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Lavold snags Washington County Board appointment

Jack Lavold, appointed April 3 to the Washington County Board, accepted an award last year on behalf of the South Washington Watershed District. Lavold will have to resign his position in the SWWD. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia file photo

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Cottage Grove resident Jack Lavold will be the new Washington County Board commissioner.

The board voted 4-0 to appoint Lavold at the March 27 meeting.

Out of 11 applicants, Dan Dolan of Woodbury and Lavold interviewed March 21.

The vacancy occurred after Karla Bigham was elected to the state Senate in February. The new commissioner will represent District 4, which covers Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, Newport, Grey Cloud Island, Denmark Township and a portion of Woodbury.

Lavold, 83, has lived in Cottage Grove since 1959 and boasts his experience negotiating the formation of Cottage Grove and Woodbury as separate cities in the 1960s.

Woodbury Commissioner Lisa Weik said the decision came down what she considered the No. 1 issue in District 4: water. She said Lavold’s 20 years of experience as a board manager for the South Washington Watershed District — as well as strong relationships with Cottage Grove’s city officials — made him the right choice.

“The most pressing need for District 4 and Cottage Grove came down to experience and knowledge of water-related issues,” Weik said. “Our communities and county will need to be actively involved in ensuring that the legal settlement between 3M and the state of Minnesota is targeted towards ensuring safe drinking water for our community.”

Lavold agreed that this would be his priority.

“I’m concerned that … a sufficient amount of those funds are not going to remain in Washington County,” he said.

He said he is especially concerned that the settlement agreement could allow fishing piers to be funded, essentially “siphoning off” money that should be used in the east metro.

Lavold will also use his watershed knowledge to help the county move forward into the state’s One Watershed, One Plan initiative.

“I think we’ve got an absolutely perfect opp to write that plan correctly up front,” he said. “I could lend some talents to help write the plan.”

Two other upcoming projects, the HERO (Health and Emergency Response Occupations) Center and a reconstructed Park Grove Library, also have Lavold’s support. He said he wants to bring residents’ thoughts on the projects to the board.

“I’m more than happy to help out — anything I can do,” Lavold said.

Along with the board of managers for the SWWD, Lavold also sits on the South Washington County Telecommunications Commission. He said at the March 20 meeting he would be willing to resign from these to avoid possible conflicts of interest.

County attorneys are reviewing whether he needs to resign from the watershed board.

Lavold will be on the County Board until after the November election. He has said he will not run in the election to retain the seat.

Lavold will be sworn in April 3.