Cottage Grove's emergency medical responders are being stretched thin by an escalating number of medical calls, public safety officials say, and the city's EMS coordinator said he hopes to add part-time staff despite severe city budget constraints. The department has seen a 12 percent jump in medical calls over 2008 that EMS Coordinator Wes Halvorsen told city council members is making it more difficult to provide adequate paramedic coverage to Cottage Grove residents.
It's slow going in the retail market these days -- Cottage Grove officials can see that in the city's empty commercial spaces. But, city officials say, the downturn won't last forever. And when it finally turns, they want to be on the minds of developers and retailers looking to expand. So, this autumn Cottage Grove will attend the Chicago conference of the International Council of Shopping Centers, a trade association aimed at furthering the interests of shopping centers.
A hike in the city's property tax rate isn't something Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey will be checking off from his Year One to-do list. But that was the quandary facing Cottage Grove City Council and staff members in building the city's 2010 and 2011 budget in the face of plummeting tax revenues and the loss of $589,000 in state aid -- raise the property tax rate or make harsh cuts. Serious cuts in staffing and service are avoided next year under the proposed $12.75 million 2010 general fund budget council members hammered out.
It's not a pier -- it's a dock. That's what Newport City Council members said Thursday, trying to defuse some of the tension over a proposed public Mississippi River access point at Sixth Street that mayor Tim Geraghty said wouldn't be "a mega-pier" and would use zero city dollars. For the first time in months, Thursday, the plan -- introduced by Geraghty in April and largely stalled since -- moved forward, with the city council voting 4-1 to include the Sixth Street fishing dock in the Newport Comprehensive Parks Plan.
It's unlikely the cities of Newport and St. Paul Park will share any police services, Newport's city administrator said last week, despite the slashed state aid dollars and ongoing budget concerns plaguing the small city. Newport administrator Brian Anderson and St.
Strong storms spawned a tornado that briefly touched down Wednesday in Cottage Grove, felling trees and ripping shingles from roofs, but injuring no one. The tornado touched down in the Pine Coulee neighborhood in southern Cottage Grove, near the intersection of highways 61 and 95 in southern Cottage Grove just after 2:40 p.m.
A tornado touched down near U.S. Highway 61 and Highway 95 in southern Cottage Grove shortly after 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, the Washington County Sheriff's Department confirmed. A department spokesperson said the funnel touched down briefly before moving northeast over River Oaks Golf Course. Downed trees littered Lockridge Avenue, east of Highway 61. "I was looking out the window and it was just like a wind I never heard before," said Jim Naatz, whose Lockridge Avenue yard was strewn with branches and debris. Trees snapped "like toothpicks.
Washington County's southern half is first in line for new library facilities over the next two decades, according to the county's strategic library facility plan presented to Washington County commissioners last Tuesday. An exploding number of residents using the out-of-date Park Grove Branch Library in Cottage Grove has made it the "highest priority" for a new facility in the draft planning document that has yet to receive Washington County Board approval, senior planner Larry Timmerman told commissioners.
Cottage Grove's rate of vacant commercial space is well above the regional average, according to a report compiled by the city's community development department and delivered to the Economic Development Authority last Tuesday. But officials say they aren't concerned, citing statistics heavily skewed by two large vacant properties and largely unchanged since last year. Overall commercial space in the city has a 15 percent vacancy rate as of July 2009, down one percentage point from 2008. Cottage Grove's 15 percent retail vacancy rate exceeds the 9 percent metro rate.
Newport homeowners might pay more in city taxes next year due to a special levy officials say will help avoid severe cutbacks in staff and service levels. The levy is included in the city's draft 2010 budget, discussed by Newport City Council members last week. The budget proposes a $178,000 special levy to make up for lost state aid in 2008 and '09.