A judge has ordered passage of a recent $96 million school bond referendum in the South Washington County school district, after ruling against the counting of five challenged ballots that would have sent the referendum to defeat.

Ramsey County District Judge Kathleen Gearin’s ruling comes after three Cottage Grove residents filed suit in an effort to include the five ballots.

The decision means the election totals for the ballot question stand at 6,840 votes for the bonding and 6,835 against.

The question called for approving general obligation bonds to build a new middle school in Cottage Grove and renovate Oltman Middle School in St. Paul Park to house the Nuevas Fronteras Elementary School.

The suit, filed by Susan Richardson, Andrea Mayer-Bruestle and Leilani Holmstad, came after a review by a canvassing board. The suit contended that voter intent on the questioned ballots was clear and that counting them would have created a tie, defeating the referendum.

Kevin Giles

Washington County

Bearth elected to lead County Board

Commissioner Ted Bearth has been elected chairman of the Washington County Board this year, taking over from Commissioner Gary Kriesel.

Commissioner Fran Miron was chosen to be vice chairman.

The action came recently when the five-member board rotated assignments for the coming year.

In related action, Commissioner Karla Bigham was elected chairwoman the Washington County Regional Rail Authority and Commissioner Lisa Weik became the new vice chairwoman.

The board meets the first four Tuesdays of each month in the fifth-floor boardroom in the Government Center, 14949 62nd St. N., Stillwater. Board meetings are open to the public.

Kevin Giles

Lino Lakes

Household incomes climb above $100K

The median household income in Lino Lakes is now in six-figure territory, apparently the highest in Anoka County, according to newly released U.S. census data,

New American Community Survey estimates show that income in Lino Lakes climbed to $103,407 in 2014. That was up from $99,424 in 2013.

The median household income for Anoka County as a whole is $70,464.

Both income and population have climbed steadily in the north metro suburb of 21,000 people.

Shannon Prather

Anoka County

Sivarajah to again lead County Board

Anoka County Board members this month elected Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah as board chairwoman for the sixth year in a row. Commissioner Matt Look was elected vice chairman.

Sivarajah joined the County Board in 2003. She represents District 6 in eastern Anoka County, which includes Centerville, Circle Pines, Columbus, Lexington, Lino Lakes, Linwood Township, and a portion of Blaine.

Look represents District 1, which includes Ramsey, Nowthen, St. Francis, Oak Grove, and a portion of Anoka.

Shannon Prather

Ramsey County

New website stripped of thousands of pages

Ramsey County’s new website is a whole lot leaner than it was.

Officials say they have been “streamlining content and removing outdated information” to the point where it’s down to 550 pages.

The new site, at www.ramseycounty.us/, replaces one launched around 11 years ago that contained more than 2,500 pages.

David Peterson

FALCON HEIGHTS

State, local officials to tackle questions

The League of Women Voters is inviting residents of Falcon Heights, Little Canada, Maplewood and Roseville to a meeting this week with elected officials.

The general topic: pressing issues facing the 2016 Minnesota Legislature, Ramsey County and local cities.

Legislators, county commissioners and city officials will attend the session from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at Falcon Heights City Hall, 2077 Larpenteur Av. W.

Participants are expected to include Sens. John Marty and Chuck Wiger; Reps. Peter Fischer, Alice Hausman and Leon Lillie; three county commissioners and the mayors of at least four cities in the area.

The event is free and open to the public.

David Peterson