REGIONAL ROUNDUP - No skiing this season at Mount Frontenac

FRONTENAC -- Mount Frontenac Golf Course, which has provided snow for skiers and snowboarders for about 30 years, will remain closed this winter because of declining use.

Whether it ever will reopen, or what will happen to the land on a bluff along U.S. 61 between Red Wing and Lake City, hasn't been determined, said Frank Loth, interim manager of Treasure Island Resort and Casino. Treasure Island bought the ski hill and the golf course above it in April 2000. The golf course has been doing well and will stay open, he said.

The past two winters -- when hills had little natural snow and not enough cold weather to make snow until well past the normal opening -- didn't have an impact on the decision, he said.

Instead, Frontenac's location was poor because it's close to some other hills, he said. The slopes are within 25 miles of Welch Village west of Red Wing, Coffee Mill at Wabasha and the new Steeplechase near Mazeppa.

The hill has five full-time people who will be given jobs in other parts of the company, he said. The rest of the workers were part-timers.


The owner of Treasure Island, the Prairie Island Dakota Tribe, is looking at other options for that land, Loth said.

-- John Weiss

Preston seeks to replace council member

PRESTON -- Preston City Council Member John "Mike" Gartner died Sept. 7, and the city is looking at a new ordinance that would allow it to conduct a special election.

Gartner served for about 12 years; his latest term was set to expire Dec. 31, 2004, according to the city clerk's office. The council met Tuesday and directed the city attorney to prepare the ordinance.

-- John Weiss

Locally produced food to be celebrated

LAKE CITY -- A celebration of locally produced foods Sunday north of Lake City will be followed Monday by a visit from University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks, who will be host of a community roundtable on local foods and their economic opportunities.


"Celebrating Local Foods" will be at Bushel &; Peck and Great River Vineyards about four miles north of Lake City on U.S. 61. It is being sponsored by the Southeast Minnesota Food Network

Sunday's events will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and include a chance to sample local foods, including fresh grapes, grape juice and apples. Cody, a bison that was part of "Dances With Wolves," will attend. A light lunch will be available, including grilled buffalo burgers, homemade apple pie, ice cream, doughnuts, bison roast sandwiches and juice.

Sunday also will feature a hay maze and a chance to pick grapes and raspberries.

From 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Bruininks will be at Bushel &; Peck to lead the discussion on emerging family-farm food production.

-- John Weiss

Root recommended for water project

A local group advising Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Clean Water Cabinet has recommended that a pilot project to demonstrate how to improve water quality in a watershed be done in the South Branch Root River of southeastern Minnesota.

In June, Pawlenty said he is making clean water a high priority and appointed the cabinet of top state officials. He said he wants to focus on four areas -- the southeast, Red River Valley, Brainerd lakes and the metro area. In each, he said, he wants a pilot project to show how other watersheds can improve water.


The recommendation of the Basin Alliance of the Lower Mississippi in Minnesota, made up of those interested in the region's water quality, has recommended the South Branch. Others being considered were Prairie Creek in Rice and Goodhue counties; Wells Creek in Goodhue County; the Whitewater River in Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties; and the Straight River, which is partly in Steele County.

The Root was selected because it already has been assessed for what needs to be done, has an action plan that has not been funded, and satisfies the selection criteria.

In a related alliance item, a survey done of 3,300 owners of individual septic systems found a majority overestimated water quality of streams and underestimated the extent that their systems might affect that water quality.

A large majority said they would correct problems if their systems were not working, but most also opposed government inspections. Fifty-five percent said more needs to be done to take care of the problem of poorly performing septic systems. A large majority said homeowners should be required to repair or replace contaminating septic systems. Nearly all liked the idea of low-interest government loans to finance repairs or replacement.

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

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