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COTTAGE GROVE — Woodbury and Cottage Grove will issue bonds to finance the soon-to-be-constructed HERO Center. The Health and Emergency Response Occupations, or HERO, Center was funded in part by the state in the bonding bill this spring, but Woodbury and Cottage Grove still have the other half to split and pay. Gov. Mark Dayton allocated $9.5 million to the facility, $200,000 short of what the cities requested. Cottage Grove and Woodbury have both added $5.26 million to their capital improvement plans over the next five years for the center.
COTTAGE GROVE — In the still-dark spring morning, Jim Huber didn't hesitate. Huber was about to head to work March 15 when a vehicle rolled on top of his neighbor, pinning her beneath it. Her family heard her cries, and her husband set off in search of help. Huber said about 45 seconds passed between him finding her and starting to use a hydraulic jack to lift the vehicle off her. "I just did what I had to do," Huber said. "I had the right tools, had jacked cars up many, many times."
ST. PAUL PARK — Residents gathered at an open house regarding water quality June 13. A year's worth of Department of Health testing showed perfluorochemical levels in a second of three city wells above health-based recommendations. Representatives from the MDH, Pollution Control Agency and city of St. Paul Park gave a presentation and were available for questions. With a second well offline, city officials are asking residents to conserve water and observe the odd/even watering restriction and only watering between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.
COTTAGE GROVE — A Cottage Grove man is facing criminal sexual conduct charges. Bradley James Van Houten, 39, was arrested June 11 on suspicion of sexually abusing a victim under 13 years old several times before 2012. According to a criminal complaint: Authorities say Van Houten first abused the child when she was 11 or 12 years old, when he cornered her in her bedroom and started inappropriately touching her. Afterward, he reportedly told her, "don't tell."
NEWPORT — A near-miss kidnapping of five children June 13 has left Newport residents rattled. Vanholy Var, 36, of St. Paul, was under a 48-hour hold as of Friday morning, June 15, according to Washington County jail records. He faces charges of kidnapping, first-degree burglary and receiving stolen property. According to the complaint filed June 13:
COTTAGE GROVE — Fire, EMS, police and reserves have long played an important but largely invisible role at Strawberry Fest, but this year it will be front and center. Strawberry Fest is honoring public safety by making former Public Safety Director Craig Woolery and former Fire Chief Bob Byerly the parade grand marshals. "We've had a part of the Strawberry Fest parade for years," Woolery said. "(But) usually I'm in the security."
BLOOMINGTON — The man alleged to have robbed a Cottage Grove bank back in May has been taken into custody. Jayvon Dominique Gant, 26, Bloomington, faces charges stemming from a monthlong spree of bank robberies in the metro area. According to a FBI criminal complaint:
NEWPORT — For over 50 years, four rickety swings have been some of the only play equipment at Newport Elementary School. Through the rain, volunteers connected pipes and plastic June 9 to construct an eight-person swing set, merry-go-round, tetherball pole, spinners and a geometric climber outside the school, 851 Sixth Ave., to replace the old swings. Principal Rich Romano said the playground will be ready for use by the time school starts again in the fall.
SOUTH WASHINGTON COUNTY — Five contenders have thrown their hats in the ring for the Washington County Board of Commissioners District 4 seat. Wayne Johnson, Bill Sumner, Jeff Swenson, Marvin Taylor and John Thorson will battle it out for the seat in the Nov. 6 election. District 4 includes Cottage Grove, Denmark Township, Grey Cloud Island Township, Newport, St. Paul Park and portions of Woodbury and Hastings.
COTTAGE GROVE — Dave Thiede has his eyes set on a third term on the Cottage Grove City Council.