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David Tinjum
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Claudia Kittock
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Merle Minda
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Michael Rainville Jr.
History Columnist
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Ryan Ojard
Staff Photographer

Jenny Heck
Mill City Cooks
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Covering life, work, and play in the Historic Mill District and Downtown Minneapolis Riverfront neighborhoods. Have an opinion, local news or events to share?  Contact us.

Monday
Dec242018

A Holidazzle History

Article by Michael Rainville, Jr.

The holiday season in Downtown Minneapolis is a magical time of year. Colorful lights line the streets, the shops and restaurants play Christmas music, and the familiar jingle of Salvation Army bell ringers can be heard throughout the skyway system. There are many ways to celebrate this time of year, and one of the most fun ways to do so is attending the Holidazzle. It’s hard to imagine a holiday season without the joy and good tidings that fill the city when the Holidazzle takes place every year.

In the grand scheme of things, the Holidazzle is rather new. In the summer of 1992 a group of businesses in Downtown Minneapolis were worried that the small national recession the year earlier, combined with the opening of the Mall of America coming up in October, would be disastrous for them during the holiday shopping season. A plan needed to be made to keep shoppers in Downtown. Brookfield Development and Dayton’s each put down $200,000 to get things started, and when the City of Minneapolis saw this ambition, they contributed $1,000,000.

The Circus Train float   Photo: midwestliving.wordpress.com

As different ideas were being tossed around, they finally settled on hosting a parade. Inspired by the daily extravagant parades at Walt Disney World, the new Holidazzle parade would run four nights a week from the Friday after Thanksgiving to Christmas along Nicollet Mall, which oddly enough was made to counter the opening of the Southdale Mall. The first year saw only eight floats, but it was an instant success. Shops were full, the sidewalks were packed, and everyone was happy.

The City would also advertise other events going on during this time that would make coming into town worth your while, like these first-year events such as the Guthrie Theater’s A Christmas Carol, Sesame Street Live at the Target Center, the Lovely Liebowitz Sisters’ A Krakatoa Holiday music show, and Puss in Boots at the Dayton’s 8th Floor Auditorium. Metro Transit also offered the “Holidazzle Express” for those who didn’t want to deal with busy downtown driving. The shuttle service went from five metro Park & Ride locations, Brooklyn Park, Minnetonka, Richfield, South Minneapolis, and St. Paul, to Downtown Minneapolis. The parade became so popular it even made an appearance in the all-time classic Twin Cities Christmas movie Jingle All the Way when Arnold Schwarzenegger participated in a fictionalized version of the parade.

Michael Rainville, Jr. (left) in the circus seal costume with a friend.

The eight floats in the parade quickly grew to twelve, and the parade featured over 350,000 lights and 300 volunteers in costumes. For the 2000 edition, an almost 6-year-old Michael Jr. had the opportunity to sit next to Santa in his sleigh one night as he closed out the parade. However, little Michael was far too nervous to sit next to such a legend and ended up watching the parade from the sidelines with his parents. It was scary, okay? I did get my redemption the next week though. My father, Michael Sr., learned from his past mistake and this time pulled some strings to get two spots for myself and my friend Josiah to be seals in the Circus Train float. It took us about ten minutes to fit the costume over our bulky winter jackets and snow pants, but we had the time of our life and even made friends with the elephant and giraffe.

Fireworks over Loring Park Photo: Holidazzle website

In 2013, the organizers announced the biggest change the Holidazzle has seen when they decided to discontinue the parade and instead host a European-esque holiday village in Peavey Plaza. The Holidazzle Village would have live music, fireworks, great food, and vendors from around the world. Fortunately, the big change did not jeopardize the Holidazzle and they eventually moved to the even more spacious Loring Park.

From a magical holiday light parade to a festive village, the Holidazzle has been a Minneapolis and Twin Cites staple. While it has evolved over time, it has brought holiday cheer to the Twin Cities for almost thirty years, and hopefully many more. Happy holidays!

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About Michael Rainville, Jr.

A 6th generation Minneapolitan, Michael Rainville Jr. received his B.A. in History from the University of St. Thomas, and is currently enrolled in their M.A. in Art History and Certificate in Museum Studies programs.

Michael is also a lead guide at Mobile Entertainment LLC, giving Segway tours of the Minneapolis riverfront for 6+ years.

He can be reached at mrainvillejr@comcast.net.

Friday
Dec212018

Balls Cabaret Celebrates its 25th Anniversary at The Southern

BALLS Cabaret, the longest-running weekly midnight cabaret in human history, will present the best of BALLS during PRIME TIME BALLS, at The Southern Theater, January 10, 11, and 12 at 7:30pm.

PRIME TIME BALLS will present the best of BALLS with three talent filled evenings of dance, music, comedy, poetry, magic, and storytelling - January 10, 11 and 12, 7:30pm at The Southern Theater. Each night will be a different show featuring BALLS alumni performers including: Mary Jo Pehl, Ben San Del, Norah Long, Brian Sostek and Megan McClellan, Ari Hoptman, Kaleena Miller, and more exciting reveals to come! If you have ever wondered what happens at BALLS Cabaret’s every Saturday at The Southern Theater, now is your chance to experience it before the clock strikes midnight. Tickets are a suggested $35 donation (or ARTshare membership) available at www.southerntheater.org. All proceeds from this event will support the historic Southern Theater, the home of BALLS Cabaret.

"The Southern is the perfect home for what we're doing," says BALLS founder Leslie Ball. "We encourage artists to take healthy risks, to stretch, and deepen and grow. And that's what the Southern has been doing for artists - and for audiences - for over a century! We're so lucky to have been here for a quarter of that century." Over the decades, BALLS has welcomed seasoned professionals, aspiring students, and complete neophytes - nurturing careers of countless successful performers including Frank Conniff, Maria Bamford, Nick Swardson, Derek Hughes, and Tay Zonday.

Performances are Thursday Jan 10 through Saturday Jan 12 at 7:30pm at The Southern Theater, 1420 S. Washington Avenue, Minneapolis. Tickets are a suggested donation of $35.00 and can be purchased online at www.southerntheater.org

About BALLS Cabaret

BALLS Cabaret, the longest-running weekly midnight cabaret in recorded human history began on August 3, 1991 at the old Jungle Theater before settling into its current Prime Time Balls Celebrates 25 years at The Southern Theater Page 2 The Southern Theater • 1420 S. Washington Avenue • Minneapolis, MN 55454 • www.southerntheater.org • 612-340-0155 home at The Southern Theater. BALLS is for artists of any and all disciplines - at any and all levels of experience – each given seven minutes to showcase their talents. Founder Leslie Ball views the cabaret as a ministry to promote community and creativity. Ball has fostered a place where community flourishes, lifetime friendships form, artistic cross-pollination and collaborations blossom. Follow us on Facebook @ballscabaret

About The Southern Theater

The Southern Theater opened its doors on March 1, 1910 and remains one of the Twin Cities most active historic theater venues. Each year The Southern Theater is host to an outstanding season of programing including dance, theater, music, live concert performances, film, spoken word and mixed media, all highlighting a celebration of local artistry under the historic arch. Follow us @SouthernTheater on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Those interested in presenting at The Southern can send inquiries to info@southerntheater.org. Tickets or an ARTshare membership to The Southern can be purchased at www.southerntheater.org.

Thursday
Dec202018

Alfred Bangoura, New Superintendent of Minneapolis Parks, Takes Over January 20, 2019

Via a December 19 announcement from the Minneapolis Park and Rec Board:

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s (MPRB) next Superintendent, Alfred Bangoura, will take over leading the nationally acclaimed park system on January 20, 2019.

The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a three-year contract with Bangoura at tonight’s Board meeting. He will succeed Superintendent Emeritus Mary Merrill, who has served as interim superintendent and has been leading the organization since February. 

Alfred Bangoura“Mr. Bangoura stood out from a national pool of candidates as having the unique skills needed for our Superintendent. Al believes our parks are for everyone and he’s ready to advance this Board's mandate of increasing our investment in youth and building an even better park system for our guests and everyone who calls Minneapolis their home,” said Brad Bourn, President of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. “His knowledge of Minneapolis and our parks coupled with his unique professional skills will provide cohesiveness and inspire collaboration.”

“I am honored to lead Minneapolis Park and Recreation, the premier park system in the country,” said Al Bangoura. “For 19 years, I had the privilege of serving Minneapolis residents and working with passionate communities. I am excited to reconnect with internal staff and the community. I intend to be the voice on how we build communities, deliver meaningful services and meet the diverse needs of Minneapolis residents. Thank you and I look forward to coming back home!”

Next month it is anticipated Commissioners will vote on a separate resolution related to leasing Bangoura a portion of the Theodore Wirth Home and Administration Building, located in Lyndale Farmstead Park. The lease will be based on fair market rental value and will take into consideration ongoing scheduled public access to portions of the home.

Bangoura is currently the Recreation Superintendent of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, which includes Charlotte, NC and serves more than 1.1 million people. Bangoura currently oversees community and recreation services for the county’s 17 recreation facilities and three senior and active adult facilities. He is a Certified Park and Recreational Professional (CPRP) and prior to joining Mecklenburg County, Bangoura served as the Director of Recreation Centers and Programs for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. From 2001 – 2015, Bangoura held a variety of progressive recreation leadership positions with the MPRB.

The MPRB Superintendent provides day-to-day leadership for the 6,811 acre nationally recognized park system. The Superintendent manages an annual operating and capital budget of almost $125 million and oversees the work of approximately 570 full-time and 1,170 temporary Minneapolis Parks employees who deliver programs, services and facilities that are responsive to the diverse needs of City residents and all segments of the community.

Former MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller resigned from the Park Board in February 2018 to take a position leading a public-private parks conservancy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Superintendent Emeritus Mary Merrill was unanimously selected by the Board to fulfill Miller’s contract and to assist in the search process for the next superintendent.

Wednesday
Dec192018

Metro Transit Holiday Service Schedule

 
TRANSIT SERVICE FOR YEAR-END HOLIDAYS
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Holiday service will be in effect on December 25 & January 1, 2019. 
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Metro Transit buses and METRO Blue and Green lines will follow Holiday schedules on Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25, and on New Year’s Day, Tuesday, January 1. The METRO Red Line will follow weekend/Holiday schedules those days. There is no Northstar service on either day. Metro Transit Service Centers, Customer Relations and Lost & Found will be closed both days. The Transit Information Center is closed December 25, but will be open from 8am to 5pm on January 1.

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Reduced service on Monday, December 24

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Due to decreased demand on Christmas Eve, Metro Transit and regional transit providers will reduce service on Monday, December 24. Weekend fares will be charged (except where noted). Northstar will follow a reduced schedule on December 24 and charge standard weekday pricing.

The Transit Information Center will be open 6:30am to 9pm on December 24. The Minneapolis Service Center will be open 7:30-10:30am (the St. Paul Service Center will be closed). Customer Relations and Lost & Found will be open 7:30am to noon.

Routes will follow SATURDAY schedules unless noted here. Some routes will follow Saturday schedules with additional trips. If your route does not have a schedule for Saturday service and is not listed here, it will not operate on December 24.

See the full schedule for Monday, December 24.

Monday
Dec172018

MPRB Seeks Residents Interested in Serving on Park Police Advisory Council

Deadline to apply for Park Police Advisory Council extended to Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) Board of Commissioners is seeking applications for six appointments to the Park Police Advisory Council.

Since 1887 the Park Police Department has been the primary law enforcement agency tasked with policing Minneapolis parks. The newly formed six-member Advisory Council will meet monthly with MPRB personnel to discuss topics that are important to the MPRB and park patrons and to open two-way communication.

The primary role of the Advisory Council is to become knowledgeable about policing, crime, and safety in Minneapolis parks; evaluate broad approaches to community safety, enforcement, and reconciliation; contribute to broad community engagement by acting as community, neighborhood, and stakeholder advocates; assist with ongoing communication to the public; provide reports to the Board of Commissioners; and make consensus recommendations regarding certain matters of policy and programs for review by the Park Police Chief and MPRB Superintendent.

Advisory Council members must:

- Live in the City of Minneapolis

- Commit to a two-year term

- Attend monthly evening meetings

- Embrace the MPRB guiding statements for racial equity, gender inclusion and universal access

- Be willing and eager to participate in challenging and meaningful conversation

- Act as a bridge between the community and Park Police Department

- Work collaboratively to enhance relationships between Park Police and the community, specifically with underrepresented residents and patrons. 

Applications must be received no later than 4 p.m., Thursday, December 20, 2018.  Following submission, applicants will receive an email confirming receipt of the application and describing the general process for appointment. Appointments for open positions will be made at the January 2, 2019 business meeting of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. For a full description of each committee and to complete the application please visit: https://www.minneapolisparks.org/abca.

Applicants with questions about the appointments process should email their questions to board.appointments@minneapolisparks.org or contact Radious Guess at 612-230-6419.

Please click here to sign up to be notified of all advisory committee opportunities.

Contact: 

Radious Guess
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
Community Outreach, Equity and Inclusion Manager
612-230-6419
rguess@minneapolisparks.org

 

Saturday
Dec152018

Mill City Players - Fall, 2018

Article by Claudia Kittock, photo by Rick Kittock

The Mill City Players ended the fall session on Thursday, December 13th with a performance at YouthLink. It was preceded by a performance at Sabathani Community Center on November 27th for 200 policymakers and people who work with the homeless for the county’s annual “Heading Home Hennepin” meeting.

This session was unique for the Players. Because of scheduling issues, the decision was made to concentrate on seven of the actors who are based in YouthLink. Our hope was to spend time with a smaller group of actors, and be able to work on leadership skills, artistic skills, and interpersonal skills. The Players have been rehearsing six hours a week for 10 weeks. Every rehearsal was split between work on acting, dancing, and drumming.

Mayor Jacob Frey with members of the Mill City Players after a November 27 performance at the Sabathani Community Center. 

Sam Karpeh, Zedekiah Zbichorski, Crystal Ray Lamm, Jalen Dyson, Jackie Santrelle and Anthony Anderson have all been part of the Players from the very first session. Charlie Ruffin joined us for this session. The benefits of having a stable core of artists is immeasurable. With each and every session, we have been able to watch this group of artists grow.

Why acting? Why the Mill City Players? The Friends of the Mill District began this program with the mission of offering artistic expression to young people who have not had that opportunity. Parents everywhere know the benefits of taking their children to music classes, dance classes, boxing classes, and acting groups. We have watched our children grow and change because of those classes. The Mill City Players offers that for the young people who decide to take this journey with us.

Our artistic staff, James A. Williams the Artistic Director, and Patricia Brown and Ahanti Young the Associate Directors, give our actors every bit of their artistic skill and their enormous hearts. We are so blessed by their work. Teaching young artists is filled with hard work, frustrations, and enormous blessings. We get to watch them struggle and grow and learn to express themselves in powerful ways. Twice a week we begin by eating together and then the hard work begins. We struggle together, but it is the best work because we do it together.

At the Heading Home event in November, our actors performed for a crowd that included Mayor Jacob Frey and were able to spend a few minutes talking with him about their journey. The audience was incredibly receptive to the artistry the Players displayed, and the Players were thrilled by the standing ovation they received.

The performance at YouthLink was a powerful ending to this session. Performing in front of your peers is always difficult, but our actors had a dynamic performance and celebrated afterward with dreams and plans for the next session beginning in February.

While the boxing class for the Players will continue during the hiatus, we are in the process of hiring our first writing teacher. Bill Breen, a poet and college writing professor, will join our group of artists working with the Players. We are excited to add Bill and his skills for our group of artists.

The future of the Players is unlimited. We are excited to continue this work, and are grateful for the support of the friends of the Friends. If you want to become more involved, we welcome contributions. Please consider becoming a sustaining contributor by signing up on GiveMN.com. Checks made out to Friends of the Mill District can be sent to: Claudia Kittock, 1240 S 2nd Street, Unit 1132, Minneapolis, MN 55415.

We are stronger together. This is good work and important work, and none of it is possible without you.

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About Claudia Kittock

Claudia is a resident of the Mill District. In addition to writing for Mill City Times, she is a founding Board Member of Friends of the Mill District. Claudia is the author of Health Through Chaos, mentors young adults at YouthLink, and has served on the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA).
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Contact: claudia@millcitymedia.org
Friday
Dec142018

Park Rehabilitation Project Begins at Bohemian Flats and Annie Young Meadow

Project will replace sidewalks, picnic shelters, picnic tables, benches, park lighting and drinking fountains

Work began earlier this month on a project that will rehabilitate picnic and park facilities at Bohemian Flats and Annie Young Meadow.

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) staff led community engagement sessions throughout summer 2018 and developed a plan to replace sidewalks, picnic shelters, picnic tables, benches, park lighting and drinking fountains at the two areas within Mississippi Gorge Regional Park. 

Accessibility improvements are also a part of this project. When complete, Bohemian Flats and Annie Young Meadow will comply with current standards set by the Americans With Disabilities Act, making the park more easily accessed by all visitors.

In February 2018, the MPRB voted to rename a portion of Riverside Park, formerly called Lower Riverside Park, to Annie Young Meadow in honor of Young, a seven-term commissioner who passed away in January 2018.

Construction is expected to be complete by July 2018. The MPRB is working with Paradise Charter Cruises to complete the area around its facility prior to its opening next spring.  

Project funding was provided by the Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment Parks and Trails Fund.

March 17, 2018 dedication and ribbon cutting to commemorate the renaming of Lower Riverside Park as Annie Young Meadow.

Friday
Dec142018

December News from the Minneapolis Parks Foundation

Via a December 14 e-newsletter from the Minneapolis Parks Foundation:

From Tom Evers, Executive Director

Success in 2018 Means We'll Do More in 2019

'Tis the season to reflect on the previous 12 months and set aims for the coming year. "When future generations look back at the history of Minneapolis parks, 2018 will likely be seen as a pivotal year for our system" Tom Evers writes, looking back on the milestones reached in 2018 and what they foretell for the future. Read More »

Bank of America Awards $1M Grant for RiverFirst

Catalytic gift brings campaign to within $600,000 needed to break ground
Two of the most important new parks projects in a generation - Water Works and the Great Northern Greenway River Link - are within reach, thanks to Bank of America's generous $1 million contribution to RiverFirst. In awarding their catalytic gift, Bank of America is investing in a landscape that will benefit and connect the community for generations and decades to come. Read More »

Include the Parks Foundation in Your End of Year Giving

Parks have the power to connect us, heal us, and make us whole
The Minneapolis Parks Foundation works to ensure our parks exist for all of Minneapolis; we work to connect the whole city to our parks. We're asking for your investment in this vital resource. Your gift helps to connect us to our civic commons via our parks, the greatest public spaces in our city. Please donate today to ensure these spaces remain for generations to come. Thank you! Donate Now »

Community Profile: Meg Forney

Using IRA Charitable Distributions to Support Parks

 Meg Forney, an at-large Minneapolis Park Board Commissioner, will begin supporting the Parks Foundation with IRA distributions next year, when she turns 70 1/2.

"It's a simple way to support our favorite causes while gaining some tax benefit." Read More »

Position Opening: Project Implementation Director

The Parks Foundation has created a new position called the Project Implementation Director, who will help bring signature park projects to completion in partnership with our public agency, nonprofit, and private sector partners. Applications are being taken until the position is filled. Read More »

Discover Your Parks: 5 Remnants of the Past, Still Visible

They say the only constant is change. And if this adage is true, then city parks are no exception. Despite the momentum of progress, a few remnants of the past still exist in Minneapolis parks, including gravestones, faux rocks, and an old carriage road. Read More »

Links & News: Stories and Ideas of Interest and Impact

Friday
Dec142018

Looking Ahead to New Years Eve... Miller Lite again teams up with MTC and JJ Taylor to offer free rides

MILLER LITE® HELPS NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTYGOERS CELEBRATE RESPONSIBLY® WITH FREE RIDES ON METRO TRANSIT

Miller Lite Rings in the New Year, Providing Free and Safe Rides for the Twin Cities

For the eighth consecutive year, the Original Light Beer is partnering with Metro Transit and J.J. Taylor Distributing to help residents and visitors celebrate New Year’s Eve safely. Miller Lite Free Rides will provide safe and free rides on all Metro Transit routes starting at 6 p.m. on Monday, December 31 until 3 a.m.

Last year marked the 30th anniversary of the Free Rides program which has provided more than 6.4 million people in 27 communities with safe rides as part of an ongoing commitment to helping consumers Celebrate Responsibly®.

“Miller Lite believes that the only way to ring in the New Year is to do so responsibly,” said Diane Wagner, alcohol responsibility manager for MillerCoors. “Through our partnerships with Metro Transit and J.J. Taylor Distributing, we are making sure that beer drinkers in the Twin Cities have a range of options to get home safely and prevent drunk driving.”

Miller Lite Free Rides has provided more than 245,000 safe rides to residents and visitors of Twin Cities since the program began locally in 2011.

“Metro Transit’s partnership with Miller Lite encourages residents and visitors of the Twin Cities to celebrate one of the biggest nights of the year responsibly,” said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb. “Metro Transit’s bus and train operators are all proud to be your designated drivers this New Year’s Eve.” 

“Through our partnership with Miller Lite, we’re proud to kick off the new year by providing free, safe and convenient transit to the Minneapolis-St. Paul community,” said Billie Jo Smith of J.J. Taylor Distributing.

As part of the 2025 Global Goals MillerCoors developed in partnership with Molson Coors, MillerCoors aims to implement impactful programs to prevent drunk driving in every market where beer is sold. Designated driver and safe ride programs like Miller Lite Free Rides are critical components of meeting that goal.

Thursday
Dec132018

December E-Newsletter from 3rd Ward Council Member Steve Fletcher

We Adopted Our 2019 Budget!

On Wednesday, December 5th, the City Council approved the City's $1.55 billion 2019 budget after our final public hearing. I'm really proud of so much of what we've put into this budget and how it aligns with our values. There's more detail on some of the highlights below.

I want to thank Mayor Jacob Frey for making an outstanding budget proposal, and especially for the historic investment of more than $40 million in affordable housing. Budget Committee Chair Linea Palmisano also deserves a lot of credit for making our budget process as open and transparent as it was, including by adding an additional public hearing for you to share your feedback with us.

It's worth noting that the total changes made by the City Council represent a small fraction of the Mayor's proposed budget. Mayor Frey made some major moves with his budget proposal - on housing, on economic development, on public safety, and more - almost 90% of which we preserved without any change, and for which I proudly cast my vote.

One significant change I led on, along with Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, was to increase our investment in public safety and violence prevention beyond policing. To fund this, we removed a little over $1 million that the Mayor had proposed to fund new positions within MPD. That means instead of increasing the MPD budget by 2.8%, we're increasing it by 2.2%. Those funds will instead be invested in the following:

  • An expansion of the successful Mental Health Co-Responder pilot program to all five police precincts, rather than just three;
  • a staff position and stable funding for the newly formed Office of Violence Prevention to invest in collaborative, community-based safety strategies, including downtown safety initiatives that had been funded on a one-time basis in recent years;
  • ongoing funding for the Next-Step Youth Violence Prevention program;
  • outreach funding for the Youth Coordinating Board in the Cedar-Riverside area;
  • ongoing funding for successful pilot programs in the City Attorney's office on domestic violence outreach and alternative pathways for weapons offenses;
  • adding staff capacity in the Office of Police Conduct Review and the City Coordinator's Division of Race & Equity;
  • increasing funding to the Collaborative Enforcement program in the Labor Standards Division of the Department of Civil Rights; and
  • restoring funding for Legal Services for Immigrants and Refugee Residents.

Some other highlights include amendments by Council Member Jeremiah Ellison and Council President Lisa Bender that added resources to a revolving loan to fund repairs to restore rental properties and avoid tenant displacement, and that shifted additional money to legal defense for tenants facing eviction. Both of these fill important gaps in our city's current approach to producing and maintaining affordable housing, and I am proud that I got to vote for them on behalf of Ward 3.

During our final markup, I proposed one final amendment to the budget to add a position in Public Works that will collaborate with our Planning Department on infrastructure investments and public realm improvements in areas anticipating rapid development. This idea came straight out of a lot of meetings and conversations I have had with residents across the ward about areas with a lot of planned projects, and I was very pleased to see the funding to create this position pass unanimously! I'm especially grateful to Public Works Director Robin Hutcheson and CPED Director David Frank for working together to support the creation of this new collaborative role between their two departments.

Our budget is one of the strongest reflections of our values that we can make year in and year out, and I am proud of the work we did to make sure our 2019 budget reflects the values and priorities we all want to see front and center in our work to make Minneapolis an even greater City for all.

Final City Council Meeting of 2018

On Friday, December 7, we had our final City Council meeting of 2018, and we passed several exciting ordinances and policies that reflect the culmination of, in many cases, over a year's worth of work by my colleagues.

In addition to approving the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan and sending it to the Metropolitan Council for their consideration (more on that below), we also passed:

We also reappointed Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to his first full three-year term!

Taken together, this final Council meeting closed out an incredibly productive year towards making Minneapolis a safer, healthier, more equitable City, and I'm proud of the work and energy I was able to contribute to our accomplishments.

Please join me at Kramarczuk's next Wednesday, December 19 from 7:30 - 9:00 A.M. for a Year in Review at my final Good Morning Ward 3 of 2018!

Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan Approved, Now Goes to Metropolitan Council for Review

On Friday, we approved Minneapolis 2040, the City’s Comprehensive Plan, which will help shape how the city will grow and change over the next two decades so all residents can benefit. 

The Comprehensive Plan calls for allowing more housing options, especially in areas that lack housing choices and access to transit, goods and services. It also includes several policies to make the city more resilient to climate change.

My amendments to the plan included:

  • Encouraging larger, family-supportive housing units near our Public Schools
  • Ensuring that the City's data collection safeguards the data privacy of residents and visitors, and calling for the adoption of a City-wide Data Privacy Policy to govern data collection, retention, sharing, and use by City departments and vendors about City residents and visitors. (This is a policy I introduced as a subject matter earlier this year, and will be developing in detail soon).
  • Requiring buildings with inactive uses, like storage facilities or adult entertainment establishments, to be screened with active uses on the street or to be located above or below street level.
  • Together with Alondra Cano, directing staff to replace "citizen" with "resident" any time it appears throughout the plan.
  • Amendments to the Land Use and Built Form maps to better align with the Minneapolis Park Board's Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park Plan.

My colleagues brought many thoughtful amendments that strengthened the plan, and overall I think it's an excellent document that we should all be proud of for its commitment to racial equity and addressing the urgent challenge of climate change. I want to especially commend Council President Bender and Council Member Kevin Reich for their work on this plan over the last three years to get us to this point.

You can learn more about the plan at Minneapolis2040.com and read all of the considered amendments here on the City's Legislative Information Management System (LIMS).

Partners Open Temporary Navigation Center for People Experiencing Homelessness

This fall, the City Council approved a 1.25-acre site at 2109 Cedar Ave. in south Minneapolis as a temporary site for a Navigation Center that will provide a safe and service-rich environment for up to 120 single adults experiencing homelessness, and approved $1.5 million in funding towards its construction. I have been one of four City Council Members serving on a working group with City staff and partner organizations, and I am glad that it has now opened and people have begun to move in.

The Red Lake Nation and Simpson Housing Services have announced their commitment to lead the center. The Red Lake Nation owns the site and will provide security and some of the social services at the center, which will remain open until May 2019. After that, the Red Lake Nation is breaking ground on a new affordable housing project on the site.

Simpson Housing Services will provide shelter operational support. The City has worked closely with these and other coalition partners on the development of the center, which will offer the opportunity to regain safety and engage in pathways to permanent housing, income, healthcare and stability. Voluntary, individualized case management services will be provided on site by partner agencies.

To date, partners involved in outreach at the encampment have assisted more than 80 people with securing access to supportive housing. Following the opening of the Navigation Center, leaders from the Red Lake Nation and Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID), who have been providing support at the encampment site since it began, will take the lead in helping transition people from the encampment to the center or alternative locations.

Coalition partners (including those mentioned above plus Hennepin County and the State of Minnesota) are committed to collaborating on the transition to the Navigation Center, shifting existing encampment supports to the center, and the eventual closure of the encampment, which we all recognize is not safe given the cold weather and other conditions.

The City also remains committed to working with partners on long-term housing solutions, including developing recommendations for housing geared toward Native Americans experiencing chronic homelessness. There are some encouraging signs that some of those long-term solutions are already in the works.

"Collaboration is helping make downtown Minneapolis safer"

Photo credit: Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

Last month, I shared a story from the Star Tribune on some of the work we've been doing as a city around downtown nightlife.

Now, just last week, the Star Tribune Editorial Board voiced their agreement that our work is paying off.

Downtown violent crime is down over 24% from 2017 to 2018 year-to-date, and it is truly the result of not just a strong economy but all of the collaborative work by the Mayor's office, the City Council, City staff in numerous departments, and so many community partners. I look forward to continuing this work in 2019 and beyond through the development of collaborative safety strategies with the Office of Violence Prevention and all downtown stakeholders.

Record Turnout in 2018 General Election

Photo credit: Ellen Schmidt, MN Daily

The 2018 General Election on November 6 was historic for more reasons than one, and all of them good.

First, Minnesota once again led the nation in voter turnout, and we very nearly had the highest statewide midterm turnout ever, second only to 2002 by half a percent.

  • Total turnout in Minneapolis was 76% of registered voters, with 207,114 ballots cast - the highest City midterm turnout in 50 years!
  • A total of 52,313 absentee (early) ballots were cast in Minneapolis for 25% of total turnout.
  • In Ward 3, we had 74% voter turnout, just under the City- and County-wide average.

Ward 3 also had the highest number of absentee ballots cast anywhere in the City (6,287), and the highest number of Election Day voter registrations (3,472). On Election Day, when I heard that lines were long in Precinct 1 in Dinkytown, I went over to the polling place and had a great time talking with students to thank them for being voters. Precinct 1 had the highest number of Election Day voter registrations in the City, with 1,097!

Finally, we elected an amazing and historically diverse group of people to represent us at the County, in Saint Paul at the State Capitol, and in Washington, DC! I am looking forward to working with County Commissioners-Elect Angela Conley and Irene Fernando, County Sheriff-Elect Dave Hutchinson, State Representative-Elect Mohamud Noor, Governor-Elect Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor-Elect Peggy Flanagan, Attorney General-Elect Keith Ellison, State Auditor-Elect Julie Blaha, Congresswoman-Elect Ilhan Omar, and the rest of our outstanding delegations.

Governing is truly a multi-jurisdictional effort, and I am confident that through strong relationships I can work together with my fellow elected officials at all levels of government to get things done for Minneapolis and Ward 3.

City Council approves $12 million in affordable housing investments throughout Minneapolis

The Minneapolis City Council recently approved $10.6 million in direct investment and $1.6 million in 10-year federal tax credits to create or preserve 764 units of affordable multifamily rental housing in 10 projects located throughout the city.

These investments are the result of awards from the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund and federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit programs for 2018. Together, these investments will make more than $188 million in additional private and public resources possible.

Renters represent three out of four households in Minneapolis that are paying more than 30 percent of income for housing. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund and the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit programs provide up front equity and gap financing to assist with the production and preservation of decent, safe and affordable multifamily rental housing.

The City Council approved the following projects for a preliminary reservation of the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit programs totaling $1.6 million:

  • In Ward 2, $587,103 for the Maya Commons project: 50 units of affordable workforce housing with a wellness focus, including eight units for people experiencing homelessness.
  • In Ward 12, $983,475 for the Amber Apartments project: 81 units of affordable housing with support services for people with disabilities including 17 units for people experiencing homelessness.

These tax credits will generate more than $20.5 million in up front equity for these developments.

The City Council also approved a total of $10.64 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund for the following projects today:

  • In Ward 3, $700,000 for the Gateway Northeast project, 125 units of mixed-use, mixed income housing.
  • In Ward 7, $1.95 million for the Lydia Apartments project: 78 units of low income housing for disabled adults experiencing homelessness.
  • In Ward 7, $465,500 for the PERIS Development project: 41 units of affordable housing, including 15 supportive housing units for at risk youths aging out of foster care.
  • In Ward 4, $625,000 for the Prosperity Village project: 25 units of affordable family housing.
  • In Ward 5, $2.75 million for the Northside Artspace Lofts project: 100 units of mixed income family housing.
  • In Ward 5, $775,000 for the Penn Avenue Union project, 64 units of affordable family housing.
  • In Ward 10, $1 million for the Raines Building project: 89 units of affordable senior housing.
  • In Ward 10, $2.375 million for the Lake Street Apartments project: 111 units of affordable housing including six permanent supportive units and three units for people experiencing homelessness.

Minneapolis buildings exceed energy challenge goals

Minneapolis’ Building Energy Challenge winds up as a success with 75 percent of participating large buildings meeting or surpassing City emission reduction goals. They each reduced their greenhouse gas emissions at least 15 percent by becoming more energy efficient and by getting energy from clean sources such as wind and solar. Minneapolis ended the four-year challenge by awarding 10 buildings for reducing climate change pollution equal to the energy use of more than 2,000 homes a year.

Two of the 10 buildings switched to 100 percent renewable and clean electricity, nine of the buildings improved their heating and cooling systems and controls, and nine installed energy-efficient lighting.

Besides cutting pollution and saving money, energy efficient buildings can also attract more tenants and increase real estate values. Making buildings more energy efficient can support new jobs in clean technology and engineering.

The 10 high-performing large commercial buildings recognized for cutting their climate change pollution:

  • Butler Square
  • Calhoun Square
  • DeLaSalle High School
  • Forensic Sciences Building
  • Hennepin County Government Center
  • Hospital Parking Ramp
  • Minneapolis City Hall
  • Minneapolis Convention Center
  • Royalston Maintenance Facility
  • Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Minneapolis campus

The City of Minneapolis recognizes climate change as a serious problem to which human activities contribute heavily. The commercial-industrial sector contributed almost half of the total citywide greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 with building energy use as the main source.

The Building Energy Challenge was aided by the data from the Commercial Building Benchmarking and Transparency ordinance, which the City adopted in 2013. This ordinance requires large buildings to track and disclose their energy use. The Building Energy Challenge aligned with the goals and activities of the Clean Energy Partnership, and the challenge and ordinance both support the goals of the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan.

Anyone can contact Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy for information about how their building can reduce energy use.

Sign Up for Snow Emergency Alerts

We have not had a Snow Emergency declared yet, but it's only a matter of time!

The City's Public Works Department declares a Snow Emergency whenever there is enough snowfall to warrant a complete plowing of our streets. To get that done, people need to follow the parking rules and move their vehicles so crews can plow the full width of over 1,400 miles of streets, parkways and alleys. Vehicles parked on the street in violation of Snow Emergency rules can be ticketed or towed.

Minneapolis spreads the word about Snow Emergencies by direct mail, emails, text messages, automated phone calls, social networks, the City website and by working with the news media.

There are several ways to learn when Snow Emergencies are declared! Sign up now to stay informed throughout the season:

  • Email alerts: People can sign up to get Snow Emergency alerts automatically emailed. Details are at minneapolismn.gov/snow/snow_esubscribe.
  • Facebook: People with a Facebook account can like facebook.com/MinneapolisSnowEmergency.
  • Twitter: People with a Twitter account can follow Twitter.com/minneapolissnow.
  • App for Android devices and iPhones: Drivers who have Android devices or iPhones can download the Snow Emergency app. During a Snow Emergency, the app will tell them the parking rules for that day. It also has a street lookup for localized parking rules.
  • The City’s website: People can check minneapolismn.gov/snow to find out whether a Snow Emergency has been declared and also a street lookup, so people can check an address or a neighborhood to see where they can park during a Snow Emergency.
  • Hotline: By calling the automated 612-348-SNOW hotline, folks can find out if a Snow Emergency has been declared and, if so, the current parking restrictions. The hotline includes information in English, Spanish, Somali and Hmong.
  • Automated phone calls: Anyone can add their cellphone or unlisted landline number to the system by signing up at minneapolismn.gov/snow.
  • News media: News releases are sent to the media so TV, radio stations and other news outlets can inform their viewers and listeners that a Snow Emergency is in effect.
  • Cable TV: People can tune in to Minneapolis City TV (Comcast channel 859 or CenturyLink channel 8502). These channels will have information in several languages when a Snow Emergency is declared.

For more information, videos in English, Spanish, Somali and Hmong are available online to help explain where to park when a Snow Emergency is declared. Find out where to park your car when a Snow Emergency is declared to avoid a ticket and a tow at Minneapolis Snow Emergency Parking Rules.  

UPCOMING EVENTS

Council Member Fletcher holds regular open community office hours at 5:00 p.m., normally on Wednesdays, at a rotating neighborhood coffee shop in Ward 3 for constituents to drop by, ask questions, and raise any issues you see in the community.

All are welcome! RSVP on Facebook or just show up. If you want to discuss a specific issue or project, email emma.youngquist@minneapolismn.gov and we'll add you to the agenda.

Keep an eye on our Facebook Page for all the details on future scheduled events, or contact our office at 612-673-2203.

Join me on Wednesday, December 19th for a 2018 Year in Review!
7:30 - 9:00 A.M.
Kramarczuk's, 215 E Hennepin Avenue
.
Central Riverfront Bridge Repair Projects Meeting

The 10th Avenue Bridge and 3rd Avenue Bridge, two of the major bridges across the Mississippi River in the Central Riverfront are in need repairs and will be closing to receive those repairs in the next two years. The Stone Arch Bridge, also owned by MnDOT, is also in need of significant repairs, and those needs are under assessment this fall.

I know a lot of folks across the Ward want to know more about these projects. In January, I will be holding a community meeting with State Senator Kari Dziedzic and staff from both MnDOT and Minneapolis Public Works to share information with everyone who will be impacted by these projects about how they are being coordinated.

The Community Meeting is Monday, January 14, 5:30P-7:30P at DeLaSalle High School, 1 DeLaSalle Drive.

Wednesday
Dec122018

Cordelia Pierson Re-Elected to MN Mississippi River Parkway Commission

Via a December 12 News Release from the Minnesota Mississippi River Parkway Commission:

Cordelia Pierson of Minneapolis has been re-elected to represent Elk River to Hastings Region on the Minnesota Mississippi River Parkway Commission (MN-MRPC). 

Established by Minnesota Statute, the MN-MRPC’s mission is to preserve, promote and enhance the scenic, historic and recreational resources of the Mississippi River, to foster economic growth in the corridor and to develop the national, scenic and history byway known as the Great River Road. Membership consists of two members of the House; two members of the Senate; appointees from five state agencies (Transportation, Natural Resources, Tourism, Historical Society, and Agriculture); five regional members; and one member at large.

The Regional Commissioners on the MN-MRPC serve a critical role as liaison between the local communities of the region and the MN-MRPC.  Cordelia Pierson was originally elected to the MN-MRPC in 2011 and currently serves as Vice Chair.  Pierson looks forward to another term on the Commission and upcoming projects including refinement of new online travel maps and guides, a Plan Your Project online tool for road and project managers, new print maps and development of a Great River Road Ambassador Program to provide tools and information to attractions and communities along the route.

The MN-MRPC oversees the Minnesota Great River Road National Scenic Byway as the Mississippi River’s continuous pleasure drive network.  It works to ensure Minnesotans and travelers from around the world can connect to and experience what the river offers, now and into the future. The Commission regularly considers letters of support as partners seek funding for projects that improve the byway experience and help implement the Corridor Management Plan. The Minnesota Great River Road spans 565 miles, 43 communities, 20 counties, three tribes and six unique destination areas (regions).  Information on the Minnesota Great River Road – including online mapping and travel guides - is available at www.mnmississippiriver.com

The MN-MRPC is a member of the National Mississippi River Parkway Commission (MRPC) which includes the 10 states that border the Mississippi River (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana).  The MRPC is a community focused organization supporting the parkway, the river, its amenities and the travel experience for the nearly 3,000 mile route from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico. For more information, visit www.experiencemississippiriver.com

Tuesday
Dec112018

Hennepin County Board Adopts 2019 Budget

Via a December 11 e-newsletter from Hennepin County:

The Hennepin County Board approved a 2019 budget of $2.4 billion at its meeting on Tuesday. The budget includes an $830 million net property tax levy, a 5.20 percent increase from 2018.

From workforce training to food assistance, and health insurance to disability services, 1 in 4 people living in Hennepin County receive direct services from the county. The budget addresses shifting needs and increased demand for services.

“The County Board took a hard look at the 2019 budget and engaged in active conversations about priorities and spending,” said County Board Chair Jan Callison. “This budget is the product of that robust engagement; it seeks to meet resident needs in a fiscally responsible manner.”

Budget priorities

  • Child well-being – preventing the need for child protection by supporting healthy children and stable families
  • Disparity reduction – addressing disparities that affect residents in the areas of education, employment, health, housing, income, justice and transportation
  • Housing – preserving affordable housing, reducing the number of evictions and preventing homelessness
  • Public health – focusing on the early impact of health outcomes and investing in early intervention in cases of mental illness and addiction
  • Transportation – developing a safe, efficient and sustainable transportation system that includes transit, bikeways, sidewalks and roads
  • Workforce development – supporting career and educational opportunities for adults and children who face barriers to employment

The budget focuses on maintaining fiscal responsibility and leveraging existing funds and resources, rather than using new money to create pilots and initiatives.

“This budget enables us to respond to ongoing and diverse needs in Hennepin County, ” Callison said. “Our services empower residents to become self-sufficient and enable our region to thrive.”

Learn more about the budget process

Budget adoption follows more than six months of budget preparation and hearings. Commissioners amended the proposed 2019 budget on November 29 and December 5.

November 29 budget hearing video

December 5 budget hearing video

View details at hennepin.us/budgets

Tuesday
Dec112018

Sports Minneapolis Announces Erika L. Binger as Board Chair

Via a December 11 e-announcement:

Sports Minneapolis, powered by Meet Minneapolis, is pleased to announce Erika L. Binger as the new chair of the Sports Minneapolis Advisory Board, with a term starting January 1, 2019. Binger is the founder of V3 Sports, a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization that provides access and expands opportunities for urban and under-represented youth and their community through athletics and academics. Building on the work of previous Board chairpersons Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and longtime Taylor Corp. executive Rob Moor, the addition of Binger is an exciting step forward as Sports Minneapolis continues its work to bring professional, collegiate and amateur sporting events to the community for the economic benefit of the region.

“Erika is exceptionally well-qualified to lead the Sports Minneapolis Advisory Board,” said Melvin Tennant, Executive Director of Sports Minneapolis and President and CEO of Meet Minneapolis. “As an invested member of our community and triathlete, she has a keen understanding of how sports can strengthen a community. Erika’s vision will continue to enhance our Sports Minneapolis mission for the benefit of everyone in the Twin Cities area.” 

“Sports Minneapolis is a perfect fit for my passion for our region and athletics. From the excitement of big events like the Super Bowl and the upcoming NCAA® Final Four to collegiate and amateur competitions, sports can be a pathway to success for a community,” stated Binger. “I’m very focused on the opportunities sports can bring from both an economic standpoint and personal development. Chairing the Sports Minneapolis Advisory Board is an exciting opportunity for me to continue my mission of giving back to the community.”

Binger began V3 Sports nearly 10 years ago with a vision of building a High-Performance Center to expand opportunities for under-served youth in North Minneapolis. The state-of-the-art training complex will include a much-needed aquatics facility. Binger has been involved in sports her entire life as an athlete, coach, and athletic director. Binger also currently serves on the boards of organizations such as the Flathead Lake Biological Station, McKnight Foundation, Minnesota United FC, the National Sports Center and We IMPACT!

Also joining the Sports Minneapolis Advisory Board is Mark Schindele, Senior Vice President, Target Properties. Schindele adds expertise through his work at Target and his role on the Executive Board of the Minneapolis Downtown Council.

The current Sports Minneapolis board also includes: 

  • Lester Bagley – Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, Minnesota Vikings
  • Jim Denn – Vice President and General Sales Manager, FOX Sports North/FOX Sports Wisconsin
  • Kip Elliott – Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer / Chief Financial Officer, Minnesota Twins
  • Jacob Frey – Mayor of Minneapolis
  • John Guagliano – Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Minnesota United FC
  • Mitch Helgerson – Senior Vice President, Marketing and Ticket Sales, Minnesota Wild
  • Jeff Johnson – Executive Director, Minneapolis Convention Center
  • Ted Johnson – Chief Strategy Officer, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx
  • Tom McGinnis – Senior Associate Athletics Director, University of Minnesota
  • Rob Moor – Director, Taylor Corp.
  • Sandy Sweetser – Senior Director, Marketing and Event Services, Target Center
  • Patrick Talty – General Manager, U.S. Bank Stadium/SMG
  • Melvin Tennant – President and CEO, Meet Minneapolis

Sports Minneapolis has played a leading role in securing sports events of all sizes. Examples of the large-scale events include: 2014 MLB All-Star Game, 2017 USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships, and 2018 Super Bowl LII, as well as ESPN’s X Games (2017-2020) and the 2018 WNBA All-Star Game.

Board members have helped Sports Minneapolis extend its winning streak for years to come by partnering with event rights holders to assist with venue selection, event services, volunteer identification, marketing and promotional support, and on-site recognition opportunities to ensure a successful event.  Exciting events now and into the future include:

  • NCAA Women’s Division I Volleyball Championship at Target Center (December 2018)
  • NCAA Men’s Final Four (April 2019)
  • ESPN’s X Games (2019, 2020)
  • NCAA Wrestling Championships (March 2020)
  • NCAA Men’s Basketball Regional (March 2021)
  • NCAA Women’s Final Four (April 2022)

ABOUT SPORTS MINNEAPOLIS

Sports Minneapolis, which is part of Meet Minneapolis, is focused on recruiting, enhancing and producing sporting events in the Minneapolis area for the benefit of our community. In addition to generating significant estimated economic impact, amateur and professional sports events can help connect the community through sport, fostering health and wellness.

Monday
Dec102018

Great River Coalition Weighs in on 2040 Plan

Dear Minneapolis City Council Members, and Mayor Frey:

The Great River Coalition (GRC) is a member-supported 501 c3 nonprofit organization. Our mission is to advocate for preserving, protecting and promoting the historic, commercial and environmental vitality of the Mississippi River, the Metropolitan area and its relationship to the people and our communities. GRC appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Minneapolis 2040 Plan draft.

Dear Minneapolis City Council Members, and Mayor Frey:The Great River Coalition (GRC) is a member-supported 501 c3 nonprofitorganization. Our mission is to advocate for preserving, protecting and promotingthe historic, commercial and environmental vitality of the Mississippi River, theMetropolitan area and its relationship to the people and our communities. GRCappreciates the opportunity to comment on the Minneapolis 2040 Plan draft.

Download the complete letter...

Monday
Dec102018

The AWA: Professional Wrestling in the Twin Cities

Article by Michael Rainville, Jr.

The 1960’s was a good decade for Minnesota sports. The Vikings, Twins, and North Stars started their inaugural campaigns, the Golden Gophers football team won two Big Ten Championships and one national title, and the American Wrestling Association (AWA) took advantage of a very popular up-and-coming form of entertainment. Back when everyone thought professional wrestling was as real as any other sport, the AWA became the leader in sports entertainment. This is the company that put the Twin Cities on the wrasslin’ map.

In 1948, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) was formed and quickly established a territory system across the entire U.S. where there were many regional promotions, and national champions who would travel to every one. One of the founding regional promotions was the Minneapolis Boxing and Wrestling Club, which itself was in existence since 1933, and owned by Anton Stecher. In 1959, the company was bought by Anton’s colleague Wally Karbo, who is a fellow DeLaSalle Islander, and the legendary Verne Gagne. With Karbo and Gagne at the helm, they pushed to be the best NWA territory in the company. Gagne tried numerous times to get the NWA national champion Pat O’Connor to come to the Minneapolis Boxing and Wrestling Club to put on a show for his loyal fans, but the NWA would not allow it. As frustrations grew, Gagne and Karbo were pushed to the limit and eventually broke away from the NWA to form their own independent wrestling promotion, the American Wrestling Association. Gagne declared the NWA champ Pat O’Connor as the inaugural AWA champ, but the NWA never acknowledged it, and soon after, the title was forfeited and granted to Gagne. Smart move. This marked the start of a three decade long run of being on top of the wrasslin’ game.

AWA yearbook featuring the AWA World Heavyweight Champion Verne Gagne

A big part of the AWA was their televised shows, and they needed a place to tape them. They ended up calling the Calhoun Beach Club their home. The AWA’s show All Star Wrestling became so popular that they consistently scored the 2nd highest TV ratings in the Midwest only behind 60 Minutes. The live crowd attendance was also just as impressive. It was the hottest ticket in town. The April 18, 1965 edition of the Minneapolis Tribune sports section noted that there were almost 4,500 fans in attendance to see the Twins beat Cleveland 3-0, and the AWA title match saw a crowd of 8,900. Later in the year when the Twins were hosting the Dodgers for a World Series game, the AWA still attracted over 9,000 fans. That is absolutely crazy to think about!

The quality of the wrestling was also top notch. Verne Gagne and the AWA became a place for young wrestlers to learn the business and become national, and international, superstars. Hulk Hogan and the ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair both got their starts in the AWA. They are the two biggest and most popular professional wrestlers of all time. However, the list continues: Bob Backlund, Eric Bischoff, Nick Bockwinkel, ‘Jumpin’ Jim Brunzell, The Crusher, ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham, Scott Hall, Bobby Heenan, Larry ‘The Axe” Hennig, his son Curt Hennig AKA Mr. Perfect, Paul Heyman, Killer Kowalski, Madusa, Sherri Martel, Gene Okerlund, Diamond Dallas Page, The Midnight Rockers Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty, Dusty Rhodes, Wendi Richter, The Road Warriors Animal and Hawk, The Iron Sheik, Sgt. Slaughter, Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat, ‘Mad Dog’ Vachon, and our former governor Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura. All of these people and many more were household names throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and many also went on to do better things with the giant of the wrestling world, the WWE.

Hulk Hogan from 1982 when he defeated Nick Bockwinkel in St. Paul to capture the AWA World Heavyweight Championship for the first time.

When professional wrestling hit its stride, the WWE started to form a monopoly of the business with the WWE having the funds to offer contracts to the top stars of the world. Because of this, in 1991, the AWA officially was no more, but their legacy continues to live on. Professional wrestling may not be as popular as it once was, but Minneapolis’ own AWA made it possible for wrasslin’ to go into the mainstream. It’s hard to think that the WWE would have been so popular if it wasn’t for the talent the AWA developed. The next time you’re strutting around Lake Bde Maka Ska imagine the immense crowds that would attend AWA events, or when you find yourself stylin’ and profilin’ at Mayslack’s Bar, have a drink for the wrasslers who used to celebrate a good match there. The AWA was a Twin Cities staple back in the day, and its memory lives on.

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About Michael Rainville, Jr.

A 6th generation Minneapolitan, Michael Rainville Jr. received his B.A. in History from the University of St. Thomas, and is currently enrolled in their M.A. in Art History and Certificate in Museum Studies programs.

Michael is also a lead guide at Mobile Entertainment LLC, giving Segway tours of the Minneapolis riverfront for 6+ years.

He can be reached at mrainvillejr@comcast.net.

Saturday
Dec082018

My Walks with Mike

Article by Claudia Kittock, photos by Rick Kittock

Several years ago I met Mike Miller, a neighbor. He was part of a walking group from Emanuel Housing that invited other neighbors to join. The more I walked with Mike, the more I learned about this remarkable man and a friendship was born. We continue to walk together twice a week, and our friendship keeps growing. I am a lucky woman!

Mike Miller

I have learned many things about Mike. He was a farmer, a mechanic, and he worked in a mental health facility. Mike has lived a fascinating life. He is a skilled and avid fiddle player, and after a double knee replacement, his daughter bought him an airplane kit to help pass the time.  If the phrase ‘model airplanes’ conjures pictures of plastic kits, that isn’t what Mike does. He will build plastic airplanes, but prefers to work in balsa. Mike is an artist with wood.

Mike built his first airplane when he was in 4th grade. The man who would become his stepfather wanted to tutor Mike in math, a subject he was struggling to master. He promised Mike an airplane kit if he worked on his math skills. 49 years later, Mike rediscovered his love.

A love of history, particularly military history, has supported Mike’s love of airplanes. As a child growing up in a small town, he read every book about aviation in his high school library. He now buys plans of old airplanes, continues to read everything he can about airplanes, and even has a file of planes that never flew. When I need to know something about history, I ask Mike. He is kind enough to share his knowledge with me and I am always slightly embarrassed by what I don’t know. I am so grateful for the things I learn on my walks with Mike.

I learned that World War I established every role airplanes now play in the military, but it wasn’t until after World War II that the Air Force was established as a separate branch of the military. The United States was behind every other nation in aviation at the beginning of WWII, but the need drove both the science and urgency to create airplanes that were appropriate for combat.

Mike works 7 days a week on his creations, often 10 hours a day. Each plane requires 200-300 hours of his work. He loves what he does and his work shows. A year ago, Mike had his first show and it is now a yearly event.

If you're interested in viewing Mike’s work, he has a show set up at Fresh Grounds Coffee Shop at 1362 7th Street West in St. Paul (Facebook). His work tells his story far better than any words. Make sure you find the time to check them out.

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About Claudia Kittock

Claudia is a resident of the Mill District. In addition to writing for Mill City Times, she is a founding Board Member of Friends of the Mill District. Claudia is the author of Health Through Chaos, mentors young adults at YouthLink, and has served on the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA).
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Contact: claudia@millcitymedia.org
Saturday
Dec082018

November by the Numbers

Downtown real estate market update from Cynthia Froid Group:

Friday
Dec072018

MPRB Seeks Volunteers for the Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival - January 26, 2019

The Minneapolis Park and Rec Board wants to know: Are you a proud Minnesotan? Do you live by the motto: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes?" Then put on your best winter clothes and volunteer for the 2019 Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival!

Event and volunteer details: 

  • - Saturday, January 26, 2019
  • - 12-4 pm
  • - Volunteer shifts are 2-hour increments
  • - Duties include helping with ice fishing, snowshoeing, firepits, set-up and tear-down and more!

More information and specific volunteer positions are listed online at this link.

Friday
Dec072018

Romaine calm!

Via an e-newsletter from the City of Minneapolis:

Romaine calm! An update on the romaine lettuce investigation. 

What we know

No common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified as the source of the current outbreak.

The CDC is advising that U.S. consumers not eat, and retailers and restaurants not serve, or sell any romaine lettuce harvested from the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California.

On Nov. 28, the FDA identified these California counties as the focus of the investigation:

  • Monterey
  • San Benito
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Santa Barbara
  • Santa Cruz
  • Ventura

Romaine lettuce harvested from locations outside of the California regions being investigated do not appear to be related to the current outbreak.

If you do not know where your romaine lettuce was harvested, do not eat it.

States impacted

As of Monday Nov. 26, 43 people in 12 states have been infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7. At that time, Minnesota did not have any confirmed cases. Wisconsin was named as one of the 12 states.

* * * * * * * Steps You Can Take * * * * * * *

Know your source

Romaine lettuce entering the market will now be labeled with a harvest location and harvest date, or will be labeled as hydroponically or greenhouse grown. If your lettuce does not have this information, you should not buy it, eat it or use it.

If you have romaine lettuce harvested from any of the California counties listed above, throw it out. 
Always know where your supplier is getting their food.

When possible and in season, buying locally allows you to know your source better, and contributes to the local economy.

Wash it

With the current E. coli outbreak, washing the romaine lettuce will not make it safe to eat. The E. colibacteria can be in the plant cells themselves, and since it only takes a few cells of E. coli to make someone sick, you cannot wash away the risk.

However, washing produce should be part of your routine practice. Leafy greens are a raw product, grown in dirt, and handled by people many times before making its way into your kitchen. Always wash fresh produce prior to cooking or serving.

Refrigerating and date marking your produce can also help control bacteria growth to keep you and your customers safe from potentially harmful bacteria.

Organic Vs. Non-Organic

Organic produce can contain harmful bacteria. From a potentially hazardous food standpoint, there is no difference between organic and non-organic produce.

Thursday
Dec062018

Minneapolis Park Board Adopts 2019 Budget

Via a December 5 e-newsletter from Minneapolis Park and Rec Board:

Budget focuses on youth services, fiscal responsibility, environmental protection and engaging the communities’ power

At their December 5 meeting, the Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted a 2019 Budget for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) that focuses on four priorities: invest in youth; be financially sustainable; protect the environment; and engage communities’ power. It also reflects initiatives to meet the changing demographics and needs of the community, including more frontline staff to deliver critical services, piloting the wrap-around full-service community school/park model, and increased funding for a recreation micro-grant program. Commissioners also approved renaming the micro-grant program after former park commissioner Walter Dziedzic.

“Our city has a critical need for enhanced youth programs and services, and youth violence prevention strategies, and the Park Board is uniquely positioned to address this need” said Superintendent Mary Merrill. “We appreciate Mayor Frey’s support for the work we do and his down payment towards the ongoing investment needed for youth services. We are very proud to partner with the Mayor and the Minneapolis Public Schools on piloting the new wrap-around, full-service community school/park model for Minneapolis children.”

A wrap-around, full-service site will be the hub in the community where families will have access to resources where all their needs can be met. The Park Board's role in this partnership will be to find where a park and school share the same site and work together to leverage both park and school resources and services in support of young people and their families.

“I am proud this Board unanimously adopted a budget that increases the number of parkkeepers who care for our parks to pre-recession levels. We also increased our investment in youth, youth jobs and critical youth programming,” said Park Board President Brad Bourn. “It’s an honor to expand our recreation micro grant program and rename it after the late Walt Dziedzic who was such an advocate for parks, youth and families in Minneapolis. Parks are for everyone and this budget puts us in a sound financial position to continue providing services the community wants and needs.”

The MPRB 2019 Budget includes increased funding in the Youth Development Department for the Leadership Fund micro-grant program to focus on elders, girls and Somali program partnerships, and renaming the Leadership Fund the Walter Dziedzic Recreation Innovation Fund. Additional youth development initiatives include increased youth employment through Teen Teamworks, two additional Conservation Corps crews, support for the Run and Shoot Basketball League, and two additional Youthline program specialist positions.

The MPRB 2019 Budget includes a 5.7 percent property tax levy increase that includes 5.8 percent increase for the General Fund annual operating increase, and 3.0 percent increase for the Tree Preservation and Reforestation Levy to address Emerald Ash Borer infestation and tree loss due to storms. Of the Minneapolis property tax paid by Minneapolis homeowners, approximately eight cents of every dollar will go to the MPRB. The 5.7 percent property tax increase will result in an estimated annual increase of $17 for the owner of a $249,000 home.

For details about the approved 2019 Budget, read the full release on the MPRB website.