The Rochester Public Library was honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., last week as one of 10 recipients of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

The award, given by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, recognizes museums and libraries that make exceptional contributions to their communities.

“We’re incredibly honored to be recognized for our innovative approaches to removing barriers,” said Library Director Audrey Betcher. “The National Medal recognizes the Rochester Public Library’s dedication to equity and providing welcoming spaces for all community members..”

James Arnold, 17, was selected to receive the award on behalf of the library. Arnold has been a member of the Teen Library Council since the eighth grade and said the library provided a safe place for him to discover his identity as a transgender person.

John Reinan

St. Cloud City Council member won’t seek re-election

Jeff Johnson, the St. Cloud City Council member who set off a debate when he proposed a moratorium on refugee resettlement, announced he won’t seek re-election this fall.

According to the St. Cloud Times, Johnson, who’s been on the council since 2010, said it’s time for a “fresh perspective on the council.”

Last fall, Johnson proposed a resolution recommending a moratorium on refugee resettlement until the city could get details on costs of the federal program to taxpayers. The measure failed to pass. Instead, the council approved a resolution affirming it was a “welcoming community.”

Kelly Smith

Clarissa gets grant money for wastewater improvement

The city of Clarissa will get nearly $1 million in grants toward a $2.6 million project to improve its aging wastewater infrastructure.

The city is getting $600,000 from the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority and $324,000 from the federal Office of Rural Development, which is also loaning Clarissa $1.67 million for the wastewater work.

Since its creation in 1987, the Public Facilities Authority has financed $4.5 billion in infrastructure projects throughout Minnesota, the agency said in announcing the grant.

John Reinan

Frontenac volunteers needed June 2 to plant oak trees at park

Thanks to a $5,000 grant, the Frontenac State Park Association will start an oak savanna restoration project.

The association, which is volunteer-led, received the grant from the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota. The association members added $500 of their own funds along with $500 from the Frontenac Sportsmen’s Club to help buy trees such as bur oak and native plants for the oak savanna habitat. Volunteers are needed to help plant trees from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 2. The next event will be June 9.

The 2,300-acre Frontenac State Park, which overlooks Lake Pepin, is about 10 miles southeast of Red Wing.

Kelly Smith