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The Regional Report: State denies broadband grant for Mille Lacs

AITKIN

Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin will have a new CEO, the Aitkin Independent Age reported. Chad Cooper will leave the post after four years to lead Central Minnesota Diagnostics Inc. as its president and CEO. Chief Operating Officer Cindi Baker will take over as interim CEO.

BACKUS

Streetlights in the city of Backus will transition to LEDs, the Echo Journal reported. The Backus City Council agreed to the switch in the interest of affordability. As the sodium vapor lights burn out, the city will replace them with LED bulbs.

CROSSLAKE

An update to the employee conflict of interest policy for the city of Crosslake was approved by the council, the Echo Journal reported. The change stemmed from a previous discussion concerning Parks and Recreation Director Jon Henke, who assists with the Lutheran Social Service Senior Nutrition program for about 45 minutes on four mornings each week. He receives a stipend for his work, and stays at least 45 minutes later on those days. As a salaried employee, Henke noted he often works more than 40 hours in a week.

The updated policy notes employees cannot engage in outside employment that would "hinder their objective and impartial performance of their public duties, embarrass the city, or impair their efficiency on the job."

IRONTON

Ironton city officials will seek legal guidance from someone new, the Crosby-Ironton Courier reported. The Ironton City Council elected not to reappoint Joe Langel as the city attorney. The city will seek other applicants.

LAKE SHORE

Looking to escape the daily grind? A travel blog named the city of Lake Shore as the best place to escape in Minnesota, the Echo Journal reported. Expedia Viewfinder selected the largest city in Cass County, located along the northwestern shores of Gull Lake, because it embodies a "get-away-from-it-all spirit," travel writer Lily Rogers stated in an email.

LITTLE FALLS

A volunteer firefighter who served 25 years on the Little Falls Fire Department was honored upon his decision to retire, the Morrison County Record reported. Brian Anderson told the Record at 60 years old, he was ready to move on from what he called a "young man's game."

MILLE LACS COUNTY

The denial of a state grant to partially fund a countywide wireless network in Mille Lacs County has officials frustrated, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development did not select the county's application for broadband funding.

This rejection comes after a year's worth of studies and public outreach, and county officials said they believed their project received less consideration than some that would impact 100 or fewer residents. The Mille Lacs County project would serve approximately 26,000 residents.

A consulting firm working with the county on the project intends to request information from the state concerning grant selection criteria.

ONAMIA

A local fishing guide lost his home in a fire on New Year's Day, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported. Matt Treno, who operates Matt's Fishing, was forced to break a window to save himself from the flames spreading quickly from his kitchen. In addition to the loss of his home, Treno also lost his inventory of rods, reels and expensive tackle.

SWANVILLE

Two men face felony charges in connection with an alleged shooting in Swanville Township, the Morrison County Record reported. The shooting occurred Dec. 29, when victims stated a suspect shot through the window of the home they were in.

According to the complaint against the men, they visited the home in an attempt to intimidate the residents over property they told police was taken from a friend's home. Charged were Anthony Edward Pistachio, 49, of Iona, and 36-year-old Shawn Nicholas Stefansen of Renville.

-- Compiled by Chelsey Perkins, community editor. Perkins may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter @DispatchChelsey or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dispatchchelsey.