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Andersen Windows plans major Minnesota expansion

Plus: Feedlots getting fast-tracked in southern Minnesota; Minnesota leads nation in wetland-to-farmland conversions; townships exempt from open-records law; Minneapolis America’s healthiest city; dining on insects in Fargo; and more.

Has nobody told them about our taxes? “Andersen Corp. is planning to add more than 300 jobs as part of a $45 million expansion project at its manufacturing facilities in Cottage Grove and North Branch, Minn,” reports the Pioneer Press’ Nick Woltman. As with most business expansions these days, it comes with a price: “Andersen will receive $1.5 million from Minnesota’s Job Creation Fund and $500,000 from the Minnesota Investment fund for the Cottage Grove and North Branch expansions. The company received $625,000 from the Job Creation fund for its Bayport expansion.”

Something stinks in southern Minnesota. MPR’s Elizabeth Baier reports on a worrying concentration of hog feedlots in Dodge County, “Ten hog farms sat already in a three-mile ring around Lowell Trom’s rural Dodge County home. When an 11th got a permit, he fought it. … The Troms are at the center of that storm. They’ve filed a second lawsuit against Dodge County, saying it put in place an unfair and biased process to fast-track the project, and are waiting on a hearing in the coming weeks.”

In other agriculture news, Minnesota is #1! … For converting wetlands into farmland. That’s according to a new study released by the University of Wisconsin and reported in the Mankato Free Press: “The study, which used satellite data from three different sources to analyze land conversion, was published Thursday in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The study estimated that 7.3 million acres were converted nationwide. According to the study, the increased carbon emissions from the additional corn and soybean crops alone would be equal to a year’s emissions from 34 coal-fired power plants.” 

FYI, open records laws do not apply to Minnesota townships. The Star Tribune’s James Eli Shiffer clarifies, “The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act applies to state agencies, counties, cities, the Met Council and many other units of government. But most townships are not covered. These are some of the oldest governments in the state, having been laid out in squares, 6 miles at a side, by Congress and turned into self-governing places when Minnesota became a state in 1858. … Townships are subject to the open meeting law, so those who attend have a legal right to see agenda-related records and meeting minutes. But the exemption from the records law means most of the state’s 1,783 townships can ignore record requests if they get too annoying.

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The Glean

Minneapolis is the healthiest city in America. That’s according to livability.com, which looked at “… several measures of healthy communities such as the adult obesity rate, the percent of residents with access to healthy food and other stats. We also factored in the number of hospitals, ratio of doctors to residents and more.” Minneapolis’ secret? “People in Minneapolis like to get moving, and the access this city provides to exercise opportunities was a big reason why it made our list of the Top 10 Healthiest Cities.”

Fargo’s Hotel Donaldson is jumping on the insect-eating bandwagon. Inforum’s John Lamb spoke to retired entomologist Maurice Degrugillier, who “… is helping organize a wine and insect pairing at Stoker’s Lounge in the basement of the Hotel Donaldson.” There are photos.

In other news …

Pew Poll: Scott Walker among the least-well-known potential GOP presidential candidates [PewResearchCenter]

Maybe if he hung a few more Ronald Reagan portraits? [New York Times]

Because the Vikings just don’t have enough space Downtown: “Morgue near Vikings stadium could become lively spot” [Star Tribune]

St. Cloud State of the City preview: “So what is the state of St. Cloud?” [St. Cloud Times]

“Minneapolis Federal Reserve to start Indian Country center” [AP via Albert Lea Tribune]

Cue traffic complaints: “Hennepin County Plans $86 Million in Road Projects this Year” [KSTP]

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Aaron Brown lays down an uncomfortable truth about the Iron Range’s mining woes [Minnesota Brown]

The Fargo-Moorhead Opera lands a classically trained lyric coloratura soprano [Inforum]

“Reward Grows To $2,000 In Lakeville Tainted Dog Treat Case” [WCCO]

The bird flu scourge continues to spread across Minnesota’s commercial turkey industry. [AP via ABC News]