On a night out, Minnesotans hope to get lucky at meat raffle

They sit at a table near the bar, the three farmer’s daughters and their boisterous friend, all of them single, in their 40s and 50s. With Johnny Cash on the jukebox, their cocktails before them, they’re ready for an action-packed Saturday night.

Sure, there are plenty of eligible men on hand up here in the Minnesota north woods — good-looking ones too, with summer tans, fishing caps and ready smiles — but these women are eyeing another quarry entirely.

Like a package of raw T-bone steaks, beef tips, thick bottom rounds, butterfly pork chops or a nice roast. In a pinch, they’ll take chicken breasts, ribs, sausage, bratwurst or, heck, even hamburger.

The women are among the crowd at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3839, home to a long-standing cultural practice that’s as much a part of this state’s identity as hockey, brutal winters and Lake Wobegon: the meat raffle.

Neat article by the LA Times about our love of meat raffles in Minnesota.

Minneapolis Park System Ranked Best In The U.S.

The Minneapolis parks system scored highest in the nation for the second straight year in a report ranking U.S. urban greenspace that was released on Thursday.

The Midwestern city topped the Trust for Public Land’s third “ParkScore” survey, which ranks the quality of parks in the 60 largest U.S. cities.

"This year’s ParkScore results show that even outstanding park systems must improve to stay on top," Peter Harnik, director of the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence, said in a statement. "When population grows, more parks and playgrounds are needed, but when city leaders get creative, they can meet the increased demand."

Minneapolis received high marks for its parks system partly because some 94 percent of its residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park.

While second-ranking New York registered 97 percent of its residents within a 10-minute walk of a park, its low median park size - 1.1 acres compared with Minneapolis’ 7.1-acres - took points from its score.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

Minnesota 1st state with law assuring adoption option for research dogs, cats

Minnesota is the first state – and first political body in the world – to mandate that dogs and cats used in research must be put up for adoption when research is over, instead of being euthanized.

Gov. Mark Dayton made animal rights history when he signed the Omnibus Supplemental Budget Bill, which contains the Beagle Freedom Law. The law says that taxpayer-funded research facilities will place healthy dogs and cats up for adoption with registered nonprofit animal rescues when they’re no longer needed for research.

The Beagle Freedom Project was named after beagles because it says 95 percent of dogs in lab testing are beagles. Their docile nature and people-pleasing personality make them good test subjects, but also popular family pets – they’re one of the top five most popular family dogs in America, the nonprofit notes.

Minnesota 1st state with law assuring adoption option for research dogs, cats

Minnesota is the first state – and first political body in the world – to mandate that dogs and cats used in research must be put up for adoption when research is over, instead of being euthanized.

Gov. Mark Dayton made animal rights history when he signed the Omnibus Supplemental Budget Bill, which contains the Beagle Freedom Law. The law says that taxpayer-funded research facilities will place healthy dogs and cats up for adoption with registered nonprofit animal rescues when they’re no longer needed for research.

The Beagle Freedom Project was named after beagles because it says 95 percent of dogs in lab testing are beagles. Their docile nature and people-pleasing personality make them good test subjects, but also popular family pets – they’re one of the top five most popular family dogs in America, the nonprofit notes.

(Source: bringmethenews.com)

Body Found in RV Rented for Bachelor Party

A group of men who rented an RV to drive to the Kentucky Derby for a bachelor party found a body inside a storage compartment of the vehicle when they stopped to investigate an odor.

The men, who are in their mid-20s, had rented the RV from a private party in Anoka County, according to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

Dan Trainor, who was driving, said friends in Minneapolis picked up the RV on Thursday then drove down to Rochester to pick up Trainor. They were by the apartment of one of their friends in Winona when they pulled over to check on a bad odor, Trainor said.

Trainor said he looked in a storage compartment that was only accessible from the outside and saw a body.
“I opened it up and I saw two legs and they’re bruised or decomposing,” Trainor said.

"I had never seen a dead body before."

The men then called police, and were taken to the station for questioning, Trainor said. They have since decided to cancel their trip to Kentucky.

The Anoka and Winona Police Departments, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and Anoka County Sheriff’s Office are investigating.

Yikes. Not the usual happy stuff I post, but I heard about this earlier today, because I follow some of these guys on twitter. Check in on the news tonight for this story, or go on twitter and look up the hash tag #Corpseinthecargobay.

(Source: kstp.com)

Mall of America closes on financing for expansion

The Mall of America confirmed Monday that it has closed on the financing for its upcoming Phase 1C expansion project, paving the way for groundbreaking to occur later this month.

The $250 million expansion — located on the north side of the existing mall — will include 342-room JW Marriott luxury hotel, the MOA Crossing office building, 150,000 square feet of upscale retail, a new dining area and an underground parking ramp.

Mall of America officials have been targeting a fall 2015 opening.

via Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal

Twin Cities parks 3.0: Bold new initiatives coming to our green spaces

As they begin repairing and rejuvenating shoreline along the Twin Cities’ curving Mississippi River “spine,” Minneapolis and St. Paul park and rec departments also have their hands in some diverse projects that expand conventional ideas about recreation, ecology and economic development.

From re-creating islands and enhancing riverside parks to proposing a bridge connecting Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun, and preparing to build a new St. Paul Saints ballpark and purchase an 11-acre urban farm, there’s a lot going on with both cities’ parks.

With their respective plans, which together cover 22 miles of the Mississippi corridor running through Minneapolis and St. Paul, both cities are balancing needs for ecology, access and development. And together they are seeking federal funding for the projects. While these extensive projects will be ongoing, over the next several years park lovers will find new and enhanced parks and green spaces, new trail connections, and more natural shoreline.

Read more at MinnPost

A rather interesting article by Reuters about visiting the Twin Cities. Apparently the IDS Potbelly is a great place for breakfast, and baseball games are called “matches” that may go into “overtime”. Oh well, neat article, check it out:

Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Minneapolis-St. Paul

What is America’s greatest double act? Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers? The Blues Brothers?

For residents of the U.S. midwestern state of Minnesota, there is an easy answer - the “Twin Cities” of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Relatively low crime rates, a plethora of lakes and picnic spots, interesting architecture and top-class sports teams make the pair a desirable place to live and to visit - as long as you dodge the wicked cold if you are not into winter sports.

FRIDAY
5 p.m. - Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which even has tornado shelters in the restrooms, is to the south of both cities.

Plenty of chain hotels line the Interstate nearby but if you stay in downtown Minneapolis there is a modern tram service from the airport (metrotransit.org/metro-system).

Minneapolis is generally livelier and a better bet for hotels than the more staid state capital St. Paul, 20 minutes east by road.

7 p.m. - Dining options abound in downtown Minneapolis, which is dominated by skyscrapers and old warehouses turned into atmospheric bars and restaurants.

The Capital Grille on Hennepin Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares, is an excellent option if you like steaks (here).

8.p.m. - This area is also theaterland in Minnesota, with experts saying there are more shows on per week in the Twin Cities than anywhere else in the United States except New York.

The beautifully restored Orpheum Theatre on Hennepin Avenue has a broad range of plays, musicals and events, while the Skyway Theater or the Target Center (normally home of the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team) just down the road offers alternatives. Cinema is also king with the Coen brothers, the well-known U.S. directing duo, hailing from the city.

11.p.m. - A couple of usually packed Irish bars are located nearby to end the evening. Minnesota is also famous for music with Prince and Bob Dylan among those born here.

SATURDAY
10 a.m. - Eat breakfast at the Potbelly Sandwich Shop at the IDS Center on Eighth Street in Minneapolis, which many see as the center of town given the indoor foyer acts as a perfect shelter from the winter cold. Potbelly has a remarkable selection of bacon, sausage and egg combos, hence the name. (www.potbelly.com).

If you are there in winter, the IDS Center links to the Skyway system of raised walkways which criss-cross the city and eliminate the need to go out into the cold when shopping or moving around town. The same system is used in St. Paul.

11.a.m. - A short walk away is the Mississippi River, which defines much of the Twin Cities as it snakes between the two. Riverside attractions are few and far between so take a summer picnic trip to one of the many picturesque lakes which surround Minneapolis such as Hiawatha Lake or Lake Cornelia Park.

2 p.m. - As lovely as nature is, there is nothing like a big shopping spree and the Twin Cities boast the Mall of America, which opened in 1992 as the biggest in the United States.

There are 500 stores, a cinema, bars, restaurants, a sea life centre and a sizeable theme park for children in the middle of the giant indoor complex (www.mallofamerica.com/). The Mall is the last stop on the tram from downtown Minneapolis.

6 p.m. - After your shopping bonanza head to the other end of the tram line and catch a game of baseball at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins Major League team (minnesota.twins.mlb.com/). Check on ticket availability and fixtures before going.

This modern baseball park, host of the All-Star game in 2014, has a family atmosphere and superb sightlines and a vast range of fast food and drink outlets for dinner. Try a delicious corn dog. If you want a beer, make sure you have ID as even 30-somethings are challenged.

Matches normally last three-and-a-half hours but the possibility of overtime can mean a late finish.

Remember to take your camera. A shot of the game with the stadium and the skyscrapers of Minneapolis right behind as the sun sets is breathtaking.

SUNDAY
9 a.m. - Grab some breakfast at your hotel and head to St. Paul to experience what the second twin has to offer. An extension of the Minneapolis tram is being built so take a taxi, bus or your rental car (although parking can be tricky in the center of both cities).

Start off at St. Paul’s State Capitol building, adorned with a golden dome, spy the stylish cathedral on your right and head down the hill and pop into the engaging Minnesota History Center, arguably the state’s best museum (here).

11 a.m. - From the History Center head west along Summit Avenue, Minnesota’s most exclusive and one of its oldest streets. It is where the governor’s mansion and many elegant buildings associated with St. Paul native F. Scott Fitzgerald are situated.

Turn back along Grand Avenue towards downtown and you will pass a number of excellent restaurants for lunch such as Cafe Latte, which has a huge selection of desserts (www.cafelatte.com/).

2 p.m. - Once back in downtown St. Paul, check out the glorious interior of the Landmark Center, completed in 1902 and used as a federal courthouse and post office. It is now a cultural center.

3 p.m. - The excellent Science Museum of Minnesota is nearby on the other side of Rice Park, above the large drop down to the Mississippi below.

The museum (www.smm.org/) boasts varying special exhibitions and an omnitheater with a 27-meter domed screen.

5 p.m - If you have time for an early dinner before departing then Red’s Savoy Pizza house on Seventh Street (here) is a an experience. There are no windows and the decor fails to brighten up the place but that is half the charm.

via Reuters

Group rates Minneapolis as top U.S. city park system

Minneapolis, where 94% of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, has the U.S.’ best park system, according to new rankings by a national non-profit conservation group.

"What’s interesting is on our Top 10 list, a number are older cities where they thought ahead and set aside land to build parks," says Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of city park development for the San Francisco-based Trust for Public Land.

That’s certainly what happened in Minneapolis, says Jayne Miller, superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

"The system here is unique and far superior to any other park system in the country," she says. "In the mid-1800s, civic leaders were very forward-thinking and visionary. They felt very strongly that our system needed to be independent (from the city government.)"

The system — visited by 20 million people annually — includes 197 parks covering 6,744 acres.

1. Minneapolis
2. New York
3. Boston (tie)
3. Sacramento (tie)
3. San Francisco (tie)
6. Washington, D.C.
7. Portland
8. Virginia Beach
9. San Diego
10. Seattle


article via USA Today, photo by A Brand New Minneapolis, more details at Trust For Public Land

One reported dead when truck hits span in Mall of America parking ramp

At least one person was killed Friday night when a small truck struck a concrete span in the parking lot at the Mall of America parking lot, causing the span to collapse, Bloomington police said.

The narrow rectangular span collapsed when it was struck by a U-Haul truck, police said. The span fell on the front of the truck. One person was being extracted from the vehicle at about 9 p.m.

Bloomington police and fire personnel responded to the report from the fourth floor of the parking lot near Nordstrom’s at about 8:30 p.m.

The incident appeared to be an accident and not intentional, police said.


Photo by David Bjorn Olson story update by StarTribune

An unfinished project on the North Side

Twenty years after Legal Aid filed a landmark lawsuit to reshape four aging North Side housing projects, the landscape has changed substantially. But a significant portion of the promised redevelopment remains unfulfilled, and there’s no timetable for completing it. Nor has anyone studied how the low-income people who were supposed to benefit made out once they were resettled.

via StarTribune, click pic for story.