Anoka’s 100th anniversary Halloween Festival is on this year, with 15 virtual and drive-by events designed to protect participants from COVID-19.

“We finally came up with a schedule that is doable in these crazy times,” said Liz McFarland, the festival’s president, in a Facebook video announcing this year’s program.

Events will include outdoor movie nights, a virtual Orange Tie gala and auction, scavenger and medallion hunts, drive-in bingo, pumpkin carving and house decoration contests. It will end Oct. 31 with a drive-by Grand Day Parade.

Officials had been planning a special event this year to mark the centennial of Anoka’s first Halloween event in 1920.



City looks to revise fence ordinance

Hopkins city officials are in the process of revising the city’s fencing ordinance to make it simpler and allow taller and opaque fences in some cases.

The City Council last week approved the first reading of two zoning amendments. The changes would allow 6-foot fences to extend up to the front wall of a house, and permit 4-foot fences — allowed in front yards — to be made of completely opaque or solid material. Four-foot fences currently must be 25% open.

Fencing rules in Hopkins have been “unnecessarily complex and resulted in struggles and frustration,” according to a city memo. The changes address common concerns, said City Planner Jason Lindahl. The ordinance’s final reading will occur later this month, and Lindahl said he expects it to be approved.



More COVID-19 testing available soon

More COVID-19 testing will be available for high-risk populations in Washington County, mostly at long-term care and group homes, following the County Board’s vote on Tuesday to approve a $500,000 contract with Bluestone Physician Services.

The contract will be paid for with funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. County officials will look for ways to offer testing for more groups, including those with COVID-19 symptoms and asymptomatic people who either require medical care or are connected to a public health investigation or known COVID-19 exposure.

Washington County has seen more than 3,100 cases and more than 50 deaths, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Matt McKinney

Apple Valley

City hires firm to help in parks head hunt

The Apple Valley City Council has hired Minneapolis-based HueLife to help conduct a search for a new city Parks and Recreation director.

The council approved a contract with the consulting firm not to exceed $12,000, plus expenses, to recruit a final field of five candidates.

Parks and Recreation Director Barry Bernstein died unexpectedly in March at age 54, after leading the parks department in Apple Valley for seven years. Since Bernstein’s death, Parks Maintenance Superintendent Mike Endres has served as the department’s acting director, but he has told city officials that he wants to return to his regular job by the end of the year.

Applications will be due by mid-October, and final interviews are set for November.