They say it’s your 100th birthday

The city of Duluth Parks & Recreation Division is looking for Northland residents who turn 100 years or older this year for the annual 100 Year Birthday Party Celebration.

The event will be held at 10 a.m. Oct. 23 during the Senior Expo at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Each honoree will be acknowledged by the city with a special certificate, a short biography and birthday cake.

If you’re in the above age group, congratulations, and give them a call. If you’re not but know someone who is, call also, at (218) 730-4306 or send their name, address, age and a contact person’s name and telephone number by Monday to Gail Walkowiak; Parks & Recreation Division; City Hall, Ground Floor, 411 W. First St., Duluth, MN 55802 or via email to

Party with a tree

September is tree-planting time in Duluth and residents are being asked to take part in several planting parties sponsored by the city’s Trees and Trails Commission.

“When September rolls around, it’s time to get some trees in the ground,” said Judy Gibbs, Trees and Trails coordinator. “They act as windbreaks and provide shade to homes, which reduces energy costs, and they build a stronger community.”

This year, the tree-planting parties will focus on bike paths and shore areas. They are free and open to volunteers of all ages. The Natural Resource Research Institute at the University of Minnesota Duluth is partnering with the city on the project.

Here is a list of parties in neighborhoods across the city:

* Lester Park: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 16. Meet at upper parking lot above Bridge Seven on Seven Bridges Road.

* Irving Park: 2-4 p.m. Sept. 22. Meet at community center at 20 S. 57th Ave. W.

* Hartley Park: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 23. Meet at the Hartley Nature Center at 3001 Woodland Ave.

* Lakewalk: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 26.

Meet at the Lakewalk bridge between London Road and Superior Street at 61st Avenue East.

Register for a party by contacting Cheryl Skafte at (218) 393-9879 or

Get tipped to rips

The city of Duluth has installed a new electronic warning sign at the S-curve on Minnesota Avenue on Park Point, near the Tot Lot, to let beachgoers know the current danger for rip currents.

The sign will flash the current status and is adjacent to the flagpole that will fly a green, yellow or red flag. The city also maintains rip-current-warning flags at the Lafayette Community Center and the Park Point Beach House. Green flags mean it’s safe to swim, yellow signs mean increased danger and red signs mean high danger of currents that can pull swimmers out into the lake.

Rip currents occur when waves push water hard up onto the beach, and the water pours back out toward the lake. The solution if you’re caught in one is simple: Don’t try to fight the rip by heading directly back to shore. Instead, turn sideways to the beach and swim along the beach until you swim out of the rip, then head back to shore.

Go to for more on rip currents and safe beaching.

Rain garden workshop

The city of Duluth is working with Minnesota Sea Grant and the Regional Stormwater Protection Team to offer a two-night rain garden workshop to area residents this week.

Rain gardens are a lovely addition to a yard and provide a buffer to slow down and filter runoff from storms, slowing erosion and sedimentation in local streams, too.

The workshop is set for 6-8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Registration is $25. Contact Cristina Villella at (218) 726-8106 or for more info.

Daredevil mayor, Part 2

Duluth Mayor Don Ness (bottom) makes his first skydive Friday, July 12, 2013, over Park Point with Skydive Superior instructor Dan Feess. The pair jumped into Sky Harbor Airport to kick off the Lark O’ The Lake Festival. (Photo by Patrick Mercier)

Duluth Mayor Don Ness performed his second community-building stunt in a week on Friday, this time jumping out of an airplane to help kick off the Lark O’ The Lake Festival at Sky Harbor Airport. Just two days earlier he rappelled off the Sellwood Building in support of the downtown Sidewalk Days Festival.

Both stunts went off without a hitch, and both festivals continue. The Lark O’ The Lake Festival is 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Sidewalk Days wraps up with a street dance from 6 p.m. to midnight on Superior Street.

Angel of Hope dedication

A dedication ceremony for the Angel of Hope Memorial is scheduled to take place today in Duluth.

The memorial, based on the book “The Christmas Box” by Richard Paul Evans, is in Leif Erikson Park. It’s a place for parents who have lost a child to go to heal and remember their loved ones.

The ceremony is at 6 p.m.

The memorial’s statue and engraved bricks on the walkway will be maintained by city of Duluth Parks and Recreation. Bricks can be purchased through Parks & Rec.

‘Buttcrack’ billboard concerns Duluth couple

A billboard from the Minnesota Department of Health, encouraging passersby to get a colonoscopy, is seen Thursday, June 13, 2013, on Arrowhead Road in Duluth. (Jimmy Bellamy /

A Duluth couple wrote an e-mail to Mayor Don Ness and the City Council on Wednesday, urging them to create an ordinance that would ban “indecent” billboards like the one along Arrowhead Road between Swan Lake Road and Arlington Avenue.

In the e-mail with the subject line “Offensive ‘buttcrack’ billboard needs to be removed,” Dennis P. and Rosemarie Mitchell — who have authored a number of letters to the editor on the News Tribune and Duluth Budgeteer News opinion pages, including the Internet-famous “Olympics showed too much flesh” in August 2012 — call for the removal of a Minnesota Department of Health billboard showing a person’s rear peeking through jeans and a T-shirt and the words “Cover your butt! Get a colonoscopy.” The Mitchells go on to write that the billboard’s message further adds to the deterioration “of our morals and modesty.”

In an e-mail reply, Mayor Ness said: “The City does not have those sort of censorship powers. I would encourage you to contact the billboard company with your concerns. Thank you.”

Drivers and passengers still can see the rear-view sign through the windshield — or rear-view mirror.

Ness to address political zoo

Duluth Mayor Don Ness will return to his alma mater Tuesday night to reflect on the sorry state of American politics.

“I’ll talk about the brokenness of American politics today and what I see as some potential steps we could take to improve the situation,” he said.

The mayor concedes there’s no simple solution, but he’s encouraged to note that many like-minded voters seem fed up with partisan politics-as-usual and the toxic atmosphere they’ve produced.

“We need to focus on solving problems, rather than the zoo-like political atmosphere that continues to consume all our energies in Washington,” he said.

Ness will share his thoughts on politics and effective governing from 7-9 p.m. today at UMD’s Montague Hall, Room 80. He will appear as a guest of UMD’s Center for Ethics and Public Policy. The event is free and open to the public.

Catch a lift with a Duluth city councilor

Here’s another unconventional way to mark Valentine’s Day: by taking a ride on a ski lift with a Duluth City Council member.

Councilors Emily Larson and Patrick Boyle will be going round and round on the chair lift at Chester Bowl from 5:30-6:15 p.m. During that time you can hop on with one of them and bend their ear without any danger of them walking away. Then you can ski or snowboard back down feeling good about your civic engagement.

Larson has the Parks and Recreation portfolio on the City Council, and Boyle represents the district that includes Chester Bowl.

If you don’t feel like skiing, Larson and Boyle will go from riding the lift at 6:15 to serving cocoa and other goodies until 8:30 p.m. in the chalet.

Thanks, Mr. Plow

This is what you get when you mix Minnesota Nice with Duluth’s typical winter weather: a plow driver going above and beyond the call of duty.

Emily Soger, of Duluth, said she struggled unsuccessfully to get her car out of the snow on a downtown avenue Wednesday.

“After about 15 minutes of trying to get the car out, a plow driver happened to drive by,” Soger said, “and I would imagine I looked pretty crabby.”

Soger said the plow driver dumped a pile of sand next to her car, drove a half-block and pulled over.

“The next thing I know he was walking down to my car — shovel in hand,” she said. “He dug out my tires, threw sand down and pushed until my car could make it out. It was so kind of him, and I just wanted to thank him for this good deed!”

Eh? salutes you, Mr. Plow.