Statewide: January 12, 2012 Archive
Posted at 12:33 PM on January 12, 2012
by Mark Steil
Filed under: Farms
(Photo courtesy of Brian DeVore/Land Stewardship Project)
Listen to the farmer talk.
"This land is our retirement package. This is all we got. For some people it seems things are pretty clear. My neighbor Harlan sold to the Thompson brothers, they're big corn and bean guys. Five thousand dollars an acre he got. 300 acres. Well, you can do the math. He and Doreen are set. Instant millionaires."
With land prices at record levels, many farmers are debating whether to sell. But there's more than just money involved in the decision. They must decide if they're ready to leave a business they've probably spent a lifetime in. Another consideration: do they sell to the highest bidder or to someone who farms like they do?
That's the dilemma facing Gerald , the fictional farmer speaking above. He and his wife Nettie are the key figures in a play making the rural circuit this winter. "Look Who's Knockin'" is put on by the Land Stewardship Project. The next performance is scheduled for January 22 at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
The twist in the play is that Gerald and Nettie have based their farm operation on proven conservation practices. They use grassy strips to catch runoff and prevent erosion for example. So, with a million plus dollars calling; do they sell to a neighbor who will probably tear up the grass and conservation measures? Or do they sell at a cheaper price, or even rent the place, to a young couple who want to keep the farm as it is, but can't afford to pay top dollar land prices?
Besides Marshall, upcoming performances are also scheduled in Litchfield, Clinton, Milan and Glenwood.
You can hear an audio excerpt of the play on the LSP podcast.
Posted at 7:30 AM on January 12, 2012
by Michael Olson
Filed under: Around MN
Solar energy finds a home on Iron Range
AP: "The sun continues to shine on Minnesota's fledgling solar panel industry even as high-profile bankruptcies in the business capture headlines and as China muscles in on markets."
Number of foreclosures falls in Minn.
MPR News: "The number of Minnesota properties with a foreclosure filing fell last year.Foreclosure activity dropped by more than 14 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to the same period in 2010."
Union leaders request meeting with sugar company
AP: "Union leaders for locked-out American Crystal Sugar Co. workers say they have asked a federal mediator to lead another round of negotiations with the company."
Hopkins nursing home is charged with neglect in death
Star Tribune: "A Hopkins nursing home has been charged with neglect by state health officials in the case of a resident who died after being hospitalized for dramatic weight loss."
Dunn County man camps to ease housing crunch
Forum of Fargo Moorhead: "It will soon be easier for oil workers in Dunn County to find a place to call home, in a time when an oil boom has drastically affected housing availability." The paper reports that five camps are underway.
Students question where the state's education grant money is going
WDAY: "Some students say too much of the state's education grant money is heading to 'for-profit' schools"
KVLY denies Huebner claims of bias
Forum of Fargo Moorhead: "Attorneys for Valley News Live deny allegations that station managers discriminated against a former longtime anchor, and they're standing by the 26-year-old they promoted to replace her." The "response says TV anchor's replacement, Goetz, drew more male viewers."
Repairing the Republican brand
Politics in Minnesota: "GOP officials debate whether a deeper inquiry into Sutton-era party finances would help or hurt."
Shakopee enters Vikings stadium competition
KARE: "Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke walked into Governor Mark Dayton's office Wednesday and delivered his city's pitch for a Vikings stadium.He said the southwest metro community, which is already home to Valley Fair and Canterbury Park, is well situated to handle the influx of Vikings fans on game days."
Review: Howler -- America Give Up
The Current: "Before their first full-length was released, Howler had already received high praise from far-flung places. Famed British music weekly NME named Howler the third-best new band of 2011; and the BBC and The Guardian heaped more positive excitement -- and expectations -- on the young Minneapolis band."
Posted at 11:41 AM on January 12, 2012
by Dan Olson
My first experience with wheelchair basketball in the photo above taken by MPR's Jeff Thompson at Courage Center in Golden Valley came at the gentle insistence of John Hollermann.
John is the father of Rose Hollermann, the young woman in the photo explaining the features of the specially made units for wheelchair basketball athletes.
The Hollermanns hail from rural Eylsian in southern Minnesota.
John thought it would be a good experience for an aging and exercise-phobic reporter to get a feel for rolling, dribbling, stopping, shooting.
Sixteen-year-old Rose was the expert guide for the outing.
She's been in a chair since she was five after a car crash that bruised her spine and limited her ability to walk.
My few minutes in the chair revealed a new world.
The rewiring of one's brain needed to coordinate the new and unfamiliar tasks is humbling — and exhilarating.
Probably a bit like learning to ride a unicycle.
Many of the folks I met on my visit to the Courage Center participate in an expanding universe of athletic opportunities.
This photo shows 20-year-old Chuck Aoki, originally from Minneapolis, and an assistant coach, leading warm ups for the Courage Center team Rose trains with. That's Rose in the background.
Chuck's main sport is rugby as a member of the USA men's paralympic rugby team.
He's in a wheelchair because of the toll a rare genetic condition is taking on his limbs.
Chuck, Rose and a number of other wheelchair athletes disabilities have encountered new opportunities because of their disabilities.
Chuck has a scholarship to the University of Arizona for playing rugby. Rose and Sarah Binsfeld, also from Minnesota, have been selected for the USA women's paralympic basketball team that will compete in London this summer after the Olympic games.
The Courage Center plays a giant role in opening doors for the athletes. The Center's athletic program is one of if not the largest in the country.
Posted at 5:45 PM on January 12, 2012
by Julie Siple
Filed under: Hunger
Leftover spaghetti from Grandma's Marathon carbo-loading. Extra lasagna at Duluth hospitals. Milk that public schools can't use over winter break.
All that food is making its way to needy Minnesotans, thanks to a Duluth food bank.
As the number of people seeking help has jumped in recent years, food banks have expanded their capacity and sought new sources of food.
"Certainly it has lit the fire under us that we need to look at new and innovative ways to feed people in need," said Shaye Moris, executive director of Duluth-based Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank.
According to numbers released recently by Hunger-Free Minnesota, the six Feeding America food banks that serve Minnesota delivered 61.3 million pounds of food in 2010. That's 42 percent more than in 2008. They took it to hundreds of food shelves, as well as to summer food and school pantry programs, which then served struggling Minnesotans.
In search of new food sources, many food banks have increased their "rescue" programs, picking up food that would otherwise be thrown in the trash at retailers like Cub Foods and Target. But the Duluth food bank, which saw distribution rise 33 percent from 2008, has a wider rescue operation than most. It also collects from schools, caterers, even hospitals.
"Hospitals might plan for 300 people during one evening, and low and behold, there are only 250 checked in who need meals," explains Moris. "So they might have 50 meals of lasagna that they'll put in their flash freezer. Our staff will go the next day, pick up that product, and put it right on our delivery truck."
Runners of Grandma's Marathon always provide a big source of food, leaving pounds of spaghetti uneaten at the annual carbo-loading dinner.
"Monday morning, we're down at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, picking up the extra spaghetti and sauce," said Moris. "People eat spaghetti for the entire week."
The food bank follows strict food safety rules, said Moris. She has pushed to get "rescue" food from many sources because, she said, there aren't many other new places to get donated food.
"Down in the Twin Cities, there's General Mills and these major manufactures or processors," Moris said. "We have none of that up here in the Northland. Nor do we have a lot of agricultural surplus. So the only way in our region to grow our sources of food is to go after the prepared and the perishable products that are prepared locally."
The food rescue program has helped the food bank keep up with increasing demand, Moris said. She expects it will grow in years to come.
"We see that we're on the tip of the iceberg," she said.
Julie Siple reports on hunger and related issues for Minnesota Public Radio News. MPR is a partner in the Hunger-Free Minnesota project, which helps fund her reporting.