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home : news February 5, 2016

All's quiet on the township election front
Tuesday, March 8 township residents go to the polls and come together in annual meetings to be a part of a grassroots budget process for next year’s property tax levy.  The annual meetings are held at township halls all across the county immediately after polls close. 


Thursday, February 4, 2016


NBEA in mediation info-picketing now
North Branch Education Association is bringing its contract dispute to the streets. During public microphone at the last few school board meetings NBEA staff have expressed frustrations with contract talks that are underway.  At the last school board session it was announced there was to be a negotiations session this week.  

Tuesday and Wednesday Feb 2 and 3 the union  scheduled a picket line event at the North Branch District Education Center near Grand Avenue and Hwy 95 for the late afternoon both days.  



Thursday, February 4, 2016

Chicken-keeping lends levity to tense meeting
A discussion on the land area required for owning chickens in North Branch,  managed to bring some comic relief to a North Branch City Council meeting rife with the continued friction among council members. 
Thursday, February 4, 2016

Chisago-petitioned project underway; watershed district board organizes for 2016
At the start of last week’s meeting, the newest Manager on the  Comfort Lake-Forest Lake Watershed District Board, Jackie McNamara took her oath of office alongside Board President Jackie Anderson, who was recently re-appointed from Chisago County.  Anderson serves as president of the two-county Watershed District Board.
Thursday, February 4, 2016

Stock dogs compete indoors
Ordinarily a visitor to the enclosed arena at Rick-A-Shay Ranch, south of Chisago City, would be hearing the muffled echo of horse hooves on the fine gravel and sawdust floor, the clink of bridles against other tack, and the occasional whinny of horses greeting one another.  This time, a riot of noise greeted a recent visitor-- from the skwack-skwack of dozens of large ducks  to  shouts of herd dog handlers, ordering their dogs to “come-by” go “there” and stay “down.” 
Thursday, February 4, 2016

North Branch city has pay equity problem
Equal pay for equal work is more than just a catch-phrase that surfaces in presidential debates periodically.  Here in Minnesota, there is a 30-year-old law that mandates equal pay for equal work for all public employees. This Pay Equity rule was adopted in 1984, and tries to ensure fairness and objectivity in establishing the structure of compensation for taxpayer-funded jobs.  While it doesn’t replace negotiations or set actual wages, it has presented the City of North Branch with a potential financial dilemma. 
Thursday, February 4, 2016

Faux Celebration of the Lakes was still fun despite not being official, Home Show tab
I hope you had a chance to get out and enjoy some of the spectacular weather we had over the weekend.  I was able to get out and take in some of the Celebration of the Lakes (yes, I know it was officially cancelled) events over theweekend. The kids clinic was great, the kids fishing tournament was great (especially after the fish started to bite).  The 5K race in Center City was well attended.  Frankie’s fishing tournament had as many teams as I have ever seen in it.  Even the out of state fishermen were so complimentary of our area. They all say they love it here and the fishing is awesome.
Thursday, February 4, 2016

Touch of sunshine in February
Every so often I say, “We are in the season of” whatever the season is! Today, we are in the season of citrus fruits, oranges in particular, which are high in Vitamin C, potassium, fiber and other nutrients and have almost no sodium. The climate controls an orange size, shape, flavor and the thickness of the peel. The thin skinned juicy oranges are grown mostly in Florida and Texas while the thick skinned navel orange with less juice grow best in the dryer climates of California and Arizona. The thick skinned are best used in salads, desserts, eating out of hand and are easy to grate, while the thin skinned are basically used for orange juice. I often grate the skin before peeling it (not the pith with it), freeze the bits in a pie tin, then put them in a plastic bag to be used as fresh grated orange peels in recipes.
Thursday, February 4, 2016

Schnagl unintentional homicide trial in third week of testimony
The third degree homicide trial of Aaron Jude Schnagl continues this week in district court in Center City.   Last week an offender who shared Schangl’s jail cell and who was interrogated repeatedly over the two years that this case has been developed,  appeared on the witness stand. 
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Brothers pursue dream of classic dining venue in backyard of their youth
When you have a successful game plan you don’t mess with it much, but it sometimes pays to expand on it ever so slightly, and that’s just what Geoff Swenson has done with the new Swensons’ Lakehouse restaurant in Center City.  He took his successful restaurant formula from out west called “Stacks” (five locations in the Bay Area) and is now dishing up those sought-after breakfast and lunch specialities back in his old stomping grounds, along with steakhouse and seafood classics.
Thursday, January 28, 2016

North Star array gets PUC okay
By springtime construction should get underway on the North Star Solar array covering several hundred acres,  in the area where the rural south-east corner of the city of North Branch-Lent Township-and Sunrise Township meet.  The MN Public Utilities Commission approved a site permit last  week and a length of high voltage transmission line for “North Star,” a solar power generating facility planned by Community Energy Solar.  The North Star project will collect and send solar power to the nearby Lent Township Xcel substation.
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Chisago Lake Township hall ok'd, fire contract still up in the air
The new Chisago Lake Township Hall project was approved last week for a conditional use permit (CUP) clearing the way for the construction to start this spring.  The new township hall is being built next to the township’s maintenance facility, off 316th, north of downtown Lindstrom.  (Chisago Lake Twsp. supervisors sold the old hall on Broadway and Hwy 8, in Lindstrom. It is the site for the Ignite fitness and training facility.)
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lindstrom City Council moves Morningside Court project forward
The Lindstrom City Council with member William Schlumbohm, sr absent, handled the long-lingering Morningside Court improvements issue last week.  After accepting a feasibility study from Engineer Jon Herdegen, council voted January 21 4-0 to order the improvements and draw specs and plans for paving and stormwater improvements.  The street dog-legs from Olinda Trail-- across from the high school-- to McCormick Place.
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Recreation warning; thin ice on Moody Lake due to winter aeration
The Comfort Lake – Forest Lake Watershed District is planning to run an aeration system on Moody Lake beginning on or about February 1, 2016. This will result in thin ice and/or open water on the west side of the lake near Lofton Avenue. The aerator will remain on until ice-out in spring 2016. Signage will be posted around the perimeter of the thin ice and at access points around the lake. Please exercise EXTREME CAUTION around Moody Lake from late-January until ice-out in spring.
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Shafer City Council hears from Sheriff Duncan on annual services
Shafer City Council met January 19 for a regular meeting.  All members were in attendance.  With no public hearings scheduled, the council heard from Chisago County Sheriff Rick Duncan and staff member Michelle Jacobsen.  Duncan told the council he was visiting all of the councils from the communities that contract with the Sheriff’s Department.  He and Jacobsen were presenting their annual 2015 report. In 2015 Shafer had a total of 1206 calls answered by the Sheriff’s Department.  They made 24 arrests and handed out 58 citations.
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lots to do this weekend, get out and enjoy the beautiful weather before...
This weekend is what would have been the official Celebration of the Lakes. Lucky for you there are tons of things to take part in over the weekend.
Thursday, January 28, 2016

It's soup time in Minnesota
It’s been a cold Minnesota winter and it’s hot soup time  for us and many others. Millions of Americans eat soup each day. However, not the same person eating soup every day.
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Putting the public back in cable T.V. public access
Having retired from a career portraying Ronald McDonald-- yes THE Ronald McDonald-- the newly-hired Chisago Lakes cable television public access coordinator is no stranger to being in the public  eye.  His lifelong pursuits in performing, marketing, video production and the arts served Jack Doepke well in his public relations career,  and they will again in this new chapter in his life.
Thursday, January 21, 2016

No towing contract; commission leaves 2016 open, new officer sworn-in
There was a full house of attendees for last week’s Lakes Area Police Commission meeting-- half observed  the swearing in of new Officer Johnathan Barwin (see picture) and half came for the award of a towing contract bid.
Thursday, January 21, 2016

Local businessman doing what he can to boost awareness of CO poisoning
The saddest losses are those that are preventable and the National Safety Council says the best way to not become a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning, is detection.  The middle weeks of the winter are when the vast majority of deaths from carbon monoxide are reported,  and January has long been a traditional peak fatality period. 
Thursday, January 21, 2016

Local author's book on living with ALS, release party January 23
Those diagnosed with ALS, their families and caregivers will most certainly want to get familiar with a book released just this month,  which is an inspired personal story about living with ALS. 
Thursday, January 21, 2016

Taylors Falls Memorial Center will play host to Festival Theater shows
The city of Taylors Falls will open the doors of Memorial Community Center next summer for regular shows by the St. Croix Festival Theatre.

The arts company has brought live entertainment to regional audiences for 25 years, primarily on stage at the Civic Auditorium in St. Croix Falls. That historic building will be undergoing 12 months of renovations to begin this April, but Festival directors have planned a full slate of performances in other area venues so that audiences may continue to support the arts locally.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

New year for North Branch Council, but old problems hard to overcome
The North Branch City Council met January 12 for the first time in 2016 and tackled a wide-ranging agenda...but still found it necessary to meet again, Friday afternoon Jan 15.
Thursday, January 21, 2016

Center City Council moves on addressing; approving 2016 Levy
Center City council members began 2016 with a new course of action regarding the former Park Island Manor property. They directed City Attorney Ted Alliegro to file for a default judgment against the lot and its owner, Larry Merhiy of Blaine.
Thursday, January 21, 2016

Chisago Lakes advances to semi's, more news on winter celebrations
Congratulations to Chisago Lakes and more importantly the group that heads up the ABC  competition group.  Chisago Lakes has advanced to the top 15 finalists in the America’s Best Communities competition.  That means some representatives from our local group will attend the Summit in North Carolina in April,  where they will present an economic revitalization  proposal to a panel of judges and executives.   Eight of those 15 cities will receive $100,000 to bring their plans to life.
Thursday, January 21, 2016

Warm and delicious comfort foods
We are in the season of comfort foods otherwise known as soups, oven meals and casseroles. I am going to focus on casserole meals today.

You can combine a variety of meats, poultry, fish, just veggies along with seasonings to make hot and bubbly one dish meals. We didn’t throw leftovers in the garbage. We put them in a container, marked what was inside and the date it was made. I guess I don’t fall far from my mother’s tree as that’s exactly what I do. As I’ve mentioned before, I save the liquid from drained veggies and freeze the liquid to be added to soups, gravies, etc. for added flavor.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


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