A black bear was sighted last week in Cottage Grove, causing a brief stir before retreating, presumably, to more reclusive turf after a brief foray into the hubbub of civilization.
The bear, likely hungry and disoriented after waking from hibernation, was reported in several locations, said Capt. Pete Koerner of the Cottage Grove Police Department. The animal was seen in a wooded area near Oakwood Park, in the parking lot of the armory, a wetland near the Cottage Grove/Newport border and behind the Rush Nightclub on Hwy. 61, Koerner said. No reports of sightings were made over the last weekend, and the bear appeared to be headed for the Mississippi River and more familiar territory.
The city gets reports of bear every couple of years, he said, and this animal did not appear aggressive and police officers kept tabs on its behavior and travels.
MaryEllen Amland was one of those who reported the bear. She spotted the animal running along a train as she went to pick up her mother for a morning appointment. "I thought 'Is that really a bear?' It was just amazing to see," she said. "I had never seen one in the wild."
Harland Hiemstra, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said it is a little unusual but not unheard of for black bears to be found so far south of the Twin Cities. The best advice for anyone who spots a bear is to leave it alone and don't raise a commotion, he said. If bears become a public safety concern, local law enforcement officers are forced to dispatch the animals.
"Personally, I think it's kind of cool that we live in a place where we see some strange wildlife once in a while," Hiemstra said.
Fundraiser planned for injured officer
A fundraiser to aid the family of Frank Mackall, a Savage police officer who is from Cottage Grove and was injured during a call on Jan. 2, will be held from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. June 3 at the Cottage Grove VFW/Big Red Barn, 9260 East Point Douglas Rd S.
Mackall was responding to a prowler call when his patrol car hit a patch of ice and spun out of control. He was seriously injured and spend 84 days in the hospital. His wife gave up her full-time job to help with his care. Before becoming a police officer, he was a volunteer for the Cottage Grove Police Department Reserve Officer Program.
All-you-can-eat brats, hot dogs, chips and soda will be available, and the event will include live music, kids events and raffles. Beer will also be sold. Donations can be sent to the Cottage Grove Lions Club at Box 002, Cottage Grove, MN 55016 C/O Frank Mackall Benefit.
The Cottage Grove Lions Club, St. Paul Park/Newport Lions Club, Cottage Grove Crime Prevention Board, Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #1, Cottage Grove Strawberry Fest and the Cottage Grove Department of Public Safety are sponsoring this fundraiser.
Business alcohol compliance high
The Washington County Sheriff's Office and all nine police departments in the county have found a high compliance rate in 2012 among businesses that sell alcohol.
A compliance check consists of law enforcement officers working in collaboration with trained underage youth who are sent into businesses where they attempt to buy alcohol or tobacco. If they succeed, a citation is issued to the business and the clerk. In 2012, officers reported a 94 percent compliance rate for alcohol sales and 95 percent for tobacco.
Engineer honored for Forest Lake work
Cory Slagle, Washington County's engineering and construction manager, has been awarded the National Association of County Engineers (NACE) 2012 Project Manager of the Year Award.
The award, recognizing Slagle's work on the three-year Forest Lake highway "megaproject," was announced April 24 at the organization's annual conference in Des Moines, Iowa.
Broadway Avenue in Forest Lake was one of the most dangerous streets in the county and was being overrun by more than 31,000 vehicles per day.
The project was the largest ever undertaken in Washington County and resulted in a new crossing over Interstate 35 at County Road 83; a new interchange at Broadway Avenue and I-35; a new "backage" road to provide an alternative access to the city's businesses; a reconstruction of Broadway Avenue; the construction of two pedestrian bridges along the Hardwood Creek Trail, and the building of a roundabout at Hwy. 61.
Prosecutors paid for prison work
The Washington County attorney's office will work with the Minnesota Department of Corrections to receive reimbursement for legal services involving inmates from state correctional facilities in Washington County.
The County Board approved a joint powers agreement May 14 to allow for state reimbursement between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014. The county can receive up to $25,000 for its services.
Washington County has two state prisons, Stillwater and Oak Park Heights.
Derosier will join Extension Committee
Terence Derosier, Grant, will join the Washington County Minnesota Extension Committee, serving a first term expiring Dec. 31, 2015. The County Board made the appointment at its meeting May 14.
Derosier, now a farmer, served as president and held other offices in 4-H as a youth. The Extension Committee works with the County Board.
Kevin Giles, Jim Anderson