Mayor Tim Geraghty’s decision not to seek re-election, and City Council Member Dan Lund’s election to replace him, have created an opening on the Newport City Council that officials now seek to fill through appointment.

An appeal is being made for residents to apply for the vacant council seat, which the appointee will hold through the end of 2018. Interviews will be held at the first council meeting in January.

In the meantime, the city is planning an open house to acknowledge the service of Geraghty and that of departing Council Member Tom Ingemann, who was defeated in the election this month. The open house will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 7 at City Hall, 596 7th Av.

David Peterson

St. Francis

City wants ideas for Bridge Street and Hwy. 47

The city of St. Francis is seeking input on how to spruce up areas along two of its busiest corridors, Bridge Street and Hwy. 47.

An online survey asks those who live in or frequent St. Francis to dream up what they would like to see in the city, ranging from more shopping and eateries to types of jobs and housing. The survey, found online at surveymonkey.com/r/StFrancisForward, will be open until Dec. 15.

Using that feedback, officials plan to work with Hoisington Koegler Group Inc. (HKGi), a Minneapolis-based consulting firm, to create a “St. Francis Forward” master plan for improving the city with special focus on Bridge Street and Hwy. 47.

The city of about 7,300 residents held a community forum about the plan last month and hopes to hold more workshops and meetings, Mayor Steve Kane said.

Hannah Covington

Marine on St. Croix

Union and contractors build bridges for vets

Members of Twin Cities Ironworkers Local 512 and metro-area construction companies are donating time, materials and labor to build two 70-foot bridges at Veterans Campground on Big Marine Lake.

Wetlands in the 69-acre campground have made connected trails there impossible. So the Ironworkers union, working with contractors, is building bridges to allow disabled veterans to have full access to the natural habitat, said Lori Ahlness, the campground’s board president.

Opened in 1926 and originally known as the Disabled Veterans Rest Camp, Veterans Campground started as a farm donated to help disabled veterans recover from World War I. It is at 11300 180th St. N., on the west side of Big Marine Lake.

Kevin Giles

Anoka County

Board OKs county park fee hikes for 2017

Campsite hookup costs and pavilion reservation rate increases were among several park fee changes approved last week by the Anoka County Board.

Effective Jan. 1, visitors will pay $15 more for reserving a picnic pavilion for park gatherings. Campground hookups at Bunker Hills Regional Park and Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve will cost $28 instead of $25 for 30 amp campsites, and $32 instead of $28 for 50 amp.

During the County Board meeting, Commissioner Scott Schulte called the park user fees “a real boon to the county.”

In 2016, pavilion rentals brought in about $80,000, while campsite and reservation fees generated $325,000 of revenue, according to Andy Soltvedt, marketing and visitors service manager of Anoka County parks.

Also in January, active duty military, veterans and their spouses will no longer be charged vehicle entry permit fees at Anoka County parks. Minnesota state parks and Washington County Parks have similar military discounts in place.

Hannah Covington

Washington County

Volunteers flock to clean up highway litter

So robust is the Adopt-a-Highway roadside litter cleanup effort in Washington County that 2-mile segments of county-managed roads now have waiting lists of volunteers.

“We have zero miles available. It’s amazing to me what a civic-minded county we have,” said County Engineer Wayne Sandberg.

Sandberg, in comments to the County Board last week, said 125 groups of volunteers removed more than 1,100 bags of trash from 262 miles of county roads in 2016. Nine of the groups have volunteered for 20 years, and 11 groups for 10 years.

The trash they found included tires, metal doors, carpeting, a couch and even a box of Halloween costumes, he said.

The county began the program in 1991 with enough volunteers to cover 78 miles of county highways.

“I think the fact that our highways and biways are free of litter is an incentive to others to keep it that way,” said Commissioner Fran Miron.

Kevin Giles