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Vining volunteers plant roadside flowerbeds

If they think about it at all, casual travelers passing Vining might expect that the vibrant flowerbeds near the Big Foot sculpture are tilled, planted and tended by a city crew.
They would be wrong.
Since 1992, volunteers Rollie and Jan Saetre have done the work, aided by two others who take care of the watering. That year, they took over from Winifred Taylor, who was getting older and finding it more difficult to garden.
When you live in a small town like Vining, population 78, pretty much everyone pitches in at some point. Someone donated playground equipment to the Vining playground. Someone else (well, several someones) pick up litter. The mayor mows the grass. The church cleans two miles of highway ditches. During Watermelon Days, there’s a role for everyone in town, whether it’s cutting watermelon or calling bingo.
“Everybody has to help,” said Rollie.
The Saetres are now passing the flowerbeds to a new couple, Gary and Ardell Eide. “Twenty years is long enough for us,” said Rollie, now 84.  read entire story. . . .

Ottertail council discusses proposed plan for Otter’s Tail

A landowner’s request to build a storage building on the Otter’s Tail, a thin lick of land between the similarly named river and lake, generated intense discussion at Thursday’s Ottertail City Council meeting.
Ed Smith, who owns a lot on the Otter’s Tail, said he wanted to build a shelter up to 20 feet tall that would contain pontoons, lawn chairs and other items. There are currently no buildings on the strip of land, which is a partially wooded sandbar. However, at one point there had been one structure on the Otter’s Tail, and it was on Smith’s lot. He tore the walls down for safety reasons, he said, and would like to build on the existing foundation.
However, the city and adjacent landowners have been so protective of the sandbar that even cutting down trees is frowned upon.
“If we let one person put a building on, are we going to have more people wanting a variance?” asked Councilwoman Jill Carlson, who also owns a lot on the sandbar.
Councilwoman Heather Rosenthal pointed out that Smith’s lot had, at one point, contained a structure and might be grandfathered in.
“To me, it’s a little bit of a different situation,” she said.
City clerk Elaine Hanson said that city records from 1982 indicated that the city council did not want any improvements on the Otter’s Tail, not even temporary structures like campers.
However, many owners have built bridges across the Otter Tail River from their homes to their sandbar lots. A Google satellite map shows nine such bridges.  
The city council decided to have a public hearing, allowing all Otter’s Tail property owners to discuss Smith’s request.
 read entire story. . . .

Henning band/choir to take trip to New York in 2016

The Henning band/choir will be going to the Big Apple after all.
One year after having the band/choir trip delayed due to a staff turnover the Henning School Board preliminary approved a spring 2016 band/choir trip to New York City. The trip was one of three trips that parents were able to select from which also included Chicago and Nashville. The New York City trip received the most votes from parents and was subsequently given the green light to proceed by school board members.
Though the destination was chosen, just when the trip will occur was the biggest topic of discussion last week.
Music instructors Ben Johnson and Marlene Wahlin said it has become difficult to find time in March or April for the trip without students missing extracurricular activities or Easter. The goal was to miss just three days of school, but board members said that they would allow the band/choir to miss a fourth day if necessary.
Johnson and Wahlin said they will take another look at the schedule and see if there is a time that students could take a trip to New York without missing section speech, or tournament games for winter sports.
During the proposed trip, the groups are planning to perform at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, Lincoln Center and possibly other locations when the days of the trip are finalized. The cost for the trip was estimated to be $865 per student.
 read entire story. . . .

New summer food program kicks off June 1 in Henning

There is no such thing as a free meal anymore—unless of course one stops by Henning School or the festival grounds in June.
A new summer lunch program will be unveiled in Henning next week that will feature a free bag lunch for children between the ages of 1-18 in June. Henning School Superintendent Jeremy Olson said similar programs have been offered in neighboring school districts as a way to provide children with nutritious lunches, even after the final bell rings on the school year.
The program is funded through a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education, which reimburses the district for the meals served throughout the summer. In order to qualify, school districts must have greater than 50 percent of its student population in either the elementary or high school receive free or reduced lunches.
Though the district didn’t qualify when the fall numbers were submitted to the state in the fall, Olson said the district wrote an appeal after more-than 50 percent of its students received free and reduced lunches in December. The state granted that appeal.
The lunches the district will be serving will be bagged lunches that children could either eat on the spot or bring home. In order to make the program easier for children, lunches will be served at both the school and summer rec from 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.  June 1-5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 17, 19, 22, 24 and 26. In addition to Henning children, those who are attending summer rec games from other communities can eat lunches for free.
Olson said the district is offering the free summer lunch program on just 14 dates this June as a trial in order to make sure it will fill a need in the community. The district will need to serve an average of 45 meals per day to cover its costs this summer. Anything over that amount would be a profit for the district.  read entire story. . . .