Pine County

Central Minn. counties approved for disaster aid

Ten storm-battered counties in central Minnesota will share $5.4 million in state disaster assistance, the governor’s office announced last week.

The funds will help communities in Aitkin, Benton, Carlton, Crow Wing, Kanabec, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, and Traverse counties repair public infrastructure damaged by violent storms and floods that ripped through the region July 9-11.

A series of major storms raked through the state this summer and state aid has followed. The aid announced Tuesday by Gov. Mark Dayton is designed to help communities that didn’t suffer quite enough damage to qualify for federal disaster aid. The state covers 75 percent of the cost of cleanup and repairs to public properties, if local governments shoulder the remaining 25 percent.

Jennifer Brooks


St. Cloud

Church sues city over tiny house dispute

A St. Cloud church has filed suit against the city of St. Cloud, alleging the city has violated its First Amendment rights by refusing to allow it to shelter a homeless man in a “tiny house” on church property.

The city denied a request to amend St. John’s Episcopal Church’s conditional use permit to allow for a residential structure on its property. The tiny house is 132 square feet and sits on wheels. Electricity is connected to an exterior outlet and water is supplied through a hose. A homeless man, identified in the federal lawsuit as John Doe, was to be moved in.

The suit asks the court for an injunction that would require the city to allow the church to move forward, particularly with colder weather coming.

In response to the suit, St. Cloud city administrator Matthew Staehling said it is strictly a zoning and land use issue. “It’s nothing in particular to the church or ministering to the homeless, those are the things we encourage and support,” he said.

Mark Brunswick


Lake Vermilion

Public hearings on DNR fishing regulations

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is holding a series of forums around the state to allow the public to weigh in on new and proposed fishing regulations.

The DNR is looking for public input on its plans for managing pike, walleye, sunfish, black crappie and trout populations on 14 lakes and three rivers. Those new policies include walleye regulations on Lake Vermilion and a proposal for new fall catch-and-release trout fishing in southeastern Minnesota.

The forums will be held throughout September and October in Cass, Fillmore, Itasca, Stearns, St. Louis and Wright counties.

For a full list of the dates and times of the public forums, visit

Jennifer Brooks