Twice in two months, water problems in Blaine have resulted in school closures and prompted warnings for residents to boil their water. Now the city is bringing in a Minneapolis engineering firm to review its water system.

Barr Engineering is examining the system’s software, hardware, design and security. The work will continue through March, said Bob Therres, public services manager. The city will spend between $25,000 and $30,000 for the firm’s services.

Residents reported water disruptions on Jan. 8 and again on Feb. 12. The first issue was software-related and the second was mechanical and electrical, City Manager Clark Arneson said at a February news conference. Both involved a communication and alert system mishap, Arneson said.

A police investigation concluded that no criminal actions or hacking were involved in the first water disruption. Preliminary findings on the second incident reveal the same, according to officials.

Hannah Covington

Coon Rapids

Anoka-Ramsey rolls out student transfer plan

Students attending Anoka-Ramsey Community College can now snag guaranteed admission to Augsburg College in Minneapolis if they meet certain grade-point average (GPA) and credit-hour requirements.

The two-school agreement, called the Auggie Plan, was announced at a kickoff event last month.

The transfer plan promises admission to Augsburg for students who complete 60 credits at Anoka-Ramsey and maintain a 2.75 GPA. Students with lower GPAs also will be considered, though without guarantees.

Anoka-Ramsey, which has campuses in Coon Rapids and Cambridge, Minn., has several transfer agreements for certain programs at other schools, including Concordia University in St. Paul and Bemidji State University.

Students who begin work at Anoka-Ramsey for their associate degree and then transfer to Augsburg could save thousands in tuition, said Brian Wollum, director of advising at Anoka-Ramsey.

Hannah Covington

White Bear Lake

City seeks advice on planning for growth

The question of where to locate an anticipated 1,750 extra households in White Bear Lake by 2040 is one key issue in an upcoming series of meetings and an online survey the city is hosting as it prepares a new long-range plan.

Residents and business owners are being invited to fill out a survey ( that asks such questions as “What important changes does White Bear Lake need to make in the next 20 years?” and “When you visit other communities, have you found something that makes you say, ‘We need that in White Bear Lake!’ If so, what was it?”

After declines in population for the past two decades, White Bear Lake is expected to add 2,000 residents by 2040.

Open-house-style meetings will be held on housing and parks, March 16, and economic competitiveness and resiliency, April 20. Comments may also be sent to

David Peterson

Brooklyn Center

City, Wal-Mart finalizing police agreement

Local police may soon be paid by Wal-Mart to patrol its Brooklyn Center store in an effort to reduce crime at a location that has logged the city’s most police calls in recent years.

City Council members on Monday approved the policing agreement between Brooklyn Center and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Under the agreement, the retailer will pay the city for a police officer to be stationed at the store from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Details of the agreement will be finalized over the next few weeks, said Police Chief Tim Gannon.

Since the store opened in 2012, it has been the biggest single source of Brooklyn Center’s police calls. Other metro area cities have devised similar policing contracts with respect to their Wal-Mart stores.

The hope, Gannon said, is for local police to begin their contracted patrols by the end of March.

Hannah Covington

St. Francis

Applicants sought for on-call firefighters

The St. Francis Fire Department wants to hire more paid on-call firefighters for both day and night shifts.

The department currently has about 20 on-call firefighters and is looking to hire five or six more — especially for daytime shifts, according to Fire Chief Matt Kohout.

Applications are available at City Hall, 23340 Cree St. NW., and on the city’s website. More information is available at Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. on March 13.

Hannah Covington