Lt. William Messerich has been named the new police chief of South St. Paul.
He succeeds Daniel S. Vujovich, who retired last summer after 33 years with the force, and was chosen after a search by the South St. Paul Civil Service Commission.
Messerich, 42, was born and raised in South St. Paul and graduated from South St. Paul High School in 1988. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's School of Police Staff and Command and is working on a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from St. Mary's University.
He has been with the department since 1994 and has served as lieutenant in charge of operations since 2008. He lives in Lakeville.
Dakota County is looking into hiring a private firm to provide nursing care in the county jail.
Sheriff Dave Bellowstold county commissioners that the county is facing an $800,000 bill for nursing services in the jail and juvenile center next year. He is hoping to reduce that by turning the duties over to a private firm. When he saw the figure, Bellows -- who is bald -- told commissioners: "My hair fell out."
Six or seven proposals from private companies are now being evaluated for possible savings, he said. The county already contracts for other services in the jail, he said.
"What we offer is what you see in other jails," he said. "It's not Cadillac. It's basic health care needs."
An increase in theft in Dakota County parks has been noticed recently, mostly in the north end of the county, the Dakota County Sheriff's Department reported.
Thieves who can see purses, credit cards and computers through the windows of vehicles are breaking in and taking them, the department said. Park visitors are advised not to leave such items in their cars.
A new section of the Mississippi River Regional Trail is now open in Inver Grove Heights.
It completes a 10-mile connection between Kaposia Landing in South St. Paul and Pine Bend Elementary School in Inver Grove Heights.
The segment goes past the Rock Island Swing Bridge and offers other scenic views of the river.
When the entire 27-mile trail is completed in 2015, it will connect St. Paul with Hastings.
The Farmington community exceeded expectations by contributing more than 1,000 pounds of nonperishable items to the Farmington Food Shelf at several city events in October.
The events included the Halloween Walk, the Haunted House and a Fire Department open house.
The Farmington Food Shelf is located at the Instructional Services Center, 510 Walnut St. It's open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-6 p.m. Call 651-463-5019 for more information.
JIM ADAMS AND LAURIE BLAKE