The lift span of the historic Stillwater Lift Bridge was raised and locked into place Thursday, signaling the start of the navigation season on the St. Croix River.

The bridge, built in 1931, has been closed since 2017 for renovations. State officials planned to complete repairs to the lifting mechanism and bridge deck for a grand opening in May, but the corona­virus pandemic has pushed back those plans.

Some minor renovations on the bridge’s lighting and lifting systems remain, and the U.S. Coast Guard’s lift bridge schedule was expected to resume once that work is complete, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The lift bridge usually runs May 15 to Oct. 15, staffed daily from 8 a.m. to midnight.



County Board OKs funding for rape kits

The Hennepin County Board has approved a $520,000 contract with the state to ease the backlog of more than 1,700 untested sexual assault kits, most of them in Minneapolis.

The funding will pay for two Bureau of Criminal Apprehension analysts to test the kits, along with necessary supplies. Minneapolis also is paying for two analysts to help the BCA catch up on the kits.

Each analyst typically can test 300 kits a year, according to the BCA, though testing times can vary per case. The contract promises forensic results and evidence to prosecute sexual assault crimes.

An internal review last fall revealed that Minneapolis had an estimated 1,700 untested rape kits, some dating as far back as the 1990s.


South Metro

Muni liquor stores coping with virus

South metro cities with municipal liquor stores are seeking to meet challenges posed by COVID-19, along with high demand from customers in some cases.

Lakeville’s stores closed Friday and reopened Tuesday with new sanitation measures in place, City Administrator Justin Miller said.

“We were just getting really slammed, and it was getting to be unsafe,” he said.

The city’s Galaxie and Kenrick stores (Heritage is closed for renovations) set up self-service checkouts and are taking only credit or debit cards.

Apple Valley closed its three stores last week for “restructuring” in an effort to “conduct our retail business in the safest environment possible,” the city website said. Farmington closed its two stores March 19, and Savage’s stores are open but closing early.



City denies massage business application

The Ramsey City Council last week followed Police Chief Jeff Katers’ recommendation to deny an application for a new massage business.

Yunxia Gong wanted to open a business called “Gong Massage.” But after a background check, Katers found that Gong attended the American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Rose­ville, which had its registration as an approved school of massage therapy revoked by the state last month.

The revocation stemmed from an investigation by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education of the legitimacy of its programming for massage therapy. The school remains open and is in negotiations with state officials.