Duluth drying out, reassuring tourists

With damage estimates to public property beginning at $110 million, the last thing Duluth and the North Shore needs is for tourists to stay home. Tom Robertson of MPR reports: “One of the hardest-hit places is the nearby tiny town of Thomson, just upstream from Jay Cooke State Park. Thomson is a favorite launch spot for kayaks and white water raft enthusiasts. The town had to be evacuated because of flooding. Mayor Lawrence St. Germain is worried about whether his town will recover. ‘We have no water, no sewer, no electricity, no phones,’ said St. Germain, who has lived in the community for 61 years. ‘We’re underwater.’ St. Germain said it will be a while before visitors will be able to come back to Thomson as state Highway 210 is washed out. … The tourism outlook isn’t all gloomy for communities hit by the floods. Visit Duluth, the city’s convention and visitor’s bureau, wants to make it clear that Duluth is open for business. Visit Duluth’s President and CEO Terry Mattson said the heavy rains and flooding damaged about 10 percent of the city’s roads and utilities infrastructure, mostly in residential areas, not places frequented by tourists. … According to University of Minnesota Duluth’s Large Lakes Observatory, the storm caused lake levels in Lake Superior to rise three to four inches, a remarkable amount of water.” Wow.

At the PiPress, Dennis Lien checks out the aftermath, saying: “As authorities assessed damage, [Gov. Mark] Dayton said state — and most likely federal — resources will be available. He said a special legislative session is also possible to respond to the crisis. … The National Weather Service said official rainfall totals show 7.2 inches fell in Duluth Tuesday and Wednesday, breaking a two-day record set in July 1909. There were reports of up to 10 inches of rain in some areas of the hillside city, whose numerous small streams became raging rivers as the storm water raced toward the lake. … Jay Cooke State Park southeast of Cloquet likely will be closed until mid-July, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Among other problems, the park’s landmark swing bridge was washed out. … Despite the cleanup ahead, St. Louis County Commissioner Keith Nelson said that as the Independence Day holiday looms, officials want tourists to know the region is open for business. Travelers heading to the North Shore can expect obstacles, but a little creativity should get them there, a state official said. ‘We believe that everything is accessible,’ said Beth Petrowske, the state Department of Transportation’s public affairs coordinator for northeastern Minnesota.”

The 8-year-old who took a long ride through a raging storm sewer has met the media. Matt McKinney of the Strib writes: “Even a day after they found the boy alive, after he was deemed healthy and after floodwaters that had swept him away began to recede, people in the Duluth neighborhood couldn’t stop shaking their heads in disbelief: the boy who went down the drain. ‘I really did not think they were going to find him alive,’ said Joe Higgins, a father of four. He lives across the street from the spot where Kenith Markiewicz, a red-headed 8-year-old, stepped into a puddle on Wednesday afternoon and disappeared. What happened next to Kenith shook his mother so badly that a day later she continually apologized for crying. His first words to her after they were reunited: ‘I thought I had lost you.’ ‘He was worried about me. Can you imagine?’ asked Amber Markiewicz, her hands folded in her lap, Kenith sitting next to her on a couch at their relatives’ house in Duluth … ‘They figured he probably went about a mile,’ she said.” He’ll have a hard time topping that story as the years go by.

The pants were second-hand, but the pockets held a $5,000 surprise. The AP story says: “A Minnesota woman has found a diamond ring worth at least $5,000 in a pair of secondhand pants, but says she can’t bring herself to keep it. Deb Thompson of Ham Lake, Minn., is working with Goodwill to try to find the ring’s original owner. The 53-year-old bought the pants for $3.99 Monday at a Goodwill store in Coon Rapids. She says when she found the ring in the pocket, all she could think was, ‘Wow.’ A jeweler estimates the ring is worth between $5,000 and $6,500.”

 DFL Sen. Linda Higgins avoided a Hatch Act issue by resigning her job with the city of Minneapolis. Kevin Duchschere of the Strib writes: “State Sen. Linda Higgins quit her job Wednesday as an analyst for the city of Minneapolis, but declined to say if her decision was tied to questions raised this week about whether her candidacy for the Hennepin County Board might violate the federal Hatch Act. For the record, it doesn’t — now that she has severed her employment with the city, where she worked for nearly seven years in the regulatory services department on business licensing and problem properties. ‘It seemed the prudent thing to do,’ she said Thursday. But she declined to comment on whether her decision had anything to do with the fact that the Star Tribune had asked questions and obtained her employment record from the city attorney’s office.”

Accretive’s client list isn’t getting any longer … in Minnesota. Tony Kennedy of the Strib writes: “A second Minnesota health care provider has cut its ties to Accretive Health, the consulting firm sued by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson for alleged patient privacy violations and strong-arm debt collection tactics. Maple Grove Hospital said this week that it has terminated its business relationship with Chicago-based Accretive at the request of Fairview Health Services, 25 percent owner of the Maple Grove hospital. … The decision leaves North Memorial Health Care in Robbinsdale as Accretive’s only hospital client in Minnesota.”

Who out there remembers when the PiPress endorsed both Al Gore and George W. Bush, rather than, you know, make a risky choice? That classic comes to mind reading Rose French’s Strib story about the two prominent conservative ministers. “Two key conservative evangelical leaders in Minnesota are not endorsing the marriage amendment or directing followers to vote for it, marking the first time during debate over the measure that major faith leaders have not encouraged members to take a stand on the issue. Influential preacher and theologian the Rev. John Piper came out against gay marriage during a sermon Sunday but did not explicitly urge members of his Minneapolis church to vote for the amendment. The Rev. Leith Anderson, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s longtime pastor, also said this week he does not plan to take a public side on the amendment, which would change the state Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.”

 A piece on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer site doesn’t mince words on the politics of our gay marriage fight. Amending state constitutions to define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman was a get-out-our-base political tactic perfected in 2004 by Bush guru Karl Rove, a twice-divorced Episcopalian.  It is now embraced by the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Traditional marriage amendments have enjoyed an unbroken track record of success at the polls.  But that record may be broken in Minnesota this November. Three states — Washington, Maryland and Maine — are voting on legalization of same-sex marriage.  Minnesota is voting on an amendment, championed by Catholic bishops and Republican legislators, to enshrine heterosexual marriage in the state constitution. … The North Star State has witnessed a kind of faith fight, as Catholic bishops have sought to mobilize Minnesota’s 1.1 million Catholics behind ‘traditional’ marriage.  As is, state law defines marriage as between a man and a woman.”

Despite an online survey that showed 80 percent opposition to a wolf hunt in Minnesota, the DNR is going ahead. Doug Smith of the Strib says: “About 80 percent of the more than 7,000 people responding to an online survey by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) opposed a wolf hunting and trapping season. But the results won’t stop this fall’s planned wolf season. The question of whether to have a season was resolved by the Legislature, said Dennis Simon, DNR wildlife chief. ‘It was a public input process, it wasn’t a poll. … The Legislature and governor directed us to have a wolf season. So we will have a season.’ The DNR’s survey, which was not limited to Minnesota residents, closed Wednesday after accepting public comments for a month. The agency received 7,351 responses — 1,542 people supported a wolf season, 5,809 opposed it.” What if they have a trapping season and we ship them doggies to Isle Royale?

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Fluffy Rabinowitz on 06/22/2012 - 06:37 am.

    Accretive owns Accolade Health. Several large employer groups in the metro area farmed out their customer service, healthy start/prenatal service and nursing functions to this organization. I would be concerned about medical record privacy since both organizations have the same management structure.

  2. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 06/22/2012 - 09:14 am.

    A city with pockets of storm damage and bring on the tourists?

    Duluth is encouraging tourism in spite of the storm damage?

    Locally they are trying to keep traffic down to a minimum and people with AIP (Ants in Their Pants syndrome) gathering in the flood areas staring at rushing waters and broken asphalt that could suck a body down a culvert…yet

    tourists, come one come all?

    Certainly sounds like a Chamber of Commerce message with blow horns?

    Guess where tourists will gather looking for damage still out of control.

    And I do wonder where you going to get a good cup of coffee secure from bacterial contamination; or is that an unconfirmed urban myth?

    One thing at a time here…space for repair specialists to work at a most crucial period sans cars and curio or curiosity seekers,eh?

    • Submitted by Pat Backen on 06/22/2012 - 01:14 pm.

      Future Plans

      I am betting they are re-assuring people with future plans in Duluth, so they don’t get worried and cancel their trips.

      My first thought on the damage was whether it would effect my plans for a concert in Bayfront Park next weekend (along with several thousand others).

      Certainly there will be some tourists looking for damage, but most simply want to know if their plans will be effected.

  3. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 06/22/2012 - 02:23 pm.

    Duluth welcomes wandering wayfarers, yes…

    Unless conditions change, Bayfront Park, Canal Park and hotel/motels will probably be open – business as usual…all the way down to that very special establishment Fitgers Pub and Brewery and all those attendant shops. Any tourist will be welcomed warmly I’m sure but the Lakewalk may not have fared too well. As an alternative take a walk on the wild side to the old growth Pine Forest at the end of Minnesota Point beyond the airport…just beware of a little poison ivy off the woodland paths.

  4. Submitted by Lauren Maker on 06/22/2012 - 03:27 pm.

    Way to go Star Tribune

    Don’t they realize the Hatch Act applies to Federal employees? I highly doubt that Sen. Linda Higgins was receiving any federal compensation for her city job.

    Inquiring minds want to know–are they making that same request of all public employees in that race? Council Member Don Samuels is on the City payroll, as is/was at least one other candidate besides Higgins.

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