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Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled a proposed $1.5 billion public works bill Tuesday that contained funding for some significant Northland projects, but others didn't exactly make the cut. Three Duluth funding requests were notably absent from the governor's proposal: • $7 million to complete the conversion of downtown steam lines to a closed-loop hot water system as part of the Superior Street reconstruction project. • $6.1 million to repair harbor seawalls. • $1.9 million for a new "Bear Country" exhibit at the Lake Superior Zoo.
Duluth soon could take aim at sales of flavored tobacco products to young people. On Jan. 22, city councilors Barb Russ and Zack Filipovich plan to introduce an ordinance that proposes to restrict sales of menthol cigarettes and other flavor-infused tobacco products to adult-only smoke shops. "We're trying to keep another generation of people from starting to smoke cigarettes," Russ said.
For the first time since the flood of 2012, the Lake Superior Zoo has finished a year in the black. Of course, that was with the help of an additional $200,000 in support from the city of Duluth and deep staffing cuts this past October, but Erik Simonson, the zoo's new CEO, said he's confident the organization is entering a new year on a firmer financial footing. He said the zoo has trimmed its 2018 operating budget by 18 percent from the previous year, and he aims to boost visitor numbers by 10 percent this year, as well.
Zoning, lights and a change of leadership dominated the conversation at a meeting of the Duluth City Council Monday night. Street lights Several concerned citizens raised concerns about the type of new street lights that will be installed when the reconstruction of Superior Street begins later this year. "We are being robbed of our night sky," said Lance Reasor.
Ecolibrium3 moved one step closer to acquiring a new building Monday night, when the Duluth City Council for the first time read an ordinance that could authorize the sale of an old Lincoln Park police substation to the organization. A second reading of the ordinance will be required before the council can sign off on the proposed $3,596 deal.
Following a year of preparations that included more than 100 public meetings and the analysis of nearly 4,800 submitted surveys, the city of Duluth is putting the final touches on a comprehensive plan it has dubbed "Imagine Duluth 2035." Portions of the draft document are already available online at imagineduluth.com and others will be going up in coming days.
Golfers received an assurance Thursday night from William Roche, parks manager for the city of Duluth, that the Lester Park Golf Course will remain open for at least the coming season. At an agenda meeting of the Duluth City Council, Roche said Mayor Emily Larson has committed to keep the financially distressed course operating in 2018. In December, the city projected its two municipal golf courses — Lester Park and Enger Park — will lose a combined $108,000 this year, adding to the $2.2 million in operating debt they have rung up already.
Roto of Duluth Inc., the owner of University Liquor, could face a $1,000 fine for selling alcohol to an underage, undercover customer for the third consecutive time that it has been subjected to a compliance check. Those checks have been spaced out over the course of the past seven years, but the repeated violations prompted Duluth's Alcohol, Gambling and Tobacco Commission to recommend a larger-than-normal fine for the latest citation due to a few "aggravating circumstances."
Former Duluth city councilor and state legislator Roger Reinert has received his orders to report for duty in Kabul, Afghanistan, early this summer, as part of a yearlong deployment. Reinert serves as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, and said such deployments have become commonplace for reservists, with the nation involved in multiple prolonged military engagements.
Three neighboring cities that rely on Duluth for their water supply have taken steps to appeal a proposed rate increase, perhaps taking their case to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Hermantown, Proctor and Rice Lake have all registered their concern over a plan to hike their water rates by 4.7 percent annually for each of the next six years.