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Minnesota Senate’s ‘$77 million workspace’ finally passes

Also: fewer bears; perfect ACTs; a flock of food scientists; Brooklyn Park!!!; ‘Fargo’ guy’s accent; and more.

The Not-so-Taj-Ma-Senate … . Patrick Condon of the Strib writes, “Senators have approved a $77 million office building across the street from the Capitol that will serve as their primary workspace, endorsing a move by their House colleagues to scale back some amenities while boosting overall space in the complex.  The Senate Rules Committee signed off on the project Monday. The panel previously backed a version of the same project, but the House Rules Committee approved an altered version last Friday. In addition to ditching plans for a parking ramp, reflecting pool, a workout room and elaborate landscaping, House members also moved to increase the total number of senators’ offices from 44 to 67 so that every member of the Senate can be housed there.”   They didn’t red-line valet parking, complimentary pedicures and the personal shopping assistants, did they?

Giving the bears a fighting chance … . The AP says, “Minnesota wildlife managers plan to hold the number of bear hunting licenses steady this year to help gradually increase the bear population. Minnesota’s bear population was estimated at 17,000 in 2008, but the Department of Natural Resources says trends suggest the population is down to between 10,000 and 15,000.”

A couple breaks and 20 points and this could have been me as a kid … . Anthony Lonetree of the Strib says, “Until last week, most of his classmates at Mounds Park Academy in Maplewood did not know that high school junior Matthew Ehren aced the ACT college entrance exam. It wasn’t that he wasn’t proud of the perfect score, a 36 that put him in the top one-tenth of one percent of those who take the test annually. He’d just planned to keep it secret because he didn’t want to be defined or limited by it. ‘I don’t like to base myself solely on test scores,’ said Ehren.”

So … a food scientist glut … ? Nick Halter at the Business Journal says, “Minnesota may be known as the land of 10,000 lakes, but in terms of jobs, we should be known as the land of 10,000 food scientists. A Business Insider report maps all 50 states and  identifies each state based on the disproportionate number of jobs in a certain field. … The study, which uses May 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, makes sense for Minnesota. We have several large companies that need food scientists — companies like General Mills Inc., Hormel Foods Corp., Cargill Inc., Land O’Lakes Inc., and The Schwan Food Co.”  I would’ve bet on either yoga instructors or celebrity chefs.

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The countdown for the TV version of “Fargo” is on. (Premiere night is April 15). At Yahoo TV, Dave Nemetz talks to British actor Martin Freeman, who plays the lead, one Lester Nygaard. “Do you have any tips or tricks that you keep in mind to nail the accent?” “No, it’s muscle memory by now. At first I was doing exercises that I was given, and also just watching, not watching ‘Fargo,’ but actual Minnesotans talk on YouTube, you know? Things like that. Just listening to audio things that help … once you’ve got certain vowel sounds, you know you’re not just in Standard American, whatever that is. [Laughs.] There are things that jog you into thinking, ‘Oh, I’m from this part of the world’.”

Brooklyn Park is looking for some better pub … . Writes Shannon Prather of the Strib, “[A] lingering reputation as high crime, even as crime rates have plummeted, and suburban blah, often has outsiders questioning Brooklyn Parkers’ decision to call the city home, according to market research. That ‘inferiority complex’ described by many residents is one thing a professional public relations team will have to overcome as it launches a $150,000 branding effort for the city of 76,000.  In a highly debated split vote, the city’s Economic Development Authority, which is made up of the City Council, agreed to hire the PR firm Carmichael Lynch Spong last fall.” The tag line, “We’re not Blaine” probably won’t make the cut.

$1 billion is an eye-catching number.  Stribber Rebecca Harrington writes, “[Karen] Ray, 60, started attending a monthly support group where she could talk to other caregivers and get advice on dementia. That sort of support isn’t available for many of the 245,000 Minnesotans caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. But if it were, the state could save nearly $1 billion over the next decade, in part by reducing the most expensive forms of care that dementia patients require, according to a study published Monday by the influential journal Health Affairs.”

There’s something very satisfying about this video, posted by MPR’s Jeffrey Thompson.

This one, via Tim Nelson, also of MPR, comes with mixed emotions.

Former GOP Rep. Steve Smith has passed away. The AP says, “Smith was 64 and had served two decades in the Legislature before losing in a 2012 primary. Ryan Smith said in a statement Monday that the cause of his father’s death is pending. But Smith says his father had battled alcoholism and become ‘increasingly despondent and unresponsive to calls from family and friends’. Smith was living alone in Hennepin County.”