In a letter to Afton residents, interim Mayor Richard Bend wrote that the Old Village improvements project is "now and will continue to be a significant task for the city" that could cost more than $14 million.
"The figures I was shown were an initial draft. A majority of the costs of the project are expected to be funded with grants from various sources with smaller portions to be paid by assessments on the benefited properties and by using funds which in the past have been paid annually into a fund for the City's litigation expenses," said the letter, which appeared in the city's February newsletter.
The two-part project will include: upgrading the Old Village's flood defenses to meet standards established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state Department of Natural Resources; and building a sewer system and treatment plant "to handle the load."
Bend, a longtime political insider, was appointed interim mayor in December, a few weeks after former Mayor Patricia Snyder stepped down to pursue private business opportunities. He will serve the remainder of Snyder's two-year term, which expires this year.
Bend describes himself as a lifelong Afton resident — leaving only to attend graduate and law school — who is "dedicated to preserving Afton's rural environment, lean city government and responsible pay-as-you-go growth."
Robbery, burglary lead crimes in report
The greater share of criminal cases prosecuted by the Washington County attorney's office involve robberies, burglaries and thefts, according to a 2013 annual report issued last week.
Those cases accounted for 34 percent of all adult cases prosecuted by the county attorney's office last year, followed by drugs (24 percent) and assaults (15 percent).
On the civil side, child support and paternity cases accounted for 51 percent of all cases prosecuted. Contract review followed at 19 percent and tax appeals at 8 percent. Numerous other classifications such as civil actions, land acquisitions and estate demands accounted for the rest of the cases.
Juvenile prosecutions somewhat mirrored adult offenses with robbery, burglary and theft leading with 18 percent. Drugs accounted for 14 percent of all cases, property crimes for 9 percent and assaults for 8 percent.
Violent crime fell sharply in recent years, the report shows, consistent with trends elsewhere, but County Attorney Pete Orput's office remains busy with prosecutions. Attorneys also are involved in several initiatives to prevent crime, such as truancy, restorative justice and veteran programs.
"I am proud of the fact that for the third year in a row, this office has quadrupled the number of trials as compared to previously, resulting in more effective justice for victims and citizens," Orput wrote in the report.
The full report can be read at www.wcattorney.info.
Updated security designed for jail
The Washington County Board has approved a contract with Elert and Associates to design a new security and closed-circuit television system for the county jail.
Current jail security is more than 22 years old and has reached the end of its service life, said Sheriff Bill Hutton. The systems are critical for efficient operation of the jail and to ensure safety of officers and inmates, he said.
Elert and Associates was chosen from four respondents to a county project solicitation. The contract is for $125,000.
County updates informational video
An updated Washington County video provides general information about the county and is available through the county's website at www.co.washington.mn.us, and can be used at community gatherings, the county said.
Grant will buy a heart resuscitator
The Oakdale Fire Department has received a $5,000 grant from the Minnesota Resuscitation Consortium to increase survival rates of sudden cardiac arrest. The grant will be used to buy a second device that provides automated, consistent cardiac compressions to a person in cardiac arrest, said Fire Chief Jeff Anderson.
To learn more about the Resuscitation Consortium, visit www.mrc.umn.edu.
Residents warned to watch for frozen pipes
The Oakdale Public Works Department is reminding residents that prolonged low temperatures and the increased depth of frost in the ground could cause water pipes and septic systems to freeze. At special risk, the city says, are slab-on-grade structures and split-entry homes. The city also is advising residents concerned about freezing pipes to run faucets at a slow trickle to alleviate pressure on the pipes. Anyone with questions is asked to contact the Oakdale Public Works Department at 651-730-2740.
Minnesota United FC part of racism study
The Minnesota United FC soccer club took part in an international study to determine the effectiveness of the Australian Football League's (AFL) rules in reducing discrimination in sports.
The North American Soccer League team, which plays its home games at the National Sports Center in Blaine but will move into a new training center at Bielenberg Sports Center in Woodbury this spring, was the only North American professional sports team participating in the survey, a team news release said.
The study, titled "Assessing the Australian Football League's Racial and Religious Vilification Laws to promote Community, Harmony, Multiculturalism and Reconciliation," will focus on the effectiveness of the so-called Rule 30 in the Australian league, part of an effort to "combat various forms of discrimination in sports," the release said.
The rules were implemented in 1995, after an AFL player spoke out against in-game racism. Australian Rules Football, a cousin of rugby, is a wildly popular sport in that country.
A team of researchers traveled to Minnesota on Feb. 17 to work with Minnesota United players, coaches and front office personnel.
Libor Jany, Kevin Giles