Statewide Category Archive: Twin Cities
What do you think about the proposed bridge?
Posted at 8:23 PM on November 26, 2010
by Tom Robertson
Filed under: Arrowhead, Central Minnesota, Environment, Government, Northwest Minnesota, Southeast Minnesota, Southwest Minnesota, Sports & Recreation, Twin Cities
You'll soon have a chance to weigh in on the DNR's draft plan to guide state and regional parks and trails Legacy Amendment funding for the next quarter century. The plan will be available for review and public comment starting early next month.
The plan is mandated by the Legislature and is designed to establish a 25-year vision for the parks and trails effort in Minnesota, especially as it pertains to funding generated by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment passed by voters in 2008.
The amendment created a three-eighths percent sales tax increase for natural resources and the arts. Of the money generated, 14.25 percent goes toward state parks and trails projects.
Minnesota residents are asked to comment on recommendations on how parks and trails connect people with the outdoors and how the state takes care of existing recreational resources.
The DNR also wants feedback on their proposed strategy for land acquisition and on developing new parks and trails to meet future needs.
You can comment on the plan online, or attend one of several workshops around the state:
-- Thursday, Dec. 2, 7-9 p.m., Country Inn and Suites, 1900 Premier Dr., Mankato
-- Monday, Dec. 6, 7-9 p.m., Holiday Inn -- downtown waterfront, 200 W. First St., Duluth
-- Tuesday, Dec. 7, 7-9 p.m., Hampton Inn and Suites, 1019 Paul Bunyan Dr. S., Bemidji
-- Wednesday, Dec. 8, 7-9 p.m., University of Minnesota Continuing Education and Conference Center, 1890 Buford Ave., St. Paul.
KSTP-TV posted some curious video captured in St. Paul under the headline 'Unidentified flying object spotted in Twin Cities.'
Here's KSTP's only explanation of the video so far:
Raw Video: Unidentified Flying Object Spotted In Twin Cities on the east side of St. Paul Monday night into Tuesday morning.
Two other videos of the same odd lights in the night sky showed up on YouTube, added by the same user.
In the first one, jump ahead to 55-second mark for the action to begin.
August 10th, 2010: I was working on a project when my sister freakishly calls me to go out side to look. I didn't see anything where I was but she insisted to come and pick me up to go and look. This is what we saw along with numerous neighbors. It just looks like some lights, but it was actually pretty creepy look. I don't know if it's some kind of crazy invention or an actual UFO, I guess we will have to see.
UPDATE 5:01 p.m.: Bring Me The News reports that St. Paul police say the lights came from a weather balloon with lights attached.
A group of pals in the Twin Cities used balloons Monday to send a video camera skyward in Plymouth.
But their plan to retrieve the camera -- and what they hoped would be amazing pictures -- went awry.
Now they're asking the internet: Have you seen our camera?
Details are few, but here's the text from a posting by 'ghettosam3000' on the social media site Reddit.com.
So my friends and I launched a video camera attached to a bunch of colorful balloons over Plymouth because it would be cool. Unfortunately our recovery system failed and it basically floated into the clouds. If anyone finds it, you can keep the camera, we would just really like to get that footage because it's probably awesome. It's heading east, so really anywhere in minnesota is a potential location.
UPDATE (12:07 p.m. Tuesday):
College student A.J. Sinker, 20, is the genius behind this endeavor. He called me after seeing this blog post.
Sinker, a Plymouth native who studies film-making at the University of Tulsa, said he and his friends wanted to make a cool video about sending a camera over the suburban terrain.
They rigged up a Flip camera to a light wooden box and attached the whole thing to about 30 helium balloons. Inside the box was a remote-controlled mechanism mined from a toy car.
The plan was to send the camera aloft and then use the remote-control device to release enough balloons to let the camera descend gracefully.
It didn't work. Sinker said he suspects the strings on the balloons that were supposed to get cut free got tangled.
"Rather than coming down like it was supposed to, it just kept going up," Sinker said. "We had a plan, it just wasn't executed very well."
Sinker's friends Avery Henderson and Sam Black built the contraption. Gabe Brown, Grant Hahn and Jack Hendershott were part of the crew.
Sinker said he wouldn't mind getting the camera back ... but what he really wants is the video. So if you find the camera, he says, just post the video to YouTube.
And, of course, Sinker and his friends captured their exploits on YouTube. Sinker's contact information is listed at the end of the video.
Perhaps these guys were emulating a group of Spanish students who last year managed to send an inexpensive camera 20 miles into the sky with a latex balloon. The Telegraph detailed their accomplishment.
One of the images four Spanish teens captured. (Image via Flickr).
Posted at 10:30 AM on July 29, 2010
by Bob Ingrassia
Filed under: Twin Cities
Kari Filipi spends a ton of time at the Minnesota Zoo as a volunteer. So when she sees the animals doing something odd, you know it must by really odd. Here's an example:
KARE11 tells the story of Tina Long, a Minneapolis resident on a quest to save a Canada goose at Lake Harriet.
Long, who maintains a blog called Lake Harriet Mornings, noticed the injured goose two weeks ago while out taking pictures. She could see the bird struggling because of fish line wrapped tightly around its leg.
She posted her reaction on her blog:
Lake Harriet Goose Family has an injured member: fishing line caught on his leg. After trying many agencies, finally got a Conservation Officer from the DNR out to try and capture to treat the injured almost-grown-gosling this morning. So sad.... they couldn't catch him. He can't use his foot to walk or swim because it's damaged by the tightening of the fishing line.... Poor Goose. Fisher-people: please don't leave your lines in the lake.
Since then, Long's been posting almost daily updates. She has organized multiple efforts to try to capture the bird -- so far without success.
"The hardest part has been seeing this beautiful scenery every morning and then seeing the suffering of an innocent creature," Long told KARE11.
Long's blog shows she's become increasingly upset over the situation. Her July 18 post declares: "We are going to help you, Goose!!! We are!!"
So is this an admirable effort to help an injured animal? Is Long's quest a good way to teach people who fish about the dangers of discarded fishing line? Or has Long gone too far to save an animal as abundant as a Canada goose?
When I was a kid growing up along the Mississippi River north of the Twin Cities, seeing Canada geese was a thrill. We loved watching them flock in V-formation in the fall. In the few spots where the geese would congregate, we'd get up close enough to spark an angry hiss or two.
It wasn't so long ago that Canada geese were believed to be extinct. Now they are so plentiful that they've become a costly nuisance in many parks, golf courses and other open spaces. A certain brother of mine, who shall remain anonymous, calls Canada geese "sky carp" anytime he gets the chance.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources sums up the situation nicely:
Most people enjoy seeing Canada geese. The big birds often wear out their welcome, however, when they become too numerous and yards, beaches, and docks are fouled with their feces.
Canada goose populations have dramatically increased in residential and lake home areas because:
* habitat is abundant
* geese have a high reproductive potential and a long life span
* mortality from hunting and other predation is low
Here's KARE11's video report:
I admit it. At first, I scoffed at the news of a mom and son getting lost while bike riding in a park in Eagan.
I can understand getting temporarily turned around in a park. But needing a rescue from police and state troopers?
The woman and her son went biking at Lebanon Hills Regional Park at about 6:30 p.m. At about 9 p.m., unable to find their way out, they called for help.
Here's where my initial 'Oh come on' reaction kicks in. A mom can't just lead her son out of a park? Even when they can cover a lot of ground on bikes?
But then there was this detail from WCCO: One of the first responding officers got lost, too. And then it turns out police had to track down the woman and her son using her cell phone. A park ranger found the woman and her son at about midnight. They were fine.
"We've had lost people before in Lebanon Hills. It's quite an extensive trail and when it gets dark in there, it's really hard to find your way around," said Eagan Police Sgt. Linda Mhyre.
So maybe knowing your way around this park is a challenge after all. At 2,000 acres, this is a big park. It's also dotted with lakes and ponds that make for trails with a lot of twists and turns.
Next time you head to Lebanon Hills in Eagan, you may want to pack a handy map.
There's not much activity visible these days at the downtown St. Paul building owned by the Church of Scientology.
Just a few months ago, the place was buzzing as construction crews got busy converting the former Science Museum of Minnesota into the church's new regional offices.
The church bought the building at 505 N. Wabasha St. in 2007. The structure had previously been home to the Minnesota Business Academy, a charter high school that went belly up after running into financial problems.
In April, crews put up construction fences and started filling big metal bins with construction waste. A construction permit indicated the church planned to spend $2.5 million on remodeling. The permit listed an estimated completion date of May 12.
In the past few weeks, activity visible from the street has been minimal. The construction fences, waste bins and material chute are still in place. Several parking meters on Wabasha are hooded.
The church's construction permit remains active, but there are indications the project has stalled. For one thing, the contractor has not asked for an inspection on the construction project, according to records reviewed by Angie Wiese, the public information officer for the city's Department of Safety and Inspections. The most recent inspection was for elevator work in April, she said.
The permit will be good unless work halts for six months. Then the church would need to apply for an extension.
The church's permit for blocking the sidewalk and parking meters on a downtown street could get pulled if work is halted for a significant period.
"The permit is still good right now," said Shannon Tyree, a spokeswoman for St. Paul Public Works. "But it does sound like the contractor may just be closing this out."
UPDATE 3:05 p.m. Friday: Nothing like questions from a news blogger to generate some activity. Sometime very recently the construction fence on Wabasha came down and the parking meter hoods were removed. It's unclear whether this means the project is done and awaiting inspection, or whether the Church of Scientology has put off its move from Minneapolis.
Posted at 10:09 AM on July 9, 2010
by Bob Ingrassia
Filed under: Twin Cities
The Minnesota Zoo launched its 2010 photo contest a few weeks ago ... and lots of people already have submitted some fun pictures.
The contest closes to new entries Aug. 16. Then the public can vote on winners in various categories. Top winners get new cameras.
Here's a look at the entries so far.
Posted at 8:31 AM on July 7, 2010
by Bob Ingrassia
Filed under: Twin Cities
A concrete industry association is tweaking MnDOT for choosing asphalt over concrete (again) as the surface for Interstate 94 between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul.
A new billboard at I-94 near Cleveland Avenue in St. Paul declares, "Hey Asphalt, Concrete Lasts 3X Longer."
The ad targets what is an increasingly captive audience. A resurfacing project has squeezed the freeway, leading to frequent jams and giving motorists plenty of time to contemplate the trade group's message.
The Portland Cement Association paid for the ad. In a press release, the group declares:
During the height of the summer travel season, drivers will experience delays along the I-94 corridor due to the third asphalt resurfacing in the last two decades. In what is an already congested artery in the Twin Cities, these delays will impact drivers during the July 4 holiday and beyond.
The Portland Cement Association (PCA), the voice of America's cement and concrete industry, is running billboard ads informing the motoring public that choosing concrete instead of asphalt is the smart choice, dramatically decreasing construction time and congestion - in addition to the best use of taxpayer funds.
Concrete roads last an average of three times longer than asphalt. In Minnesota, asphalt roads need to be resurfaced approximately every 8 years, compared to concrete roads, which last an average of 25 years before requiring any maintenance. I-94 was just resurfaced in 2000 and 1993.
Richard Wolters with the Minnesota Asphalt Pavement Association says the billboard doesn't tell the truth.
"I don't think it's a fair representation for the taxpayers of Minnesota," said Wolters.
Wolters says in Minnesota and nationally the highway system is 94 percent asphalt.
He says not only is hot-mix asphalt the best buy for the taxpayer its environmentally friendly.
Of course, asphalt prevailed in the I-94 resurfacing battle this time around. The two-year project is in full swing, with some real pain coming during a series of weekend closures during the next month.
Eastbound I-94 closes this weekend from Highway 280 to Western Avenue. MnDOT provides details on the upcoming closures:
* Eastbound I- 94: July 9-12 and July 23-26. Traffic will detour on Hwy 280, Hwy 36 and I-35E
* Westbound I-94: July 30- August 2 and August 6-9. Traffic will detour on I-35E, Hwy 36 and Hwy 280
Posted at 12:43 PM on June 24, 2010
by Bob Ingrassia
Filed under: Twin Cities
For 50 years, Betty Adelmann sold produce at a stand along Highway 13 in Eagan.
She offered corn, berries, pickles and whatever else happened to be in season. Her customers and friends were old-time Eagan residents, newcomer suburbanites and city dwellers who couldn't resist her throwback market.
In 2003, Betty became a rallying point for the community after the Metropolitan Council proposed using eminent domain to buy her one-acre property to make room for a Minnesota Valley Transit Authority bus garage. An outcry prompted the transit agency to give up on the land and build the garage next door.
Betty died in February and now, after all this time, the Adelmann Farm Market is calling it quits and selling the land to the transit authority.
Bruce Adelmann, one of Betty's seven children, says the market will close Oct. 31. There's an off chance they'll find another location, but Bruce doesn't sound too hopeful.
"My brother has a place in Farmington, but I'm not sure we can do something out there," he said.
This summer has turned into an extended farewell. Longtime customers have been saying goodbye -- to the market and to Betty.
"A lot of folks are sad to see us go," Bruce said. "But it's been nice hearing all the stories about (Betty)."
You can swing by the market seven days a week. It's open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Posted at 2:35 PM on June 21, 2010
by Bob Ingrassia
Filed under: Twin Cities
The annual Back to the 50's car show at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds set a record for entries this year. Nearly 12,000 vehicle owners showed off their rides during the three-day event that ended Sunday.
Part of the fun at the show is guessing the prices on cars that are for sale. I was on the way out with my son Sunday when a big old fire truck -- and a "For Sale" sign in the window -- caught my eye.
I could hardly believe it. Asking only $2,900 for this beauty, a 1963 Chevrolet with only 9,000 miles. How could that be? It seemed to be in great shape. The sign stated, "Everything works!"
My son and I walked around the truck. We opened sliding storage doors and peered in. I touched the hoses coiled up inside. I ran my fingers across the gauges, dials and knobs.
Then the daydreaming began. What if I bought a fire truck? How cool would I be driving this thing in the Northeast parade this year? How awesome of a dad would I be?
Then reality creeped in. Where would I park it? How many miles per gallon could this thing possibly get? More importantly, what would my wife say? My son asked, "Are you going to call mom and tell her we're buying a fire truck?"
The impulse didn't last long. But I couldn't resist wondering, "What if?"
So I finally called the seller Monday ... and was secretly relieved when the man who answered said, "I sold that truck yesterday."
The seller was Mick Brooks, an auctioneer and car dealer in Austin, Minn. It turns out he owned the truck for a week. He explained that the truck was once the protector of Mapleview, just outside Austin. He bought it from a neighbor, mainly for the 348 big-block engine. After pulling out the motor and subbing in a 350 engine, Brooks decided to show the truck and try to sell it.
"Everything was working. The siren. The lights. The pump," Brooks said. "I thought about pulling out the tank and putting seats back there, make it a parade vehicle. But I have too many projects, so I just decided to try to get my money back."
Brooks said a guy who lives about 20 miles from the fairgrounds bought the truck for $2,500 and drove it home.
That's a guy who knows how to pull the trigger. A guy who owns a real life fire truck.
UPDATE: Jody McDaniels of St. Paul Park is the proud buyer. His wife grew up in Austin with Brooks' son. So he knows Mick and his son -- and bargained them down after the truck went unsold into Sunday afternoon.
"He called on Sunday and says, 'Do you want this thing or what? Come and get it,' " McDaniels said.
So McDaniels, who runs a garbage-hauling firm, cut the deal and drove the truck to St. Paul Park at a top speed of 45 mph. The truck's now sitting in his driveway, waiting a longer-term home.
"My oldest son is 22 and he's like, 'What now?' But my middle guy is 19 and my daughter is 15 and they think it's cool," McDaniels said.
Kevin Burkart wants to jump out of an airplane 200 times today. Fog and clouds
are hampering delayed the start of his crazy stunt.
UPDATE 11:15 a.m.: Burkart completed his first jump of the day shortly after 11 a.m. If he aims to hit 200 before dark, he's got to make about 20 jumps per hour.
UPDATE 2:35 p.m.: Things are really rolling now. He's got 50 jumps in the can.
UPDATE 10:30 p.m.: Looks like the late start was too much too overcome. Burkart's Twitter stream indicates the team was calling it a night at only 150 jumps.
For Burkart, the skydiving marathon is a way to raise money for Parkinson's research, a cause he took up after his dad was diagnosed with the disease in 1999.
He's hoping to do the jumps at Skydive Twin Cities in Baldwin, Wis.
Burkart wrote a touching story about his dad's experience.
It was 7:00am on a Saturday morning. July 31, 1999. I was a busy 28 year old professional living in the Twin Cities. I was late to meet my friends at the boat launch on the Mississippi River. We were putting in for a weekend of boating and camping on the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers. I hadn't spoken to my Dad much that summer. Not as much as I would have liked. And for some reason, something was nagging at me that I needed to call him. So, schedule aside, I phoned him. His wife Monica answered. I told her I had to talk to Dad and tell him I loved him. She said okay, I'll put him on right away. When he got on, I noticed she stayed on the phone. And I knew something wasn't quite right. And indeed, he cried.
He told me the day before, Friday, he'd been diagnosed with Parkinson Disease and how did I know to call him and tell him I loved him?