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The Washington County Library is asking residents to read and discuss the library's "One County, One Book" reading selection during January.
The book selected is "Still Standing: The Story of SSG John Kriesel," by John Kriesel as told to Jim Kosmo. When Kriesel lost his legs in a roadside bomb explosion that killed two comrades, no one expected him to survive. He endured 35 surgeries and months of recovery and rehabilitation.
Kriesel was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2010. The Cottage Grove resident decided against running for re-election.
Library officials said residents can participate in the "One County, One Book" program by:
•Reading the book. Copies are at all county library branches.
•Attending a library book club meeting. Many of the library's book clubs will be discussing "Still Standing" at one of their winter meetings. Check the library's website for locations, dates and times.
•Sharing comments on the library's Facebook page.
•Meeting the author on Jan. 29 at R. H. Stafford Library in Woodbury at 7 p.m.
Washington County is holding an informational meeting for people interested in offering foster care from 6-8 p.m. Monday at the Washington County Government Center in Stillwater, Lower Level Room 16.
Families are needed for younger children and for teenagers. The foster care Respite Program, which gives families a break for a weekend or so a month, also needs parents.
Before families can be licensed, they must undergo a screening process that includes an extensive background check. People who want to offer foster care also are required to attend the informational meeting.
For additional information regarding foster care meetings, call 651-430-6455. The Washington County Government Center is located at 14949 62nd St. N. in Stillwater.
The 8th annual Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference will be held Feb. 2-3 in St. Paul.
Starting a farming venture in Minnesota means overcoming language barriers, market differences and a formidable list of agriculture rules and regulations, said Glen Hill, executive director of the Minnesota Food Association. The association has a farm near Wilder Forest, west of Marine on St. Croix.
New immigrants are appearing in greater numbers in metro-area farmers markets to sell produce they've grown. The next challenge for them is learning to sell to a broader market, including grocery stores and restaurants, Hill said.
The conference will be held at North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters Event Hall, 710 Olive St. in St. Paul. Registration is available online at www.mnfoodassociation.org or by calling Panukoo Chi, farmer coordinator, at 952-388-3275.
The Lower St. Croix Valley Community Foundation funded a grant request in 2012 for Afton to develop a community garden for residents of the Lower St. Croix Valley.
The Rinta Community Gardens are located south of Hudson Road between Indian Trail and Century College Truck Training Center.
Each plot will be about 40-by-40 feet, with walking paths between plots.
There is no charge, but an application is required. For more information, contact Barbara Ronningen at 651-436-5881.Sheriff warns of thefts in Afton, Hugo
Several thefts of packages delivered in Afton and Hugo have been reported to the Washington County Sheriff's Office.
Packages are being left by delivery trucks and within a short time they are taken. It's possible that the trucks are being followed and packages are stolen soon after they're delivered, the Sheriff's Office said.
Call 911 to report suspicious activity. Provide a license plate number and vehicle description if possible, law enforcement officers said.
Jeff and Michelle Davis, co-owners of the new Elements Therapeutic Massage in Woodbury, have opened a studio at 8150 Coller Way.
"The Elements franchise was founded on the healing benefits of massage, and we're looking forward to making a positive impact on our clients' lives," Jeff Davis said.
Belwin Conservancy is raising $20,000 to make improvements at the Education Center in Afton, the conservancy said in a recent newsletter.
Belwin has provided free hands-on science education to more than a half million St. Paul public school students over four decades.
Donations toward improvements can be made by calling 651-436-5189 or mailing to 1553 Stagecoach Trail S., Afton, MN 55001.
Varying weather in Minnesota is creating unpredictable ice conditions, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. For example, conservation officers report more than 800 ice houses on Lake of the Woods in the north, but in the south, boat anglers are fishing on parts of the Mississippi River.
The St. Croix River is one of Minnesota's most popular ice fishing destinations.
"Ice is never 100 percent safe," said Capt. Greg Salo, regional enforcement supervisor in St. Paul. "Don't put yourself in needless danger by going out on thin ice. No fish is worth your life."
Salo recommends that anyone walking or driving onto ice should carry a set of ice picks to help pull themselves out should they fall through He also recommends that they check with a local bait shop or resort about ice conditions, and measure the ice.
The DNR recommends 4 inches of clear ice for walking, 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV, 8 to 12 inches for a car, and 12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck.
JIM ANDERSON AND Kevin giles