Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
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Cottage Grove picked a construction company a contract to extend West Point Douglas Road, but the project cannot begin until the state government shutdown ends. The city wants to extend the Highway 61 frontage road about 800 feet to the signal-controlled intersection of Highway 61 and Manning Avenue.
A divided Cottage Grove City Council rejected a staff recommendation to purchase iPad2 computer tablets for use by council and commission members at City Hall. The city wants to save money by not printing paper copies of meeting documents, which can reach hundreds of pages per council member for a routine meeting. City staff had proposed purchasing nine Apple iPad2 devices for a total of $5,433, or roughly $600 apiece.
Monica Schafer-Brooks said she is "neutral" on whether the city of Cottage Grove should build a new public safety and city hall building. But she is firmly in the "yes" column on whether citizens should weigh in on the project. "I personally just believe everybody should have the right to vote," she said. Schafer-Brooks was among roughly four-dozen people who on Wednesday held signs advocating for a vote on the project and marched down 80th Street to a Cottage Grove City Council meeting to voice their objection to the planned construction.
Opponents of Cottage Grove's proposed city hall/public safety building plan a rally and march against the project tonight, and supporters of the project are quietly organizing a counter-demonstration. City Council member Derrick Lehrke and residents opposed to the $16.2 million building distributed fliers and used a website and social media this week to promote a "walk to be heard" on the project. Lehrke has promoted the event but said he is not leading the effort. "This is your opportunity to become involved and be heard," an announcement for the rally reads.
Washington County authorities allege that a group of people burglarized and vandalized Afton State Park over the holiday weekend, ransacking an office and damaging cabins while the park was shuttered because of the state government shutdown. Sheriff Bill Hutton said since the park was closed, nobody was around to stop three buildings from being burglarized and damaged either late Sunday or early Monday.
Cottage Grove police are offering a $250 reward for information about the cause of a fire Sunday evening that destroyed a picnic pavilion at Woodridge Park. Firefighters were called to the park on 90th Street at 7:58 p.m. The pavilion was engulfed in flames, and the fire damaged nearby playground equipment and burned trees and grass. Police said two juvenile males were seen playing with fireworks in the area shortly before the blaze. The public is asked to call the Cottage Grove Police Department at (651) 458-2850 with information.
A former St. Paul Park man pleaded guilty in federal court to producing child pornography. Jose A. Soto, 41, pleaded guilty to producing pornographic images of a juvenile girl during a three-year period when he was living in St. Paul Park, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Thursday. Soto admitted in his plea agreement Wednesday that the girl engaged in sexual conduct which he recorded on videotape. The incidents occurred between March 2004 and February 2007 at Soto's former home in St. Paul Park. Soto already is serving a 10-year sentence in Texas for possession of child pornography.
State park visitors will have to break camp by Thursday afternoon if a state government shutdown begins Friday. Campers at Afton State Park and other parks around the state will have to be out of the park by 4 p.m. Thursday, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The parks were not deemed essential government services in a Wednesday court ruling, so would not be staffed in the event of a shutdown.
A husband and wife whose bodies were found in their St. Paul Park home last month died of suicide, according to the medical examiner report. James and Sandra Elmquist, both 61, were found dead in their Hastings Avenue home May 21. They died of suicide by mixed drug toxicity, St. Paul Park Police Chief Mike Monahan, citing the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's report. The medical examiner's report was issued Tuesday. The man and woman apparently used prescription drugs to commit suicide, Monahan said.
A state government shutdown would have a varying impact on south Washington County residents, putting some people out of work and disrupting services for others. A shutdown, which would begin Friday if state leaders do not reach a budget deal, could send some state workers home without a paycheck, delay area transportation projects, slow or halt social services that are paid for by the state but carried out at the county level, and may force cities and counties to tap reserve funds to cover routine bills. State parks likely would close, affecting plans for outdoors enthusiasts planning July