The Northland's week in review (Feb. 19-25, 2010)

Friday through Sunday, Feb. 19-21 ? A record 625 people took the plunge into the icy waters of Lake Superior Saturday during the annual Polar Bear Plunge in Canal Park. Mayor Don Ness was among the plungers, although his shorts and a T-shirt were...

Friday through Sunday, Feb. 19-21

  • A record 625 people took the plunge into the icy waters of Lake Superior Saturday during the annual Polar Bear Plunge in Canal Park. Mayor Don Ness was among the plungers, although his shorts and a T-shirt were less outrageous than some of the other costumes worn for the jump. The event raised $100,000 for the Special Olympics.
  • Also Saturday, local artists Kristen Pless, Daniel Schutte and Daniel Neff incorporated street trash into ice at the Central Hillside Community Center to create a public ice sculpture: stacked ice slabs rising from a hill to an overhead bridge, representing a waterfall flowing toward Lake Superior. The trash items in the ice represent the kind of things that end up in the lake due to stormwater runoff.
  • The U.S. men's curling team reversed its four-game losing streak Friday by beating France 0-4 with alternate Chris Plys replacing skip John Shuster. On Saturday, they won again -- this time with Shuster on board -- beating Sweden with an 8-7 extra-end victory. On Sunday, the men's team -- which curls out of Duluth -- lost 4-3 to Great Britain. In related news, Duluth native Plys was named the Day 1 "Olympic Stud of the Day" by Entertainment Weekly's Popwatch. Popwatch said they were impressed by his tweets, including his retaliation for a Jimmy Fallon monologue joke about how the U.S. Curling team's best method of birth control is being on the U.S. Curling team. Plys' response? "@Jimmyfallon isn't your best contraceptive your TV ratings? LOL"
  • Also in Vancouver Sunday, the U.S. men's hockey team upset the favored Canadian team with a 4-2 win. Cloquet native and U.S. team captain Jamie Langenbrunner scored one goal in the game.
  • The UMD women's hockey team earned the No. 1 seed in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs after beating Bemidji State 3-0 Saturday. The team is tied for first with the Minnesota Gophers, but had more WCHA wins than the Gophers.
  • The Duluth School District plans to replace the specialized programming at its three magnet schools because the attempt to attract more white students into the city's central-city elementary schools --to desegregate the schools and boost academic achievement for all students -- isn't working. Instead the district would like to take the $1 million in state money that goes toward magnet school specialist teachers and transportation and spend it on closing the district's widening achievement gap between students of color and white students. (Read columns by school Superintendent Keith Dixon and opinion writer Pete Langr for more on this.)

Monday, Feb. 22

  • The Duluth City Council passed an ordinance that will require some landlords with off-street parking to have those spaces shoveled within 72 hours of a significant snowfall. Councilors Jeff Anderson, Todd Fedora and Jay Fosle voted against the measure, arguing that the ordinance was too vague and will too easily make citizens city code violators.
  • Earlier Monday, Skip John Shuster's U.S. men's curling team got an early lead over Canada, but wound up losing 7-2. The day only got worse for Team USA, with an 11-5 loss to the last-placed Chinese team Monday evening. The U.S. team finished two and seven, the worst record of any U.S. curling team since the sport was played in the Olympics. John Shuster was back throwing last rock for the U.S. team, while Chris Plys replaced Jason Smith, who plans to retire. The new lineup is the one they will field at the National Championships in two weeks.
  • Also Monday, UMD forward Haley Irwin scored two goals in the Americans' 9-1 victory over Sweden. The win meant the U.S. women would battle Canada for the gold medal Thursday.
  • After a report in which Toyota estimated in July 2009 that it saved $100 million by negotiating with regulators for a limited recall of Toyota and Lexus models for unintended acceleration, Sen. Amy Klobuchar took a stand against the giant automaker: "That Toyota reveled in the fact that the company saved $100 million -- rather than fix the unintended acceleration problem -- raises serious questions about whether Toyota misled investigators and how Toyota's actions compromised consumer safety," she said. Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which oversees the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency and other transportation agencies. The committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday to review reports of uncontrolled acceleration in Toyota vehicles.

Tuesday, Feb. 23

  • The Duluth School Board voted to keep Duluth Denfeld and East high schools' names, colors and mascots and retire Central's when the three high schools become two in the 2011-12 school year.
  • Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 66 voted to refuse the city of Duluth's final contract offer and authorized a strike. AFSCME represents 461 city workers.
  • The St. Louis County Board moved the sale of the county's historic jail in the Duluth Civic Center out of committee and put it up for a vote March 2. Blue Limit, a Minneapolis-based real estate and brokerage company, has bid $54,000 for the jail "as is." Blue Limit owner Grant Carlson wants to convert the jail into office space and a conference center. Although Carlson is only 27 years old, he has experience with restoring historic buildings and a family willing to back him up on the project. The County would make no money on the deal because it would pay $2,500 toward closing costs and $50,000 toward reconnecting utilities. However, if the sale goes through, the county would avoid demolition costs estimated at $300,000.

Wednesday, Feb. 24

  • Duluth preservationist Eric Ringsred refiled a lawsuit accusing the city of Duluth of violating state environmental laws by allowing development that blocks scenic views from Skyline Parkway.
  • Duluth Mayor Don Ness said that the city is taking immediate steps to prepare for a strike from the city's largest union, but declined to offer specifics of his plan, including whether he would hire replacement workers.
  • A group of about 30 Northeastern Minnesota police departments, sheriff's offices and the State Patrol announced they have joined a crime-mapping service that will allow agencies to work together to track and monitor crime throughout the region.

Thursday, Feb. 25


  • The Proctor-Hermantown-Marshall Mirage girls' hockey team lost 7-2 to the Roseville Area Raiders Thursday in the Class AA quarterfinal.
  • Carlton County authorities said that the investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by Kyle Neumann, the 42-year-old Proctor school teacher who committed suicide last week, is closed.
  • A day after the Superior Telegram ran a story about one of Douglas County's most wanted criminal offenders, he was taken into custody without incident by Superior police.

Want to know more about any of these stories? Look under the News tab at
This weekend

Saturday, Feb. 27

Enjoy the grand finale to the Snowlympics in Duluth. Go to the Chester Bowl Winter Carnival and Closing Ceremony from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Chester Bowl (1801 East Skyline Parkway). The Winter Carnival runs from 1-5 p.m., with the Family Winter Picnic from 5-6 p.m. and the Closing Ceremony from 6-6:20 p.m. There will be a "Celebration of Multicultural New Year's" Fire Works at 6:30 p.m. (Sponsored by College of Saint Scholastica's Kaleidoscope Multi-Cultural Club.)

For calendar events, check out the Budgeteer's Community Calendar.

What To Read Next
Get Local