First- and second-grade students at Cuyuna Range Elementary School will learn in new environments next school year, the Crosby-Ironton Courier reported. The school board approved a $697,000 construction project, which includes building walls, adding doors, new ceilings, new lights, new carpeting and new technology.
Citing out of control debris and other materials dumped in defiance of prohibitions, the city of Crosslake opted to close its dumping site at the city maintenance facility until further notice, the Echo Journal reported. Public Works Director Ted Strand said non-residents and commercial haulers are the culprits, and he will develop a plan for monitoring the site.
A director of student life is a new position the Crosslake Community School opted to add to its faculty, the Echo Journal reported. The post will focus on student behavior and discipline, although Director Todd Lyscio said he also hopes the position will focus on culture and how kids treat one another.
The hire of Jill Arendt for the post comes in the wake of a February incident when Lyscio found himself the focus of attention over how he chose to address a student discipline issue. Lyscio was cleared of any wrongdoing in the matter, but the school board agreed to fill the position to relieve Lyscio of many of those duties.
Dogs will soon have a new place to play in Crosslake, the Echo Journal reported. The Crosslake City Council approved converting about 1 acre of land near the community center into a dog park.
An interim police chief will assume duties for the Motley Police Department, the Staples World reported. Officer Jason Borash was appointed to the post in the wake of the retirement of Ron Smith, who announced his retirement from law enforcement following 29 years in the field in April. Smith was recently the subject of discipline by the city council. Smith's conduct included violations of the city's employee manual requiring annual firearms training and a section dictating an officer be "properly armed for the protection of society and themselves." The discipline also centered on violations of the city's personnel policy.
Borash has been an officer in the city since April 2015, and previously served in the Morrison County Sheriff's Office.
Lifelong Nisswa resident John Wallin earned recognition as the 2018 citizen of the year, the Echo Journal reported. It was to many people's surprise Wallin had yet to receive the honor, given his name recognition and long list of volunteer efforts. Wallin is a well-known purveyor of berries with his Wallin Berry Farm, worked for 36 years as a teacher and served 23 years as a volunteer firefighter, among several other roles in the community.
Bonds totaling $1.7 million will be issued by the city of Nisswa to pay for road reconstruction, the Echo Journal reported. No residents attended a public hearing on the issue. Four roads are slated for work this year, with another four set for 2019.
A new pumper truck will join the Nisswa Fire Department, replacing a 1966 model the department can no longer find parts for, the Echo Journal reported. The truck is used to feed water hydrants in downtown Nisswa through pumping water from Nisswa Lake.
The Pequot Lakes School Board and the district's teachers reached a tentative agreement Monday, May 14, concerning union contracts, the Echo Journal reported. The agreement includes two sequential contracts, meaning the parties would not need to negotiate again until the 2021-22 school year. Teachers worked through this school year without a contract agreement.
No one was named valedictorian of the Pequot Lakes High School Class of 2018, the Echo Journal reported. The decision not to name a top student was made years ago, when then-Principal Chip Rankin said weighted classes took students achieving a 4.0 grade point average out of the running, despite exceptional performance. Rankin said he believed students were foregoing classes such as music and art in pursuit of the honor.
The Pine River Chamber of Commerce doled out its Distinguished Service Award to Jay Cline, the Echo Journal reported. Cline is recognizable for his multiple contributions to the chamber as well as other community endeavors, such as the Cass County Economic Development Corp. and the Ten Mile Lake Association. He also is known for donning various costumes at community events.
People recycling incorrectly at the Pine River Fairgrounds is leading city officials to discuss removing bins, the Echo Journal reported. In addition, the dumpsters on the site do not have lids, causing trash to blow into neighboring yards when overfilled. Cass County is responsible for the bins, although the city takes the heat when they make a mess, council members stated. A county representative told the council another dumpster would be added to the site.
The Randall Police Department is no more, the Morrison County Record reported. The Randall City Council voted to deactivate the police department-consisting of a chief and a part-time officer-in favor of Morrison County Sheriff's Office patrols. The council decided to look into the change to seek additional daytime patrolling, which Chief Charles Strack was unable to accomplish due to a full-time job.
Sheriff Shawn Larsen offered a contract for $21,600 to the city, covering a deputy and squad car and insurance. Larsen said the county could provide 30 hours of coverage per month, but could not guarantee the time of day deputies would spend in Randall. The city spent $49,000 in 2017 for its police department.
The idea of a bypass on Highway 10 in Royalton is on hold for now, the Morrison County Record reported. The project was not selected as a project to be funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Corridors of Commerce program. The project is estimated to cost $35 million. Royalton council member Kelly Warzecha, who supported the project, said the city should explore solutions to traffic concerns on Highway 10-a major corridor for weekend tourism traffic.
The Staples School Board made changes to a list of budget cuts first approved in March, the Staples World reported. The cuts, totaling $273,300, now include a first-grade teacher and special education teacher, attributed to enrollment at the elementary school. These cuts add to a long list, including the accelerated reading program, a program recently getting the ax at Brainerd Public Schools.
The closure of a Wahkon City Council meeting did not meet statutory requirements for closing an open meeting, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported. The city council closed the meeting to the public, citing possible litigation-a reason allowing closure, if the litigation is considered imminent. However, further inquiry from the city attorney indicated the the council discussed litigation in which it is not involved, nor likely will be. The litigation under discussion involves two pending lawsuits faced by Mille Lacs County, which in part addresses the boundaries of the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation.
Serious financial trouble besets the Walker Area Community Center, the Walker Pilot-Independent reported. Kim Schultz, chair of the center's board of directors, told the Pilot-Independent the financial situation has always been precarious for the center, but it's reached a critical point at which the public's help is required. Schultz said donations have dropped dramatically and heating and electric bills are piling up to the point they may have to close the doors. The bill runs from $12,000-$14,000 a month, Schultz said, and solar panels on the building's roof generate just a couple hundred dollars of electricity-not enough to make a dent in the bill, she said.
-- Compiled by Chelsey Perkins, community editor. Perkins may be reached at 218-855-5874 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @DispatchChelsey or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dispatchchelsey.