The increasingly popular Grand Marais Art Colony is expanding its footprint in the small North Shore town. The colony recently announced that it is buying a former pharmacy building on Hwy. 61, adding more than 5,000 square feet to its offerings.

The nonprofit colony holds art classes and provides studio rental spaces and other services to artists in its current facilities, comprising approximately 8,000 square feet. The number of programs in the colony has grown 400% in the past decade, drawing students and artists from across the region and country.

The expansion is expected to yield more studios, exhibition space, a small gallery store, and maybe a community gathering space. Colony leaders plan to fund the $500,000 addition through donations and grants.

Pam Louwagie

Rochester

Next stop: Electric buses for the city

In a bid to cut its carbon footprint, Rochester plans to buy two electric buses next year for its expanding public transit system.

Duluth and Metro Transit in the Twin Cities have purchased electric buses, and Rochester officials hope to learn from their experience, said Kevin Bright, the city’s energy and sustainability director. Rochester also plans to buy a Prius all-wheel-drive vehicle and a plug-in hybrid SUV, replacing conventional gas-fueled vehicles in its public works department.

The city will buy the vehicles as part of the Climate Mayors Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative, a group of more than 130 cities and counties nationwide that have teamed to leverage buying power and reduce the cost of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. Five Minnesota cities — Bloomington, Eagan, Eden Prairie, St. Louis Park and Woodbury — along with Hennepin County also have committed to purchasing electric vehicles next year as part of the collaborative.

Mary Lynn Smith

Cook County

Tribal council gets first woman chair

Beth Drost was elected last week as chair of the Grand Portage Tribal Council — the first woman to hold the position. She succeeds Norman Deschampe, longtime chairman of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, who died Feb. 9 of a heart attack.

Drost defeated Marie Spry, the interim chair, in a special election. Drost, a graduate of Cook County High, has bachelor’s degrees in political science and business administration. She’s been a National Park Service ranger since 2008.

Dan Browning