What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Rep. Ellison meets with Somali youth

Posted by: Libor Jany under People and neighborhoods, Politics and government Updated: April 24, 2015 - 7:47 PM

Rep. Keith Ellison talks with volunteers at the University of Minnesota. GLEN STUBBE/Star Tribune

In an effort to smooth frayed relations between the city’s Somali-American community and law enforcement, Rep. Keith Ellison traveled to south Minneapolis today to meet with friends and relatives of four Twin Cities men accused of plotting to join the Islamic State.

Ellison’s office declined to discuss the details of the closed-door meeting Friday afternoon at South High School — which at least two of the defendants attended — and school officials directed questions to a Minneapolis Public Schools spokeswoman. But a source with knowledge of the meeting said it was aimed at easing tensions between authorities and the Somali community, particularly its youth, which surfaced after the indictment this week of six young men on charges of conspiring to aid and support a terrorist organization; in this case, a particularly violent group calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

On Thursday, a federal judge ordered the four defendants being prosecuted in Minnesota — Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, Adnan Abdihamid Farah, Hanad Mustafe Musse and Guled Ali Omar — held without bail until trial, citing the seriousness of the charges and concerns that they would flee the country. The decision was met with outrage by the 200 or so supporters who crammed into the downtown St. Paul courthouse on Friday, and a tense standoff in the lobby ensued.

The strained tensions have attracted the attention of telawmakers, including Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis, who in 2006 was the first Muslim to be elected to Congress.

Authorities will have to be even more resourceful and creative to get through to disillusioned young Somali-American kids at the “tipping point,” he said in a lengthy interview with the Star Tribune.

Minneapolis was one of three cities picked earlier this year to participate in a White House pilot program called “Countering Violent Extremism,” which focused on strengthening relationships between law enforcement and Muslim community leaders.

North Star bike fest secures funding

Posted by: Steve Brandt under Parks and recreation, People and neighborhoods, Bikes and cars, Urban living Updated: April 24, 2015 - 11:34 AM

The North Star Bicycle Festival announced Friday that it's a go for this year after lining up six new sponsors for its race series and open ride.

The festival said earlier that the 17th running of the bike racing series was threatened by a $60,000 funding gap, which spokeswoman Jean Freidl said has not yet entirely been closed. The event was formerly known as Nature Valley Grand Prix, but is in its second year under the new name.

The event, which said it attracts about 50,000 spectators, opens on June 13 with a ride with distances of 35, 65 and 100 miles that's open to the public. It will cover terrain around Prescott, Wis.

The professional racing events, part of US Cycling's national racing calendar, open June 17 with a time trial in St. Paul, followed on successive days by a road race in Cannon Fall, a criterium in the Uptown area of Minneapolis, a road rce in Menomonie, Wis., and a criterium featuring a hill climb in Stillwater.

More information is available at www.northstarbicyclefestival.com

Camden area residents like proposed library design

Posted by: Steve Brandt under Libraries, People and neighborhoods, Politics and government, Urban living Updated: April 23, 2015 - 12:47 PM

Architect Mohammed Lawal drew applause from residents in the Camden area of the city this week after presenting the proposed schematic design for the new Webber Park library that his team at the LSE firm is designing.

The exterior design for a building on Webber Parkway features a mix of Cold Spring granite, grey or green zinc shingles and wood accents. The interior is designed for flexible space. The project has a $12 million budget and is scheduled for a spring 2016 opening.

“I think he’s done an outstanding job,” area resident Sue Quist. “He’s heard everything we’ve said and nuanced it into the design.”

The planned building of about 8,000 square feet has an east-west axis paralleling the parkway, lying between Humboldt Av. N. and the Hamilton Manor senior public housing building. That axis is designed to maximize daylight for the building, but wide overhangs are planned to keep that light indirect.

The proposal also creates outdoor spaces, including an outdoor reading area east of the building where a shallow storm water retention pond is planned. There will be one plaza at the building’s northwest entrance off parkway bike-walk paths, and another at the south entrance from a 24-car parking lot. A porch with seating will from the Humboldt side.

 “We want this building to settle nicely into the neighborhood,” Lawal told about 30 residents who attended LSE’s presentation for the Hennepin County project.

LSE is proposing to use accents of cedar or fir, especially around windows, to warm the building’s exterior,, and also plans substantial use of wood inside.  It has also broken up the building’s exterior faces into more blocky modules since an earlier design, something that pleased county Commissioner Linda Higgins.

The proposed schematic design goes to the County Board later this spring for approval. Construction would begin about a year from now. The proposed library includes three meeting or conference rooms.

The proposal is the first new library built by Lawal within Minneapolis, but he’s previously designed renovations at four libraries within the city. He’s also designed new libraries elsewhere in the metro area at Elk River and at three locations in Chisago County.

One question that county library officials aren’t ready to answer is how many hours the new library will operate. That’s an important topic for area residents because the current temporary library in a shopping area is open only 24 hours week spread over three days. That opening followed two shutdowns of the old library in Webber Park.  The first occurred after city libraries ran short of funds. After city libraries merged into the county’s library system, the building was closed again when ceiling tiles fell.

Another new county library in Excelsior that’s slightly smaller than the proposed Webber Park library is open 48 hours weekly that are spread over six days.

Copeland clears Sharing and Caring Hands for new facility

Posted by: under Local business, People and neighborhoods, Urban living Updated: April 23, 2015 - 5:05 PM

By JESSICA LEE

Staff Writer

Sharing and Caring Hands founder Mary Jo Copeland hopped into a bulldozer Thursday morning and made the first pass at tearing down the homeless shelter she helped build.

But it was a happy day. Copeland is embarking on a $5 million expansion and renovation to better serve some of Minneapolis’ needy residents.

“There's a bit of sadness,” said Copeland, wearing a hard hat, safety vest and a smile. "I spent so many years in that building. It's a lot of memories."

The renovation project will add space for youth centers and temporary housing. It is a dramatic expansion of a shelter Copeland built three decades ago to provide food, temporary shelter, clothing, transportation and other amenities to the city’s poorest residents.

The new facility is set to open in mid-July, adding family-size apartments to the facility’s upper two levels and new children and teen centers on its main floor. Most of the space’s occupants will be young, as Copeland said the existing space for the nonprofit’s 400 children needs an upgrade.

“This [project] is going to give some families that have really been in crisis and lost a lot of hope for another change, to stay a little longer,” Copeland said.

Sharing and Caring Hands’ temporary housing building, named Mary’s Place after the Virgin Mary, currently houses 92 residential units for people to live for a few months as they find permanent housing.

She said the remodeling project won’t displace any homeless residents, and staff has made space available in its community rooms for youth activities until its opening.

The organization spends more than $400,000 a month on the needs of the thousands of families and children, mostly with private funds.

Council Member Lisa Goodman said Copeland’s success with raising the private money and rarely approaching the city for help is impressive.

Goodman said throughout her almost two decades of knowing Copeland, she’s been inspired by the charitable work.

“You spend any time with her and you see her eyes light up when she can help the lives of children,” she said. “You can’t but want to help, too.”

Copeland's husband, Dick, said that though the building holds cherished memories, he's glad the facility is expanding to meet its growing needs.

"It's been a long run," he said.

Jessica Lee is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.

Sharing and Caring Hands coming down to make way for new facility

Posted by: under Local business, People and neighborhoods, Urban living Updated: April 22, 2015 - 3:25 PM
Sharing and Caring Hands founder Mary Jo Copeland will help tear down building.

Sharing and Caring Hands founder Mary Jo Copeland will help tear down building.

The bulldozers will begin tearing down Sharing and Caring Hands on Thursday morning, making way for a new and larger facility to serve some of Minneapolis' neediest residents.

“I spent a lot of years there, helping millions of people. Now, I’m going to miss my building” said founder Mary Jo Copeland, 72, who has earned national and local accolades for her charity work. “But I’m happy we’re building.”

Sitting in the shadows of downtown Minneapolis’ Target Field, Sharing and Caring Hands is in the midst of a $5 million renovating project to add space for youth centers and temporary housing.

Over the last three decades, the faith-based nonprofit has provided food, temporary shelter, clothing, transportation and other needs to Minneapolis’ poorest residents. But growing need has overtaken their more modest facility.

The new site is set to open in mid-July, adding family size apartments to the facility’s upper two levels and new children and teen centers on its main floor. Copeland said the remodeling project won’t displace any homeless residents, and staff made space available in its community rooms for children activities until its opening.

“This [project] is going to give some families that have really been in crisis and lost a lot of hope for another change, to stay a little longer,” she said.

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