Frac sand company files appeal on ban

Minnesota Sands filed a petition last week seeking to have the Minnesota Supreme Court review a recent appeals court decision dismissing a challenge to Winona County's ban on frac sand mining, processing and transportation.

The company alleges that the ban violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and constitutes a "taking" without just compensation.

A three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling 2-1 in July that the two-year-old ban was neither an unconstitutional limitation on interstate commerce nor a governmental "taking" without compensation.

"If this ban is allowed to stay in place, it creates a precedent that will threaten or weaken the rights of landowners and businesses in counties across Minnesota," said Richard Frick, president of Minnesota Sands.

Dan Browning


'Welcoming Week' festivities planned

Cities and community organizations from Grand Marais to Winona are preparing for "Welcoming Week" festivities this month to draw newcomers together with people who trace their roots to early settlers in their respective regions.

The annual festivities are being launched as part of a nationwide event by Welcoming America (, which describes itself as "a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by making everyone feel like they belong."

Winona became the first city to join the organization in 2016, and it has lined up a variety of activities to mark Welcoming Week, which officially runs Sept. 14-23, though some events elsewhere are scheduled as early as this week.

Welcoming America maps the events nationwide. Users can zoom in on the map or use the interactive database to read about many of the festivities, which include community meals, films and exhibitions about refugees and immigrants, historical presentations, tours of ethnic businesses, and a talk about international medical research projects.

Some towns are marking the occasion without joining the Welcoming American organization. Willmar, for instance, has organized several small "Welcome Dinners," intimate meals between a family that has lived in Willmar for a number of years and another that is newer to the area. One of the dinners will be hosted at Willmar Mayor Marv Calvin's home.

The dinners are designed to break barriers and help community members forge ties. About half of the families participating in Willmar will be Somali, according to a spokesman for ChangeX, an online community that is helping to organize the meals.

Dan Browning