July 2020

• Permitting issue arises due to reservation opinion issued by State, (July 1): Following Gov. Walz and Attorney General Ellison’s statement on the reservation boundary, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency questioned their authority to issue stormwater permitting in that boundary.

• County receives over $3 million in CARES Act funding, (July 1): Mille Lacs County received Coronavirus relief aid from the federal government.

• Owner of Isle Barber Shop retires after 46 years, (July 8): Isle barber Dave Goldsmith retired to his farm south of Isle after nearly half a century of work.

• Handmade bait with an edge, (July 8): Ethan Andrews and Garrett Lancaster started their own plastic bait business in Onamia, Hometown Hookers.

• Storm sweeps across northern Mille Lacs, (July 15):  A powerful weather event, with rain and tornadoes, raged through Mille Lacs’ northern communities, doing some damage.

• Bear sightings on the rise in Mille Lacs area, (July 15): The Minnesota DNR reported an increased number of bear sightings, and the Wild & Free rehabilitation facility in Garrison had its second highest number of bears come through, at nine.

• Mille Lacs Health System breaks ground for expansion project, (July 22): MLHS began work on a $32.5 million expansion, expected to be completed in 2023. A tradition groundbreaking ceremony was not held due to COVID-19.

• Isle graduation ... A not so virtual reality!, (July 29): Following delays due to the pandemic, Isle’s Class of 2020 participated in a mid-summer graduation ceremony.

• Walleye catch-and-release starts in August, (July 29): A catch-and-release regulation was put into effect for Mille Lacs walleye following a period where the fish cold not be targeted in July.

• Bank Robbery in Garrison, suspect still at large, (July 29): A bank robbery occurred at the Garrison branch at the Deerwood bank.

August 2020

• Amid COVID-19, 4-H goes virtual, (Aug. 5): With COVID-19 canceling local fairs, local 4-H leaders, including the Foesche family of Milaca’s CHEMA Comet, discussed what livestock and other project presentation will look like.

• Ivanka Trump visits state to open office for missing and murdered American Indians, (Aug. 5): Ivanka Trump, senior advisor to the U.S. president, visited Bloomington, Minn., for the opening of a Cold Case Task Force Office for Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.

• Weekend ceremony recognizes Eagle Scout pair, (Aug. 5): Eric Thompson and Mason Gulseth received their Eagle Scout recognition at an Isle ceremony.

• Onamia almuna brings heirloom garlic crop to her fourth-generation family farm, (Aug. 12): Kristin Shardlow, Onamia alumna, began raising gourmet garlic varieties at a family farm near Morris, Minn.

• Isle School Board honing details for fall (Aug. 12); Onamia School Board details COVID learning models (Aug. 19): Local school board discussed the logistics of COVID precautions and switching between distance, in-person and hybrid learning models for the upcoming year.

• High school sports add fourth season, (Aug. 12): To allow for high school sports amid the pandemic, The Minnesota State High School League added a fourth season at the end of the year for several fall sports.

• Mille Lacs County DAC faces possible closure, (Aug. 19): Pandemic conditions and regulations were negatively impacting the Mille Lacs County Developmental Achievement Center’s funding and ability to provide services.

• Storm rolls over Mille Lacs, (Aug. 19): Another powerful storm caused local property damage and power outages.

• Olympic gold medalist trains in Lake Mille Lacs, (Aug. 26): Gwen Jorgenson, an Olympic runner and former triathlete, trained in Mille Lacs while visiting her in-laws’ home on the lake.

• Isle residents push back on city water and sewer expansion, (Aug. 26): Citizens aired grievances about Isle’s ongoing water and sewer project and related property easements and required hook-up fees.

• Margie Rides Again, (Aug. 26): Former local Margie Anderson once again to climb atop her son’s Hillbilly Truck float, in spite of parade cancellations. Anderson fulfilled her goal of climbing the float at 90-years-old.

September 2020

• Milkweed harvest returns at Someday Isle, (Sept. 2): The Someday Isle store announced that they would once again be collecting milkweed pods for Monarch butterfly re-habitation.

• 30th Annual Mille Lacs Toy Run, (Sept. 2): Over 50 motorcyclists participated in the local annual event meant to raise funds for toy donations during the upcoming holiday season.

• Amish holding up well amid COVID, (Sept. 9): Members of the Amish community north of Isle spoke on how the pandemic had been felt in their community.

• Onamia School Board pursues potential tax savings, (Sept. 9): The Onamia School Board considered refinancing a building for a projected $900,000 savings.

• A new way to start school, (Sept. 16): The first day of school, with COVID-19 precautions, arrived for Isle and Onamia.

• Broadband grant hopes for southern Mille Lacs County, (Sept. 16): Mille Lacs County considered CARES Act funding to expand broadband internet access in its southern region, working with the broadband internet service provider,  Advantenon.

• MSHSL reinstates football and volleyball, (Sept. 23): The Minnesota State High School League re-evaluated their decision regarding a fourth spring season and moved football and volleyball back to fall with a shortened season.

• Local woman runs virtual ‘Boston Marathon’, (Sept. 23): Vickie Thayer ran a 26.2 mile loop in the Garrison area as part of a virtual marathon event.

• Reopening brings multicultural twist to familiar Onamia business, (Sept. 23): Randy and Angie Simons re-opened Onamia’s Farm Market Cafe, offering a wide range of food items, including Angie’s traditional Filipino cooking.

• Twin Cities couple assumes ownership of Onamia Drug, (Sept. 30): Ed Huppler sold Onamia Drug to Dana Yang and Lawrence Her, who recently moved to Mille Lacs from the Twin Cities.

• Aitkin County moves toward more mail-in voting precincts; Tracking mail-in ballots amid concerns of mail theft (Sept. 30): Three additional Aitkin County townships moved to voting by mail. The mail-in voting process was explained. There were also local concerns of alleged mail theft locally, raising concerns about the upcoming election process.

October 2020

• County approves preliminary levy, (Oct. 7): The Mille Lacs County Board approved a 4.9% levy increase for 2021.

• OHS receives Gold Star of Innovation, (Oct. 7): Onamia received a Gold Star of Innovation from the Association of Secondary School Principals for their Panther Days event. This was the fourth consecutive recognition for the school.

• Wild & Free collects a ton of bear food, (Oct. 7): Garrison’s wildlife rehabilitation facility ran a donation drive to collect food and other necessary supplies and received over 1,000 pounds of food for their bears.

• New owner steps into Spotlite in Garrison, (Oct. 14): Nick Bratland and his family purchased the Spotlite Cafe in Garrison.

• Onamia upsets Isle in season football opener, (Oct. 14): Onamia bested Isle 38-16, breaking .the school’s four-season long 1-35 loss record.

• Saboo settles for second in GRC, (Oct. 21): Mille Lacs Raiders cross country runner Molly Saboo took second place at the Great River Conference after a successful season.

• Candidate forum at McQuoid’s in Isle, (Oct. 21): As the election in November drew closer, local candidates gathered at Isle’s McQuoid’s Inn to field constituents questions.

• New engineer for Mille Lacs County, (Oct. 21): Interim engineer Neal Knopik was officially appointed the Mille Lacs County engineer.

• Onamia council non-committal on Halloween, (Oct. 28): Despite the pandemic, the Onamia City Council opted to offer safety guidelines for their Halloween celebration.

• Mille Lacs County sees recent spike in COVID-19 deaths, (Oct. 28): A report at a Mille Lacs County Board meeting indicated a rise in COVID deaths. In September, there had been 131 cases and three deaths. In October, there was 404 cases and 15 deaths.

• Isle, Onamia canceled last week’s contests, (Oct. 28): A football game between Isle and Onamia was canceled following a need for players in Onamia to quarantine due to a positive COVID-19 case.

November 2020

• County looks at possible re-allocation of LOST funds, (Nov. 4), The Mille Lacs County Board considered using local option sales tax revenue, original designated for road construction work, towards capital improvements in 2021.

• The voters speak, 2020 election results, (Nov. 11): Presidential candidate Joe Biden secured 279 electoral votes needed to become president. Results also came in for other local mayoral and council races.

• Onamia school bond refinancing a success, (Nov. 11): The Onamia School Board successfully refinanced their building bond to save $834,899.80.

• McQuoid on the road to becoming a pro fisherman,  (Nov. 11): Recent Isle alumni Eric McQuoid was seeing success competing in national fishing tournaments.

• Isle Muni shuts down until April, (Nov. 18): As pandemic conditions worsened and Gov. Walz extended shut down, Isle closed its municipal liquor store until April.

• Mille Lacs County warned of surging COVID cases, (Nov. 18): The Mille Lacs County Board received warning that the county COVID positivity rate had exceeded 5%.

• Deer hunting sees increased numbers, (Nov. 18): Warm weather meant many hunters were outdoors for the hunting opener weekend, and the DNR reported a healthy deer population.

• Local business gets creative during shutdown, (Nov. 25): Nitti’s Hunters Point Resort began selling food inventory as a means of persevering through the COVID-19 shutdown.

• Turkey farming in a pandemic, (Sept. 23): Andre LaSalle, of ForageScape Farm in Onamia, described COVID-19’s impact on his turkey raising, including the increased demand for smaller birds due to smaller celebrations.

December 2020

• Chapman’s Mille Lacs Resort sold, (Dec. 2): The 27-year-old Chapman’s Mille Lacs Resort, in Isle, was sold to new owners who planned to use it as a private residence.

• Mille Lacs and Aitkin counties rank high in death rates from COVID-19, (Dec. 9): Data indicated that Mille Lacs County ranked ninth overall in the state for COVID deaths, and Aitkin ranked second.

• Changing of the guard in Wahkon, (Dec. 9): Following the resignation of Wahkon maintenance supervisor Chris Weinreich, his son Jake was hired to fill the position.

• “If you need a scarf, take a scarf”, (Dec. 16): Terry Carlone-Morris provided free scarves for the community at Teal’s Market in Isle.

• Grant funds Onamia Schools community meal program through end of year, (Dec. 16): A grant allowed the Onamia School food service program to provide food to people in need in the community through December.

• COVID vaccines delivered to the Mille Lacs Band, (Dec. 23): The Mille Lacs Band received the first shipments of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations in the county from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

• Record back to back muskies on Mille Lacs, (Dec. 23): Benjamin Knutson, of Minnesota Angling Adventures Guide Service, caught two muskies over 53 inches back-to-back on Mille Lacs, both falling just short of the state’s catch-and-release record.

• First COVID-19 vaccine given at MLHS, (Dec.3): The Mille Lacs Health System administered their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Dr. Tom Bracken and Hillman first responder Betsy Lundquist.

• Boundary issue continues on in court, (Dec. 30): Minnesota federal judge Susan Richard Nelson agreed to a motion of summary judgment on standing regarding the breakdown of the law enforcement agreement between Mille Lacs County and the tribal police. No opinion was issued on the boundary issue, which would be heard  in court on March 15.

• Shifting ice strands Mille Lacs anglers, (Dec. 30): Two separate incidents of ice shifting led to stranded anglers on Mille Lacs over Dec. 19-20 weekend.

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