North Mankato

City Council slows push to raise tobacco sales age

North Mankato city leaders will take more time discussing the legal ramifications and benefits of raising the tobacco sales age from 18 to 21 after they disagreed with part of neighboring Mankato’s proposed ordinance.

The cities planned to raise the sales age at the same time since they’re tightly intertwined and residents travel back and forth frequently. Now, both are extending their initial timelines for considering the measure.

Mankato’s current proposal stipulates that those younger than 21 who are found in possession of tobacco products be “referred to the City or County Attorney’s office for diversion or prosecution” — a stipulation North Mankato leaders object to.

“We’re not interested in criminalization of possession, we’re just interested in restricting the sales,” North Mankato Mayor Mark Dehen said.

City leaders will discuss the issue at a council workshop Monday and during an intergovernmental committee meeting Aug. 2, with representatives from both cities. The Mankato City Council also pushed back its public hearing on the issue from July 24 to Aug. 28.



City awarded grant for interstate noise reduction

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has awarded the city of Monticello a grant to build a noise barrier along the north side of I-94.

The 1,895-foot-long, 20-foot-high barrier is expected to cost $1.1 million, with most of the funds coming from the department’s Greater Minnesota Stand-Alone Noise Barrier Program. The city will contribute 10 percent of the cost.

Eighteen homes are expected to benefit with at least five decibels of noise reduction when the project is completed in 2019.

Mark Brunswick


City votes to fight feds on river dredging plan

The city of Wabasha is officially fighting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over a plan to dump and transfer dredged Mississippi River sediment in and around the town.

The City Council has voted to “pursue a comprehensive legal and political strategy” to stop the Corps. The city worries that heavy truck traffic — 70 trucks an hour — will threaten safety and lead to air and noise pollution that will hamper growth, quality of life and property values.

The Corps plan calls for dredging an 11-mile stretch of the river for barge traffic, then dumping that sediment on Wabasha’s Southside Fitzgerald field, where trucks would load it for transfer to a nearby farm.

Corps representatives have said they are hemmed in by regulations requiring them to stay cost-effective, ruling out trucking the sand long distances.

The city will enlist lawyers, engineers and a dredging expert, according to an announcement Friday.

“We plan to fight it from all angles,” City Administrator Chad Springer said.

Pam Louwagie