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Klobuchar and Emmer to join Obama in Cuba

Plus: Mankato church credited for inventing hot dish; Fargo police warn of heroin danger; Mondale weighs in on mining and the BWCA; and more.

MinnPost photo by Catherine Watson

Let’s remember to check their expenses for mojitos. The Forum News Service says, “U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Tom Emmer will join President Obama when he visits Cuba on March 21. This will mark the first visit to Cuba that a sitting president has made since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. Klobuchar is the lead Senate sponsor on Freedom to Export to Cuba Act, which would lift the trade embargo between the U.S. and Cuba. Emmer is the lead sponsor of a similar bill in the House.”

At Fortune, David Morris follows up on recent news that Minnesota is well on its way to meeting its 2030 goal for alternative energy. “ Minnesota’s case shows that it’s possible to scale solar and wind power fast enough to slow climate change to the levels agreed upon in the recent Paris climate talks. The International Renewable Energy Agency has said that producing just 36 percent of the world’s energy through renewables could provide half of the greenhouse gas reductions needed to meet the Paris goals, with energy efficiency providing the other half. And Minnesota isn’t even in the lead on this — states including Maine and Iowa have considerably higher renewable energy rates. But the states at the top are trailed by a much longer list of laggards — states like Ohio, Nebraska, and New Jersey, whose renewable energy levels are in the low single digits.”

Former Senate Minority Leader Duane Benson has a commentary in the PiPress talking about how we spend early childhood money. “Research by economists like Art Rolnick, Rob Gruenwald, Nobel Laureate James Heckman and others finds that the highest returns on investment for taxpayers come from helping low-income children access the types of high-quality early learning programs that successfully prepare kids for school. Putting children in low-quality programs, as [the Child Care Assistance Program] currently does, doesn’t produce those high returns. Therefore, Minnesota should require that CCAP investments be made only in programs that are using such best practices, as measured by the Parent Aware ratings. For the past eight years, Minnesota’s Early Learning Scholarship program has already had such a requirement.”

So quintessentially Minnesotan. Edie Schmierbach of the Mankato The Free Press tells the world, “Gretchen Townsend, who serves on Grace Lutheran’s kitchen committee, was surprised when a friend showed her an article from a national magazine that mentions a recipe by a long-ago member of the church’s ladies aid. Food & Wine’s January edition credits a 1930 cookbook organized by the Mankato congregation as the first written record of a hot dish recipe, The Free Press reported. ‘I find that little piece of trivia about the cookbook interesting,’ Townsend said. Neither the name of the woman who invented the hamburger/macaroni/canned peas concoction nor the source of the claim regarding the Midwest icon was included in ‘The History of One of America’s Fabled Foods.’” Today all those ingredients are re-labelled “bespoke” and “artisanal” and run you $20 a plate at your friendly, trendy bistro.

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If it plays out as advertised, it will be an enormous improvement. Frederick Melo in the PiPress reports, “As Minnesota United’s 21,500-seat soccer stadium is constructed in the Midway, new real estate development is expected to anchor Snelling and University avenues. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and state Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, will host an open house Tuesday on design plans for the 35-acre Snelling-Midway site. The community open house will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Concordia University in the Buenger Education Center, 200 Syndicate St. N. off Carroll Avenue.”

Not good. Stribber Paul Walsh reports, “An outbreak of drug overdoses in the Fargo-Moorhead area, with at least three confirmed deaths, has prompted law enforcement to sound the alarm Sunday about the spreading danger. At a hastily called news conference, police in Fargo joined their colleagues in Moorhead and other nearby communities to say that they fear the overdoses are being fueled by heroin laced with even more potent narcotics.”

Water restrictions — in March. Walsh again:  “New Brighton over the weekend cited preventive maintenance on two of its four deep wells and unseasonably warm weather for putting the following restrictions in place: Residents are not permitted to water lawns and other foliage from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and must follow an odd/even sprinkling ban based on street address. Also, citizens are indefinitely banned at their residences from filling swimming pools and washing cars.”

Gone with barely a mega-whimper. In the Strib Pat Pfeifer reports, “About 900 people came to witness the final service Sunday at North Heights Lutheran in Arden Hills, a former megachurch with a 69-year history that once boasted more than 7,000 members. There was no sermon at the hourlong service, only songs and hymns and Bible readings. … The only hint that it was the end came as associate pastor Steve Wiese led the congregation in a reading from Ecclesiastes 3:2: ‘[There is] a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot … a time to tear and a time to mend.’” Wasn’t that a Byrds’ song?

Fritz says “Save the BWCA!” In a Strib Commentary, Former Vice President Walter Mondale writes, “In 1926, the U.S. secretary of agriculture directed that over 600,000 acres of the area be managed as wilderness. Every generation of Minnesotans since has been called to the area’s defense. Today’s threat dwarfs them all. A Chilean mining company, Antofagasta, now holds the only two federal leases on the Superior National Forest.”

Sally Jo Sorensen, in her Bluestem Prairie blog, digs through state Sen. Julie Rosen’s personal real estate history again. “Rosen’s official place of residence isn’t Fairmont, but rather Vernon Center. As we reported in our March 11, 2014 post, Senator Julie Rosen joins tiny house movement: … Martin County property records available via Beacon reveal that Senator Rosen sold her home in Fairmont in January 2014 to her ex-husband, businessman Tom Rosen. … We’re puzzled why Rosen chose to invest in a building site far outside of her district after selling her home in Fairmont. Perhaps she’s since bought a place in the Vernon City area. Whatever the logic of her real estate decisions, we think that Rosen has situated herself in a unique position to ‘talk about what’s best for the whole state.’” We can only wonder why she doesn’t step up — those balconies in the Mendota micro-mansion have potential for some great Evita moments.”