Its cold outside and area lakes are freezing, prompting many to venture out on them to ice fish. Sara Sindelir, Minnesota DNR Conservation Officer says there are some basic guidelines to follow for ice safety. Ice 2 inches or less isn’t safe to walk on, ice 4 inches thick is OK for skiing, ice fishing and walking on, ice 5 to 6 inches is OK for snowmobiles, ice 8 to 12 inches is OK for cars or small pickups and over 12 inches for medium pickups. The DNR cautions that no ice is ever completely safe. There are always some risks. The DNR also recommends anglers to check with area bait shops for ice thickness reports. There are more recommendations on the DNR website at www.mndnr.com.
Grand Rapids residents are invited to review and comment upon of an updated draft City Parks and Trails Master Plan. Residents are also encouraged to attend a public meeting to voice their opinion on park and trail needs and issues and offer comments on the draft plan. The proposed document updates the city’s master parks and trails plan, which was last modified in 2002. The city has roughly 170 acres of developed parks not including the golf course, over 23 miles of designated trails, and thousands of acres of open forested land. The meeting will be held in the Council Chambers in City Hall on Tuesday, December 17th. It will start at 6:30 PM and last about two hours. The draft plan and background materials including a review of current facilities, a map showing the location of parks and trails, and the city’s current comprehensive plan can be found on the City’s website www.grandrapids.govoffice.com.
In the local crime report from the Grand Rapids Police Department:
Law enforcement responded to a report of a vehicle fire on Pokegama Avenue South on Saturday December 7th. The snowmobile operator had extinguished the fire by the time officers arrived.
A resident on DeSchepper Drive reported someone had entered his yard, cut down a blue spruce with lights on it and stole the tree & lights. The owner estimated the loss at $40 for the tree and lights. Law enforcement followed tracks in the snow to no avail.
A landlord and tenant managed to extinguish the furnace fire at their residence on Diane Lane. The Grand Rapids Fire Department arrived and vented the structure.
A customer pumping gas at a convenience store on Highway 169 East reported a theft from her vehicle. She went into the store to pay for her fuel and returned to discover her $300 cell phone and $350 tablet computer had been stolen. When she went back inside to report the theft the clerk stated he knew the vehicle operator of the SUV that had been sitting next to her. Law enforcement contacted the operator and was told the passenger sitting in the back seat had encouraged him to commit the crime. Officers located the vehicle, arrested the suspects and charged them with felony theft and several driving violations.
The Information Technology department in the city Grand Rapids has plans to reduce the cost of computing. Mayor Dale Adams said the new configuration will have a monitor, keyboard and mouse and connections to the server and internet, instead of having a hard drive with data on it. It should cost between three and four hundred dollars or about half the current costs. The changeover plan will begin next year.
Law enforcement officials want to inform residents of a scam involving parties calling people in the area and pretending to be with the State Bank of Belle Plane. Parties attempt to obtain and validate personal or financial information from the victims over the phone. Officers warn citizens to not provide any personal or financial information by phone, or send money electronically to anyone that you don’t know. Most financial institutions will not call you to request this type of private information. Anyone who thinks they may have fallen victim of the scam should contact local law enforcement and, in some cases, may file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.Consumer.FTC.gov.
With below zero air temperatures and sub-zero wind chill most in our area are staying inside. However if you need to go outside here are some tips from the national weather service. Frostbite can occur in a very short time and is damage to body tissue caused by extreme cold. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 95°F. It can kill. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion.
More than eighteen hundred gift bags will be filled on Saturday December 14th at the Second Harvest North Central Food bank as part of the Itasca Holiday Program. The primary component of the Itasca Holiday Holiday Program is a special food box. Sue Estee Executive Director of Second Harvest North Central Food Bank said the food boxes consist of things most families would want to prepare for a holiday dinner along with a voucher for either ham or turkey. She said the food boxes and gifts will be distributed at eight locations throughout the county beginning Monday December 16th through Wednesday December 18th.
A one vehicle roll-over accident occurred Monday December 9th at 9 AM on Highway 1 a mile and half south of Ely. The driver and lone occupant of the vehicle, 49 year old Patricia Holzer of Ely was taken to the Ely hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. According to the Minnesota State Patrol Holzer was northbound on Highway 1, lost control and slid into a ditch on the west side and rolled. Records indicate alcohol was not detected in the system of the driver and she was wearing her seatbelt. The Ely Police Department assisted at the scene.
If you can give a little extra this holiday season, keep your local food shelf in mind. Sue Estee is with Second Harvest North Central Food bank and says one in ten Minnesotans is experiencing some level of food insecurity. She says for some it becomes a choice of paying heating bills or putting food on the table. They call it heat or eat and many homes this time of year have to make that decision. Estee says many Minnesotans also saw a reduction to their supplemental nutrition assistance program or SNAP benefits on November 1st.
Virginia Medical Center agreed to a new three year contract after difficult negotiations resulted in nurses working for more than three months without a contract. The bargaining unit of 120 nurses, represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association, has been without a contract since July 31, 2013. Retention of skilled nurses is important because it positively impacts quality patient care. The contract will pay nurses 8.25 percent more over three years, improve health benefits, and spell out language that sets standards for enough nurses to be on duty to take care of patients and their conditions in various departments.