■ International students receive a taste of Minnesota winter
Four international students had their first experience of walking on lake ice Sunday thanks to area fishing guide Nick Miltemore, who introduced them to Gull Lake in February. Miltemore works with fishing guide WalleyeDan Eigen.
The students, who were part of the Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI) exchange program, included Jian “Grace” Lee of South Korea, Lam Nguyen of Vietnam, and Leticia Arentas and Joao Machado, both of Brazil. Other students who are part of the CCI program are Yusheng He of China and Chau Dang of Vietnam.
Lee attends Pequot Lakes High School and lives with Jeff and Lori Johnson of Pequot Lakes. Nguyen attends Brainerd High School and lives with Brian and Jenny Stubbs of Brainerd. Lusheng attends Brainerd High School and lives with Matt and Cassy Seymour of Brainerd. Machado attends Osakis High School and lives with Mike and Karen Bolz of Osakis. Arentas attends Brainerd High School and lives with Mike and Karen Bolz of Brainerd. Dang attended Brainerd High School and lives with Gary and Lisa Walters of Baxter.
Only one of the students had seen snow before coming to Minnesota and walking on ice and visiting a fish house was a new experience.
The area coordinator for CCI is Marlene Larson. She and her family have hosted a number of international students dating back to 1979. Families interested in hosting a foreign student may call Larson at 829-7291.
■ Council member to
host ‘Community Conversations’
Brainerd City Council member Chip Borkenhagen will help conduct a “Community Conversations” session from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at The Center in Brainerd.
Borkenhagen said the get-together is an opportunity for citizens to come together and share ideas about how to build a better Brainerd. The council member noted that because Brainerd’s condition reverberates out into lake country, people who bring perspectives from outside the city limits are encouraged to attend.
“Disallowing ‘politics as usual,’ we enjoy positive and constructive dialogue that centers around fresh ideas, finding common grounds, and things we each can do to make Brainerd a healthy, vibrant, and fun community,” Borkenhagen said.
■ Parks board meets Monday at city hall
The Brainerd Parks and Recreation Board will be meet at 4:30 p.m. Monday, in the conference room at Brainerd City Hall.
Any individual needing special accommodations should call 218-828-2320.
■ Minnesota Peony History to be presented at Kitchigami libraries
Minnesota peony expert Harvey Buchite will present a 2013 premiere presentation of Minnesota’s Grand Peony History on the history and role of Minnesota peonies within the state as well as across the country at Kitchigami Regional Libraries through Saturday.
Presentations will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Walker Public Library; 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Crosslake Community Library; 3 p.m. Friday at the Cass Lake Community Library; and at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Brainerd Public Library.
Original archive materials from the Brand Peony Farm, the first Nursery in Minnesota, were digitized to bring a first-hand look at our Minnesota Peony Heritage. Other world renowned peony hybridizers like Bob Tischler and the nurseries of Franklin, Lins, Pfeiffer and others will be discussed.
Participants will learn about Minnesota’s leadership in the peony world which includes eight presidents of the American Peony Society (APS), several APS board members and 25 peony breeders and introducers of peonies. Over 100 color images bring these long lived and historical flowers to life. Useful tips on growing peonies for years of enjoyment will be presented in a colorful presentation perfect for curing cabin fever.
Buchite and his wife Brigitte, owners of Hidden Springs Flower Farm in Spring Grove of southeastern Minnesota, specialize in growing over 600 varieties of peonies.
Buchite served as past president of the APS and brings a wealth of knowledge in presenting Minnesota’s Grand Peony History.
This free Legacy Program is funded in part or in whole with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008 which dedicated funding to preserve Minnesota’s art and cultural heritage.
■ Ward introduces outstate job
State Rep. John Ward, DFL – Baxter recently introduced House File 292, a bill to establish the Greater Minnesota Job Training Credit. The tax credit helps reduce the cost for both employees and employers by providing training funding for specific jobs and businesses that meet the qualifications.
“One of the most common problems facing our greater Minnesota businesses is the lack of well-trained workers to fill the jobs available,” Rep. Ward said. “We have got plenty of talented, bright people and opportunities for training, but most folks simply can’t pay for it.”
Also supporting the bill is Reggie Clow, owner of Clow Stamping in Merrifield.
“I support legislation bill HF 292 which will narrow the skills gap in greater Minnesota and allow us to increase training to both new and incumbent workers,” Clow said. “The return on investment is employee compensation based on skills and competency.”
To qualify for job training funding, a business must be expanding or locating in Minnesota for the first time. The business must also be located outside of the metropolitan area and creating new jobs. The new employee must be paid at least $13 per hour plus benefits by the end of one year and must be employed at least 32 hours per week.
Once a contract is signed between the Department of Employment and Economic Development and the employer, the employer pays for the training. The employer is then reimbursed as new employee tax withholdings accrue, either with a grant from DEED or a tax credit from the Department of Revenue.
The credit or grant is funded through the tax withholdings of the new employees. The business may not collect more money in training credits from the state than the withholdings of new employees’ taxes over a 10-year period. If the employee quits or the business closes, no more credits or grants from withholdings may be offered.
The cost of this program is $10 million per year, and does not apply to temporary work, recalled workers, or replacement workers.
The bill has bipartisan support, according to a statement from Ward, with Rep. Greg Davids, R – Preston, and Rep. Rod Hamilton, R – Mountain Lake, signing on as co-authors.
After its introduction, the bill was referred to the Jobs and Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee and will receive its first hearing Thursday.