Hennepin County will encourage voting through the mail this year rather than in person to keep voters and election workers safe from COVID-19, Ginny Gelms, the county’s election manager, said last week.

Gelms, briefing the County Board on Thursday, said the elections division will need additional resources to handle the expected increase in absentee voting and processing changes needed to keep elections workers as safe as possible. The county distributed about 90,000 absentee ballots in 2016; this year, it expects demand will reach 360,000 ballots.

Several commissioners raised concerns about additional costs, which Gelms said would be about $3 more per ballot.



Four board members draw challengers

All four Anoka County commissioners up for re-election this year will face challengers in November following the closing of candidate filings Tuesday.

Incumbent Matt Look will face John LeTourneau in the First District; Board Vice Chairwoman Julie Braastad will face Noel Lutsey in the Second District, and incumbent Robyn West will face Nyle Zikmund in the Third District.

Sixth District Commissioner Jeff Reinert, who won a special election in February, will again face Cindy Hansen along with a second challenger, Kevin Ryan.

A primary election on Aug. 11 will determine which two candidates advance to the Nov. 3 general election.



Council OKs housing for homeless families

Despite neighborhood opposition, the Shakopee City Council last week approved three measures to construct Prairie Pointe, a 46-unit building for homeless families.

The complex will be built by Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative at 4th Avenue and Sarazin Street. It will offer social services on site.

Many residents noted the growing local need for such housing. The Rev. Gary Kinkel, senior pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, urged the council to value children more than money.

Others said the location wasn’t suitable for various reasons, including the building’s height and a lack of screening and green space. “We are not inner city,” said Kelly Callahan-Ennenga.

Erin Adler


Lift Bridge resumes daily lift schedule

The historic Stillwater Lift Bridge, newly restored and reopened, is now operating on a daily schedule, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The bridge’s span will rise for boat traffic every 30 minutes between 8 a.m. and midnight seven days a week until the end of the season, usually around Oct. 15.

Bridge tenders may raise the lifting span after hours if given a two-hour notice. Boaters may call 651-234-7110 to schedule a bridge lift outside regular hours, or relay requests by marine radio. During periods of the day when the bridge is staffed, bridge tenders will monitor channel 16 on the marine band radio.

The bridge carries Hwy. 36 over the St. Croix River between Stillwater and Houlton, Wis.

According to MnDOT, the style of the bridge, which was built in 1931, was originally developed by engineer J.A.L. Waddell in 1892 and refined in partnership with engineer John Lyle Harrington. The two designed many varieties of movable bridges in the early 20th century.

MnDOT has a printable lift schedule available at mndot.gov/metro/projects/liftbridge/schedule.html.

Matt McKinney