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Diversity goals for hiring on state construction projects rarely achieved

Plus: Grand Casino reinstitutes mask requirement; Superior National Forest officials modify food-storage rules after uptick in bear encounters; Wisconsin Republicans wait for Sen. Ron Johnson to make reelection decision; and more.

road repair
Minnesota Department of Transportation

In the Star Tribune, Jessie Van Berkel reports, “Minnesota spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually on construction, but the contractors building roads, transit and buildings rarely meet state goals for hiring a diverse workforce. In dozens of instances over the past two years, companies contracting with the state did not employ a single woman or person of color as part of their construction team. Some in the industry called the state’s goals unattainable, because there still are not enough women and people of color entering and staying in the field. Minnesota officials acknowledge the numbers are aspirational but say they are critical to ensure progress.”

For KSTP-TV Brittney Ermon says, “New affordable housing data shows rent is out of reach if you make minimum wage in Minnesota, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. … Keeping up with climbing rent prices while earning minimum wage is like fighting a losing battle, according to Kendall Benson with Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. … According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, someone making $10.08 per hour — the minimum wage for most of Minnesota — would have to work 69 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment that costs $900 per month.”

This from MPR, “Minnesota’s COVID-19 picture looked extremely bright on July 1. Now, with the month ending on Saturday, things are a little cloudy. Cases and hospitalizations continue to rise at a steady pace heading into August. With the rise of the delta variant, the CDC recommends even vaccinated people wear a mask indoors in areas where community transmission is substantial or high.  In Minnesota, as of Friday evening, that includes more than 30 counties — including nearly all of the Twin Cities metro area. … state public health leaders estimate the highly contagious delta variant is now driving 75 percent of new cases. They are imploring Minnesotans who are eligible for a vaccine but still unvaccinated to get their shots.”

FOX 9 reports: “As COVID-19 cases are increasing across the United States, Grand Casino will once again put a mask requirement into effect. According to a posting on the casino’s website, starting Monday, August 2, guests and workers at Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley will be required to wear masks inside the casinos. ‘This is a proactive step to help you have a safe, friendly, and fun experience at our properties,’ the website reads. ‘We also looked at every human touchpoint at our properties to develop safety guidelines.’”

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Bob Shaw reports in the Pioneer Press: “A refuse facility in Newport is slaying an environmental dragon — landfills. The plant, operated by Ramsey and Washington counties, is annually sending only 10 percent of its waste to landfills. And, next year a $43 million expansion at the Ramsey/Washington Recycling Energy plant will launch the largest organic food-scrap recycling program in the state. The plant is a product of years of collaboration by the two counties as they try to improve environmental practices. But not everyone is cheering. Some environmentalists worry about the side-effects of the program. The plant reaches its landfill goals in part by burning garbage in incinerators in Red Wing and Mankato.”

Another MPR story says, “Officials in northern Minnesota’s Superior National Forest say they’re seeing an uptick in bear encounters this summer — so they’re requiring visitors to follow food-storage rules. The increased number of encounters include bears stealing backpacks, or digging in trash bins. Officials say the new food storage order is a proactive step intended to keep both people and bears safe.”

In the Star Tribune, Kim Hyatt reports, “A motorcyclist run down in Minneapolis’ Jordan neighborhood by a driver now facing murder charges has been identified by the Hennepin County medical examiner. Caleb Tyrone Hutchins, 26, of Brooklyn Center, was test-driving a dirt bike in the alley between Penn and Queen avenues N. on July 20 when 31-year-old Quantelize Welch ran into Hutchins, according to second-degree murder charges against Welch. Charges say Welch was seen driving a white SUV into the alley and then speeding off after striking Hutchins, who later died at North Memorial Health Hospital. Welch was arrested that weekend and held in lieu of $1 million bail.”

CBS 3 Duluth reports:A dedicated team of skilled volunteers from Duluth came together Saturday to help a lion who had suffered a broken tooth. Lily the lion, one of Lake Superior Zoo’s three lions, underwent a root canal surgery to replace a large upper canine and a second smaller tooth. Dr. Louise Beyea, a veterinarian at the zoo, was among the team aiding Lily. She said zoo staff noticed the broken canine during a routine checkup.”

Says Julia Manchester for The Hill, “Wisconsin Republicans are waiting anxiously for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to make a decision on whether he will run for reelection and are quietly considering backup plans in case he doesn’t run. Johnson made national headlines last week when he told conservative commentator Lisa Boothe that he did not think he was the best candidate for 2022, leading many to ask whether this was foreshadowing a retirement. … Johnson has come under scrutiny for a number of comments this year including saying the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was ‘peaceful,’ for dismissing climate change as bullshit at a GOP luncheon, and for organizing an event highlighting adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine.”