Under plan, cyclists and dogs to share park

To keep the peace between cyclists and dog owners in a Mankato city park, the City Council on Monday night split it in half: bikes on one side, dogs on the other.

The two sides had been meeting since mountain bike trails were set to be added to the Kiwanis Recreation Area along Hwy. 169.

The council tabled action on the bike course in November until "a plan was put in place that would address potential conflicts between dog owners and bicyclists," the council agenda said.

The new plan splits the park into a green zone for biking — no dogs allowed — and a red zone along a wood-chip trail for off-leash dogs, where bicyclists cannot roam.

Both groups are allowed in the parking lots, the agenda notes, where dogs must be leashed.

"The key to this is going to be building the buffer zone," said resident Brian Guess, according to a recording of the meeting. "Dog owners are no different than bike riders. You got some that are courteous, some that aren't."


Many apply for empty seat on council

Eleven people have applied for the Brainerd City Council spot left vacant when council President Bonnie Cumberland, 67, died at home last month.

A real estate broker, restaurant owner and barista are among the applicants.

They will give short speeches at a special meeting March 10. The council will then pick the new member by majority vote, according to a memo from the city.

The seat is up for election this year. So to continue past December, the council member will have to nab votes from residents come November.


Rookie bus driver saves the day

School bus driver Dennis Ziemann checks his mirror often to make sure the kids are seated. On a recent afternoon, he saw a middle school boy pushing his buddy up the aisle. So he pulled over and turned on his flashers.

The boy's face was turning purple. "Are you choking?" Ziemann asked. The boy nodded.

There wasn't much room, so Ziemann brought the boy's arms up, put him against a seat and began hitting his upper back.

"After the third one, he started gasping," Ziemann said. "He said, 'Oh, I can breathe.' "

Turns out the middle schooler had been laughing when he choked on a whole "fun-size" Snickers.

Ziemann had been a certified first responder "years ago," and got first-aid training when he started as a bus driver months ago.

The Jan. 29 act earned Ziemann a safety award from his company, Durham School Services, and a handmade card from the boy.

"So that's kinda neat," Ziemann said.