of the Polar Fest planning committee.
Gary Thompson has been pulling pieces of history out of Becker County's lakes and rivers for going on half a century now. "This will be my 50th year," says Thompson, owner and proprietor of Detroit Lakes' Tri-State Diving. "I started diving in 1967... I paid for my first set of scuba gear out of my high school graduation money."
When a person goes out for a morning hike, a snowshoe or ski trek, or a leisurely afternoon walk along the trails of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, it's a rare thing to spot wildlife of the four-legged, furry variety. "Unlike birds, which are relatively easy to see (during the day), mammals are largely nocturnal," explains Dr. Steven Dahlberg, a science and math instructor at White Earth Tribal & Community College, who teaches a naturalist training program as part of WETCC's environmental sciences curriculum (which he helped to develop).
The Minnesota Humanities Center is bringing the traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibition, "Water/Ways," to Detroit Lakes this week, as the final stop on the exhibit's Minnesota tour. "The grand opening is Saturday, Feb. 25," says Becky Mitchell, executive director of the Becker County Historical Society & Museum, which will be housing the exhibit. "The 10 a.m. opening ceremonies are open to the public, and there will be a sneak peek for museum members from 9 to 10 a.m."
The Detroit Lakes City Council proved that citizen input can make a difference at its Tuesday night meeting, as not just one, but two items on the agenda were shot down by opposition from local residents — although it may only be a temporary delay in one instance. By a 6-1 vote, action was tabled on a resolution authorizing Mayor Matt Brenk and City Administrator Kelcey Klemm to seek special legislation from the Minnesota State Legislature to implement a local option sales tax.
It may have started as a joke, but the women of Grace Lutheran Church have turned their winter supper into a Detroit Lakes tradition that spans more than a decade. When Ruby Kiihn, then president of the Grace Lutheran Church Women, first proposed that the group host a Cabin Fever Supper back in 2007, it was done with tongue firmly planted in cheek. "I said it as a joke," Kiihn recalled. "But the others all thought it was a good idea."
Though the Dakota Access Pipeline has been dominating regional news headlines for several months now, there is another oil project on the horizon that could have much bigger implications for northern Minnesota: Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline. Similar in size and purpose to the recently defeated Keystone XL pipeline, the $7.5 billion Line 3 is proposed to transport tar sands oil over 1,000 miles, from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wis. — right through northern Minnesota.
Do you love that old time rock 'n' roll? Does it make you reminisce about the days of old? Then you might want to head on over to the Detroit Lakes Public Library this Monday, Feb. 13, for a free presentation by Minnesota author Rick Shefchik. Shefchik is the author of "Everybody's Heard About the Bird: The True Story of 1960s Rock 'n' Roll in Minnesota," and his 7 p.m. talk will be all about the Minnesota-grown bands and songs that made it big during that era.