Dakota County has reduced its salt usage on county roads by 40 percent over the last eight years, according to County Commissioner Joe Atkins, who added that the county’s 2018 budget allots 25 percent less for salt materials while maintaining its effectiveness.

County workers have improved methods of applying salt and employees are trained better, Atkins said. And Kevin Schlangen, Dakota County fleet manager, said that truck equipment changes, both mechanical and computer-controlled, and different chemical combinations helped reduce the use of salt.

“It’s a great story that other agencies ask us about all the time,” he said, in an e-mail.

Road salt ends up in Minnesota’s lakes and rivers, and studies have shown that excessive use has a negative effect on ecosystems and threatens their ability to support native fish and plants.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says that groundwater in the metro area also is affected, with enough salt showing up in nearly a third of monitored wells to hurt aquatic life and affect the taste of drinking water.

ERIN ADLER

CHASKA

MnDOT awards $1.5 million for intersection

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has awarded $1.5 million to Carver County to help reconstruct the Hwy. 18 (Lyman Boulevard)-Hwy. 41 intersection in Chaska.

Plans for the $4.1 million project include a roundabout to allow vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists to safely pass through the intersection.

The intersection currently is controlled by a temporary traffic signal, which county officials said made it dangerous and overburdened. Traffic volumes are expected to grow there as nearby businesses expand.

For more information, visit MnDOT’s website at mndot.gov/funding/ted/index.html.

LIZ SAWYER

Savage

City seeks input on walkways, bike paths

Savage officials are seeking input from the public to help create safer walkways and bike paths in the city, as part of a comprehensive plan to make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to get around town.

The master plan, expected to be completed by this spring, aims to identify gaps and recommend improvements in the current pedestrian and bicycle network while also promoting the health benefits of an active lifestyle.

“Some of the improvements that come from this master plan might not be fully seen for another decade,” said Parks and Recreation Manager Greg Boatman, “but it’s important to start thinking now about what those changes could be.”

Parks and Recreation staffers will hold an open house for the public from 5 to 7 p.m. on Jan. 18 at the McColl Pond Environmental Learning Center, 13550 Dakota Av. S. Suggestions can also be submitted online at cityofsavage.com or called into the Parks and Recreation Department at 952-224-3423.

Residents have until Jan. 31 to submit their ideas.

LIZ SAWYER

Shakopee

St. Francis hospital adds wellness room

St. Francis Regional Medical Center opened an employee wellness room Wednesday to help employees combat stress.

The Shakopee hospital created the free 24/7 gym and relaxation space for doctors, nurses and other staff members to exercise and recharge before heading back to work.

Instructors also will host regular yoga classes to teach calming methods that help employees meet the mental and physical demands of the job. Yoga Nidra, a form of deep relaxation yoga where participants take a wakeful nap, has emerged as one of the more popular programs.

Hospital administrators have emphasized wellness in recent years, stressing the need for providers “to take care of themselves in order to take care of others.”

LIZ SAWYER

Lakeville

City adopts new newspaper for legal ads

The Lakeville City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to switch its official legal newspaper from the Sun Thisweek, a local newspaper covering the south metro area, to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

City officials chose the Pioneer Press because of its deadline flexibility for submitting notices, larger circulation and lower price. The Pioneer Press bid $6 per inch for printing notices while the Sun Thisweek bid $8.50 per inch along with a $20 typing fee, according to a city memo.

The Sun Thisweek has a weekly circulation of 16,497 readers, while the Pioneer Press has a daily circulation of 227,064 across the metro area.

Michael Jetchick, the Sun Thisweek’s sales manager, noted at the council meeting that his paper’s circulation consisted of local readers rather than residents of the entire metro area.

Council Member Luke Hellier said he initially had concerns about the change and wanted to ensure that citizens who don’t use the internet have access to city notices. He said the cost difference between the papers and the deadline flexibility convinced him that the Pioneer Press was a better choice.

State law requires cities to publish legal notices in an official newspaper. Justin Miller, Lakeville’s city administrator, noted that the city will continue to list weekly events in the Sun Thisweek.

ERIN ADLER

South St. Paul

Police to add three new squads this summer

South St. Paul police will add three new squad cars this summer to its fleet, replacing older vehicles that have high mileage and are becoming more expensive to maintain.

The cars are Ford Police Interceptor Utility squads, the department’s vehicle of choice since 2012. The vehicles will cost a total of $85,359, with funding coming from the central garage fund.

Two of the cars will be marked as patrol units, and one will be assigned to investigations.

ERIN ADLER