A planned $2 billion flood control project for the Fargo-Moorhead area got a $5 million infusion of cash from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week.

The Fargo-Moorhead Diversion project has been a point of conflict between Minnesota and North Dakota. The project has been hit with several lawsuits and is on hold until Minnesota completes an environmental review, which, among other things, will look at plans for digging a 36-mile trench around Fargo to divert floodwater and building a dam across the Red River that could flood Minnesota farmland.

The $5 million is a fraction of the project’s $1.8 billion budget, but is enough to begin work on the diversion’s first inlet channels. Those funds will not be available until at least July, after the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources completes its environmental review in the spring and makes a final permitting decision this summer.

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks

 

Walker

Anglers to put their pout on, with ice restrictions

The 2016 Eelpout Festival will carry on, albeit with some new restrictions due to thinner-than-usual ice, said festival organizer Jared Olson. Come next weekend, the celebration will mark its 37th year of drawing thousands to Leech Lake to fish for and honor the “ugliest bottom-dwelling fish” in the lake — the eelpout.

No vehicles will be allowed on the ice from noon Friday, Feb. 19, to 10 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 21. Those with fish houses and campers can pull onto the ice before the restrictions begin, but have to have their vehicles off the ice and parked in town by noon Friday, Olson said.

Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch ordered the restrictions, which could possibly be removed if the ice thickens to 24 inches, Olson said. The most recent reading showed ice thickness at 21 inches, he said.

Matt McKinney @_mattmckinney

 

Bemidji

New shelter ready to open

A new homeless shelter in Bemidji is on the verge of opening.

The Nameless Coalition for the Homeless plans to welcome people to sleep in the downtown church-turned-shelter starting Monday, and maybe sooner.

The shelter got its certificate of occupancy Friday, and given the cold weather, might push up its opening, said Kristi Tell Miller, the Nameless Coalition’s treasurer. “The plumbing is hooked up, the heat is on, the beds are there,” she said.

Slumberland Furniture donated the shelter’s 16 beds and “the little church lady groups are making quilts,” Tell Miller said.

The shelter is meant to aid a set of homeless people whom advocates say have too few options: chronic alcohol and drug users.

The nonprofit held a training for law enforcement officers, so “they know we’re there,” Tell Miller said.

Jenna Ross @ByJenna