Council OKs plans for Heritage Center

The Lakeville City Council voted 4-1 last week to approve design plans and authorize bid solicitation for the remodeling of the city's former police station into the Heritage Center for seniors and two other groups.

Bids are to be opened March 20, and winning bids will be presented to the council for approval on April 2, said City Administrator Steve Mielke.

The city will act as its own general contractor on the $1.12 million project, seeking firms to bid on various parts of the work, such as the electrical, plumbing or roofing portions. The remodeling is expected to be completed this fall.

The center will be used by seniors, the area historical society and the Lakeville Yellow Ribbon veterans service group.

Mayor Mark Bellows voted no, and Council Member Colleen LaBeau raised questions about the recent increase in the fundraising goal to $337,000, the amount needed to pay for the project without raising taxes.

The council will discuss the matter further at its March 26 work session, Mielke said.


Green thumbs can get a leg up on spring

It's time for gardeners to start dreaming about spring, and the Master Gardeners of Dakota County are preparing to offer a menu of classes and other activities at their spring expo on March 10.

Keynote speaker Bonnie Blodgett, a garden blogger, columnist and former editor of Mpls. St. Paul Magazine, will discuss how to "work with the surprises of nature while maintaining a coherent and visually pleasing design."

The classes, which will be taught by master gardeners, horticulturalists and University of Minnesota educators, include:

• Front Porch Container Gardens

• Totally Tomatoes and Basil

• New Landscape Shrubs

• What Will We Do When the Ash Trees Are Gone?

• Plant Propagation

• Shady Characters

The event is 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Rosemount Community Center, 13885 S. Robert Trail. Registration is required; call 651-480-7700 or see Admission is $35 and includes all classes, morning refreshments and lunch.


Is your kid's bike among the 75?

Shakopee recovered 75 bicycles last year, and they are looking for the owners.

If you can help, call 952-233-9478 or e-mail ecarlson@ci. Unclaimed bikes will be donated or auctioned.

A list of recovered bikes that includes brand, model and color is at cleList2011.pdf.


Hear more about the county's homeless

There's a community meeting tomorrow for those interested in issues concerning the homeless.

HeadingHome Scott-Carver is hosting the meeting, with guest speakers Barb Wold and Junita Cathey, executive director of Family Promise of Anoka. It will take place from 7-9 p.m. Thursday at St. John's Lutheran Church, 300 E. 4th St., Chaska.

To learn more, call Allison Streich at 952-448-7715, extension 2803.


Check out plans for new rapid busways

The folks who operate the MTC bus system are inviting you to hear about possibilities for more higher-speed busways, including at least two that would directly affect south-metro commuters.

There's a meeting tonight in Richfield aimed at sharing results from a study of 11 high-demand travel corridors. The corridors include Robert Street in eastern Dakota County and American Boulevard in Bloomington, an east-west corridor just south of Interstate 494 that could serve many south-of-the-river commuters.

Busways are intended to be faster and more reliable than normal buses, with a higher quality ride and faster connections. They stop less often; they board faster, much like trains; and they are able to hasten through traffic lights.

Boarding is onto low-floor vehicles, front or rear. Like light rail, fares are paid beforehand. Waiting areas are more sheltered, with better lighting and heat.

The meeting tonight is 6 to 8 p.m. at Richfield City Hall, 6700 Portland Av.

To learn more, and see a map of all 11 corridors throughout the metro, visit www.


Fundraiser for Mary Moon Foundation

The Mary Moon Foundation is planning its first "Make a Splash" event from 4-8 p.m. Sunday at Water Park of America in Bloomington.

Proceeds will go to the University of Minnesota's Amplatz Children's Hospital Child Family Life Services, to help fund art supplies, toys and games for hospitalized children.

Those who attend will enjoy unlimited access to the water park as well as games, an online auction and a silent auction.

The Mary Moon Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Apple Valley. It was founded in memory of Mary Jacqueline O'Keefe, nicknamed "Moon." She was 2 years old when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer that primarily strikes infants and toddlers. She died one year later.

During her hospital stays, toys, games, painting supplies, puppet shows and other activities provided by Child Family Life Services were a regular source of pleasure for her, her family says. The Mary Moon Foundation was founded by Mary's parents, Peter and Christine O'Keefe.

For more information, go to www.marymoonfoundation .org.


Top bus drivers named for 2011

The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority has named Denny Unze and Gary Thompson its drivers of the year for 2011.

Unze, who won the award for a full-time driver, has been with MVTA for more than four years and serves as a substitute on a variety of routes. His love of driving spans more than 40 years and many different vehicles: stock car, Bobcat, dump truck, Zamboni, fire trucks and buses. Customers have praised his welcoming disposition and care in making sure they get where they are going.

Thompson, who won the part-time driver award, has driven buses for MVTA for five years, most recently the express routes between Burnsville or Eagan and Minneapolis and between Eagan and St. Paul. Customers praised his professionalism, punctuality and great attitude. Both drivers are employees of Schmitty and Sons, the company MVTA contracts with for bus service.

Another Schmitty and Sons employee, project manager Connie Massengale, also was recognized for her hard work and care for her colleagues. She oversees daily bus operations at the Burnsville and Eagan bus garages.


Experts will examine effects of Savage sports dome

Savage has asked an outside engineering firm to respond to a petition for an environmental review of the sports dome proposed for Community Park.

Wenck Engineering will review the petition, filed by neighbors opposed to the idea, to decide whether an extensive environmental workup is justified, city officials have informed City Council members. The goal is to "eliminate any appearance of a conflict of interest in responding to the petitioners' concerns."

The report is expected to be completed this week, with formal action on the petition taking place at the council meeting on Monday.