Traffic crossing the Stillwater Lift Bridge has declined after years of growth.

On average, 16,970 vehicles crossed the bridge daily through June of this year, according to data compiled by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. In 2010, the number for the same period was 17,914, the agency said.

About 120 more vehicles traveled west than those traveling east in both years. For example, westbound vehicles in 2010 averaged 9,018 daily, while eastbound vehicles totaled 8,896.

Counts for the latter half of 2011 and all of 2012 will be available in the spring of 2013, said spokesman Kevin Walker.

Housing developments in St. Croix County, Wis. -- and resulting commuter traffic -- drove increases in bridge traffic about six years ago. The county, however, was hit with a wave of tax delinquencies and sheriff sales of foreclosed properties in the past year.

Washington County

Commissioners adopt legislative positionsThe County Board has determined its priorities for the coming legislative session, which include:

•Local property tax protection, requesting that the state reduce the mandates that it places on the county to provide services and programs;

•Sale of tax-forfeited land, in which the county identifies properties that it wishes to sell that require legislative approval because they have more than 150 feet on water;

• Construction of a new St. Croix River bridge;

•A request for $1 million in state bond money for preliminary engineering work on the Gateway Corridor transitway;

•A trail link between the Hastings Bridge and Point Douglas Trail and a state-funded grade separation at Manning Avenue and the Brown's Creek State Trail;

•Funding for a grade separation between the planned Brown's Creek Trail and Manning Avenue (County Road 15.)

Campsite reservations begin in JanuaryThe Washington County Parks Division will begin taking reservations Jan. 3 for campsites and picnic shelters at Lake Elmo Park Reserve, St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park, Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park and Big Marine Park Reserve.

In-person reservations for these parks will be taken beginning at 9 a.m. at the Lake Elmo Park Reserve Office, 1515 Keats Av. N. in Lake Elmo, and at the St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park office, 10191 St. Croix Trail S. in Denmark Township. Telephone and online reservations will be accepted beginning at 11 a.m. by calling 651-430-8370 or going to the parks' website.

The campgrounds at Lake Elmo Park Reserve and St. Croix Bluffs will open April 27 and close Oct. 21. Picnic shelters at the county parks can be reserved for use from May through October.

Washington County vehicle permits are required for vehicles entering the parks. Annual permits are $25 and daily permits are $5. For information on Washington County Parks Division, see

Libraries to be closed Sundays and MondaysBeginning Jan. 1, all Washington County Libraries will be closed on Sundays and Mondays. In addition, the library system will shrink from nine branches to six.

The Washington County Board approved the plan at its Tuesday meeting. The system will operate on a budget of just under $6 million and provide service Tuesdays through Saturdays at Stafford in Woodbury, Hardwood Creek in Forest Lake, Park Grove in Cottage Grove, Oakdale, Wildwood in Mahtomedi and Valley in Lakeland.

The County will offer scaled back service in Marine on St. Croix and is looking at doing the same in Newport.

St. Paul Park

Coats of Kindness drive is underwayLast year, Eric Wenzel and his wife, Karen, collected coats for those in need to express their thanks for the support they received from the community and their church while Eric battled cancer and beat it. They gathered 450 coats and $500 for the Stone Soup thrift shop in St. Paul Park.

The Wenzels are back at it again this year. Their effort has evolved into a new charity called Coats of Kindness. They have put drop boxes at Warners' Stellian stores throughout the metro area, along with Fury Motors in South St. Paul and Lake Elmo and their church, All Saints Lutheran Church in Cottage Grove.

From now through Jan. 15, people can drop off new or gently used coats and jackets of all sizes as well as snow pants, hats and gloves. Drop boxes will be emptied regularly, and items will be distributed to local charitable organizations. For more information, go to or call 612-567-2628.


Library board seeks new memberIf you are interested in libraries and live in Stillwater, the Stillwater Library Board of Trustees could use you. The city is accepting applications through 4:30 p.m. Monday to fill a seat on the board, which is the governing and policy-making body for the library.

Applications are available at the library, at 224 N. 3rd St., or at City Hall. For more information, call 651-275-4338, ext. 118.

Kevin Giles, Tim Harlow and JOY POWELL