The Washington County Board voted 5-0 last week to adopt an economic development strategic plan that’s been in the works for more than a year. Commissioners Ted Bearth and Fran Miron, both former mayors, were elected on promises that they intended to help cities and businesses attract and retain jobs.
The county also wants to develop more taxable income and to compete better with adjoining counties for businesses. “I think growing that tax base is really critical,” said Commissioner Lisa Weik.
The board contracted with Springsted Inc. to draft a plan with a policy statement, short-term and longer-term goals and guiding principles. It was sent to all Washington County cities for review. Two comments had been received, one from the city of Scandia and the second from the Washington County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, relating to workforce and affordable housing. The plan was amended to include those concerns.
“I’m really pleased we got this far this fast,” Commissioner Ted Bearth said.
Nitrate test planned for south county wells
Washington County will work with the state Department of Agriculture to conduct nitrate-N sampling in targeted areas in Washington County.
Testing will occur in private wells in Denmark Township and Cottage Grove. Because of sensitive geology and traditional agricultural use, both areas have pockets of elevated nitrate levels, the county said. State funds will cover the costs of mailing test kits to residents, lab analyses, and staff time.
The county will work with the Washington Conservation District to do the work. Data gathered will be used to better understand nitrate contamination in the southern half of the county. The project will go through June 2015.
Fallen officers to be honored at ceremony
The Washington County Board recognized Law Enforcement Memorial Day, Law Enforcement Week, and Correctional Officers Week at its meeting May 6. Sheriff Bill Hutton requested that the board pass a resolution recognizing the events.
May 15 will be recognized as Law Enforcement Memorial Day, and the week of May 4-10 is recognized as Correctional Officers Week. May 11-17 will be Law Enforcement Memorial Week in Washington County.
A ceremony to remember fallen officers will be held at noon Thursday, May 15, at the Washington County Historic Courthouse at the corner of 3rd and Pine streets in Stillwater.
Volunteers create forest garden
Volunteers on May 3 planted 500 trees, shrubs and perennials to create a forest garden in a former homestead in the Oakdale Nature Preserve.
City forester Chris Larson described the concept of a forest garden as “putting plants in woodland-like patterns that forge mutually beneficial relationship, creating a garden ecosystem.”