When cities stink, Gavin’s belt, and an old man with an older gun (5×8-11/26/13)


It’s an unmistakable place in the Twin Cities. It stinks. Literally. The area around Highway 61 and Interstate 494 in Newport-South St. Paul might be the most foul-smelling location in the Twin Cities. On the Newport side a recycling facility and an oil refinery fills in the odorous gaps that a wastewater plant and a bulk terminal leave in the senses.

Washington County commissioner Lisa Weik voted against building a transit station at the site of former Knox Lumber store because of the smell.

“It really is offensive,” she said. “I don’t think people riding the bus would pick that spot.”

That hasn’t gone over well, the Pioneer Press reports:

“It was ridiculous and unfounded,” said Mayor Tim Geraghty. In recent years, he said, the city has received odor complaints “a couple of times in August, on a hot day. I don’t think it’s an issue.”

Oh take a walk, Mr. Mayor.

I drive or bike the area almost every day and can’t recall a day when the stench wasn’t stomach turning.

“You open your kitchen window in the summer, and it just blasts you,” Carson Relitz told the Pioneer Press as he cooked at the Coop Restaurant in South St. Paul last week.

Next to him, co-owner Joel Hanson agreed. “It’s pretty intense. It’s worse than a manure smell,” he said, wrinkling his nose.

But they said the smells shouldn’t deter any homeowner or business from moving in. Hanson could think of only one exception — bars with outdoor patios.

Or anyone with a functioning olfactory system.

But the area is zoned for industry and the situation brings up an ongoing debate: If industry is dirty, what can or should be done about it? In the heartland, the Associated Press reports, the booming oil refinery business is creating problems with “petcoke,” the solid residue left behind by the process.

It’s usually shipped overseas to be used as fuel but while it piles up — in Chicago, for example — a light breeze can stir it up.

“All that black stuff is all over the place all the time,” Danny Knezevich, who works in real estate and lives on the South Side, tells the Wall St. Journal. “It blows in all directions.”

Back in South St. Paul, residents had hoped for better days when the city’s iconic stockyards were ushered out of town. Officials are even kicking around transforming its waterfront with apartments with boat slips. But, so far, the area still stinks.

Related business: Minneapolis may have to come up with cash to shore up Midtown Global Market (Star Tribune).


Gavin Pierson, 7, has been battling a brain tumor for far too much of his young life (I linked to a video of him last week on 5×8). He and his family had planned to fly to Texas last weekend to meet one of his heroes — wrestler John Cena. But he’s had a setback because of a blood clot and is hospitalized (Caring Bridge site).

So Cena had a WWE championship belt made for the young man.

He needs to get well soon. He’s to lead the Vikings onto the field at the Metrodome late next month.

(h/t: Luke Hellier)


Ken Felt, 93, of Shelvin, bagged his deer this month using a gun that’s older than he is — a lot older, the Bemidji Pioneer reports. It belonged to his grandfather, who brought it to America in 1885.

“The kids have been after me for years, saying it was something I had to do,” Ken said. “Get some game, carry on the tradition.”

(h/t: @panndder)

More old men: In Memory of Lester Duesler (Tales of the Road)


Remember years ago when just the idea that there are little kids going to school who are homeless would be repugnant to society? Nancy Gruber has been in charge of teaching them for eight years now.

“Often times, it’s not the academics that they’re behind on, it’s their emotional needs,” she tells the St. Cloud Times. “And my philosophy is if you get those emotional ties and those things in order, the academics will just come. Sometimes they just need somebody to talk to. They get individual attention. What kid wouldn’t want that?”

A record 330 kids without homes attended St. Cloud schools last year, and that doesn’t even count the number who kept their homelessness a secret.

Related: Food stamp program cuts lead to ‘staggering’ increase in need (PBS NewsHour). But is the single mother of two pursuing a master’s degree a fair portrayal of a typical recipient?

Join the KARE 11 Food Fight on Nov. 26 (KARE)


Football isn’t typically thought of as much of a thinking person’s game. But a coach in Arkansas is using mathematical calculations to prove that punting isn’t worth it. His team never punts. Never.

It’s hard to see how this would ever work with the local Minnesota professional football squad. Some things defy math.

More sports: Some teams make trades to bring in better talent. The Timberwolves make trades to get rid of bad decisions. The latest to go is Derrick Williams, the former #2 overall pick in the NBA draft, who now officially becomes the biggest bust on a franchise that has a long list of them.

Bonus I: Man builds homemade gun from items that can all be purchased in the airport terminal after you go through security. That’s it. No more hair dryers in carry-on. (Mail Online).

Bonus II: The anguish of being Catholic (MinnPost).

Bonus III: The changing American family. “In increasing numbers, blacks marry whites, atheists marry Baptists, men marry men and women women, Democrats marry Republicans and start talk shows. Good friends join forces as part of the ‘voluntary kin’ movement, sharing medical directives, wills, even adopting one another legally. Single people live alone and proudly consider themselves families of one — more generous and civic-minded than so-called ‘greedy marrieds.’ (New York Times)

Would lower executive salaries serve the public interest in the U.S.?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Are we “eating our young ?” Newsweek asks. As debate continues around spending cuts and budgets, the question of where to prioritize spending comes up, inevitably “pitting” some programs against each other. For example, should we be investing in education or shoring up Social Security?

Second hour: Designer babies via genetics.

Third hour: Nick Gillespie says ads targeting the ‘young invincibles’ to enroll in the health care exchanges is misleading. His analysis is that young kids do need coverage but not to the extent mandated under the ACA.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm) – Live call-in with MPR president Jon McTaggart.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – Immigration reform.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – A Kittson County couple is starting a distillery on its farm. It’s unique because Far North Spirits is one of only a handful of craft distilleries that grows its own grain. MPR’s Dan Gunderson will have the report.

The Federal Reserve’s stimulus program has been good for the stock market. But what happens when that program is scaled back? As it turns out, that’s uncharted territory for the Fed. NPR considers some possibilities of what might happen.