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Historic day in Hennepin County marked by swearing in of sheriff, new commissioners

Plus: conviction of I-94 protester overturned; Target Field to get ‘living wall’; Minneapolis tower development could be in jeopardy; longtime Iron Range politician Tom Rukavina dies; and more.

Dave Hutchinson taking the sheriff's oath of office at the Government Center in Minneapolis.
Dave Hutchinson taking the sheriff's oath of office at the Government Center in Minneapolis.
MinnPost photo by Jessica Lee

MPR’s Brandt Williams writes: “It was a historic day in Hennepin County: The first people of color ever elected to the board of commissioners and the county’s first openly gay sheriff all took the oath of office at the county’s Government Center in Minneapolis.”

Frederick Melo at the PiPress writes, “Welcome to Minnesota, the best state in the country to raise a family. That’s the prognosis from WalletHub, which last year ranked St. Paul as hosting the 10th-best Halloween festivities in the country, a report in which Minneapolis placed 29th. While the personal finance and credit scoring website sometimes delivers lighthearted national rankings that amuse more than inform, the method to WalletHub’s latest findings are based on nine factors.”

In the Pioneer Press, Sarah Horner writes: “The conviction of a protester involved in the temporary shutdown of Interstate 94 following the 2016 police shooting of Philando Castile was overturned Monday. The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the lower court failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the public nuisance crime a Ramsey County District Court jury convicted Jeffrey Berger of committing following his short trial in November 2017, according to a opinion published Monday.”

In the Strib, Emma Nelson and Karen Zamora write: “Quentin Roberts doesn’t have to speed-read through books with his 8-year-old son anymore. … And Faduma Mohamed says she can now rest easy, knowing she doesn’t have to worry about late fees. The St. Paul Public Library system eliminated fines for overdue books and forgave more than $2.5 million in accumulated fees on Jan. 1 … Library patrons and staff are celebrating the change, which unfreezes more than 51,000 cards that were blocked because they had accumulated more than $10 each in late fees.”

In the Duluth News Tribune, Jimmy Lovrien says, “The iron ore mining company trying to restart the former Essar site in Nashwauk missed a year-end construction deadline, triggering financial penalties. Mesabi Metallics failed to start construction on its value-added facility by Dec. 31, 2018, which has caused its rent and royalty payments to the state to double until ‘the failure to meet the lease term is corrected,’ assistant DNR commissioner Barb Naramore said in an email to the News Tribune Monday afternoon.”

This from Paul Tosto at MPR, “Baseball hates change. Things get changed, players perform differently. The change gets blamed, for better or worse. That’s where we’re headed in this year’s Minnesota Twins baseball season. The team said Monday it will transform the batter’s eye — the black backdrop in center field that allows for maximum contrast for batters as the baseball heads toward them at home plate — into a new ‘living wall’ system of 5,700 sea green juniper plants.

A PiPress story says, “Roseville police have arrested a second driver believed to be involved in a multi-vehicle crash in which two pedestrians were killed on Thursday night on Larpenteur Avenue and Woodbridge Court in Roseville. The 61-year-old Roseville man allegedly was driving a sedan that fled the scene of the accident, police said. That vehicle struck at least one of the victims, both of whom were initially struck by a pickup, according to the department. The driver of the second car was located at a St. Paul bar on Saturday based partly on tips generated by news coverage, police said.”

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Also in the Strib, Nicole Norfleet reports, “A proposed tower that would include a luxury hotel, offices and condominiums on a high-profile downtown Minneapolis block could be in jeopardy because of several city-imposed design conditions, the developer has warned. In a letter to city planning officials last week, two top executives of United Properties Development said the company could not proceed with the project as proposed without the reversal of a city decision to block a sign at the top of the tower for anchor tenant RBC Wealth Management as well as other key changes.”

Dan Kraker at MPR writes, “Longtime Iron Range politician and former DFL state lawmaker Tom Rukavina has died after a battle with cancer. He was 68. State Sen. David Tomassoni, a friend and colleague of Rukavnia’s, confirmed the death Monday, saying Rukavina — ‘a passionate giant in the fight for the little guy’ — had been battling leukemia.”

Says Paul Huttner at MPR, “We reach the halfway point of meteorological winter next week. December was 6 to 9 degrees milder than average in Minnesota. January is running 10 degrees warmer than average so far in the Twin Cities.  … It would take the Mother of All Februarys to make Minnesota colder than average this winter. I just don’t see that happening. The predictions of another climate change driven, El Niño-enhanced mild winter are panning out. Winter in Minnesota is 6-degrees warmer than average compared to 1970.”

At Sports Illustrated, Rob Mahoney writes, “[Ex-Timberwolves head coach Tom] Thibodeau may have lost his job the moment he let Jimmy Butler run his gym. Yet since trading Butler for Robert Covington, Dario Šarić, and Jerryd Bayless, Minnesota has actually been one of the better teams in the league — a sound 10th by net rating, 15-13 by record, and better than both marks suggest when healthy. Compounding injuries to Covington, Jeff Teague, and Derrick Rose have strained this roster. The Wolves could look better in the coming months just by getting their actual team back on the floor. … What’s still missing is organizational credibility.