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SPRING FLOODING-DELANO

City crews break up ice jam that threatened city of Delano

(Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com)

DELANO, Minn. (AP) — Authorities say city crews in Delano managed to break up a huge ice jam that led the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood warning for the area west of the Twin Cities.

The Star Tribune reports that the ice jam formed at Bridge Avenue Friday night caused the Crow River to rise to major flood state and threaten the city of about 7.600 people.

Officials say city crews using an excavator succeeded in removing part of the ice and debris jam, and river levels were slowly decreasing after having begun lapping at the bottom of the bridge.

The Crow River is a tributary of the Mississippi that splits into two forks northwest of the metro area.

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POST OFFICE RELOCATED

New Prague post office relocated due to safety concerns

NEW PRAGUE, Minn. (AP) — U.S. Postal Service officials say the post office in New Prague is being temporarily relocated due to safety concerns with the building.

Officials say an environmental specialist has been called in to inspect recent remodeling at the facility. It’s not known how many repairs may be needed or how long it would take.

The mail service has been moved to the Belle Plaine Post Office. Belle Plaine is about 14 miles from New Prague.

Jorg Lewis, the New Prague postmaster, says the move is being made to protect the safety of customers and employees.

MINNESOTA LOBBYING

Canadian pipeline group spends most in Minnesota on lobbying

(Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A new report shows a Canadian oil pipeline company spent $11 million last year lobbying leaders in Minnesota, where the company is fighting to replace its aging Line 3 pipeline despite opposition from tribes and environmentalists.

The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board released data this week that show nearly all of Enbridge Energy Partners’ lobbying money was used advocating before the Public Utilities Commission.

Minnesota Public Radio News reports that it marks the second consecutive year the company has outspent all other lobbyists in the state.

The company gained the commission’s approval to replace the pipeline, which angered Native American tribes and climate change activists who say the project threatens fragile areas.

The pipeline currently runs from Alberta, Canada, across North Dakota and Minnesota to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin.

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SPRING FLOODING-THE LATEST

The Latest: President Trump grants Iowa disaster declaration

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says President Donald Trump has granted her request for an expedited disaster declaration for 56 counties with damage from recent flooding along the Missouri River and other parts of the state.

The declaration makes assistance available to homeowners, renters, businesses, public entities and some non-profit organizations.

Reynolds said in a statement Saturday that the federal help with be instrumental in the state’s recovery. She says “the road to recovery will be long, but it’s clear that Iowans will have the resources we need to rebuild.”

She has estimated damage from flooding that began March 13 at $1.6 billion to homes, businesses, agriculture and levees.

The presidential declaration makes available individual and public assistance program funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and money for hazard mitigation.

BAY CONTAMINATION

Superior joins $18M cleanup of Howards Bay contamination

(Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org)

SUPERIOR, Wis. (AP) — The city of Superior has agreed to join a roughly $18.5 million project to remove contaminated sediments from Howards Bay to improve shipping and restore fish and wildlife habitat.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that the Superior City Council approved agreements Tuesday to work with federal, state and private partners on the Howards Bay dredging project.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources official Joe Graham says the bay is contaminated with heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are cancer-causing compounds.

Superior’s environmental regulatory manager, Darienne McNamara, says the city will provide about $2.6 million through in-kind contribution to the project since it’s been cited as a source of the contamination.

McNamara says leaded gasoline used on roads in the past was washed into the bay through the city’s storm water system.

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POLYMET MINE

Army Corps of Engineers grants final permit for PolyMet mine

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded the planned PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota the final permit it needs to proceed.

The permit deals with how PolyMet will mitigate the project’s effects on wetlands. The Corps says the project will impact 500 fewer acres of wetlands compared with PolyMet’s original proposal.

Col. Sam Calkins, commander of the Corps’ St Paul District, said Friday they’re confident that the permit will allow access to important mineral resources while maximizing protections for natural resources including wetlands.

In a separate statement, PolyMet calls it a “historic achievement” that will let it move forward with building Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine.

Minnesota regulators issued the other key permits for the project last year, but the mine still faces court challenges that could hold it up.

BUDGET UPDATE

Walz tweaks budget plan to reflect slower economic growth

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz has announced a series of tweaks to his budget proposal to reflect projected slower economic growth.

Walz told reporters Friday that his administration took a hard look and scaled back some proposals while sparing priority areas like education and health care.

Altogether the changes include reductions in proposed new spending of $131 million, tax changes that would bring in an additional $65 million, returning $142 million in unspent health care reinsurance funds to the general fund, and new spending of $37 million that would go mostly to higher education.

Republican leaders criticized the Democratic governor for standing by his proposals for a 20-cent gas tax increase and for preserving a tax on health care providers that expires at the end of the year despite a projected surplus.

SPRING FLOODING-HASTINGS

Governor, 2 other Democrats set to fill sandbags in Hastings

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Three Minnesota Democrats plan to join in the flood fight in the Hastings area.

Gov. Tim Walz, U.S. Rep. Angie Craig and state Sen. Karla Bigham are scheduled to help fill sandbags Saturday morning to help people who might be impacted by spring flooding. Hastings is in the district that Bigham represents.

The threat of flooding from the Mississippi River is affecting communities across Minnesota. The Hastings area has already seen high water due to frozen soil, rain and snowmelt.

The Associated Press

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