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By: Mike O'Rourke on July 24, 2013 - 8:53am - Add new comment

For several weeks The Brainerd Dispatch's Commentary section has been the venue of an ongoing debate on whether or not God exists. Personally, I've grown tired of the back-and-forth arguments and I suspect I'm not the only reader who is weary of the correspondence.
I'm not saying the topic of the existence of God isn't important, but is this truly how we want to use the valuable editorial real estate the Dispatch offers its readers each day?

By: Mike O'Rourke on October 26, 2012 - 9:34am - Add new comment

BY MIKE O’ROURKE
Republican House District 10B candidate Dale Lueck of rural Aitkin wasn’t able to return a reporter’s phone call until 6:45 p.m. Thursday. His livestock had to be fed.
When the cattle rancher and former Aitkin County commissioner got up to speed on news of the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) staffer who had misrepresented himself as a Hill City DFLer in a letter published in both the Aitkin Independent Age and the Brainerd Dispatch he seemed disappointed and a little irritated.

By: Mike O'Rourke on July 17, 2012 - 9:03am - Add new comment

I understand the need to restrict the use of firewood in state parks but sometimes the rules and regulations make you scratch your head.
Last weekend we camped at Itasca State Park and had considered bringing some firewood from around Crow Wing County. After inquiring we learned that wood had to be purchased within 50 miles of the park. OK, it's worth it to keep invasive pests such as the emerald ash borer out of Itasca. When I buy the park ranger's wood, however, I looked at the label. It came from Crow Wing County.

By: Mike O'Rourke on March 1, 2012 - 4:22pm - Add new comment

Snowmobilers and snowshoe enthusiasts have grumbled all winter about the dearth of snow this season. Well, here’s another reason why many of us have missed those blizzard-filled winters of yesteryear.
Challenging weather, such as this past week’s dumping of 7 inches of snow in Brainerd, often brings out random acts of kindness.

By: Mike O'Rourke on February 23, 2012 - 2:39pm - Add new comment

BAXTER — Two Brainerd Dispatch newsroom employees scurried into the back of Lord of Life Lutheran Church Thursday — late for a funeral.
It was, perhaps, an unintentional tribute to Joe Melby, the longtime Dispatch printer, who had spent much of his newspaper career waiting for a layout dummy or a late photo or story in order to put Page1A to bed.
Melby, who died Saturday at the age of 82, at his Baxter home, worked in the Dispatch composing room longer than anyone here can really remember, retiring in 1993.

By: Mike O'Rourke on February 21, 2012 - 12:24pm - Add new comment

They're just lines drawn on a map but the political boundaries that are scheduled to be announced Feb 21 by a Minnesota judicial panel will have a big impact on politics in 2012.
Most candidates can't wait for final lines to be drawn to begin their campaigns so they've been on the campaign trail hoping their homes will wind up in their preferred district.
Central Lakes College instructor Steve Wenzel, who served 29 years in the Legislature and later worked in President George W. Bush's Agriculture Department, knows the importance of redistricting decisions.

By: Mike O'Rourke on February 17, 2012 - 8:47am - Add new comment

Newsroom staffers serve two masters these days — readers of the news printed on the big, noisy press in the back room and readers who fire up their computer each morning to see what’s going on. That dictates how reporters and editors spend their time. What was not so important 30 years ago can be vitally important today.
A case in point is video footage. In an effort to serve our website viewers we often carry video cameras with us while on assignment in addition to the still cameras, pens and notebooks,

By: Mike O'Rourke on February 9, 2012 - 10:57am - Add new comment

Judging from her comments, Tarryl Clark, former state senator and DFL 8th District candidate for Congress, is not buying in to the results of Tuesday’s non-binding congressional preference vote at Tuesday’s caucuses.
With all but a few precincts counted Wednesday, former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan scored a convincing win. The totals available Wednesday were: Nolan, 1,513; Duluth City Council member Jeff Anderson, 977; Clark, 398; undecided, 258.
Here’s a statement she released Wednesday after a deadline had passed on a story looking at the poll win by Nolan.

By: Mike O'Rourke on February 8, 2012 - 10:44am - Add new comment

Minnesota Republicans on Tuesday showed they weren’t ready to hand the nomination over to the former Massachusetts governor.
As of the morning of Feb. 8, we’re still awaiting Crow Wing County’s vote totals, but it would be surprising if the county didn’t strongly support Rick Santorum.
Sitting in with the Crow Wing Township precinct Tuesday night, the tally there (reported in the Feb. 8, paper and website) was:
Rick Santorum-12.
Mitt Romney-4.
Ron Paul-3.
Newt Gingrich-2.
Statwide results showed that the Crow Wing Republicans weren’t the only ones who liked Santorum.

By: Mike O'Rourke on December 19, 2011 - 2:53pm - Add new comment

By MIKE O'ROURKE
Associate Editor
Last week was a busy week in Republican circles and as developments prompted the rewriting of last weekend's Eggs and Issues stories, I neglected to include one interesting bit of information from that Brainerd Lakes Chamber session.
Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, said Friday morning he had decided to run for at least one more term in the Minnesota Senate. That's probably no surprise, but it's the first time I had heard him state his intentions.