The Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley has started construction on its new Conservation Carousel, a privately funded amenity that will raise money for the zoo’s conservation programs.

Zoo staff members and supporters came together Aug. 28 to break ground on the carousel, which will be located on the outdoor Northern Trail. It will include 56 one-of-a-kind, hand-carved animals, featuring species found at the zoo and rare and endangered animals from around the world, the zoo said.

The carousel also offers sponsorship opportunities for the general public; special plaques and a donor wall will recognize contributors and honorees in whose names donations are made.

Dozens of zoo members have sponsored the carousel’s snow monkey, and zoo volunteers are sponsoring the carousel’s tiger cub. Other donors have already sponsored 38 more animals.

For information on how to sponsor an animal, including a list of which animals are still available, see

The carousel is scheduled to open in the summer of 2014.



Bur oak blight arrives

A new tree disease, bur oak blight, has been identified in Eagan.

It’s a fungal disease that only affects bur oaks, and while it doesn’t kill trees, it can weaken their defense against other serious infestations such as two-lined chestnut borer and armillaria root rot.

Eagan’s forestry staff has identified several trees with symptoms of bur oak blight, but none have been lab tested yet. The disease is difficult to diagnose in the field because its symptom are similar to oak wilt.

More information on the disease is available to residents at



Dodge acquires land

Constance Shepard Otis donated 140 acres of historic property in Cottage Grove to the Dodge Nature Center in West St. Paul. The property is protected by a conservation easement that will prevent its development indefinitely.

The property was purchased in 1919 by Roger and Katherine Shepard of St. Paul and was their summer residence and family farm.

After her parents died, Constance Shepard Otis inherited the property and continued to use it as a summer home. “Having spent every summer of her life there, Mrs. Otis wanted to ensure that the natural beauty of the property was preserved for future generations in essentially the same form as originally envisioned and created by her parents,’’ Dodge Nature Center said.



Tour senior housing

Senior housing developments sponsored by the Dakota County Community Development Agency will be open for public tours from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 26. The list includes: Cameo Place, 3101 Lower 147th St., Rosemount; Haskell Court, 140 E. Haskell St., West St. Paul; Main Street Manor, 8725 209th St., Lake- ville; Mississippi Terrace, 301 Ramsey St., Hastings; and Vermillion River Crossing, 21400 Dushane Pkwy., Farmington.

The open houses will allow people to ask questions about senior housing and learn of other services for seniors.

Bus transportation is available; call 651-675-4432.


Library seeks authors for its annual fair

The Dakota County Library is inviting local authors, illustrators, publishers and literary agents to be part of the annual Local Author Fair. The fair is an opportunity for authors to showcase their work, discuss and sell their books, network and learn more about the writing and publishing business.

The fair will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Western Service Center atrium, 14955 Galaxie Av., Apple Valley. Bestselling author Lorna Landvik will speak, and the Loft Literary Center will present free writing and publishing workshops.

To participate, submit an application to Tami Richardson, Wescott Library, 1340 Wescott Road, Eagan, before 5 p.m. Oct. 4. All submissions will be considered, with first preference given to authors from Dakota County. Up to 40 people will be chosen, and those selected will be notified by Oct. 18. There is no fee to apply or participate.

Applications are available at; search “local author fair.”

For more information, see the website or call Tami Richardson at 651-450-2918.


Grant helps restore historic buildings

Farmington buildings that portray a 1900-era rural village will be restored to keep their historic appearance. A recent grant will fund the repair of three buildings that came to Dakota City Heritage Village 30 years ago: the 1867 Vermillion Presbyterian Church; the belfry of the District 96 One Room School; and the 1861 frame building originally built as a school (it will be the home of the soon-to-be-opened Dakota City Gift Shop).

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture awarded the grant to the Dakota County Agricultural Society in late August through the state’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

Work is expected to be completed by October and will include repairs to windows, doors and siding, along with retucking chimneys, treating lead paint and repainting.

The buildings are among 17 historic buildings used for education programs, located at the Dakota County Fairgrounds. More than 5,000 students visit each year to experience agricultural and rural life in Dakota County as it was more than a century ago.



Businesses donate to new city athletic site

Flint Hills Resources and four other Minnesota companies have donated more than $80,000 worth of goods and services to Rosemount’s new athletic complex.

The money will go toward paving parking lots. The Rosemount City Council approved the donation Tuesday, and paving work was set to begin Thursday.

The five companies collaborated to donate materials and labor to pave the lots. Flint Hills donated $57,000 for liquid asphalt, Pine Bend Paving donated $12,000 for the paving, Barton Sand & Gravel donated $10,000 for asphalt mixing and Kane Transport donated $800 for oil transportation. In 2007, Flint Hills donated the 57-acre property to the city, valued at $2.7 million.

The new complex is two miles southwest of the Pine Bend refinery, at the intersection of Akron Avenue and Bonaire Path. City leaders plan to build athletic fields at that site to meet the growing demand for sports fields in the city.