Sleepy Eye

911 responders to get better radio signals

Some Brown County residents are poised to get better emergency service after commissioners approved $312,000 worth of new radio tower equipment and installation.

After a statewide communications system was installed in the region at the end of 2012, the Sleepy Eye area had spots where radio signals wouldn't reach, said Shari Hittesdorf, emergency manager and EMS coordinator for the town.

"We were having some really major issues with reception in our community, mostly inside buildings," she said. "We were missing pages."

The system was installed so emergency responders could communicate statewide, Hittesdorf said. But radio signals bounced off three towers surrounding Sleepy Eye, leaving dead spots in reception. Responders sometimes had to call each other's cellphones when an emergency call came in, Hittesdorf said.

The new equipment will go onto an existing tower in about 90 days, weather permitting.


Officials seek new airport terminal

Plans are drawn for a new passenger terminal at the Range Regional Airport in Hibbing, and local leaders are optimistic that money to fund it will soon follow.

The $6.5 million project is included in the governor's budget recommendations as well as legislative bonding bills, said Shaun Germolus, executive director of the Chisholm/Hibbing Airport Authority.

Passenger traffic at the airport has increased 30 percent since 2009, with more than 11,000 outbound passengers now using it each year. The traffic includes 50 passenger flights with Delta Air Lines twice a day, as well as occasional charter flights with Sun Country, Germolus said. But in the current terminal, after travelers go through security there is seating for only 35 people and no restrooms are available. TSA checks, passenger boarding, passenger check-in and baggage claim areas are cramped, he said.


Seized marijuana grow lights donated

After seizing lights, timers, cords and other equipment used illegally to grow marijuana, the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office donated the equipment to a garden produce nonprofit that provides jobs for people with developmental disabilities, under a partnership announced Thursday.

Typically, property seized in drug cases is auctioned off, but law enforcement wanted to make sure the growing equipment wouldn't be used illegally again, officials said. Bay Produce, a division of Challenge Center, in Superior, Wis., planted tomatoes under the new lights in December.

The equipment has allowed the company to get a jump on its growing season, officials said. Fresh tomatoes grown from the equipment are now ready for harvest.

Pam Louwagie