Hastings’ search for a new fire chief is on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, City Administrator Dan Wietecha said last week.

Assistant Fire Chief John Townsend, who the council chose as interim chief last fall, will remain in charge until the city resumes the search.

Townsend took over when Fire Chief Mike Schutt resigned after an investigation showed he used poor judgment in telling firefighters to lift a heavy generator off a city building, endangering employees working inside and destroying the generator.

The City Council offered the job to Brian Carlson, Burnsville’s assistant fire chief, in early February, but the conditional job offer fell through about a month later. Wietecha has declined to say why.

Erin Adler


County closes water park for summer

Battle Creek Waterworks, Ramsey County’s youth water park in Maplewood, will be closed this summer to protect the public against the coronavirus outbreak, officials said.

The county’s swimming beaches also will remain closed, with no lifeguards on duty. The Parks and Recreation and Public Health departments will monitor the situation to determine if and when the beaches may reopen.

Each summer, more than 26,000 people visit Battle Creek Waterworks, a water attraction for kids 12 and under. County officials have considered adding amenities to the water park for older visitors.

Shannon Prather


Council cutting parks staff, programs

The Lino Lakes City Council has laid off a full-time supervisor and part-time office specialist in the Parks and Recreation Department after deciding to cancel all summer parks programs and events because of the coronavirus pandemic.

City Administrator Jeff Karlson said dozens of seasonal staffers, mostly high school and college students, won’t be hired or undergo training that typically takes place in May.

The summer events canceled include Blue Heron Days, the city’s largest festival; Rockin’ in the Park and the Family Corn Roast. Parks and trails remain open, but playground equipment is off limits.

City officials issued a statement that since the state projects the highest demand for intensive care units for early to mid-July, safety precautions will be necessary into August.



Historical Society holds photo contest

The Carver County Historical Society is holding a contest to find the oldest graduation photo in its online collection, in support of the members of the Class of 2020 who won’t have graduation events this year because of the pandemic.

The Historical Society is offering free public access to its 17,000-plus photos, normally available only to members, through May.

To enter the contest, go to the society’s website and log in to “Photo Research for Members,” then enter the username cchsMay and the password 1DQrFU1Au6V1. Choose a photo and post it on the Historical Society’s Facebook page. The winner gets a year’s membership in the society and free access to its photos.

The contest was inspired by the posting on Facebook of old graduation photos in honor of the Class of 2020.