Combined grants to fund community water system

State and federal funding has been approved for $4.2 million in water system improvements for Oslo, a city of 330 residents in Marshall County.

The Minnesota Public Facilities Authority (PFA), the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded the grants, which will be used to buy and install water main, casing pipe, fire hydrants and gate valves.

“Water infrastructure projects are a top priority in communities throughout the state, particularly small cities in Greater Minnesota,” DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy, who chairs the PFA board, said in a statement. “This project will give Oslo an up-to-date water system that it otherwise could not afford to install.”

The PFA put up $1.7 million, DEED contributed $600,000, and the USDA contributed a grant of $991,000 and a loan of $922,000 for the project.

Dan Browning


Seneca Foods ends canning operations

A legacy business in Rochester, Seneca Foods, plans to end a 90-year canning operation in the city. Canned vegetables don’t sell as well as they used to, Seneca’s owners said in making the announcement.

The change will come at the end of this season. Rochester’s canned vegetable operations will then be consolidated into other plants in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The canning operation mostly produced corn and peas. The company plans to continue its frozen vegetable operation in Rochester, packing produce ranging from Brussels sprouts to celery and more. The products are sold under the Libby’s label and various private labels for grocery chains.

The vegetable canning business began in Rochester in 1929 with Reid-Murdoch and Co. Seneca became the owners of the facility in 1982. It’s unknown what will become of the canning facility, a company spokesman told the Rochester Post-Bulletin.

Seneca’s water tower, painted to look like an ear of corn, has long been a part of Rochester’s skyline.

Matt McKinney


Businesses complain about marathon route

Ely marathoners wind up their long journey by running down the city’s main drag of Sheridan Street each fall.

Such events are typically considered a boon to the local economy, but some business owners apparently contend the route has the opposite effect by cutting off access to their storefronts.

A business owner presented a petition to the city asking for the race to be rerouted, but organizers said it’s too late for this year’s Sept. 22 event.

The permitting process to close state and county highways is lengthy, Mayor Chuck Novak said. Plus, the racecourse is a certified Boston Marathon qualifier, and certifying a new route would be difficult.

“We have a whole checklist of what has to be done by when, and we’re over two-thirds of the way through that checklist,” Novak said. “Starting over is just not doable.”

Pam Louwagie