Edina is offering a new bus system that makes hourlong loops around the greater Southdale district once a week.
CloverRide, a service run by Twin Cities nonprofit DARTS, was launched by the city last week. The bus is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays, at a charge of $3 for the day.
Four stops are planned at senior homes and other residences — Aurora on France, Brookdale Edina, South Haven and Yorktown Continental — and six stops at local destinations and retailers — Centennial Lakes Park, Cub Foods, Lunds and Byerlys, Southdale Center, Target and the YMCA.
Riders also can request a pickup at a specific location by calling 651-234-2272, as long as it is within two blocks of regular route stops.
The bus, which has a capacity of 16 people, comes with a lift to load scooters, wheelchairs and walkers.
Edina Transportation Planner Mark Nolan said the route may change over time depending on where people stop the most. The bus schedule is available online at EdinaMN.gov/CloverRide/.
Council will fill Second Ward vacancy
The Minnetonka City Council last week decided it will fill an open council seat through appointment rather than election.
The seat came open when Council Member Tony Wagner, who represents the Second Ward, announced he planned to resign his position in mid-July. Wagner is moving out of the ward, located in the northeast quadrant of the city, to a home closer to his child's elementary school.
The council decided that it will appoint the new member in August, effective Aug. 20. He or she will serve out the remainder of Wagner's term, which ends in January 2020.
The council had to decide between appointing someone to fill the seat within 60 days of his resignation or holding a special election, most likely in November.
Council members said that a special election would leave the seat open for too long. Some also worried that having the election in conjunction with state and federal midterm races would open it up to partisanship.
"I'm just afraid that a Ward 2 race will be lost in all the noise," Council Member Tim Bergstedt said. "The sooner we can get a Ward 2 representative on the council, the better."
Second Ward residents who are interested in the position must file applications by July 16, according to city documents. Interviews are scheduled for July 30.
Hajder to take economic development post
There's a new economic development leader in Anoka County, and officials say she will play a key role as the county works to polish its image.
Anoka County commissioners unanimously approved Jacquel Hajder this month for the newly minted position of economic development specialist. Hajder, who most recently worked as housing and economic development coordinator for White Bear Lake, will act as a point person in Anoka County for cities and stakeholders, county officials said.
The new position is part of a broader initiative that aims to attract businesses, tackle perception issues and promote a unified message among Anoka County's diverse communities.
The initiative stems from a recent $40,000 study conducted by the county, Connexus Energy and MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce that examined the area's economic opportunities and obstacles, from commuter trends to branding strategies.
"This is a great first step in implementing that process," Commissioner Scott Schulte said at the June 12 County Board meeting.
Hajder, who has a bachelor's degree in real estate and finance from the University of St. Thomas, will be paid an annual salary of $80,000. She will begin her new job on July 9, according to county officials.
Crowded elections draw old, new faces
Voters in Columbia Heights are invited to a July 18 forum to meet candidates for several local races.
The closely watched races for Anoka County commissioner in the Fourth District and Columbia Heights mayor have attracted an array of new and familiar faces. Six people are vying for the mayoral seat, while four hopefuls have tossed their names into the hat for the County Board seat, which has been held by members of the Kordiak family for 64 years.
The forum is planned from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 590 40th Av. NE.
The primary election will be held Aug. 14 to narrow both races to two candidates each ahead of the general election in November. Also on the November ballot will be candidates vying for two open City Council seats.
School district's bond rating downgraded
Moody's Investor Service has lowered the Shakopee public school system's bond rating, the second such downgrade in less than a year.
The district fell two levels, from an A2 to a Baa1, earlier this month as a result of narrowing general fund reserves, mounting debt and pension burdens. The district, which has weathered back-to-back budget deficits, is now considered a moderate credit risk.
Moody's ratings are used by investors to determine the relative creditworthiness of securities being sold by school districts and other entities. A bond rating is similar to a credit score — better ratings result in better borrowing rates.
But Finance Director Jeff Priess remained optimistic, saying the bond rating was based on information reported during last year's audit. "The rating does not reflect the fact that the district projects a balanced budget for the current year and a surplus for the upcoming 2018-19 fiscal year," he said.
Interim Superintendent Gary Anger is hopeful next year will be different. "We continue to try and right the ship," he said.