Revamp of Nicollet Mall revamp revealed

The revamped Nicollet Mall design is available for public approval, or not. Says Kristen Leigh Painter in the Star Tribune, “Designers of the Nicollet Mall overhaul unveiled new money-saving pavement materials Wednesday that they expect will help deliver the project within its original $50 million budget. The city was forced to switch to poured concrete — instead of thousands of brick-like pavers in the initial plans — after garnering a single bid in December that was $24 million over the construction budget.”

Charges come down in a notorious smuggling case. Says Marino Eccher in the Pioneer Press, “Two men from a Maple Grove bar have been charged with felonies for allegedly bringing kegs of New Glarus Spotted Cow — a popular beer sold only in Wisconsin — across the border to put on tap. … In April 2015, two enforcement agents visited the bar, saw the beer on tap and ordered it. Agents later searched the bar, seizing three kegs and receipts for a total of 10 from Hudson, Wis., liquor stores.”

Also in alternative energy, Karen Uhlenhuth at Midwest Energy News says, “The Minnesota-based McKnight Foundation gave a two-year, $150,000 grant to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) to support the development of on-bill financing that would help households to reduce energy use, or to generate their own power (The McKnight Foundation is a funder of Midwest Energy News). With on-bill financing, the costs of such improvements can be offset by energy savings, in some cases making the customer’s bill the same, or lower, than it was before. Utilities also sometimes charge a lower interest rate than conventional lenders.”

And in drilling, baby (not) drilling, Mike Mullen at City Pages asks us to stop and remember. “A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia found that while almost all American states saw economic growth in the last three months of 2015, seven actually contracted. The two with the worst economic index readings, a measure that includes unemployment, salary disbursement, and manufacturing hours worked, were Wyoming and our western neighbor. Both territories rely disproportionately on oil revenues to make their economies go. … this is a good time to review just how many and frequent were the calls from Minnesota politicians, nearly all of them Republicans, who looked at North Dakota as a model state, with policies Minnesota ought to follow if it wants to find its way to economic prosperity.” I’ll look for data on how many of our millionaires fled to Minot.

Speaking of fleeing the state, Brian Bakst at MPR reports, “Fresh off his convincing win in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is wading deeper into Super Tuesday states and will start airing ads soon in markets hitting Minnesota voters. Records on file with the FCC show the Vermont independent, who calls himself a democratic socialist, has inquired about reserving time in the Duluth-Superior area and will begin airing ads in the Fargo-Moorhead market as soon as Thursday. On Wednesday afternoon, details emerged about an initial purchase in the Twin Cities of at least $275,000.”  Ok, it’s The Bern. But you know Cruz will get here eventually.

Awwww. The busy Mr. Eccher also has a piece on the Valentine waterfall. “The falls at Minneopa State Park in Mankato got into the Valentine’s Day spirit in recent weeks, freezing solid into a heart shape. On Tuesday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources posted a number of photos of the phenomenon on its Facebook page, with readers adding their own in the comments.”

Not quite Steven Avery. The AP reports, “A southeastern Minnesota man who was wrongfully convicted of child sex abuse will be compensated $475,000 under a new state law. An attorney representing 50-year-old Roger Lee Olsen said Tuesday that he will receive the settlement for the two years he spent in the Stillwater Correctional Facility after he was convicted in Houston County of criminal sexual conduct involving a minor. … Olsen was released from prison in 2008 when investigators found evidence that his accuser lied about the incident. He says he feared for his life in prison, and has had a difficult time finding a job since his release.”

Can you frame a Tweet? A FoxSports story says, “University of Minnesota women’s basketball star Rachel Banham emulated her basketball idol Kobe Bryant on Sunday, scoring 60 points in a 112-106 double-overtime victory over Northwestern. On Tuesday, she received two congratulatory tweets from the Los Angeles Lakers star himself. …

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