Election judges get hourly pay bump
Ramsey County is giving election judges a temporary $4 hourly pay raise to help with recruitment and also to match salaries being paid in neighboring counties.
The County Board this month approved the pay hike, which will cost $145,000 and be covered by a federal COVID-19 relief grant offered through the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office. Election judges in the county now will be paid $14 to $20 an hour for the general election.
The need for election judges is greater than ever, given the surge in absentee ballot voting due to COVID-19. Ramsey County provides election judges for 12 municipalities and five school districts.
Refuge receives $1M in federal funding
The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, a 14,000-acre preserve stretching along the Minnesota River in the south and west metro suburbs, received $1 million in federal funding last month to mark Urban National Wildlife Refuge Day, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Minnesota Valley refuge is among 14 priority urban refuges in the country, identified for their potential as recreational areas near major metro areas.
There are a dozen units in the Minnesota Valley refuge, which borders 70 miles of the river from Henderson to Bloomington, where the visitor center is located.
Another refuge in the Great Lakes region, Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, also received a $1 million grant.
Vandalized band shell, plaza restored
Eagan city staffers and volunteers are working to restore the Central Park band shell and a plaza memorializing veterans and public safety officers that were vandalized after a protest rally in August.
The limestone Rotary Bandshell, engraved donor bricks and bronze statues representing police, firefighters and veterans in the Eagan Tribute and Memorial Plaza were spray-painted with graffiti.
Most of the paint was removed with powerwashing, and the statues have been restored, said Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Pimental. At least two dozen bricks are being touched up with paintbrushes by volunteers with the Eagan Lioness Club, said club president Barb Callister. The estimated total cost of repairs is $10,000.
City parks named for Ryan, Swanson
Two Blaine city parks have been named for longtime officeholders who are stepping down this year.
Town Square Park, also home to a veterans memorial, was renamed for Mayor Tom Ryan, who decided not to run this year after more than three decades of service to the city and 24 years as mayor.
First Ward Council Member Dick Swanson, who is leaving the council after 26 years, lobbied hard for the city's first dog park. Now it will be known as Swanson Dog Park.
Nonprofit executive and former legislator Tim Sanders will square off against sales manager and former City Council Member Mike Bourke in November for the mayoral chair. Jason Smith, an engineer for Boston Scientific, and business owner Tom Newland are vying to replace Swanson.