Neighborhood nuisances

Could wasps solve the problem of the flies?

Monday, August 10th, 2009

In the Sunday Whistleblower column, I wrote about the frustrations of two rural Scott County residents whose homes have been bombarded by flies from the neighboring feedlot. The flies leave behind trails of excrement on the siding and windows of Richard Theis and Wiley Vogt’s homes.

Scott County got involved in the dispute because the feedlot operator, Roger Breeggemann, had up to 90 head of cattle on a 10-acre property that legally could only hold eight. County officials worked out a solution with Breeggemann, which required him to lease additional land and spray Theis and Vogt’s homes with a product to keep the flies away. Both Theis and Vogt said they were concerned about an insecticide being sprayed on their homes. (more…)

The mystery of the wandering headstone is solved with help from readers

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

The tombstone transferThe mystery of the tombstone has endured for at least 30 years, the length of time that Patricia Brooks has lived on Ashland Avenue in St. Paul’s Summit University neighborhood.

The reddish granite slab is clearly marked “Gabriel Max Stern” with the dates of birth (1864) and death (1945) chiseled around a masonic symbol. Most recently, the stone was on top of a retaining wall that borders Brooks’ property, between a chainlink fence and a white picket fence. The stone migrated there from elsewhere in the yard next door to Brooks, and before that, lived in a garage of a house across the alley on Holly Street. The house next door recently changed hands. Brooks announced to her new neighbors: “This (stone) is leaving so don’t get used to it.” She thencontacted Whistleblower with the hope that Gabriel Max Stern’s tombstone could now go back home, wherever that is.

“I can’t stand it any more,” Brooks told me. “It’s like a wandering headstone. I just want it gone.”


A tree falling in the city can make a big noise, and that’s what neighbors feared

Friday, July 24th, 2009

crackedtreesmall.jpgJim Stadler called me earlier this month to say he’s got a problem with a neighbor. In this case, the neighbor was a tall ash tree with an ominous crack that could send one of its two main branches crashing into his yard. The tree grows on a property that was foreclosed on last year, so Stadler didn’t know who was responsible for it. Stadler said he couldn’t persuade the city to remove the menacing tree. Unlike the leaning tree of Fridley, whose ownership is still in question, this one was definitely on private property. So he called Whistleblower.

This week I traveled up to the 2000 block of Russell Avenue North, in Minneapolis’s Willard-Hay neighborhood, to see the arboreal menace for myself. It wasn’t hard to find.


The neighborhood transformers are keeping him up at night

Monday, July 20th, 2009

tedmccaslin.jpgMy Sunday column described the frustration of Ted McCaslin of St. Paul, shown here in front of Xcel Energy‘s Merriam Park Substation. He lives a block away, but the hum from its transformers bounces into his bedroom, interrupting his sleep. The sound in his yard doesn’t amount to enough decibels to violate the city’s noise ordinance. Still, McCaslin brought his story to Whistleblower after seeing an advertisement next to this blog from Xcel for its energy conservation web site: “Responsible by nature.”