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Yuletide Sampler & Community Tree Lighting Ceremony

From 11/10/2021 Press Release courtesy of CHI St. Joseph's Health

PARK RAPIDS, MN (NOV. 8, 2021)The beautiful pine on Main Street, trees lit on every corner, fresh evergreen wreaths on the carriage lights and window displays set the scene for the holidays in downtown Park Rapids.

Enjoy hot cider, hot chocolate and other treats at the Yuletide Sampler from 5 to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26. Participating businesses host this annual event as a way to thank the community for their support all year and invite the start of your holiday shopping. Free will offerings from the Yuletide Sampler will be donated to CHI St. Joseph’s Health Hospice Care.

Then gather at 6 p.m. as we Light Up a Life for Hospice Care during the Heartland Lakes Community Tree lighting on Main Street in partnership with the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. The tree lighting ceremony is a celebration of life and memories. This year’s event will honor the memory of John Schumacher of Park Rapids. By giving a gift in honor or in memory of a loved one, you are helping to bring individualized care to Hospice patients in our area. All donations are used locally.

In the spirit of the season, a Christmas carol sing-along, roasting marshmallows over fire pits, Santa’s arrival and the countdown to light the beautifully decorated Main Street tree complete the celebration.

All season, Park Rapids’ giant tree brightens Main Street on winter nights and stands as a symbol of small town cheer and good will, lighting the way to a New Year.

Enbridge: Line 3 replacement complete; oil will flow Friday

09/29/2021, 1:00pm CDT
By Associated Press

From the Associated Press, 9.29.21 1:08 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Enbridge announced Wednesday that construction on the upgrade of its Line 3 crude oil pipeline across Minnesota is “substantially complete” and that the company will start filling it with oil later this week.

The Canadian-based company’s president and CEO, Al Monaco, said in a statement that the pipeline “will soon deliver the low-cost and reliable energy that people depend on every day.”

The project was completed despite stiff opposition from tribes, environmentalists and others who argued that the 1,097 mile (1,765-kilometer) pipeline — including the 337-mile (542-kilometer) segment across Minnesota — would violate treaty rights, worsen climate change and risk spills in waters where Native Americans harvest wild rice. They note it would carry oil from Alberta’s tar sands, a heavier crude that consumes more energy and generates more carbon dioxide in the refining process than lighter oil, making it an even bigger contributor to climate change.

Line 3 opponents promised to keep fighting, though their legal options going forward are fading. And they vowed to hold President Joe Biden and other politicians accountable for failing to stop the project. More than 900 people have been arrested or ticketed at protests along the route since construction began in December.

”This is not the outcome we hoped for, but the fight to stop Line 3 has always been a fight for climate justice and a future free from fossil fuels, and that fight will not stop just because Enbridge has succeeded in building this pipeline,” Margaret Levin, director of the Minnesota chapter of the Sierra Club, said in a statement. “Our movement is powerful, and we are not going anywhere. We will keep pushing forward — demanding that our elected leaders live up to their promises and lifting our voices for healthy and safe communities and climate justice.”

A leading face of the opposition, Winona LaDuke, executive director of the Indigenous-based environmental group Honor the Earth, paid tribute to the many people from across the country who came to Minnesota to protest.

“Your brave efforts about Enbridge’s Line 3 have reshaped the world’s views on the climate crisis we are in, the Treaty Rights of the Anishinaabe, and the escalating divestment in fossil fuels around the world and here at home,” LaDuke said in a statement. “You are the true heroes of this tragic saga.”

The main remaining tasks are cleanup and restoration along the route, Leo Golden, an Enbridge vice president in charge of the project, said in an interview. Some parts have already been completely restored with crops and native grasses growing on them, he said. But construction mats still need to be removed from wetlands and other cleanup and restoration work will continue through next summer.

“We’re not done restoring until we go to the landowners and we walk the land with them and they say ‘Yes, you’re done’ and sign off,” Golden said.

Enbridge said the project was necessary to replace a deteriorating pipeline built in the 1960s, which could carry only half its original volume of oil, and to ensure the reliable delivery of crude to U.S. refineries. Enbridge expects to start running the pipeline at its full capacity of 760,000 barrels per day in mid-October.

Line 3 starts in Alberta, Canada, and clips a corner of North Dakota before crossing Minnesota en route to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. The Canadian, North Dakota and Wisconsin segments were finished earlier and the Canadian and Wisconsin legs are already in service. The process of filling the line starts in North Dakota on Friday, Golden said. Enbridge puts the cost at $5.3 billion Canadian dollars for the Canadian section and $4 billion U.S. dollars for the work in the U.S.

Opponents have challenged the pipeline’s permits in court to no avail so far. They’ve also unsuccessfully sought to persuade Biden, who canceled a key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline soon after taking office, to intervene.

A challenge is still pending in federal court to a permit granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but that case didn’t block construction. Opponents can still ask the state Supreme Court to review a clean water certification granted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Also, a novel “rights of nature” lawsuit is pending in the White Earth Ojibwe tribal court. It names Manoomin — the Ojibwe word for wild rice — as one of the plaintiffs. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has asked a federal appeals court to block that case.

160 more acres available for deer hunting

Outdoor recreationists can now benefit from four, 40-acre parcels in the Badoura State Forest that border Mucky Creek, a designated trout stream, in Hubbard County.

“These parcels were the missing pieces that now connect public access to several square miles of public lands for hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing, as well as additional miles of forest roads and snowmobile trails,” said Mike Lichter, DNR Park Rapids area forester.

The land was purchased by the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association from the Potlatch Corporation in 2018 and gifted to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in 2019. It is adjacent to other state and county forest lands and offers an array of benefits to the public, including outdoor recreation, water quality protection, wildlife habitat management and timber production.

“We are pleased that through our partnership with MDHA, Hubbard County and other partners we were able to permanently secure access to these additional lands for local and visiting users alike,” Lichter said.

Tom Stursa, retired Park Rapids DNR wildlife technician and local committee member of MDHA and National Wildlife Turkey Federation (NWTF), was instrumental in securing and coordinating funding for these parcels. “His knowledge of the Hubbard county land base, including access and water quality issues, played a critical role in identifying these valuable parcels,” said Lichter.

Funding for the $233,000 acquisition by MDHA was provided by a Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grant through the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC), as well as $25,000 in matching grant funds from Enbridge. Local chapters of the NWTF and MDHA supported the acquisition.

Minnesota Officials Confirm Case of COVID-19 in Hubbard County

05/23/2020, 11:30am CDT
By CHI St. Joseph's Press release

Minnesota Officials Confirm Case of COVID-19 in Hubbard County

PARK RAPIDS, MN (May 23rd, 2020) The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Hubbard County.

The resident of Hubbard County is recovering at home and has no known travel history.

MDH informed the county of the confirmed case on May 23, 2020.

“The resident has been instructed to quarantine per Minnesota Department of Health guidelines and monitor for worsening symptoms.” said Marlee Morrison, Public Health Director for CHI St. Joseph’s Health and Hubbard County.

CHI St. Joseph’s Health Community Health is the public health agent for Hubbard County, and has been working in collaboration with local, regional, and state partners in response to COVID-19.

“Community spread of COVID-19 is present in Minnesota and our community, and statewide positive case numbers continue to increase. As our businesses open, we still encourage our residents to practice social distancing. Stay close to home. Wear a mask when out in public and wash your hands frequently. Stay home when you are sick and contact your healthcare provider for guidance. Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people from outside your household and avoid any gathering where 6 feet of social distance cannot be maintained” said Morrison.

Brian Halbasch, Hubbard County Emergency Manager, agreed, stating “Hubbard County Emergency Management is working collaboratively with Public Health, as well as regional and state partners to respond and keep our residents safe and healthy. We encourage the community to follow public health recommendations.”

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, please contact your healthcare provider to arrange for a test. Do not delay care for any urgent medical needs, COVID related or otherwise.

Tri-County Health Care to Distribute Free Face Masks

05/11/2020, 3:45pm CDT
By Taylor Lunemann, Communications Specialist

Tri-County Health Care will host a community mask distribution on Wednesday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Wesley parking lot. This initiative will provide free reusable masks to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in local communities, according to a TCHC news release.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face masks in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as in grocery stores and pharmacies.

“Our goal is to ensure and prioritize the safety of our patients, staff, friends, families and communities,” said TCHC Foundation executive director Ryan Damlo in the release. “Providing these face masks free of charge is another important step toward achieving our goal of stopping the spread of COVID-19 and protecting public health in our communities.”

Distribution of the face masks will be done via a drive-thru line so community members will not need to leave their vehicles. The Wesley parking lot is located at the corner of NE Elm Ave. and NE 1st St. in Wadena. There will be signs directing traffic to the mask distribution location.

Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism President & CEO stepping down

Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism announces current President & CEO, Butch De La Hunt, will be stepping down.

De La Hunt informed the chamber board of directors and staff last week of his departure from the organization after four years at its helm. Butch is going to pursue his love of radio. Butch and Tammy De La Hunt have entered into a purchase agreement to acquire the De La Hunt Broadcasting group of radio stations throughout northern Minnesota.

“It has been an honor and privilege to work and serve for a great board of directors, exceptional staff and wonderful membership. Together, we have charted new territory, overcome challenges, and put the Chamber in an exceptionally good place,” said De La Hunt. “I’m proud of everything we have accomplished together. By working together, we have a community that is thriving, an active membership that is realizing success and tourism that is strong in our region. I am confident that you’ll find a replacement for my position that will continue the hard work of moving the organization to yet another level.”

Butch added, “This area is a great place to live, work and play. That is why Tammy and I are purchasing the group of radio stations from my mom and dad, who have been serving the area for 60 years with news, entertainment, and marketing opportunities for area businesses. They have built a wonderful business and we want to reinvest in our community and continue that De La Hunt radio tradition. Best part, we will still interact with our community and provide support to the many chamber businesses and events. “

“As a board, we are reluctant to see Butch go,” says Debbie Tostenson, chair of the chamber board of directors, “We have added new members to the chamber since he took over, improved on several initiatives that support our members and promote our community. One historic note might be, Butch helped the chamber and our community navigate the difficulties of COVID-19. Of course, we are disappointed to see Butch go but we wish him the best in his new endeavor, and we know he isn’t going too far away.”

Stepping into the role as President/CEO position will be Candy Christensen. Candy has done a magnificent job as the Communications and Marketing Coordinator since joining the chamber over two years ago. Candy has worked side by side with me and is an excellent candidate to take the organization to the next level.

MN DPS: Six Arrested During Human Trafficking Operation

ST. PAUL —Six people were arrested during a human trafficking operation that took place over the past two days in Beltrami County. Investigators with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA)-led Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force led the operation in partnership with the Tribes United Against Sex Trafficking (TRUST) Task Force, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and the Bemidji Police Department. The operation ran from June 25-26.

During the operation, suspects responded to an ad on a sex advertisement website. Investigators arrested the suspects as they arrived at an arranged meeting place for a commercial sex crime. All were booked into the Beltrami County Jail on probable cause solicitation of prostitution of an adult. Charges are expected in the coming days.

  • Michael Lee Eichstadt, 56, of Bemidji, Minn.
  • Quint Kyle Ironnecklace, 24, of Bemidji, Minn.
  • Lance Armon Jones, 39, of Oakville, Washington.
  • Dennis Michael Murphy, 43, of Park Rapids, Minn. Mr. Murphy also faces probable cause possession of a controlled substance.
  • Matthew F. Senica, 49, of Illinois.
  • Philip Edward Toomey, Jr., 48, of Maywood, Missouri.

Many additional agencies and organizations lent resources and expertise to this effort, including The Link; the Buffalo, Fond du Lac, Hibbing, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Thief River Falls and Upper Sioux police departments; the Red Lake Department of Public Safety; the Chisago, Hennepin and Isanti County sheriff’s offices; the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force; the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations.

“This operation was part of our ongoing, collective commitment to rid our communities of sexual exploitation.” BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said. “It is never okay to purchase another person for sex.”

About the Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force

The Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force was established in 2017 with funding from the Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs as a statewide enforcement effort to target traffickers and those exploiting children for sex.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of being trafficked, call 911. To report a suspected trafficking situation, call the BCA at 877-996-6222 or email

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