Area briefs: Austin's Mill Pond island gets new name

Island in Mill Pond in Austin named for one of city's founding "pillars," Lyman Baird.

Lyman Baird Island
The Lyman Baird Pillar of the City plaque is seen in front of the island that now bears his name in Austin's Mill Pond.

AUSTIN — After nearly a century without a name, the small, wooded island in the middle of Austin's Mill Pond has officially been dubbed Baird Island.

The island, which was created in the pond during the dredging process that created the lake, can be easily seen from the walking trail around the pond or from North Main Street between Fifth and Seventh avenues.

The island's namesake, Lyman D. Baird, has been honored as one of Austin’s “Pillars of the City” who spearheaded the effort starting in 1905 to turn the swampland backwaters of the Austin Mill Pond area into a large park. After dredging ended in summer 1922, one island remained in the pond.

Baird served as Austin’s mayor and city attorney and in leadership roles at the county and state levels. He advocated for improving Austin in many ways through making financial gifts and providing other support.

On Wednesday, the weekly “Hump Day History” live event at noon on the Hormel Historic Home Facebook page will discuss Baird, the island and overall history of the Cedar River’s Austin Mill Pond stretch. Cedar River Watershed District’s outreach coordinator Tim Ruzek, who requested naming Baird Island, will lead the discussion while on the water at Austin Mill Pond.


Wabasha County museum open, but sesquicentennial celebration on hold

READS LANDING — While there won't be an official 150th anniversary celebration of the opening of the Reads Landing School this year — the school is now home to the Wabasha County Historical Society Museum — the museum is open to the public.

Margaret Peterson, president of the Wabasha County Historical Society, said the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Reads Landing School, which opened in 1870, had been postponed for 2020, though she is hopeful the museum can celebrate the school's anniversary next year.

However, the museum is open through mid-October from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Several of the museum's exhibits have been updated, and the museum has been spruced up, Peterson said. There are also arrows to direct visitors, and the museum adheres to all COVID-19 guidelines. That includes being able to host about 16 guests at a time.

Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 5 and 13, and there are coloring books, activities and board games on tables in the old classroom.

MPCA closes 118 enforcement cases, 10 in SE Minnesota

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency closed the books on 118 enforcement cases, handing out fines ranging from a $20,000 fine of Koda Energy LLC in Shakopee, to a few dozen fines under $5,000.

In Southeast Minnesota, enforcement ranged from an $11,350 fine of Kerry Inc. in Rochester for air quality violations, and a $5,815 fine of Bay State Milling Co. in Winona for air quality violations.

Another eight fines were handed out to Southeast Minnesota companies under $5,000, including Mark Johnson of Elgin (solid waste), the City of La Crescent (storm water), Auto Body Center of Rochester (municipal storm water), DS Manufacturing Inc of Pine Island (hazardous waste), Oronoco Auto Parts of Oronoco (air quality), Amanda and Eli J. Swartzentruber of Canton (subsurface sewage treatment systems), Robert Thompson of Mabel (solid waste) and Hearth and Home Technologies Inc. of Lake City (air quality).

There were also dozens of closed cases with no fines. The enforcement period covered January through June.


Research at Riverland Community College part of Phi Theta Kappa's published paper

AUSTIN — Academic research conducted by the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and conducted at 16 colleges —including Austin's Riverland Community College — has been published in the journal Civic Scholars.

The published paper, titled "Transforming Negative Community College Stigma into Positive Action," appears in the most recent edition of the journal, and can be viewed online now.

Civic Scholars features 16 research projects by PTK chapters across the country on a wide range of topics, including “Exploring Disparities in Healthcare Based on Identities” and Riverland’s “Transforming Negative Community College Stigma into Positive Action.”

“These 16 projects are the very best examples of how students apply innovative research and take meaningful action on the issues they care about most on their campuses and in their communities," said PTK President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner. "We are proud to showcase their good and important work, and we are grateful to the Cooke Foundation for helping us share this work with others.”

Phi Theta Kappa includes more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations. The full journal can be read viewed by clicking on the link below.

2020 Civic Scholar by inforumdocs on Scribd

"In publishing this journal, we hope to demonstrate something we have always known to be true: community college students are innovative scholars,” said Dr. Blake Ellis, PTK’s vice president of student engagement.


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