Michael Brun is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program. He has worked for the Republican Eagle since March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.
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From the fifth floor of the St. James Hotel, Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle watched as a train passed by Levee Park. He took a phone from his pocket and snapped a picture. Through that lone window, he could see natural amenities, a bridge that needs replacing, freight and passenger rail traffic, bicycle trails and a commercial waterway.
Wabasha and Goodhue counties are two of 79 local government and law enforcement agencies around the state accused of illegally accessing citizens' driver's license information, including that of state Rep. Steve Drazkowski and Wabasha County commissioners. Details of the alleged snooping came to light in a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court. The 18 plaintiffs listed in the complaint allege the accused agencies of violating the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act, or DPPA, as well as Minnesota common law against invasions of privacy.
The Minnesota commissioner of health is seeking a temporary injunction to shut down Hidden Valley Campground in Welch, alleging owner Cory Axelson has been running it without a license for two years. Assistant Attorney General Eric Beecher presented the state's case Monday at a hearing in Goodhue County District Court.
Back-to-school time is all about learning how to cooperate and share in a group environment. Unfortunately, closed-off classrooms and hundreds of children make for the perfect setting to unintentionally share illnesses like influenza — which students can then bring home to share with family members as well. There is a noticeable increase in flu cases once school starts, said Vicki Iocco, a public health nurse with Goodhue County's Health and Human Services department.
Bill Fuller has had a mustache for so long that not even his own children know what he looks like without it. "I started it the day I graduated high school, June 1, 1969," the recently retired Ellsworth High School assistant principal said. But later this year the venerable facial hair could be shaved clean as part of a fundraising idea by stepson Ben Schmidt.
Goodhue County Board set the preliminary 2014 property tax levy at $27.4 million, an increase of 1.72 percent. Even with the maximum levy increase allowed by the state, the county faces a $260,000 budget shortfall next year. The motion passed 3-2 at a meeting Tuesday, with Commissioners Ted Seifert and Ron Allen voting against it. Board members acknowledged something would have to be done to get county finances in line, but had differing opinions on exactly what that would look like.
In response to a statement by Pope Francis calling for a worldwide day of prayer for peace in Syria, area religious groups are encouraging local residents — regardless of faith — to join the effort Saturday. Francis delivered the statement Sunday in St Peter's Square, inviting "all men and women of good will" to participate in support of peace in Syria and "each situation of conflict and violence around the world." He asked leaders to "listen to the voice of their own conscience" regarding Syria in order to avoid "blind conflict."
Everything just seemed to come together this summer for Red Wing's Leo C. Peterson American Legion Post 54. Around the same time the city repaved and renovated an adjacent parking lot, the Legion's executive committee allocated a $20,000 donation for capital improvements to the post on West Fourth Street. The donation came from the estate of Donald R. Anderson, who died in October 2011. He was a member of Post 54 for more than 50 years, having joined the American Legion after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1946.
PRESCOTT -- When Herdie Baisden attended a Wisconsin Apple Growers Association meeting last year, he had no idea what he would be getting himself into. The organization announced that its giant pie pan — a 12-foot-diameter metallic behemoth split into eight man-sized wedges — had fallen into disuse. Baisden, owner of Maiden Rock Apples, Winery and Cidery in Stockholm, said he was intrigued by the concept of a 12-foot pie. With his curiosity piqued, he offered $80 to bring the pan home. His was the only bid.
Living at home with parents certainly has its perks. Not the least of which is having access to years' worth of accumulated tools and equipment. From dad's workbench to the ubiquitous kitchen junk drawer that always seems to have just the right tool for the job, it's easy to take for granted how important it is to have some common tools on hand. That is until one of those tools is needed but not available. One of the best gifts for college freshmen moving away or new homeowners and renters is a basic toolbox.