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ST. PAUL — Cottage Grove Middle School has spent the last two years working to earn the laurels it was awarded May 10, when it was named Emerging Minnesota School of Character. The Synergy and Leadership Exchange, along with Character.org, annually awards schools for showing educational improvement through character development. Cottage Grove Middle School Assistant Principal Josh Eidem, who worked to head up the school's new program, said education and character are intertwined.
COTTAGE GROVE — The Dodge Nature Center's staff and board of directors were named the Historic Preservationist of the Year by the City Council at the May 2 meeting for the work underway on the Shepard Farm. The City Council presented a plaque Executive Director Jason Sanders, alongside Cottage Grove resident Megan Titcomb and her kids — including Timmy, who attends the Dodge Nature Preschool. The Titcomb family was one of the first to sign up for the new community gardens at the Shepard Farm last summer.
ST. PAUL PARK — The St. Paul Park refinery, recently sold to Marathon Petroleum, is under fire from legislators and the community for housing hydrogen fluoride after the explosion at Husky Energy refinery in Superior, Wis. The Star Tribune reported last week that records found at the Chicago Environmental Protection Agency office record a "worst-case" scenario where over 1.5 million people in a 19-mile radius of the refinery could be affected by emissions from the refinery in an emergency situation.
NEWPORT — Washington County Sheriff's Office deputies in Newport have taken on code enforcement at the request of the City Council. After reviewing city codes and determining the most common violations in the city, the City Council decided to make an enforcement plan. Sergeant Bill Harrell, who oversees deputies in Newport, said they will be going through ordinances one at a time, as prioritized by Mayor Dan Lund. They will focus on one ordinance for a month at a time before moving on to the next.
The article in the May 9 issue of the South Washington County Bulletin "Cottage Grove man sought on criminal sexual conduct charges" incorrectly stated that the suspect, Darryl Rena White Jr., was not in custody of police. He was arrested April 24, and has been in custody since that date.
ST. PAUL — A bill to monitor the way 3M settlement funds are spent was passed in the House May 14. The bill, penned by Rep. Kelly Fenton, R-Woodbury, creates an account for funds from the settlement between Minnesota and 3M Corp. in February regarding perfluorochemical pollution in the east metro area. About $720 million remaining after paying legal fees from the $850 million settlement. Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, is carrying the bill in the Senate. It is currently in committee.
COTTAGE GROVE — The Cottage Grove Art Commission's latest venture aims to make music more accessible. The Tunes into Twilight summer music series has been knocking around on arts commission agendas for over a year, but over the winter Barb Forthun took up the reins to make it happen. A retired music educator, Forthun said she "saw a gap between arts and bringing people to it." Once a choral director, Forthun said she's "taking what I know from doing a performance and transferring it to an outdoor space."
COTTAGE GROVE — Twelve Park High School received Junior Book Awards April 26 in recognition of their academic accomplishments, dedication to learning, leadership, school involvement, strong character and commitment to the community. For the third year at Park through book awards, students received a book from a specific college or university. The books awarded are generally penned by a professor or alum at the institution that awards it. Those awarded can also receive scholarships from the school that awarded them the book if they decide to attend it.
ST. PAUL — The HERO Center is inching forward, as local officials wait with bated breath for what the end of session could bring. The state House this week announced that the HERO (Health and Emergency Response Occupations) Center has been flagged for nearly $10 million in its state funding. Cottage Grove and Woodbury would foot the rest of the bill if the Legislature approves the project in the final bonding bill.
COTTAGE GROVE — A 34-year-old Cottage Grove man is in custody on two counts of felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct and possessing pornographic photos. Darryl Rena White Jr. is accused of sexually abusing a juvenile female for the past two years, according to a criminal complaint filed April 11 in Washington County District Court. White, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, is being sought by police on a warrant.