Some new old Duluth TV news clips

Every so often I take a spin through YouTube to see if any old clips from Duluth TV stations have been posted – newscasts, commercials, etc. On my latest visit, I found these three brief clips from 1991, showing the openings of the newscasts for KDLH, KBJR and WDIO:

Wish we could have a few more minutes of each of those clips… but still interesting to see.

There are a number of old Duluth TV news clips posted to YouTube, and over the years we’ve featured several in the Attic. Here are links to a few of those posts:

Complete 1973 WDIO newscast

Clip of 1985 WDIO newscast, and 1970s WDIO holiday promos 

KBJR newscast from 1990

KBJR newscast from 1975

Here are a few more Duluth TV news clips – stay tuned to the end of the first one for a report from a familiar Duluth TV name, on 1980s youth trends…

KQDS / Fox 21 hasn’t been around as long as the other three stations, of course. But here’s one “from the archives” clip, of the original opening music to the 9 p.m. newscast:

And finally, this assemblage of KBJR clips from 1989, with a lot of familiar faces:

Thanks to those who posted the clips to YouTube over the years. Share your Duluth TV memories by posting a comment.

Happy 72nd birthday, Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan – then Bobby Zimmerman – as a sophomore in the Hibbing High School yearbook, circa 1957. (News-Tribune file photo)

Today, May 24, 2013, is the 72nd birthday of Northland native and music icon Bob Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth in 1941 and raised on the Iron Range, in Hibbing.

Two years ago, on the occasion of Dylan’s 70th birthday, I posted a collection of text and photos of Dylan from the News Tribune files. If you have not yet seen that – or even if you have – you can find the post here.

Homegrown Music Festival photos

Duluth’s Homegrown Music Festival, which opened Sunday, celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. Here is a gallery of News Tribune photos from – or associated with – Homegrown Festivals of years past:

You may notice that the captions are pretty sparse on a few of these photos; if you can provide any names where they are missing, please post a comment.

Aerial views of Duluth

Old aerial photos always offer a lot of interesting opportunities to see what has changed and what has stayed the same. Here are a few aerial photos of Duluth from the early 2000s, from the News Tribune archives. Click on the images for a larger view:

This photo from October 2003 shows the area just east of downtown Duluth, prior to major expansion by what is now Essentia Health, and also before construction of the Sheraton Hotel. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)

The reconstruction of Piedmont Avenue is under way in this view from June 2004. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)

An aerial view over downtown Duluth and the Central Hillside in June 2002. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)

A view of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center in August 2003, before the addition of the Duluth 10 movie theater, Amsoil Arena and an additional parking structure. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

Share your memories by posting a comment.

Photos of Paul Wellstone in the Northland

Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, marks the 10th anniversary of the plane crash near Eveleth that took the life of U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.), his wife Sheila, and six others. Read the News Tribune’s coverage of the anniversary here.

Here’s a selection of News Tribune file photos from Wellstone’s many trips to the Northland, leading up to his election to the Senate in 1990 and in the years that followed:

Democrat Paul Wellstone ratchets up his U.S. Senate campaign against incumbent Republican Rudy Boschwitz during a stop at the Duluth Labor Temple on June 9, 1989. (John Rott / News-Tribune)

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Senator-elect Paul Wellstone reacts to the approval of the crowd during a standing-room-only town hall meeting at the Marshall School cafeteria in Duluth on Dec. 5, 1990. (Steve Stearns / News-Tribune)

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As Sen. Paul Wellstone jokes with locals at Maggie’s, a popular restaurant in Nashwauk, on April 5, 1991, owner Margaret Breuling looks on and smiles. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone greets people who gathered for the opening of his office in Virginia, Minn., on April 5, 1991. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., speaks at a rally at the Duluth Labor Temple on London Road on April 13, 1991. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone answers questions from the audience during a meeting about health-care issues on Feb. 13, 1992, at Duluth Central High School. (Clara Wu / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone addresses DFL delegates from across Minnesota on June 5, 1992, the first day of the state DFL convention at the DECC, Interpreting was Kim Olson of Minneapolis. (Bob King / News-Tribune)

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Marilyn Pribyl of Chaska and Terry Selle of Bloomington listen as Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., pauses to chat with them during a stop at Grandma’s Restaurant in Duluth on Jan. 15, 1994. (Steve Stearns / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone addresses a gathering of people in low-income situations during a news conference Nov. 21, 1995, at Emerson School in Duluth. The event was held to bring attention to the plight of low-income people in need of housing assistance. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)

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Aimee McIntyre (left) and Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., share a laugh during a rally for Wellstone at the Federal Building in Duluth on July 1, 1996. Supporters wore shirts with red targets and the words: “Proud to be a Republican Target.” (Kathy Strauss / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone speaks to the crowd gathered at a rally at the DECC’s Pioneer Hall in Duluth on the morning of Oct. 23, 1996, as Vice President Al Gore applauds in the background. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)

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U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone answers a question from a student in the audience during the Democracy in Action forum April 9, 1999, at the College of St. Scholastica. More than 600 students from the three high schools in Duluth attended the forum, which gave them an opportunity to challenge and ask questions of elected officals. Listening to Wellstone on stage are state Sen. Sam Solon and Duluth Mayor Gary Doty. (Dave Ballard / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone speaks to a crowd of about 100 gathered Sunday at the entrance of ME International in Duluth on Oct. 31, 1999. Wellstone voiced his support of the United Steelworkers of America Local 1028 strike that has been in effect since August. (Renee Knoeber / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone visits Denfeld High School in Duluth on Nov. 16, 2000. (Rick Scibelli / News-Tribune)

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Sen. Paul Wellstone meets with a full auditorium of Denfeld High School students on Nov. 16, 2000, at the school. Wellstone took questions and comments from students regarding the recent election and the issues surrounding it. (Rick Scibelli / News-Tribune)

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U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone greets members of the Duluth Denfeld singing groups Solid Gold and Steppin’ Up on Nov. 16, 2000, during a visit to the school. Wellstone engaged the students in a town hall-style meeting, discussing the previous week’s presidential election. (Rick Scibelli / News-Tribune)

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Sens. Paul Wellstone and Mark Dayton talk in Superior on March 9, 2001, with employees of Partridge River Inc., the company whose Hoyt Lakes plant was destroyed by fire earlier that month. The meeting took place at Partridge River’s Superior facility. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

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Share your memories and stories by posting a comment.

The steepest streets in Duluth

Looking out over downtown from atop Duluth’s steepest street – Fifth Avenue West, at its intersection with Sixth Street, April 2012. (Andrew Krueger / News Tribune)

This blog chronicles many things that have changed in Duluth over the years, but here’s an entry on something that’s as much a topic of discussion today as it was 50 years ago – the steep streets downtown. They certainly can keep life interesting – take this mishap from 1984.

Back in February 1998, the News Tribune looked at life on what often is cited as THE steepest street in town – Fifth Avenue West, above Mesaba Avenue. Here’s that story:

A DIFFERENT SLANT OF LIFE

PEOPLE WHO LIVE AND WORK ON DULUTH’S STEEPEST STREETS TAKE THE UPS AND DOWNS IN STRIDE

By Chuck Frederick, News-Tribune staff writer

Angela Szymecki leaned into the hillside and climbed slowly to the top of the mercilessly steep street. Her leg muscles screamed as she clutched a railing and reminded herself not to slip. She didn’t want to fall. Not here. Not on Fifth Avenue West, perhaps the steepest of Duluth’s many steep streets.

In a city built on the side of a hill, a city that is sometimes compared to San Francisco, thousands of Duluthians live and work on the hillside. Many of them think nothing of it. They buy four-wheel drive vehicles, take roundabout routes home during snowstorms, and then turn their front tires toward the curb when they park.

But on some streets people can’t help but think about the hill. They can’t help but wonder, “If I fall down will I stop rolling before I splash into the harbor?”

“It is dangerous walking up and down this hill,” said Szymecki, a two-year resident on Fifth Avenue West, which has a 25 percent grade between Fifth and Sixth streets. That compares to a 19 percent grade on the steepest ski run at Spirit Mountain, the Gandy Dancer.

“I slipped just the other day,” Szymecki said of her steep street. “And on just a little piece of ice. That scared me.”

Living and working on the face of a dropoff can be hairy. Concessions must be made to the terrain. Difficulty in moving around during the winter is something you just come to accept.

But it also can be fun, some residents say. There’s something very Duluth about it, something rugged and adventurous, a pride that comes from knowing you live somewhere others don’t dare visit.

Unless they’re looking for an extreme workout, most joggers choose the same route across Fifth Avenue West, rather than up or down the steep street. Between Fifth and Sixth street, the avenue’s grade is 24 percent. (Bob King / News Tribune) Note that many of the trees lining the street in this photo from January 1998 are no longer standing in the present-day view atop this post.

Bruce McLean feels that rush. From the back of Szymecki’s home, his voice is dripping with an attitude flatlanders will never understand.

“Did you mention the goats?” he shouted before stepping into the front room, grinning. “The billy goats we saw walking up here the other day? Did you mention them?”

“Very funny, Bruce,” retorted Luke Szymecki, Angela’s 16-year-old son and Bruce’s friend.

“I rode my bike down that hill once,” McLean continued, still grinning. “Only once. I looked back up and decided to sell it to a passerby at the bottom of the hill.

“My girlfriend is afraid to drive up it,” he said, being a little more serious. “I’ve got to walk down there and meet her and then drive her car up for her. It’s crazy.”

“And it’s just crazy to park here,” Luke said. “I assume your car would just end up at the bottom of the hill every time.”

Mail carrier Jack Harmon has been parking his postal truck on Fifth Avenue West for 14 years.

“It can be difficult,” he said of this portion of his route. “But the city takes pretty good care of the streets and most of the people do real good to keep their steps clear. I’ve gotten so used to (the hillside), I actually look forward to the exercise. I’ve gotten to know the people there so well, too. If I didn’t deliver there, I’d miss our little chats every day.”

Arne Sather delivers mail to the top half of the avenue. He, too, has come to accept the hill as just another part of the job. He has even developed a sense of humor about it.

“The guy who used to have this route, he wound up with one leg shorter than the other,” Sather said, his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. “You have to do the route backwards every couple of days to keep yourself even.

“But the best thing to do is park and walk,” he said, more seriously. “Driving on those hills is tough. There are days you just can’t control the truck there.”

You don’t have to tell that to the city workers who plow Duluth’s steepest streets. Tony Budisalovich has been plowing Fifth Avenue West for 10 years.

“I’ve slid from Sixth to Fifth in a second and a half,” he said. “I’ve done full-circle spins. You just hold on and go. There’s nothing you can do. It’s like on a skating rink. It happens so fast. It’s over with before you can really get scared. But afterward you shake. You just sit there and shake.”

Budisalovich likes to drive his grader backward up the avenue — not because it’s easier to climb the hill, but because he wants to see where he’s going if he should slide back down.

“It’s a challenge,” he said. “I’m waiting another three years for another guy to retire. Then I can take his route. Let someone else take a turn at this.”

Shoveling, driving and even just walking can be a challenge on a steep street, says Angela Szymecki, seen here in January 1998. She lives near the top of Fifth Avenue West, perhaps the steepest of Duluth’s many steep streets. (Charles Curtis / News Tribune)

Most of Duluth’s steepest streets are in Central Hillside, Goat Hill and Lincoln Park (West End). But a pair of streets near the top of the city’s steepest list are found over the hill. St. Paul Avenue and Minneapolis Avenue, both in the Woodland neighborhood, ranked fifth and sixth with grades of 20 and 19 percent, roughly the same as the Spirit Mountain’s steepest ski run.

That doesn’t surprise Doug Sanders. He has lived at the bottom of Minneapolis Avenue, near Isanti Street, since 1942, back when the avenue was first nicknamed “Steep Minnie.”

Sanders remembers neighbors throwing ashes from their coal furnaces onto the road to help motorists climb the hill.

“People who lived up there had to get up the hill,” he said. “Those ashes and clinkers helped.”

Sanders also remembers sledding down the avenue as a boy, back when there wasn’t as much traffic and cars didn’t go so fast.

“We’d keep one kid at the bottom of the hill as a lookout, and then down we’d go,” he said.

Kids still play on the hill, zooming down on their bikes, sleds or in-line skates.

“I’ve seen the neighbor kids take their Roller Blades down it,” said Mary Kettelhut of Minneapolis Avenue. “That’s horrifying. I pray no cars are coming across at the time.”

A block over on St. Paul Avenue, the steep hill stopped bothering Jennifer Lewis the day she bought a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Gone are the days when she had to shout into the back seat to remind the kids to hang on because Mom was turning into the driveway.

“We don’t have any problems, but we still see a lot of cars getting stuck here,” Lewis said. “They’ll try to make it up the hill, but they’ll get stuck, so they’ll have to back down, and then they’ll slide and wind up getting stuck in the woods. Then someone has to call a tow truck.

“It is hard to make it up and down some days,” Lewis said. “But it’s where we live. We love it here. We make the best of it.”

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Mail carrier Jack Harmon makes sure he sets his parking brake before delivering mail to a house off Fifth Avenue West in January 1998. After 14 years on the route. Harmon says he’s accustomed to steep streets. “I actually look forward to the exercise,” he says. (Bob King / News-Tribune)

Here’s a list that ran with the story back in 1998:

Duluth steepest streets

Some streets in Duluth are actually steeper than the steepest run at Spirit Mountain. The Gandy Dancer ski hill has a 19 percent grade. These streets are at least that steep:*

Streets and grade

1. Fifth Avenue West between West Fifth and West Sixth Streets — 25% — Rises 80.788 feet in 320.239 feet

2. 17th Avenue West above West Third Street — 24% — Rises 37.616 feet in 158.707 feet

3. W. Seventh Street above Piedmont Avenue — 21% — Rises 54.820 feet in 256.960 feet

4. 19th Avenue West above Old Piedmont Avenue in Goat Hill. — 21% — Rises 42.343 feet in 197.869 feet

5. St. Paul Avenue between Isanti and Anoka avenues — 20% — Rises 51.114 feet in 260.366 feet

6. Minneapolis Avenue between Isanti and Anoka avenues — 19% — Rises 61.307 feet in 318.738 feet

7. West Fourth Street above Piedmont Avenue — 19% — Rises 65.854 feet in 338.615 feet

Minneapolis Avenue in the Woodland neighborhood, seen here in January 2002, has gained a legendary reputation for its steep slope that rivals the steepest run at Spirit Mountain ski resort. The street is usually a haven for kids on bikes, in-line skates and sleds. (Justin Hayworth / News-Tribune)

Here are some other steep Duluth streets:

– Eighth Avenue West above West Third Street — 18% — Rises 58.420 feet in 319.687 feet

– Fourth Avenue West below Mesaba Avenue — 17% — Rises 51.312 feet in 307.957 feet

– First Avenue East between East Sixth and East Seventh streets — 17% — Rises 51.408 feet in 306.421 feet

– Park Street between Livingston and Morningside avenues — 17% — Rises 48.723 feet in 289.757 feet

– West Sixth Street above Piedmont Avenue — 16% — Rises 32.522 feet in 199.730 feet

– 26th Avenue East between London and Greysolon roads — 15% — Rises 46.058 feet in 314.733 feet

– 22nd Avenue West above Piedmont Avenue — 14% — Rises 20.838 feet in 154.139 feet

– Fourth Avenue East from Superior to First streets — 13% — Rises 39.190 feet in 297.699 feet

– 19th Avenue East above Superior Street — 12% — Rises 35.249 feet in 293.994 feet

– 21st Avenue East between London Road and Superior Street — 11% — Rises 35.767 feet in 311.500 feet

– Mesaba Avenue above West Seventh Street — 10% — Rises 38.888 feet in 390.875 feet

– Piedmont Avenue above Seven Corners — 9% — Rises 27.560 feet in 317.032 feet

– Piedmont Avenue below Seven Corners — 7% — Rises 32.743 feet in 437.008 feet

*There may be steeper streets in Duluth than some included here. These lists are not intended to be “Top-10” style rankings. Some streets were included solely because they are well-traveled, allowing easy comparisons to steeper but lesser-known roadways.

Source: The Lake Superior College Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineering Technicians.

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Share your steep-street stories and memories – and tell us if there’s a steep street missing from these lists – by posting a comment.

Hare-raising times on Duluth’s Park Point

May 21, 1999

Smokey the dog, owned by Donella Kubiak, has become quite accustomed to his rabbit friends on Park Point in May 1999. They have become used to him, too, not showing the least bit of concern as he barks at strangers. (Derek Neas / News-Tribune)

Park Point’s hare-raising problem

Rabbit population in Duluth neighborhood growing – by leaps and bounds

By Bob Linneman, News-Tribune staff writer

Donna Scorse sees nothing bunny — make that funny — about a robust rabbit population hopping around her Park Point neighborhood.

She’s expecting $500 worth of plants, flowers and shrubs to arrive this weekend for her back yard and fears the burgeoning bunny boom town will quickly embark on a search-and-destroy mission.

“Sure, they’re cute,” Scorse said with a hint of laughter tinged with frustration. “But this isn’t a cute problem.”

She’s at wits’ end, unsure how to deal with her long-eared dilemma. Everywhere she turns she sees rabbits. While the exact number of bunnies is difficult to determine, there are at least 50 throughout the four-block area — probably more. And the population is growing, evidenced by a large number of baby bunnies.

According to several of the area’s residents, the colony of rabbits started a few years ago from a single breeding pair of pet Easter bunnies who were released into the wild — which is illegal and morally repugnant, says Duluth rabbit expert Ruth Lyon. No one is sure of the culprit’s identity.

Being rabbits, these furry mammals have done what they do best — procreate prolifically. Females are capable of producing a litter of up to a dozen offspring every 28-35 days.

The explosion of rabbits has some in the neighborhood calling for some kind of control.

But not everyone is anti-rabbit in this area of Park Point — Minnesota Avenue between the 1400 and 1800 blocks, with scattered bunny sightings as far away as the Aerial Lift Bridge.

While Scorse would like to see the rabbits eradicated, relocated or simply removed, Donella Kubiak says leave the cute little varmints alone.

They aren’t hurting anyone or anything, she says, and nature will eventually take its course.

Kubiak has about 20 rabbits living in her yard — where a large deck allows good cover for the animals. To her, the rabbit population is a wonderful addition to the landscape. Even her dog, Smokey, doesn’t seem to mind the rabbits, who have been known to invade his doghouse on occasion.

“They mow the lawn and fertilize it too,” Kubiak said of the rabbits. “I enjoy them. They’re wonderful. I don’t want anyone out here harassing them.”

Six rabbits roam in the back yard of Donella Kubiak’s house on Park Point on May 19, 1999. Kubiak says the rabbits don’t do any harm on her property and she loves to have them around. (Derek Neas / News-Tribune)

There are several separate warrens of rabbits in this area, but all seem to be from the same roots. Most of them are white with black spots or stripes, and a smaller number are brown and black.

Folks in the area seem split on the bounty of bunnies. Some go as far as feeding the rabbits, while there have been reports of others who shoot them — which is illegal within city limits.

George Flentke, who heads the Wisconsin chapter of the House Rabbit Society in Madison — an education and rescue group devoted to rabbits — called the Park Point infestation a tragedy, “a dump-and-breed situation.”

“It’s one of those situations we have a hard time dealing with,” he said. “They can do a good deal of damage. They can denude that area pretty quickly.”

Low-lying trees and bushes in the area are feeling the effects. Scorse points to bushes in her yard that have gone from about 18 inches tall to a fraction of that size.

While distressed that the domestic rabbits were dumped, creating this colony of semi-wild rabbits, Flentke is equally surprised they have managed to survive — and thrive.

“I’m shocked, more than shocked, that they made it through the winter there,” Flentke said, adding that when he heard domestic rabbits were booming in Duluth, Minnesota, he couldn’t imagine them surviving for long. “Domestic rabbits don’t usually do well in the wild. They usually die out.”

But Park Point is lacking in predators at the moment. A normally strong fox population is down and raptors — hawks, owls and eagles — are not prevalent, either.

Two rabbits huddle nose to nose in the woods between the 1400 and 1800 blocks of Minnesota Avenue on Park Point in May 1999. Rabbits can be seen in the area in groups or alone, but they seem to be just about everywhere. (Derek Neas / News-Tribune)

Rich Staffon, the area wildlife manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said the rabbit epidemic isn’t a huge threat to the ecosystem of Park Point.

The area is isolated. And, Staffon says, domestic rabbits are genetically incapable of breeding with native species like the snowshoe hare and cottontail rabbit.

If the rabbits managed to cross the Aerial Lift Bridge and began establishing colonies downtown or on Duluth’s hillside, “then we might have to say it’s time to nip this in the bud,” Staffon said. “But I don’t see them as a big threat to this point.”

Staffon recommends those who don’t want rabbits eating their plants to construct enclosures to keep them out.

“It’s up to the individual,” he said. “Property owners can remove them. But I don’t recommend they release them somewhere else.”

Carrie Siegle, director of the Duluth Animal Shelter, said property owners on Park Point can bring any rabbits they capture to the shelter, but they would be destroyed. The shelter has neither the space nor the resources to handle a large number of rabbits.

Other options include live-trapping the rabbits and giving them to someone who raises the animals.

Staffon suspects it won’t be long before predators, especially airborne ones, discover the area is teeming with easy prey.

The mostly white rabbits tend to stand out in the brush. And these domestic-turned-wild bunnies, most likely descendants from European hares, are not exactly fast on their feet.

“Pretty quickly, I would guess, something in nature is going to discover this surplus of food,” Staffon said. “Sooner or later, they’ll move in and take the rabbits out.”

The sooner the better for Scorse: “I’m hoping someone can come out here and help us control this problem,” she said. “I don’t know what to do.”

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A year later, Scorse got her wish – a group called Rabbit Rescue of Minnesota came to Park Point to round up the animals:

June 24, 2000

Volunteers from Rabbit Rescue of Minnesota, a Twin Cities animal rescue group, try their luck at catching a rabbit with a volleyball net on June 23, 2000, in front of a house in the 1700 block of Minnesota Avenue on Park Point. This one got away. (Derek Neas / News-Tribune)

‘Wascally wabbits’ divide Park Point

Some residents cheer volunteers, others want furry creatures left alone

By Bob Linneman, News-Tribune staff writer

The rabbit roundup on Park Point got under way Friday with limited success, but the presence of the group — known as Rabbit Rescue of Minnesota — had residents of the Point taking sides.

The Park Point rabbit zone, from about 13th Avenue to 20th, was ground zero for these volunteers, most from the Twin Cities, trying to capture as many of the domesticated rabbits as they could. It’s thought that at least 200 rabbits roam the neighborhood.

As of Friday evening, the group had caught about a dozen rabbits. Another 30 were trapped and caged — prior to the group’s arrival — by Park Point residents helping in the rescue operation.

The roundup continues through the weekend.

Not everyone on Park Point was happy with the bunny catchers’ arrival….

… but some Park Pointers were overjoyed to have the rabbits removed. (Photos by Derek Neas / News-Tribune)

Residents of the area were clearly divided. The group of volunteers, ranging in size from a half-dozen early Friday to about 15 later in the day, were met with signs of protest and welcome.

Two yards had clear “No hunting” signs posted, urging the rescuers to stay off their land. Two others had signs; one said, “Welcome Rabbit Roundup” and another “Bunnies here, please find and remove.”

“It’s been the extreme on both ends,” said volunteer Michelle Nephew of St. Paul, a member of the Rabbit House Society, a national advocacy group devoted to pet rabbits. “We’ve had some people drive by yelling at us, and others cheering us.”

There were also confrontations. Tim and Cindy Olson didn’t want any of the rabbits living in their yard to be removed.

At one point, the rabbit group skirted the Olsons’ property line while the family watched closely, making sure they didn’t cross onto their property. A few words were exchanged, but nothing got out of control.

“They’re terrorizing the rabbits,” Cindy Olson said. “They’re chasing them through people’s yards. The rabbits usually come right up to us, but now they’re shying away.”

Tools in the roundup included live traps, nets of various sizes and plastic fencing used to trap the animals.

The effort to capture the rabbits, neuter the males and hold an adoption Sunday has been sanctioned by the city of Duluth.

Administrative assistant Mark Winson, Mayor Gary Doty’s top aide, said the city is picking up the rescue group’s lodging costs and has rented a truck to transport the rabbits from the Point to a West Duluth warehouse.

Michelle Nephew of St. Paul and Christopher Ellian, 11, who lives on Park Point, bait a live trap for rabbits on June 23, 2000. (Derek Neas / News-Tribune)

Winson estimates the city’s contribution at $300. He added that the group does not need a permit to capture and transport the rabbits within city limits.

The mayor’s office, Winson said, has been inundated with pleas for the city to take action on the rabbit issue.

Andrea Nye, a 17-year-old Jefferson High School student from Bloomington, is one of the leaders of the rescue group and coordinated the roundup.

She said she’s rescued rabbits for more than two years and ; raised them for 11. She- is committed to helping: solve the Park Point situation, which she learned about from a Minnesota Public Radio report.

Friday’s effort was difficult.: “We’ve had lots of confrontations, but that’s part of it,” she said, unfazed by those opposing the group’s presence.

Many enjoy the rabbits and would prefer they be left alone. Others, however, call the rabbits a nuisance, doing thousands of dollars in damage to gardens and shrubs.

There are three schools of thought: leave them alone, kill them or capture and adopt them out as pets. Rabbit Rescue of Minnesota prefers the third. Others expressed a different viewpoint.

“The rabbits would be much better served by re-introducing a few native red foxes to Park Point and adopting an ordinance outlawing the feeding (the rabbits),” said resident Gary Hopp, who said the rabbits have destroyed his gardens.

The roundup continues today. Sunday, at a warehouse on West Michigan Street just past 29th Avenue West, the group hopes to host rabbit adoptions. The event will be open to the public — signs will direct people to the warehouse.

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So whatever happened to all those rabbits on Park Point? News Tribune Editor Robin Washington tackled that topic in a column that ran in the paper on April 4, 2010.

Share your stories and memories by posting a comment.

Wall comes tumbling down in Duluth’s West End

No one was injured when concrete cornices fell from the Johnson Furniture Co. building, 1917 W. Superior St. in Duluth, on Oct. 16, 1968. Dennis Johnson, a member of the firm, reported that before the cornices fell a bright flash of lightning was seen and might have caused the collapse. When the cornices collapsed they tore a six- by eight-foot sign from the building and smashed two eight- by 10-foot plate glass windows. Russell Johnson, president of the company, said that it was a miracle that no one was on the sidewalk. (News-Tribune file photo)

Johnson Furniture was a longtime business in Duluth’s West End / Lincoln Park neighborhood. According to News Tribune files, the company was founded in 1917. It operated at 1907 W. Superior St. from the 1920s until 1957, when it moved to the former home of J&J Furniture Corp. at 2009 W. Superior. In 1962 it moved to 1917 W. Superior — the site of the cornice collapse in the photo above — and stayed there until moving to the former Enger & Olson Furniture building at 1826 W. Superior St. (I could not find a date for that).

The owners of what eventually was known as Johnson Brothers Furniture announced in Feb. 2011 that they were closing the store.

In the photo above, looking left from Johnson Furniture, you can see the Hong Kong Cafe at 1921 W. Superior, then Dahlen’s Paint and Wallpaper, the White Inn Cafe and a long, low commercial building that was vacant at the time, according to a 1967 city directory.

In the background, across 20th Avenue West, the Seaway Hotel is visible.

Here are two views of that row of buildings today:

At some point between 1968 and today, the Hong Kong Cafe building was torn down. Was there a fire? Post a comment if you know that story. Other than that, there has been a big change in businesses (or lack thereof at present), but the buildings remain essentially as they were 44 years ago.

Here’s one more associated photo from the News Tribune files:

Ready for the grand opening of Johnson’s Appliance and Television Store at 1907 W. Superior St. are Edward Aamodt (left), manager of the appliance section, and Ronald Vogler, manager of the TV and stereo section, in this photo published Sept. 14, 1966. The building, which formerly housed Johnson Furniture’s trade-in outlet, has been remodeled, with new paneling throughout and new carpeting in the balcony. (Duluth Herald file photo)

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Archive aerial views of Duluth

It’s fun to look at aerial photos in the News Tribune Attic – when you look up close, they can show so many things that have changed or still are the same.

Here are three aerial photos of Duluth from the archives; as with most photos I post here, click on these images to access a larger view:

The Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and surrounding area, August 2003. This is before the addition of the Duluth 10 movie theater, the new parking ramp and Amsoil Arena. (Justin Hayworth / News Tribune)

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St. Mary’s Medical Center and the surrounding area in October 2003, before construction of SMDC’s First Street Building. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)

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The Technology Village / Soft Center building under construction along Superior Street in downtown Duluth, May 1999. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)——Share your memories and observations by posting a comment.

Office Depot’s brief foray into downtown Duluth

After Office Depot announced that it wanted to open a store in downtown Duluth’s Holiday Center in March 1999, it took nearly 10 months for the retailer, the mall’s owners and the city to reach a final lease deal.

After Office Depot opened its doors in June 2000, it took little more than six months for the retailer to decide the store was “underperforming” and needed to be closed.

Such was the brief, tumultuous run of Office Depot in downtown Duluth…

The Office Depot store at the Holiday Center in downtown Duluth, Jan. 3, 2001. (Bob King / News Tribune)

March 17, 1999

OFFICE DEPOT SET FOR HOLIDAY CENTER

By Paul Adams, News-Tribune staff writer

Holiday Center and Duluth city officials confirmed Tuesday that Office Depot has signed a letter of intent to locate a 25,000-square-foot store on Superior Street, fulfilling a long-standing goal of attracting a major retailer to the city’s downtown.

The office products store will occupy much of the Holiday Center’s vacant street level, including the space currently occupied by a McDonald’s restaurant and the Renegade Comedy Theatre. Where those tenants will relocate was unclear Tuesday.

The deal would be a coup for the Holiday Center and Duluth Greater Downtown Council, which have made filling the vacant retail space a top priority.

However, the deal didn’t come without some strings attached.

The Duluth City Council must first agree to vacate the public corridor, or hallway, that runs in front of the Holiday Center at street level. In order to create a large enough space, Office Depot needs to include the corridor in its floor plan.

Also, the Duluth Economic Development Authority must agree to provide the Holiday Center’s owners a forgiveable $450,000 loan to make improvements in the center’s courtyard, public restrooms, storefront and skywalk areas.

Labovitz Enterprises, which owns the Holiday Center with other partners, would not have to repay the loan as long as Office Depot remains a tenant for at least 10 years.
If the company closes the store before the term is up, the landlord — the Holiday Center — would be required to repay the portion of the loan that remains.

“I really don’t see any stumbling blocks,” said Duluth Mayor Gary Doty at a press conference announcing the deal.

A News-Tribune article identified Office Depot as the likely tenant Jan. 15. But Holiday Center officials were still negotiating with the city at that time to satisfy Office Depot’s requirements.

The retailer said it will invest an estimated $1.3 million to renovate the space. It is estimated that the store will employ 30 to 40 people and be open in time for the holidays.

Bruce Stender (left) of Labovitz Enterprises and John Mutch of Office Depot officially announce on Jan. 5, 2000, the closing of the deal that will bring the retailer to the Holiday Center in downtown Duluth. (Derek Neas / News-Tribune)

January 6, 2000

OFFICE DEPOT SIGNS LEASE

OFFICIALS HOPE HOLIDAY CENTER LOCATION WILL ATTRACT MORE BUSINESSES DOWNTOWN

By Paul Adams, News-Tribune staff writer

It’s not exactly a Daytons or Target or even a Wal-Mart, but the opening of an Office Depot this spring will give downtown Duluth the closest thing to an anchor retailer since Glass Block and Wahl’s department stores left the city’s center nearly 20 years ago.

The 26,400-square-foot office supply store also gives the Greater Downtown Council its first victory since launching a newly funded effort in 1998 to recruit retailers downtown.

Combined with nearly $100 million in other recent construction and renovation projects in and around downtown, city officials are hopeful Office Depot’s new superstore in the Holiday Center will attract other retailers to Superior Street.

“I think it will strengthen downtown retailing and attract even more tenants to the downtown area,” said Bruce Stender, president of Labovitz Enterprises, which owns the Holiday Center. Those comments were echoed by Mayor Gary Doty at a press conference announcing the deal Wednesday.

But Office Depot’s example may illustrate just how hard that goal will be to accomplish. The retailer, which is expected to top $9 billion in sales in fiscal year 1999, took more than a year of difficult negotiations to finalize its lease with Labovitz Enterprises.

In the end, the lease required $450,000 of city subsidized improvements to the Holiday Center’s public areas; the vacating of a once public hallway; and the removal of three tenants from the center, including the Renegade Comedy Theatre, McDonald’s restaurant and a Duluth Transit Authority information booth.

The McDonald’s in the Holiday Center downtown closed its doors on Sept. 3, 1999, to make way for the new Office Depot store. (Bob King / News-Tribune)

Labovitz Enterprises also accepted a below-market rent to secure the 10-year commitment from Office Depot. However, Stender said the lower rent is mitigated by Office Depot’s agreement to pay for its own buildout, which was expected to cost about $1.3 million.

“It is one of the most sophisticated leases that I’ve ever seen,” Stender said.

The Holiday Center is also stepping up renovations at Porter’s, the Holiday Inn’s anchor restaurant and meeting center. Labovitz Enterprises is investing more than $500,000 to renovate the space and expand the meeting rooms.

Though some analysts say downtowns are enjoying a retail revival, the fact that Office Depot is locating a superstore in a downtown location is still uncommon. Only a small number of the company’s more than 850 stores are located in core downtown areas, including those in New York, Minneapolis, Miami, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis. A spokeswoman at Office Depot’s Florida headquarters couldn’t say whether any downtown stores are located in comparatively small cities such as Duluth.

“I think it’s a bit unusual because of the size (of Duluth),” said John Mutch, district manager for Office Depot in Minnesota. But after numerous trips to Duluth, Mutch concluded downtown was where Office Depot’s market is located.

“We do a lot of homework on where our customers are, where the businesses are. This is home,” he said of the Holiday Center location.

Downtown stores tend to cater to a different market than their suburban counterparts, Mutch said. That will likely mean a slightly different product mix and different hours for the Duluth store.

Suburban Office Depot’s are typically open well into the evening. The chain’s store on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. Busy times are in the early morning hours and lunch, rather than in the evening.

The Duluth store will employ 30 to 40 people. The store is expected to open early in the second quarter of this year.

Ted Thompson walks through the doors of the new Office Depot during it’s first day of business on June 23, 2000. The 26,000 square-foot store, located in the Holiday Center, will remain open this weekend, and hold its official grand opening on Monday. Office Depot employs 26 people. (David Rochkind / News-Tribune)

January 4, 2001

DOWNTOWN TO LOSE OFFICE DEPOT

By Bob Linneman and Mary Thompson, News Tribune staff writers

Just six months after opening, Office Depot announced the closing of its downtown Duluth store.

The store, along with 66 others in North America, is “underperforming,” the company said Wednesday.

The loss of Office Depot, which gave Duluth a 10-year commitment when it signed a lease with Labovitz Enterprises last January, will leave a gaping 26,000-square-foot hole in the Holiday Center.

Lauren Garvey, a corporate spokeswoman for Office Depot, based in Delray Beach, Fla., said stores will likely close at the end of March or in early April.

The Duluth store, which opened June 23, employs about 20 people, she said. About 1,400 employees companywide will lose their jobs.

Bruce Stender, president of Labovitz Enterprises, which owns the Holiday Center, said he was shocked by the news of Office Depot’s closing.

“I don’t know how you can call a store underperforming when it’s only been open six months,” Stender said, adding that a search will commence immediately to replace Office Depot.

“As far as I know, the store was doing well,” Stender added. “The general manager was pleased; at least that’s what we were told.”

The Office Depot store at the Holiday Center in downtown Duluth on Jan. 3, 2001, the day it was announced the store would be closing. (Bob King / News Tribune)

About noon Wednesday, 40 shopping carts sat unused outside the store. Only a handful of customers were inside.

Eileen Dunn, vice president for investor and public relations for the company, said projected earnings for the Duluth store were not high enough to merit keeping it open.

“Even though it opened only a short time ago, we weren’t getting the returns we needed,” Dunn said.

Office Depot moved into downtown Duluth amid much fanfare. City officials hailed the store’s arrival as a big step in revitalizing downtown.

Mayor Gary Doty conducted a news conference last January, saying Office Depot would be a key downtown tenant and could help attract other businesses.

Doty said Wednesday he was disappointed by the company’s decision.

“It seems to me they couldn’t have a good indication of how this store was going to operate in such a short period of time,” he said.

Doty said he preferred to focus on the positive aspects of the short-lived venture, including Office Depot’s estimated $1.3 million investment to renovate the retail space.

“It’s going to be easier for us to market the facility to other retail businesses,” Doty said.

The Holiday Center’s owners have strong incentive to find a new tenant.

They have six months to fill the space before they are obligated to begin making payments on a $450,000 municipal loan that paid for improvements to the center’s restrooms and public areas.

Payments on the loan were deferred as long as the center had a major anchor tenant. If the space remained occupied for 10 years, the loan would be forgiven.

Doty said the Holiday Center’s owners assured him Wednesday they would honor their payment obligations.

“We’ll work with the city and of course meet our obligations,” Stender said.

City Council President Greg Gilbert called loans and other incentives used to lure businesses such as Office Depot “one of the hazards of dealing with out-of-town companies.”

“As long as we continue to do things like that, we’re vulnerable to these kinds of shutdowns,” Gilbert said. “The company has no regard for the hardship it places on employees. I’m concerned for the people who had jobs there. I’ve talked to some of them, and these jobs meant a lot. To be cut off creates a significant hardship, so I’m sorry for that.”

Customers comb nearly bare shelves for sales items as Office Depot prepares to close its Holiday Center store on Feb. 28, 2001. (Bob King / News Tribune)

The Office Depot closings are a symptom of a general slowdown in the nation’s economy, said Chuck McDonald, who follows Office Depot for the Chicago-based investment firm William Blair & Co.

With the slowing economy, two-thirds of publicly traded companies have revised their earning estimates downward for 2001, McDonald said.

While the general economy faces a predicted slump, retailers that specialize in supplying small-business owners can really feel the pinch.

“Small businesses are living hand to mouth,” McDonald said. “When they get scared, businesses like Office Depot feel it.”

The chain of office supply stores, the largest office retailer in the world, said it plans to open 50 new stores this year, all in areas where its stores are well-established.
Office Depot is abandoning large markets such as Boston, Cleveland and Phoenix.

The company is encouraging the Duluth workers to seek employment at other Office Depot stores.

There are 13 Office Depot locations in Minnesota — all but the Duluth and St. Cloud stores are in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Managers and employees at the Duluth store contacted Wednesday declined comment, referring all questions to the company’s headquarters.

In addition to Duluth, an Office Depot store in Minneapolis is also being closed.

“We needed to do what’s best for the business and the shareholders,” Dunn said.

– end –

The next day, the News Tribune reported that Office Depot officials said they would honor the financial terms of the 10-year lease they signed; whether they ultimately did or made some other arrangement, I don’t know.

The space sat vacant until Brownie Furniture opened there in the the fall of 2002; it remains there today.