138,000! The AP says: “The popular ice caves on Lake Superior near the Apostle Islands are now closed, concluding an unprecedented wave of tourism and exploration. The National Park Service says the caves along Lake Superior were closed just after midnight Monday. … Park service spokeswoman Julie Van Stappen says 138,000 people visited the caves this winter. That figure dwarfs the 12,700 people who visited in 2009, the last time the lake froze enough to make the caves reachable by foot.”
If we’re above average, where are the good ideas? James Warden at Finance & Commerce writes: “Minnesota innovation is falling off. At least, that’s how the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce read the tea leaves at presentations to business groups in February. In 2003-04, 75.5 percent of the 550 Minnesota companies contacted by the chamber reported that they introduced a new product in the previous year. By 2012-13, that had fallen to 63.4 percent of 722 companies surveyed. The rate was just 55.9 percent for the 195 Twin Cities companies surveyed that year.”
So we can bank on this? Mark Olson of the Chaska Herald reports: “After several months of severe winter warnings, here’s some happy weather news: There’s a very low chance of spring flooding on the Minnesota River. ‘The Minnesota doesn’t look bad at all,’ said Craig Schmidt, service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen. … Even with Tuesday’s predicted snowfall, Schmidt said that the Minnesota River may only have up to a 15 percent chance of hitting minor flood levels in this area.”
The Lynx are getting re-branded. The AP says: “The Lynx announced an expanded partnership with the Mayo Clinic on Monday that includes a new jersey that features the Mayo Clinic name across the front rather than the team’s name. The Lynx and NBA’s Timberwolves are also partnering with the health care provider on a new practice facility just across the street from their arena.”
Al Franken is pushing hot lunches. Baird Helgeson’s Strib story says: “Franken is resurrecting his proposal to pay for hot school lunches for students who get reduced-priced meals. … Franken had lunch Monday with students at Meadow Lake Elementary School in New Hope, saying research is clear that students learn better when they are well nourished. A member of the Senate Education Committee, Franken introduced the proposal in 2009 and again in 2010, but the measures never became law. … It is not clear how much the proposal would cost or how many students would be affected.”
And still more on the question of rapidly expanding broadband across the state. In a Strib commentary, Inver Grove prof Ben Franske writes: “Those with experience in logistics understand the tremendous value of locating a business in an area with excellent transportation infrastructure. Placing your business along a major transportation route can offer substantial cost savings and a competitive edge that can be the lifeblood of your company — and not doing so can be its undoing. Thus, companies take the placement of their businesses very seriously. Likewise, in an information age, access to excellent Internet infrastructure is a business imperative.” What’s the big worry? Private enterprise will get around to it … as soon as it produces shareholder value in the next quarter.
Teardown mania continues … Curtis Gilbert of MPR reports: “Fireworks are expected in Minneapolis later this week, when the public has its first official chance to weigh in on the moratorium the City Council has imposed on building new houses in the southwest corner of the city. Five upscale neighborhoods have been at the epicenter of an unprecedented building boom, which has led to a barrage of complaints from neighbors concerned about oversized homes, construction noise and debris.” Here at MinnPost, Steve Berg looks at the same problem.
Tom Webb of the PiPress crunches numbers on beloved (kind of) hometown airline Delta’s new frequent-flier calculator: “Fly roundtrip between the Twin Cities and Los Angeles and you’ll log 3,072 frequent-flier miles. But not if you fly Delta Air Lines next year. Then you’ll earn fewer miles for that MSP-LAX round-trip — unless your ticket costs at least $614. And Delta’s elite Gold Medallion passengers, who now earn more miles per mile flown? Their tickets would need to cost $768 on that route to earn the same premium number of SkyMiles they get now.”
A minor victory for the Diocese of Duluth. Tom Olsen of the Forum News Service reports: “A judge Monday tossed out portions of two lawsuits seeking to force the Diocese of Duluth to release documents detailing child sexual abuse cases. Sixth Judicial District Judge David Johnson ruled that the plaintiffs cannot pursue the release of the documents through private and public nuisance claims. Counts charging the diocese with negligence in its handling of sex abuse cases will remain open. The decision does not end the plaintiffs’ hopes of compelling the release of the documents, but it does eliminate a potential avenue of argument for the alleged victims.”