Debris-clogged fighter jets are back in the air

Ten F-16s will be back in the air this weekend after crews at the Duluth-based Air National Guard 148th Fighter Wing spent painstaking hours clearing runway debris out of the planes' engines.

Stray bits of wire frayed off the bristles of a new snowplow broom, covering the runway at Duluth International Airport with metal fragments, some less than an inch long, some longer than a foot. Fighter Wing Capt. Jodi Kiminski said all 18 F-16s were grounded for inspection and at least 10 have been cleared to participate in a weekend training mission and should be "ready to go."

The bits of wire on the runway were no danger to commercial aircraft, but the F-16 engines are closer to the ground and sucked up the debris, which could have damaged the engines if they hadn't been removed.

Airport spokeswoman Natalie Peterson said it has been using brooms to clear snow for years. The broom manufacturer is investigating, she said.

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks


Student senate says BYO water bottle on campus

Bemidji State University students who want to drink plain water in class may have to supply their own vessel to hold it starting next fall.

The student senate at the school voted unanimously last week to eliminate plain, unflavored bottled water beverages from campus.

If the administration agrees to the ban, it would take effect in the fall of 2016 as a new dining services contract begins. The campus football stadium would be an exception.

Student senate co-president Jenna Long said students are working with administrators to get more filtered water taps in campus buildings. They expect most will be installed before the resolution would take effect.

"Our sustainability office gives out free water bottles to all new students," Long said. "Theoretically, everyone should have one."

Pam Louwagie @pamlouwagie


Oxford Street getting a face-lift, with local input

Worthington residents soon will have a chance to shape the revitalization of Oxford Street, a heavily traveled corridor stretching 2½ miles from Diagonal Road to Hwy. 60.

The Cuningham Group, a consulting firm charged with drafting a redevelopment plan, will make a presentation to the public on Wednesday at the town fire hall. The group is encouraging people to offer input on how they imagine the street's future in the first of several public meetings.

The city says that the four-lane thoroughfare is showing signs of dilapidation, including Northland Mall at the eastern edge. City leaders want to attract new businesses and make public improvements.

"It has been in existence for quite some time, and is showing its age," said Brad Chapulis, director of community and economic development.

MAYA RAO @Mrao_Strib