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MPR: How Minnesota’s Starkey Hearing Foundation lands the big names for its annual gala

Plus: State Patrol advocates vehicular duckicide; Vadnais Heights Sports Center turns profit after government takeover; UND fans may get chance to vote “none of the above”; and more.

Former President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton
REUTERS/Mike Stone

Maybe not purely out of the goodness of their own hearts. MPR’s Tom Scheck takes a deep look at the relationship between the Starkey Hearing Foundation and the big names it attracts to its annual benefit gala — Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are both slated to appear this year, along with pop star Katy Perry. “Put on by the Starkey Hearing Foundation, the gala in past years has attracted politicians, Oscar winners, A-list musicians and sports figures, many of whom say they appear because of Starkey’s mission. In an unparalleled effort, the foundation in the past year donated 175,000 hearing aids in the United States and globally. … But the celebrities also have reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars for their own foundations, participating in an unusual partnership that builds Starkey’s brand internationally. … Documents the Starkey foundation filed with the Internal Revenue Service between 2011 and 2013 show it gave $1.9 million to the George W. Bush Presidential Library, the George W. Bush Foundation and The Global Health Corps, founded by Bush’s two daughters.”

Minnesota State Patrol to drivers: Kill the ducklings. The Star Tribune’s Vineeta Sawkar writes, “The ducks, even the ducklings, are expendable. … That’s the difficult message from the Minnesota State Patrol in response to a hair-raising video of cars swerving and slamming on the brakes on Interstate 35W to spare a line of ducks waddling across the highway. … ‘I watched that video and I cringed,’ said Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Tiffani Nielson. ‘People should not stop on the freeway for ducks.’

1. Build recreation center. 2. Let government take it over. 3. Profit. That seems to be more or less the story with the Vadnais Heights sports complex, according to Sarah Horner in the Pioneer Press: “A year after Ramsey County snatched up the Vadnais Sports Center for less than half the price it cost to build, the previously beleaguered arena appears to have turned a corner. … County officials report the 200,000-square-foot multisport complex yielded a profit the past year and is earning positive remarks from tenants.”

The North Dakota North Dakotas has a great ring to it. The university’s president is down, reports Kevin Bonham for the Forum News Service: “University of North Dakota President Robert Kelley will consider adding ‘North Dakota’ to the list of nickname finalists for the public to vote on, he said in a letter emailed Friday morning to staff and UND community. … ‘I will consider the possible addition of “North Dakota” in the vote process,’ he said in the letter. … The UND Nickname Committee earlier this week decided to remove the option of continuing to play without a nickname, which the school has done since the last nickname was retired.”

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Good employment news from the steel industry. First, the Duluth News Tribune reports that laid off Minntac workers may soon be back on the job: “Union officials say workers laid off from U.S. Steel’s Minntac taconite facility in Mountain Iron earlier this year should all be called back to work in the next two weeks. … In a statement posted on the United Steelworkers Local 1938 website Thursday, president Lowell Carlon wrote that ‘as of today the company has recalled all plant MTMs (maintenance technicians mechanical) and Ironworkers for a total of 68 returning. All maintenance will be returning to a 40-hour week starting the week of July 26.’”

And from the Hibbing Daily Tribune, news that the Essar Steel Minnesota site in Nashwauk has hit 500 employees: “There are now more than 500 full-time employees at the construction site, which is the highest number since construction began in 2010, company officials reported on Wednesday. That represents a steady increase from an average of 179 in January. … In addition, more than 100 Essar permanent employees are on the payroll and working on operational readiness in Hibbing and at the project site.”

In other news…

“’Worst Nightmare’ as Body of 6-Year-Old St. Cloud Boy Pulled from River” [KSTP]

Bob Collins (with help from Aaron Brown) takes down yesterday’s list of the worst 10 cities in Minnesota and the lazy data analysis that produces stories like it. [MPR]

Minneapolis: Free the Pedal Pub! [Star Tribune]

“Last Happy Chef up for sale” [Mankato Free Press]