City planning an upgrade to the council chambers

Woodbury is planning to remodel its City Council chambers and conference rooms in 2016, at a cost of $325,000.

The council last week was asked to "contract with a consultant to provide architectural design and construction management services," to the tune of nearly $24,000.

City officials told the council that the chambers haven't been improved or modified since City Hall was built in 1990. The city will work with the South Washington County Telecommunications Commission to upgrade video and audio equipment.



$10,000 offered for 'Great Idea' for area

A foundation is offering as much as $10,000 for the next "great idea" to improve the Stillwater area, which includes Lake Elmo, Bayport, Marine-on-St. Croix, Oak Park Heights, West Lakeland Township and Stillwater Township as well as the city of Stillwater.

This is the fourth annual Great Idea Challenge issued by the Stillwater Area Foundation. Coaching sessions will be offered in February to help applicants develop ideas and grant applications before the submission deadline in mid-April.

This year's Great Idea award went to the Pollinator Friendly Alliance for a package of improvements that included pollinator-friendly gardens, habitats and practices along the Hwy. 36 corridor.


Cottage Grove

City recognizes two who helped save life

The Cottage Grove City Council has presented a Citizen Life Saving Award to two men who stepped in to help a third man who was choking on his food last month at an Applebee's restaurant.

Moises Maldonado and Vinny Mergens moved the man up against a table and together performed the Heimlich maneuver, dislodging a piece of food that was obstructing his airway.

The two were commended for "selfless actions and willingness to get involved."



Police join 'Place of Last Drink' program

The Champlin Police Department recently joined a group of about 20 metro-area law enforcement agencies in the "Place of Last Drink" program, in which officers track where people involved in alcohol-related incidents took their last alcoholic drink. The program aims to crack down on overserving of alcohol at restaurants and bars.

State law already makes it illegal for bars or restaurants to serve intoxicated people. "Place of Last Drink" helps departments better track that data, holds establishments accountable and provide tools to businesses.

"Normally, when we are involved, incidents happen during the evening hours," said Sgt. Bob Penney. "If some sort of alcohol is involved, people are not always making good decisions."

The program is a partnership among local law enforcement agencies, the state Department of Public Safety and the Partnership for Change, North Memorial Medical Center's grant-funded coalition.



City marketing residential lots

The Crystal Economic Development Authority is seeking proposals from builders for seven residential lots it hopes to sell for construction or movement of single-family houses.

The new homes must be owner-occupied with at least three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two-car garage. The EDA may also consider selling a lot to provide a new location for an existing house currently in Crystal.

Lot prices range from $25,000 to $55,000. A list of the available lots and applications are on the city's website at www.crystalmn.gov.

Shannon Prather

Brooklyn Center

New poverty rankings released

Newly released U.S. Census data shows that Brooklyn Center has the largest percentage of residents living in poverty among major cities in the metro area.

According to American Community Survey data, 20.1 percent of Brooklyn Center residents lived below the federal poverty line in 2014. That line is drawn at a family of four earning $23,850 or less annually.

Columbia Heights ranked second with 17.1 percent of residents living in poverty.

At the other end of the spectrum, Rogers had the lowest poverty rate at 2.2 percent, followed by Farmington with 2.6 percent.

Minnesota Compass, a social indicators project that measures progress in the state, compiled the newly released poverty data. The full rankings are available at www.mncompass.org/.

Shannon Prather