Unfortunately, this always sounds like a last reassurance. For the Forum News Service, Don Davis says, “Minnesota’s railroads are becoming safer, railroad officials and legislative transportation leaders agree. The state’s four largest railroads invested more than $500 million on infrastructure last year, most of which improved safety. By far the biggest investment was from Minnesota’s largest railroad, $326 million by BNSF Railway Co. … Besides improving safety, the construction is speeding up traffic that a couple years ago faced massive bottlenecks. The Amtrak Empire Builder, which runs on BNSF tracks, recorded a ‘dismal’ 23 percent on-time rate in 2014, Sweeney said, but last month hit the 90-percent mark.”
Well, if the Vatican says he’s ok. An AP story says, “The Roman Catholic Church in southern India has lifted the suspension of a priest convicted last year of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old northern Minnesota girl more than a decade ago, a spokesman said Saturday. The suspension of the Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul was lifted last month after the bishop of the Ootacamund Diocese in India’s Tamil Nadu state consulted with church authorities at the Vatican, said the Rev. Sebastian Selvanathan, a spokesman for the diocese.”
Redneck festival? The AP says, “Organizers of the Minnesota Redneck Festival say they will reschedule their event out of respect for the family of a sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty. Aitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Steven Sandberg was killed in October after a hospital patient grabbed his weapon and shot him. A 5K and community day to honor fallen officers is scheduled in Aitkin on May 20 and May 21. … Redneck Festival events will include lawnmower racing, an armpit serenade, toilet seat horseshoes and Miss and Mr. ’Merica contests.”
More on those recent numbers on solar employment. This time from Frank Jossi at Midwest Energy News. “The capacity growth is coming from utility scale efforts such as the 100 MW Aurora Solar Project being built by Geronimo Energy and a dramatic increase in community solar gardens that are being proposed in Xcel Energy’s territory. More than 1,400 MW have been proposed since Xcel began accepting applications in 2014. … The next wave of hires will likely be installers, electricians and others involved in the construction process.”
Some things never change. John Hageman of the Grand Forks Herald astounds us with this news: “The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is preparing to push its biggest legislative priority for this year: business tax relief. In a meeting with the Herald’s editorial board, the chamber’s Director of Communications Jim Pumarlo outlined Minnesota’s state property tax on businesses. That levy comes on top of the property taxes businesses already pay to local governments, and it represents about 30 percent of their total property tax bill, according to a chamber fact sheet.”
Not that you saw her on TV. Jon Bream of the Strib, following the Grammys, says, “Maria Schneider is not shy. The celebrated jazz composer/conductor — who grew up in Windom, earned a music degree from University of Minnesota and settled in New York — collected her fourth Grammy Monday in the pre-telecast. But she seized the moment and instead of celebrating her victory for best large jazz ensemble record inspired by land in southwestern Minnesota (the album is ‘The Thompson Fields’ by the Maria Schneider Orchestra), she launched into a speech about artists owning their own rights – music, recordings and fan base.”
Also in pop, Chris Riemenschneider of the Strib says, “Prince’s first female protégé-turned-girlfriend-turned-ex, Vanity, has died from natural causes in a California hospital at age 57, according to various industry sources. The Canadian singer, actress and model born Denise Matthews had been battling a variety of health issues and recently started a GoFundMe page asking for help fighting a condition called sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis.”
Oh OK, while we’re talking good looking pop stars. Melinda Newman at Billboard has this news: “Bob Dylan is back in Studio B at Hollywood’s famed Capitol Studios recording the follow up to his critically acclaimed 2015 album, Shadows in the Night, engineer Al Schmitt told Billboard Feb. 11. … When asked one thing that surprised him about Dylan, Schmitt said it was his level of intelligence. ‘He’s extraordinarily smart and he’s so aware of everything that’s going on, so he knows what’s happening at every moment.’” “Shadows” was pretty good. Maybe because all the tunes were within a range that didn’t strain Bob’s golden larynx.
KHON in Honolulu, with an assist from CNN covers this story from Minnesota. “A woman in rural Minnesota gave birth on the side of the road while trying to reach the hospital. To make things worse, the temperature was minus-28 degrees Fahrenheit. Rogue Maxa earned her name simply by being born. Her father Ben said, ‘Any time that I envision her, like, not following directions or being in trouble, I can just hold it over her head for the rest of her life, I think.’ With a due date next Saturday, Ben and Dexi Maxa were not expecting they’d be heading to the hospital Saturday morning. … But four miles out of town, Dexi was ready to give birth, so Ben pulled over to the side of the highway, opened the sliding door, and delivered their daughter himself.” Be honest. Would you know what to do?
Great. More paperwork. Christopher Snowbeck says, “Large employers and insurers in Minnesota are distributing for the first time this winter more than a million tax documents that show who had health insurance last year, a seemingly straightforward task that has nonetheless created some clerical headaches. The notices are part of how the IRS will check to make sure individuals and employers complied with coverage mandates in the federal Affordable Care Act. For employers, it’s been a big job figuring out how to accurately fill out the forms. For health insurers, the printing presses have been running overtime. Just this month, the state of Minnesota is sending about 959,000 forms to people in public health insurance programs.” I think “Medicare for all” might spare us this headache, too.
OK, now we’re getting down to the critical stuff. Says Steve Brandt in the Strib, “With only six months to go before the kickoff for the Minnesota Vikings’ home preseason, the team is still scrambling for tailgating space near its new home in a rapidly developing end of downtown Minneapolis. The team is assured of only 125 spots for tailgating that it owns across the street from the new stadium. Although some private owners are likely to allow their lots to be used, some of the 500 to 800 spots the team says it needs to meet fan demand could be up to a 15-minute walk away. And even with those, that’s roughly a third of the spots that were available in Metrodome days.” How can the Vikings ever win the Super Bowl if we can’t do keg stands within a 15 minute walk of the stadium?
More on that bizarre Plymouth shooting — the one with two concealed carry permits. This time from Karen Zamora of the Strib. “[Trisha] Nelson and [Correy] Perry met by having a similar interest in body modification and suspension, or hanging from hooks piercing the skin. Nelson’s Facebook page displays her love for the hobby in several photos and videos. In one, she hangs from a pair of hooks piercing her torso, while Perry, who also appears to be suspended by hooks in his shoulders, looks on. Another photo features her pet iguanas, Dulap and Iggy, sitting in Santa’s lap.” Did I mention the Second Amendment thing?