City golf course saved for another decade or so

All 18 holes of a municipal golf course near downtown Rochester will be preserved — for now.

As part of a master plan under consideration to keep the Soldiers Field park and golf course thriving into the future, the Rochester Parks and Recreation board considered reducing the course to nine holes.

They looked at other uses for the land, including trails and multipurpose open space. The idea upset some avid golfers, who spoke up at meetings.

For now, the board decided to concentrate on Phase 1 of the master plan, which focuses on land north of the golf course. They expect it will take about 10 years to complete that phase, Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman said.

They will reconsider the golf course after that.

"I think overall it was a healthy discussion," Widman said. "Our view was, you know, what's the best use of this piece of land 20-30 years from now as a park?"

The course is one of four municipal courses.

Pam Louwagie @pamlouwagie


Memorial mine park to get boardwalks, paths to shafts

The park marking Minnesota's worst mining disaster will get a major upgrade under a grant finalized Tuesday by the Crow Wing County Board.

The $279,000 state grant will pay for a new boardwalk, paths and historical displays at the Milford Mine Memorial Park.

In 1924, 41 men died there when a torrent of muddy water broke through the underground iron-ore mine, just north of Crosby. Seven made it to the surface alive.

A plan for the park is meant to make it more accessible, said Bryan Pike, the county's natural resource manager. The boardwalk will bring visitors to the site, "which has been a challenging area to access with all the wetlands."

Paths will lead to the old mine shafts, "which are a little worse for wear because of the time that has passed," he said. "We want to improve and protect those resources."

Construction could start late this summer.

Relatives of the miners who died in the disaster "have never forgotten," Pike said. "We didn't want the general public in the area to lose that historic importance, either."

Read more about the project:

Jenna Ross @ByJenna

Silver Bay

City celebrates as 'Rocky Taconite' statue turns 50

Silver Bay is celebrating a big birthday for one of its most famous residents: "Rocky Taconite."

The round, pickax-wielding statue — which stands atop a boulder of taconite — turns 50 this year. Mayor Joanne Johnson encouraged residents and former residents to gather near the grinning guy for a rendition of "Happy Birthday" on Saturday.

For the occasion, Rocky sported a fresh coat of paint.

"Here's to 50 more years in this wonderful land!" he announced on Facebook last week.

Jenna ross@ByJenna

Granite Falls

Yellow Medicine County plans a new courthouse

Yellow Medicine County plans to build a new courthouse that could cost up to $5.9 million.

At a Wednesday meeting, the County Board voted 3-1 to replace the current courthouse in Granite Falls, which was completed in 1889 and renovated several times. Those renovations stripped the building of its wood staircases and historic touches, said Peg Heglund, county administrator.

Weighing the cost of needed upgrades, the board decided it would be worth it to build new, she said.

A $5.9 million price tag — raised through general obligation bonds — would increase the county's taxes by 1.8 percent. But board members hope the cost comes in well below that "very generous number," Heglund said.

Jenna Ross @ByJenna