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By: Mike O'Rourke on February 1, 2011 - 9:01am - Add new comment

Sen. Paul Gazelka of rural Brainerd started off February with some favorable ink from the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. 

The insurance agency owner, who successfully challenged the incumbent Republican District 12 senator and then defeated an aggressive Democratic newcomer, was included in a list of "Five freshman to watch" in Feb. 1 story written by Eric Roper.

By: Mike O'Rourke on January 27, 2011 - 8:35am - Add new comment

You know you're in northern Minnesota when a fish house on a trailer is parked in your employee lot for two days ... and no one thinks it's unusual.

Another sure sign is when you read that the third place prize for Back to Hack raffle in Hackensack is 10 yards of classified gravel from Schrupp Excavating.

By: Mike O'Rourke on January 25, 2011 - 3:32pm - Add new comment

Rotary meetings are a fun blend of hometown boosterism, good-natured razzing inspiring civic involvement.

Thanks to an invitation from Brainerd Rotary Club member Deborah Erickson I was reminded of how much energy and good will is displayed at those weekly meetings. 

By: Mike O'Rourke on January 25, 2011 - 10:45am - Add new comment

Civility in government is the latest buzz phrase and if it causes politicians to actually curb some of their wilder, less than accurate statements, I'm all for it.

Many Republicans and Democrats have decided to cross the aisle and sit with members of the opposing  party during the president's State of the Union speech. That's a small gesture and one that seems like a no-brainer from the perspective of a small town journalist. It's not unusual for political rivals in Crow Wing County to see each other in church, at service club meetings or at the grocery store.

By: Mike O'Rourke on January 7, 2011 - 3:07pm - Add new comment

News of the death of Brainerd's Patt Krantz, brought to mind a lesson she taught me — one every reporter should keep in mind.

Patt was an energetic woman, an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church and a tireless promoter of the Brainerd Lakes Chapter of Sweet Adelines. As city editor I often worked with her, arranging news photos that would help promote Sweet Adelines' concerts and fundraisers.

By: Mike O'Rourke on December 18, 2010 - 5:13pm - Add new comment

Before Facebook was invented my mom exchanged Christmas cards with far-flung friends for decades. If one year she didn't receive a card from the family it meant that their status had been changed to: Wife died.

By: Mike O'Rourke on December 9, 2010 - 9:50am - Add new comment

Political shifts ebb and flow like ocean tides and in the Brainerd area there's no event where that's more apparent than the Brainerd Lakes Chamber's Eggs and Issues session that previews the upcoming legislative session.

The next Eggs and Issues is from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Friday at the Lodge at Brainerd Lakes and after the shake-up from the 2010 election Rep. John Ward, DFL-Brainerd, will be the lone Democrat lawmaker at this session.

It if wasn't for Ward's gregarious manner we'd label him the Maytag repairman ... the loneliest guy in town.

By: Mike O'Rourke on November 30, 2010 - 4:13pm - Add new comment

It's a long way from the days when the Dispatch newsroom of the late 1970s was equipped with manual typewriters and glue pots on the desks to the current push for online blogs.

In those days, the Brainerd Dispatch published social news from local correspondents such as Alberta Irwin of Motley and Mrs. Milt Pearson of Wadena. Those were really the original blogs letting readers know who the pastor entertained last Tuesday and what was served.

Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.