The Keene family of Denmark Township has been named the Washington County Outstanding Farm Family of the Year 2014 and will be recognized at Farmfest in Redwood Falls, Minn., in August.

Jeff and Nancy Keene and Nicholas and Natalia Keene were selected by previous farm family winners for their contributions to agriculture. The competition was sponsored by Washington County Extension, the Washington County Farm Bureau, and the Washington County American Dairy Association.

Keene Farms started in 1959 with a 40-acre parcel. In 2010, Keene Farms LLC was formed, partnering Jeff Keene and his son, Nicholas. Jeff Keene is a member of the board of directors at River Country Coop. He also is involved in the Citizen-Assisted Lake Monitoring Program for the Metropolitan Council. Nancy Keene has been a Sunday school teacher, 4-H leader, and volunteer for USSA Ski Team. The family will appear at Farm Family Recognition Day on Aug. 7 at Farmfest.

Washington County

K-9 sick with cancer is retired from duty

The Washington County Board has transferred ownership of Cyrus, a Sheriff's Office K-9, to his handler, deputy Ty Jacobson.

Jacobson was assigned Cyrus in 2007. Cyrus was diagnosed with cancer in March. A veterinarian and Jacobson decided Cyrus could no longer remain in service in the interest of public safety. The Sheriff's Office retired Cyrus from active duty July 3.

Price tag rises on county campus outdoor project

Amended work orders associated with reconstruction of parking lots at the Washington County Government Center in Stillwater will cost the county nearly $1 million more than originally expected.

Cory Slagle, the county's construction engineer, said unexpected soft soils, modifications to landscaping and other work on the outside portion of the campus required changes in contracts. The new cost of $3.4 million also includes $296,540 for campus lighting to replace an earlier, rejected bid.

"You never know what you're going to find when you start digging," said Commissioner Autumn Lehrke, who mentioned similar problems during a back-yard project at her house in Cottage Grove.

Commissioners said they wanted to do the job right the first time. Slagle will bring the cost increase back to the board for a formal vote.

"This reminds me of an old farmhouse that needs remodeling," said Commissioner Gary Kriesel.

Parks group seeks an at-large member

The Washington County Parks and Open Space Commission is seeking an at-large member.

The commission brings citizens' perspective to Washington County's parks and open space. It reviews current operation policies, capital improvement programs, parkland preservation, park development projects, and planning for county parks. The commission recommends plans and policy changes to the Washington County Board.

For more information and an application, see the Washington County website at, and search for "parks and open space."

Members reappointed to two advisory boards

The Washington County Board recently made reappointments to an advisory panel and an advisory board. Members of the Child Protection Citizen Review Panel who were reappointed are:

Deborah Eckberg, Woodbury; Michael Laughton, Newport; Julia Welter, Afton; and Nancy Zupfer, Cottage Grove.

Members of the Workforce Investment Board who were reappointed are:

Wayne Morris, Oakdale, small business; Steve Moeller, Lake Elmo, small business; Timothy Swanson, Woodbury, small business; Tom Colosimo, University of St. Thomas, small business; Lori Tapani, Stacy, small business; Teresa Obinger, Woodbury, small business; Susan Evans, Woodbury, adult basic education; Cheryl Beaumier, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, postsecondary education; Sean Fetterman, Cottage Grove, large business; Tyler Burkart, Woodbury, economic development; and Theresa Smidt, Oakdale, large business.

Cottage Grove

Pool demolition begins; it's removed for safety

Demolition began earlier this month on the Cottage Grove municipal pool, which has been unused since 2011.

The pool had been scheduled for removal in 2015 but officials chose to do it sooner, citing ongoing safety concerns. Only the on-site building was spared, although officials said they still haven't worked out what to do with the space.

The pool, open for more than half a century, was drained and closed three years ago because of high operating costs and dwindling attendance numbers, leaving the city without an outdoor community pool, said Cottage Grove Parks and Recreation director Zac Dockter.

Demolition, expected to be completed in mid-July, will cost about $20,000, paid with park improvement funds.


Magazine cites city as family-friendly

Woodbury has been named one of the nation's "10 Best Towns for Families for 2014" by Family Circle magazine.

The magazine notes that 43 percent of the city's households have children, and that the school system drew nine of 10 points in its ratings for education.

Residents Rhonda and Craig Arnold, who have six children, lauded the city. "I think of Woodbury as one huge playground," Rhonda Arnold said. Family-friendly recreational opportunities offered by Bielenberg Sports Center and Carver Lake Park were cited, and the couple gave top marks to teachers for keeping parents informed (via newsletters and an online portal) and making sure students do their work (four of the kids have a school app that reminds them when assignments are due).

The Arnolds, a biracial couple, said they appreciate Woodbury's diversity. "Our block alone has families from China, Mexico and Ireland," Rhonda Arnold told Family Circle. "You fit in no matter where you're from."

The Woodbury Lions Club also earned a mention for raising money through its annual pancake breakfast and citywide garage sale, donating some $25,000 a year to college scholarships, programs for the sight- and hearing-impaired and more.


Attorney recognized for pro bono work

Thomas Lehmann, an attorney with the Eckberg Lammers Law Firm of Stillwater, has been awarded the 2014 Judge Robert Varco 10th Judicial District Pro Bono Award.

Lehmann, who is the city prosecutor for Lilydale, has also served as the city attorney for Mendota and Mendota Heights since 1989, according to his online biography.

He was nominated by Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) for legal work, dating to 1989, on behalf of the poor in civil cases across Minnesota.

Libor Jany, Kevin Giles, Jim Anderson