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The Regional Report: Judge throws out Mille Lacs counterclaim; Crosby considers fire district

AITKIN

Some coaches in the Aitkin School District appear to be underpaid, according to some school board members, the Aitkin Independent Age reported. At a recent school board meeting, members discussed the contract for Matt Vogtlin, who acts as an assistant varsity football coach and junior high coach.

The contract, which includes a pay scale dating back 20 years, includes outdated terminology no longer applicable to the district's teams, resulting in those coaching ninth- and 10th-graders being paid the same rate as those coaching seventh- and eighth-graders. The contract also allows for three assistant varsity coaches, although Vogtlin is a fourth assistant—meeting a goal safety standard of one coach per 10 students. Despite this, Vogtlin receives the junior high rate.

The board agreed to reconsider the contracts for coaches and discuss retroactive pay.

The childhood home of famed 1920s and '30s actor and Aitkin native Warren William is up for sale, according to columnist Mary MacArthur in the Aitkin Independent Age. William's father, Freeman E. Krech, was once the publisher and editor of the Age, according to an extensive biography of the Broadway and film actor published on www.warrenwilliam.com. William's extensive filmography included those directed by Frank Capra and Cecil B. DeMille, and he was the first actor to portray defense attorney Perry Mason on the big screen, starring in four mysteries.

CASS COUNTY

An organization seeking to assist youths who've left the traditional school system is looking for participants, the Walker Pilot-Independent reported. BI-CAP of Beltrami and Cass counties offers a program for at-risk youths called YouthBuild, aimed at those ages 16-24 years old. Participants work up to 29 hours a week while earning minimum wage and gaining construction experience. During the six-month program, participants will also have the opportunity to earn a GED, diploma or adult diploma and complete community service. For more information, visit www.bicap.org/projects/youth-build or email yb.bji@bicap.org.

CASS LAKE

A vacancy on the Cass Lake City Council could lead to the roundabout resignation of another council member, the Cass Lake Times reported. Council member Barb Sproul resigned from her seat due to health issues, and the council discussed the timeline for replacing her. During the discussion, council member Wayne Bohn asked the council to consider delaying the appointment until December. Bohn said due to an error, he failed to file for re-election to his current seat. If members moved forward with filling Sproul's seat before the election, Bohn said he would resign and apply for appointment to the open seat. The council approved declaring the vacancy and accepting applications through Monday, Oct. 8.

CROSBY

Should the fire departments in Cuyuna Range cities be combined into one? This is the question Crosby Mayor Bob Novak will seek to answer, the Crosby-Ironton Courier reported. Novak recently asked the council for permission to contact mayors of other cities to hear their perspectives on establishing a fire district.

MCGREGOR

"Wild" author Cheryl Strayed has a cheerleader in McGregor, where Strayed spent her youth before heading west for her famous solo adventure and becoming a best-selling author. In a letter to the editor in the Aitkin Independent Age, Evonne Agnello suggests the city consider honoring Strayed, inspired by her visit to the John Steinbeck Museum in California.

"Whether a museum, a $100,000 grant or a $100 plaque, I think something should be done to honor this woman who has touched so many lives throughout the world," Agnello wrote.

Those interested in offering ideas can participate in sessions planned at the McGregor Chamber of Commerce—noon-6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, and 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10. Or, send written comments to evietacoma@harbornet.com.

MILLE LACS COUNTY

A federal judge sided with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe as part of an ongoing lawsuit between the band and Mille Lacs County, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported. Judge Susan Richard Nelson agreed with the band that the county's counterclaim in the lawsuit had no standing. The counterclaim sought declaration the reservation did not exist at all, an answer to the band's claim the boundary established in 1855 should be recognized today. While the counterclaim was dismissed, the original lawsuit continues in federal court.

Prompted by the law enforcement jurisdictional disagreement between the county and the tribe, the lawsuit would seek to permit the Mille Lacs Tribal Police to patrol all 61,000 acres within the 1855 boundaries. The county, meanwhile, believes the reservation covers just over 4,000 acres. The parties reached a tentative agreement concerning their law enforcement agencies

UPSALA

A firefighter and first responder from Upsala recently competed in a national contest for the best firehouse chili, the Morrison County Record reported. Garrett Doucette traveled to New York City for the Sept. 25 contest, where he showcased his creamy turkey chili along with four other finalists. Each contestant earned 60 gallons of Hormel chili for their home fire departments over the course of the year, and the winner, Eddy Dumire of Woodbridge, Va., earned $10,000 for his department and a $20,000 donation in his fire department's name to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Doucette is known locally for his award-winning chili, which took home People's Choice the last three years in the Kinship of Morrison County Soup and Chili Cook-off.

WADENA

A pastor who's dedicated his time for nearly 30 years to leading Bible study at the Wadena County Jail received recognition for that work, the Staples World reported. Bryan Oothoundt was chosen as the Volunteer of the Year by the Minnesota Sheriff's Association. For 29 years, Oothoudt has spearheaded the Bible study for inmates, providing his own materials and offering his services as a pastor to those who wish to continue after release. Oothoudt also provides a catered meal for inmates each Christmas.

WALKER

The artwork of a Walker native will appear on the 2019-20 federal duck stamp, the Walker Pilot-Independent reported. Scot Storm's acrylic painting of a wood duck and decoy won the annual contest to decorate the stamp, issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Waterfowl hunters ages 16 and older must purchase them to hunt, but anyone can contribute to conservation by buying duck stamps, the FWS stated. The stamp serves as a free pass into any national wildlife refuge charging an entry fee. Proceeds from the sale of the stamp are almost entirely used in conservation efforts.

-- 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.

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