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Spring brings new push to spread high-speed Internet across Twin Cities

Plus: the ice is out on Lake Minnetonka; more schools look at pushing back start times; tailgating at the morgue; and more. 

REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Nerd nirvana is nigh. Says Adam Belz in the Strib, “The spring thaw shot new energy into the battle for your Internet dollar. Workers drilled holes for US Internet’s fiber optic lines in Lowry Hill. White boxes showed up in Minneapolis’ Como neighborhood. CenturyLink’s fiber plans sent city inspectors in Minneapolis and St. Paul running around issuing permits for its new 1-gigabit service. … This will be a pivotal year for US Internet, which expects to spend several hundred million dollars over many years to build a fiber optic network across the Twin Cities. This summer, the firm’s crews plan to head east and bury fiber in five neighborhoods south of Powderhorn Park.”

It’s officially over. The WCCO-TV story says, “Officials with the Freshwater Society announced Sunday that Lake Minnetonka, the metro area’s largest lake, is ice free. The ice-out declaration came Sunday after the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol and Freshwater Society members concluded that it was possible to boat through all the lake’s channels and 37 bays. This year’s ice-out on Lake Minnetonka came 19 days earlier than 2014’s, the Freshwater Society said. The median ice-out date for the lake is April 14.”

Micheal Finch, for (i.e., says, “A Minnesota man pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud for his involvement in a multimillion dollar investment scheme associated with Synergy Finance Group, LLC, of Robertsdale. The firm’s owner, Richard James Tucker of Fairhope, was convicted of a number of financial crimes in April 2012, for soliciting millions of dollars from people around the world for investments that did not exist. Scott Anthony Koster, 33, of Milaca, Minn., ran Alicorn Capital Management, through which he co-conspired with Synergy, Alabama Securities Commission officials say. For his role, prosecutors recommended Koster serve 10 years in jail and pay a little more than $1.9 million in restitution.”

The primary clientele won’t careEric Roper of the Strib says, “Hennepin County officials are looking at leasing out part of the downtown Minneapolis morgue property in a deal that would provide new space for Minnesota Vikings game day celebrations and give residents more access to the proposed Downtown East park.”

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WCCO-TV’s Mike Binkley shines a light on local TV and radio archivist Tom Oszman saying, “Thanks to one man’s fascination with vintage television, hundreds of classic Twin Cities TV moments are available to watch online. Many of us have stashes of old VHS tapes from the days when VCRs were popular. They might contain old shows, newscasts or movies that we’ll never watch again. To Tom Oszman, they represent goldmines. He’s used those tapes to collect vintage commercials, historic Twin Cities moments and familiar TV personalities from their younger days.”

Airplane geeks love this stuff. MPR’s Matt Sepic has a story saying, “Wildfire season is well underway in Minnesota, and the Department of Natural Resources is using a new fleet planes to douse the flames. The DNR is selling its two aging air tankers after the manufacturer stopped supporting the aircraft. Instead the agency is contracting with the Appleton, Minn.-based company Aero Spray to fly six single-engine turboprops. Pilot Jesse Weaver said four of the planes have floats that can land on lakes and scoop up water.”

In the Strib, Neal St. Anthony says the glow is a bit off the tech recycling bloom. “The commodities price swoon hasn’t just cut the number of North Dakota oil rigs and the price of fuel. In the behind-the-scenes-but-important business of collecting, fixing and recycling tons of used electronics, a big player closed its St. Paul plant several days ago. The plant processed several million pounds of business equipment annually. Denver-based Arrow Electronics, one of the country’s largest electronics recyclers, told its mostly business customer base that it would still truck their old equipment to an Ohio plant. But that would come at a premium rate.”

How generous are you, really? In the Duluth News Tribune, Holly Sampson writes, “Over the next 15 years, nearly $48 billion in wealth is expected to be transferred from one generation of Minnesotans to the next, the result of the Greatest Generation passing on to Baby Boomers some of what they earned during lifetimes of labors. As Minnesota looks to build on this legacy to improve outcomes for future generations, a proposal in the Minnesota Legislature offers a simple solution: Provide a tax incentive to help Baby Boomers — and others — make our state even better. It’s called Endow Minnesota, and it would provide a 25 percent state tax credit to donors who give between $5,000 and $100,000 to endowment funds at community foundations across our state. That means a gift of $5,000 would result in a Minnesota tax credit of $1,250 to the individual taxpayer.”

Also, if you’re up north: Elizabeth Dunbar of MPR reports, “Here’s another sign of spring: Minnesota’s black bears are expected to come out of hibernation within the next couple of weeks. ‘They’re going to move around, they’re going to get back on their feet, they’re going to get oriented to their surroundings, and they’re going to start looking for food,’ said Jami Markle of the Department of Natural Resources. But here’s the bad news, bears: Not many plants are growing yet, so finding food will be a challenge for the animals. Markle said that makes early spring an important time to think about how to prevent human-bear confrontations.” The bird feeder at the cabin is probably a goner … again.

Speaking of hibernation … let ‘em sleep … at home. Says Stribber Kim McGuire: “Several Minnesota school districts are looking at pushing back their school start time, particularly for high school students, who gain the most from extra sleep. Buffalo-Hanover-Mont­rose, Willmar and Wayzata are among the districts contemplating such a move, while St. Paul Public Schools recently decided to conduct a pilot project next school year at Johnson Senior High, which will start an hour later.”

Summa cum brewski. Emily Zimmer for the Forum News Service says, “Just like any other industry, beer-makers need an adept workforce. At least in the Midwest, there’s a shortage of educational opportunities to create that workforce. Dakota County Technical College hopes its newest program — and the only one of its kind in Minnesota — will close that gap. The college announced March 26 that it will launch its Brewing and Beer Steward program in August. The five-course program will teach interested students brewing and the related business skills to succeed in the brewing industry. Specifically, the program will give students an understanding of brewing science, engineering, management and service.” Actual consumption is instinctive.