Good at shoveling? City will award 'snow angels'

It hasn't been a particularly cold or snowy winter, but leaders in Duluth are calling for nominations that will make citizens feel warm and fuzzy about shoveling snow.

The "Golden Shovel Award" is aimed at neighborly people who "go above and beyond expectations to help out their fellow neighbors and people in need of assistance with snow removal."

The city calls them "snow angels."

Nomination forms and instructions are at: www.duluthmn.gov/human-rights-office/.

The golden shovels will be awarded at a mayor's reception in the spring.

Pam Louwagie @pamlouwagie


Skyline to get firefighting services from neighbor

The little city of Skyline, Minn., will pay its much larger neighbor, Mankato, for firefighting services.

Under an agreement approved by the Mankato City Council last week, Skyline will disband its volunteer force and instead use Mankato's responders.

Travis Javens, the mayor of Skyline, pop. 291, said that the number of volunteer firefighters has been falling in recent years.

"We were getting down to the point where we didn't have enough members to … provide adequate service to the community," he said.

Also, the force had been responding to very few calls, making it tough to keep volunteers engaged. The city's last fire was in 2008 or 2009, he noted.

"All you are doing is just training and training and never putting the training to use," he said.

At first Skyline will get a discount: The city will pay Mankato just $10,000 a year in 2015 and 2016, because that's what it had budgeted for its own volunteer fire service. But the price will rise in 2017, under a new formula, to about $26,000, according to the council agenda.



$5.2 million sports dome, turf fields approved

The school board in Austin, Minn., voted 5-1 last week to build a seasonal sports dome and two artificial turf fields at the city's Wescott Athletic Complex.

The project calls for the seasonal dome to rise over a new turf field at Art Hass Stadium, home of the Packers high school football team.

The dome plan, announced in November, arose after a survey found widespread support for an indoor sports facility for community use during winter months. It's expected to host soccer, softball and baseball practices or games.

Austin-based Hormel Foods Corp. donated $2.7 million for the project; the school district will pay the remaining $2.5 million.

The project should break ground this spring and be completed over the summer.

Matt McKinney