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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Police are investigating two similar robberies that occurred within the same day at gas stations in Newport and St. Paul Park. Police did not say whether they are related, but noted similarities between an incident at the Super America station at 1624 Hastings Ave. in Newport and another at the Super America at 545 Summit Ave. in St. Paul Park. Officers were called to the Newport station at about 1:15 a.m. Friday, Newport Chief Curt Montgomery said. Two men entered the station wearing masks and gloves. The suspects left on foot with an undetermined amount of cash, Montgomery said.
Cottage Grove police are offering a cash reward for information about a recent rash of property damage complaints that together resulted in thousands of dollars in losses. The investigation focuses on a string of at least nine reported vehicle break-ins and damages last week in a residential area. Police said all of the incidents likely occurred the evening of April 3 or the early morning of April 4.
Cottage Grove police are used to investigating reports of vandalism at city parks but a recent case was more serious, causing just under $2,000 damage at the Kingston Park pavilion. The damage occurred on or before March 21, but police still have no leads or suspects and are offering a $100 reward for information that helps to solve the case. According to the police report, nearly $2,000 in damage was caused when someone damaged the deadbolt and door to a men's bathroom at the pavilion and started paper towels on fire inside the facility, leaving visible burn marks.
The U.S. Postal Service plans to close its main Cottage Grove post office and shift all operations to its second facility in town. The plan likely means that within several months customers will no longer be able to use the post office at 7130 East Point Douglas Road.
Advocates of the Red Rock transit corridor through the southeast metro used an open house Wednesday to formally roll out plans for commuter rail stops along the 30-mile corridor. The Red Rock Corridor Commission envisions commuter rail service along Highway 61 from Hastings to St. Paul and ultimately to Minneapolis.
The public on Wednesday can view conceptual plans for four proposed Red Rock Corridor transit stations, including in Cottage Grove and Newport. The Red Rock Corridor Commission will release the final plans at an open house. The commission is proposing transit stations in Cottage Grove, Hastings, Newport and Lower Afton Road on Highway 61 in St. Paul. The plan envisions retail, commercial and residential development around the three southern stations, and all four would have park-and-ride facilities. The open house will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
A Cottage Grove man who was busted with 11 grams of methamphetamine in his underwear could avoid prison time, but faces 20 years of probation. Ryan B. Nilo, 28, pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree sale of methamphetamine, a felony. State sentencing guidelines recommend an 80-month prison term for that offense.
With floodwaters leveling off, Washington County officials have scaled back their emergency response effort. The county's satellite emergency operations center in Lake St. Croix Beach was demobilized Thursday. The office had been set up in anticipation of major flooding along the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers. County workers will continue to monitor the rivers from the main emergency operations center in Stillwater. The rivers were reaching a first crest by Thursday. The receding river spared an aging levee in Newport that officials had feared would be topped by record floodwaters.
Park High School teachers and students are proud of the academic strides the school has made in recent years. Now they hope President Obama notices. Buoyed by its International Baccalaureate program, a spike in advanced placement test participation and other achievements, Park is competing for the opportunity to have Obama speak at the Wolfpack's graduation ceremony this spring. The school submitted an application to the national Race to the Top Commencement Challenge.
A big turnout of volunteers helped to complete a sandbagging effort in Cottage Grove's River Acres neighborhood a day earlier than planned. Volunteers finished bagging sand and building a dike to protect River Acres resident Sharon Marcotte's home from the rising Mississippi River. Marcotte's back door is at 691 feet, the lowest elevation for a home in Cottage Grove. The river is lapping at the edge of her property, her home several feet above that. Some 70 volunteers worked shifts since Thursday morning to fill nearly 8,000 sandbags and build the dike across Marcotte's backyard.