Local leaders from Scott County, Prior Lake and Shakopee held a joint tribal relations conference with neighbors from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) on Tuesday to bolster community engagement.
The five-hour forum acted as an expedited history lesson, educating guests on Federal Indian policy, Indian culture and tribal lands.
Officials started planning the conference in early January to combat misperceptions posted on social media about the tribe and its impact on local municipalities. Prior Lake Mayor Kirt Briggs decried those anonymous postings as "foolishness," saying the town's relationship with SMSC was the most important relationship residents have.
"We share the same water," Briggs said. "Our community is one community."
SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig said historical trauma led to a lack of trust between previous tribal leaders and local governments, but relations have improved in recent years. Collaboration will be critical for their future, he said.
"We need to find ways to grow together, because we're sharing the same streets, sharing the same employees and our kids are going to the same schools," Vig said.
Shakopee Mayor Bill Mars called the event unprecedented. "This would have been unheard of 20 years ago," he said.
County attorney to run for re-election
Scott County Attorney Ron Hocevar has announced his bid for re-election to the position he has held since 2014.
Hocevar came to the county attorney's office in 1995 after serving in the Navy for four years as part of the Judge Advocate General's Corps. He soon rose to head of the criminal division and then chief deputy, a job he held for 12 years.
Hocevar leads an office of nearly 50 people and helps run the county's drug court and the Juvenile Crossover Youth Program, initiatives that help offenders turn their lives around, a news release said. He also serves as the co-chair of the Scott County Drug Prevention Task Force.
Hocevar initiated the transition to a paperless office to save money and improve efficiency, the release said.
He lives in Prior Lake with his wife, Marci, and two children. More information on Hocevar and his campaign can be found at: voteronhocevar.com.
Bill to rename bridge for local pilot advances
A bill that would rename a Hwy. 52 bridge for a local pilot who died in the Vietnam War is one step closer to fruition.
Rep. Anna Wills, R-Rosemount, authored legislation that would designate a bridge crossing County Road 42 in Rosemount "Warrant Officer Dennis A. Groth Memorial Bridge."
The bill (HF2908) passed the Ways and Means Committee Monday and is scheduled for a vote on the House floor after spring break ends April 8.
Groth was born in 1947 on his family farm and graduated from Rosemount High School. He served as a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War, dying in a crash in 1968 at the age of 21.
He was buried in the St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery. His birthplace, the high school and his grave site are all near the bridge.
West St. Paul
Training offered on how to run for office
The League of Women Voters Dakota County will hold an event in West St. Paul encouraging residents to run for public office and helping them learn about the process. It will also emphasize ways to become more civically engaged without holding an elected position.
Since 2002, nearly half of all West St. Paul elections have been uncontested, according to a League of Women Voters news release. The event will explain how to run for office, serve on committees or volunteer.
The night includes a presentation on how to run for office and a question-and-answer period with current elected officials. Panelists include Mayor Jenny Halverson and City Council member Dave Napier.
The event is scheduled for 6 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Wentworth Library, 199 East Wentworth Av.
Rotary funds protect firefighters from cancer
The Eagan Rotary raised $6,460 through an auction to pay for 60 anti-cancer protective hoods for members of the Eagan Fire Department, a Rotary news release said.
The department received the gift at the city's new fire station, which also was designed with many features aimed at reducing carcinogen exposure.
In 2016, Chief Mike Scott of the Eagan Fire Department explained the need for the hoods to the Rotary. Scott's father, a firefighter, died of cancer.
Scott told Rotary members that a firefighter has a 68 percent chance of dying of cancer, compared to the general public's 22 percent chance.
The new fire station includes a locker dedicated to the memory of firefighter Roy Prudencio, who died at age 50 of cancer in 2010.
The goal is for each firefighter to have two hoods, so that one will always be available, even if the other is being washed, Scott said in a Rotary news release.
The news release cited an article from an industry publication explaining that even when firefighters wear protective clothing, they have an increased rate of toxins in their body because the particles can be absorbed through the skin. The neck is especially vulnerable, the article said.
Nearly a decade ago, Rotarian fundraising allowed the department to buy a fire safety education trailer to teach the public about fire dangers and how to safely respond to them.