Baker reappointed as chief medical examiner

Dr. Andrew Baker, the county's chief medical examiner, was appointed to a fourth four-year term last week by the Hennepin County Board.

Baker directs the medical examiner's office, which investigates unexpected deaths in the county. Information gathered from those investigations can be significant in court cases and pinpointing health trends, but the medical examiner does not work for the county attorney's office or any law enforcement agency.

His most recent term as the medical examiner saw Dakota and Scott counties agreeing, in 2013, to contract with Hennepin County to do their autopsies.

Baker was appointed as the county's medical examiner in 2004. He is only the third chief medical examiner since Hennepin County switched from the coroner system in 1963.

An Iowa native, he first arrived in Hennepin County as a pathology resident in 1995 to spend a month watching chief medical examiner Garry Peterson work. Peterson liked him so much that he gave him a fellowship two years later.



Falls visitor center to open for summer

Both bladders and appetites for history will be served at Upper St. Anthony Falls this summer, thanks to a local historian's persistence.

The visitor center deck at the lock and dam will open to the public on May 28 and remain open through Labor Day weekend. Hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

That's according to John Anfinson, a historian of the river who also serves as superintendent of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. He worked out an agreement with the visitor center's owner, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to make the center available despite the closing of the navigational lock last year.

Although the locks themselves are viewable from the Stone Arch Bridge, the visitor center expands on the limited history available at bridge displays. It also offers the only bathrooms for blocks.

The center will be staffed by Anfinson's agency, the National Park Service. Half-hour tours of the lock will be offered at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Congress closed the lock last June 10 after it was lobbied by activists who oppose the spread of invasive carp up the river.


Hennepin County

HRA OKs funds for transit-related projects

Hennepin County commissioners, sitting as the county's Housing and Redevelopment Authority, this month approved $2.3 million to support a variety of transit-oriented development projects at six urban and suburban sites.

Officials say they believe the county's funding will leverage more than $105 million in total investment.

Transit-oriented development refers to mixed-use residential and commercial projects designed to maximize access to public transportation and encourage ridership.

This year's approved projects, with the amount awarded:

• PLACE in St. Louis Park ($750,000), a $100 million housing/hotel/commercial development next to the future Wooddale Station on the light-rail Green Line extension;

• Green Fourth in southeast Minneapolis ($485,000), a $5.5 million project to rebuild and enhance SE. 4th Street near the Prospect Park and Stadium Village stations;

• Great River Landing in downtown Minneapolis ($375,000), a $17.1 million affordable housing project near Target Field station;

• The Artery in Hopkins ($300,000), a $5.3 million redevelopment of 8th Avenue, connecting Mainstreet with the future Downtown Hopkins station on the Green Line extension;

• Brooklyn Boulevard Trail in Brooklyn Park ($225,000), a $1.05 million multiuse trail along a commercial corridor linking the Zane Avenue/Village Creek redevelopment to the planned Brooklyn Boulevard station on the Blue Line extension;

• 700 Central in northeast Minneapolis ($190,000), a $30.5 million housing and commercial redevelopment.