The Ramsey County Regional Authority last week approved an agreement allowing Minneapolis nonprofit Appetite for Change to take over a restaurant in the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul next month, at the request of the restaurant’s operator.

Kaskaid Hospitality, which operates the Union Depot Bar and Grill in the historic building, reported that sales were slow and asked Ramsey County, which owns the depot, to allow it to subcontract operations to the nonprofit.

Appetite for Change will rebrand the restaurant as Station 81 and the catering service as Breaking Bread Catering, offering locally sourced, made-from-scratch cuisine.

All revenue from the nonprofit’s business ventures goes to promote local food, urban agriculture and food justice.

Shannon Prather


Accessible mini-golf course work is done

Contractors wrapped up construction last week on an accessible nine-hole mini-golf course at King Park in Lake­ville, a course designed for children with cognitive and physical disabilities.

“With its completion, I would wager that we are the only city in the state that has a baseball field, park and mini-golf course that is accessible for all, regardless of physical ability,” City Administrator Justin Miller said in an e-mail.

Workers broke ground in July on the course, which features 20- to 77-foot holes and a central plaza area. It’s next to a fully accessible playground area and to Miracle Field, where kids with disabilities can play baseball.

The course, entirely funded through local donations, will open in spring 2020.

Erin Adler

Anoka County

Funding sought for Hwy. 10/169 project

Officials plan to seek more than $100 million in state funding to improve the safety and functionality of Hwy. 10/169, a multimodal transportation link that includes the BNSF Railway.

A coalition of state, county and city officials met last week to discuss securing funding for the $138 million final phase of a project more than six years in the making.

The first phase, which cost $43 million and focused on Armstrong Boulevard, wrapped up in 2017, Commissioner Scott Schulte said. The fully funded $80 million second phase, to build separate highway lanes in the city of Anoka, will begin in 2021. Officials hope to begin the final phase in 2023 separating the highway from the rail line.

Kim Hyatt


Specken again wins Fire Officer of Year

Hopkins Fire Chief Dale Specken has been named Fire Officer of the Year in Minnesota for cities with more than 10,000 residents.

It’s the second time that Specken has received the award from the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association, which honored him similarly in 2010. He’s the first chief to receive it twice. Recipients are nominated by their peers.

The award recognizes leadership, innovation and service to the public. Specken will receive a $1,200 grant for a project approved by the State Fire Chiefs Association.

Specken, a lifelong Hopkins resident, has worked for the fire department for 30 years. He also serves as the city’s fire marshal and emergency preparedness director.

Mara Klecker