City bans picketing in residential areas

Ramsey has joined the growing list of cities that prohibit targeted picketing in residential areas.

The City Council on Tuesday approved the measure 6-1, with Council Member Chelsee Howell casting the dissenting vote. She supported the spirit of the law, she said, but would rather "do that with laws we already have."

Though the city of about 28,000 residents in northwest Anoka County has not had any cases of picketing in neighborhoods, Police Chief Jeff Katers said the measure is aimed at keeping residential areas peaceful and safe, but still allowing protesters to gather in other parts of the city.

"People can come here to this public [City Council] meeting and express disagreements," said Council Member Debra Musgrove.

In August, Black Lives Matter protesters assembled outside the Hugo home of former Minneapolis Police Federation President Bob Kroll. In response, Hugo banned residential picketing. Since then Lino Lakes, Centerville, Otsego, Elk River, Lake Elmo and Andover are among the latest to adopt the ordinances.

Tim Harlow

White Bear Lake

Water nonprofit chooses next leader

H20 for Life, a White Bear Lake-based nonprofit organization fighting the global water crisis, has named Doug Niemela of White Bear Lake as its next leader.

The organization began after students and staff at New Brighton's Highview Middle School in 2007 raised funds to build a water project at a Kenyan village.

Nearly 994 projects later, H20 for Life has paired 1,787 schools in North America with schools in the developing world to help pay for water, sanitation and hygiene education projects. Some 449,700 students in Africa, Asia and Latin America now have access to clean drinking water as a result.

Matt McKinney

Anoka County

First-half property tax deadline extended

The Anoka County Board has granted a one-month extension on property taxes, pushing the due date on taxes for the first half of the year to June 15.

The reprieve applies only to property owners who do not escrow their taxes and have annual property taxes under $50,000 for all properties owned. A completed application must be submitted to qualify for the extension. It is available at bit.ly/3aP1Te4.

The board cited the economic impacts of the pandemic as the reason for extending the deadline.

"We hope this resolution helps ease the fears of our residents and small business owners," said Board Chairman Scott Schulte.

Tim Harlow

Prior Lake

City approves ban on bridge jumping

Prior Lake has banned bridge jumping in the city after it became a favorite youth pastime at a specific bridge over part of the lake last summer.

Kids were jumping the 8 feet off the bridge to Martinson Island and into Lower Prior Lake, said Mayor Kirt Briggs.

No injuries were reported, but it was difficult for boats to see the kids and vice versa, Briggs said.

"It sounds far more dramatic than it actually is," said Briggs of the activity. "[The ordinance] is totally preventative."

Erin Adler