Southwest light-rail rated in best projects

The Sierra Club recently released a report naming the best transportation projects in the United States, including the proposed Southwest Light Rail Transit line, which is still years away from final approval and construction. It is to run from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.

The report, "Smart Choices, Less Traffic: 50 Best and Worst Transportation Projects in the United States," lists projects that the Sierra Club says moves the country beyond oil dependence. In Minnesota, the Southwest LRT project was the only project commended by the report, saying it will ease commuting to work and school for thousands of Minnesotans. The 15-mile line, if approved, would open in 2018 and go through Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Edina, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie.

One project made the report's "worst" list: the St. Croix River Crossing bridge project near Stillwater, which will replace the 80-year-old lift bridge spanning the river to western Wisconsin. The report criticized the project for setting a dangerous precedent in having Congress exempt it from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and opening up sprawling development in Wisconsin, which would increase pollution.

Go to www.startribune.com/a1957 to review the report.


Company donates stones for roundabout

The Peterson Management Group, which owns the Cedars of Edina apartment complex, has given nearly 35 tons of boulders to the city to decorate a new roundabout at W. 70th St. and Valley View Road.

The boulders, a mix of charcoal-colored slate and banded taconite, are from a mine in Hoyt Lakes, Minn., about an hour north of Duluth. Similar boulders had been used to landscape the apartment complex grounds.

The boulders will be used to anchor decorations on the new roundabout. City officials estimate the donation is worth about $15,000.


New City Council member appointed

The Golden Valley City Council has named Steven Schmidgall to the council seat vacated by Mike Freiberg, who is joining the Legislature.

Schmidgall is a longtime member of the city Planning Commission and also is active in Robbinsdale schools, where he has been chair of the district's financial advisory council. He works at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

Schmidgall will serve until election results are canvassed for the November 2013 election, when a special election will be held to fill the last two years of Freiberg's term.

Networking, resources for small businesses

Small-business owners and entrepreneurs are invited to a Golden Valley-New Hope Open to Business networking meeting at 8 a.m. on Jan. 3 at Golden Valley City Hall, 7800 Golden Valley Road.

Open to Business is a partnership between the two cities and the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers.

The program provides one-on-one business counseling to current and prospective entrepreneurs.

Upcoming office hours for walk-in meetings are Jan. 11 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Golden Valley City Hall and Feb. 12 from 2 to 4 p.m. at New Hope City Hall, 4401 Xylon Av. N.


Chamber presents 'That '70s Gala'

The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce will celebrate the music and fashions of the 1970s in its 24th annual fundraiser on Jan. 26.

Proceeds from the event -- which will feature a cocktail reception, silent auction, dinner, entertainment and dessert auction -- will go to civic projects in Bloomington.

The gala runs from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Westin Edina Galleria Hotel in Edina. Chamber members and non-members alike are welcome. Tickets are $79 each.

For more information or to register, go to www.minneapolischamber.org/gala or contact Anna Stinson at 612-370-9123 or astinson@bloomingtonchamber.org.

Authors sought for Writers Festival and Book Fair

The 10th annual Bloomington Writers Festival and Book Fair is seeking published authors and vendors that support authors or writers for the 2013 fair, which is March 23.

The application deadline to participate is Jan. 15. To apply, go to www.btacmn.org or contact Kate Pettit at lpettit@ gowebway.com or at 612-860-3359.


Citizens honored for bravery

The Hopkins police and fire departments honored five citizens for their heroics in a ceremony before the City Council last week.

Eliecer Ramirez Vargas and Rebecca Eckhoff were recognized for rescuing two residents from a condo fire on Dec. 19, 2011. The two stood on a patio table and lifted the residents from a second-story window.

Robert Grimm, Ken Noble and Dan Mengelkoch were honored for performing CPR on an unconscious man at Meadowbrook Golf Course on Nov. 7. The man was resuscitated.