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Gallup: Region 'best place to live' ... in 2032

We’re really going to be No. 1 … in another 19 years. Bill Ward of the Strib says, “If you think it’s great to live in Minnesota now, just wait a couple of decades. The West North Central region (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas) are projected to be the No. 1 place to live in 2032, according to a recent Gallup analysis. The study ranked areas by 13 metrics, including economic, workplace and community factors as well as personal choices. Access to clean, safe water is one category where we rated highest (along with full-time employment and economic confidence).” How much did all of our world-class, really major-league stadiums count?

And now we can say that lake home real estate is back … At MPR, Dan Gunderson says: “Lake home real estate is growing strong for a second year in a row after sales stagnated during the recession, according to real estate agents across northern Minnesota. No one tracks lake home sales, but real estate agents report demand is growing, even as prices remain relatively flat with many homes on the market. … It's a healthier market now than before the recession, according to Steve Mooney, Minnesota chair in real estate at St. Cloud State University. ‘There were so many people chasing so few properties prior to the recession that the prices were getting kind of out of hand,’ said Mooney. ‘There were great returns for sellers if they wanted to get out of the market, but it was very hard for buyers who wanted to get in to the market.’ ”

Not exactly a traffic jam through Minnesota parks this summer … Mark Sommerhauser of the St. Cloud Times says: “One key measure of Minnesota state park usage, sales of vehicle permits, was down through July this year compared with the same point in 2012. Department of Natural Resources officials attribute the shift in part to a chilly, rainy spring that was less than ideal for outdoor recreation. But permit sales ticked upward this July from the year before, likely aided by a stretch of dry, mild weather. Sales of daily and 12-month state park permits combined were down about 7 percent in 2013 through July, compared with the same point in 2012, according to Minnesota DNR data. Twelve-month permit sales dipped 4 percent, while daily permit sales were down more sharply, by 10 percent.”

Now that re-admission has consequences … Christopher Snowbeck of the PiPress says: “As hospitals across the country struggle to prevent patient re-admissions, the stakes in Minnesota are clearest at Fairmont Medical Center — a small hospital just north of the Iowa border that has received low marks on a federal report card for two consecutive years. The hospital's Medicare score for the share of patients who must return to a hospital for more care within 30 days of a discharge, remained the worst in the state last year. The south-central Minnesota hospital's score also stood among the 50 worst in the nation, according to numbers released in August. The poor marks could cost Fairmont Medical Center more than $80,000 in Medicare payments over a 12-month period, according to a hospital estimate.”

And here’s a story that practically every news outlet in the state has already jumped on … Tesla Rodriguez of The Winona Daily News writes: “A Hokah woman is facing felony criminal sexual conduct charges after multiple encounters with a teenage boy, according to the Winona County Sheriff’s Department. Charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct have been referred against Pamela Ann Fahy, 43, after she admitted to having intercourse and oral sex with a 13-year-old boy, according to the department. She is in custody after being arrested Sunday; charges have been referred to the Winona County Attorney’s Office.” Newsrooms love anything from Hokah …

On … Wisconsin … ! An AP story says: “When John Glass of West Allis rides his motorcycle, he carries a copy of the state statute that allows motorcyclists to drive through a red light under certain circumstances.  Some motorcycles are too small to trigger the traffic sensors at intersections, so lawmakers passed a law in 2006 allowing those riders to ignore the red light as long as they've waited at least 45 seconds and the intersection is clear … Motorcycle enthusiasts hope police remember that law this week, as thousands of Harley riders arrive in Milwaukee for Harley-Davidson's 110th anniversary celebration. Glass says officers don't always seem to know the law exists, which is why the 56-year-old carries a copy of it in his wallet.” If it was written by the Wisconsin legislature I’m betting that somewhere farther down in the fine print it also says you can ride with a sidecar full of ice and beer.

The GleanMonday set a closing-day record at the Fair. The Strib says: “On its 12th and final day — a cool, dry, glorious day — the Minnesota State Fair welcomed a record crowd for the second day in a row, the fair reported Tuesday. 164,277 people came to the fair Monday, a record for 12th-day attendance. On Sunday, also a cool day, 236,197 came through the fair gates, setting a record not just for 11th-day attendance, but for single-day attendance throughout the fair’s history. The weekend’s really big crowds followed a midweek slump attributed to very hot, humid weather. Total attendance for this year was 1,731,162, fair officials said. That’s slightly less than last year’s total, 1,788,512.”

MPR weather guy Paul Huttner is saying: “The ‘better late than never’ summer of 2013 went out with a steamy bang last week, saving the hottest week of summer for the last week of August. The fourth hottest State Fair ever? It looks like that’s where we land pending confirmation from the Minnesota Climatology Working Group. Now it appears the summer of 2013 is not ready to give up just yet. … Our “light switch summer” that started cool and wet flipped to dry mode in late June. Now drought has crept back into the weather lexicon with 50 percent of Minnesota in drought mode again. That percentage is growing fast. Summer returns this week, and shows signs of sticking around well into September. Still several more lake and beach days ahead in the forecast.”

There was also a nice uptick in manufacturing growth across the state. Annie Baxter of MPR writes: “Factories in Minnesota are pointing to a stronger economy. The Creighton University business conditions index jumped to 59 in August from July's reading of 54. A score above 50 indicates economic expansion.  Several components of the index for Minnesota, like new orders, sales, and inventories, jumped considerably between July and August. The employment component is lagging others, but at nearly 54 it's still pointing to continued job growth.” So when does this “ruinous taxation” thing kick in?

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