Hy-Vee project stirs traffic concerns

In a town hungry for more grocery options, Blaine’s largely welcome news that Hy-Vee has set its sights there is also stirring traffic concerns among some neighbors.

City Council members plan to weigh the Hy-Vee project at their Thursday meeting.

Hy-Vee wants to build a grocery store, gas station and car wash on the corner of NE. Jefferson Street and 125th Avenue. As part of the development, officials are proposing to extend Jefferson Street and connect it with 121st Avenue.

But the plan has raised concerns about increased traffic in the area, including the Crescent Ponds neighborhood and nearby schools. Neighbors cite rising traffic levels, on-street parking issues in Happy Acres Park and the impact on school traffic as key sticking points.

Hannah Covington

Hennepin County

County gives $500K to fight ash borer

The Hennepin County Board recently voted to award a total of $500,000 to local jurisdictions and groups to fight the emerald ash borer over the next decade.

A million trees — 15 percent of the county’s stock — are expected to be killed by the insect in the next five to 10 years, according to county officials. They hope the grants will help cities prepare for the infestation and monitor it.

The grants will be dispersed by the county’s Solid Waste Enterprise Fund to cities, schools, nonprofits and affordable housing providers. The money will help them complete tree inventories, protect and replace ash trees and plant different varieties.

“This will help us get out in front” of the problem, Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said.

Miguel Otárola

Washington County

Sheriff’s Office gets grant for DWI officer

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has received a $111,816 federal grant from the state Department of Public Safety for a new position to combat drunken driving.

The funding will pay the wages and benefits for a full-time DWI officer, whose sole job will be to use enforcement and education to reduce traffic casualties caused by impaired drivers in the county. The grant will pay for the position through September 2019.

“The deputy will be patrolling the streets and highways of Washington County looking strictly for impaired driving,” Sheriff Dan Starry said. He added that the officer will work peak nights and times when drunken driving occurs.

Mara Klecker

Dakota County

County voters using e-poll books this year

Voters in Dakota County this year are finding electronic poll books in place of paper rosters at their polling places.

E-poll books, which resemble iPads, will enable voters to check in faster before casting their ballots. They were used in the county for the August primary election and will be used again in November.

The cost of the new technology was $660,000. That includes $260,000 in state grant funds, $200,000 from the county and $200,000 from cities in the county.

Jurisdictions in Minnesota have been testing e-poll books since 2009. Crow Wing County was the first in the state to adopt e-poll books, and all Hennepin County precincts replaced printed books with e-poll books in 2017. They were first tested in Dakota County in 2014 in Burnsville.

Kevin Duchschere