Area briefs: First barge of the season heads north on Mississippi River

Pine Island city-wide garage sale set for last weekend in April; National Eagle Center reopening doors for educational program

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WABASHA — The first barge of the season was towed up the Mississippi River on Monday as the MV W. Red Harris broke through the ice on Lake Pepin.

The MV W. Red Harris originated from St. Louis, Missouri, and is pushing nine barges en route to St. Paul. By 2 p.m. Monday, it had passed Lock and Dam 3 near Welch.

In the last 30 years, the average opening date of the navigation season has been March 20; last year, it was on March 19. The earliest date for an up-bound tow to reach Lock and Dam 2 near Hastings was March 4, which happened in 1983, 1984 and 2000. The latest arrival date in a non-flood year was April 4, 2008. Historic flooding in 2001 delayed the arrival of the first tow until May 11.

Lake Pepin is the last major barrier for vessels reaching the head of the navigation channel in St. Paul.

The St. Paul District maintains a 9-foot-deep navigation channel and operates 12 locks and dams to support navigation from Minneapolis to Guttenberg, Iowa. The commercial navigation industry estimates an annual average savings of nearly $400 million by using the inland waterways instead of overland shipping methods.


City-wide garage sale in Pine Island set for April 29-30

PINE ISLAND — Mark your calendar and take out some cash: The Pine Island City-Wide Garage Sale Weekend will be April 29-30.

Linda Heydt helps a customer at her booth selling bee products at the Craft and Vendor Market Friday, April 30, 2021, outside the Cheese Factory in Pine Island. The 2022 Pine Island City-Wide Garage Sale and Craft & Vendor Market will be held April 29-30.
Post Bulletin file photo / Joe Ahlquist

Hosted by the Pine Island Area Chamber of Commerce, the garage sale is the unofficial start to the garage sale season, which kicks into high gear the next week with the 100-mile Garage Sale.

The Craft and Vendor Fair this year will be held at the American Legion Post 184, 108 First Ave. SE, with hours on Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The weekend features scores of sites around the city where local folks are looking to make a deal on everything from clothes and games to sporting goods and cookware. A map garage sale locations will be available on the chamber of commerce website – – and the chamber's Facebook page no later than April 27.

Focus on street sweeping, water quality return to Austin

AUSTIN — Austin's street sweepers will be out in full force to clean the 150 miles of roadways in the city of salt and sand.

The water-quality initiative, started a year ago by the city, is part of an effort to better protect the Cedar River State Water Trail and other local streams. Austin’s two street sweepers and their crews are pulling double shifts on weekdays this spring to more quickly remove salt and sand left from the sides of roadways.

"Our goal is to have the city’s entire road system cleaned in two weeks, which is about one-third of the time it usually took with regular shifts in the past,” said Steven Lang, director of the city’s Public Works Department.

Removal of salt and sand keeps the material from being swept by rain into the city’s storm water system. This helps lower the amount of bacteria, chemicals, chloride from deicing salt and other pollutants from entering local waterways.


During the 2021 street-sweeping season, city crews removed about 500 tons – nearly 1.1 million pounds – of debris from Austin’s roads, said Keith Bollinger, the city’s stormwater specialist.

“Public safety and protecting our water resources need to be balanced, and the City of Austin does a great job in doing that,” said CRWD administrator Justin Hanson.

Education programs returning to National Eagle Center

WABASHA — No fooling, the National Eagle Center will reopen its doors for educational programs each weekend starting April 1.

After a five-month hiatus as Phase One of the Center’s $27 million renovation and expansion project was carried out, the Eagle Center will again welcome guests indoors.

“We appreciate how patient and understanding our members and the public have been during these past several months as Phase One renovation work is completed," said Ed Hahn, Marketing Manager at the Center. "Our entire team is looking forward to welcoming guests back for this spring program series.”

Programs featuring a live eagle ambassador will take place in the newly renovated Program Center located on Main Street in downtown Wabasha from 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 1 p.m. on Sundays. Spring nature and migration programs (no eagle) will be held at 3 p.m. on Fridays through Sundays. Guests are required to register in advance on the Eagle Center’s website at and there is a $3 reservation fee. Seating is limited, and guests are encouraged to plan their visits in advance.

The Eagle Center will be closed for Easter on Sunday, April 17.

Renovation work is ongoing in the Center’s Riverfront building and the Center will not be open to daily visitors and the full exhibit experience until late May.

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