For this column I have the task of saying that I’m leaving Echo Publishing. I’m headed out on my own to pursue a freelance writing career. This position has been an amazing learning experience. It’s been wonderful to get to know the community through my position as staff writer, whether it’s at council meetings, at festivals or in interviews. In all I’ve completed around 700 assignments in my two years at the Echo, and each one has been not only interesting but a lesson.
The recent shortage of propane in Minnesota and across the country means the danger of extremely cold temperatures isn’t just outdoors. Gov. Mark Dayton declared a peacetime state of emergency because of high propane prices. Steve Sargeant, general manager at Lakes Gas, said many factors led to the propane shortage. Many of those factors weren’t local, but nationwide. For one, more propane was used this year than normal for crop drying. Sargeant said Lakes Gas will sell more propane for crop drying than it will sell for heating in a given month.
Though it was a bit chilly, there was plenty of soup to warm up with at Crosslake WinterFest and SoupFest Saturday, Feb. 1. Numerous businesses — restaurants, retail and beyond — competed in SoupFest this year, vying for the golden ladle. Manhattan’s took home the ladle in the culinary division with a chicken pot pie soup, complete with a puff pastry topping. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Crosslake Campground and Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association took home the ladle in the amateur division with a navy bean and ham soup.
The Trailside Center at the Pequot Lakes Baptist Church was vandalized Thursday, Jan. 23, when more than one person entered, emptying two fire extinguishers and taking juice from a refrigerator. Police reports say the fire extinguisher was sprayed all over the gym at the Trailside Center and left outside. Pequot Lakes Police Sgt. Chad Turcotte said the mess will be costly to clean up, as special crews need to clean up fire extinguishers. The department has strong leads due to the Trailside Center’s surveillance system. The building requires access codes for entry.
Someone broke into the Hungry Loon restaurant in the Jack Pine Center in Pequot Lakes on Friday night, Jan. 24, or early Saturday morning, Jan. 25, breaking windows, walking around and taking nothing, according to Pequot Lakes Police Sgt. Chad Turcotte. Turcotte said that based on footprints, only one person entered the building. The person entered by cutting through the Pequot Lakes restaurant’s screen porch and breaking a window to the restaurant. No money or goods were stolen. The damage was discovered when staff came to open the restaurant Saturday, Jan. 25.
Pequot Lakes High School’s One-Act performance team took second place in subsection competition Saturday, Jan. 25, at Park Rapids. The team performed “The Flying Doctor,” a comedy by Moliere, a French playwright from the 17th century. Director Gary Hirsch said the act is accompanied by a beautiful set by Tim Leagjeld. On Jan. 25, Hirsch’s team had to perform first, which Hirsch said is the absolute worst position. Hirsch, who’s directed one-act teams for 25 years, said he’s never seen a team that performed first move on to the next level of competition.
Nisswa Elementary School reported its flu incidence to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) after more than 10 percent of its students were absent due to illness Monday, Jan. 20. Since then, when 35 students were absent, the number of sick children has dropped. The MDH asks that schools report influenza-like illness (ILI) when the number of students who are absent or sent home reaches 5 percent or when three or more students with the symptoms in the same classroom are absent or sent home for the day.
As area legislators prepare to enter another legislative session in February, opinions vary on whether or not the last one was successful, and what the priorities and outcome of the coming session will be. Taxes and minimum wage dominated the conversation among area legislators at the Brainerd Lakes Chamber-sponsored Eggs and Issues on Thursday, Jan. 23, in Baxter.
Citizens in Fifty Lakes are coming together in an effort to preserve the Fifty Lakes Post Office building, which is scheduled for demolition to make room for the reconstruction of County Road 3. In an email, resident Julie Engle said a group of residents has raised $6,500 in an effort to save the building.
The Pequot Lakes School District is asking the community to go online and answer four open-ended questions that could influence the future of the district. Along with the school board, superintendent Chris Lindholm is working with administration to develop a vision of what the school district will look like in the year 2020. Once that vision is created, the district will develop strategic directions to achieve that vision.