South Washington County residents can see the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train light-and-music spectacular on Dec. 11, with the train arrival scheduled for 5:45 p.m. on W. Point Douglas Road S. (south of the Sieben/80th Street Bridge) in Cottage Grove. Entertainment from the train's stage car will begin at 6 p.m.

In 2011, Cottage Grove, Grey Cloud Island, Newport and St. Paul Park raised $101,000 and collected more than 9,660 pounds of food, toys and toiletries for the Friends in Need Food Shelf. In the past nine years the train stop in Cottage Grove has raised more than $402,000. This year the goal is to raise $70,000. 

The Holiday Train has 14 brightly decorated rail cars, including a modified boxcar that has been turned into a traveling stage for performers. The cars are decorated with hundreds of thousands of LED Christmas lights. For additional information, visit

Donations to Friends in Need Food Shelf also can be sent in care of Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 16, Cottage Grove, 55016.


Environmental Center earns design award

The copper industry has honored Washington County's new Environmental Center with an architecture award for its use of the highly recyclable material in the design of the building's facade. 

The county used copper for its new annex building as a means of demonstrating the importance of recycling. The building was selected to receive a North American Copper in Architecture award for outstanding use of architectural copper and copper alloys.

For more information on the Environmental Center and other 2012 recipients, go to


Free hotel rooms offered for holidays

The Hampton Inn in Woodbury will participate in a giving program to help friends and families of anyone hospitalized, in a nursing home or in a treatment center on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve.

TMI Hospitality's program, Room in the Inn, has offered free hotel rooms nationwide for the past 25 years. During last year's holiday season, nearly 3,000 people had a free night's stay.

The Room in the Inn program provides available rooms as each hotel's occupancy allows. Anyone wanting to take part should review instructions on the company's website at


Public library plans holiday book drive

The Stillwater Public Library is gathering books to distribute as gifts to children through the Head Start program and the Holiday Bureau. To contribute, bring new unwrapped hardcover or paperback books to the library through Dec. 13.

For information, call 651-275-4338, ext. 111, or visit the library's website,


Proposed city budget shown in open house

Oakdale city staff will present the city's proposed 2013 budget at the Dec. 11 City Council meeting.

Those attending will learn about the budget process and how a portion of property taxes funds municipal services. They also will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide comments on next year's budget.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and will be held at Oakdale City Hall, 1584 Hadley Av.


Village to become winter wonderland

The charming St. Croix River town of Afton will be transformed into a winter wonderland for its annual "Village Holiday" event on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, presented by the Afton Area Business Association.

From 5-8:30 p.m. Friday, the village will be illuminated with festive lights and torches. The evening includes free horse and carriage rides, shopping with special discounts and complimentary treats and beverages, complimentary wine tasting at Swirl Wine Shop, tree decorating and refreshments at the Afton Museum, strolling carolers, a historic walking tour and more.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday it is family day, with events including breakfast and photos with Santa plus frame decorating at the Historic Afton House Inn, stockings for children to collect free treats and toys at shops and restaurants, free horse and wagon rides from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., cookie decorating and holiday ice cream at Selma's Ice Cream Parlour, lunch with Santa at Sail Away Café from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and more.

Guests are asked to bring donations for the third annual Afton/Lakeland Girl Scouts Mitten Tree, located in front of Baglio's. Warm hats, coats, mittens and scarves will be donated to Valley Outreach, serving area families in need.

For more information, visit


Workshop to focus on Mississippi River

A new "State of the River" report compiled by the National Park Service and the Friends of the Mississippi River is the topic of a free workshop at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at Hidden Harbor Marina in St. Paul Park.

The report examines river flow, swimming and recreation, fishing, ecological health and contaminants of concern. It's also an opportunity to learn about grants for rain gardens and other clean water projects. Snacks will be served.

The workshop is free, but RSVP to Angie Hong at 651-275-1136, ext. 35, or at angie.hong@