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Read about awards, recognition, projects, celebrations, staff changes, and other announcements about Minnesota cities.
Robert Morris “Bob” Benson, former City Council member and mayor of Wanamino, passed away Aug. 20, 2023, at the age of 91. He was born Nov. 25, 1931, in Wannaska. Bob served on the Wanamingo City Council for 18 years, and also served a term as the city’s mayor.
Awards and recognition
Grand Marais was Ranked by Travel + Leisure as One of America’s Best Small Lake Towns
The North Shore has been given a big boost from the Travel + Leisure, which has named Grand Marais America’s Best Small Lake Town.
In the global travel magazine’s first ranking of small towns, Grand Marais was cited for its charming lake-town feel in the summer, colorful foliage in the fall and Northern Lights in the winter.
The town (pop. 1,340) on the shores of Lake Superior and two hours north of Duluth, was praised for being an entry point to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as well as its selection of places to eat, shop, play and stay.
The magazine highlights World’s Best Donuts, strolling along the waterfront, the Grand Marais Lighthouse and Artist’s Point, making sure to take a break to partake in the favorite pastime of “skipping rocks into the harbor.” A vibrant arts community also pushed its best small-town ranking over the edge.
“Set along the forested edges of Lake Superior, up the state’s North Shore, this is also Minnesota’s artsiest town,” the article reads.
Grand Marais Mayor Tracy Benson, said the acknowledgment put a smile on her face.
“There are lots of beautiful places in the world, but what keeps visitors returning is our welcoming nature,” she said in an email. “Ask any long-term county business owner, and they will tell you their customers become friends and ‘family’ over the years. Our community is more than happy to share the ‘Tip of the Arrowhead and thrilled to be recognized for what we have to offer.”
Winona Lake Park Bandshell Named National Historic Site
The Winona Lake Park Bandshell was added to the National Register of Historic Places during summer 2023, ahead of its 100-year anniversary in 2024. The bandshell is the 40th national register listing in the city of Winona.
The Lake Park Bandshell was originally constructed in 1924 to serve as a permanent performance space for the Winona Municipal Band, which just wrapped up its 108th season with a concert at the bandshell on August 16. The bandshell is also used for many other events every year and can be rented out. “This building is really standing the test of time and being a continued legacy for our community that’s enjoyed every single day,” City Planner Luke Sims said.
‘Good Morning America’ visits Stillwater for Main Street USA segment
Stillwater was given the national spotlight on Good Morning America’s “Main Street USA” segment on July 3.
The segment highlights main streets around the country “that keep the American spirit alive.” GMA also honored Sara Jespersen, a local resident and businesswoman who helped turn a “garage alley” into an art and entertainment area.
Jespersen, the owner of The Lumberjack axe-throwing bar, also helped bring the World Snow Sculpting Championship to the city. Jespersen was also honored by Mayor Ted Kozlowski in the segment, as he proclaimed July 3 as “Sara Jespersen Day.”
Moorhead hits Green Step Level 5 again
Moorhead has again achieved the top level in Minnesota’s GreenStep Cities program, Crystal Rayamajhi announced at the recent meeting of the Moorhead City Council.
Rayamajhi, who was named the city’s sustainability coordinator in 2022, told council members that Moorhead maintained its status at the highest level of the voluntary program through a number of improvements during the past year. Among the 17 areas of improvement currently being tracked are reduction of energy use in city buildings, the addition of private energy-generating sites, and the increase to 60% of streetlights equipped with LED.