Kate Perkins and Travis Grimler
This year the Pine River-Backus and Pequot Lakes Early Childhood Coalitions, along with coalitions across the state, are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Early Childhood Initiative. Pequot Lakes had one of the first early childhood coalitions, said Julie Despot, community education director for the Pequot Lakes School District. Today, there are 84 coalitions across the state. The initiatives are funded through the McKnight Foundation, a statewide foundation that also monitors the coalitions. Every coalition is a little different, Despot said.
With the onset of extreme cold temperatures, many workers in the area are fortunate to have jobs that keep them in a heated building or car, but that is not the case for some workers. Lee Bundy is the facilities operator for the city of Backus. His responsibilities include city streets, parks, water systems and sewer systems. He spends much of his winter in a vehicle or out in the cold. “We put up decorations for the winter. We also plow and shovel snow to keep the parking lots open, so when it’s winter we don’t get to sit inside. We keep going,” Bundy said.
Whether singing, strumming or listening, bluegrass fans filled the Cass County Fairgrounds in Pine River for the Lakes Bluegrass Festival Aug. 21-25. In all, 15 bands performed 40 shows, and the festival also featured jam sessions and workshops. Ken and Renie Parpart, who attended the festival, said they fell in love over bluegrass. Ken played his future wife an 8-track of Flatt and Scruggs. “He fell in love because I knew who they are,” Renie said with a smile.
With less than three weeks left, a million-dollar question lingers on the minds of fishermen across the state: Will the ice be out in time for the May 11 walleye and northern pike fishing opener? “My educated guess would be no,” said Sgt. Scott Goddard with the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office water patrol. “Some of the smaller lakes that are spring fed, I could see them opening earlier.”