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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District employees Al VanGuilder, left, survey technician, and Bill Chelmowski, marine machinery mechanic, use an airboat to measure ice on Lake Pepin, near Wabasha, Minn., last month. Lake Pepin, located on the Mississippi River between Red Wing and Wabasha, Minn., is used as the benchmark because the ice melts slower in this area due to the lake width and the slower current. Photo by Patrick Moes.

Heavy ice will delay first towboats; tourism conference underway; 2 boys die in house fire, more state news

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The first spring shipping boats will appear later than normal on the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin. On average, March 20th is the first day that boats can muscle their way through the season's final ice, and head north past Prescott into Minnesota. But the Army Corps of Engineers says this year's ice is still too thick, and spokesman Patrick Moes says it's hard to predict when shipping can begin. The Corps' official ice measurements are on Lake Pepin just south of Red Wing.

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