The Minnesota Food Association's annual spring open house and plant sale will be held from noon-4 p.m. Saturday, May 11.

The event celebrates the beginning of the growing season at Big River Farms, where immigrant farmers grow and sell organic and sustainable food. The farm also conducts a training and education program for new farmers.

Attendees at the open house, which is free and open to the public, can meet farmers, staff and board members, walk the fields and participate in a hayride. The event is a potluck, with some light food and beverages provided.

Donations and volunteers are welcome. The farm is located in the Wilder Forest at 14220-B Ostlund Trail N. in May Township, about 10 miles north of Stillwater.

The plant sale features varieties of certified organic flower bedding plants including violas, calendula, nasturtium, marigolds and bachelor buttons. Certified organic vegetable and herb bedding plants include basil, sage, thyme, sugar snap peas, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, broccoli, lettuce, fennel and Brussels sprouts.

Big River Farms CSA (a community supported agriculture farm) memberships still might be available. Sign up online at A CSA membership ensures weekly boxes of organic produce from mid-June through mid-October.

May township

Park visitor center opens at Arcola Mills

The National Park Service visitor center at Arcola Mills will open on Thursday, May 9, for a season that will continue through Oct. 21.

The undertaking, a joint venture between Arcola Mills Historic Foundation and the park agency, is the third experiment to determine whether a permanent NPS office should be established on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix River.

Headquarters for the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, a national park, are in St. Croix Falls, Wis. The site will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays. It will be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Admission is free.

Anyone interested in volunteering can call Jonathan Moore, the Riverway's volunteer program coordinator, at 715-491-6839.


Playground gear moves to new home

Playground equipment formerly used at the Bielenberg Sports Center will find new life for children in Costa Rica.

Volunteers from the nonprofit Kids Around the World organization removed the equipment last month as construction on the sports center expansion and remodeling begins.


Education funding discussed at forum

Mary Cecconi, executive director of Parents United for Public Schools, will be guest speaker for the River Valley Action monthly meeting on May 9.

Cecconi will provide an overview of education policy and funding issues being considered by the State Legislature. Her talk begins at 7 p.m.

The meeting will be held at the Washington County Government Center, 14949 62nd St. N. in Stillwater.

For more information, go to

Cottage Grove

City attorney leaves for Minnetonka job

Corrine Heine, who has served as Cottage Grove's city attorney for more than a decade, is leaving to take a similar, but full-time, position with the city of Minnetonka.

Sarah Sonsalla, an attorney with the Kennedy & Graven law firm in Minneapolis, will take over Heine's duties.

Forest Lake

Free seminar looks at senior housing

Anyone considering choices for senior housing can attend a free seminar Thursday, May 9, from 6-8 p.m. in room C8 at the Central Learning Center of Forest Lake Area Schools.

The community education seminar will include health care professionals from Ebenezer Meadows Campus, Parmly LifePointes, Gracewood Senior living, Villages of North Branch and Birchwood Senior Living. Call 651-982-8110 to register over the phone or go to

For more information, contact Larry Damico at or 651-982-8303.

White Bear Lake

Outstanding alum to talk to Century grads

The Century College Alumni Association board of directors has named Peter Fischer the 2013 Century College Outstanding Alum. He will address Century graduates on May 17 in Aldrich Arena.

A Maplewood resident and a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives serving his first term, Fischer was the student body president at Lakewood Community College, a forerunner of Century College, in the late 1970s.

Fischer represents the new Minnesota House District 43A, which includes Mahtomedi, Birchwood, Willernie, part of White Bear Lake and north Maplewood.

Washington County

Health care changes mean nine new jobs

Washington County will add nine new jobs, at a cost of $495,000 in salary and benefits, to meet the increased workload anticipated with the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the state health care exchange known as MNsure. The County Board approved the new positions at its meeting April 23.

The expansion to the Medicaid caseload will begin Jan. 1, 2014, with open enrollment beginning Oct. 1. The county will add four special-project eligibility specialists, three eligibility specialists, one office support position and one economic support supervisor.

Federal funds will pay $247,500 of the annual cost of the new positions and for the remainder, money will come from county funds available to support special projects and the budgeted levy.

Once most Minnesotans are required to have health care coverage, Washington County's Medical Assistance caseload will grow by 2,636 cases in 2014, said Dan Papin, director of the Community Services division. Also, the county's existing 9,500 Medical Assistance cases will need to be converted using new eligibility rules and the MNsure management information system.

white bear lake

Human trafficking issue on agenda

A look at human trafficking in Minnesota, "Fighting the Invasion of Body Snatchers," will be presented Monday, May 6, at White Bear Lake United Methodist Church, 1851 Birch St. Guest speaker will be Linda Miller, executive director of Civil Society. The program, sponsored by United Methodist Women, will be from 7-8 p.m. It is open to the public.

St. Croix River

Campers need to apply for permits from NPS

The annual permit required for camping on the Lower St. Croix River is now available, according to the National Park Service. The permit is required for anyone camping along the river between St. Croix Falls, Wis., and Taylors Falls in the north and the Soo Line High Bridge (river mile 29.5) to the south. Camping is limited to designated campsites. The free permit is available at the St. Croix River Visitor Center at 401 N. Hamilton St. in St. Croix Falls. The center can be reached at 715-483-2274. cq It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

The application for a permit is also available online at

Kevin Giles, Jim Anderson