As the city of St. Cloud prepares to upgrade some of its downtown corridors next year, the City Council has hired a firm to give those improvements some consistency.

Two projects are scheduled for construction in 2017 — one on 5th Avenue and one on St. Germain Street. The council approved spending $100,000 with the company Stantec to create a downtown streetscape and urban design plan. That will involve surveying the space and doing design work with the community.

“We want to make sure all the projects that happen next year and in the future build off the same aesthetic,” said Community Development Director Matt Glaesman.

That means choosing materials and colors for potential amenities such as banner poles and flower beds, Glaesman said. “Those are the kinds of decisions that would come as part of this,” he said.

Pam Louwagie

Rochester

‘Rocket Docket’ premieres in Olmsted County courts

It’s got a catchy name: Rocket Docket. And its goal is to speed up some civil cases in Olmsted County courtrooms.

Beginning July 1, Olmsted County will join courts in Hennepin, Dakota and St. Louis counties in a pilot project to speed up discovery and assign trial dates within four to six months of case filings.

Civil cases assigned to the expedited system include consumer credit contracts, other contracts, personal injury and conciliation court appeals. Those kind of cases represent more than half of all major civil cases filed in Minnesota in 2015.

In 2015, an evaluation of the pilot project from Dakota and St. Louis counties showed modest improvement in the time it took to dispose of cases.

Attorneys and litigants reported that the process improved the overall quality of justice and access to the courts.

Mark Brunswick

Rochester

Food trucks approved for downtown, coming soon

A new food truck law finally passed out of City Hall last week after months of City Council debate, a mayoral veto and a healthy public discussion about small business.

The new law allows trucks to operate in a downtown zone after vendors pay a $150 license fee and a $1,100 franchise fee.

City Council Member Michael Wojcik said he was disappointed the fee was set that high, saying anti-food-truck forces were worried that the mobile vendors would undercut restaurants. The fee levels were enough to chase at least one potential vendor away, he said.

Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede has said he favors traditional restaurants, but plenty of local residents and Mayo Clinic employees asked the council to help bring the popular food-truck scene to city streets.

Applications were made available the day after the law passed, and trucks could start appearing soon.

Matt McKinney