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Kids Against Hunger-Brainerd Lakes Area and Nisswa Elementary School students joined forces Wednesday, Nov. 23, to provide meals to local food shelves. First- and second-grade students donned hairnets and gloves to make apple cinnamon oatmeal packs weighed out to feed a small family.
Thanks to "green minded" cooperative members, Crow Wing Power will construct a community solar garden along Highway 371 north of Brainerd in the spring. Char Kinzer, Crow Wing Power public relations manager, said the company will join a list of energy cooperatives to offer solar power to its members. Kinzer said the difference is that Crow Wing Power did not receive free systems from its wholesale power suppliers.
Some people retire as soon as they can, while some people just look for more and more work. Merle Weaver is the second of these two. The ever active, physical lifestyle of this 81-year-old is totally at odds with his rough beginning on a Milaca farm. "I was under 2 pounds when I was born," Weaver said. "My grandma put me in a shoebox in the wood stove to keep me warm."
Crosslake recently gained three new businesses that relocated from other communities, including a restaurant, a store for used children's goods and an accountant. Tim Roggenkamp CPA Tim Roggenkamp, accountant from Pequot Lakes, expanded his services into Crosslake by opening an office in a space previously operated by accountant Dorothy Anderson. Roggenkamp purchased the property from Anderson in August and opened for business in October.
The Heartland Apartments in Pine River harbored yet another Thanksgiving dinner with guests and residents Thursday, Nov. 17, in keeping with past years. The meal included many people's favorite traditional foods, including turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing. Staff at the apartments entertained guests and residents with jokes ahead of the meal. With every table full, there was plenty of company to be had.
A meeting Wednesday, Nov. 16, at Backus City Hall began the planning and notification process for extending city water from Backus to a select Powers Township neighborhood. Engineers from Widseth, Smith, Nolting engineering firm; representatives from the city of Backus, Powers Township and Casper Construction; along with residents of 44th Avenue met to create a construction plan that works for most involved. Thanksgiving will cause a brief delay in the project, though the project likely was to begin before the holiday break.
Pine River-Backus High School teacher and coach Tom Demars was honored as the 2017 Teacher of the Year at a Nov. 15 luncheon. Demars has been with the school district since 1991, the year Backus junior high and high school merged with Pine River, and has served double duty teaching classes in algebra (and related fields) and coaching ever since.
The Jenkins City Council agreed to grant a variance to Douglas Foran for encroachment requiring a setback from a drainfield to a dwelling during the Monday, Nov. 14, council meeting, according to unapproved draft meeting minutes. The applicant was asking for an after-the-fact variance for a dwelling encroaching on its drainfield. The property was found non-compliant on Oct. 13. The owner obtained a permit for installation of a conforming drainfield, but it was incorrectly installed within 10 feet to the south of the dwelling and 15 from the west of the dwelling.
For many years the annual Pine River-Backus High School musical has had at least one Weber family member in its cast; but with the graduation of senior Rebecca Weber at the end of this year, that trend might come to a close. --- What: "High School Musical" Where: Pine River-Backus High School gym When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday Cost: $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, free for ages 4 and under --- Weber will play Sharpay Evans in the school's production of "High School Musical" this weekend. Director Jen Anderson said Weber's sister, Rachel, performed in five or six musicals on stage, brother Jeremy worked tech in several plays and played a large role in "Grease" while brother Jacob was in six musicals. Their mother even volunteers behind the scenes. The whole family has adopted the nickname the "Jen Anderson super fans." "The first time I really, really wanted to (be in the school musical) was probably seeing 'Grease,'" Rebecca Weber said. "All three of my siblings were in it, and it is still one of the best productions the school has ever put on. It was filled with a very talented group of people. It was an awesome play in general." Her first play was "Footloose," where she performed in the chorus. "I did (get to play alongside Jacob) in 'Footloose,'" Weber said. "That was my brother's senior year. He was the last to go besides me. That was the only production I got to work with one of my siblings in. He was the lead male character. That was interesting. In one of the practices they made all the girls fangirl over him and swoon. It was awkward for me, because he's my brother." Since that time she has been in chorus once more, then she played Grandma Josephine in "Willy Wonka," a silly girl in "Beauty and the Beast" and the wicked Ursula in "The Little Mermaid." She likes the challenge and creativity of "villain" roles. "I did try out for Sharpay and Ursula," Weber said. "I felt like villains are usually more fun to play. It also stretches your acting ability more than some of the more average characters. It helped a lot being Ursula. It's two villains and both of them are very sassy characters. Having the past experience of Ursula helped a lot. Having the experience of my siblings helped me too. They helped me through my bigger roles and helped get me ready for them." Anderson's decision to present "High School Musical" came after several years of begging on the part of Weber. Anderson said she always refused because she was concerned that the audience might try to compare the stage performance to the film. But this year she surprised everyone, including Weber, by finally giving in. "It was one of my favorite movies since I was younger," Weber said. "I always thought it would be really fun and a little easier on her because of the costumes and stuff. She wouldn't have to buy as many things, so I thought it would be nice to do. I'm really happy she went with it. It isn't as simple as I thought it would be. The theatrical version is a lot different from the movie. It's not what I was expecting at all." Weber said she was surprised at the number of differences between the film and the play, which could pleasantly surprise audiences familiar with the plot. She said there are more songs and different lines. "It will pretty much be an entirely different show than they are used to," Weber said. Weber said her favorite scene is the "Stick to the Status Quo" scene, though the audience should really enjoy the "Bop to the Top" scene, which has everything from a basketball game to an audition and decathlon all at once. Weber is excited to perform the role of Sharpay. Her family has helped her prepare by going through her lines with her every chance they have had. When it comes time for performance, her family has sat in the front row for every showing, every year and they are preparing to do the same for one last show. "I'm very excited," Weber said. "They're very supportive and here every performance, which is nice."
Two longtime DFL incumbents didn't win re-election to their seats in Senate District 5, which reaches the Pine River, Backus and Hackensack areas, on Tuesday, Nov. 8. At the Senate level, Justin Eichorn, a Republican from Grand Rapids, defeated incumbent Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, by garnering 20,245 votes to Saxhaug's 19,700 votes.