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Minnesota officials tout improvement in efforts to combat child care fraud

Plus: MPCA to hold community meetings on clean cars proposal; Vikings player arrested on suspicion of drunk driving; U.S. Highway 14 project gets underway; Albert Lea residents raise money for statue of ‘Happy Days’ star Marion Ross; and more.

Says Dave Orrick for the Pioneer Press, “The state office that investigates child care fraud is getting its ship in order, according to Minnesota officials and a prominent Republican lawmaker. Seven months since problems were exposed at the Department of Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, a revamp of the office has left its investigators better positioned to thoroughly and fairly watchdog taxpayer funds that pay for child care for the state’s poorest families.”

MPR’s Mohamed Ibrahim writes: “The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will start holding statewide community meetings this week to get public input about Gov. Tim Walz’s Clean Cars Minnesota proposal. The proposal, introduced by Walz last month, would require manufacturers to bring more low- and zero-emissions vehicles to Minnesota and bolster existing standards. Minnesota would become the first state in the Midwest to adopt such a policy, which is similar to policies enacted by 14 other states.”

Says the Star Tribune’s Paul Walsh, “Vikings backup defensive back Jayron Kearse was pulled over early Sunday on a Minneapolis freeway while drunk and with a loaded gun in his vehicle, according to authorities. Kearse, 25, was booked into the Hennepin County jail shortly before 5:30 a.m. by the State Patrol. … According to the State Patrol: Kearse drove around a construction barricade onto a closed section of eastbound Interstate 94 at Cedar Avenue, prompting a state trooper to pull him over shortly before 4 a.m.”

For FOX 9,  Sarah Danik says, “A new program, launched by a Minneapolis non-profit, has some Twin Cities metro police departments not only cutting drivers a break, but also helping them make a repair. … The way it works is simple: When participating police departments see a headlight, taillight, or brake light out, they make a traffic stop. But instead of a ticket, drivers get something much better: a voucher for a free fix.”

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At MPR, Andrew Krueger reports, “Funding is in place, a contractor is selected — and now a groundbreaking will take place Friday for a project to expand U.S. Highway 14 to four lanes between Owatonna and Dodge Center in southern Minnesota. The 12.5-mile, $108 million project is years in the making and represents the final link in upgrading the well-traveled highway to four lanes between Mankato and Rochester.”

Also in the Pioneer Press, Tad Vezner reports, “The chief executive of St. Paul’s Can Can Wonderland has gone crazy for Hamm’s. So much so that he wants to develop every single non-occupied building in the labyrinthine brewery complex that has sat half-vacant on the city’s East Side for decades. He’s bought a few. And as for the rest — including every building facing the street — it’s Rob Clapp’s vision to create a sprawling, skyline-defying landscape for artists to work and play. An arts and entertainment complex with slides, rides, a Ferris wheel and high-riding zip line — from the tip of the tallest smokestack — among interactive exhibits to attract visitors from across the state.”

The Star Tribune’s Jim Buchta writes, “Artspace, a Twin Cities nonprofit that develops housing and work space for low-income artists, is about to start construction on its biggest project in the state: A 100-unit mixed-use apartment building will be built on a once-polluted site in the Harrison neighborhood in north Minneapolis. Becky Carlson St. Clair, director of property development for Artspace, said the neighborhood’s proximity to new transit lines and downtown Minneapolis, where the cost of housing and land is considerably higher, is boosting development — and housing costs — in the area.”

In the St. Cloud Times, Sarah Kocher writes: “Marion Ross may call Albert Lea a more permanent home if a group of community members are successful. The Marion Ross Statue Committee (or MRS C, after Marion Ross’s character on the ’70s TV show ‘Happy Days’) is fundraising $125,000 to erect a bronze statue of Ross, an actress who claims Albert Lea as her hometown. In addition to playing the beloved Mrs. Cunningham in ‘Happy Days,’ Ross has also made appearances in ‘Gilmore Girls’ and as the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants’ grandmother.”

Megan Ryan of the Star Tribune says, “Mr. Fleck goes to GameDay. At least, he’s trying. Really trying. The Gophers coach delivered an impassioned 3 ½-minute filibuster after the Gophers beat Maryland 52-10 on Saturday to remain undefeated at 8-0, one of nine unbeaten teams left in the FBS. But that wasn’t the only campaign Fleck wanted to win. The other platform he’s running on: The No. 13 Gophers — with their highest ranking since 2004 — deserve to host their first ESPN College GameDay. … Fleck waved his arms, raised his voice and dropped names, all in an effort to convince the popular Saturday morning TV show to feature the Gophers’ next game, a matchup with similarly undefeated No. 5 Penn State on Nov. 9.”

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