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Golfers received an assurance Thursday night from William Roche, parks manager for the city of Duluth, that the Lester Park Golf Course will remain open for at least the coming season. At an agenda meeting of the Duluth City Council, Roche said Mayor Emily Larson has committed to keep the financially distressed course operating in 2018. In December, the city projected its two municipal golf courses — Lester Park and Enger Park — will lose a combined $108,000 this year, adding to the $2.2 million in operating debt they have rung up already.
Roto of Duluth Inc., the owner of University Liquor, could face a $1,000 fine for selling alcohol to an underage, undercover customer for the third consecutive time that it has been subjected to a compliance check. Those checks have been spaced out over the course of the past seven years, but the repeated violations prompted Duluth's Alcohol, Gambling and Tobacco Commission to recommend a larger-than-normal fine for the latest citation due to a few "aggravating circumstances."
Former Duluth city councilor and state legislator Roger Reinert has received his orders to report for duty in Kabul, Afghanistan, early this summer, as part of a yearlong deployment. Reinert serves as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, and said such deployments have become commonplace for reservists, with the nation involved in multiple prolonged military engagements.
Three neighboring cities that rely on Duluth for their water supply have taken steps to appeal a proposed rate increase, perhaps taking their case to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Hermantown, Proctor and Rice Lake have all registered their concern over a plan to hike their water rates by 4.7 percent annually for each of the next six years.
Recent year-end stats from Airbnb show that Duluth is the third-most-popular destination in Minnesota for its customers. Only Minneapolis and St. Paul attracted more visitors through the online booking service in 2017. But as home sharing booms — with Airbnb recording 89 percent year-over-year growth in the use of its service in Minnesota — Duluth continues to wrestle with how to regulate this emerging industry.
Bruce Carman Jr. talked a good talk. But after more than a year of hype, the 59-year-old entrepreneur has little to show for his pledge to demonstrate that aquaponics will be "the way of the future," as he told the News Tribune in 2016.
Despite subzero temperatures, people continued to stream into Bentleyville on Monday night. A Christmas cold snap couldn't stop this year's holiday tour of lights in Duluth from smashing attendance records. Nathan Bentley, the namesake and founder of the annual event, expects to host 330,000 people this year. He said attendance several days ago had already surpassed the 292,000-visitor mark set last year.
A forgivable loan announced Wednesday is expected to fuel the expansion of Altec Inc.'s manufacturing operations in Duluth, leading to the creation of 100 new jobs. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development will offer to lend the Birmingham, Ala.-based company $550,000 to assist with the expansion of its Duluth facility. That funding is anticipated to leverage an additional private investment of $12.5 million.
A developer's efforts to bring another Kwik Trip to Duluth could get tripped up by a zoning code change. Brad Johnson of Lotus Realty Services Inc. had proposed to put up a station off Boundary Avenue on a 12-acre parcel of land sandwiched between Proctor and Zenith Terrace, a manufactured housing community. But the prospective development proved controversial with neighbors and Johnson's rezoning request failed to garner sufficient support from the Duluth City Council in June.
In light of public concerns raised about the proposed purchase of riot gear for local law enforcement officers, Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken has put the acquisition on hold, at least for now. The city's capital equipment budget for next year had included an $83,700 placeholder for the purchase of protective equipment and crowd-control batons. But several people questioned the allocation at a Monday night City Council meeting, suggesting that such equipment could be deployed against groups engaged in peaceful protest.