Police hoping to use mounted patrols

Tourists strolling Canal Park and downtown Duluth this summer might see police patrolling on horseback once again.

Officials are hoping to have four officers and horses ready to go by mid-June, in time for crowds at Grandma's Marathon.

The horses would make it easier for officers to see crowds and vice versa. "If you're on foot or on a bike, all you see is the backs of people's head. If you're on a horse, you're way up above people," said patrol officer Jim Matson. Plus, he said: "a cop on a horse is always very approachable."

The department bid $45,000 for the already-trained horses and all the equipment that goes with them from the Three Rivers Park District in the Twin Cities, which ended its horse patrol program, Duluth officials said. Donations from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation and Duluth Police Foundation will help with costs.

Officers plan to use the horses year-round, as long as the weather is tolerable for the animals.


Real estate broker joins City Council

Brainerd has a new City Council member to replace longtime civic activist and council President Bonnie Cumberland, who died in February.

Dolly Matten, a 43-year-old real estate broker, planning commission member and community volunteer, will sit on the council for the rest of the year until the seat comes up for election. Matten was chosen from a pool of 11 candidates through a series of City Council votes last week, with the mayor breaking a tie.

The number of candidates "just goes to show how many people are actively involved and want to be involved in seeing the city grown," Matten said.

Matten said she looks forward to working on projects such as increasing access to the Mississippi River and connecting the community to nearby trails. She said she'd like to see more people making Brainerd a destination and "not just passing through."

Albert Lea

Hope for lake cleanup

For years, officials in Albert Lea have been working to clean local lakes of algae-promoting nutrients. Voters overwhelmingly approved a local sales tax for the mission in 2006. With grants and other funds, $6 million worth of upstream conservation has helped decrease sediment coming in by 75 percent, said Brett Behnke, district administrator of the Shell Rock River Watershed District.

Now, after local leaders visited St. Paul last week, they are more hopeful than ever that the state will kick in $7.5 million — half of the cost — to dredge Fountain Lake to stop bottom sediment from churning and producing algae blooms.

"Our lakes are our civic center," Behnke said. "We're the first lake you see when you come in from Iowa. … We're the first of the 10,000 lakes and we want it to be a good one."

Pam Louwagie