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    Prescott Council Meeting Preview

    The Prescott City Council meets Monday evening. City Administrator Jayne Brand provides a preview of the agenda.

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    Meals On Wheels

    Hastings Family Service reminds area seniors and shut-ins that Meals on Wheels delivers ready-to-eat, hot, nutritious meals prepared by Allina Health. Caring volunteers deliver the meals and provide a safety check and a warm smile. Meals on Wheels helps seniors, persons living with a disability or recovering from surgery or illness, or anyone in need of a meal to remain healthy and live in their home for as long as possible. Delivered Monday through Friday over the noon hour; sign up for as many days per week as needed. Service can be temporary or ongoing. Cost is $5.20 per meal, or you may qualify for a sliding fee or county assistance. No doctor order is needed. For more information or to volunteer call 651-404-1548 or visit HastingsFamilyService.org.

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    Senior Center OffersTax Help

    Tax season is now in full swing, and the Hastings Senior Center wants to help you navigate the system. Appointments start on February 3rd with trained volunteer tax preparers, who will help you fill out and electronically file your basic state and federal tax returns, at the Tilden Community Center, 310 River Street, on Mondays from 3 to 6:30 PM, and Tuesdays from 9 AM to noon. Appointments can be made by calling 651-480-7689. Please bring your Social Security card and picture ID if this is your first time filing. This program is for senior and low income individuals who have basic tax returns.

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    Foss And Swanson Seeks Donations

    Foss and Swanson Veterans, a Hastings program that creates awareness for the purpose of connecting servicemembers, veterans, and their families to get access to resources and assistance, is currently awaiting final approval of 501 (c)(3) status from the IRS. While the process continues, veteran's advocate Dean Markuson has issued a plea for financial donations to support the stated purposes of the organization. In a recent letter, Markuson explained that along with providing a gathering space for military members, veterans and their families at 507 Vermillion Street, Foss and Swanson has taken on the task of providing resources to help relieve hardships endured by military families. Markuson also hopes to provide aid to the public in general, as the result of civil or natural hardships. Donations are accepted at the gathering space at 507 Vermillion Street, or by mail to 436 Tiffany Drive, Hastings, MN, 55033.For questions, contact Dean at DeanRVNVet@aol.com.

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    Plan Commission to Deliberate C-2 Zoning

    At a regular meeting at 7 PM on Monday, January 27th, the Hastings Planning Commission will deliberate a City Ordinance amendment dealing with zoning uses for the C-2 designation. The amendment seeks to eliminate ambiguities within the existing C-2 Zoning District by adding further definition to allowable uses, and remove uses that are not presently utilized within the C-2 District and are inconsistent with the Vermillion Street Corridor Study, specifically, elimination of manufactured home sales and building materials sales within the district. The Amendment also expects to clarify application of Site Plan Review Requirements for site modifications. Community Development Director John Hinzman will present the Staff report relevant to this amendment.   

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    Meany Pleads Guilty

    Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Gavin Patrick Meany, age 38 of Apple Valley, pled guilty on Friday to four counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree in connection with engaging in sexual penetration with a patient. At the time of these acts, Meany was treating the victim as a patient in his role as a psychiatrist. According to the criminal complaint, on August 27, 2019, the Burnsville Police Department received a report from a woman who disclosed that she had been abused over the last five years by Meany while she had been receiving therapy and psychiatric services from him. The victim met with law enforcement and provided a detailed statement as well as physical evidence and documents pertaining to the sexual assaults. When questioned by an investigator, Meany acknowledged he "crossed boundaries" with the victim and admitted to the sexual activity described by the victim. Judge Jerome Abrams ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set the sentencing date for April 20th, at 1:30 PM, in Hastings.   

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    County Road 70 Public Hearing Set

    Dakota County is accepting written comments on the environmental assessment for the County Road 70 expansion project. According to a County press release, the proposed project will expand County Road 70 to a four-lane divided highway from Kenrick Avenue/Kensington Boulevard to Cedar Avenue in Lakeville. Improvements include two traffic lanes in each direction with a center median, the addition of turn lanes, access modifications and a trail on both sides of County Road 70. The total project length is about 4 miles. Construction is planned to begin in May of 2020 and will occur over two years. A public hearing on the environmental assessment will be Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 9 AM at the Dakota County Administration Center, 1590 Hwy. 55, Hastings. The hearing will be in the Boardroom on the third floor. Verbal and written comments will be recorded.

    Written comments will be accepted through Wednesday, February 12. The environmental assessment is available on the project website at a link provided here.   

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    2020 NRECA Youth Tour

    Dakota Electric Association will provide five high school juniors, seniors and, for the first time, sophomores the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. as part of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's Youth Tour, in June, from the 20th to the 25th. Each June, more than 1,800 students from across the country travel to Washington, D.C. for the NRECA Youth Tour. During the trip, they learn about electric cooperatives and government, meet elected officials and tour national monuments and sites, including the Smithsonian, the FBI building and more. To apply, students who live in a household that receives power from Dakota Electric can pick up an application from their high school guidance counselor, download it off the web or pick one up at Dakota Electric's Farmington office. To find the application online and learn more, go to DakotaElectric.com, scroll to the bottom of the page and select "Education Programs" from under "Community". The application deadline is February 21. Interviews are scheduled for March 10 and 12. For more information, call Peggy Johnson at 651-463-6110 or 1-800-874-3409, ext. 110.    

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    (Caption: Dakota Electric's students pose in front of the Capitol building during the 2019 Youth Tour. Submitted Photo)

    Daily Jail Booking Report

    From the Dakota County Jail booking report for Friday, January 24th, Rosemount Police apprehended 36-year-old Magdalena Esther Hobbs on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving, disorderly conduct, and possession of hypodermic needles. Hobbs made an appearance in court on the 24th. Hastings Police detained 58-year-old Hastings resident Nicholas Gerard Loiacono on a misdemeanor charge of assault, and a felony charge of assault by strangulation. Loiacono also appeared in court on the 24th. And Dakota County Deputies arrested 23-year-old Kayshana Michel Martin on a felony charge of theft, and a misdemeanor charge of assault. Martin remains in custody as the charges are processed. All persons listed on the blotter report are presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

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    Serbesku Charged

    The Pierce County District Attorney has announced that 28-year-old Minneapolis resident Roman J. Serbesku faces 11 felony charges of possession of child pornography, after a search warrant was served on the contents of his mobile phone. According to the Journal, a search of the phone's SD card discovered hundreds of images that met the requirements for child pornography, along with other photos that were "exploitative" but did not meet the definition of pornography. The investigation started with a tip in April, that led investigators through the process that included a search of a Prescott residence, and involvement by the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation. Serbesku is currently free on a $50,000 signature bond, and his preliminary court appearance is set for February 25th. Serbesku is presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.   

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    Prescott Schools Cap Open Enrollment

    The Prescott School District has announced that it will not be able to accept additional special needs students for the 2020-2021 school year through the Open Enrollment Program. According to an article published in the Journal, Student Services Director Mark Inouye stated that the district studied its numbers and determined there was not sufficient staffing available to provide for additional students in grades 3 through 12 with significant needs. The policy does not preclude new students with needs who have moved into the District from attending Prescott schools, just special needs students who do not live in the Prescott district. The School Board passed the measure by unanimous vote.

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    Prescott Schools Propose New Pay Structure

    The Prescott School Board has introduced a plan to boost teacher pay and provide a way for veteran educators to move up the pay scale via in-district research projects. According to the Journal, Superintendent Dr. Rick Spicuzza informed the board of education that a final proposal on the new pay system will be on the Agenda for their meeting in February. Spicuzza stated that the new plan is sustainable within the district budget, and he credited the work of 14 staff members who did the legwork to craft the proposal. The new proposal would pay new teachers with a Bachelor's degree $40,000, and $44,000 for new teachers with Master's Degrees. The current pay scale was put in place in 2014. The Board will deliberate the plan on February 19th.

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    County Commission Looks Ahead

    Dakota County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Slavik made a stop at the KDWA studios to provide a preview of projects the Board expects to accomplish in 2020. One project is an intersection on Highway 47.

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    The intersection has been described as one of the most dangerous in the county. Hear the complete interview with Chairman Slavik on KDWA.   

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    PCC Work Session Recap

    At a work session on Monday, January 20th, the Prescott City Council took up the issue of economic development in Prescott. City Administrator Jayne Brand reviewed the housing projects which have been proposed within the city, along with downtown redevelopment and economic development, including proposed riverfront project, and the possible purchase of additional land for economic development. Sean Lenz of Ehlers reviewed the tax increment districts within the city. There were discussions on when district 3 might be closed. There were also discussions on how the TIF could help with workforce housing. District 4 was reviewed to discuss how the riverfront project could be paid for by this TIF. District 5 was reviewed to discuss the payment of Pearl Street north of Highway 10 and the possibility of purchasing additional land for economic development. The council has set a meeting for Tuesday, February 11th, at 6 PM to discuss the issues further.   

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    Washington County Receives Soil Education Grant

    In continuing efforts to address drinking water quality issues in South Washington County, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources approved a $75,000 grant to the Washington Conservation District for a project to protect drinking water quality in areas of rural southern Washington County that are vulnerable to groundwater contamination from nitrogen fertilizer. As part of this project, the Washington Conservation District will provide technical and financial assistance to agricultural landowners in these vulnerable groundwater areas to increase the implementation of nitrogen fertilizer best management practices and alternative management tools. Activities may include nonstructural and structural practices, such as increased continuous cover, retired cropland, and others identified to reduce nitrate leaching. The Washington Conservation District will work toward implementing up to 10 nitrogen fertilizer best management practice/alternative management tool projects on over 200 acres of agricultural land within the project area, and reach over 200 community members through education and engagement in groundwater pollution prevention and drinking water protection activities. The grant was awarded on January 22nd.

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    Thompson Oaks Project Receives Grant

    The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources approved $13.9 million in Clean Water Fund grants on January 22, to improve water quality in streams, lakes, and groundwater across the state. Locally, the Thompson Oaks Targeted Stormwater Management and Wetland Restoration Project will receive $576,447. According to the Grant application, the now-closed Thompson Oaks Municipal Golf Course receives the largest volume of untreated stormwater flow and pollutant load within the City of West St. Paul. The proposed project converts 10 acres of the former municipal golf course to a regional stormwater treatment system and restores a former wetland and creek complex which was destroyed via filling with construction waste and other debris in the 1980s. The project is expected to infiltrate an estimated 4.5 acre feet/year of treated stormwater and reduce sediment and phosphorus loading to the lower Mississippi River by 94 tons and 228 pounds per year, respectively.     

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    Daily Jail Report

    From the Dakota County Jail booking report for Thursday, January 23rd, Farmington Police detained 27-year-old Farmington resident Brandan Dwight Abron on a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving. Abron posted bail pending an appearance in court. Rosemount Police arrested 28-year-old Rosemount resident Nita Lorraine Cotton on a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. Cotton made an appearance in court on the 23rd. And Hastings Police apprehended 19-year-old Hastings resident Alexander David Petersen on a misdemeanor charge of failure to stop for a school bus. Bail for Petersen is set at $600, and he made an appearance in court on the 23rd. All persons listed on the blotter report are presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

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    LSS Offers Counseling Help

    Minnesota's winter months can significantly weigh on our mental well-being. If you struggle with feeling down during these cold, dark winter months, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota can help. Because depression affects people of all ages, mental health professionals at Lutheran Social Service have expertise to offer respectful, compassionate care to children, adults and seniors. If you or a family member could benefit from talking with a mental health professional, help is a phone call away. To schedule an appointment, call Lutheran Social Service at 1-888-881-8261 and, for more information visit LSSCounseling.org.

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    Eagan Mayor Faces Charges

    Eagan Mayor Michael Maguire faces charges of driving while intoxicated after getting his SUV stuck in a snowbank earlier this month. According to reports on several news outlets, officers found Maguire behind the wheel after the crash, and noted Maguire smelled of alcohol, and that his speech was slow and slurred. Maguire failed one field sobriety test and then refused to perform the rest. The charges state Maguire was swaying and needed help getting seated in the police squad car. A preliminary breath test showed his blood alcohol content was at .19, which is more than twice the legal limit to drive. Maguire was charged with third degree driving while impaired and third degree operating with an alcohol concentration greater than .08.

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    Farmington Staff Awarded

    Farmington's financial staff was recently honored with the Government Finance Officers Association Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, the highest level of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting for its tenth year. According to City Finance Director Teah Malecha, this attainment represents a significant accomplishment for the city and staff. To earn this achievement, the governmental entity must publish an easily readable, and efficiently organized and comprehensive annual financial report to satisfy both generally accepted accounting principles and applicable legal requirements.

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    Projects In Hastings Not Out Of Running For Funds

    With Governor Walz's recent $2 billion bonding request not including the Hastings City Hall or Highway 316 projects, Representative Tony Jurgens commented that there is still hope for the projects to be included in the final bill during the upcoming legislative session.

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    Hear the complete interview with Representative Jurgens on KDWA Radio.

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    BTYR Still Active In Hastings

    During a recent visit to the KDWA studios, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Board President for Cottage Grove and the surrounding areas, Ray Kane, shared that Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is more than just a designation for a community. Kane spoke of the proactive ways the organization assists with the needs of servicemembers, veterans, and their families.

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    Hear the complete interview on In Depth, only on KDWA.

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    Group Outlines WI PropertyTax Reduction

    Ahead of Wisconsin Governor Evers' State of the State address, the Institute for Reforming Government issued its fifth policy paper, detailing the current state of affairs regarding property taxes and how Wisconsin and other states can improve the lives of homeowners through property tax relief this year. According to a press release from the organization, recommendations to reduce property taxes include removing the tax levy from property tax bills by investing in technical colleges, and reducing the burden of property taxes on seniors through an increase in the Homestead Property Tax Credit. The Institute for Reforming Government is a non-profit organization that seeks to simplify government at every level by offering policy solutions to thought leaders in American government in the areas of tax reform, inefficiency, and regulations. The complete report is available online at the link provided here.

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    Craig Backs School Lunch Legislation

    Rep. Angie Craig recently visited during lunchtime at Inver Grove Heights Middle School to talk about the importance of free and reduced lunch and the role the United States Department of Agriculture plays in ensuring kids have healthy food to eat at school. In a statement, Craig said that she is proud to be their partner in Congress in supporting the Anti-Lunch Shaming Act because no child should be treated differently or stigmatized because they cannot afford school lunch. In the year-end package of legislation, Rep. Craig supported $23.6 billion in required mandatory funding for child nutrition programs, which is nearly $500 million above the current level of funding. Additionally, she supported the Summer Food Service Program to ensure low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Her vote in 2019 allowed for this program to include funding for school breakfast grants for the first time in almost ten years.

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    (Submitted Photo)

    Daily Jail Booking Report

    From the Dakota County Jail booking report for Wednesday, January 22nd, Rosemount Police arrested 35-year-old Frank Thomas Atencio on a felony charge of 5th degree possession of drugs. Bail for Atencio was set at $5,000, and he made an appearance in court on the 22nd. Hastings Police detained 23-year-old Cottage Grove resident Nicholas David Johnson on a felony charge of 5th degree possession of drugs, and a misdemeanor charge of possession of hypodermic needles. Johnson remains in custody pending an appearance in court on the 23rd. And Dakota County Deputies apprehended 34-year-old Tony John Miller on a felony charge of 1st degree burglary. Miller is being held without bail as the charges are processed. All persons listed on the blotter report are presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

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    Grove UMC Temp. Ousting Elder Members

    A struggling Minnesota church is asking its older parishioners to leave in hopes of making it more attractive to young families. Grove United Methodist Church in Cottage Grove is closing in June, with plans to relaunch in November. The present members, most of them over 60 years old, will be invited to worship elsewhere, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. The church is asking that they stay away for two years, then consult the pastor about reapplying. According to the article, church officials said the congregation needs a reset and the best way is to appeal to younger people. The Methodists' regional body is paying $250,000 to restart the church, probably in November. They have hired a specialist in starting new churches.

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    Red Wing Accident Injures Two

    An accident last week on Highway 61 in Red Wing has injured two people. According to the State Patrol Crash website, a Lexus driven by 79-year-old Lake City resident Sandra Rose Gisslen was traveling southbound Highway 61 when it collided with a Ford Ranger, driven by 61-year-old Red Wing resident Terry Lee Kehren, who was turning off of east 7th Street crossing southbound lanes of Highway 61, attempting to get to northbound Highway 61. Neither Gisslen nor Kehren were injured in the crash, but passengers Patricia Ann Bailey, and Lorne Allan McDonald, in Gissler's vehicle did suffer non life-threatening injuries. Both were transported to the Mayo Clinic Health Systems facility in Red Wing. The crash report indicates that alcohol was not a factor in the accident, and all victims were wearing seatbelts at the time.

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    Dakota Co. Groundwater Plan Open House

    The Groundwater Protection branch of the Dakota County Environmental Resources Department issued a reminder that the Dakota County Groundwater Plan Workshop is scheduled for Thursday, January 30th. Comments and ideas from the public engagement events conducted in April through June of 2019 helped shape the draft Groundwater Plan, and the department wants to hear the public's opinions on the draft goals, strategies and tactics. The Workshop, to be held in Conference Room 106 of the Western Service Center, 14955 Galaxie Ave, in Apple Valley, will include facilitated small-group discussions to encourage feedback from all members of the community regarding the draft goals, strategies, and tactics. To RSVP, visit the link provided here. Additional information on the Groundwater Plan, including the full Stakeholder Engagement Schedule, can be found at the Dakota County Groundwater Plan Website.   

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    Prescott Chamber Announces Award Winners

    Ahead of the Prescott Area Chamber of Commerce's 41st Annual dinner on Wednesday, the Chamber has announced the business, member, and educator of the year for Prescott. In the business category, Lucille's has taken the honor for the year, Jeremy Raverty is the Chamber Member of the Year, and Prescott High School teacher Megan Hare was selected by the chamber as Educator of the Year. The awards will be presented at the dinner, held at the Old Ptacek's Event Center on Orrin Road in Prescott, with ceremonies beginning at 5:30 PM.   

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    HFS Seeks Store Manager

    Hastings Family Service is seeking a full-time store manager to lead the thrift store operation. Rivertown Treasures is in the heart of downtown Hastings, providing emergency clothing/household items to families in need of assistance while also generating revenue to support HFS programs like the Market food shelf. Online applications will be accepted through 02/03/2020. Visit the link provided herefor complete details, and application forms.

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    Farmington Discontinues Clean Up Days

    The City Council of Farmington has decided to end the Farmington Clean Up Days, in favor of a pay-for-service approach to collecting bulk items for disposal. According to an online article in the Sun This Week, since 2001, the city of Farmington offered residents the ability to place select bulk items on the curb for pickup from a contracted hauler. The city did not bill for Clean Up Days separately. The cost for this service was incorporated into residents' quarterly bill. The city reports the Clean Up Days have produced unfavorable results that include safety concerns with scavengers roaming the community leading up to the event, and illegal dumping that occurs as a result of certain items not being collected. Due to continued regulatory changes, many items formerly collected on Clean Up Days now must be recycled as opposed to land filled. This type of processing costs the city more and led to more items not being collected as a part of this event, including electronics, scrap metal, tires, mattresses and carpet. The city anticipates this list of items will grow in the future.

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    Fletcher Bldg. Reno Hits Snag

    The restoration of the Historic Fletcher Building in downtown Farmington has hit a snag, as the Heritage Preservation Commisision has denied a Certificate of Appropriateness for proposed stucco repairing of the exterior brick of the building. According to the January 14th meeting of the Planning Commission, which acts as the city's Heritage Preservation Commisision, this issue was a continued item from the October 8, 2019 regular Planning Commission meeting and the October 22 special Planning Commission meeting. The Planning Commission directed staff to consult with Robert Vogel of Pathfinder CRM, LLC to produce a "Condition of Historic Property Report" and to provide findings and recommendations for rehabilitating the exterior walls of the Fletcher Building. Vogel's recommendation was to repair and replace existing brickwork as necessary, and that coating historic brick walls with stucco is not an appropriate preservation treatment. The Commission denied the Certificate, and building owner Pam Heikkila plans to appeal the decision to the full City Council.

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    One Injured In Pierce Co. Accident

    On January 19th at about 7:16 PM, the PCSO was notified of a one vehicle crash with injury, on Highway 63 near Highway 29, the south intersection of Spring Valley, in Martell Township. 58-year-old Amery resident Nancy Bader was driving a GMC Envoy northbound on Highway 63, when she lost control and entered the west ditch striking a traffic sign. Bader was transported by Spring Valley Area Ambulance from the scene to Western Wisconsin Health in Baldwin with undetermined injuries. Bader's passenger, 29-year-old Eric Bader, also from Amery, was uninjured in the crash. Assisting the PCSO at the scene were the Spring Valley Area Ambulance, and Fire Department, United Fire, and the Wisconsin State Patrol.

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    Daily Jail Booking Report

    From the Dakota County Jail booking report for Tuesday, January 21st, 36-year-old Welch resident Ryan John Achen was arrested by Burnsville Police on a misdemeanor charge of violation of an order for no contact. Hastings Police apprehended 39-year-old Hastings resident Travis Joseph Ramsbacher on a misdemeanor charge of assault. And Dakota County Deputies detained 22-year-old Rosemount resident Luke Aaron Shoemaker on a misdemeanor charge of contempt of court. Achen, Ramsbacher, and Shoemaker all made initial appearances in court on the 21st. All persons listed on the blotter report are presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

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    CNC Earth Day Wish List

    With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day coming up in April, Carpenter Nature Center has developed a "wish list" of things they would like to see happen to celebrate our planet. According to a recent newsletter, staff of CNC encourage residents to volunteer for the CNC Adopt-a-Highway cleanup efforts, reduce the use of salt for de-icing sidewalks and driveways this winter, improve recycling and composting at home, and plant native flowers and grasses to help support pollinators. CNC also seeks sponsors for the 50 for 50 Youth Birding Competition, later this Spring. For more details, visit CarpenterNatureCenter.org.

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    Hudson Hot Air Affair Getting Ready

    Everyone's goin' "Balloon'n Up Nort'" at the 2020 Hudson Hot Air Affair. The annual winter festival and hot air balloon rally will be celebrating 31 years with a "Balloon'n Up Nort' Yah sure you betcha" theme in Hudson. Set for February 7-9, and known as the premier winter balloon rally in the Midwest, the event is sponsored by WESTconsin Credit Union. Over 30 hot air balloons will launch in mass ascensions at 7:30 AM both Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. The Moon Glow or Field of Fire will be at 6:30 Saturday night. Some other highlights of the weekend include a chili cook-off, fireworks, button instant prizes, pancake breakfast, youth entertainment, museum tours, kite flying and nature programs. Evening entertainment includes live music, karaoke and DJ music. For details visit HudsonHotAirAffair.com. Flight announcements and latest details are posted on Facebook and Twitter.

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    (Photo Caption: The Touchstone Energy hot air balloon with pilot Scott Wooge is one of the featured balloons this year and is sponsored by St. Croix Electric Co-op, A Touchstone Energy Cooperative. Courtesy Hudson Hot Air Affair)

    Froth And Cork To Open

    The business landscape of Hastings continues to grow and change, with the announcement of a combination coffee shop and wine bar at 110 4th Street East, set to open in February. According to an article in the Hastings Star Gazette, entrepreneur Corie Biermaier, with help from her husband, Jim, combined two of her passions into one venture, and will call the business "Froth and Cork". Froth & Cork will open in the space that was once the Elm Salon, across the street from Hastings City Hall. Biermaier worked at the salon as a manager, and saw an opportunity to open her own community hub when the salon downsized to another spot. Reinforcing the community feel upstairs, Biermaier has created a cozy atmosphere that can be rented as a coworking space. The room will be complete with desks and couches to work on, as well as a printer copier to provide workers with what they need to get the job done. The coffee house and wine bar will be open 6 AM to 6 PM Monday through Friday and 8 AM to 3 PM Saturday. The coworking space will be open Monday-Friday. Those interested in renting the space can email corie@frothncork.com.   

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    Park High Teacher Raises Health Concerns

    Questions regarding the overall safety of Park High School have recently been brought forward as a teacher in the school believes the environment of the building may have contributed to hers, and a number of other, cancer cases. When Megan Diediker was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 34, then a colleague fell ill last year with an aggressive brain cancer, Diediker did a little research and found that it was the seventh cancer diagnosis among staff at Park High School in Cottage Grove in six years, nearly all in people under age 50. According to an article in the Star Tribune, Diediker says they don't know whether something in the school played a role in their cancers, but they hope that the process of vetting workers' comp claims will shed light on the situation. If the workers' comp investigation establishes a link between the diseases and some third factor, the teachers may consider a lawsuit, said Dean Salita, the personal injury lawyer they retained. Salita said the worker's comp claims should be filed within two months. The Minnesota Department of Health reviewed the matter and concluded it is not a cancer cluster. Proven cancer clusters are rare.   

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    Daycare Provider Pleads Guilty

    A Cottage Grove daycare provider pled guilty last week to a misdemeanor charge of operating her daycare without licensure, in a plea deal to avoid a greater charge of child neglect. According to published reports, 25-year-old Megan K. Martin received a year's probation after being charged with being drunk while providing day care to 12 small children in her home. According to court documents, on February 25, police searched Martin's home in the 8100 block of S. Granada Avenue and found three of the 12 children in her care strapped in their car seats with blankets draped over them. The search also turned up 17 violations that Martin could have been cited for had she been a licensed provider. Police gave her a preliminary breath test, which found her blood alcohol content to be 0.12%. Judge Laura Pietan accepted the plea agreement, and set aside a 90-day jail sentence and ordered that Martin not provide day-care services for the year she is on probation.

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    Red Cross Needs Type "O" Blood

    The American Red Cross has extended its urgent call for donors of all blood types to give blood or platelets. With influenza escalating across the country and preventing some donors from giving, and winter weather threatening to cancel blood drives, the Red Cross now has a critical shortage of type O blood and urgently needs donors to restock the shelves. Currently, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of type O blood available for patient emergencies and medical treatments. Type O positive blood is the most transfused blood type and can be given to Rh-positive patients of any blood type. While just 7% of the U.S. population has type O negative blood, it can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is what hospital staff reach for during emergencies when there isnt time to determine a patients blood type. Donors of all blood types are urged to make an appointment to give blood or platelets now using the Red Cross blood donor app, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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    Weekly Listing Of County Job Openings

    Dakota County has posted its weekly listing of job openings, which include an assessing appeals specialist, a case specialist for the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act & Indian Child Welfare Act, an intermittent library shelving assistant, a correctional deputy, a temporary campground operator, and a temporary facility attendant. Complete details, job applications, and application deadlines can be found by logging on to Agency.GovernmentJobs.com/Dakota.

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    Prescott Weekly Jail Report

    From the Prescott Police blotter for the week ending January 19th, a domestic disturbance call brought officers to Shane Park Circle. The investigation resulted in a citation issued to 42-year-old Prescott resident Pamela Lynn Stulc for disorderly conduct. A traffic stop near the intersection of Borner and Walnut Streets resulted in the arrest of 34-year-old Lake Elmo resident Daniel Arthur Ziemer on a charge of disorderly conduct, and a warrant for harassment by telephone. Ziemer was released from the Pierce County Jail as the charges are processed. And a call for an unwanted person in the 1000 block of Highway 10 resulted in a citation issued to 23-year-old Cottage Grove resident Bianca Roxanne Coelho Schultz for possession of drug paraphernalia. All persons listed on the blotter report are presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

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    Weekend Jail Report

    From the Dakota County Jail booking report for Saturday, January 18th, and Sunday, January 19th, Hastings Police made the following arrests: 36-year-old Welch resident Ryan John Achen on misdemeanor charges of violation of an order for protection and an order for no contact, and willful disobedience of a court mandate. Achen was released from jail as the charges are processed. 26-year-old Hastings resident Mackenzy Alexander Cole on a felony charge of 3rd degree arson, and misdemeanor charges of 3rd degree damage to property, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Cole remains in custody pending an appearance in court on the 22nd. 28-year-old St. Paul Park resident Andrew Paul Hunt on a felony charge of vehicle theft. Hunt remains in custody as the charges are processed. And 47-year-old Hastings resident Little Michael Mouse on a felony charge of counterfeiting. Mouse was booked and released pending an appearance in court. All persons listed on the blotter report are presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

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    From the Dakota County Jail booking report for Monday, January 20th, 29-year-old Cottage Grove resident Dillon Matthew Grimes was apprehended by West St. Paul Police on a felony charge of 5th degree possession of drugs, and a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence. Grimes remains in custody pending an appearance in court on the 22nd. Farmington Police arrested 31-year-old Farmington resident Travis Robert Hautala-Lantinen on a felony charge of 1st degree burglary, and a misdemeanor charge of violation of an order for no contact. Hautala-Lantinen remains in custody as the charges are processed. And   Farmington Police detained 30-year-old Eugene Tate on felony charges of identity theft and check forgery. Tate remains in custody pending an appearance in court on the 21st. All persons listed on the blotter report are presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

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    Jan. 21 Hastings City Council Meeting Preview

    The Hastings City Council meets for regular business on Tuesday, January 21st, at 7 PM in City Council Chambers. After the call to order, pledge of allegiance, roll call, and determination of quorum, the Council will hear comments from the audience. After any Council items to be considered, the Council will vote on the Consent Agenda, containing routine items for action by a single vote. Under the heading of Community Development, the Council will consider a resolution to approve the 2020 CDBG Budget Submission, hear a Housing and Economic Development Report, and hear a strategic plan update from HEDRA. City Administration will present a Green Acres interest rate reduction request, and ask the Council to confirm a date for a goal setting retreat. The Council will then consider any new or unfinished business, and open the floor for reports from other City Committees, officers, or council members. When all of the agenda items have been considered, the meeting will adjourn. The next regular meeting of the Hastings City Council is set for Monday, February 3rd, at 7 PM.

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    Hastings Projects Omitted From Bonding Request

    Recently, Governor Tim Walz unveiled his capital investment priorities for the 2020 MN Legislative session. Neither of Hastings' bonding requests, namely, the city hall preservation project and the Highway 316 renovation project, made the Governor's wish list. State Representative Tony Jurgens said he was troubled that the governor chose to exclude the Hastings proposals.

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    Walz would like to borrow more than two billion dollars in order to help fund construction projects across Minnesota, which would be the largest bonding bill in state history.

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    Craig Seeks Funds For Dredging

    On Friday, U.S. Rep. Angie Craig sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking them to prioritize funding for dredging to keep the Minnesota River operational. According to a press release, the Minnesota River is a major agricultural tributary that transports approximately one-fourth of the 16 million tons annually shipped in and out of the state of Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has indicated that this has an annual economic value of more than $362 million, and Craig is quoted as saying she was very disappointed that the modest investment necessary to keep the Minnesota River channel fully operational was not included in the budget for FY2020. Rep. Craig has been a strong advocate for Minnesota's rivers. In response to the floods in 2019, she secured $100 million for Emergency Dredging on the Mississippi River. As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, she will be shaping water resources policy through the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, where she will prioritize the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers.     

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    Balloting Begins On Anniversary of 19th Amendment

    Exercising their civic duty while celebrating the community's place in history, Dakota County and South St. Paul leaders headed to the polling place early Friday, Jan. 17 to cast absentee ballots in Minnesota's presidential primary election. According to a press release, Dakota County Commissioner Kathleen A. Gaylord cast her absentee ballot at 7:35 AM, and was followed by South St. Paul Mayor James Francis. As their ballots were received by the city clerk before regular business hours, they were believed to be among the first in Minnesota and perhaps among the first in the country to cast ballots in a 2020 presidential primary. Minnesota's presidential primary election is Tuesday, March 3 but absentee balloting makes it the first state in the nation open to all voters. South St. Paul City Hall started absentee balloting early Friday to celebrate its strong connection to this years 100th anniversary of womens suffrage. Women in South St. Paul were the first in the country to cast ballots after the 19th amendment went into effect, giving women the right to vote. Fortunate timing helped seal their spot in history as a South St. Paul city election was scheduled for Aug. 27, 1920. The 19th amendment went into effect one day earlier. On Aug. 27, an estimated 80 South St. Paul women made history by casting their ballot.

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    HPC Meeting Preview

    The Heritage Preservation Commission of the Hastings City Council meets on Tuesday evening, at 7 PM, in the Volunteer Room at City Hall. Items on the agenda include swearing in of new Commissioners Christina Johnson, Dave Youngren, Karren Douglas, and Mark Borchardt, the election of the Commission Chair and Vice Chair, naming a Commissioner as representative of the HPC to the County Historical Society, and a Public hearing for a rehabilitation and addition request for a structure in the 300 block of 7th Street West. The Commission will also discuss HPC goals for 2020, and input for the MN Statewide Historic Preservation Plan. Once all agenda items have been considered, the meeting will adjourn. The next meeting of the Heritage Preservation Commission is scheduled for February 18th.

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    Prescott Council To Hold Work Session

    The Prescott City Council will hold a workshop tonight. City Administrator Jayne Brand provides a preview of the session.

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    Daily Jail Booking Report

    From the Dakota County Jail booking report for Friday, January 17th, Cannon Falls Police apprehended 26-year-old Saah Benjamin Harris on a felony charge of the theft. Harris made an appearance in court on the 17th. Rosemount Police detained 41-year-old Robert Kevin Kay on misdemeanor charges of sale of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving with a revoked license, and not carrying proof of insurance. Bail for Kay was set at $500, and he made an appearance in court on the 17th. And Hastings Police arrested 28-year-old Hastings resident Cody Jon Penrose on a felony charge of 5th degree possession of drugs, and a misdemeanor charge of assault. Penrose is being held without bail as the charges are processed. All persons listed on the blotter report are presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

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    Water Main Breaks on 3rd Street

    January means the possibility of frozen water pipes, and not only for homes and businesses. Hastings Public Works Director Nick Egger reported on a water main break in Hastings on Thursday.

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    Repairs were completed before the end of the work day.

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    Work Continues At Confluence

    The Hudson Building renovation continues to move ahead, as $5 million in grant money has been secured, and hazardous waste abatement continues inside the building. Community Development Director John Hinzman commented on the improvements to the grounds where the river trail passes through.

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    The complex is expected to open later this year, after a 10-year process.

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    Target Building Not Forgotten

    Hastings Community Development Director John Hinzman recently visited the KDWA studios to provide a summary and update of Community Development efforts for 2019. One topic covered was the old Target building on Highway 55. Hinzman commented that there are plenty of options on redevelopment of the site.

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    Hear the complete interview on KDWA Radio.

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    HPAAC To Create Art Plan

    The Hastings Prescott Area Arts Council has teamed up with urban geographer Brenda Kayzar to create a collaborative community arts and cultural plan for Hastings. According to an article in the Hastings Star Gazette, the results of a study done for the Creative Minnesota Project in 2017 found that the total economic impact of arts organizations and their audiences in Hastings was $2.4 million. Due to timing, the city wasn't able to include a community-based plan for arts and culture into its plan. HPAAC agreed to start work on the community plan and the city can decide to include it once it is finished. The plan will aim to help Hastings grow and sustain the arts and cultural community already established, as well as showcase Hastings as a destination for arts and culture.

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    SEAS Raffle to Start

    Starting Jan. 17, students from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School will be selling $5 tickets for the opportunity to win a 2020 Buick Encore or $20,000 in cash, or other prizes totaling $40,000 in value, during SEAS 11th annual Catholic United Financial Schools Raffle, which has raised over $8.5 million for Catholic schools in Minnesota, North and South Dakota. Catholic United Financial, a St. Paul-based company, provides all the prizes and promotional materials for the raffle at no cost to the participating schools. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School hopes to sell enough tickets to raise $15,000. The money raised allows schools like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton to provide tuition assistance, update technology systems, and cover the cost of special learning opportunities, like guest speakers and field trips. Ticket sales begin Jan. 17 and run through March 1. The grand-prize drawing ceremony takes place at 11 AM, Thursday, March 12, at the Catholic United Financial home office in St. Paul. All funds raised by SEAS students stay at the school.   

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    County To Count Homeless

    On Wednesday, January 22nd, communities across Dakota County will conduct a point-in-time count of all persons who experienced homelessness on the night of January 21st. County staff, shelters, schools, police, outreach workers, emergency service providers, volunteers and more will participate in this undertaking. The survey is required to receive federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and, more importantly, is the primary way in which County staff understand the extent of the homeless population in the community. The County also uses the information obtained for resource development throughout the year.

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    Farms Sought For Recognition

    Minnesota Farm Bureau's Sesquicentennial Farm program will honor Minnesota families who have owned their farms for at least 150 years. Since the Sesquicentennial Farm program began in 2008, over 371 farms have been recognized. A commemorative certificate signed by Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Paap, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen and Governor Tim Walz will be awarded to qualifying families, along with an outdoor sign signifying Sesquicentennial Farm recognition. Applications are available by writing Sesquicentennial Farms, Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, P.O. Box 64370, St. Paul, MN 55164; emailing info@fbmn.org; or calling 651-768-2100. Applications are also available at FBMN.org. Deadline for application is March 2. Previously recognized families should not reapply.

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    Pine Bend Refinery Awarded

    Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery in Rosemount has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR certification. This certification signifies that the refinery performs in the top 25% of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency and meets strict energy efficiency performance levels set by the EPA. This recognition follows a 20-year trend of lowering key emissions as well as the recent completion of several projects to lower emissions and improve efficiency at the refinery. Since 1997, the Pine Bend refinery has lowered emissions of traditional criteria pollutants by approximately 70%, while increasing production to help meet demand for transportation fuels. The refinery has reduced total on-site emissions in 11 of the last 15 years, and its emissions per barrel are approximately 20% lower than other U.S. refineries. In the past five years, Pine Bend has improved its energy efficiency by 10%, advancing it into the top 25% of all U.S. refineries.

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    Daily Jail Booking Report

    From the Dakota County Jail booking report for Thursday, January 16th, Hastings Police apprehended 31-year-old Woodbury resident Brandon Fera on a felony charge of 5th degree possession of drugs, and a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. Fera made an appearance in court on the 16th. Rosemount Police detained 31-year-old Rosemount resident Cameron Dale Johnson on felony charges of assault, and assault by strangulation. Johnson remains in custody pending an appearance in court on the 17th. And Hastings Police arrested 38-year-old Hastings resident Adam Edward Pederson on a felony charge of assault. Pederson made an appearance in court on the 17th. All persons listed on the blotter report are presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

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    Dakota County Green Acres Program

    Dakota County reminds landowners that the County offers property tax relief for qualifying land through the County's Green Acres program. According to the County website, Green Acres is a property tax deferral program for certain agricultural property according to Minnesota Statute. Those who own agricultural property and if that property is devoted to the "production for sale of agricultural products," you may be eligible for the Green Acres program. Non-productive acres, such as woods, waste and sloughs, are most likely not eligible for Green Acres, but these acres may be eligible for Rural Preserve. To qualify for Green Acres, property must be at least 10 acres in size, be primarily devoted to agricultural use, and be homestead, farmed in conjunction with the homestead property; or the property must have been in the applicants family for at least seven years. For complete details and application forms, visit DakotaCounty.us, and search Green Acres.

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