Coon Rapids

Council weighs loosening of taproom restrictions

Looking to join the microbrewery and taproom craze, the Coon Rapids City Council is considering a revision of its zoning ordinances to allow microbreweries with taprooms and distilleries with cocktail rooms in shopping and commercial districts. To qualify under the less-restrictive zoning of the proposed ordinance, microbreweries would be limited to 15,000 barrels a year and distilleries to 40,000 gallons annually; they also must include a taproom or cocktail room on site. Under the current ordinance, such businesses are limited to the city's industrial districts. A microbrewery has expressed an interest in opening in Coon Rapids, city staffers said.

Shannon Prather

St. Croix Valley

Climate change to be focus of 'Big Read'

Fiction on the topic of climate change is the focus this year of the "Big Read" in the St. Croix Valley, a program in which folks read the same books and gather to discuss them. This year's choices use "the power of literature to wrestle with the vexing environmental questions of our time."

The books on tap:

• February: "I'm With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet," by various authors;

• March: "Flight Behavior: A Novel," by Barbara Kingsolver, tracing "the unforeseen impact of global climate change on the ordinary citizens of one rural community;"

• April: "The Grapes of Wrath," by John Steinbeck, the award-winning classic that deals with the millions of Americans who were displaced by the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.

Those interested in participating are invited to e-mail ArtReach St. Croix for details at Groups will meet in Stillwater, Prescott, Wis., and St. Croix Falls, Wis.; dates and locations have not yet been set.



Phone will buzz as snowplows head out

Roseville is inviting residents to sign up for digital alerts to tell you that snowplows are heading for your street. Tablets, smartphones and computers can be rigged to receive word that snowplows are about to roll.

City officials caution that whenever 2 inches of snow have piled up, "a parking ban immediately goes into effect and parking is prohibited on all city streets."

Go to to sign up for the e-mail or text alerts.

David Peterson

Washington County

Survey forms being mailed to residents

Washington County will seek comments from 2,500 residents in a survey that will arrive in mailboxes after Feb. 8, officials said.

Five hundred residents from each of the county's five districts will be randomly selected to answer questions about their quality of life and how they judge the performance of county government.

National Research Center Inc. will administer the survey. Responses will be anonymous, and the research company won't share its mailing list with Washington County staff. Results will be available in May or early June.

Washington County has done several opinion surveys of residents throughout the past 20 years. The most recent survey was conducted in 2013 with Dakota, Scott, Olmsted and St. Louis counties.

Kevin Giles

Cottage Grove

City to show off Woodridge Park

There will be an open house next weekend to introduce residents of Cottage Grove to the city's recent significant renovation of Woodridge Park.

The event will be held 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 9000 S. 90th St.

While viewing the new 1,700-square-foot park building, residents can see plans for a future inclusive playground that will be accessible to kids with disabilities.

The new structure will be a venue for recreation programs, but also can be rented for gatherings and parties.

Work on the park, which was done last year, included new pavement with 30 more parking spaces, trail connections and enhanced landscaping with more flower beds.

David Peterson

White Bear Lake

Rebates to be offered to help save water

White Bear Lake residents soon will be offered rebates to install more water-efficient washing machines, toilets and other water-using devices. Details will be provided soon, officials said.

The city wants to encourage residents to replace toilets, clothes washers and irrigation system controllers with more water-efficient alternatives. The program affects property owners who are customers of the city's water system.

David Peterson