A proposal to charge for commercial use of city parks is being considered by the Stillwater City Council, whose members had conflicting opinions about the idea.

Increasing use of city parks for fitness boot camps, tennis lessons and other commercial ventures has sometimes restricted public use and filled parking lots, said Tim Moore, the city’s public works superintendent.

The Parks and Recreation Commission had worked on a draft policy and permit, and city staff had recommended a $30 fee for each commercial use, in addition to any regular park rental fees, limited to $1,000 a year.

Some City Council members, however, said they wanted to know how the city would distinguish between businesses and nonprofits, how much park repair and maintenance costs the city, and how much activity results from commercial events.

The proposal was tabled for further review.


Masonic history told at Warden’s Museum

Greg Guffey will give a free public presentation covering the 150-year history of the Cottage Grove Accacia Masonic Lodge on Sunday, July 26, at 2 p.m. at the Warden’s House Museum in Stillwater.

As a former Master of the Accacia Lodge, Guffey will present an insider’s perspective into the history of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota while exploring the historical context surrounding the foundation of the Accacia Lodge in 1865. By using original Lodge meeting minute books, Guffey will also provide insight into Masonic culture and its legacy.

The museum is at 602 Main St. N. For further information, or to schedule a tour of the museum, contact Sean Pallas at spallas.wchs@gmail.com or 651-439-5956.

Washington County

Federal grant helps child development

Washington County will receive an increase in federal money to provide home-visiting services to “significantly stressed first-time families” after the County Board approved the increase July 14.

The county receives a $62,500 Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting grant to help high-risk families. Goals include the support of healthy parent-child relationships, support for appropriate child development leading to school readiness, and family connections to community resources.

An additional 25 families will be served once the program is expanded.


County Road 13 gets sewer, safety upgrade

The Washington County Board has approved a $307,343 contract with SRF Consulting Group, Inc., to design pavement and safety improvements for County Road 13 in Oakdale and Lake Elmo.

The project is on Ideal Avenue North/Olson Lake Trail North between County Road 35 and 34th Street North (formerly Hwy. 5) and borders both cities. It will include new pavement, improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists, and better surface water drainage.

The project also will provide opportunities for residents now on septic systems to connect to city sewer. The contract will be funded with state aid money.


Pioneer Day celebration coming up in August

Newport’s annual Pioneer Day celebration will be held Sunday, Aug. 9, at Pioneer Memorial Park. Here is a schedule of events:

• A parade begins at 11 a.m. at Newport Fire Hall, 155 20th St. It will follow 2nd Avenue to 17th Street where it will go to 4th Avenue and then to Pioneer Park.

• Live music will be held from noon to 7 p.m. The Chad Edwards Band plays country from noon to 2 p.m. The Riddle Brothers, from 3-5 p.m., will play an eclectic acoustic blend of Americana music styles. Chris Olson will perform his Memories of Elvis show at 5:30 p.m.

• Balloon artist will make free creations from noon to 2 p.m.

The city seeks volunteers at the corn tent between 9 a.m. and noon. Contact Renee Eisenbeisz at 651-556-4601 or reisenbeisz@newportmn.com. For more information see http://ci.newport.mn.us/pioneer_day2011.php.

Cottage Grove

Garden awards to be announced

Winners for the Green Garden Award in Cottage Grove will be announced at the Aug. 5 City Council meeting.

The winners will be selected on overall appearance, visibility, variety, consistent color, creativity, upkeep of garden and interest throughout the growing season. Winners receive an engraved 80-pound monument stone — a smaller version of the city’s large monument signs — to add to their gardens. Awards have been given annually since 2007.

Kevin Giles