Citing a desire for someone to “bring the community together,” St. Anthony City Council members have chosen Thomas Randle to fill a vacant council seat in a closely watched appointment.
Randle has been sworn in and will hold the position through the end of 2019. He takes over for Bonnie Brever, who resigned her seat this summer.
“We’re looking for consensus builders and people that want to collaborate together,” Council Member Randy Stille said ahead of Tuesday’s vote. “[Randle] is diplomatic and thoughtful.”
City leaders interviewed three applicants for the position, including Nancy Robinett, who finished 18 votes behind the second-place finisher in a tight November race for two other City Council seats. Randle came in fifth among six candidates in that race.
Stille acknowledged that Robinett lost by a narrow margin but said it was “flawed” to suggest that was a reason to appoint her.
Randle, who has worked in property management and the hospitality industry, wrote in his application for the appointment that he was a “people person who can communicate with everyone.”
Public works project mostly complete
A $12.5 million “downtown improvement project” in Afton is substantially complete, with a new road through downtown and recently installed decorative streetlights.
New wastewater and sanitary treatment plants now are operational in the south Washington County city of 2,900, and sanitary sewer work along the St. Croix River levee is finished, Mayor Richard Bend wrote in December’s city newsletter.
The joint city-county project includes upgrades on 17 miles of side streets, as well as the rebuilding of St. Croix Trail (also known as County Road 21), the main street through downtown.
Property owners in the downtown area will begin paying assessments to fund a portion of the project in 2018, Bend said.
Schoenecker named Public Works head
Ted Schoenecker, an engineer with the Minnesota Department of Transportation since 2012, has been named Ramsey County’s new public works director pending approval by the County Board, officials announced last week.
Schoenecker will succeed Jim Tolaas, who is retiring in 2018 after a career with Public Works spanning four decades.
“Ted’s impressive background and experience in transportation at multiple levels of government, as well as in the private sector, makes him a great fit for us as the need for strong partnerships grows right along with our list of projects,” said Deputy County Manager Johanna Berg in a written statement.
After receiving a degree in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota, Schoenecker worked in the private sector before becoming assistant traffic engineer for Bloomington in 2002. He was transportation planning manager and traffic engineer for Washington County from 2005 to 2012 and then moved to MnDOT as a district state engineer. Since 2014, he has been deputy state aid engineer for MnDOT.
Schoenecker is slated to begin new position on Jan. 8.
County leaders win statewide recognition
Two Anoka County leaders claimed top honors at a recent conference held by the Association of Minnesota Counties.
The statewide group awarded the President’s Award to County Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah. The award is given each year for “exemplary leadership in public service.”
Gary Hendrickx, the association’s board president, described Sivarajah as one of the state’s “foremost experts in the field of human services” and touted the county’s fiscal accomplishments under her leadership, including the lowering of the tax levy for the first time in four decades and paying down more than $50 million in debt.
County Administrator Jerry Soma also was singled out for praise. He was given the association’s Outstanding Service Award, with nods to his 51-year tenure working for Anoka County.
St. Croix Valley
Virtual weigh station set in place near bridge
Installation of “a virtual weigh-in-motion system,” the modern-day equivalent of highway weigh station scales, was among recent projects completed on the Wisconsin side of the new St. Croix River bridge, on eastbound Hwy. 64 just east of the bridge.
Other completed projects include the pedestrian trail from the bridge to Houlton School Circle, also known as Old County E. That portion is the first leg of a5-mile loop that will continue over the Stillwater Lift Bridge and connect with the new bridge.
A park-and-ride lot was built where the trail currently ends near Houlton School. Paving is scheduled for 2018.