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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.
You'd think a book reviewer would be loath to drag more books along when he takes a vacation. But no, I always bring books along on trips with my wife. You can't spend entire weeks looking at ancient cathedrals and landscapes, no matter how magnificent, get pretty boring after five minutes or so, to quote William F. Buckley Jr.: "So on our travels we always take books along and we try to bring titles that have something to do with where we'll be located." Years ago, we rented a property in the West Country from Britain's Landmark Trust.
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.
Mayor Herb Bergson sent a letter to Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Tuesday, requesting he convene a special session of the Minnesota Legislature to get more tax money to Duluth and communities across the state. "I am writing to you today to ask for your empathy regarding a tax bill for the state of Minnesota," Bergson wrote. He said the failure of the tax bill meant a loss of $3.7 million in cash for Duluth, which would have offset a potential $5.4 million projected shortfall for 2008. "Governor, we have been good about cutting where we could cut over my four budget years.
A dozen people are temporarily homeless, in the aftermath of a July 31 fire at a siux-unit apartment complex in northeast Perham. Among those forced out of the six-unit building is the 85-year-old landlord, Esther Witzke, who lived in one of the units. "Those apartments were like a home...there was nothing skimpy about them," said Witzke proudly. She was being comforted by tenants and family members as dozens of firefighters from Perham, Dent and New York Mills worked to extinguish the fire.
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.
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.
Construction on the Highway 61 median barriers north of the Hastings Bridge is scheduled to begin in a few weeks, according to State Sen. Katie Sieben. According to information received in Sieben's office from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, construction of the J-type barriers is scheduled to begin around Aug. 13. It could take up to 17 days to complete. The concrete barriers will help alleviate cross-over crashes. Two have occurred this year. Sieben introduced legislation this session to appropriate funding for the barriers. Ultimately, $300,000 was secured through the U.S.
MINNEAPOLIS - Proposed commuter rail projects north and south of the Twin Cities face many stops before receiving construction funding. U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, joined by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and other transportation officials, on Tuesday toured the southern point of the planned Northstar commuter rail project, running from Minneapolis northwest through a growing suburban area.