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This weekend, the annual Two Harbors Kayak Festival will celebrate its 20th year, and it's quite likely to be the last. Scott Neustel, the festival's director, said he expects the event to go out on a high note, with high temperatures and a gentle breeze in the forecast for today and Sunday. "This year, we expect a pretty good crowd because we're getting one of those good rolls of the dice, so to speak. The weather looks like it's going to be fantastic to be on the lakeshore," he said. But even with a good turnout, Neustel suspects the weekend will feel bittersweet.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture officials released three species of stingless wasps in Duluth's Hartley Park Thursday morning, in hopes that the tiny parasitic insect will slow the spread of an invasive menace to local ash trees — the emerald ash borer. Jonathan Osthus, a biologist and coordinator of the state's biocontrol efforts, explained that two of the wasp species introduced in Duluth attack the ash borer in its larval state, and another destroys the pest's eggs. The wasps are about the size of gnats, and they have no interest in humans, according to Osthus.
With help from a couple of federal grants, crews soon will begin installing a new high-speed fiber-optic system at a cost of more than $8 million on the Fond du Lac Reservation. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa will formally launch the broadband project Thursday with an 11 a.m. groundbreaking at the Sawyer Community Center. Jason Hollinday, the band's planning division director, said the reservation to date seems to have lacked sufficient population density to attract high-speed data service providers.
A Duluth city councilor is close friends with the mother of the fiance of Minneapolis shooting victim Justine Damond, and said Monday that he hosted all three for Christmas last year. Duluth City Councilor Gary Anderson said Monday that he is close personal friends with Sharon Sebring, the woman who would have become Justine Damond’s mother-in-law in a few weeks. Anderson and Sharon Sebring also teach yoga and meditation. “All of them — Justine and her fiance, Don, and Sharon (Don’s mom) — were at our house for Christmas last year,” he told the News Tribune.
New public restrooms may be a bit slower to arrive at Park Point's Lafayette Community Center due to the Duluth City Council's Monday night decision to temporarily place the project on hold. While 1st District Councilor Gary Anderson acknowledged that the proposed bathrooms at Lafayette are needed, he said: "I really think we should be thinking about all of our citizens when we do construction of new restrooms." Anderson expressed his support for installing restrooms but said a gender-neutral option should be provided to beachgoers and others who use the area.
Horseback riding soon could return to Duluth's Magney-Snively Natural Area, and Jodi Johannesen said she and other Northland equestrians are "jumping out of their skins" to get back on the trails there. The park's trail system long had been a popular destination for local equestrians, but for the past few years, those paths have been closed to horses, out of concern for the damage the 1,000- to 2,000-pound animals could inflict on vulnerable areas.
The owner of a building at 2101 W. Third St. is continuing her quest to save the Lincoln Park structure from the wrecking ball in the wake of a roof collapse the previous month. The vacant building's roof gave way some time late on the night of June 4 or or in the wee hours of the following morning, forcing the evacuation of a neighboring tri-plex. Unstable second-story brick walls remained standing after the event but were deemed a public danger. This past weekend, the top story of the building was removed, and the city gave the go-ahead for neighbors to return on Monday.
Six women who worked for local law enforcement likely stand to receive $1.2 million as part of a mediated settlement involving St. Louis County and the city of Duluth.
Midway Township received some welcome protection from its eastern neighbor Monday afternoon thanks to a decision handed down by 6th Judicial District Judge Eric Hylden. In his order, Hylden overturned an administrative law judge's previous decision that would have authorized Proctor to proceed with the annexation of 92 acres of land, despite Midway Township representatives' objections.
Anxiety continues to build in Duluth's business community as a local task force deliberates about the possibility of the city adopting a policy requiring employers to provide paid time off for workers who are sick or dealing with other family emergencies. And David Ross, president and CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, said that with the Duluth City Council expected to take up the matter before the end of the year, many companies are only now joining a conversation that began last November.