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REGIONAL ROUNDUP Attorney returns to work without body armor

PRESTON -- Fillmore County Attorney Brett Corson can now go to work without wearing body armor, he doesn't have to follow a line of white rocks to avoid land mines, and he can find cold milk.

But last year, body armor, land mines and warm milk were daily facts of life for Corson as he served with the Civil Affairs Battalion of the Minnesota Army Reserve unit in Afghanistan.

Corson, who was elected county attorney in November 2002, was called to active duty last summer. At the time, he couldn't say where he was going or when, but now he can talk.

He was sent to Afghanistan, where he and others helped set up civil and legal governments in the country, which has been torn by war for decades. Afghanistan is headed for its first election later this year, he said.

Any time he was out of the secure compound, he wore body armor. Because of all the land mines strewn across the country, everyone had to watch where they walked. In areas with land mines, red rocks meant danger and white rocks meant it was safe to walk there. Much of the country is in ruins, and reminders of war could be seen in burned-out tanks and demolished buildings.

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Despite the dangers, he said, most Afghans welcome America's help. "They gave a lot of respect to the United States," he said. Many think America is the country that can fix their problems, though feelings aren't nearly as pro-American in the south.

Corson returned to the United States in February and is resuming his law practice and work as county attorney.

-- John Weiss

Winona County to be fined

WINONA -- Winona County will be fined for lead-contamination problems at the Law Enforcement Center, County Attorney Chuck MacLean said.

In a report to the county board Tuesday, MacLean said the county's insurance carrier, the Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust, will not pay to clean up the lead and hasn't said whether it would cover any fines. Costs could be $65,000 or more.

He said the county has received a recommendation from its insurance carrier to contest the fines expected to be levied by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The county also may contest its insurance over the cleanup costs, MacLean said.

Most of the center's basement, where the lead was found, was open to county personnel on Monday, Deputy Police Chief Tom Williams said. Only the section that housed a gun range remained closed while the cleanup continued, he said. The contamination was found in the old gun range.

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MacLean said the cleanup could be completed this week. The center's top two floors have been tested, cleaned and determined to be safe.

-- Associated Press

Out and about

A discussion of the book "Dakota Life in the Upper Midwest," written by Samuel Pond, about life with the Dakota Native Americans in the 1830s, will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Wabasha-Kellogg Performing Arts Center at the high school.

The book is a feature of the Wabasha Reads lecture and discussion program.

Gary Clayton Anderson, a professor of history at the University of Oklahoma, and Laura L. Anderson, anthropology professor at the university, will talk about the book and books they have written about the Dakotas (Sioux) tribes.

A workshop to teach landowners how to correctly burn native prairie on their land will be April 3 at the American Legion in Rushford. Classroom work will be from 9 a.m. to noon, with prescribed burns on local prairie in the afternoon, weather permitting.

The Prairie Smoke Chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts is offering the free workshop. To register, call Jaime Edwards at 292-0063 or e-mail her at noodlerun@charter.net.

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A two-day course, called "Confronting the Effects of Poverty and Racism in American Indian Populations," on teaching about American Indians will be offered at Winona State University April 5-6.

For more information, call Dr. Maudie Williams at (507) 457-5651 or e-mail her at mwilliams@winona.edu.

Regional roundup appears Fridays. If you have comments or news items, call John Weiss, regional reporter, 285-7749.

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