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Final edition of Journal

This is the last edition of the International Falls Journal.

The Journal and it’s sister company, North Star Publishing, will close all its operations in International Falls June 30.

The owners of the two operations cite in their announcement that the impact of the pandemic, combined with economic trends over the past year, led to the decisions.

Matt and Alissa Sabbe watch the sunset on Rainy Lake, while visiting with family in Borderland.

Rainy Lake sunset

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Board to consider draft 2nd Amendment motion
  • Updated

The Koochiching County Board is expected to adopt a resolution in July that affirms the right to possess firearms as protected under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The resolution, expected to be considered at the July 13 board meeting, does not include unconstitutional promises, commissioners and the county attorney noted.

The board Tuesday in committee reviewed a draft of a “Second Amendment Dedicated County Resolution” offered by county Attorney Jeff Naglosky. The resolution stems a June 10, 2020, letter and petition from residents Tony Blais and Joe Butera.

A hearing May 11 gathered those who supported and opposed the idea of the county’s adoption of such a resolution.

Naglosky told the board Tuesday the proposed resolution publicly declares the board’s support for guns, but does not promise constituents anything commissioner’s do not have the legal authority to back up.

Commissioners, however, noted that when they took their oath of office, they pledged to uphold all that is in the U.S. Constitution.

Commissioners complimented Naglosky for his careful work on the draft, as well as his well chosen words at the May 11 hearing to explain the board’s authority.

“I am your lawyer, that’s what I am here for,” Naglosky said Tuesday.

Commissioner Wayne Skoe wondered if a resolution blanketing support for all amendments in the constitution wouldn’t have been cleaner and easier, but Naglosky said commissioners already have done that with their oath.

The May hearing, he said, made clear that supporters are asking for affirmation specifically of the Second Amendment; a blanket support for the Constitution may not have been specific enough to appease them.

“Nobody’s fired up about the Third Amendment,” he said.

The Third Amendment to the United States Constitution places restrictions on the quartering of soldiers in private homes without the owner’s consent, forbidding the practice in peacetime.

Other business

Meanwhile, during the regular meeting, the board heard an update on the pandemic from county Health and Human Services Director Kathy LaFrance.

LaFrance reported that the number of people getting vaccines in the county has fallen off compared to when vaccines were first available.

“We were hoping to see a lot of young people, but that is the population most likely not to get a vaccination,” she said. “That will cause some issue with the new Delta variant that now represents 20 percent of infection in the U.S. and is doubling every two weeks.”

The variation is likely to go into the young population, which will keep passing it on and causing it to change, she said.

Vaccinations are effective against the variant; people may still get ill, but won’t likely end up in a hospital or die, she said.

A June 14 vaccination bus, which ran out of its 100 doses June 14, may return to assist Koochiching County residents with getting vaccinated, she said.

LaFrance said Koochiching County’s vaccination rate, at about 56 percent of the population, is comparable to other counties, and around the nationwide rate of about 60 percent.

The Tuesday board approved a five-year agreement with St. Louis County, Voyageurs National Park and the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to assist in fighting the spread of aquatic invasive species, by using VNP’s two new decontamination units at sites on Rainy Lake, Ash River and Kabetogama.

The board acknowledged donations of baby blanket, 10 from Joan Pearson and five from Susan Anderson, which will be given to new moms in Koochiching County.

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Big Falls to hold events

The Big Falls community has big plans for the Fourth of July weekend.

According to a flier from the Big Falls Lions Club, festivities will start 9 p.m. July 2 with the country rock band Klemetsens.

The annual potluck along with a live band street dance will take place July 3.

On July 4, there are many activities aimed at having fun planned throughout the day, such as games, races, parades, sawing exhibitions, more live music and a street dance and more.

The event culminates with fireworks at dusk.

For more information, call the Big Falls city office at 218-276-3300.

July 2

  • 9 p.m. - Country rock band Klemetsens

July 3

  • 6 p.m. - Pot luck supper, community building
  • 9 p.m. - Street dance with Jason Waldron Band

July 4

  • 9 a.m. - Community auction, pavilion 
  • 10 a.m. - Olson Memorial Horseshoe Tournament, treasure hunt, clues posted at community building
  • 10 a.m. - Art, craft, novelty and food stands open
  • 11 a.m. - Kamikaze rubber ducky race
  • 11 a.m. - Lunch @ community building
  • 11 a.m. - Lion's bounce house
  • 12:30 p.m. - Children's races, other child and adult games begin and loader contest duck tank opens
  • 2 p.m. - Sawdust pile
  • 2 p.m. - Dave Stadler's sawing exhibition and sawing contest
  • 3:30 p.m. - Kiddie parade
  • 5 p.m. - Main parade, line up at 4 p.m., Back Seat Driver contest at ballpark following parade, softball game and tug-of-war teams of 10
  • 9 p.m. - Raffle drawings at ball park
  • Dusk - Fireworks

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Birchdale to hold Fourth of July parade
  • Updated

The Birchdale area will celebrate the Fourth of July with a parade, fun games and fellowship.

The parade begins at 11 a.m., and everyone is encouraged to bring a float, classic cars, new and old equipment, bicycles or their own creations.

There is no cost to enter the parade.

The theme for this year's parade is "Historic American Heroes 2," but floats do not need to follow the theme to participate.

All participants are encouraged to line up at Audrey's Acres before the parade begins.

Following the parade, there will be a gathering at the flagpole by the community building where a short program and the announcement of float winners will be held.

There will be no potluck dinner this year, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own picnics to enjoy.

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Council moves ahead on projects
  • Updated

The International Falls City Council Monday agreed to issue $3.5 million in tax exempt bonds to assist Northland Counseling Center with renovating an existing building.

The action to issue the bonds followed a public hearing, at which no comment was heard.

The project involves the former United HealthCare building on Valley Pine Circle.

The council also approved a salary and benefit package for newly appointed Police Chief Michael Kostiuk, effective July 6.

City Attorney Steve Shermoen told the council that Kostiuk would be paid a couple thousand dollars more as chief than he has been as captain. The chief’s salary would be phased in, reaching 100 percent of the full amount of $92,445 at one year. The full salary is the same amount paid to Chief Rich Mastin, and Fire Chief Adam Mannausau, noted Shermoen.

The council authorized its engineering firm to conduct a cost analysis and design to re-locate the sanitary sewer main at Greentech Manufacturing Inc. to allow for building expansion.

Ryan Home, Greentech Manufacturing, was present to explain plans he and co-owner Cody

Holmestad have for expansion of the current Greentech building, of which the council expressed its appreciation.

The council authorized hiring a human resources/safety director position in the Administration Department. The position is in lieu of a deputy administrator. The hire would not add a position. The deputy administrator position, previously held by now city Administrator Betty Bergstrom, would stay vacant.

The council also authorized increasing the ambulance “treat-no-transport” rate from $200 to $650 for Basic Life Support and $750 for Advanced Life Support.

Other business

Reviewed the Fourth of July festivities, noting that “front line workers” will be the parade marshals, and will be invited to walk in the parade.

Agreed to co-sponsor the 10th Koochiching Labor Assembly Labor Day picnic on Sept. 6, and approved closure of Third Street and use of Smokey Bear Park, as requested by Mark Thorpe.

Approved use of City/IFEDA property near VNP Headquarters Building to rent electric bikes — Voyageurs E-Bike Rentals and Tours, Dan Olson

Heard from audience member Casey Maruk, who said he grew up here and now lives outside Alexandria. He questioned city staff purchasing gas for city vehicles at corporate owned gas stations. Using profanity, Maruk challenged the council to support local businesses.

Droba, later in the meeting, said gas is purchased at all local stations, regardless of their ownership.

“No business is off limits,” he said. “All businesses in International Falls are local.”

He noted that all businesses in the community, no matter who or by what they are owned by, pay salaries to local people and pay local property taxes.

Councilor Walt Buller said the community ought to be inviting and welcoming to all businesses who want to locate here, as that’s how the community can grow and hire people.

The council next meets at 5 p.m. Monday for a public hearing and special meeting to consider a development plan and tax Increment financing district No. 1-4.