River Country Cooperative, an Inver Grove Heights-based farm supply co-op, has paid a civil penalty of $15,988 to the state for petroleum storage tank violations at its South St. Paul plant, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said.

The MPCA cited River Country for failing to inspect three tanks in 2014 and 2019 and keep proper records. The state agency ordered the co-op to have an authorized inspector examine the tanks and document the inspection.

River Country was fined by the state in 2010 for safety violations with anhydrous ammonia storage at its facility in Hampton. Later that year, about 1,000 people were evacuated in Randolph when anhydrous ammonia leaked while being unloaded into a broken tank at a River Country facility.

Kevin Duchschere


Huge pumpkin sets state weight record

A pumpkin weighing nearly a ton set a new record last weekend for Minnesota-grown pumpkins at the annual Stillwater Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off.

The winner was Charlie Bernstrom of Lancaster, Minn., whose gigantic gourd weighed 1,990.5 pounds, topping the former record-holding pumpkin by more than 70 pounds. Bernstrom won a grand prize of $5,000.

It wasn’t the biggest pumpkin the annual Stillwater contest has ever recorded. In 2018, Deer Park, Wis., grower Pete Midthun brought in a behemoth that tipped the scales at 2,091 pounds. All Top 10 pumpkins entered in this year’s Weigh-Off were more than 1,200 pounds, organizers said.

The usual public audience wasn’t permitted this year due to the pandemic, but the contest and awards ceremony were livestreamed.

Matt McKinney


Udermann fined for campaign law breach

A candidate for the Carver County Board violated state law by claiming the support of local school board members without having their written permission, the state Office of Administrative Hearings ruled last week.

Matt Udermann, who is challenging District 3 Commissioner Randy Maluchnik, was fined $600 for saying on Facebook that he had the support of most of Eastern Carver County’s school board members. State law requires that candidates first obtain permission in writing before making such a claim.

“I think that our community is divided and we need to seek unity, so we paid the fine and we want to move on,” Udermann said Thursday. “At the end of the day, it was a technicality and we resolved it.”

Katy ReadBrooklyn Park

City launches municipal podcast

Brooklyn Park has become the latest Minnesota city to launch its own podcast, featuring interviews with city staffers, business owners and community leaders.

“We Are Brooklyn Park,” hosted by City Manager Jay Stroebel, is intended to connect residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Podcast guests discuss efforts to help the community during the pandemic and how it has affected their work and lives.

Earlier this summer, Crystal introduced a city-focused podcast and “Chief’s Chat,” focusing on public safety. Richfield has been producing weekly podcast episodes with “That’s Rich(field)” since 2018.

Kim Hyatt