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The impact of the coronavirus pandemic and measures taken to control its spread have had a huge impact on the workers, homeowners, renters, and business owners in Washington County. Today, more than 5,000 county residents are unemployed than were unemployed in March. That is why the Washingt…

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I am writing to take exception to the headline and first paragraph of the report in the August 26th Country Messenger stating that the “city of Scandia taxpayers can expect an eight percent increase in their local property taxes in 2021.”  This statement is false. 

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Dan Johnson’s “A love letter to local journalism” (The Country Messenger August 19) was a refreshing dose of optimism and appreciation of the potential of our better selves.  It was also a heartening insight into the roles journalists can play in these difficult times.  Yes, Dan, we need jou…

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Citizens expect the Scandia City Council to be frugal. However, the compensation for their fire fighters is neither moderate nor reasonable. 

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In this time of stress and uncertainty, I have found it helpful to sit by water.  We are blessed with nearby lakes, streams, and rivers. Let's enjoy them and revel in the joy they give us during this pandemic summer.  I sat this evening by the shore of Big Marine Lake and wanted to share a s…

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Thank you for taking interest in reporting on our local water resources. The Carnelian Marine St. Croix Watershed District did not have the opportunity to be interviewed for the article “Goose Lake Residents Struggle with Shoreland Management Issues”.    The Watershed District, Washington Co…

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Marine on St. Croix is in the process of changing their city code to allow for Short Term Rentals. (VRBO, AirBnB etc.) A short term rental is defined as a rental period of less than 30 days. STRs are in effect “fee for service” motels, which may or may not be supervised.

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Marine needs a good discussion of the public health aspects of cell tower placement. There is plenty of world research into ways cell signals affect people and animals. 

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Today I had the opportunity to hike the trails at Warner Nature Center for the last time.  The trails were open on certain days for volunteers before the Center closes at the end of this year.  I usually had a trail of happy kids following me. Their excited and joyful voices usually overwhel…

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In the next few months, Stillwater residents are going to lose the only independent pharmacy in Stillwater. Lakeview Community Pharmacy is located within Stillwater Medical Group Clinic. The last day of operation is January 20, 2020. No one imagined the community pharmacy would close when La…

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As Veterans Day nears, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our active and retired military personnel for their service to our country. At a time when many of our young men and women are protecting our interests overseas, we sometimes lose sight of the duty and sacrifices of the m…

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When my children were young, they attended summer classes at Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center near our home in Scandia, Minnesota. More than once while dropping them off, I heard comments from kids who had ridden the bus from St. Paul.

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I want to share concerns about the sudden and inexplicable closing of the Warner Nature Center at the end of this year that was recently announced by the Lee and Rose Warner Foundation that has funded WNC for its entire 52 year existence. As the retired Vice President for Education at the Sc…

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I am trying to understand why the Manitou Fund has decided to stop funding Warner Nature Center (“Warner Nature Center announces closure,” Country Messenger, Wed., 9/11/19).  As a volunteer at Warner Nature Center (WNC), I have regularly seen the excitement of children as they strap on snows…

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September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. With the number of people dying by suicide increasing in Minnesota and across the country, it’s important to take time this month to raise awareness of this public health crisis and steps we can all take.

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Your op ed piece about Merle Haggard hit a note! It’s not that we should not criticize our leaders or policies it is our duty to do so. However the manner in which the criticism is delivered is a large part of the issue. The vitriolic, crude, vulgar manner used is not appropriate regardless …

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Recently, the Washington County sheriff sent out a notice about an increase in home burglaries in the metro area (not specific to these northern communities). The notice provided tips to prevent burglaries. It’s important to know that one of those tips — leaving exterior lights on at night —…

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Last week’s article in the Country Messenger covering a recent community conversation regarding short-term rentals (STR) concluded that there was general support for the concept.  That was a reasonably accurate conclusion, but as they say: “the devil is in the details.” There is a wide range…

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Thanks for Andy and Karen Kramer’s thoughtful letter regarding Marine short-term rentals, in today’s paper. Marine already has 117 short-term rentals just outside town, in William O’Brien State Park. The park has 113 campsites plus four camper cabins and two group camping areas. Tent and RV …

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At the Planning Commission (PC) meeting June 25 to discuss regulation of short term rentals (STRs) in Marine on St. Croix, we heard proponents of STRs argue that 1) STRs will be good for Marine businesses because they promote tourism, 2) STRs are a profitable home business that’s harmless to…

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The Marine Planning Commission is in the process of exploring the issues related to whether or not to license and regulate  “Short Term Rentals”(VRBO, AIRB&B,etc.) within the city.

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I know this guy who loves to mow all summer. He’ll whip around the yard, then head down the driveway to mow the ditches of his property and anything within half a mile that he can get to without being arrested or tipping over.

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It has been my pleasure to serve as your treasurer for 32 years.  To those who voted to elect and re-elect me each term from 1987 to 2012 when the treasurer because an appointed position, I want to thank you for your support and confidence in me to do a good job.  I will miss doing the work …

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I’m pleased to announce that Governor Walz has signed my bill into law that will rename a section of Minnesota State Highway 95 after fallen corrections officer Joseph Gomm. Senator Housley carried the legislation in the Senate, and both bodies provided unanimous support.

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In the wake of attempts to infiltrate our election system, the federal government allocated money to each state to use to shore up their voting systems. The MN House passed a bi-partisan bill authorizing use of all $6.6 million to improve our cyber security system. The MN Senate voted for on…

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Kudos to Jim Bennett for his recent series of articles reframing hunting and fishing interests in the context Leopold’s concept of a land ethic. Dennis Anderson’s weekly columns in the Star Tribune increasingly are reflecting a similar trend. I am encouraged by this shift in perspective. The…

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Farmers and ranchers are the backbone of America. They grow food to feed us, fiber to clothe us, and fuel to run our homes and cars. Their hard work and dedication provide economic stability across the nation – stability that supports rural economies and creates much-needed jobs in local com…

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I’ve enjoyed reading the first two offerings of your new columnist, Carrie Classon – she’s funny and touching. Thanks for adding her.

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The Polymet copper, nickel and sulphide mine has gotten a permit to operate in Northeasten Minnesota from the Department of Natural Resources. There are no examples of copper sulphide mines that have not resulted in hazardous pollution.  In addition to the many dangers the copper sulphide mi…

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We have lived in Marine for many years and have appreciated the businesses here and the small town atmosphere. We want to acknowledge one business in particular since we have been customers of theirs for a long time: Ostlund’s Marine Garage.

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On 1/31, Customs and Border Officers seized the largest attempted delivery of illegal drugs entering US at a legal port of entry with the help of drug dogs. Estimated 80% to 90% of various illegal drugs arrive at legal ports of entry, ports severely understaffed, about 1 in 5 vehicles and sh…

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I have no doubt the old naysayers in town will be up to their tired old tricks of misinformation and deceit when it comes to the finances and operations of the Forest Lake Area School District. These myths, thinly disguised as facts, can potentially be quite convincing unless you know the fa…

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Upon reading candidate Starry’s campaign materials I found many federal, state and local endorsements. The most IMPORTANT two are missing from his extensive list. The voters of Washington County and the 80 plus deputies in his department.

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My friend, Patti Ray, is running for Scandia City Council this election.

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Three of the five school districts that serve K–12 students in Chisago County (Rush City, Forest Lake, and Braham) are asking voters to approve school operating levies on the Nov. 6 ballot. The other two districts that serve our county (Chisago Lakes and North Branch) both passed school-rela…

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As we get into the heart of election season, I know Minnesotans are researching candidates and deciding who will best represent our community and state. But another important decision that residents will make on the ballot this November is whether or not to approve an operating levy for the …

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My husband and I moved to the Forest Lake area five years ago with a two-year-old and new born. As a young family from the cities, we were excited to build a home and start a new life in a new community. We have since had another child and our oldest has started school in the Forest Lake Sch…

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The last time our school district approved an increase in operating funding, I was in kindergarten. Twelve years later, and I am now a senior at Forest Lake High school. I have watched many changes occur within our school as a result of millions of dollars of budget cuts. My class sizes have…