Weather related school closings and late starts

Area schools closed or starting late for Tuesday, Jan. No Early Child Special Ed Class•   Leech Lake Tribal College- Delayed 2 hours•   Northland Community Schools ISD118 (Remer-Longville)   – Delayed 2 hours•   Northome School – Delayed 2 hours—Check back for any changes or additions. 3, 2017• Bemidji Schools – Delayed 2 hours•   Blackduck Schools – Delayed 2 hours

•   Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School – Closed Today•   Cass Lake – Bena Schools – Delayed 2 hours•   Kelliher School – Delayed 2 hours•   Laporte Public School – Delayed 2 hours.

Subzero temps coming for the rest of this week

That night was forecast to be mostly cloudy with a low around 15 below.Thursday’s forecast was partly sunny and cold, with a high temperature of zero, which will drop down to a low of 10 below that night.Friday was forecast to be partly sunny with high around 4, which will plunge to a low of 11 below Friday night.Saturday’s expected high was 4, dropping down to a low of 10 below in the night.Sunday will be the first significant respite from the subzero temperatures, with a high reaching 14 degrees. Becky Twamley skies on the fresh snow Monday at the Northland Arboretum. NWS forecasted winds northwest 15 to 20 mph, with gusts up to 25 mph. It would bring the snowfall total up to 3 to 4 inches, Grochocinski said, while the far northern section of Minnesota would get a more severe storm.What’s more, the low pressure system that caused the Monday’s storm will pull a blast of cold northern air behind it, Grochocinski said, bringing frigid temperatures.”Generally, whenever get a departing low pressure system, that’s going draw down northerly winds, and pull down the air from Canada,” he said.Tuesday’s forecast called for a high of 16 degrees and a 20 percent chance of snow before 7 a.m., with patchy snow between noon and 5 p.m. Steve Kohls/Brainerd DispatchAir temperatures near or below zero are in store for the Brainerd lakes area in the wake of a winter storm New Year’s weekend.The National Weather Service forecast subzero or near zero weather from Tuesday night until Sunday, with lows as far down as 15 degrees below zero. The winds are expected to die down somewhat to the 10-15 mph range, but still capable of gusts up to 25 mph.Wednesday was projected to see a high around 1 below, and a west wind 5 to 10 mph. The first, weaker round of snowfall came earlier Monday with 1.5 to 2 inches. Falling snow would cause slippery roads, and snowfall rates could reduce visibility to half a mile or less, the advisory said.Geoff Grochocinski, a meteorologist with the Duluth NWS office, said Monday’s storm would come in two rounds. The thermometer plunge begins Tuesday night, with the temperature dropping to about 2 by 5 p.m. and a nightly low near 8 below zero. However, the second, stronger wave would move through Brainerd in the evening and continue at least through early morning Tuesday. Brainerd was also under a Winter Weather Advisory until 6 a.m. Tuesday.

The Last Windrow: Remembering an Iowa ice storm

The relatives had all departed for their homes. I had enough of the mediocre winters that proved usually feeble in snow production but high in misery. Not so.I’m not looking forward to the next one. It was the week after Christmas and a storm was brewing across the high plains.If you have never experienced a true ice storm, you have escaped one of nature’s more vicious sides. The sound of the huge elm branch scraping against the side of our farm home resembled fingernails being pulled across a chalkboard. The milking had been done for the night and the milk cows were allowed to stay in the barn overnight as a precaution.The night was alive with sounds. Ice needed to be busted off water hydrants, tractor steering wheels, gates and anything else needed to complete the chore cycle.Our bull had for some reason decided to stand out in the storm and resembled a frozen statue as it ambled to the feed bunk.Ice coated the highways to the point that it was dangerous and nearly impossible to steer a vehicle anywhere. Bring on real winter.See you next time. An Iowa ice storm was passing through the country. The electric wires sagged under the weight of the ice, and we all wondered how long they would stay attached and the house lit.The wind was still howling the next morning as we slipped and slid our way to the barn and chores. The hard southwest wind pummeled the house and made strange sounds as it found its way through the century old windows. The steady pounding of the wind against the walls of the house gave one the feeling that some giant being was about to enter uninvited. This past week we experienced such an event in the upper parts of Minnesota, and the storm brought back a memory of such a storm that pelted our farmstead back in the 1950s.One of the many reasons I moved to northern Minnesota was to get into the genuine snow belt. The giant elm tree outside the front of the house creaked and cracked and groaned under the heavy load of ice that accumulated on its limbs and boughs. Giant cottonwood limbs were cracking, and the yard light was flickering.The Christmas wrapping paper had all been burned in the cook stove. There was little snow on the ground and soon the farmyard glistened like a frozen lake. There was not an item left outside that was not coated with an inch of clear ice. I thought I had left such ice storms behind me. I figured if winter was to come, at least it should be worth worrying about.Ice storms were not a weather phenomenon that anyone hoped for. Christmas lights still twinkled in the night, but somehow they had lost some of their luster. School vacation was under way and no doubt would have been cancelled had it not been for the holidays. Okay? Mail didn’t show up at the mailbox and a person felt imprisoned by a coating of ice.Last week’s ice storm reminded me of that storm and how we farmed through it. They were dangerous, and anyone venturing into the teeth of an ice storm was bound to pay a price in some way.The ice storm that visited our farm on that late December night started with a gentle rain.

Proud to be loud: Essentia Health others therapy for Parkinson’s

His success led the couple to donate to the Essentia Health-St. in Brainerd. Sixth St. He began his speech therapy with the Parkinson’s Voice Project in Richardson, Texas. Joseph’s Foundation at 218-828-7362 or There is no charge for the maintenance group, which meets at 12:30 p.m. John Norris is proud to be loud, and he’s hoping to draw a crowd.To keep his voice as he battles Parkinson’s disease, Norris relies on a speech therapy program called “SPEAK OUT.” He also attends the “LOUD Crowd,” a weekly meeting for people with Parkinson’s. Norris and his wife, Terry, spend their summers in Pequot Lakes and their winters in Dallas. For more information, call 218-828-7375.To donate to support the program, contact David Jeremiason at the St. Joseph’s Foundation to help bring the program to the Brainerd lakes area and to support a local “LOUD Crowd.”The Norrises’ donation also paid for Kari Johnson, an Essentia Health speech and language pathologist, to train at the Parkinson’s Voice Project.”SPEAK OUT!” is a two-part program with 12 individual speech therapy sessions followed by the “LOUD Crowd.” Most insurance companies cover the speech therapy, and there is no charge for the weekly meetings.Essentia Health is the only place to receive “SPEAK OUT!” therapy in the Brainerd lakes area and the only place in Minnesota with a “LOUD Crowd.”To begin therapy, a doctor’s referral is needed. Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center, 2016 S. Wednesdays in the Essentia Health-St.

Highlights of 2016

JANUARY• Susan Mathison-Young of Lake Shore is the 2015 Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point-Crosslake Citizen of the Year for her work with area youth, particularly 4-H members. Paul, where Harrison finishes fourth and Adkins fifth.MARCH• The Pequot Lakes High School mock trial team competes at the state tournament in St. Reid Pierzinski is eighth and Chase Blaeser ninth in the 110 hurdles. In Breezy Point, a tie for the second open council seat means a coin flip was held. Work will resume in spring 2017.• The Pequot Lakes boys cross country team finishes 11th at the Class 1A state meet. Their escorts are Kelsi Martini, Isabel Larson and Kallie Carlson, respectively.• Hannah Gatton is crowned Miss Nisswa, while Taylor Leas is Miss Nisswa Princess and Tori Senica is Miss Congeniality. 20. Megan Morgan1 / 12Rachel Burns2 / 12In keeping with the spirit of Pequot Lakes, the County Road 11 bridge over the four-lane Highway 371 bypass has bobbers.3 / 12Pat Kvale4 / 12As seen from Tree Farm Road, construction crews work on the new alignment of Highway 371 east of downtown Pequot Lakes in April.5 / 12Lynn Fairbanks6 / 12Quinn Swanson7 / 12Hannah Gatton8 / 12Trees cleared along the Highway 371 expansion route were turned to wood chips to use as erosion control berms on the project and for a platform on Cullen Brook.9 / 12Tom Demars10 / 12The white flags on the east side of Highway 371 at Cullen Brook just north of Nisswa marked the spots where 30-foot PVC wick drains were to be installed as part of an environmentally friendly, geotechnical platform project.11 / 12Susan Mathison-Young12 / 12Following is a month-by-month look at the highlights of 2016 and the people who made the news throughout the year as published in the Echo Journal. Technologies, LLC, for $6,372,000.• Central Lakes Rotarian Lynn Hunt, of Pine River, was named the 2015-16 Rotarian of the Year at the Rotary District 5580 Conference.• The Kuschel family, owners and operators of Rocking K Ranch southwest of Pine River, is the Cass County Farm Family of the Year.June• Pequot Lakes School District retirements include 30-year high school art teacher Dave Guenther; 26-year district media specialist Pat Kvale.• Pine River-Backus School District retirements include superintendent Cathy Bettino, who spent 24 years with the district.• Mary Pfeiffer, owner and operator of Pfeiffer Pharmacy in Pequot Lakes and Pfeiffer Drug in Pine River, and former Sibley Township clerk and Pequot Lakes City Council member, dies June 2 at age 79.• The Pequot Lakes softball team finishes second in the Class 2A state tournament.• The Pine River-Backus softball team finishes sixth in the Class 1A state tournament.• Chloe Bermel, of Pequot Lakes, sets a state meet record in winning the 400-meter dash, and the girls’ 4×800 relay of Jannah Hall, Grace McGuire, Kristin Skog and Olivia Lane win that event at the Class A state track meet. 6.• Pequot Lakes High School senior Haley Wiebolt scores her 1,000th point with the girls’ basketball team.• Jim Oraskovich – better known to many in the Pequot Lakes area as Mr. Instead, a new committee formed and took over the pageant, which will be held in mid-April each year at the Gull Lake Center at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa.• The Minnesota Department of Education names Crosslake Community School one of the top 35 charter schools in the state, awarding it “high quality” status.• Tree clearing starts in Nisswa and Pequot Lakes for the Highway 371 four-lane expansion project.• Brainerd Warrior gymnast Hannah Dahlberg, of Pequot Lakes High School, competes at the Class 2A individual state meet in Minneapolis on bars, finishing 25th.• Road Crew wrestlers Spencer Richards, Nate Adkins and Joe Harrison compete in the Class 2A state individual wrestling tournament in St. Reid Pierzinski is the top Patriot boy finisher by placing 26th. Gary Mitchell joins the council over Jeff Helland.• Pine River-Backus High School teacher and coach Tom Demars is honored as Teacher of the Year.December• Clarice Blaeser of Breezy Point is named the 2016 Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point-Crosslake Citizen of the Year, an award sponsored by Echo Publishing. Tiana Herron is Little Miss Nisswa.• An official groundbreaking is held for the long anticipated Highway 371 four-lane expansion project from Nisswa to Jenkins.• Pequot Lakes High School students Allie Dischinger and Mikayla Horgan, and Pine River-Backus High School students Jennifer Holm and Angela Pederson are among area high school students the National Joint Powers Alliance recognizes as Region 5 Rising Stars.• Joe Haeg, of Lake Shore, is a fifth-round selection of the Indianapolis Colts in the National Football League college draft.May• Dave Endicott, former Eagle View Elementary School principal, is hired to succeed Cathy Bettino as Pine River-Backus Schools superintendent after Bettino retires at the end of the 2015-16 school year.• Quinn Swanson receives the 2016 Pine River Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award.• Shawn Hansen, Nisswa Chamber of Commerce president/CEO, receives the American Red Cross Community Hero Award in Minnesota for her work in disaster relief efforts after the July 2015 windstorm that swept through the lakes area.• Pat Kvale, Pequot Lakes School District media specialist, is named Pequot Lakes Teacher of the Year.• Crosslake votes to sell Crosslake Communications to Tri-Co. Bouchonville received 144 votes to fellow candidate Jerry Peterson’s 44 votes.FEBRUARY• The Miss Nisswa Scholarship Pageant and Little Miss Program will no longer be part of the Nisswa Winter Jubilee weekend in February each year. Paul, taking 11th place. She is founder and leader of the Pequot Lakes Eagles 4-H Club.• The Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza is postponed for the third time in its 26-year history because of ice conditions. The contest is postponed two weeks to Feb. 6 for safety reasons because of inconsistent ice conditions.• Grace United Methodist Church makes its 1,000th pasty – a hearty meat pie – since the fundraising program began in 1998.• Voters return Leslie Bouchonville to the Pine River-Backus School Board in a special election Jan. New city council members are elected, as well as new legislators from the area. O – dies at age 73 from cancer. The 4×400 relay of Lane, Mirjana Ganley, Skog and McGuire places seventh. The former Pequot Lakes Schools superintendent was active in the community.•   The 26th annual Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza is postponed from Jan. Sunshine Langworthy finishes 66th in the girls’ state meet.• The 2016 general election brings new mayors to Crosslake in Patty Norgaard and Nisswa in Fred Heidmann. Pierzinski finishes eighth in triple jump.• Pequot Lakes golfer Alex Stone finishes fourth, and Amanda Nies is 22nd at the Class 2A state tournament.• Pine River-Backus golfer Brady Raph is 39th and Nate Brasel ties for 59th at the Class A state tournament.• The Pequot Lakes trap shooting team places 22nd at the Class 4A state tournament.• Crosslake Community School trap shooter Jake Johnson finishes 93rd at the state tournament.• Fire destroys the Bungalow Tap House in Emily. Arson is suspected.July• The Bye family property in Loon Lake Township is recognized as a 2016 Century Farm.• The Department of Natural Resources announces muskellunge will be released this fall in the Gull Lake chain of lakes to establish new muskie angling opportunities in the state.• A July 21 storm with high winds hits the city of Backus particularly hard, knocking down trees on and near many private homes and businesses, as well as on historic properties, including the Bailey House and the Backus State Bank building.August• Yet another storm strikes the lakes area, knocking down trees and power lines in the Nisswa and Lake Shore areas.September• Foothills Christian Academy in Backus gears up for its first school year with 35 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and five teachers.• Lynn Fairbanks is named the 2016 Nisswa Citizen of the Year.October• After 45 years of natural resources conservation work, the Thirty Lakes Watershed District was formally terminated.November• The Pequot Lakes/Breezy Point area hosts the annual Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener with events at Breezy Point Resort.• Work to expand Highway 371 to four lanes from Nisswa to Jenkins wraps up for the season. 23 to Feb. Seniors Catie Murray and Dominic Cheek receive all-state honors.• The Pequot Lakes girls basketball team wins the Section 7AA championship to advance to the Class 2A state tournament, where the team loses to Esko in the quarterfinal round.APRIL• Five Pequot Lakes speech team members advance to the state tournament: Allie Dischinger, discussion; Mac Nagy, extemporaneous speaking; Addie Pierson, drama; Emily Espeseth, extemporaneous reading; and Courtney Rock, prose.• Tim Biscoe and Cody Walton of Pequot Lakes Boy Scout Troop 102 attain the rank of Eagle Scout.• Rachel Burns is crowned Miss Pine River and Miss Congeniality, while Shelby Adkins is First Princess and Sam Mauer is Second Princess.• Megan Morgan is crowned Miss Pequot Lakes, while Quinn Kratochvil is Miss Pequot Lakes Princess and Lark Luchka is Miss Congeniality. Nancy Adams returns to that post in Pequot Lakes.

Grim’s Tales: Out with the old

In an unlikely turn of events, doing so revealed a mass that could have gone undetected for many years to come until it became malignant and spread. Children will never see new films with Alan Rickman, and at least one actor from the television series “Growing Pains” has been reduced to a memory.The tragedy comes from my very own familiarity with these people. Even when we are feeling lower than we have ever felt before, there are things out there that we can look to to keep us afloat just long enough for truly good and amazing things to return to our own lives. Like those stars already mentioned, young children will not get the chance to know grandfathers, aunts, family friends and mothers who died in 2016.A close friend of my mother died over the summer after kicking cancer to the curb several times. What were the chances that she would take a path that would lead directly to the discovery of this mass, which could have possibly killed her in her 30s?The world is far from perfect, but at times we forget that perfect or not, there are good things happening around us. What if this girl had chosen a different profession, missed class that day or simply not volunteered? During a teacher’s demonstration, she volunteered to go into a machine and have her very organs laid bare for all to see. How many times has that teacher done that same demonstration and revealed perfectly healthy organs? It was already precancerous, so things could have been far worse.Do all teachers do demonstrations on students like this? It’s lucky when we can see the good things and reignite our fervor and love of life.Take the blessing felt by the boss at my second job.Her daughter, in her 20s, is training to work in some form of medical imaging. It’s brutal that by living close to our family members, we unintentionally connect our memories of them to the things we love.It’s brutal, but I know it will also be a blessing once things soften, and that will take a while. It’s been rough for my family, and I’m afraid the glow of the holidays that have come and gone was significantly faded.I’ve had many moments where some little thing has cropped up and reminded me of the fact that Mom was missing, that every special occasion this past year has been the first without Mom. I don’t know if anyone I know went totally unscathed. Readers may remember Sandy Medenwalt from a Lake Country Faces story I wrote about her after her last successful battle.A friend from high school lost his dad on Christmas, for crying out loud.As a year, 2016 is determined to stink as bad going out as it did coming in.As any avid reader knows, my own mother died Feb. In class I learned of John Glenn and memorized his name. Rickman was the bad guy everyone loved to hate in “Die Hard,” and when Alan Thicke gave lectures to the kids of “Growing Pains,” he was teaching my generation lessons at the same time.To make matters worse by a long shot, 2016 claimed lives in many families around me. I’m guessing that most people I know are within three degrees of separation of a deceased person from this year. Most things after a big loss like this don’t excite a person so much, and maybe that makes us more pessimistic. I am sad to know music legends like Merle Haggard and David Bowie are gone. 23 after nearly a month of pure torture brought on by cancer. But we have to be willing to look for them and hold on to their example.With the new year, most of us probably make some sort of resolution to work out more, to eat healthier or some other, loftier goal that we might or might not accomplish.For 2017, I’m going to try to appreciate more of the memories that surprise me on a daily basis, instead of dreading them.I hope you have a happy new year. I don’t think there are a lot of people out there who will look back on 2016 and say, “I miss those days.”At the very least, looking back we lost icons of the music industry, sports, science and even politics.

Volunteers help Christmas for Kids organization

20, at the Nisswa Community Center.3 / 4Theresa Bourke/Echo Journal
Joyce Martinson, 91, carefully wraps a gift for the Christmas For Kids program Tuesday, Dec. 20, at the Nisswa Community Center.4 / 4Community members got together Tuesday, Dec. Wrappers were rewarded for their efforts with pizza from Rafferty’s in Nisswa, Zorbaz in Lake Shore, Tasty Pizza North and Joe’s Pizza in Pequot Lakes, and Commander and Dockside in Breezy Point, as well as beverages from Holiday in Nisswa.On Saturday, Dec. 24, area law enforcement officers teamed with Christmas For Kids volunteers to deliver the presents to families in need. 20, at the Nisswa Community Center to spread holiday cheer and wrap the hundreds of gifts collected for the Christmas for Kids program. 24.2 / 4Theresa Bourke/Echo Journal
Lori Nelson, of Merrifield, joyfully helps wrap gifts for the Christmas For Kids program Tuesday, Dec. 20, at the Nisswa Community Center.1 / 4Submitted photo
Area law enforcement officers teamed with with Christmas For Kids volunteers to deliver presents to families in need Saturday, Dec. Theresa Bourke/Echo Journal
Carol Painter (left) and her mother, Joyce Martinson, take a break from wrapping presents for the Christmas For Kids program Tuesday, Dec.

Engravable paver bricks available for Crosslake memorial garden

Army Corps of Engineers and the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association that has been taking shape over the past two summers. To learn more about the Linda Ulland Memorial Gardens, visit It’s not too late to take advantage of a gift-giving opportunity of engravable paver bricks for the Linda Ulland Memorial Gardens (LUMG), a partner project between the U.S. Messages of one or two lines can honor, memorialize, celebrate or highlight something or someone, or an organization or business.The engraved bricks will become a permanent part of the garden’s paver paths.For more information about the engravable paver opportunity or the LUMG in general, or to place an order, contact the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association at or call Lynn Scharenbroich at 218-543-4714 or Corrine Hodapp at 651-290-5790.Pavers can be purchased anytime throughout the year. Located along the south side of the entrance to the Crosslake Campground and Recreational Area, the LUMG will see future development continue in the same welcoming and attractive style that has already pleased residents and visitors.One of those developments is the upcoming paver paths, scheduled for spring installation. As a part of that, people have an opportunity to purchase one or more engraved paver bricks at a suggested minimum donation of $60 per brick.

Highlights of 2016: Highway 371 project a top event

The project is still a work in progress, and motorists can look forward to the entire four-lane highway being open in May 2017.Turn to page A12 for a month-by-month look at highlights from stories published in the Echo Journal in 2016. Just glance at the photos on page A12. As we get ready to ring in 2017, it’s fun to take a look back at 2016 to see what names made news, and why those names made news. After so many years of talk about and planning for the four-lane highway, and so many years where the timeline moved back, then up, then back, then up again, the project is now reality.There’s likely not one driver or passenger whom the construction and resulting detours didn’t affect in the past year – some much more than others. An old editor regularly used to say, “Names make news.” That phrase has stuck with me through the years, and it proves true year after year. All these people – and many, many more – made a name for themselves in 2016 for one achievement or another.We don’t rank stories each year, but I think many readers would agree the Highway 371 four-lane expansion project from Nisswa to Jenkins was one of the biggest stories of 2016. Happy new year! And keep reading to see what names make news in 2017.

Wussow named women’s shelter executive director

3.”Ms. Cloud State University.Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center provides safety, advocacy and empowerment for abuse victims, and education about abuse for the community. Her stellar recommendations from her many references speak to her dynamic and positive leadership style,” Colleen LeBlanc, lead of the board of directors search committee, said in a news release. Wussow comes to us experienced in not-for-profit organization and domestic assault victim advocacy. “We are looking forward to her being the face of MMWC in our five-county region service community.”

Wussow, a graduate of Little Falls Community High School, has a Master of Science degree in criminal justice studies from St. Shannon Wussow, Brainerd, will begin her new duties Jan. Shannon WussowMid-Minnesota Women’s Center has named its new executive director. Wussow will lead the staff of 22 and the management of two facilities – the shelter and child safety center, both located in Brainerd.

Nisswa: Council approves increased levy, raises firefighter retirement pay

That money is left over from the 2016 wastewater budget.• Approved the 2017 wastewater budget.• Tabled the request for a city cat ordinance until January or February.• Set an organizational meeting for the incoming city council for 5 p.m. When purchased at Spirits of Nisswa, customers will receive a $5 gift certificate for the store.• Heard there will be a visioning session for Nisswa’s new comprehensive plan at 7 p.m. Planning and zoning administrator Brent Jones said the property should have been zoned as shoreland residential in the first place.• Heard the city’s big ice rink has been open for about a week and has drawn many people. The council agreed to explore the option of building the hut instead of purchasing it. Tickets are $20 each or two for $30. Tuesday, Jan. 21, the council:• Heard Spirits of Nisswa had a successful tasting event on Dec. No one had questions.The council also increased the amount of money members of the Nisswa Fire Department receive upon retirement. All community members are welcome.• Approved the rezoning of a lot on Camp Lincoln Road so the owner can build a garage. “The help and the prayers that I’ve received for the cancer situation I had. The tax levy was set at $2,052,351.25, which is an increase of 2.83 percent over this year. 1, with more people than last year’s event. 21 at Billy’s of Breezy Point, in conjunction with the Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point Lions. We got rid of the cancer … 3.Council members and city employees also bid farewell to Mayor Harold Kraus, who did not run for re-election and will leave the council in January, and thanked him for his years of service to the city.Kraus, in turn, thanked the community for its support.”It’s been a great pleasure for me and an honor to serve this community, particularly these last two years,” Kraus said. Jacobson voted “present,” meaning he was not for or against the measure.In other business Dec. The property will be rezoned from commercial waterfront to shoreland residential. The fire department, he said, had little to do with the final figures.The council approved the increase to $3,000 a year for retired firefighters, effective Jan. ran the numbers. 21, meeting. 10, at the Nisswa Community Center. This is the same amount the council adopted as the preliminary tax levy in September.The council held a special meeting and public hearing before the regular council meeting to approve the budget and get public input. The Nisswa City Council approved an increased budget and general revenue tax levy for 2017 and raised the retirement pay for firefighters at its Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2017. “And then we get about $15,000 a year from the city that goes into this retirement account.”Council member Don Jacobson recommended tabling the issue and waiting until January to vote on it so he could look at the numbers more closely and not make a snap decision.Geike assured the council that the department’s accountants at Justin, Clasen & Company, Ltd. Currently, firefighters receive a lump sum equal to $2,800 for every year of service on the fire department when they retire.Fire Chief Richard Geike proposed raising that amount to $3,000 a year. He said that rate would be 109 percent funded, so the city wouldn’t have to worry about raising additional funds.”We get about $50,000 a year from the state,” Geike said. The city’s smaller rink opened Wednesday, Dec. The store will put on another tasting Jan. 21.• Decided not to vote to purchase a heated hut for the city’s portable sewer sampler. The members did, however, vote to transfer the amount of money needed for the project – roughly $6,000 – to a money market account. I cannot thank everybody enough for that.”Council member Ross Krautkremer was not in attendance. Tuesday, Jan. through the prayers and concern of the people of this community.

State legislators receive committee appointments

Area state representatives have received their committee appointments for Minnesota’s 90th legislative session, which will convene Jan. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, District 10B: Mining, Forestry and Tourism Committee, vice chairman; Agriculture Policy Committee, member; Veterans Affairs Division, member; Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, member; Capital Investment Committee, member.”I am very pleased with my committee assignments,” Lueck said in a news release. “These committees make decisions that directly impact our district and will influence our region for years to come. I look forward to continuing to represent the people in our area and welcome the opportunity to work on solving the many challenges we face here in the district.”House District 10B includes Aitkin County and the majority of rural Crow Wing County.Rep.-elect John Poston, R-Lake Shore, District 9A: Agriculture Finance Committee, member; Agriculture Policy Committee, member; Capital Investment Committee, member; Education Finance Committee, member; Veterans Affairs Division, member.”I am honored and proud to be serving our community at the Capitol in St. Rep. Paul for the next two years,” Poston said in a news release. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, District 10A: Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, vice chairman; Health and Human Services Finance Committee, member; Higher Education and Career Readiness and Policy Finance Committee, member; Subcommittee on Mining, Forestry and Tourism, member.”I’m excited about the work ahead of us for the 2017-18 session, Heintzeman said in a news release. “I will work to share our rural values on the committees I sit on and ensure we are well-represented.”House District 9A includes East Gull Lake and Lake Shore; Fairview, Home Brook, Loon Lake, Wilson, Walden and Bungo townships; and parts of Wadena and Todd counties.Rep.-elect Sandy Layman, R-Cohasset, District 5B: Legacy Fund Finance Committee, vice chair; Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, member; Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee, member; Subcommittee on Mining, Forestry and Tourism, member.”As an incoming member, it’s truly an honor to be named vice chair of the Legacy Funding Finance Committee,” Layman said in a news release. 3, 2017. “These committees will deal directly with issues that impact our community each day, and I’m looking forward to doing my part to help combat rising health costs, make higher education more affordable and ensure we’re protecting and safely developing our God-given natural resources.”House District 10A includes Brainerd, Baxter, Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Jenkins and Breezy Point and Gail Lake, Jenkins, Mission, Ideal, Pelican, Center and Lake Edward townships and unorganized territory in Crow Wing County.Rep. “All of my committee assignments fit this district extremely well, and I look forward to working for area residents – and Minnesotans around the state – throughout the committee process.”House District 5B includes Backus, Bovey, Chickamaw Beach, Cohasset, Coleraine, Deer River, Grand Rapids, La Prairie, Pine River, Remer, Taconite and Zemple.

Cass County: Board sets final levy, budget

346 for sheriff’s employees who work in dispatch and records divisions.Stevenson said Cass County “pattern bargains,” meaning the county attempts to make its contracts with all unions representing county employees essentially the same.Cass County has a 10-step pay scale that is used for all county employees and elected officials and is recommended to and has traditionally been used by judges who set pay for court employees who work in the county.Once employees complete what is usually a six-month probation, they move one step higher on the pay scale July 1 of each year when contracts call for that. There is no contingency fund planned.The total budget includes revenues from state and federal funding, fees for services and other sources in addition to the property tax levy.Included in the budget is a $245,000 levy and anticipated $55,000 in other revenue for the unorganized township area, with the same for expenditures. The Cass County Board set a final 2017 levy and budget and approved 2017 salaries for all employees except those in three of the six union bargaining units. 1. 1 in 2017, 2018 and 2019, plus the July 1 step increases.The board set wage increases for elected and appointed officials and non-union employees on the same terms as the approved union contracts. This will be a 3.38 percent increase over the 2016 levy.The final levy includes using $80,000 received this year from the local option transportation sales tax to reduce the property tax levy. The difference between steps on the pay scale is about 3 percent.Once employees reach the tenth and final step, they become eligible instead for a once a year 1.75 percent of monthly base pay, which is paid to them Dec. They do not receive any secondary increases during the year.Stevenson advised the board their pay for 2017 would be about 7 percent below neighboring county commissioners. That is only levied in those townships.Department heads reduced costs and obtained grants, so the final county levy could be reduced from a preliminary $21,556,545 set in September to $21,263,554. Commissioner salaries for 2017 will be $25,477.40 per year.Their $75 per day per diems for attending meetings other than the first county board meeting each month is about average, Stevenson reported.The board approved continuing to pay volunteer appointees to county committees the same $75 per day. Cass pays the Internal Revenue Service mileage rate, which will be 53.5 cents per mile in 2017.Unions yet to finalize a 2017 wage contract with the county include those representing jailers, licensed peace officers and highway employees. The county 2017 budget calls for $59,152,375 in revenues and $58,913,054 in expenditures. Total sales tax revenue will not be known until early 2017 when the state pays receipts to the county.Board Chair Jeff Peterson voted against the levy, because it appears the county will receive more than the originally expected $1 million a year from the sales tax, so the county would be dedicating less than the planned 22 percent of the sales tax for levy reduction.Administrator Joshua Stevenson and Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane recommended the board use the $80,000, because the sales tax is in its first year of collections and is still an estimate.They noted the board will be amending the 2017 budget quarterly during the year as actual figures become better known.The commissioners increased the Longville Ambulance Service District levy that is collected only in that service district area from $461,000 in 2016 to $503,000 for 2017.They set a 2017 capital equipment budget, primarily comprised of computer equipment and vehicle purchases, at $1,664,870.They approved three-year wage contracts with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees bargaining units for courthouse employees and for health, human and veterans services employees and with Teamsters General Local Union No. Each will receive the 2.5 percent per year January raise, plus a July step increase or the December longevity pay.Because the county determined the county’s sheriff was paid lower than neighboring county sheriff’s, the board voted Tuesday to move Sheriff Tom Burch one grade higher on the pay scale, increasing from Grade 45 to Grade 46.All three Cass elected officials already are at Step 10 of their pay grade, so none will receive a pay raise in July.Their annual wages beginning July 1 will be the following:County Attorney Christopher Strandlie: $121,035.20.Sheriff Tom Burch: $107,536.County Recorder Katie Norby: $75,400.Cass commissioners approved a 2.5 percent pay raise for themselves effective Jan. 1 for longevity.Employees who are required to obtain a license to do their job or must complete training or take a test can be subject to having their supervisor extend the probation period beyond six months to give them time to receive accreditation for their job.Probation also may be extended when an employee completes different tasks seasonally.The new contracts call for 2.5 percent annual pay raises Jan. The commissioners are the only individuals not paid based on the county’s wage scale.

Grim’s Grub: Christmas cookies have a history

This year I’m trying out sunflower seed brittle, a nutty treat I had in China. Then she gave them to us for Christmas.I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas.Sunflower Brittle1 cup roasted salted sunflower seeds1 teaspoon salt1 tablespoon butter, plus extra for coating1 cup sugarCoat a large cookie sheet with butter.Melt butter in a pan on low. She gave everyone gallon baggies full of cookies as gifts, though she swore it cost as much as gifts.Baking had a history in her family. I have a bread pudding recipe that apparently was from my Uncle Dan that has gone right into my recipe box.I think everyone had a favorite, and everyone had something they didn’t care as much for. There are exceptions. The recipes reside only in your head. She made each batch of spritz cookies separately. It’s insubstantial. Spread to desired thickness while hot and set aside to cool. Cover the filling with another small amount of chocolate coating.Repeat until all filling and chocolate is used. Mom only made them once a year, and you always knew they were coming when her cookie gun showed up on the kitchen counter. Mix in seeds and salt. I don’t remember the last time she made peanut brittle either.About five years ago I added to the mix with pumpkin pie truffles and homemade dark chocolate thin mints. Grandpa always said never double the spritz cookie recipe. But the adults in the family have been pretty much exempt from the need to give to one another. She swore they would never turn out right if you did.I don’t know when peanut butter cups joined the ranks of our holiday treats (once when we lived across from Deerfield Town Hall), but I think that first year Mom tried chocolate-covered cherries and pretzels too. Keep warm.In a heavy-bottomed skillet, melt sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly. (They were the only ones who liked it.)Spritz cookies were always a big deal. Work the flour into this mixture slowly. Do not brown the cookies. I’ve occasionally given gifts when I saw something particularly appropriate for someone. Break into pieces and store in a dry container.Debbie Grimler’s Peanut Butter CupsFilling:1 cup creamy peanut butter1 stick softened butter2 cups powdered sugar1 teaspoon vanillaChocolate coating:1 pound chocolate1 cup peanut butterPaper cupsFilling: Mix all ingredients together.Coating: Melt peanut butter and chocolate together in the microwave in 12-second bursts. I think I’ll have to try out some spritz or maybe peanut butter cups while I’m at it.I have Mom’s recipe because years ago she toyed with woodworking, during which time she made recipe boxes for all us kids and filled them with the recipes we grew up loving. When the sugar melts and turns a golden brown color, quickly mix in hot seeds and pour onto the cookie sheet. When pourable, use a spoon to put a small amount into the bottoms of paper cups.Scoop a small amount of the peanut butter filling into your hand and form it into a ball before pressing it into the cup. Once sheet is full, put it into the oven for 7-10 minutes or until set. Every year she lamented that his cookbooks seemed to have vanished along the way, and if I had a time machine I must admit I would probably sneak in and make copies like some top secret spy.There are few things as valuable as family recipes.I never learned any recipes from Grandpa, but unlike the other inheritances that “you can’t take with you,” I think a family recipe might be a rare exception along with the other things you can learn from family. I only remember one year of cherries and pretzels.I used to love the little clusters of Trix cereal Mom made, but they fell by the wayside a long time ago. It seems like we actually transitioned somewhere to the whole sappy “bring the gift of your presence” thing. I think they were a pretty plain treat, if I remember correctly. I don’t think I cared for the cherries, but I don’t know why not. I don’t remember the last time my family did a traditional gift exchange for Christmas.I’m sure everyone exchanges gifts with significant others, and of course the children always get presents. Allow to cool, then serve.Debbie Grimler’s Spritz Cookies(Don’t double the recipe)1 cup soft butter2/3 cup sugar3 egg yolks1 teaspoon vanilla2 ½ cups sifted flourCookie gunFood coloring (optional)Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.Mix the butter, sugar, yolks and vanilla thoroughly. For that same reason I wish I could find the recipe for pickled fish that my Uncle Dean gave me before he died. You have to buy the ingredients by yourself, but until you apply them in the right ratios, it’s just flour and sugar and what-not.Invaluable doesn’t even begin to describe the cost of a family recipe. The cups continued to be a family favorite. I have stories to pass down just from eating mom’s cookies.I didn’t like Russian tea cakes as a child, but Brent and Dad would gorge on them. We all know how families have a habit of spreading to the wind when everyone finds their own home and starts their own family.Our family is no different, and holidays lately have been some of the only times when we get together. Mom augmented the last several Christmases with baking. Add in food coloring if you want colorful cookies.Pack your dough into a cookie gun and squeeze handle to extrude cookies onto a greased cookie sheet. Her father owned a bakery at one time. (I don’t think Brent is quite as crazy about them now.) If making chocolate chip cookies to share, Mom always made a second batch without nuts because Brent didn’t like the ones with nuts as much.I don’t remember if Troy had a favorite cookie, but it was the one time of the year that he and Mom had lutefisk.

Letter to the Editor: Echo Journal has both liberal, conservative views

To think otherwise, this letter writer must not read the paper regularly or just doesn’t care that the paper has provided the same opportunities for sharing opinions.Second, I suggest the letter writer take a look at the election results in Minnesota. In a recent letter, a writer takes issue with Pete Abler’s As I See It column because of Abler’s conservative slant on politics and thinks it is somehow the minority view in the viewing circle of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. Like it or not, Trump is president, and I will put odds that he can’t do any worse than the last eight years.David Anderson,Lonsdale The Legislature finally reflects that with the past election, as does the lakes area, which is represented by this newspaper.Finally, while Trump may be a Republican, I did not support him. Paul, the Iron Range and a few outliers. First, let me say that the newspapers have provided ample space and time to others opining their liberal and often socialistic views of the world. The presidential election maps of the last 12-16 years has Minnesota primarily red, with the exception of the core cities of Minneapolis and St. I still have great reservations about his commitment to anything conservative (spending, family, faith, fiscal restraint, limited government, etc.), but the election has shown how hypocritical and one-sided most in the media are. The Pineandlakes Echo Journal has provided a fair forum for both sides, and Ithink some letter writers can’t stand it.Life will go on, the world didn’t end, and we get to put the worst president in my lifetime behind us.

As I See It: Hope and change for 2017 and beyond

I suppose it was somehow necessary for the government and its lawyers to define this or that disadvantaged group so some more laws could be written protecting them from discrimination.But I firmly believe that in doing so, that process resulted in additional societal divisions that had negative effects on our sense of unity.My hope for 2017 is that we realize we are Americans, and that title doesn’t require any additional prefixes.Well, that’s the way I see it. That’s decidedly unchristian.Second, they all cannot have the absolute truth in their doctrines and teachings, especially when those doctrines and teachings are in direct opposition to those of other churches.And finally, many denominations certainly have more in common than they are willing to admit. 9, I was sadly mistaken. I firmly believe if Christians don’t fashion a culture of stronger unity, they aren’t going to be successful in withstanding their own mediocrity, not to mention the unrelenting onslaught of atheists, secular progressives and other more aggressive and militant religious movements.And while I’m on the subject of greater unity, in spite of the latest presidential election, the current post-election divide should be no surprise, given how divided the electorate – and society – have become over the past few decades. Many of my contemporaries in the senior ranks echo that same concern. Reportedly, there are over 35,000 churches in the world who call themselves Christian. If I thought I was sick of the endless, over-the-top campaigning and rhetoric prior to the election and that the continuing nausea was going to quickly disappear on Nov. I’m not the only one who feels that way. Once these folks realize there are actual, factual reasons for the loss and not a bushel basket of esoteric twilight-zone excuses, they can get on with life just as a lot of us did in 2008 and 2012.Too many of us don’t understand and appreciate our history. I am truly disappointed and nearly just as sick now with the crying, hand-wringing and juvenile behavior of the people who cannot understand that their anointed candidate lost. or one election.I find those who rant and rave over the Electoral College and our method of choosing a president mildly amusing but unschooled. And too many of these 35,000 probably don’t have good things to say about the other 34,999. An understanding of history gives us the perspective to recognize things that have happened before instead of declaring that we’re all going to hell in a handbasket because of X, Y or Z … There are a lot of clichés such as: “past is prologue” and “those who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”The faces and names change with the years, but human nature drives us to do certain things (good and bad) over and over again. They are much more comfortable trying to defend their version of the doctrinal and moral high ground than in seeking an understanding and cooperation with other churches.Sounds just like politics, doesn’t it?If Judaism was added to the ecumenism pot with Christianity, the sum of those parts could be an even greater potent political force than all those evangelicals who are treated as a dangerous cult or worse. So, the voters in New York and California could conceivably control or overly influence all presidential elections if we switched to a purely popular voting system.Is that what we really want?Shifting gears, I read another article several months ago that said Christians need to get their act together. If you read all the documents about this subject written by our founders (that’s called history), you would hopefully develop a greater appreciation and understanding of how and why it came about.I heard an analysis of this last election that stated if California and New York were dropped from this year’s voting statistics, Donald Trump would have won the popular vote by 3 million votes.

Letter to the Editor: Affordable health care

Otis Brawley, M.D., is highly critical of the politics of illness in America, responding to those opposed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act who say that “the American health-care system is the best in the world.”

In his book, “How We Do Harm – A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America,” he explains that America is the best place in the world to get the care for complicated but treatable disease if you have the ability to get care and pay for it.It’s not a great place to be sick if you are poor and uninsured or want consistent, basic care.USA Today confirmed Brawley’s premise that “ours is a nation of extremes, with the poor or uninsured frequently denied even the most basic care while the well-insured often are ‘overtreated,’ receiving unapproved drugs and procedures that can cause real harm.”When other advanced nations with national health care have the highest life expectancy and lower costs, we need to consider backing a national health care initiative that provides basic healthcare to all people.Robert O. Uppgaard, retired DDSPequot Lakes Dr.

Back to Basics slated Feb. 11 at PR-B School

She is also one of Minneapolis-St. Workshops range from farming and living off-grid to saving seeds, and food preservation topics to permaculture.In addition to the over 40 workshops, the list of businesses signing up for the vendor fair is expanding by the week. School-aged children’s programming runs concurrently. The 11th annual Back to Basics will run from 8 a.m. 11, at Pine River-Backus School with workshop sessions, keynote speaker, vendors, exhibitors, lunch, door prizes and more. to 5 p.m. Our goal is to host an event that is fun and educational.”This year’s keynote speaker will be J. Fill out the volunteer form on the B2B information page.Or register and pay online through Registrations can be submitted up until the event, space allowing. “More people participated last year than ever before. Vendor/exhibitor products and information must be sustainable in nature.Registration is now open for attendees.Volunteers are also welcome. to 5 p.m.”Sustainable and resilient living topics are resonating with people,” Swanson said. Last year’s event hosted 46 vendors, a record high. Full families are welcome to enjoy the day together. “We’re ramping up every day, with the intention to make this the best Back to Basics yet.”In its 11th year, Back to Basics has a diverse set of workshops and presentations. She is responsible for policy development and analysis of clean energy solutions to maximize economic opportunities for the Midwest. The sustainability fair is free to all and will be open from 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. Volunteer for half the day and receive lunch, an event T-shirt and free entry into workshops. Paul Magazine’s 100 influential people “who make things happen.”If interested in having a vendor/exhibitor booth at this event or for more information, call 218-587-2303 or email Drake Hamilton, science policy director at Fresh Energy, a Minnesota based nonprofit with 20 years of work in clean energy.Hamilton is an expert on climate policy at the state and national levels with a background in geography, climatology and water resources. The event is hosted by Happy Dancing Turtle and Pine River-Backus Community Education.”We love that this event continues to bring in more and more people,” said Quinn Swanson, event coordinator.

Area Boys Hockey: Lightning capture championship

RIVER FALLS, Wis.—Josh Maucieri scored two goals and the Northern Lakes Lightning captured the championship in the Wildcat Hockey Tournament with a 3-2 victory over the River Falls Wildcats Saturday. Tuesday. Next: Wadena-Deer Creek vs. Drew Elfering scored the other NL goal which tied the game 1-1 in the first period.Goalie Jaeger Reed stopped 24 of 26 shots for the Lightning who improved to 7-1-1 after their fifth straight victory.River Falls 1 1 0—2Northern Lakes 1 2—3First period: RF-Wyatt Grundstrom 1:43; NL-Drew Elfering (Brendan Knox, Aaron Cable) 7:56Second period: RF-Matt Miller (Grundstrom, Brandon Stocker) 3:28Third period: NL-Josh Maucieri 0:51; NL-Maucieri 5:00Shots on goal: NL 27, RF 26Goalies: NL-Jaeger Reed (24 saves); RF-Jake Miller (24 saves)Overall: NL 7-1-1. Northern Lakes at Crosby 7 p.m. Maucieri rallied the Lightning from a 2-1 deficit by scoring the game’s last two goals—both unassisted—in the first five minutes of the final period.

Snowmobile crash kills one in northwestern Minnesota

on Saturday on County Road 8 just north of Grand Marais when he became separated from his machine and was struck by his friend’s machine. He died there from his injuries. Eliasen said that while an autopsy report is pending, medical personnel believe Anderson died from a broken neck.The snowmobilers had been traveling along a ditch at the time of the crash, Eliasen said, and both riders were ejected from their machines when they encountered deep crevices in the snow from a creek bed. Alcohol was not a factor in the crash.The investigation is continuing, Eliasen said. When medical personnel and Cook County Sheriff’s deputies arrived, CPR was initiated and continued while Anderson was taken by Cook County Ambulance to North Shore Health in Grand Marais. GRAND MARAIS — A 22-year-old Grand Marais was killed in a snowmobile crash on New Year’s Eve.Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen said Wayne Gunnar Anderson was snowmobiling with a friend about 5:30 p.m.