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22 High Performing Schools Recognized by Minnesota Department of Education

22 local schools have been recognized as "Celebration Schools," an honor bestowed upon schools serving poor students who demonstrate good achievement. 

The "Celebration" portion of the award is in part to Minnesota's new school accountability system. This monitors schools that receive federal poverty aid and gives them designations that correlate with how they fare academically. The "Celebration" designation is one of the highest commendations meant for the top 25% of schools receiving Title I money. 

“I want to congratulate these schools for this incredible accomplishment,” said Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. “Minnesotans should be proud of the work going on in our schools."

The full spread of schools is listed below -- congrats to all the "Celebration Schools" for their hard work to give more students opportunities to succeed in academics. 

Blooming Prairie Elementary / Blooming Prairie Public School District

Cedar Park Elementary / Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan

Dover-Eyota Elementary / Dover-Eyota Public School District

Fair School Downtown / West Metro Education Program

Hmong College Prep Academy High School / Hmong College Prep Academy

Huddleston Elementary / Lakeville Public School District

Kelliher Secondary School / Kelliher Public School District

Kennedy Elementary / Willmar Public School District

Kenny Elementary / Minneapolis...

Linden Hills & Fulton Neighborhoods of Minneapolis

The Linden Hills and Fulton neighborhoods are two of the best locations to live in all the Twin Cities. Aside from only being minutes away from both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, the area sits in close proximity to the international airport and the Mall of America – and because the neighborhood is on the west side of the metro, it’s only a short drive to the scenic Lake Minnetonka. And on that note, the area itself has plenty of outdoor space that feels anything but urban.

Image Credit: Joe Bielawa

Near the Linden Hills and Fulton neighborhoods sit plenty of bodies of water worth spending time around – Minnehaha Creek, Lake Calhoun, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles and Lake Harriet are all in close proximity. These options are a godsend for anyone who appreciates the outdoors, loves a good beach or water activities.

Image Credit: Jason Riedy

Minnehaha Creek is one can’t miss spot in the area, flowing 22 miles east through many Minneapolis suburbs. The creek flows into the gorgeous Minnehaha Falls, a huge attraction in the Minneapolis area. The 53-foot high waterfall is a beautiful escape for the urban life that surrounds the area.

There are also many fantastic parks in the area. Residents can chose from Utley Park, York Park, Arden Park, Wooddale Park, Pamela Park, and more. Minneapolis is an ever-growing city, but...

Bleu Valley Estate will be on the market soon

At Barker and Hedges, we are proud to announce that we have a really amazing property hitting the market in the coming weeks. “Bleu Valley Estate” is located in Stillwater and is one of Minnesota’s premiere equestrian properties – in fact, this estate has been home to many stakes-winning thoroughbred racehorses.

This prime, 70+ acre estate is located just minutes from downtown Stillwater and the St. Croix Valley. The property sits alongside the future Gateway Trail Extension, a massively popular bike/walking trail that also has unpaved surfaces for horseback riding.

The property features a beautiful log-sided home overlooking the countryside with unforgettable panoramic views. The inside of the home is spacious, but cozy with the wood features making the interior appear timeless.

 The equestrian pieces of the estate features: a T-shaped barn with two 36' X 84' sections, an attached 55' x 60' indoor arena, 75' x 100' outdoor area, 36' x 48' hay or equipment shed, 14' x 28' machine shed, 8 pastures featuring run-in livestock shelters and Miraco automatic livestock water dispensers.

 The property also features over 3,000 feet of underground waterlines and 17,500 feet of fencing.

Some of the surrounding properties are secured in a Land Trust, which gives “Bleu Valley Estate” the ultimate privacy. There is also the potential for the future development of 20 more acres located at the front of the estate.

To learn more about this once in a lifetime opportunity, visit www.bleuvalleyestate.com

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Greening Minnesota ~ August 2011

There are some great green initiatives and events happening in Minnesota, contributing towards a cleaner environment for residents. Read about how local communities are working towards creating a more environmentally-friendly world. There are more entries than usual this month!

Prodded by a homeowner whose prairie plantings were mowed against his will, the city of Minneapolis has come up with a plan to let lawns go natural. Some suburbs have already taken the step of allowing natural plantings in place of grass, accepting their environmental benefits over the objections of some neighbors who think they look unkempt. The proposal defines the new type of landscaping as an intentional planting of native or non-native grasses, wildflowers, ferns, shrubs, trees or forbs. They're allowed to exceed the city's normal nuisance ordinance threshold of 8 inches in height, or grass that has gone or is about to go to seed. They can't include noxious weeds and have to be maintained to avoid "unintended vegetation." Unkempt turf lawns are specifically prohibited.

Organizers of the Visa Gymnastics Championships, held earlier this month in St. Paul, teamed up with Xcel Energy Center officials to exclusively power Xcel, RiverCentre and Roy Wilkins Auditorium with wind energy for four days and go paperless at what President Steve Penny called USA Gymnastics' greenest event ever.The sustainability plan also included composting in Xcel Center lobbies. Instead of paper-based programs and bio packets, the revamped USA Gymnastics mobile site fed live scoring to smartphones, tablets and LED screens. Xcel Center has already emerged as one of the country's greenest arenas. Its "50-50 in 2" program, aimed at cutting trash and increasing recycling, has reduced trash by 1.2 million pounds and raised recycling rates from 15% to more than 50% by increasing the number of recycling and composting bins.

Prodded by Hennepin County to boost its lagging recycling rate,...

Greening Minnesota ~ May / June 2011

May and June are great for undertaking activities in the green movement. Read on to find out about how Minnesota communities are working towards creating a more environmentally-friendly world.

First of all, businesses along University Avenue could use your patronage. Construction on the light-rail track installation for the Central Corridor is taking its toll on businesses left struggling. In some cases, revenues have decreased by half as customers forgo trying to get to their favorite places due to the mess. The construction zone stretches from Emerald Avenue on the Minneapolis border to Syndicate Street N. Go have a bite to eat, have some coffee or shop at local businesses as our Twin Cities try to make more public transportation options available to residents.

Melissa Rappaport Schifman and her husband, Jim Schifman, bought a 1950s rambler on a corner lot across from Cedar Lake in Minneapolis with plans to remodel it using green methods and materials. When they discovered what it would cost to solve moisture issues in the basement, they scrapped the idea (and the house) to start from scratch. Ultimately, they built a sustainable, energy-efficient, healthy home with lower their energy consumption (and costs) and great views of the lake.

The long-awaited 4.3-mile Cedar Lake Regional Trail connecting St. Louis Park to the Mississippi River is finally complete. The last mile, through downtown, was ready May 23. The 20-year effort, spearheaded by the Cedar Lake Park Association (CLPA), produced what planners said was the nation's first federally funded bicycle "freeway." Its design, with two one-way bike lanes and a third pedestrian lane, has been reproduced for trails nationwide.

Anoka County also recently celebrated the opening of a 5-mile segment of Rice Creek North Regional Trail. The new trail segment connects the Lino Lakes Town Center with Baldwin Lake Park, through Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve. It also connects Rice Lake Elementary...

Unique Home: Former Donaldson Mansion for Sale in Minneapolis

It's Friday, a day to cast away seriousness and daydream a little. How about a $6.5 million daydream?

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This 1906 home was built for department-store magnate Lawrence Donaldson. Designed by Kees and Colburn, the same architecture firm that designed Donaldson's downtown Minneapolis office and the Minneapolis Grain Exchange building, the house at one time contained 10 fireplaces, a three-level carriage house with terrazo-marble floors and an ahead-of-its-time central vacuum cleaning system. Over time, the original gold-leafed ceilings had been painted over, the custom-made Tiffany light fixtures were auctioned off, and the once-sprawling yard had been subdivided.

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After a top-to-bottom restoration and more than 10 years of living in the home, Ron Beining and Mark Perrin have decided to sell. The 10,000-square-foot home at 1712 Mount Curve Avenue in Minneapolis, MLS # 4013426, is listed for a price of $6,500,000.

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Take a look at more amazing photos at our posted listing.

Check out our own historic listing, the former Vasa Children's Home in Vasa, MN .

Souce: Homegazing on a Kenwood mansion

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Greening Minnesota ~ December 2010

With all the white stuff that has been flying lately, December has been a slow month for green news in Minnesota. There are still a few stories worth noting.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has filed suit against the 3M Co., demanding that it pay the cleanup costs for decades of pollution caused by chemicals that have seeped into the Mississippi River and the drinking water of communities across the eastern Twin Cities metro area. The suit was filed in Hennepin County District Court after months of fruitless out-of-court settlement talks between the state and Maplewood-based 3M.

Forty-six new solar-powered parking meters went online in downtown Minneapolis recently. And quite literally. The meters are solar-powered and use Minneapolis’ Wi-Fi to allow credit card payments, but also accept quarters and dollar coins. In the future, even more older meters, which have been in use since 1992, will be coming down.

About $1 million has been awarded to projects that will light buildings, parking lots and trails, power a drinking water well, and heat water for campground showers via solar energy at parks and nature centers around the Twin Cities and the state. The money is  funded by the clean water, land and legacy amendment approved by voters in 2008. A majority of the park and trails fund goes to acquire and improve recreation areas.

The Xcel Energy Foundation has announced nearly $465,000 in grants in Minnesota. The money went largely to local theaters and arts groups, but some went to environmental groups. It was part of $4.25 million the utility's foundation has doled out this year in the eight states it serves. In Minnesota, about $141,000 in environmental grants went to support nonprofit projects that focus on the connection between the environment and energy.

That's the green news around Minnesota. Have a happy and prosperous New Year and celebrate the arrival of 2011 safely!

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New Owners for Van Dusen Mansion in Minneapolis

The Van Dusen mansion in downtown Minneapolis is getting reborn as an events center. The historic home was recently a multi-million dollar pawn in the Trevor Cook Ponzi scheme.

The mansion was purchased in April for $1.55 million by St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, his son, Matt and daughter-in law, Jennifer, who have extensive food and beverage management experience. The Van Dusen Mansion, will specialize in weddings, social events and business meetings.

Jeff and his wife, Julie, have a keen interest in historic buildings and already own a bed and breakfast in Stillwater that's been renovated. They also completely renovated the downtown Saint Paul building that houses Jeff 's law offices.

The partnership between the elder and younger Andersons, called the Van Dusen Preservation Group, came together because the investors saw an opportunity to save the mansion from an uncertain fate.

"This was such a unique space for events," said Matt Anderson, who is researching the possibility that one of his grandmothers worked in the house as a maid. "We all sat down and said 'This makes a lot of sense.'"

The South Minneapolis mansion, a 12,000-square-foot pink granite home with castle-like turrets, was built in 1892 for George Washington Van Dusen, an entrepreneur who founded Minnesota's first and most prosperous grain processing and distribution firm in 1883. It was rescued in 1994 two weeks before it was scheduled to be demolished. After extensive renovations on the main house, carriage house and a more modern addition, the house was sold again and then operated as an event...

Minneapolis Among Top 10 Greenest

Move.com has chosen the Minneapolis as one of the Top 10 Greenest Cities in the United States. The places, listed in no particular order, were chosen because Move.com thought the cities were doing a great job at putting residents first. These cities are obsessed with clean air and clean water, renewable energy, reliable city transportation, growing parks and green spaces, farmer’s markets and, most importantly, opportunities for community involvement.

What did they have to say about Minneapolis?

Named one of the top business districts in the nation for by the Environmental Protection Agency, Minneapolis is a commuter’s paradise where more than 60 percent of downtown workers use public or alternative transportation to get to the office. Free parking for registered van and car pools, an extensive bike path and bike lane system and employer-sponsored showers and locker rooms not only add endorphins but make a significant dent into auto-based air pollution. On the way to work, commuters thread their way among scores of lakes and parks and ponds and greenbelts and more than 200,000 trees. With great drinking water, active community organizations and the Minnesota State Department of Commerce nudging businesses and residents to hook solar systems up to the city's grid, it doesn’t take Mary Tyler Moore tossing her beret into the air to let you know this is a great place to live.

Of course, this shouldn't dishearten St. Paul residents. Many of the same programs available in Minneapolis are also available in Saint Paul. This is just one more aspect of the Twin Cities that makes life here so great.

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Greening Minnesota ~ April 2010

This is the Land of 10,000 Lake and millions of trees. We take our environment seriously. Read on to learn about environmentally friendly news that happened recently around the Twin Cities and Minnesota!

Anoka County Highway Department is working on ways to get fewer people driving on Highway 65 in Blaine. The county has received a $7 million Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant from the Federal Highway Administration to improve mass transit on the corridor. With $1.5 million in matching money, the county has issued a request for proposals for consultants to help create a plan to ferry nine busloads of commuters from Blaine's northern edge into downtown Minneapolis and back.

Also in Anoka County, employees may have saved a few jobs by saving energy (and money). First, lights were dimmed. Utility costs at the government center were reduced by $58,000 in 2009. In 2010, the county is expected to save more than $65,000. Next, Facilities Management and Construction team is changing the heating and cooling set-points in county building from 70/73 to 68/74. That means the heat will kick in at 68 degrees rather than 70 in the winter and the cooling system will trigger on at 74 degrees rather than 73 during the summer. Each degree of change will result in a 3% savings to the annual utilities budget of $720,000. The facilities management and construction team also has turned off most of the government center's lobby lights. The idea is to use natural daylight for lobby activities.

Mulroy’s Body Shop at the corner of 39th Street and Nicollet Avenue in Southwest Minneapolis has the largest array of solar panels in the Twin Cities, generating 30% of the building’s power. The installation of the shop’s 174-panel, 40-kilowatt system was completed in early April as part of a project run by South Minneapolis-based Solarflow Energy. The company offers solar electricity leasing. The company is under contract with Xcel Energy for the project, which involves installing...