One of the largest food shelves in Washington County will move to new quarters this spring when construction is completed on a new building.

Friends In Need has served residents of St. Paul Park, Cottage Grove, Newport and Grey Cloud Island for 23 years. In 2014, the food shelf provided 34,000 clients with fresh produce, milk, eggs, meat, non-perishables and toiletries.

The new building, at 535 4th St. in St. Paul Park, will replace an outdated structure that once housed a VFW club. It will have about 12,000 square feet with walk-in coolers, rolling storage racks and floor scales.

Clients can shop in grocery aisles and choose what they want, said Michelle Rageth, the food shelf’s executive director. Area businesses donated money for construction. More than 160 volunteers coordinate operations at Friends in Need.

Kevin Giles


Reinhardt elected board’s chairwoman

Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt, who has represented the east end of Ramsey County on the County Board since 1997, was elected board chairwoman Tuesday.

Reinhardt succeeds Commissioner Jim McDonough, who had served as chairman since 2014. McDonough will lead the County Board’s budget committee. Commissioner Janice Rettman will continue to serve as vice chairwoman.

In a statement, Reinhardt said she was “honored and humbled to serve as chair of … the best County Board in the country.” She served as board chairwoman in 2004-05 and again in 2010-11.

In other votes, Commissioner Rafael Ortega was re-elected chairman of the county’s Regional Railroad Authority, and Commissioner Blake Huffman will continue to head the Housing and Redevelopment Authority.


Vadnais Heights

City to ask businesses at risk what they need

Vadnais Heights is investing in a University of Minnesota survey probing the possibility of losing local businesses.

The Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation is partnering with the city on the program, along with University of Minnesota Extension. It’s being called the Business Retention & Expansion Survey Project. The goal is to ask existing businesses in town about their “needs and concerns.”

Visits will be made to businesses from mid-February to mid-March by local business and organizational leaders.

A task force of community leaders will make recommendations based on what they hear.

Businesses taking part will be told the information is confidential and only reported as statistics. If a particular concern is raised, “follow-ups will be made,” officials promised.

Firms wishing to take part are asked to e-mail or call 651-485-9532.

Staff report


Recycling ‘myths and mysteries’ explored

Helping the environment through recycling — without doing harm in the process — will be the topic Jan. 20 in the first in Shoreview’s 2016 Environmental Speaker Series.

The city’s Environmental Quality Committee will be sponsoring monthly speakers from January to April in the City Council chambers.

This month’s session, called “Recycling Myths and Mysteries Solved,” will be presented by Jean Buckley, Ramsey County’s environmental health educator.

Topics include whether to put things like plastic bags, Styrofoam and frozen food boxes in the curbside cart.

“The wrong things can damage equipment, injure workers and even ruin recyclables,” according to the city.

David Peterson


Group to provide free tax filing help

Community Thread will be offering free tax filing assistance to low- and middle-income taxpayers, especially people 60 and older.

Trained AARP Tax-Aide volunteers will explain tax requirements, answer questions, and electronically file income tax returns.

Starting Monday, Jan. 11, appointments can be made by calling 651-439-7434 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Appointments will be offered on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from Feb. 8 to April 13 at Community Thread, 2300 W. Orleans St., Stillwater.

Participants will need to bring applicable tax-related documents listed on the Community Thread website at

The AARP Tax-Aide program, sponsored by the AARP Foundation, is offered in conjunction with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the state of Minnesota.

Kevin Giles