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24 posts from July 2011

July 31, 2011

National Night Out and Kiger as a target

I have always attempted to make a splash in the Rochester business community and it looks like I'll literally get my chance
Nnoflyerduring Tuesday's National Night Out events.

 The Minnesota School of Business is hosting a community event from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at its campus at 2521 Pennington Dr. N.W. in honor of National Night.

This is being done in partnership with the Cimmaron Neighborhood Association.

Expect free food including hot hogs, nachos, sno-cones and more. A live DJ will be playing music. There will also be games, an inflatable bounce house and much more.

And to add to the fun, there will be a dunk tank featuring foolish folks, like newspaper columnists, as targets.

Do you hate the way I use the phrase "Med City"? I know that drives the Post-Bulletin copy editors crazy? Have I butchered the spelling of your name or overlooked your business?

This is your chance to take your best shot at me (I'm looking at you, Mr. Answer Man. Heh) and support a positive neighborhood event.

I won't be the only target. Dunken and Sam of the KROC-FM Morning Show will also take turns in the tank.

July 26, 2011

Jones to take over 102.5 Fox morning

Here's a quick follow-up to yesterday's announcement about Tracy Dixon leaving Rochester's 102.5 The Fox radio morning show.

Two of the Med City's most well-known radio voices - Julie Jones and Dave Berg - are switching things up. I'll have this in my column tomorrow.

Swt2eftu1h4oym7172009224353This is a note from Craig Erpestad, Clear Channel's operations manager in Rochester:

102.5 The Fox, KMFX radio would like to announce that longtime morning air personality Tracy Dixon is accepting the morning drive position at WMAD in Madison Wisconsin!

  T_912_1309365833 Julie Jones who currently is on 102.5 The Fox in the afternoon drive slot will be taking over the morning show beginning Aug. 8.

Julie is one of the most well known radio personalities in the Rochester Radio market and we are very excited to promote her to be the morning show host.

Dave Berg, who currently hosts the midday show will be moving to the afternoon drive. Dave is not only a very well known air talent, he is also extremely involved in the community as our public service director.

IBM's weather forecasting system gets rained on

Here's some from an interesting piece by William Pentland (who looks a lot like Thomas Dolby) on's Clean Beta energy blog.

Deep+thunder Basically, using utility giant Con Edison as his example, the piece calls the effectiveness of IBM's super-duper weather forecasting program called Deep Thunder. (Whoever names stuff at IBM must have a fun job. Heh)

I point this out mainly because a 2010 case study by IBM says at that time, Deep Thunder was running on an IBM System P server at the IBM Data Center in Rochester.

I wonder how KTTC's Randy Brock would fare in a head-to-head weather forecast cage match? I bet he'd do better than those guys did on Jeopardy! against IBM's Watson.

Anyway, here some from Pentland's piece:

Deep Thunder couples high-resolution weather forecasts with business processes to enhance operational planning and facilitate efficient and effective decision making processes. Or, as IBM puts it: “It is not about weather but integrating forecasts into decision making to optimize business processes.”

In 2001, a prototype was pioneered to provide 24-hour forecasts for the New York City area at 1 kilometer resolution twice daily. More recently, IBM has extended the Deep Thunder platform for forecasting local weather conditions in Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Baltimore and Washington D.C. and other metropolitan areas.


The big question for IBM is whether Deep Thunder delivers on its promise.  At least one high-profile customer, Consolidated Edison of New York, has concluded that it does not.

Here's what Con Ed said in 2008:

3650853-illustration-of-dark-cloud-icon-with-lightnings-underneath [Con Edison] has initiated a project with IBM to apply IBM’s Deep Thunder technology to the problem of forecasting weather-caused damage at a micro-geographic level. The goal . . . is to develop and integrate more precise weather forecasting capability into our emergency response management utilizing finer resolution forecasting models. The training of key operations and planning personnel commenced on June 1, 2008 and continues as the application is modified. The Deep Thunder forecasting model is being included as appropriate in operational decisions to continue to test against real time weather data for accuracy and refinement. We are now developing the specifications and implementation for specific customizations of the current Deep Thunder capability to enable the Company to evaluate “predicted” overhead system damage based on Deep Thunder enhanced weather forecasts.

Then this is a follow up report more than two years later:

“[i]nvestigation into integrating the Deep Thunder micro-weather modeling system with the STAR system determined that it is not feasible with the current software . . The [Deep Thunder] predictive model has proved to be no more accurate than the existing static matrix currently in use. The model’s usefulness is limited and no further modifications are anticipated.”

Roch. chamber postpones annual golf bash

Chambergolf If you were all ready to get your golf on this Wednesday, I'm afraid you won't be doing it at the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce annual golf extravaganza.

Not this week anyway.

Here's the message the chamber kicked out a few minutes ago.

Due to the severe weather storm warnings which include predictions of hail and lightening we have rescheduled the Chamber Golf Outing from tomorrow to Wednesday August 3 at Willow Creek.

So mark down those calendars for Aug. 3. I'll be there rolling around the course riding on drink cart and chatting up people for news.


July 25, 2011

Lanesoro landmark closing its doors

Here's some bad news for fans of the nearby artsy town of Lanesboro.

3786678963_7c8fee19f7 I've gotten word that Das Wurst Haus German Village and Deli, a Lanesboro landmark since the 1990s, is expected to close for good after Labor Day.

Arv and Jan Fabian usually shut down the deli known for its homemade sausages,root beer and impromptu accordion performances when they go to Arizona for the winter.

However this year, it sounds like they won't be re-opening in April for the tourist season.

"We're shutting her down," says Arv.

I haven't had a chance to chat with him in depth yet to find out the whole story, but he sounds like the plans to close up the shop are pretty firm.

I'll update this with any more details that I can round up.

Popular Roch. personality moving on

Here's some from my column today following up last week's tease about a change in the local radio scene:

A popular Rochester radio personality is moving on to a new gig in Wisconsin.

912_1309963600-1 Tracy Dixon, who is Clear Channel's voice in the morning on 102.5 The Fox, announced this morning that she is going to Madison, Wisconsin to lead a morning show on Clear Channel's 96.3 Star Country.

"It is very bittersweet," she says of leaving Rochester. "It is really one of the most giving communities I can imagine."

She'll wrap up her 12 years at Fox with her last show on Aug. 5.

Her new show in Madison will launch on the air on Aug. 22.

"This next month will be a whirlwind,"Dixon says of moving her family to Madison and taking on a job. "I seriously couldn't be any more excited."

Most of her time on the air at Fox, she worked with partner Jake Duffy.

Then about three years ago, the station cut back on staffing and she became a one-person morning show.

"That was tough. I had to re-invent the way I do a morning show," Dixon says.

Many local people, including Rochester police officer Lt. Craig Anderson, many firefighters and local comedian Danielle Teal, made regular on-air appearances with Dixon.

I even made semi-regular appearances on the show for a short time, on the rare days that I could manage to get up that early.
Who knew that morning radio shows start before noon? Heh.

July 21, 2011

Roch. liquor store owner didn't let state be a buzzkill

Here's some from my column in today's paper as well as yet another on-scene video clip.

When Mike Beyers was told the city didn't have any more liquor licenses available, he didn't let that be a buzzkill to his plan to open a new store to sell beer, wine and spirits in Rochester.


When Rochester became designated as a First Class City, its number of liquor licenses was set to drop from 26 to 21.

Since the city already had 22 issued, the approval for the final one, for Trader Joe's, was grandfathered in.

Beyers thought it didn't make sense that the city had essentially lost four liquor licenses.

The St. Charles man went to the state legislature — before the shutdown — to make his case. That eventually ended with lawmakers changing the Med City liquor limit back to its original 26 by the end of May.

"I've been working on this since January," Beyers says.

Now he's seeing that effort pay off as a construction crew has started working on his new south Rochester store — Cap N Cork Wine and Spirits at 416 Crossroads Drive S.W.

He is opening the shop near the Hy-Vee Crossroads grocery in the storefront vacated by Hollywood Video last year. Cap N Cork will fill half of that space.

To compete in the local alcohol market led by the local names of Andy's and Apollo, Beyers has a vision for his store.

"It will be more of a Minneapolis concept — upscale with competitive prices," he says. "And the owner will be right there in the store to help customers."

July 20, 2011

Good Food Co-op merger vote coming up

Rochester's Good Food Store Co-op and the La Crosse People’s Food Co­‐op are preparing for upcoming member votes of a proposal to merge the two cooperatives.

Voting will take place in August. Ballots should arrive in mailboxes by about Aug. 1 and voting will wrap up by Aug. 15.

This proposed merger would clear the way for a plan to move and expand the Good Food Store to anchor a downtown Rochester development.

Many members turned out for meetings this week to speak for and against the plan.

Mayo Clinic loses brand scrap

Not a good week for Mayo Clinic's collective ego.

After losing its longtime #2 spot on a national best hospitals list, the scrappy Creative Memories company defeated Mother Mayo in the finals of a Minnesota brand smackdown.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_up Hoards of scrapbookers turned out to defend their St. Cloud-based Creative Memories in an online poll called Minnesota Brand Madness.

Out of the 77,245 votes cast, Creative Memories tallied 58 percent in its favor verus Mayo Clinic's 42 percent.

This Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Brand Madness poll has been a online battleground for weeks.

View Managed like college basketball's March Madness tournament,124 Minnesota brands were paired off in its round and people cast their votes for their favorites.

It included the state's top corporate and product names, such as Target, Mall of America, Schwan's, Post-it Notes, Wheaties and Dairy Queen.

In the path to the final two, Mayo Clinic defeated Tastefully Simple, Summit Brewing, General Mills, Lunds/Byerly's and finally Schwan's.

Tapping an unexpected mobilization of its fans, Creative Memories defeated such more well-known names as Target, Arctic Cat, Wheaties and Mall of America to make it to the championship.

July 19, 2011

Mayo-linked med device firm scores $58M

Nevro Corp., a California-based medical device company that licenses Mayo Clinic research, just scored $58 million in financing.

Mayo Clinic, which has invested in Nevro since its early days, is listed as one of the investor groups kicking in money for this round of financing.

Here's some from a Post-Bulletin story about Mayo Clinic's formation of new venture capital fund.

In mid-2008, the clinic launched the $10 million Mayo Medical Ventures Fund II to further the work of its predecessor MMV I. The fund develops joint investments with health care venture capital firms to provide financing of between $250,000 to $500,000 for Nevro-85066215 companies based on Mayo creations or research.

So far this fund has financed four companies, starting with Nevro Corp. last year. Nevro is creating implantable devices to help manage chronic pain.

Here's some from the press release that rolled out today:

Nevro Corp., a neuromodulation company focused on relief of chronic pain, announced today that it has completed a $58 million financing round led by new investor, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC). Existing investors participating in this financing round included Aberdare Ventures, Accuitive Medical Ventures, Bay City Capital, Mayo Clinic, MPM Capital, and Three Arch Partners.

The funds will be used to sponsor a pivotal clinical study in the U.S. and provide continued support for the company’s international commercialization strategy.


Nevro Corp., headquartered in Menlo Park, California, is a privately-held medical device company founded in 2007 to provide advances in chronic pain relief through neuromodulation technology. The Nevro Spinal Cord Stimulation System received CE mark in 2010 and is now commercially available at leading centers outside the United States.