Jun 9, 2021

Axios Twin Cities

Good morning! It's Wednesday.

  • Let's talk about something besides the weather. How about those Twins? Oh nevermind. It's going to be in the low 90s again.

📸 Reminder: We launched our Instagram account @axiostwincities! But that's not all. We've got a big giveaway this week. If you follow us, you'll have a shot at a $100 gift card to a Twin Cities restaurant of your choosing.

  • And hey, even if you don't win, you get to keep up-to-date on all the happenings around town.

Today's newsletter is 705 words, a 2 1/2-minute read.

1 big thing: The lifeguard shortage

Lake Harriet is one of several beaches that won't have life guards this summer. Photo: Nick Halter/Axios

People flocking to beaches and pools during this early summer heat wave are finding lots of empty lifeguard chairs.

What's happening: Pandemic-related closures at aquatic centers led to a slowdown in the training of new lifeguards, and the backlog comes as many summer-oriented businesses are forced to compete for workers.

Why it matters: Without lifeguards for parts of last summer, our state saw a rise in drownings and near-drownings. Last year, 49 Minnesotans died in non-boating drownings, the most since 2011, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

The state of play: The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board usually hires 170 lifeguards, but has only been able to hire 75 this year, spokeswoman Robin Smothers said.

  • As a result, just three out of 12 city beaches are being guarded — Lake Nokomis Main Beach, Wirth Lake Beach and, starting Saturday, Cedar Lake Point Beach.
  • Three Rivers Park District has kept its pools guarded, but is hiring "lifeguards in training" who'll get certified as part of their employment, Knisely said.

Several Life Time clubs in the Twin Cities are short of lifeguards as well, said Layne Clatterbuck, the fitness center company's regional aquatics manager in Minnesota.

  • Clubs that previously had 30 to 40 guards now have 15 to 20.
  • Life Time is trying to hire more and considering upping its wages and offering hiring and/or retention bonuses, Clatterbuck said.

Of note: St. Paul's city pools and beaches are fully staffed at 160 guards, spokeswoman Clare Cloyd said.

2. The Saints game you've been waiting for

Byron Buxton and Kenta Maeda are expected to play for the Saints tonight. Photo: Courtesy of St. Paul Saints

Two of the best Minnesota Twins players will be making injury rehab appearances at CHS Field tonight, a moment many fans have been waiting for since the St. Paul Saints became the Twins AAA affiliate last year.

What's happening: Byron Buxton is expected to start in center field and Kenta Maeda is slated to be the starting pitcher.

That's not all: The Saints have one of their wacky promotions tonight, called "What the Heck, Florida?" The team will "dissect the craziest Florida Man antics and headlines."

  • Plenty of tickets are still available — as of this morning.
3. See inside this $7.5 million Orono manor

Photos courtesy of Spacecrafting

Want your own fairytale castle? Orono's "Huntington Manor," a $7,495,000 estate 20 miles west of Minneapolis, is on the market.

Background: The nearly 9,000-square-foot house was designed by Plymouth architect James McNeal and built in 2019 as a model home, Sarah Polovitz of Edina Realty said. The buyer would be the first to live there.

  • The four-bedroom, six-bath home sits on 3.4 acres and is adjacent to 60+ acres of protected land.

The place has lots of rare features: All-glass walls, elaborate helix staircase, three-arched fireplace and limestone exterior, which took 45 truckloads of solid limestone to complete, Polovitz said.

Photo courtesy of Spacecrafting

See more photos here.

4. Catch up quick: New soccer team, new diversity leader at UnitedHealth

Joy Fitzgerald is the new chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at UnitedHealth Group. Photo courtesy of UnitedHealth Group

⚽️ Minnesota is getting a team in a new lower-division women's USL soccer league, according to sources. An announcement with details is coming later this week. (The Athletic)

🏥 UnitedHealth Group hired Joy Fitzgerald as its new chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. She comes from Eli Lilly, which was was named among the top three companies for inclusion and diversity by Diversity Inc. (Star Tribune)

📉 Minnesota's COVID levels haven't been this low since April 2020. The state is averaging fewer than four new daily cases per 100,000 people now, compared with a peak of nearly 130 in November. (MPR News)

📚 St. Paul Public Schools abruptly canceled classes for the rest of the week due to the heat wave, ending the academic year early for all 32,000 students. The move comes after Minneapolis switched 15 schools without AC to virtual learning. (Sahan Journal)

5. Rochester coffee shop expands to Bloomington

Fiddlehead, whose Rochester location is shown here, is opening in Bloomington. Photo courtesy of McGough

Rochester-based Fiddlehead Coffee Co. is expanding into the Twin Cities metro with a hybrid shop-cafe on the ground floor of the newly built Fenley Apartments in Bloomington.

The intrigue: This is a bit of change-up from the developing trend of Twin Cities-based businesses rushing south to Rochester to take advantage of the Destination Medical Center-related boom.

Details: Fiddlehead will open in Bloomington in October at 8051 33rd Ave. S., which is just east of Mall of America.

  • The coffee shop roasts it own beans and will bring its "world-class pastry program" to the city, according to a press release by developer McGough, which owns the apartment building.
  • The cafe will serve lunch, dinner, beer, wine and cocktails.

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