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Minnesota pulls in $463 million more than expected

Crash’s sole survivor sentenced to 32 years; Arlington Hills Library up for sale; Island Station  may get historic designation; century-old water pipes; haze caused by Canadian wildfires; and more.

Nearly a half-billion more … nice. The AP says: “Minnesota’s tax revenues for the budget year that ended June 30 came in $463 million ahead of forecast, state officials said Wednesday, and that means more money will be on its way to schools. Seventy percent of the extra revenue came from higher-than-expected individual income tax payments, Minnesota Management and Budget said in its quarterly revenue update. Some of that money was attributed to stronger-than-expected economic growth, but the department said it believes much of it came from wealthy taxpayers shifting income from future years into 2012 to beat anticipated hikes in income and capital gains taxes, yielding a one-time gain.” … Before they put the dog on the roof of their Bentleys and move to Huron.

This kid had the whole library thrown at him … . Ed Treleven of the Wisconsin State Journal writes: “Victor Benitez, the sole survivor of a one-car crash in Fitchburg last year that killed four of his friends, was sentenced Wednesday to 32 years in prison at the end of an emotional hearing. ‘Here you made a series of outrageously bad decisions,’ Dane County Circuit Judge William Hanrahan told Benitez, ticking off Benitez’s use of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine before the high-speed Feb. 18, 2012 crash that killed four. … Assistant Attorney General Tara Jenswold argued that Benitez’s ‘entire life was a crash waiting to happen,’ full of reckless, anti-social behavior. After several juvenile crimes, he failed to change despite stays in group homes. … Jenswold said that Benitez is a thrill-seeker and feels no remorse for what he did.”

Manifest destiny for Stillwater … Mary Divine of the PiPress reports: “Plans to possibly change an annexation agreement between the city of Stillwater and Stillwater Township reached an abrupt end last week. For the past year, city and township officials had been exploring ways to extend the agreement past 2020. City officials initiated the discussions in the spring of 2012 after a couple who lives in the township, north of Minnesota 96, requested annexation; the Stillwater City Council denied that request and suggested exploring an extension period. Township officials agreed. The agreement, which has been in place since 1996, stipulates an orderly growth plan for Stillwater and includes special protections for township residents being annexed, including tax relief, lower fees and protection against unwanted assessments, town board Chairman David Johnson said. But city council members agreed last week that the original agreement — and its sunset date of Jan. 1, 2020 — should stand.”

For sale … 99-year-old fixer-upper. Frederick Melo of the PiPress writes: “The St. Paul Public Library system has no more need for one of its oldest facilities, a 1914 Carnegie Library at 1105 Greenbrier St. With little fanfare, the St. Paul City Council authorized the library system on Wednesday to issue a request for proposals and put the Arlington Hills Library on the market for sale. No one testified for or against the sale. The Arlington Hills Library, which was built with money donated by the Scottish-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, is one of three Carnegie libraries owned by the city, and one of 1,689 built in the United States.”

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Similarly … . Rupa Shenoy of MPR reports: “The St Paul City Council has voted unanimously in favor of local historic designation for the Saint Paul Gas Light Company Island Station. The ordinance is set for consideration for final adoption July 17. At a public hearing Wednesday, nearby residents said the industrial building, unused since 1973, could be a valuable access point to the river. They said it could be turned into a museum, an arena, a place for climbing, or kayak rentals. But the building owner, Paul Breckner of Breckner Riverfront Development, said the building is deteriorating and dangerous, as well as a magnet for criminal behavior. He said he’s considered many options for the former power plant but none worked for the site.” One word: Casino.

Speaking of old … . Maya Rao of the Strib says: “Most of the thousand miles of water pipes that snake through Minneapolis are close to a century old, including the downtown pipe that broke Tuesday, sending 90,000 gallons of water gushing into the streets near Target Center. That pipe is so old that it was built the same year ­— 1889 — that North Dakota and South Dakota became states and the Eiffel Tower was finished in Paris. But city water officials insist that the age of the pipes is not linked to any serious problems and matters far less than other conditions, such as the type of soil in which the pipes are embedded.”

Or roughly $100K on average … Elizabeth Stawicki at MPR reports: “Sixteen Minnesota health centers will share $1.68 million in federal funds to help uninsured Minnesotans obtain coverage under the federal health care law. The funding is part of a national grant of $150 million. The federal health care law will require most Americans to obtain coverage or face a financial penalty. U.S. Health Resources and Services Administrator Mary Wakefield says health centers are in a great position to help Americans enroll in coverage, understand the benefits and explain how health insurance works.” Can we get Wisconsin’s money, too?

Lovely day Wednesday. But that haze … The AP says: “Smoke from Canadian wildfires is affecting air quality across Minnesota. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says monitors across the state are measuring elevated levels of fine particle pollution. Satellite imagery indicates the Canadian smoke is blanketing much of Minnesota. Winds are expected to shift to southerly [Thursday], which may carry additional wildfire smoke into Minnesota from fires in the Central Plains.”

Rock writer Greil Marcus was in town Wednesday and on MPR to talk … Bob Dylan: “Marcus recalled a record company slogan from the ’60s, when mainstream singers were recording Dylan songs in great numbers: ‘Nobody sings Dylan like Dylan.’ ‘Because so many people had said, ‘Well, he writes good songs, but God, you just can’t get past that scratchy barbed-wire voice,’ he recalled. ‘If you want to hear somebody plumb the depths, whether of rage, or anger, or distance, or affection, or desperation, or love — if you want to hear that in its fullest, then you have to listen to the person not who wrote the song, but who is seeing the world through the song,’ Marcus said. … Even so, he suggested that audiences who [saw Dylan last night]  may not be seeing him at his best. The problem, he said, is that Dylan’s current band is ‘purely functional’ … ‘They don’t push,’ Marcus said. ‘They’re not a bunch of inspired players, like the people Dylan was playing with in the early ’90s or the middle ’60s. They are ordinary musicians and they do their best to follow Dylan’s lead and his meanders, his snap judgment in any given moment of how a song is going to be played.” … Which can be unusual, to say the least.