The Bloomington Convention & Visitors Bureau plans to spend about $5.3 million this year promoting the city, according to a presentation made last week to the City Council.

The North American convention of TBEX, a leading international association of travel writers and bloggers, will be held at the Radisson Blu in Bloomington in May, providing an unusual opportunity to raise the city’s profile.

About a half-dozen new hotels have opened in Bloomington within the last few years, boosting the city’s position as a lodging destination, according to visitors bureau officials.

The visitors bureau’s budget comes largely from a 2 percent lodging tax, but the group is required to submit its annual budget and marketing plan to the City Council for review and comment.



State boosts grant to stem spread of HIV

The Hennepin County Board recently approved an agreement with the state Department of Health that increases a grant for HIV health education and risk reduction services at the county’s health clinic, the largest STD/HIV testing and counseling site in Minnesota.

The nearly $227,000 increase in grant money will fund HIV testing, counseling, referrals and testing outreach. The total grant amounts to $1.1 million over five years.

According to the county, about 4,000 of the 7,200 Minnesotans diagnosed with HIV live in Hennepin County.



Council remembers official Tom Geng

City leaders in Shorewood last week honored Tom Geng, the chair of the city’s Planning Commission, who died of cancer Jan. 30.

Geng, 57, an attorney, had served on the city’s Planning Commission since 2007 and had led it since 2009.

In a resolution last week, the City Council honored and commended Geng for his leadership to the Lake Minnetonka city, taking note of his “gentle, kind and compassionate persona” and calling him a respected and dedicated member of the community.

The St. Paul native was an attorney for more than two decades. He also volunteered for the West Hennepin History Center.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy; a daughter, Stephanie Ferrell; sisters Jeanne Pringle, Beth Kringle and Kathy Jonas; a brother, Donny; and a granddaughter.

Services were held Feb. 5.


Twin Cities

Mississippi on list of maintenance backlog

The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, which runs along the river through the heart of the metro area, and Minnesota’s four other national park units appear on a National Park Service list that shows $11.9 billion in deferred maintenance projects nationwide.

Other park units in Minnesota are Grand Portage National Monument, Pipestone National Monument, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway based in St. Croix Falls, Wis., and Voyageurs National Park near International Falls.

Deferred maintenance for the Mississippi and St. Croix parks runs to about $1 million each. Combined, the five units have $47.3 million in deferred maintenance, with Voyageurs topping the list with nearly $16 million, the NPS said.

The list was released last week.

Deferred maintenance refers to work delayed for more than a year on roads and bridges, visitor centers, trails and campgrounds. Aging amenities, increasing public use and scarce resources are contributing to the growing backlog, said NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.

Kevin Giles

Coon Rapids

City looking at two apartment projects

Coon Rapids is weighing plans for two new apartment complexes that would add 371 units.

Sherman Associates is proposing a 132-unit market-rate multifamily building on a city-owned 30-acre parcel along Coon Rapids Boulevard, to be called Port Riverwalk. Staffers anticipate that another developer will submit a competing proposal for the site in coming weeks.

Sherman also is proposing to construct two buildings with 239 apartment units near the Northstar station along Northdale Boulevard on property owned by the Anoka County Regional Rail Authority.

“We don’t have a lot of modern apartment options in the city,” said Matt Brown, Coon Rapids economic development coordinator. “Both of these projects will diversify our housing stock.”

The City Council heard about the two proposals at a work session Wednesday, but has taken no official action.

Shannon Prather