Suit, school shaping up in opposition to closings

School board members who voted Thursday to close three elementary schools in the Stillwater district said they hope for healing, but the decision seems likely to spur more acrimony.

An opposition group, 834 Voice, said discussions were taking place Friday to prepare a lawsuit to stop the district from closing schools in Marine on St. Croix, rural Hugo and Stillwater. Other parents created a website for a possible charter school that would be named Marine Area Community School.

The 5-2 board vote Thursday night prompted boos and shouts of "Shame on you!" from the crowd of about 400, the majority of whom appeared to oppose Superintendent Denise Pontrelli's plan to close the schools.

Meanwhile, district officials announced that a committee will bring a recommendation for redrawn school boundary lines to the board on Thursday, March 10.

Kevin Giles

ST. Paul

Design ideas sought for proposed 'River Balcony'

St. Paul is seeking ideas for a proposed "River Balcony" that would stretch along the downtown Mississippi River bluff from Union Depot to the Science Museum.

The city recently put out a call for designs for the 1.5-mile scenic walkway where people can stroll, participate in activities or just sit and relax. The deadline to submit designs is April 1, and winning ideas will be selected in mid-April, according to a news release.

Winners may use $1,000 to $5,000 in funding to create prototypes for seating, lighting and interactive experiences for the balcony, said Tracey Kinney, assistant director of urban design at the St. Paul Riverfront ­Corp.

The city will hold a "Prototyping Festival" in September, featuring various ideas for the walkway. It would be built in phases and funded through public-private partnerships, according to officials.

Information on the competition will be provided from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, at Public Kitchen + Bar, 229 E. 6th St., in St. Paul's Lowertown neighborhood.

Jessie Van Berkel


State funding boosts mental health crisis teams

Counties across Minnesota are getting additional funding from the state to fund mental health crisis services, and for Hennepin County that means an extra $340,321 this year over last year's funding.

The Hennepin County Board last week accepted a $743,000 grant from the state Department of Human Services, enabling the county to add two full-time positions to improve crisis coverage.

Mental health professionals on mobile crisis teams respond to callers anywhere in the county, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to manage immediate crises and provide clinical assessments.

The adult mobile crisis team in Hennepin County can be reached at 612-596-1223, and the child crisis team at 612-348-2233. For other ­Minnesota counties, go to for more details.



Keller Lake stormwater facility gets state funding

Stormwater drainage has dirtied the waters of Keller Lake for years, but that may soon change thanks to a state grant that was recently finalized.

Nearly $400,000 from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources will help pay for an underground stormwater treatment facility on the north end of Crystal Beach park.

Both Keller Lake and nearby Crystal Lake, into which Keller drains, have high levels of phosphorus. The stormwater treatment facility is expected to remove about 70 pounds of phosphorus annually from Keller Lake, which in turn will help reduce levels in Crystal Lake, said Daryl Jacobson, the city's natural resources manager.

The project is estimated to cost a little more than $1 million, Jacobson said. Burnsville's stormwater fund will cover most of the cost.

Construction likely will begin in late summer or early fall, and may be completed before the end of 2016.

Emma Nelson