An advocacy group hoping to call attention to the economic impact of hunting and shooting sports found a strong show of support last week from the Anoka County Board.
The board unanimously approved a resolution to back Hunting Works for Minnesota, a grassroots coalition that promotes hunting and recreational shooting sports and the role they play in the local economy.
“This is actually a very historic day because Anoka County is the first county in America that is recognizing the Hunting Works project,” Ryan Bronson, of Federal Premium Ammunition, told commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting.
“We are going to go around the country now and try to get other counties … to also adopt resolutions similar to what’s on board today.”
More than 500,000 licensed hunters live in Minnesota and spend more than $733 million on hunting activities each year, according to the resolution.
County officials noted the north metro’s strong outdoor traditions and the hunting companies located there, including the annual Game Fair in Ramsey and Federal Premium Ammunition in Anoka.
“We certainly will share this with our colleagues in other counties and encourage them to do the same,” Board Chairwoman Rhonda Sivarajah said of the resolution.
According to its website, Hunting Works advocates for public policy that promotes hunting and shooting and the role they play in the state’s heritage and economic health.
The city of Anoka became a partner of Hunting Works in April.
City Council raises age to buy tobacco to 21
Roseville has become one of the latest metro suburbs to raise the legal age to buy cigarettes, tobacco, tobacco products and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21.
The new rules will take effect July 18, a month after the City Council approved them unanimously.
At least 11 cities in Minnesota have now raised the legal age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes. Edina was the first to do so in May, and was quickly followed by Shoreview, Falcon Heights and Minneapolis. Others include St. Louis Park, Bloomington, Plymouth, North Mankato, St. Peter and Richfield.
Roseville City Council Member Robert Willmus, who raised the issue in November, said the measure will prevent those under 18 from starting to smoke and “prevent ... 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds from getting even younger kids to start.”
The Minnesota Department of Health estimates that raising the legal age cuts the number of 15- to 17-year-olds who start smoking by 25 percent. Nearly all tobacco users start before they are 21, according to the Health Department.
Health officials also say they are concerned by the rapid rise of vaping. In 2017, more than 19 percent of Minnesota high school students used e-cigarettes, up notably from three years ago, while use of traditional cigarettes is at an all-time low of 9 percent, according to Health Department data.
Greg Stanley and Tim Harlow
Cunningham starts new role as fire chief
T. John Cunningham took over last month as fire chief of the Brooklyn Park department, almost a year after the department’s previous chief resigned.
Cunningham has more than two decades of experience in firefighting, most recently serving as Elk River’s fire chief and director of emergency management. He is currently the president of the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association.
First on Cunningham’s agenda, he said, was to get to know his staff and community members.
“I look at this as a new beginning,” he said. “The best thing for me to do is learn where we’re at today and focus on building on the foundation that’s already been laid in front of me.”
The position was opened after Fire Chief Ken Prillaman stepped down in July 2017. Some city leaders say Prillaman was pushed out by “a culture of hostility” involving a council member who had worked for years as a paid on-call firefighter.
Oak Park Heights
Bridge sign tells climbers to beware
At the direction of the Oak Park Heights City Council, the Minnesota Department of Transportation erected a sign last week on the new St. Croix River bridge warning pedestrians and cyclists that climbing on or over bridge railings could cost them a $1,000 fine.
The council approved the sign to reduce distractions for drivers, who often call police if they think someone is about to jump, City Administrator Eric Johnson said. The sign reads “CAUTION” and cites the city’s public nuisance ordinance affecting peace and safety.
“Whether they’re taking pictures of themselves or for just a thrill, it would cause some drivers to be concerned about them and dial 911,” Johnson said. “That then could trigger a police response or other departmental response, and that’s what we’re trying to prevent. … If we see somebody doing this, we’re going to write you a ticket.”
Keeping people safe was a factor as well, he said. A loud noise could startle a climber, he said, causing them to “lose their grip.” The sign is posted on the north side of the bridge, off the pedestrian trail that crosses the bridge.
Vets’ memorial to be dedicated at park
A memorial to veterans will be dedicated Saturday at Coon Lake County Park.
The memorial, erected with the help of Anoka County and community groups, is near the Coon Lake beach facility. It features two benches, a memorial stone with a plaque and seven flags, including the American flag, the MIA/POW flag and one for each of the U.S. armed forces.
“I think it’s an important project for the community, to have a space to reflect on those who have served and will serve our country,” said Anoka County Parks Director Jeff Perry, said in a news release.
The dedication will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Those wishing to attend should call 763-439-8017.