The Knotty Bear will take its last cruise on Gull Lake today.
The 65-foot, 40-ton boat that served dinner cruises and could have 72 passengers will be going to Holland, Mich.
Owner Rob VanValkenburg, who also owns the Black Bear Lodge and Saloon, said he was saddened by the prospect, but the interest has been declining in the last two or three years to the point where it was becoming marginal to continue. The boat debuted six years ago.
VanValkenburg said the season is too short -- 10 or 12 weeks -- in order to make the business pay here. He said the bread and butter of the business is with private charters as companies take the boat out and while Brainerd area business were supportive there may not have been enough of them to keep the boat going.
Staff members who worked on the Knotty Bear will be blended back into the Black Bear Lodge and Saloon.
"So nobody is going to lose their job," VanValkenburg said.
In 1998, Rob VanValkenburg said he saw the riverboat as a way to offer people something a little different.
"They can get dinner anywhere," he said. "It's just a unique experience."
Now Holland will have the chance to experience that riverboat dinner cruise and Gull Lake will be missing a paddlewheel that offered an open air deck and enclosed air-conditioned lower level.
Riverwood International in Crosby was part of a merger in early August that resulted in a name change and a move from private to public company.
Graphic Packaging International Inc. is the name for the combined company created from the merger of Riverwood International and Graphic Packaging. Nearly equally matched in terms of employees and sales, the combined company will have about 8,000 employees and $2 billion in sales.
Graphic Packaging Inc. will be a public company with stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Greg Magnan, Graphic Packaging Inc. operations director in Crosby, stated the merger is a positive event for both companies
"We do not anticipate any changes at our facility as a result of this merger," he said. "We expect business as usual for us and probably as a very positive thing for us. We are still the primary machine supplier for the new company -- Graphic Packaging -- so that's a pretty positive thing."
The Crosby operation has 123 employees.
Georgia-based Graphic Packaging Inc. is a leader in the three largest segments of the U.S. folding carton business -- beverage, frozen and non-frozen.
In Crosby, the business of getting new signs and changing letterhead is all part of the process. But there is a positive to the name change.
"They won't be shipping us medical supplies that should be going to Aitkin," Magnan said, referencing Riverwood HealthCare Center.
As for the merger, Magnan said: "We don't see any downside and do see potential upside."
After announcing plans to open a bureau in Brainerd nearly a year ago, WCCO-TV recently gained visibility in the city with an office just off Washington Street with offices in the business strip housing Riedl Travel Service.
When the announcement was made originally, WCCO reported that with the new bureaus (another was planned for St. Cloud) more local news would be reported across the state on WCCO and it was an opportunity to expand coverage of central Minnesota.
Rumors have been circulating that Applebee's was thinking of an expansion or even building another building.
Joel Terwey, Applebee's manager, said more space could always be used for the summer months but the restaurant's size is perfect for the community's size during the winter and fall. The restaurant is adding a pager system for waiting guests and using other technology including an intercom system to help serve people faster. The to-go option, used at the Applebee's in Baxter, is now going nationwide.
Terwey said a bigger building is not on the near horizon and any logical expansion would probably include enclosing the outdoor seating area to add more year-round space.
First Choice Network Inc. moved its offices to a new location behind Herberger's on Northwest Seventh Street.
James Gammello and Steven Qualley, attorneys, announced the formation of Gammello & Qualley with offices at the Johnson Centre in Baxter. Both Gammello and Qualley will continue to work with public and private clients.
BISYS will begin servicing 401 (k) plans serviced by the Colorado-based Benefit National Companies. BISYS will assume recordkeeping responsibilities for about 1,700 clients of AIM Investments, which are currently serviced by BNC. And BISYS will support AIM Investment's investments for the new small plan retirement product sold through its broker-dealer relationships.
Scam artists are calling people and claiming to represent bankers associations and asking for Social Security numbers and credit card numbers.
Debra Hurston, director of communications at the Minnesota Bankers Association said people should never give out or discuss their social security number, credit card numbers or bank account numbers with strangers.
"If it is not someone you have contacted yourself, it is most likely a scam to steal your personal information and your money," Hurston stated in a news release.
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