Bob Shaw / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — In February, Washington County cities rejoiced when $850 million was granted to help them clean up their water. But no money will be flowing soon. State agencies have released a timetable showing that it will be 2020 — at the earliest — before any water-cleaning projects are even started. That's making some city officials impatient. "We can't wait years. We do not have that luxury," said Lake Elmo administrator Kristina Handt.
ST. PAUL—To see how rough the local food fight is getting, don't bother visiting a new Hy-Vee or a Lunds & Byerlys. Check out your local Menards. The building-supply giant has 10—count 'em, 10—aisles of food in its suburban Oakdale, Minn., location. It's like having an entire Aldi store lurking among the lumber and ceiling paint. It's part of an avalanche of competition that may bury the metro area's No. 1 supermarket chain—Cub Foods—just as it did to No. 2 Rainbow Foods four years ago.
ST. PAUL — Watching grocery stores spread is usually like watching ice cream melt. By that standard, Hy-Vee Supermarkets is on a fast boil — on track to have 12 supermarkets in the metro area by the end of next year. Already, Hy-Vee has become one of the area's biggest supermarket chains in only three years. "We are thrilled to have Hy-Vee," said Dan Buchholtz, administrator of Spring Lake Park, which will soon have a Hy-Vee at Minnesota 65 and 81st Avenue. "I think Hy-Vee is being heartily welcomed wherever they go," said Buchholtz.
MAPLEWOOD, Minn.—The Twin Cities metro area's first edible-hemp store is now open in Maplewood, and the owners have a lot of explaining to do. Yes, hemp is a cousin of marijuana. No, it doesn't make you high. Yes, it is legal. No, you don't smoke it, but you can vape it. "I am getting a lot of questions," said Abbie Schneider, co-owner of Minnesota Hempdropz, which opened Aug. 11 in a strip mall at 2225 White Bear Ave. Her specialty is products containing one of the active ingredients in hemp and marijuana — CBD, or cannabidiol.
ST. PAUL—The effort to turn six miles of the lazy Mississippi River into a fast-moving rapids could damage University of Minnesota property, according to university officials. In a recent letter, officials listed a series of problems the change could cause, from damage to a library to ruining a favorite practice area for rowing teams.
ST. PAUL — A million-dollar theft ring has been broken up by the Woodbury Police Department. Two men have been charged in connection with a scheme that involved stealing hundreds of items from retail stores in the Twin Cities area, then selling them on the internet, the department reported Thursday, Aug. 23. "This is everything you could steal — chain saws, perfume, mattresses," said spokeswoman Michelle Okada.
High school football in Minnesota is as rattled as a sacked quarterback. It is still the most popular sport in the state, but participation has dropped by 10 percent in the past decade. According to an annual report by the National Federation of State High School Associations, from 2007 to 2017, Minnesota boys playing 11-man football fell to 23,170. Schools, too, are quitting. There are 13 fewer schools in Minnesota with football teams—which means more than 70 schools will have empty gridirons this fall.
Minnesota has more girls participating in high school sports per capita than any other state. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, Minnesota's rate is triple that of some other states, and 60 percent higher than Wisconsin's. The number of girls surged 17 percent in 10 years, and increased in every sport listed by the federation. Girl athletes in Minnesota are on the verge of overtaking boys, with 49 percent of the total. That gives Minnesota the highest percentage of female prep athletes in the nation.
STILLWATER, Minn.—It's the bridge that changed everything. Since the new St. Croix River bridge opened one year ago, the impact has rippled outward — boosting tourism, business, housing and civic pride as far as 15 miles away. Above all, it has given Carole Van Valkenburg her town back. "Oh, my God, it was always a big ordeal to get into Stillwater," said Van Valkenburg. "But now, it's like a small town again."
ST. PAUL — It may be time to unleash the Mississippi River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering the possibility of three metro-area dams being removed — which would transform the slow-moving commercial waterway into a whitewater rapids. The Corps wants to sell or give away the Upper St. Anthony Lock but not the dam, which is owned by Xcel Energy Inc.; the Lower St. Anthony Lock and Dam near downtown Minneapolis; and Lock and Dam No. 1 by the Ford Parkway Bridge.