A Washington County historian got the $50,000 he requested last week, but not before challenges that it's not government's role to fund history.

Brent Peterson had wanted a grant to help fund the Washington County Historical Society's purchase of an existing building in Stillwater to house records as well as exhibit artifacts. The county's contribution will go toward $795,000 that Peterson will raise through grants and donations for the building at 1862 Greeley St.

"One of the first questions people are going to ask is, 'Is the county behind you?' And we can say, 'Yes, you are,' " Peterson told the County Board in a presentation.

The Historical Society would open the building in 2014. Space at the Warden's House museum on North Main Street in Stillwater is no longer suitable for collections, which include records of local governments, he said.

"As much as I appreciate the Historical Society and what they're doing, I wouldn't hand over $50,000 of the taxpayers' money," said Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek, who objected to money spent for keeping records.

Defending the expense, Commissioner Gary Kriesel said the county "gets a lot of goodwill" out of its relationship with the Historical Society.

"It's not about record-keeping -- it's about preservation of our heritage," Kriesel said.

The request passed 3-2, with Pulkrabek and Autumn Lehrke dissenting.


Volunteers needed for used book sale

A used book sale at the Park Grove Branch of Washington County Library needs volunteers to help with setup and cleanup and to assist customers.

The sale is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, during regular hours at the library at 7900 Hemingway Av. S. To volunteer, call 651-459-2040 or sign up at the library. 

Donations for the sale such as books, CDs and DVDs will be accepted anytime the library is open. Bring donated items to the information desk. Donations should be in good condition. Used children's materials in good condition are also needed.


Consultant will study popular swim pond

Washington County will hire SRF Consulting to study the swim pond at Lake Elmo Park Reserve to plan future use of the popular attraction.

The consultants will review operations, maintenance, design, policy and revenue.

The swim pond opened in 1986 and was designed to accommodate 600 to 800 people at one time. Today, between 1,000 and 2,500 people converge on summer weekends.

The study will include information gathered by the Sheriff's Office as well as traffic, landscape and building design, park maintenance and park operations.

The $65,000 study will begin this year so that the county has time to review and implement recommendations before the start of the 2013 swimming season.


Additional $773,000 spent for road project

The Washington County Board has approved additional costs for the Forest Lake Broadway Avenue reconstruction project, which is almost complete.

The project includes a new interchange with Interstate 35 and road reconstruction from Hwy. 61 to 19th Street. Oct. 16 has been set as a tentative date for a grand opening celebration. Work approved included:

• $202,632.70 for erosion control required for permit compliance. Additional material and labor includes geotextile fabric, temporary ditch netting and mulching.

• $179,490.54 for traffic control and concrete that cures faster to accelerate the project schedule.

• $391,284.95 for excavation of 26,304 cubic yards of muck at the northwest ramp, First Avenue Northwest and along County Hwy. 2 within the utility trenches.


Mississippi River land is offered to refinery

A parcel of tax-forfeited land will be offered to the St. Paul Park Refining Co., the County Board has decided.

The parcel is near the previous location of the JAR Bridge on the Washington County side of the Mississippi River in St. Paul Park.

The JAR Bridge, and the land abutting the bridge, had been forfeited for non-payment of property taxes. After the bridge was removed, the land abutting the bridge was sold to the refinery.

The parcel being offered for sale is about 4 acres. The County Board adopted a minimum sale price of $29,000.


Command trailer goes to St. Croix County

A command trailer used at crime scenes will go to the St. Croix County, Wis., Sheriff's Office.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office purchased the 31-foot trailer in 1996 and used it as a command post. The trailer was replaced in 2012 when the Sheriff's Office bought its new Patrol Operations Vehicle. The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office agreed to take possession of the trailer at no cost in "as is" condition.

County ends its role on rail commission

The Washington County Board, sitting as the Washington Regional Rail Authority last week, voted to end its membership in the Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission.

Commissioners, who withdrew on a 5-0 vote, said the county has more urgency in developing freight rail than passenger rail. The county, which budgeted $15,000 for membership this year, was billed only $9,375.

The rail commission was formed in 2009 to advocate for high speed rail from St. Paul to Chicago along the "River Route" in Minnesota. Membership includes the county regional rail authorities in Washington, Dakota, Ramsey, Goodhue, Winona and Wabasha counties, as well as 11 cities. The Washington County cities of Cottage Grove, Hastings and St. Paul Park are members. Washington County joined the commission in 2009.

The board's action means the county will withdraw by January.