This time, meal is coming to them

Embarrass is used to getting attention for record-cold temperatures. "We get a lot of calls when the weather gets really cold," said Diane Nelmark, town clerk for the town of 600. "But this was a new one."

When the low in Embarrass was expected to hit 38 below this month, the owners of Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis offered residents a free brunch "in warm and toasty Hell," Bloody Mary included.

The offer made the news. "Kind of shot across the sky like a meteor," said Pat Forciea, the restaurant's vice president.

In the end, 26 people nabbed the deal. The restaurant also heard from people who couldn't make it. Car wouldn't start. Too cold. One woman offered up her kitchen if the restaurant would come to them.

"Game on," the owners of Hell's Kitchen declared. They'll travel to Embarrass for a pancake feed on Feb. 22. The grocery store in Babbitt called, offering to donate the bacon.

Proceeds benefit the fire department and the regional fair. The night before, the town plans to hold a community sauna for visitors.

Little Falls

DNR urges safe, sober snowmobile rides

It's Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week — when the state Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, reminds drivers to take a safety course and stay sober.

Accidents often involve three factors: speed, night and alcohol, said Capt. Mike Hammer, education program coordinator with the DNR at Camp Ripley in Little Falls.

So far this season, seven people have died on snowmobiles — including a 30-year-old man who was thrown from his snowmobile Wednesday in Becker County.

The number of deaths each season is closely tied to the start and amount of snowfall, Hammer said. Last winter, there were eight snowmobiling fatalities. Five involved alcohol.


Red Wing Shoe Store finally gets its sign

Paul Kieffer moved his Red Wing Shoe Store to a spot near Hwy. 52 so that folks driving by could see it and, perhaps, stop.

But then in 2005, sound walls went up. "By the time you see my store, you're past the exit."

So Kieffer asked the Minnesota Department of Transportation, or MnDOT, for a small sign. It said no. He appealed to a special committee. They said no, too. So Kieffer went to the Legislature — again and again.

Kieffer argued that the barriers gave people no time to exit, cutting his sales by 15 percent.

But MnDOT said highway signs are reserved for such things as gas, food and lodging, MnDOT's Peter Buchen told legislators in March. "Traffic signing is not intended to be an advertising device." Giving this business a sign would set a troubling precedent, he argued.

But legislators disagreed, and the little bill authored by Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, found its way into the transportation bill last session. Last month, Kieffer got his sign, which he paid for himself.

The small marker says, simply, "RED WING SHOE STORE EXIT 58."

Jenna Ross