Dateline Minnesota: Cuyuna, Winona and Mora

  • Updated: February 8, 2014 - 6:06 PM

Cuyuna

A mountain bike newbie takes photo for state parks sticker

Three years ago, Aaron Hautala took his 20-year-old mountain bike to the newly built state recreation trails near his house, and it changed his life.

“Finally, exercise is fun,” he said.

Now the 38-year-old marketing agency owner is president of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew, and an autumn photo he took will grace car windshields across the state as the 2014 state parks permit sticker. (Last year, the parks system sold more than 136,000.)

DNR officials asked Hautala for photos after meeting him at an event. They wanted to showcase the 25-mile trail at the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, about 17 miles northeast of Brainerd, because it’s new and quickly gaining popularity, officials said.

Hautala donated the selected photo.

PAM LOUWAGIE

WINONA

Driver in quadruple fatal was drunk

Test results show an SUV driver who crashed through the Mississippi River ice last month, killing herself and three passengers, was drunk.

Winona County Chief Deputy Ron Ganrude said that toxicology results show Christina Lee Hauser, 36, had twice the legal driving limit of alcohol in her blood, or 0.16 percent.

The Winona woman failed to make the curve on Riverview Drive, crashing through a barricade and into the river.

Authorities say three childhood friends who grew up near Lanesboro, Minn. — Andrew Kingsbury, Matthew Erickson and Blake Overland — had met Hauser at a downtown Winona bar and left with her about 1 a.m. on Jan. 5. All four bodies were recovered from the river.

CURT BROWN

MORA

Eminent domain fight is set to go to court

The city of Mora wants to build a second runway at its airport, and wants to take some land by eminent domain to do it.

Landowners Greg and Deb Yankowiak are fighting that, and the case is scheduled to land in court Monday.

The couple argue that the runway, a crosswind grass strip that would give planes another option on windy days, isn’t needed in that spot. Building it would destroy wetlands and trees on the nine acres they would be forced to turn over to the city.

City administrator Joel Dhein said the runway will replace a crosswind runway that closed in 2007 because of development and will give pilots in that region a safe place to land if they need it.

PAM LOUWAGIE

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