Washington County Board members went into a closed meeting for security training, but no specific threats of harm had been directed against them, Sheriff Bill Hutton said. The closed meeting that took place Tuesday in Stillwater was intended to train the four commissioners in actions they would take in event of trouble in the boardroom, the sheriff said.
Training was done by Sgt. Tim Harris, appointed to a new position created to improve security in county buildings.
Two news reporters protested the closing on grounds that such a discussion was in the public interest. However, the closed meeting was authorized under an exception to Minnesota’s open meetings law that allows elected officials to meet in private for security briefings, said George Kuprian, the assistant county attorney who advises the board. None of the commissioners contested the closing.
Hutton and other armed Sheriff’s Office officers typically attend board meetings, which are held on the fifth floor of the Washington County Government Center. Board Chairman Fran Miron said the closure was necessary because specific security measures would be discussed. He also said the county will continue its commitment to open government.
City Attorney Johnson retiring after 25 years
Sandra Johnson, who led the city’s prosecution of Black Lives Matter protesters after a Christmastime demonstration at the Mall of America, is retiring at the end of June after 25 years with the city attorney’s office.
Johnson, 61, has led the office since 2009. She said she’s ready for a change after working steadily since age 15.
“I’m looking forward to not having anything to do in the morning,” she said. Johnson said she’s not looking for another legal job, and will spend her time volunteering and exploring the outdoors.
She said the Black Lives Matter case — in which charges were dismissed against many of the protesters — didn’t play into her decision. In fact, she said, she had already been planning her retirement, but stayed on for an extra year because it would have been “unthinkable” to leave when such a major case was brewing.
Johnson said she’s already applied for a volunteer spot with VEAP, the Bloomington food shelf.
“I’m going to be a grunt,” she said, “but I have to pass a criminal background check.”
City becomes latest to regulate beekeeping
Savage residents interested in tending to an apiary beside their garden can now look to the city for guidelines.
The City Council voted 4-1 on Monday to amend an ordinance on residential beekeeping that outlines required setbacks, lot sizes and equipment. Residents had previously been allowed to keep bees, but no formal guidelines existed. The ordinance was modeled after the Minnesota Hobby Beekeeper Association’s best practices.
The practice hasn’t yet been popular in Savage because of its cost, according to spokeswoman Emily Gunderson.
Savage wanted “to put some basic parameters in place for someone who wanted to enter into beekeeping,” Gunderson said. “Obviously if there are issues, that would be a reason for us to come in and look at things.”
Other cities and suburbs across the metro have already allowed and even encouraged backyard beekeeping. Among them are Minneapolis and St. Paul as well as Eagan, Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie.
County’s service center will move to Southdale
Hennepin County will shut down its Edina service center this month and move it a half mile away to Southdale Center.
The location at the library off York Avenue S. will close May 21 and the new mall location, between J.C. Penney and Herberger’s, will open May 31. In between, residents can go to the other seven service center locations for everything from license plate tabs to marriage licenses.