Midwest briefs

Wisconsin State Farmer
Midwest Briefs


Strong storms damage central Minnesota

Severe thunderstorms that pushed through parts of Minnesota closed roads, cut power, delayed a county fair opening and toppled a huge Babe the Blue Ox statue at Paul Bunyan Land.

Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl says emergency crews are working to open roads closed by falling trees and branches and restore power.

The Crow Wing County Fair organizers delayed Thursday's opening until the afternoon because the fairgrounds sustained damage. At Paul Bunyan Land at This Old Farm near Brainerd, strong winds pushed over a 6,000-pound, 19-foot-tall statue of Babe the Blue Ox.

One of the park's owners, Lois Moon, says Babe hadn't moved an inch in 13 years - until now. The statue was later back on its feet.

Xcel Energy says fewer than 100 customers were still without power in the Twin Cities by late afternoon.


Pipeline construction equipment damage in suspected arson

Machinery located at three oil pipeline construction sites in central Iowa was found extensively damaged by fire Monday in what the company building the pipeline called a shameful act.

There's little doubt the fires were intentionally set along the Dakota Access pipeline, said Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty. Damage to a bulldozer and other large tracked equipment was estimated at $1 million, he said.

The sheriff's office was alerted around 6 a.m. Monday to a fire in a farm field 4 1/2 miles west of Newton. Later, deputies learned of a second pipeline equipment blaze about 2 1/2 miles southeast of Reasnor and a third site where four machines were damaged north of Oskaloosa, the Newton Daily News reported.

In a statement, Texas-based Dakota Access said "it's a shameful act by a group of people trying to disrupt our energy security and independence."

Environmental, American Indian and landowner rights groups have vigorously fought approval of the pipeline and have vowed to continue protests and acts of civil disobedience.

"I've made lots of statements on this pipeline over the last two years and I've encouraged people to get ready for any nonviolent action possible but torching construction equipment was not on the list," said Ed Fallon, director of Bold Iowa, a group that promotes renewable energy and fights fossil-fuel expansion projects.

Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, plans construction of a $3.8 billion, 1,168-mile project that cuts through Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota. It also crosses 18 Iowa counties diagonally from northwest to southeast.


Public offered tours of Facility for Rare Isotope Beams

The public is being offered tours of a nuclear science facility that's being built at Michigan State University.

A free open house is scheduled 1 to 4 p.m. on Aug. 20. The Lansing State Journal reports tours will be available of the 570-foot-long underground tunnel where beams of charged particles will travel at half the speed of light before colliding.

During the self-guided tours, the public also will be able to tour the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams' surface structure and the nearby National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. Scientists will be on hand to offer information. Demonstrations also are planned.

Also known as FRIB (EF'-rib), the East Lansing facility scheduled to be completed by 2022 will help scientists make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes