For the first time in Sherburne County, zebra mussels have been confirmed in a local lake, the state Department of Natural Resources announced.

The invasive species was found in Lake Orono, where Eurasian watermilfoil and rusty crayfish were also recently found.

Reports of the mussels surfaced as Elk River drew the lake level down earlier this month to remove sediment and restore water depth. A DNR official found “a reproducing population of zebra mussels” in two spots.

To stop the spread of invasive species, the DNR reminds boaters to clean watercraft with high-pressure water, hot water or by drying for at least five days; drain water from watercraft, and dispose of unwanted bait in the trash. Find more information at

Pam Louwagie

Grand rapids

Butcher shop gets development grants

A Grand Rapids butcher shop is making significant upgrades to its business through a series of grants from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.

Stan and Dawn Hager, who have been in the industry for four decades, are acquiring new equipment for S & S Meats in Grand Rapids, including a freezer, cooler, energy-efficient refrigerated display cases, and a high-efficiency smoker that can double production capacity.

The butcher, which has 98 types of brats as well as smoked meats and more, also processes wild game. It employs six people full-time and seven part-time.

“We were proud to use local northeastern Minnesota contractors for all of the work,” Stan Hager said, “and we grew our employee count with the increased sales and operational savings on utilities.”

Reid Forgrave


Invasive vine found in Stearns County

An invasive vine that hasn’t been seen in the United States in six decades has been spotted in Stearns County.

Sherry Kutter, a master naturalist with the University of Minnesota Extension, spotted the vining milkweed known as rough potato along the Lake Wobegon Trail in Holdingford.

Rough potato, which is native to east Asia, has only been spotted in North America in 1958 in cornfields near Iowa State University in Ames, where it may have been part of a research project during World War II.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture said the invasive vine’s appearance in Minnesota is a mystery.

Reid Forgrave