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Another round of winter weather expected to hit much of Minnesota

Plus: Dayton rips Pawlenty; median home values in Twin Cities continue to rise; state details how it’s going to spend first phase of Volkswagen settlement; Timberwolves make playoffs for the first time since 2004; and more.


Says Mary Lynn Smith for the Strib: “A big, ugly and unpredictable storm is about to hammer much of Minnesota. What’s certain is that the Twin Cities and areas north and south could be hit by a trifecta of rain, ice and snow. The big question is how much of what will fall where. Some parts of the state could be buried in a foot or more of snow … .” I’m saying: Fourth of July before the furnace goes off.

And at MPR, Paul Huttner says: “I’m not totally sold yet on the idea of double-digit snowfall totals for parts of the Twin Cities, but I’m getting closer. This looks like one of those systems where impacts will be roughly the same regardless of the eventual number of inches in your backyard. Wet roads become icy and slick, and eventually, snow-covered Friday night into Saturday. High winds of 30 to 50 mph will cause serious blowing and drifting in open areas. Prepare for some serious winter weather conditions Friday night and Saturday. Again.” I’m bored with preparing.

Oh, snap. The Star Tribune’s J. Patrick Coolican writes: “Gov. Mark Dayton harshly criticized his predecessor Tim Pawlenty on Wednesday, ripping Pawlenty’s political comeback bid at length and charging that Pawlenty’s time in office left Minnesota ‘in disastrous financial shape.’ ‘I don’t know what he’s going to run on because his record as governor was so abysmal,’ Dayton said in an interview with the Star Tribune. The DFLer is not running again this year after two terms. In response, Pawlenty’s campaign did not directly address Dayton’s criticisms.”

You can always sell the old barn. MPR’s Max Nesterak says, “The median home value in Minneapolis is a record-setting $249,000 (and $294,000 in suburban Hennepin County). This is the second year that median home values have topped the previous high water mark set in 2007 of $214,000 ($270,000 in Hennepin County). But in St. Paul, it’s a bit of a different story: Median home values in St. Paul and Ramsey County as a whole have yet to fully recover from the financial meltdown 10 years ago. The median value of a single-family home in St. Paul is $184,000 (it’s $236,900 in suburban Ramsey County). In 2007, the median home value in St. Paul was $198,400 ($247,800 in the suburbs).”

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In the Strib, Christopher Snowbeck reports, “Consumers in the individual health insurance market used about $137 million worth of financial help last year, less than half the sum set aside by legislators, according to final figures for the state’s one-time premium rebate program. Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) released numbers this week showing that 118,000 people in the individual market received rebates, with an average value of $136 per person per month. The rebates were available only to people who buy individual coverage, a small market that primarily serves self-employed people and those who don’t get coverage from their employer.”

How about buying five million space heaters? The AP tells us, “Minnesota plans to spend the first phase of its $47 million from the national Volkswagen settlement on replacing large, old diesel equipment with cleaner vehicles. Volkswagen agreed to pay the money after it was exposed for programming diesel cars to cheat on emissions tests. Minnesota gets $11.75 million in Phase 1.”

Nina Shapiro for The Seattle Times continues to follow what is now being called “the Hart family mystery,” i.e. the family with Minnesota ties the drove off a cliff into the Pacific Ocean a couple weeks back. “When Sarah and Jen Hart drove off a cliff in California last month, they left a lot of questions about their treatment of six adopted children, at least some of whom died with them. Yet, they weren’t the only kids the couple took care of over the years. The Harts fostered a teenage girl in the mid-2000s, according to three friends who knew them in Minnesota, where the couple lived before moving to the Pacific Northwest. The Minnesota Department of Human Services confirmed the Harts had a foster-care license for two years beginning in April 2005. They were in their mid-20s then, a few years out of college.”

Horrific. MPR’s Dan Gunderson reports, “Two Fergus Falls residents were charged Wednesday in the death of a 6-year-old boy whose grandmother had placed in their care, according to court records. The Otter Tail County Attorney’s Office charged Bobbie Christine Bishop, 40, and Walter Henry Wynhoff, 44, with second-degree murder, manslaughter and malicious punishment of a child in the boy’s death. … A detective ‘noted his appearance was disturbing with marks from head to toe, sores, cuts and scratches all over,’ according to the criminal complaint. Doctors also noted marks consistent with ‘a strap or some type of restraint across his upper body’ and his face ‘was scabbed over and scared with multiple injuries in different phases of healing.’ He was also wearing a soiled and partially torn diaper and one of his feet had ‘a potato-like bandage’ and was covered in a plastic bag. Doctors noted it appeared the boy had been pulled by his hair. They also told police he had injuries consistent with being scalded and was suffering from flesh-eating bacteria.”

They did not make it easy. Says Jace Frederick in the PiPress, “At the end of a back and forth, all-out battle Wednesday night at Target Center, one that required five extra minutes to be decided, it was Minnesota left standing after a 112-106 win over the Denver Nuggets. … For the first time since 2004, the Timberwolves are going back to the playoffs, clinching it on the final day of the regular season in a do-or-die situation that sent the winner to the postseason and the loser home. Minnesota advances to face top-seeded Houston in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.” In other words, enjoy it while you can.