Washington County’s communications antenna will be moved from the Allen S. King Power Plant in Bayport to a tower across the river in Houlton following an agreement the County Board reached with St. Croix County, Wis., last month.

St. Croix County has been using an antenna on the King plant’s smokestack. But a rent increase and the coal plant’s uncertain future led the county to work with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to build a new 330-foot tower in Houlton for the antenna.

Washington County decided to join them and will make a one-time payment of $100,000 to St. Croix County for use of the Houlton tower. Washington County pays Xcel Energy about $12,000 a year for use of the King plant.

Mara Klecker


Activities Center opens its doors

The $27 million Orono Activities Center at Orono High School opens Sunday, giving both students and residents a new place to work out and play sports.

The center, built by the school district but also serving as a community center, features five basketball courts that can be used for volleyball, pickleball or tennis. It includes classrooms, baseball and golf cages, a weight room and cardio room and tracks for running and walking.

The center, at more than 96,000 square feet, increases the size of the high school by half, said manager Marie Moore. “The students will benefit from having such a wonderful facility to use as classroom space and fitness area,” she said.

Katy Read

Brooklyn Center

Council weighing backyard beekeeping

The Brooklyn Center City Council will hold a public hearing Feb. 11 on an ordinance to allow backyard beekeeping, a proposal that won approval from the council on its first reading last month.

Under the ordinance, up to four hives would be allowed in eligible residential areas. Beekeepers would have to pay a fee and register with the city, which could deny an application if a neighbor had a documented bee allergy.

City staffers would inspect eligible sites to make sure the bee colony was located in the backyard. Residents would have to keep the colony at least 30 feet from nearby dwellings or install a flyaway barrier.

Hannah Covington


Rutherford officially becomes police chief

Sgt. Gary Rutherford, who has been leading the Farmington Police Department on an interim basis since August, will be sworn in Monday as the city’s police chief.

Rutherford, a Farmington resident, joined the department in 2002 and was promoted to sergeant in 2007. He was named chief last month.

Before he came to Farmington, he worked for the Lake Crystal, Minn., and Northfield police departments.

According to a news release, Rutherford said he has a “driving passion” for developing young officers into “great cops” and that he wants to continue “driving our staff to develop and improve to meet Farmington’s future needs.”

He replaces Brian Lindquist, who was asked to resign as police chief in August reportedly over concerns about poor leadership, including missed meetings and a failure to communicate.

Erin Adler