Vermillion River Regional Greenway trail is now mostly complete and ready for public use. The 4,700-foot trail segment incudes a 140-foot steel truss bridge and crosses the southern rim of the Vermillion River Gorge, passing beneath a bridge and through the properties containing the Minnesota Veterans Home and MnDOT Truck Station.

The project’s completion closes a gap in the city’s trail system so that people can experience a full 10-mile circuit around Hastings. The trail also connects to the Mississippi River Trail in multiple locations and will link to a Washington County trail, which will lead to Prescott, Wis., when completed.

The city-led project received a federal transportation grant for 80 percent of construction costs, with Dakota County picking up the balance.

For more information and a map, go to

Erin Adler

Mendota Heights

City Council votes down land-use change

The Mendota Heights City Council voted 3-2 to nix a controversial request to change the designation of land next to three properties to medium-density residential from low-density residential. The change would have allowed developers to build condominiums or apartments on the lots.

The Planning Commission had recommended approval.

A handful of residents attended the July 5 City Council meeting to object. They said building a multifamily project on the site would cause traffic and groundwater problems. Others were concerned about the project’s density.

Talaia Bowen, one of the property owners, said she had no current plans to develop the land but wanted the option to do so. Any developer interested in building something there would have to address any water or environmental concerns before moving forward, Bowen said.

Council Member Ultan Duggan said he objected to changing the designation of the parcel, located at the intersection of Sibley Memorial Highway and Lexington Avenue, without a specific project to consider. Duggan said he didn’t understand the motivation for the change.

Council Member Liz Petschel noted that cities often plan for future land use, including in their comprehensive plans, and that the council had approved land use changes on another corner.

Erin Adler

Dakota County

Forum to address plans for homeless shelters

The Dakota County Emergency Shelter Project is making plans to set up a temporary shelter by Nov. 1, building on its work last winter at a shelter that roved among several churches and served 78 people. Eventually, the group plans to create a permanent shelter to house homeless people in the south metro.

The public is invited to a community forum to discuss both goals from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Aug. 10 at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, 12650 Johnny Cake Ridge Road, Apple Valley.

Erin Adler

Dakota County

Two Fix-It Clinics are in the works

Help isn’t far away for Dakota County residents who want help repairing a variety of household items.

The county will hold two Fix-It Clinics at local libraries where participants can learn how to mend clothing, repair lamps and fix broken gardening tools. The goal is to reduce trash while helping people gain confidence in their ability to make repairs.

The clinics are scheduled as follows:

Aug. 19, noon to 3 p.m., at Burnhaven Library (1101 W. County Road 42, Burnsville).

Sept. 16, noon to 3 p.m., at Inver Glen Library (8098 Blaine Av., Inver Grove Heights).

Volunteers will guide residents through the repair process. Participants can bring up to five items, such as old radios, vacuum cleaners or damaged clothing, for repairs.

Erin Adler


Ridgeview Medical hires new president

The Ridgeview Medical Center board of directors has unanimously selected Michael Phelps as the institution’s next president and CEO.

Phelps will replace Robert Stevens, who will retire at the end of 2017 after 21 years on the job. Under his leadership, the regional health care system has grown from 800 employees in 1996 to 2,000 employees, 500 volunteers and more than 600 credentialed providers on its medical staff.

“Ridgeview is financially and operationally strong, positioned well for the future and committed to stability and independence under the new leadership of Mike Phelps,” said Board Chairman Mitchell Kilian.

Phelps has served in a variety of roles over the past 13 years at Ridgeview, where he most recently held the title of chief operating officer. In his executive roles, Phelps led operations for the agency’s network of hospitals, clinics and outreach programs in Ridgeview’s six-county service area. He also spearheaded many of the company’s expansion projects and oversaw financial operations.

Stevens will remain on the payroll through the end of the year to help Phelps, officials said.

Colleagues praised Stevens for moving Ridgeview from a city-owned hospital and two locations to an independent, nonprofit system with three hospitals in Waconia, Arlington and Le Sueur, 12 primary care clinics and a host of other outreach initiatives.