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The Jenkins City Council had a heated discussion with Tim Berg, of Bay View Lodge and treasurer of the Whitefish Area Lodging Association, over the city's continued participation in WALA. During the June council meeting, concerns about Jenkins' representation in WALA were aired. The council decided to review the benefits of continuing cooperation with WALA in its current form, versus looking at a way the city could get more exposure from a lodging tax WALA collects.
Rumors spread following an incident that led to the death of Edward VanBeek of Pine River on Monday, July 9, but official details may do little to explain the events. Following his death at Essentia Health in Fargo, stories of VanBeek's encounter with a bear just before his death led to a spread of tall tales suggesting he had been mauled or trampled and then died of his injuries. Other stories said he had encountered a bear with cubs, and some interaction with the cubs may have led to the attack. Many of the details shared locally are merely exaggeration.
After some consideration, the Backus City Council on Monday, July 2, approved an updated contract with the Pine River Area Sanitary District with an increase of about $2,000. In light of the city selling its townhomes, the city public works department no longer performed certain duties; however, Andy Schwartz, of PRASD, said the loss of the townhomes did not reduce their work significantly. "I don't think we spend any less time up here," Schwartz said.
The Cass County Fair in Pine River featured not only fun, games and entertainment, but an opportunity to recognize hard work and sacrifice. In continuation with the annual tradition, Outstanding Senior Citizens were named Friday, June 29, with the honor going to Wayne Pryor and Arlene Tepfer.
Unmanned aerial vehicles are taking off in many industries, but it may be surprising to learn that Crow Wing County Emergency Management is at the forefront of Minnesota's expanding emergency use of drones. Thanks to an $80,000 grant from the National Joint Powers Alliance (now called Sourcewell), Crow Wing County was able to start a drone response program in late 2017/early 2018. The grant paid not only to buy two foldable Mavic Pro drones, but also two large Matrice 210 drones with two cameras, one with zoom and one with infrared capabilities.
'Tis time to grill, and in honor of that most awesome summer pastime I've decided it is time for the obligatory grilling recipe column. That being said, I don't want to repeat the grilled pizza, grilled cheese and grilled quesadilla recipes from last year, and I don't want to resort to the recipes that everyone knows. So I went to Facebook for ideas.
The Pequot Lakes Police Department continued its tradition of participating in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, transporting the Special Olympics torch through their area. Joggers and bikers took the torch from Beltrami County officers and transported it with squad car escort to the Baxter Home Depot on Tuesday, June 12.
The Pine River-Backus School Board approved a preliminary budget for 2018-19 during its June 18 meeting, with few changes save a $364,197 increase resulting from the 2017-19 master agreement teacher contract. The details of that agreement were settled May 7 at a special board meeting, which concluded months of negotiations. The contract included a 2.5 percent salary schedule increase in year one and a 3 percent increase in year two, and a $300 increase in district contribution toward group health insurance.
What makes the difference between a job where you work to make money and a job that gives you meaning? Probably passion. I know it can get dull going to the same job over and over and over again. Admittedly, the sheer volume of work (even in the news industry) can wear down or hide passion and make a person dull (especially in the winter). There are a few things that tend to rekindle that spark.
Most projected expenses remained unchanged when the preliminary budget was presented to the Pine River-Backus School Board on Monday, June 18, with exceptions of salaries and benefits. The board approved a 4.3 percent increase ($586,681) in the preliminary budget. Of that increase, $362,197 relates to settled staff contracts. Also included was a transfer of $100,000 from the general unreserved account to a "committed for construction" account. This fund covers upgrades to the elementary media center furniture and shelving, as well as a track and field storage building.