Recently in Local News Category

Bloomington hotel, water park sold

A private equity firm has purchased the Radisson Hotel and Water Park of America in Bloomington for an undisclosed sum.

The Star Tribune reported that Wheelock Street Capital, a real estate private equity firm in Greenwich, Conn., said Friday that an affiliate bought the 403-room hotel and amusement park, but it didn't disclose the terms of the sale.

"We are delighted to be acquiring this high-quality asset next to the most visited mall in the country," the company said in its announcement Friday.

Head of the Wirth Cos. in Minneapolis, Jeffrey Wirth, said he's governed by a confidentiality agreement and can't discuss the purchase. Wirth Cos. developed the complex with its huge green tubes curling around the exterior.

Patrick Cambell, a partner of Wheelock, said in an interview that they plan on doing business as the as same as usual and they wouldn't be expecting any lay-offs. Campbell also said that minor improvements will be made to the facility.

Campbell said the property was "priced well," but wouldn't discuss the cost or even confirm who sold it.

Campbell said his company is focused on hospitality properties at the moment "where we think the best and highest opportunities are,'' as reported by the Star Tribune.

Bon Jovi visits Minneapolis shelter between shows

Rock star Jon Bon Jovi surprised a downtown Minneapolis shelter with a visit Thursday.

The Star tribune reported that Bon Jovi made a visit to People Serving People on 614 S. 3rd St. away from the cameras and spoke to reporters afterward referring to Larissa Thelmon, 28, a personal care assistant laid off just before Christmas.

Bon Jovi, who was between Xcel Center concerts on Wednesday and Thursday night, was on a fact-finding mission for the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which has worked to tackle homelessness by building affordable housing, establishing community kitchens and cleaning up vacant lots in blighted neighborhoods the Star Tribune reported.

The singer also recently visited a shelter for alcoholics in Seattle and toured Skid Row in Los Angeles. He spotted People Serving People on a previous tour in the Twin Cities and knew he wanted to go back.

The Star Tribune also reported that Mimi Box, executive director of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, who accompanied the rock star during Thursday's visit, said the foundation uses such stops to find out what has worked in some cities and can, in turn, be promoted elsewhere when awarding its grants.

Jim Minor, president of People Serving People, said Bon Jovi asked "a lot of good questions ... and knew what he was talking about." Asked whether the shelter might someday benefit from a grant, Minor added: "They haven't said a word. And we haven't said a word."

Ruling makes Iowa gay marriage destination

The state Supreme Court ruling legalized gay marriage which has created Iowa as a wedding destination.

As reported by the Star Tribune, that April 3, 2009, decision, followed about three weeks later by the issuing of marriage licenses, led to 1,783 same-sex weddings by year's end. Of those, 1,044 of the couples came from outside the state.

The ruling drew a couple from St. Paul, Minn., to board a bus with eight other gay couples last August and made a 250-mile drive to marry in a church in Des Moines.

"I felt relieved," said Olly Staneslow as reported to the Star Tribune. "We know it's not legal (in Minnesota) yet, but we've done everything we absolutely could."

Staneslow and Judith Weir were among 100 Minnesota same-sex couples who wed last year in Iowa, ranking the state second among those sending gay couples there to marry. Illinois topped the list at 172 the Star Tribune reported.

The Iowa Supreme Court's decision came in a case pushed by the gay-rights group Lambda Legal. The justices upheld an August 2007 decision that found a state law limiting marriage to a man and a woman violates constitutional equal-protection rights.

Gophers get NCAA bid

Big wins over Michigan State and Purdue got Minnesota into the NCAA men's basketball tournament with disregards to today's loss to Ohio State.

The Star Tribune reported that this is the first time in 15 years that the Gophers have made the NCAA tournament two straight seasons. They lost in the first round last year to Texas.

The Gopher's will play No. 6 Xavier on Friday in Milwaukee in the West region.

Minnesota and Xavier played three times in the 1950s, with Minnesota winning all of those games. Xavier is the champion of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Xavier reached the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight year and the ninth time in 10 years as reported by the Star Tribune.

Gopher's coach Tubby Smith reported to the Associated Press:

"I thought we'd do it in one year," Smith said. "I was disappointed we didn't do it last year. I thought last year's team, we let some games slip away that we should have won."

Several families at Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TiZA) want to intervene with a lawsuit involving the Inver Grove Heights school and the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.

As reported by the Pioneer Press the students, who attend Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, say their democratic and legal rights will be violated if the school cannot offer religious accommodations, such as pork-alternative food, prayer time, a dress code and no school on Islamic holidays.

The ACLU argued that the TiZA school is crossing the lines between public education and religion by allowing accommodations for the religious practices of the Muslim students.

The Star Tribune reported that In court documents, parents said they send their children to the school for a quality education, not religion, but still want their families' religious needs to be met. The school is a "safe, non-sectarian, cultural learning environment for immigrant families" and should not be closed, they said.

Court documents for the motion stated: "Basically, TiZA is being sued for the Muslim-ness of its students. The MnACLU would not have a problem with TiZA if there weren't Muslim students at TiZA because then there would not be these accommodations."

Several said they were unhappy because, in response to a state investigation, the school has reduced the time set aside on Fridays for Muslim students to pray, from 30 minutes to 10 minutes as reported by the Star Tribune.

"The ACLU lawsuit threatens more reductions," said Javed Mohammad, who has two sons at TiZA, in a court document.

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