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Amtrak trains stop in Red Wing twice a day. Freight trains travel the same lines here at several times that frequency. This week, however, silence has fallen over Red Wing's regulary rumbling rails. Railroad traffic heading into Red Wing -- and points beyond -- has drawn to a halt after storms wreaked devastation on the Winona area over the weekend.
Lots of lake trout earmarked for stocking in Lake Superior now may be belly-up in the Mississippi River. Last weekend's flooding in southeastern Minnesota flooded the Crystal Springs Hatchery near Altura, Minn., sweeping away thousands of juvenile lake trout, said Darryl Bathel, coldwater production supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Duluth. About 172,000 of the young lake trout at the hatchery were to be stocked next spring in Lake Superior. "Of that, I do not know what's left," Bathel said. "We assume most of them died.
Lake Superior has plunged to a record low for the month of August, this week surpassing the previous August low-water mark set in 1926. After a long decline that has mirrored the Northland's worst drought in half a century, the mean level of the lake dropped to 600.4 feet above sea level, surpassing the previous August low mark of 600.5, said Carl Woodruff, hydraulic engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District. It's the first record set during the lake's current downturn. The lake probably will stay in or near record-low territory through autumn and into winter.
Cottage Grove resident John Kriesel appears in a new commercial put out by advocacy group Freedom's Watch supporting keeping forces in Iraq. Kriesel was injured by an improvised explosive device in December while serving in Iraq as a sergeant in the Minnesota National Guard. Kriesel lost both his legs, and now uses prosthetics. Kriesel was treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. for his injuries, and underwent more than 25 surgeries.
With continental populations of many species of ducks at or near record highs, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has established a 60-day duck season for this fall and increased the daily bag limit to six ducks. The mallard bag limit will remain unchanged from last year, including only one hen, and the canvasback daily limit will be increased to two, according to a DNR news release. "While continental duck populations look very good, this year's hunting success is by no means assured," DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten said in a prepared statement.
REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. - The renewable energy industry alone will not be rural Minnesota's path to economic prosperity. Communities in rural Minnesota looking to grow their economy and stave off population declines need diverse businesses and the ability to attract young workers, a panel of experts said Thursday. "We need a balanced economic development strategy," said Jack Geller, executive director of the Center for Rural Policy and Development, during a forum at Farmfest in southwestern Minnesota. Demographics are working against the push to invigorate rural areas.
REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty went to the source Thursday as he stood before hundreds of farmers to announce he wants more plant-based fuel in the state's diesel supply. Speaking at Farmfest, Pawlenty said he wants lawmakers in 2008 to approve his plan to increase the use of biodiesel - a fuel usually made with soybean oil - tenfold over several years. Biodiesel now is sold in a 2 percent soybean-98 percent diesel blend. The Republican governor's proposal would move to a 5 percent biodiesel fuel blend in 2008, 10 percent by 2011, 15 percent by 2013 and 20 percent by 2015.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota will seek a federal drought disaster declaration later this week, Gov. Tim Pawlenty predicted Tuesday as unusually dry conditions are jeopardizing crop yields. A swath of Minnesota - from the southwest corner to the far northeastern region - is experiencing a moderate to severe drought, according to state agriculture statistics. Federal officials have been assessing drought conditions on a county-by-county basis and are expected to report their findings Thursday.
As the summer winds down, prospects for a special legislative session dim, says Assistant House Majority Leader Frank Moe. Legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Pawlenty continue to negotiate circumstances for a special session, Moe, DFL-Bemidji, told the Bemidji Sunrise Rotary Club on Tuesday morning. He called August the indicator month. "If there is no agreement in August, I don't think it will happen," he said.
APPLETON -- Fewer than 10 years ago, Brent Olson and a group of farmers in western Minnesota and eastern South Dakota sold $13 million worth of shares and built an ethanol plant in Big Stone City, S.D. Today those shares are worth $140 million and the plant has paid more than $40 million in dividends to its owners, most of whom are farmers, small business owners and others who live where the corn for the plant is grown. If the plant was owned by an outside corporation, "all that money would still have been made," said Olson.