Anyone who'd like to be a member of the City Council in Prior Lake is invited to apply.
The council next year will appoint someone to fill a 23-month term expiring on Dec. 31, 2014. The vacancy was created when council member Ken Hedberg became mayor.
Applicants must be at least 21. The city warns they may spend as much as 15 hours a week carrying out their duties.
There's an application on the city's website, which explains that all candidates will be asked to appear before the council on Jan. 23 and spend 10 minutes answering a series of questions, including:
• How should the city approach issues of growth, in terms of policy and finances?
• In your opinion, what is the single most important action the council can take to improve its communication program?Help city get free makeover on the Web
Prior Lake is vying for a free website makeover.
It's asking citizens to visit its cluttered homepage, www.cityofpriorlake.com, to find a link to a survey that could help the city win this prize and improve its site.
Website makeovers can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and several Twin Cities suburbs have undertaken them in recent years. Shakopee is in the midst of such an effort.
If you'd like to help grow food for food shelves or your own shelves, there's a garden plot available.
Inver Hills Community College and Metropolitan State University are co-sponsoring a community garden. Applications for the 2013 growing season are due by Feb. 15.
This past year, the garden produced 1,511 pounds of pesticide-free produce for food shelves. More than 250 people from inside the colleges and without took part, planting a 55-tree apple orchard.
Folks wanting to grow for themselves can apply for one or two 10-foot-by-10-foot plots at $15 each. There's a lottery if too many people apply.
You're free to drop off your Christmas tree this year for free.
The Shakopee tribe is inviting folks to drop off up to three real Christmas trees at its compost center after the holidays. They must be "free of tinsel, flocking, and other non-compostable material," the tribe's announcement cautions.
The facility is located off County Road 83, at 1905 Canterbury Road.
Hours for tree drops: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 11, plus two Saturdays, Jan. 5 and Jan. 12, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. It's closed on New Year's.
For rules concerning garlands, wreaths and the like, visit www.shakopeedakota.org/newsroom.
Seniors and those within certain income limits are among those qualifying for free help in preparing federal and state tax returns.
Disabled persons also qualify, as do those speaking limited or no English. Income limits for others are $30,000 or less for individuals, $50,000 or less for families.
Assistance is offered from early February through mid April. An updated list of sites will be available during the last week in January.
In the meantime, more details are available from University of Minnesota Extension educator Sharon Powell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 952-492-5383.