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Part-time cop license ends
Minnesota is ending a part-time license that lets police officers work — making arrests and carrying a gun — without a two-year degree.
Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill Tuesday that will stop the state from issuing new part-time peace officer licenses this summer. Legislators backing the bill argued that putting officers on the streets with 40 hours of training and a test is too risky. But outstate cities that have relied on the officers — including Mankato, which has eight — warn that the new law will rob them of flexibility.
The bill passed the House 100-22 and the Senate 54-11.
Current part-timers will be able to continue working "indefinitely" but cannot switch to another agency. Cops with full-time licenses can work part-time shifts, as many do now.
Jenna Ross @ByJenna
Canal Park gets apartments
Duluth's waterfront tourist haven, Canal Park, will more than double its population of residents as work begins soon to convert two floors of office space into apartments.
The second and third floors of the former warehouse building that houses Grizzly's restaurant on Lake Avenue will be turned into 23 apartment units, including studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms, officials said. The development by Sherman Associates will fill in a small part of the city's dire housing need to keep up with job growth in Duluth. A recent study showed the city will need 4,400 units of market-rate housing over the next six years.
"We're bringing them in as fast as we can," said Chris Eng, director of business development for the city. "Now we're finding that the housing shortage is a challenge for us as well."
Pam Louwagie @pamlouwagie
Miracle League field on tap
Construction crews have started digging into the clay at Bennett Park, with plans to fill in the hole with recycled blacktop for the state's 12th and latest handicap-accessible sports field. The Miracle League of the Iron Range will be the farthest north of the fields constructed so far for disabled youth, joining similar projects in the metro area, Brainerd, Duluth, Mankato, Rochester and Moorhead.
The $400,000 field should be completed by July 1 and is being funded with a $200,000 donation from the Twins and the Pohlad family plus a group of other donors.
"When you get a check for $200,000, it takes your breath away," said Jeff Polcher, president of the nonprofit group in Hibbing behind the project. "It's surreal to see this come to life, and the town is buzzing about it."
CURT BROWN @stribcbrown
Street tax goes to voters
Grand Rapids voters will decide in November whether to enact a 1 percent local sales tax to pay for street improvement projects.
The City Council unanimously approved the five-year tax at a meeting Monday. If given the voters' OK, the tax would generate $3.2 million in 2016 for street maintenance, according to the city. About 55 percent of that would come from people who don't live in Grand Rapids.
In focus groups, residents respond to the idea that tourists and other people who use the streets ought to help pay for them, said city administrator Tom Pagel. "They kind of go, well, yeah, that makes sense."
The local sales tax would apply to purchases including dining out, liquor and gifts. It would not be added to groceries, clothing or gas.
If approved, the Legislature would need to give its OK in 2015. The tax would then start in 2016.
Information about the proposal is at www.cityofgrandrapidsmn.com.
Jenna Ross @ByJenna