2009 in reviewThe Bulletin brings you the top stories of 2009.
East Ridge High School opens
East Ridge High School opened to students this year.
The school was a result of years of planning, including passage of the largest construction referendum in state history in 2006.
The 383,000-square-foot, $90 million school features a nearly 1,000-seat auditorium, a cafeteria with 25-foot tall walls of windows and a gymnasium with room for 2,200 fans.
The school opened without seniors this year so that Park and Woodbury high school seniors could graduate from the school they’d been attending.
County wants Knox site for transit hub
Officials from Washington County expressed interest in buying the old Knox Lumber site near Highway 61 and Interstate 494 in Newport, and building a transit hub there.
County transportation planners envision a commuter bus and rail station at the intersection.
The county wants the support of the Newport City Council, but so far it has received a lukewarm reception because some council members say they’re concerned about losing property tax revenue. Cemstone Product Co. is also expressing interest in buying the property to park trucks on it overnight.
County officials have discussed an arrangement where the county would purchase the site in 2010 and then lease the site to Cemstone until the time is right to develop it for transit.
3M pushes to incinerate outside waste
After residents resisted an application by 3M to burn waste from outside companies in its incinerator, the company agreed to hold off on moving ahead with the change until a citizens’ task force could study the issue.
The task force came back with recommendations to allow the change, however Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey said he didn’t want to approve a set of recommendations that didn’t include a permanent promise from 3M that it would not charge companies to burn waste in its incinerator. Including the language in 3M’s permit with the pollution control agency, as recommended by the task force, would only guarantee that the incinerator wouldn’t be commercial for five years.
Most recently, the city council asked staff in November to draft an ordinance that would prohibit commercial incinerators in Cottage Grove.
Bank robbers caught after crash
St. Paul Park’s Anchor Bank was robbed May 29, and shortly after the robbery the getaway car ended up involved in a multiple vehicle accident at Radio Drive and Valley Creek Road in Woodbury. Christopher Shane Green, a 27-year-old Junction City, Kan., man pleaded guilty to robbing the bank and taking $21,774.
No one was seriously injured in the car crash.
Carlos Wilcox killed in Iraq
Carlos Wilcox IV, a 27-year-old Cottage Grove man, was killed in July by indirect fire while serving in Basra, Iraq with the Minnesota National Guard.
Wilcox had plans to become a doctor and possibly get into politics like his hero Colin Powell, his pastor said.
Wilcox’s father had served in the military, and he had always wanted to follow in his footsteps, said John Magee, senior pastor at Light the Way Church in Cottage Grove.
Tornado leaves a mess
A tornado briefly touched down in the Pine Coulee neighborhood in southern Cottage Grove Aug. 19. The storm knocked over trees and ripped shingles from roofs, but no one was injured. The storm came with little warning — Washington County was not even under a severe thunderstorm warning at the time.
3M dirt removal starts
3M began excavating thousands of cubic yards of soil from its Cottage Grove manufacturing plant to prevent further perfluorochemical contamination of groundwater. Perfluorochemicals formerly manufactured at the site have been found in wells near to the site and in Cottage Grove’s municipal drinking water.
The company started late this fall digging out 19,000 cubic yards of soil and moving it to a sealed landfill.
Fishing pier proposed
A Newport task force recommended in November a removable, floating dock be installed at the end of Sixth Street to give the city’s residents more access to the Mississippi River.
The recommendation came months after Mayor Tim Geraghty went to the park board asking that a pier be built at the end of the street on city-owned land that abuts the property of his opponent in the 2008 mayoral contest, Kevin Chapdelaine.
Building a floating rather than a stationary dock would eliminate the need to obtain a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources permit and to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Former Park hockey coach charged with sex crime
Former Park High School hockey coach Eric P. Darwitz, 31, was charged in mid-May with criminal sexual conduct for allegedly having sex with two then-16-year-old players shortly after he resigned to take another coaching job.
The alleged incident occurred in August of 2006 at the home of a friend in Woodbury.
A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Jan. 22 in Washington County District Court.