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Concerns voiced over Sanford’s abortion, transgender care in public meeting over merger

Plus: Arden Hills mayor stripped of powers in move by ‘Advance Arden Hills’ council members; mortgage rates rise, cool home sales; Minneapolis Animal Care & Control look for adoption help; and more.

Christopher Snowbeck of the Strib reports, “Patient advocates in the Twin Cities are worried about access to a variety of health care services, including abortion and transgender care, and inpatient mental health treatment, if a megamerger proceeds between the Sanford and Fairview health systems. Access was a recurring theme Tuesday night at a public meeting convened by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison — the first of four scheduled to gather public input on the proposed combination. … For many years, Fairview has demonstrated an extensive commitment to providing world-class gender-affirming care for transgender patients, said Phil Duran, a patient advocate with St. Paul-based Rainbow Health. His group, however, has not found evidence that Sanford provides those same health care services to patients.”

At the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo writes, “At times talking over each other, at times suffering jeers from the audience, the Arden Hills City Council opened its inaugural meeting of the New Year at 7 p.m Monday and concluded it after midnight Tuesday, having stripped Mayor David Grant of key powers to make committee assignments. … The divisions trace back to the November election, when a relatively progressive slate of candidates dubbing themselves “Advance Arden Hills” unseated the majority of the council with the stated goal of breaking an impasse with Ramsey County over the long-delayed Rice Creek Commons development area, a future downtown of sorts that could increase the city population of 10,000 residents by as much as 50 percent.”

An Axios story by Nick Halter says, “Minnesota lawmakers have signed off on a renovation and expansion of the State Office Building that will cost twice what it would to just tear it down and rebuild. State of play: A House committee on Dec. 21 approved a $498 million makeover to the 1930s-era State Office Building, which officials say has infrastructure problems, lacks security and accessibility, and is too small. The project will rehab the existing 290,000-square-foot building and add 166,000 square feet, for a total of 456,000 feet. … A review of recent construction projects in the Twin Cities, as well as one industry estimate, shows that the state will pay more than double the cost of new construction prices and nearly four times that of an ongoing historic rehab project in Minneapolis.”

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For WJON radio, Lee Voss says, “Interest rates on a 30-year mortgage rose to nearly 7% in December leading to a sharp decline in closed sales across Minnesota. It also marked 12 straight months of decline, peaking at a nearly 39% drop in closed sales in December. The overall number of properties for sale rose in 2022 at just over 15%, but they stayed on the market longer. Closed sales in the tri-county area dropped 38.3% in December compared to December 2021.”

A USA Today story by Camille Fine and JJ Hensley says, “Bed Bath & Beyond announced Tuesday that it will shutter hundreds of stores amid talks of filing for bankruptcy protection. The retailer — which also operates buybuy Baby stores and Harmon —  will close 62 Bed Bath & Beyonds in addition to the 56 stores announced in September, bringing to total of store closings to 120. … Minnesota. 3959 Second Street South, St. Cloud.”

Also in USA Today, this from Nate Davis, “Eighteen clubs are done, and 14 move forward. Here’s how we rank their viability, from least dangerous to most, as Super Bowl contenders: …11. Minnesota Vikings. So we’re talking about the viability of a 13-4 team that was outscored by three points overall in the regular season. And consider this: Even if the Vikes survive a Giants team they beat 27-24 at home in Week 16, a win would almost definitely mean a one-way ticket into the San Francisco meat grinder.”

For KARE-TV Bill Strande says, “If you’ve been thinking about adopting or fostering a pet, now is a good time to help the city of Minneapolis and add a new four-legged friend to your home. Minneapolis Animal Care & Control said it needs to free up more space at its shelters. City officials said it’s ‘now at capacity with 98 animals being housed’ at its animal welfare division – a 47% increase from this time last year, according to a news release.”

Stribber Susan Du writes, “North Commons Park, a neighborhood park in the heart of north Minneapolis, is scheduled for major renovations that will crown its recreational center as the largest and most expensive in the history of the Park Board. The existing 15,385-square-foot recreation center dates to 1971. It holds a small gym that barely fits a regulation basketball court. The new rec center would be 52,000 to 58,000 square feet, more than double the size of the city’s next newest and largest rec center — Northeast Park, which opened in 2018. The North Commons makeover will cost $33 million to $49 million, exceeding initial budget estimates of $22 million in part due to rising construction costs.”

At WCCO-TV Jeff Wagner says, “Has our snowfall impacted the drought at all? ‘It’s helping out a little bit, but by no means is it getting rid of the drought’, [said Pete Boulay, a climatologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources]. ‘We just don’t get a lot of precipitation in the winter, and also it’s not going into the ground right now’. There has been some improvement over the past several weeks. Comparing a drought map in early October to the most recent one, extreme drought has scaled back some, and that’s not including the record snowfall from last week that’s now at the whim of above-freezing temperatures. ‘The ground isn’t very hard, the frost is shallow, so depending on what happens the rest of month of January into February, how many January thaws do we get, we could meter some of this kind of frozen moisture into the ground,’ he said.”

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