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Rochester looks to revive languishing downtown and Destination Medical Center idea

Plus: Tens of thousands of Minnesotans seek help through 988; South Dakota received nearly $14 billion in federal COVID relief but governor returned some; Twin Cities could reach top 10 status for snow later this week; and more.

A rendering of the Destination Medical Center.
A rendering of the Destination Medical Center.

For MPR News, Catharine Richert reports, “In an event space on Rochester’s main drag, a group of business owners are throwing out words that describe their ideal downtown. “Historic,” “vibrant” and “walkable” are just some of the terms called out across the crowded room. … Nearly a decade ago, Rochester’s downtown started an epic transformation. It’s called Destination Medical Center, an idea spearheaded by Mayo Clinic aimed at making the city’s entertainment, arts and infrastructure as highly regarded as the hospital. … But eight years in, a gauntlet of roadblocks is stopping the city from getting there.”

Says Stribber Chris Serres, “Tens of thousands of Minnesotans have sought emergency help through the new 988 mental crisis hotline, surpassing expectations and spurring calls for greater state funding of the life-saving service. The new 24-hour hotline has received over 30,000 calls, texts and chat messages since it was launched last July. That far exceeds inquiries to the old 10-digit suicide hotline. Statewide, monthly call volumes have increased 31%, while texts have soared more than 500% — with Minnesota’s crisis call centers reporting a sharp rise in contacts by adolescents under duress and people seeking ongoing emotional support.”

KELO-TV in South Dakota reports, “South Dakota received nearly $14 billion in federal COVID-19 funding from March 2020 through January, according to an internal state fiscal report obtained exclusively by South Dakota News Watch. The document tallies the $13.84 billion intended to help governments, businesses, organizations and individuals survive and recover from a pandemic that killed 1 million Americans and more than 3,100 South Dakotans. … [Gov. Kristi] Noem declined a request for an interview but through her spokesman said the state used the federal stimulus money ‘wisely’ to aid the state during the pandemic. Spokesman Ian Fury said in an email to News Watch that the governor approached use of federal pandemic funding in a conservative fashion. She rejected former President Donald Trump’s offer of extended unemployment benefits for state workers in August 2020 and also sent back more than $80 million in rental assistance.”

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For MPR News Paul Huttner says, “This is now the 13th snowiest winter on record in the Twin Cities. If we get another 3.6 inches, that will put us into the top 10 snowiest winters on record. That number looks likely later this week. … A bigger, well-organized panhandle hook storm will track from the Oklahoma Panhandle toward Chicago Thursday and Friday. This system looks very likely to deliver another heavy, wet, snowy payload onto Minnesota.”

Huttner also says, “This may be a spring to remember in Minnesota. … The amount of water in the snowpack around the Upper Midwest is significant. The latest spring flood outlook from the North Central River Forecast Center shows from 2 to more than 6 inches of water trapped in the snowpack across the Upper Midwest. (See the image above.) Flood risk is already running above average across our region. That’s a change from just a few weeks ago.”

A BringMeTheNews story says, “A Laguna Beach, California-based jewelry brand and a fast-growing sunglasses company have announced plans to open stores at Mall of America this year.  Gorjana and Shady Rays join Chanel Beauty and Vuori in recently announcing they’ve chosen the mall for their first Minnesota storefront.  Gorjana, founded in 2004, has grown to more than 40 storefronts nationwide. The brand’s MOA store will open this fall.”

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