south metro

Candlelit winter outings kick off soon

A New Year’s Eve event at Fort Snelling State Park is one of the first of 30 candlelit outings this winter at state parks and trails.

The outings are for skiing, snowshoeing and hiking. They are designed to be family-friendly, on easy terrain, suitable for all ages and abilities.

The Dec. 31 walk at Fort Snelling has drawn 1,500 or more participants in past years, state officials report. Dates and times can be found at

Trails are lined with lanterns or luminaries, and later there are refreshments and a warm-up by a fire.

Some parks rent equipment — typically $6 per person for snowshoes or $10 for cross-country skis, boots and poles.

A vehicle permit is required — $5 for a one-day permit or $25 year-round. Skiers age 16 and older also need a ski pass — $6 for one day or $20 for a season.

The New Year’s Eve event is from 4 to 8 p.m.


Cable rates to rise; firm blames others

Mediacom has notified officials in Savage of upcoming hikes — what the company calls “rate adjustments” — in the cost of cable TV.

Starting in January, for instance, the cost of Showtime rises $2, to $14.95, Starz goes up $2 to $11, and HBO rises $1 to $17.95.

A “local broadcast station surcharge” goes up from $1.61 to $2.12. That’s intended to draw attention, a company official wrote, to the “unjustified fee increases” demanded by local stations.

The letter added that it’s not just those stations; cable and satellite firms are “constantly being pressured by the programmers we buy from to pay more for the channels we carry.”


City’s downtown park is only suburb lauded

Nicollet Commons Park in Burnsville’s “Heart of the City” is the only suburban site to be recognized as one of the Twin Cities area’s “best places.”

The park, on Nicollet Avenue a few blocks south of Hwy. 13, was given that honor by the Minnesota Sensible Land Use Coalition, a group of public and private sector officials ­concerned with planning issues.

It was one of six places recognized in what is a first effort for the group.

The park has a 250-seat amphitheater, green space and a long artificial creek in which kids play on warm days. The group described it as “a true community gathering space transformed from a suburban strip center.”

In all, 32 places were nominated, and winners included the Bruce Vento Nature Center in St. Paul; the Loppet, a ski event at the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes; the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis; Piazza on the Mall in downtown Minneapolis; and Rice Park in downtown St. Paul.

Outdoor skating to start this week

Burnsville’s outdoor skating rinks and warming houses are expected to open this week, if weather permits.

The city has 13 parks with outdoor skating; it has warming houses at 12, the exception being West Buck Hill.

Wednesday nights are for open hockey.

Outdoor skating sites include Civic Center Park, Highland Forest Park, Knob Hill Park, Neill Park, North River Hills Park, Northview Park, Paha Sapa Park, Red Oak Park, South River Hills Park, Terrace Oaks East Park, Timberland Knolls Park, Vista View Park and West Buck Hill.

Dakota County

Citizens named to advise Met Council

The Metropolitan Council has appointed new members to two key advisory groups: the Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission, and the Land Use Advisory Committee.

On the parks commission, Robert Moeller of Chaska will represent District B, which covers much of western Scott County as well as a chunk of the west metro. The council’s tendency for decades to have Scott County represented by someone from Carver County has been a longtime source of tension and continues with this appointment.

Barbara Schmidt of Eagan continues to represent District H, which covers Dakota and part of Scott.

There also are three appointments to the Land Use Advisory Committee, which advises on planning.

From the south metro, that includes James McLean, representing St. Paul and northern Dakota County, and Colleen Ratzlaff Labeau, a Lakeville City Council member, representing southern Dakota County.

Staff reports