Mar. 24th, 2009

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By PAUL WALSH, Star Tribune

Last update: March 24, 2009 - 8:42 AM

 The measure to be introduced at the Legislature this morning would combine all of Stearns and Benton counties and the northern part of Sherburne County.

Maybe someday, you'll be driving northwest of the Twin Cities and a sign along the highway will echo what you've heard for years from your radio: "Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average."

Several St. Cloud area legislators this morning are announcing legislation that calls for combining all of Stearns and Benton counties and the northern part of Sherburne County.

The bill is being written under the draft name "Lake Wobegon," the fictional town of Minnesota radio storyteller Garrison Keillor. Any eventual reformulated county would be given a permanent name by its residents.

The legislation is being announced at a State Capitol news conference at 10:45 a.m. by Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, and Reps. Larry Haws, DFL-St. Cloud, and Larry Hosch, DFL-St. Joseph.

Several Minnesota cities are spread over two counties, but St. Cloud is the only one in three counties -- and one of only a few like that nationwide, St. Cloud officials say.

According to the St. Cloud Times, the three legislators said in a joint letter to county commissioners announcing the bill:

"The county boundaries drawn by our forebearers worked for the time. They did not anticipate the difficulties three counties in one city -- or 47 different jurisdictions in a thirty mile radius -- would eventually bring."

There is at least one geographic use of the Lake Wobegon name in the region. The Lake Wobegon Trail is a 46-mile, hike-and-bike pathway. It runs from St. Joseph to Osakis and also has an extension on the west side of Albany heading northeast to Holdingford and beyond.

Source: StarTribune


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