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Commissions are switching some membership as terms expire and others resign. After former Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Commission chair Mark Nelson's term expired, Mike Zurbey was been appointed to step in. Two vacancies in the Arts Commission have been filled by new members Jennifer Cheesman and Shawn Foster. Candidates for the open seats were interviewed, and council liaison La Rae Mills said the two new members will be "a great asset" to the commission.
COTTAGE GROVE — Pete Koerner was officially sworn in as Public Safety Director March 7 by City Administrator Charlene Stevens and the city council. Former director Craig Woolery retired Feb. 23. The council announced Koerner as the predecessor in January. The department is working to fill the empty chief position that he left for the new role. At the meeting, Koerner said he's "ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work," Koerner said. He will oversee police, fire and EMS divisions. "We have an awesome department ... I'm very proud of them," he said.
Good news for summer snackers: McDonald's won't be closing this May after all. McDonald's construction manager Charlie Miller said they decided to move back reconstruction plans from May to late summer, since the summer months tend to be the busy season. The demolition and construction is still expected to take around four months, but will be during the fall instead at the 7355 East Point Douglas Road fast-food restaurant. Residents can expect to see demolition beginning Aug. 1, and reopening again early December.
The 2018 Washington County Sheriff election is starting to heat up, with Paul Hoppe entering the race to challenge current Sheriff Dan Starry for the seat. Hoppe, a 27-year public safety veteran, has either lived or worked in almost every city in Washington County. After former sheriff William Hutton resigned to become executive director of the Minnesota Sheriffs' Association last April, then-chief deputy Starry was appointed to fill out the term. Starry has announced he will be running in the Nov. 6 election.
Triple Angels Healthcare, a senior living and assistance company, is proposing a new 20-bed facility along Highway 61. The building at 7150 West Point Douglas Road is a one-floor, 10-room building set up with two beds in each room. The building will be able to serve 20 seniors. Construction will be done in two phases, starting with the 10-unit building. An addition to the facility to be constructed in the future will double the size.
NEWPORT — After several months in the making, Newport has finally passed an odor ordinance mirroring South St. Paul's that will allow the two cities to work together to fight problem odor emitters. Newport's ordinance is more or less a direct copy of South St. Paul's. City Planner Sherri Buss said there will be "common implementation and enforcement of the ordinance between the two cities."
ST. PAUL PARK — The. St. Paul Park Police Department has reopened an archived kidnapping and sexual assault case from 1986. An officer found the still-active case while repackaging the evidence bag, which had been damaged due to age. The case involved the kidnapping and sexual assault of a 3 ½-year-old girl in summer 1986. This case is one of the few like it they have around, and have kept it due to the statute of limitations based on the type of case. "Because it entailed a kidnapping of a juvenile, we kept it," she said.
COTTAGE GROVE — Long-time Hamlet Avenue residents are upset over plans to build 24 more single-family homes on the end of their street. The neighborhood, settled between Pine Hill Elementary and Hamlet Park, will extend a cul-de-sac that's gone undeveloped for over 60 years. John Anderson, with Farmington-based Eternity Homes, said at the planning commission meeting Feb. 26 the company will built custom homes priced between $350,000 and $450,000. Bill Murphy, who has lived for 50 years near the upcoming development, voiced his opposition at the meeting.
COTTAGE GROVE — A solar garden trifecta could be completed in old Cottage Grove if the latest project proposed by U.S. Solar is approved. The project is a 10-acre, one-megawatt solar garden. Two others — the four-megawatt McHattie Community solar garden and the five-megawatt Ecoplexus solar garden — are located to the west and south of it.
A garage fire on Indian Boulevard in the early hours of March 2 led to a total loss of the structure. The fire, which started around 3:30 a.m. on the 8300 block of Indian Boulevard, destroyed the garage but left minimum damage to the house. The exterior of the home sustained some fire damage, and the interior was slightly damaged by smoke and water. There were no injuries.