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IRONTON—Amid descending nightfall and plummeting temperatures, flames engulfed Bud's Small Engine Repair shop late afternoon Friday, Dec. 28, in Ironton. Thick smoke was visible from the highway, and people surrounded the site at 20233 Hematite Ave. and watched Crosby Fire Department crews work to extinguish the flames. Shortly before 5 p.m., the temperature was 5 degrees at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport, with a windchill of 12 below zero.
BAXTER—There were plenty of easy pleasantries and dry-humored laughs, but make no mistake, it was a tense public hearing—evidenced by the earnest looks, pensive expressions and the lingering words of a speaker who jokingly described the proceedings as a "lynch mob."
BAXTER—The Baxter City Council shot down a request by Gander Outdoors (formerly Gander Mountain Inc.) to institute an ordinance change to allow a 100-foot American flag on the retailer's premises, currently under construction. City ordinances allow flagpoles that are 50 feet high—with the notable exception of 70-foot flags at Dondelinger Chevrolet and Vikingland Harley-Davidson that predate the current ordinance and are, thus, grandfathered in. The tallest structure in Baxter is 54 feet high.
The 2019 legislative session looms large for Rep. Josh Heintzeman. With ascension to assistant leader by the vote of his Republican peers, the three-term Republican state representative from Nisswa returns to St. Paul in a more prominent role and a different environment than the GOP has previously enjoyed since 2014—a split Legislature, with a narrow lead in the Minnesota Senate and a minority in the House, to say little of four more years with Democratic management in the form of Governor-elect Tim Walz.
Governor-elect Tim Walz said he's in favor of legalizing recreational pot late last week—a sign of approval from the state's future chief executive and a break with his fellow Democrat, sitting Gov. Mark Dayton, who has opposed legalization. The question remains if legalized recreational cannabis—an issue gaining momentum across the nation—will become a reality, possibly sooner rather than later in Minnesota. Pundits have pointed to the issue as potentially prompting a power struggle in the nation's only split Legislature.
Much like any budget session, it was a lot of haggling, hemming and hawing over numbers and how they look to stack up over the coming years. But where these particular numbers stack up may give Brainerd city residents a bit to chew on—namely, how many cops does a city of 13,428 people need, especially in light of relatively high crime rates for a municipality of this size?
How often does it come down to a choice weighed "between the lesser of two evils" in American politics? Maybe that's something of a hyperbolic expression in today's polarized political environment, but there's no denying U.S. voters are often voting against someone or some policy as much as they're voting for someone or a specific policy measure—contests, compared to decades past, featuring no shortage of mud-slinging and second-guessing.
Christmas lights have something of a unique charm—in some ways serving as luminous symbols of good cheer during the winter solstice, shining brightly and happily during the darkest times of the year. Americans have a special affinity for these vines of light, garlanded around homes and fashioned into jaw-dropping installations—in fact, it's been reported ad nauseum that the U.S. channels more volts into Christmas bulbs than many developing nations use electricity in a given year.
In the wake of the 2018 midterms, the political landscape has shifted significantly—though, if you asked state Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. "For whatever reason, Minnesota seems to like divided government," he told the Dispatch during a phone interview Monday, Nov. 19. "You know it's been pretty common, every one of my years, that Minnesota government in one form or another has the powers divided between Democrats and Republicans. This isn't out of the ordinary."
This one's for all the speed demons out there. As local motorists might have noticed, stretches of state highways—like, say, Highway 371 between Pequot Lakes and Hackensack—has seen speed limits increased from 55 mph to 60 mph. As it turns out, it represents a statewide initiative to increase speed limits for two-lane highways across Minnesota, said Tom Dumont, a traffic engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.