First veterans laid to rest in new cemetery

Minnesota's newest veterans cemetery held its first burials last week — on Veterans Day.

Two former mayors of Preston, Air Force veteran Earl Hoff and Navy veteran Clarence Quanrud, were laid to rest in the new Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery near Preston. It took eight years, $10 million and the combined bipartisan efforts of state and federal lawmakers to create the 169-acre cemetery, which will serve southeast Minnesota and parts of neighboring Iowa and Wisconsin.

"It was a very, very moving ceremony," said state Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, a former mayor of Preston himself and one of the lawmakers who fought for years to get the cemetery funded. The former mayors were laid to rest with rifle salutes, prayers and full military honors. "It was very fitting."

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks


White Earth breaks ground on new casino

The White Earth Nation broke ground last week for the tribe's newest Shooting Star Casino.

It will be the third Shooting Star Casino, this one near Bagley, Minn. "We are so excited for the opportunity to grow the Shooting Star brand with this new casino in Bagley," said casino general manager Bill Marsh.

The new Bagley Casino will feature a bar and grill, observation tower and 21,400-square-foot casino floor. Casino management expects it to employ 40 people. The new casino is slated for completion in the spring of 2016.

The tribe also announced plans in September for a Shooting Star casino near Dent, on Star Lake.

Construction on the Dent casino will begin in 2016 and the facility is set to open in 2017. It is expected to feature slots, gaming tables, restaurants, a ballroom and a gift shop, as well as a hotel and RV park.




Young chef's dish could win school a new cafeteria

A Winona second-grader's colorful cooking landed him a top spot in a national competition and could give his school a shot at a shiny new cafeteria.

"Hi, I'm Hamilton, and I want to be a chef when I grow up," the boy, age 8, tells the video camera. "Today, I'm going to make something called Rainbow Rice. My sister loves it because it tastes good and it's shaped like a … " The camera pans to little sister Stella, who cheers, "Rainbow!"

Rainbow Rice — featuring red peppers, orange carrots, yellow egg yolks, dark green broccoli, light green celery and purple onions — is one of 25 national finalists in the Uncle Ben's "Ben's Beginners" cooking contest. Winners will be chosen by online voters and the top five finishers win $15,000 for themselves and a $30,000 makeover for their school cafeteria.

"Now for the ultimate test," he said, after chopping, mixing and cooking up a fluffy cloud of rice and a vegetable rainbow for his little sister. Stella took a big bite and nodded approvingly.

Voting will continue at's-beginners/finalists until Nov. 30.

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks