The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has awarded Washington County Attorney Pete Orput a one-year grant to expand an initiative to halt the juvenile sex trade.

Orput appointed a new major crimes prosecutor last year to target those who recruit children for sex. That attorney, Imran Ali, has successfully prosecuted several high-profile cases, and he and his staff monitor internet sex advertising involving children.

The grant of $184,000, for 2017 will include money to hire a program coordinator who will oversee training for police, prosecutors and social workers who enforce sex-trafficking laws and help rescue victims, Orput said. The grant will also add support and technical assistance positions to expand Washington County’s role in “spearheading the sex trafficking effort in Minnesota,” he added.

Kevin Giles


City restricts sale of flavored tobacco products

The Shoreview City Council voted unanimously last week to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products in the city to one store, joining St. Paul and Minneapolis as the only cities in Minnesota to restrict flavored tobacco.

“Shoreview is showing leadership, as it has over the years,” Mayor Sandy Martin said. She added that the City Council was making “a good leadership decision and hopefully many more communities will follow us.”

Flavored tobacco products will be available only at one adults-only tobacco store in Shoreview.

Federal regulations prohibit flavoring in cigarettes, but not in other tobacco products.

Kevin Duchschere


Electric go-cart racetrack opens at business park

A new indoor racetrack at Northern Stacks business park in Fridley promises speed without the noise and fumes of traditional go-carts.

At MB2 Raceway, which officially opened last weekend, drivers can hit up to 45 mph in European-style electric go-carts that sell for about $11,000 each in Italy.

“They’re quieter, cleaner and more user-friendly,” said Mark Bonnell, a managing partner at MB2.

Junior carts are also on hand for kids at least 48 inches tall. The raceway is open every day. Hours and pricing details are available at

Between group events and walk-in drivers, Bonnell said he expects more than 100,000 customers to visit the Fridley facility each year.

The new racing center is one of six MB2 Raceway locations nationwide, with plans to open more in the coming months, Bonnell said.

Hannah Covington


Police begin carrying anti-overdose drug

Prior Lake Police is the latest public safety department to begin carrying the anti-overdose drug Narcan.

The drug is used to reverse the effects of an overdose, typically for people using prescription pain medications, heroin or other opioids.

Other public safety agencies, including the Minneapolis Fire Department and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, recently started carrying Narcan, which is also known by its generic name, naloxone.

Natalie Daher


City to wheel out new recycling carts with lids

New recycling carts with wheels and lids will soon replace the blue bins that now line curbs in St. Paul.

The city will start delivering the carts this week and will be distributing them through Jan. 14. Residents should not start using the carts until Jan. 16, according to the city.

The switch from bins to carts is one piece of an overhaul of St. Paul’s recycling process. Eureka Recycling will begin collecting recyclables from alleys for residents with alley access, and collection days will change in some areas.

For more information on changes, including new items that can be recycled, visit

Jessie Van Berkel