Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Winter Solstice

I was going to post this earlier, but I got distracted. I was distracted on the day I went over to Lanesboro too. I was there solo to work on the cottage floors. By the time I got to Lanesboro it was dark, which comes early. Duh, it WAS the solstice.

Looking down on Lanesboro from halfway down the west rim. Clear night.

The first stop was the bar of the Old Village Hall for a pint of  Rush River IPA. It took an hour or two the finish the beer. Well, maybe it was  two beers. Chef Mike thought I looked hungry. I told him I couldn't always afford his fare ... so he gave me some freebie samples. Not much, but enough to get through the second beer. Then John, who owns the joint, gave me a Laphroaig single-malt Scotch which he deemed undrinkable. I actually quite liked it.

Minnesota: I awoke the next morning to snow. When I went out to shovel, our neighbor across the street hailed me. Jack and I rested on our shovels, discussing our mail boxes, rating the skills of the snowplow driver. We gave him rather poor grades for accuracy, but excellent for speed. Later when I went down off the hill I noticed he had also taken out at least two street signs.

Jack had already eaten his breakfast so I went to the Pastry Shoppe alone to eat, taking the small table in the hall nook.

The tables ALL wobble and rock. Old floors, old tables. We are not there for the ambiance. Fortunately I had a couple of copies of the Fillmore County News and the Bluff Country Reader which I had earlier liberated from my dead mailbox. 

Food, coffee and news.

Slip describing above. Code words for amazing food. With a roll to go, less than $10. I wasn't going to buy the roll, but Maria said, "15 seconds in the microwave and it's heaven in your mouth." She forced it on me. She is very, very cute.

The new basement bathroom floor. I also put another coat of finish on the master bedroom hardwood. "Master" does sound a little grand for that little bedroom.
This is what caught me eye in The Reader that morning. Our dam is beautiful, it is a tourist draw and it furnishes hydroelectric power for the village. It may be green energy, but it is very expensive energy. The dam and the hydroelectric plant were built in 1868. Think about that, 1868. Where do you replacement parts for an 1868 hydroelectric plant? You either make it or have it custom made. And old parts fail. But we do love it.

The dam is a pinned gravity-arch structure, which is the only one in the world that is still being used. The stones are held in place by steel stone cramps attached to each other rather than mortar. These cramps are rusting and the Oneota Dolostone blocks are weathering causing leaks. Haug explained to the legislators that the dam had become a public safety issue. If the dam fails, he explained bluntly, "It has the potential to kill people downstream." Downstream is downtown Lanesboro. This statement was verified in 2010 by a DNR study of the dam. The restoration of the dam would cost roughly $2.2 million. All preliminary design and engineering surveys have been completed and $750,000 has already been awarded from the Minnesota Historical Society and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). However, using that money will be contingent on securing the remaining funds from the state, as the city does not have the financial means to fully fund the project. The project would add new concrete behind the old stone, effectively becoming a new dam. In order to preserve the historic value and appearance of the dam, new Oneota Dolostone would replace the current face of the dam. Sen. Jeremy Miller asked what would happen if the dam wasn't restored. Haug responded saying the dam would need to be removed. The dam generates almost 700,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which makes it the city's largest source for renewable energy. Removing the dam instead of restoring it would eliminate that energy source and also create problems downstream along the Root River. Approximately 5 million cubic yards of silt are held back by the dam. Downstream ecology and recreation would be impacted and would require funds for embankment stabilization and sediment mitigation.

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