Namesake ship's anchor to rest near Lakewalk

A 12-ton anchor from the decommissioned Navy ship the USS Duluth will soon rest near Duluth's Lakewalk.

Alumni from the ship secured the anchor after months of paperwork, said Army veteran and St. Louis County Historical Society board member John Werner. The 12-by-8-foot anchor was attached to the amphibious ship commissioned in 1962 that went through three tours in Vietnam, including the fall of Saigon, Werner said. Its last tour of duty was in the Persian Gulf in 2005.

Werner said that the ship is being replaced with a larger craft and that a Texas company is cutting it up for scrap.

After the anchor is sandblasted and painted, it will be hoisted atop a pedestal near Duluth's Vietnam and Korean War memorials later this summer. The project is funded through donations.

Pam Louwagie @pamlouwagie


State breaks ground on new bridge over Mississippi

Minnesota broke ground on its newest bridge Friday morning.

The new two-lane bridge will span the Mississippi River along Hwy. 43 in Winona, just north of an existing historic bridge.

The $162 million project should make life easier for the 15,000 people whose commute across the river was complicated when engineers discovered cracks and other signs of deterioration on the 73-year-old bridge.

Rather than destroy the iconic old bridge, the project will set up the new bridge to handle westbound traffic, while the old bridge is rehabilitated to carry eastbound traffic.

"We've preserved part of our heritage and that's an amazing thing," said U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who was on hand for the groundbreaking.

The new bridge will open to traffic in the fall of 2016, and at that point crews will begin new repairs and reconstruction on the historic bridge. The entire project is expected to continue through the spring of 2020.

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks


Dayton talks water with parched southwest cities

Gov. Mark Dayton met with officials in parched southwestern Minnesota communities to talk about a massive new water project.

Water woes plague southwestern Minnesota communities like Luverne, where the water quality can be so poor that many residents are forced to rely on bottled water and industries are unable to expand because of shortages.

On Friday, the governor briefed local leaders about the next phase of the $70 million Lewis & Clark Regional Water System, which received a $22 million funding boost from the Minnesota Legislature this year.

The project will reach 300,000 people in 10 counties and more than 40 small towns across Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota.

The latest state funding means construction can move forward on a water pipeline that will run from the Iowa border to Luverne, Dayton said. Communities also have the option of borrowing additional money to continue the pipeline through to Worthington — a community that has dug well after well, only to come up dry.

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks


New downtown art project greets Main Street visitors

It took a little more than a day for 125 people to bring new artistic life to downtown New London.

Volunteers dipped sponges in varying shades of gray paint last week to create the first in a rotating series of art projects welcoming visitors to Main Street.

A mural of a boy floating on an inner tube, based on a 1960s photograph, now covers the wall of Mord's Hardware, the first building travelers see coming into town.

The nonprofit New London Arts Alliance approached the store about using the wall. The group will replace the mural in the fall to showcase other art there, possibly sculpture. The alliance recently won an ArtPlace America grant of $262,500.

Pam Louwagie @pamlouwagie