Sam's Top 5 Things to Know for Wednesday

1. Hennepin County panel moves transit-supporting sales tax hike

MPR: The Hennepin County Board is expected to vote next week on a sales tax increase for public transit projects. A board committee on Tuesday approved the quarter-cent hike, which would go into effect Oct. 1.

Commissioner Peter McLoughlin said the money is meant to replace transit funds state lawmakers have declined to appropriate, and will help pay for the Southwest and Bottineau light rail lines, the Orange bus rapid transit line on Interstate 35W, and the proposed Riverview corridor between St. Paul's Union Depot and the Mall of America.

Several residents spoke out against the proposal at Tuesday's committee meeting. John Webster of Minneapolis said a tax hike will drive businesses and shoppers out of the county.

"If you're out buying building materials for a home, or if you're out making other big-ticket purchases, you've got a real incentive to shop somewhere else," he said.

Five metro counties already collect a quarter cent transit sales tax through the Counties Transit Improvement Board, or CTIB, which is set to disband this year. If Hennepin County commissioners approve the tax proposal, a new half-cent sales tax will replace the metro-wide quarter-cent tax.

2. Water-drinking public worried — or not — about 3M pollution in Washington County

PIONEER PRESS: An informational meeting about water pollution in Washington County was swamped with questions for state officials Tuesday evening. Another meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

A group of about 70 people gathered to learn about chemicals in their water that were manufactured by the 3M Co. Officials have said that the chemicals are particularly worrisome for fetuses, babies and breast-feeing mothers.

Traces of the chemicals were discovered in the drinking water of about 65,000 Washington County residents in 2004. The chemicals apparently had leached into the water from waste dumps, where the company disposed of the chemicals, ending in the 1970s.

Until recently, the urgency of issue of PFCs in water had been fading. 3M stopped making the chemicals in 2002, and since then the levels in fish, river water and people drinking the water has dropped.

But on May 22, the Health Department set a new standard for the pollution — which was twice as tough as levels set by federal officials. The new standards meant that city water wells in the area that were considered safe before were now considered dangerous.

In Cottage Grove, eight of the city’s 11 wells had PFC levels considered hazardous by the new standards. Other cities including Woodbury had some city wells that were declared unsafe. All affected cities are now blending the polluted well water with water from clean wells to lower the level of PFCs to the new acceptable levels.

3. 'Scaffold' sculpture may not be burned after all,

Star Tribune: A pile of broken concrete was all that remained of "The Scaffold" sculpture at the Walker Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. "Spoonbridge and Cherry" is in the background.

Dakota elders have hit pause on plans to hold a ceremonial burning of the wood from "Scaffold," the controversial sculpture modeled in part on the gallows used to hang 38 Dakota men in 1862.

The wood has been moved to an undisclosed Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board facility, giving the Dakota elders more time to come to a joint decision about its fate.

The agreement reached last Wednesday called for Los Angeles artist Sam Durant's work to be dismantled, then transported from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to Fort Snelling where it was to be ceremonially burned. Work proceeded quickly after a ceremony Friday at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden where prayers were shared, sage was burned, a bowl of tobacco offerings passed around, then chain saws tore into the two-story-high, wood-and-steel structure.

4. Teens Caught Shoplifting Cardboard Cake in Edina

Channel 5: Three teenagers thought they had nabbed some free treats from a Cub Foods in Edina early Tuesday morning, but police caught up with them as they drove away. Even if they hadn't been stopped, the teens were destined for disappointment because the cake they had stolen was actually a cardboard display cake.

Edina police said the three had left the Cub Foods at about 4 a.m. with the cake in tow, but police stopped their vehicle when they saw it matched an employee's description.

The cake was returned to the store, and Cub Foods managers declined to press charges against the teens. They were given trespassing notices instead.

5. Brooklyn Park fire training exercise goes awry, damages nearby homes

Star tribune: Two homes in Brooklyn Park suffered minor damage Monday when a fire training exercise went awry.

Firefighters were conducting a training exercise at a home that was slated to be demolished when the wind changed directions and blew heat across the street. The intense heat melted a portion of the siding of two homes, said Brooklyn Park Fire Chief Ken Prillaman.

“It was an anomaly in the weather,” he said. “I’ve never seen homes across the street suffer damage. It was a very unusual circumstance.”

Crews were training near the intersection of 107th and Winnetka avenues N. around 2:30 p.m. when winds sent heat across the street and to neighbors’ homes.

Prillaman said there was no structural damage to the affected homes and that the city’s insurance should cover the costs to repair the damage. No one was hurt.

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