Author to talk about his Mississippi swim

A man who swam the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to Baton Rouge, La., will speak next week at a Rochester fund-raiser.

Nick Irons, swimmer and author of "Swim Lessons," will speak Nov. 4 during a 6:30 p.m. dinner at the Kahler Grand Hotel. The cost is $50 per plate, but $30 of that is tax deductible. Money raised goes to the Samaritan Bethany Foundation.

Irons swam the Mississippi River to raise money and awareness for multiple sclerosis, a disease that afflicts his father. During his speech, entitled "The Trip of a Lifetime," Irons will share memories from his journey and the lessons he learned en route.

For more information or to purchase a ticket, call 424-4034.



Supersized Wal-Mart has town concerned

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. -- Downtown business merchants have managed to co-exist with a Wal-Mart for several years. But they're not sure they can handle the supersized version.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has a purchase agreement for 28 acres on the fringe of this city of 10,000. The City Council this week voted to annex the land and set a Nov. 15 public hearing on zoning the property.

A Wal-Mart Supercenter could open by 2007, replacing the existing Wal-Mart. City administrator Rich Carlson said a store of almost 204,000 square feet would include groceries, a pharmacy, liquor store, gas station and auto center in addition to the standard inventory.

Darlene Pick said she and her sister, Debbie Popp, welcome an upsized Wal-Mart.

"Every other Friday, we're at Wal-Mart unless we get snowed in," Pick said. "I can't wait. 2007 is a long time."

Competing merchants weren't so happy.

"When a Wal-Mart of this proportionate size comes into a small town, existing businesses, including ours, are going to be affected," said Bob Thueringer, chief operating officer of Coborn's. The St. Cloud company operates a grocery in Little Falls that, after expansions in 2001 and 2003, has 226 employees.


Chamber of Commerce President Debora Boelz said the threat to existing businesses is offset by construction jobs and an estimated 200 retail jobs.

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