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Justice Dept. phasing out private prisons leads to speculation about the future of Appleton facility

Plus: Montreal to Duluth by freighter; Minnesota United’s turnaround; Minnesota Orchestra heads to Finland; and more.

Thanks, Obama. The West Central Tribune’s Carolyn Lange reports: “News Thursday that the federal government intends to phase out use of privately owned prisons has renewed questions about the future of the privately owned prison in Appleton. … The 1,640-bed prison in Appleton has been empty since 2010 when the owners—Corrections Corporation of America—closed the facility. … During the last year Corrections Corporation of America and officials from Appleton and Swift County launched a campaign to persuade the state to lease—or buy—the prison to ease overcrowded state prisons. … But there’s speculation now that the Appleton prison may be available at a bargain price after CCA’s stock prices plunged about 35 percent a few hours after the announcement by the Department of Justice.

Sounds like an amazing journey. In the New York Times, writer Porter Fox describes a trip by boat from Montreal to Duluth: “I’d been waiting 20 minutes for my ride — a 740-foot freighter called the Algoma Equinox. The Equinox traverses the St. Lawrence and four Great Lakes twice a month, transporting iron ore west and grain back east. Like many freighters around the world, it also occasionally carries people. Travelers willing to take the slow boat get a private cabin, three meals a day and shore leave wherever the ship loads, unloads or stops at a lock. … After picking me up in Montreal, the Equinox’s captain, Ross Armstrong, told me the ship would cross Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron and Superior and drop me in Thunder Bay, Ontario — six hours north of Duluth, Minn. The trip would take six days.”

Quite a turnaround. The Pioneer Press’ Andy Greder details Minnesota United’s journey from near-bankruptcy to the major leagues: “Minnesota’s pro soccer team was on the verge of folding in 2009. … That’s when Djorn Buchholz, the club’s general manager, took out his personal credit card and paid for the Minnesota Thunder to travel to their final road game of the season. … ‘There was no way I wasn’t going to send the team,’ Buchholz told the Pioneer Press last week. ‘Do I regret it? Probably not. It took me a while to pay it off, but at the time, I thought it was the right thing to do.’”

The Minnesota Orchestra’s European tour is kicking off in Finland next week. Helsingin Sanomat’s Vesa Sirén has the lowdown on Osmo Vanskä’s homecoming: ‘Hulluttelua ei ole koskaan tehty klassisessa musiikissa liikaa,’ sanoo Minnesotan orkesterin musiikillinen johtaja Osmo Vänskä. … 63-vuotias maailmantähti tuo yhdysvaltalaisorkesterinsa tänä sunnuntaina Euroopan-kiertueen aluksi Lahden Sibeliustaloon. Konsertti myydään taatusti loppuun. Perjantai-iltapäivänä lippuja oli jäljellä enää kymmenen.”

In other news…

Good on Charles Schulz: “How Peanuts’ Peppermint Patty became a fierce advocate for female athletes” [Sports Illustrated]

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Dontcha know: “’We Don’t Talk Like That’: Reflecting on ‘Fargo’ 20 years later” [MPR]

Bad apple? “Inver Grove Heights police chief accused of tipping off theft suspect” [Star Tribune]

R.I.P.: Retired Army Gen. John Vessey, Minnesotan who led Joint Chiefs of Staff, dies at 94” [Star Tribune]

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