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Struggling resorts ask for state help after “disaster winter”

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DEER RIVER,MN-- A barren lake means less money is made for the owners of High Banks resort.

Owner Kim Leonhardt says, "We are experiencing a disastrous winter season here in Northern Minnesota. We have owned High Banks resort for 17 years and we have never seen anything like it."

Poor weather conditions are leading to a lack of business, High Banks resort owners say they've lost almost $100,000 dollars in business.

This is all due to heavy snow and thin ice out on Lake Winnibigoshish.

Rick Leonhardt says, "The problem is we're having so much snow so early. The ground never got any frost, and it's keeping the water warm. The water is melting the ice as it comes up."

Kim says, " The economic impact is huge. Our summer season is busy as well but our summer season is five months. So in the ten to twelve weeks in winter, we make what it would take in the summer."

The disaster weather hasn't just impacted those at High Banks.

It's hurting many other businesses in the area KBJR spoke too.

It's led them to ask state SenatorJustin Eichorn and other lawmakers for help.

The Leonhardt's held a public hearing earlier this week for business owners to speak with Eichorn.

"Everyone got the chance to talk, Senator Eichorn was very, very receptive. He said he would stand by our side and at our backs to get this down to St. Paul."

Loyal customers Robert Zondlo, Willie Schumacher, and Steve Kline all have been coming to High Banks for almost ten years.

Zondlo hopes resorts can get the help they need, "If there's anything the state can do to help them, it's a wonderful cause."

Kline says, "We know them, they treat us so well. It's just such a nice place to come and that's why we're loyal to them."

High Bank owners say they hope they can get the help, fast.

"Ice fisherman they want to come to Northern Minnesota, they want to explore the great outdoors."

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Emma Quinn

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