The upcoming golden anniversary of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway will be observed throughout 2018 in filmmaking, publishing and public events.

It was in 1968 when the St. Croix River and its main tributary, the Namekagon, were among the original eight rivers designated under the U.S. Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The St. Croix was also the first U.S. river designated as a national park.

Initiatives by the St. Croix River Association in 2018 feature a documentary by filmmakers John Kaul and Tom Reiter, scheduled to debut on TPT (Twin Cities PBS) next June, and a new coffee table book from photographer Craig Blacklock. The book, titled “The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway: The Enduring Gift,” includes a foreword by former Vice President Walter Mondale.

As U.S. senators, Mondale and Wisconsin’s Gaylord Nelson were instrumental in passing the federal law and protecting the St. Croix and Namekagon.

Next year, the river association will partner with the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wis., for a monthlong exhibit featuring a nationwide juried show and works by Blacklock and by Northern Clay Center alumni. The exhibit opens Sept. 14, 2018.

Other activities include a research report, paddle adventures, and an anniversary celebration on Oct. 2, 2018, on the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the landmark legislation.

Kevin Giles

Coon Rapids

City pursues grant for victim service position

The city of Coon Rapids is seeking grant funding to hire a staff member to help crime victims through the legal process.

The city attorney’s office received council approval earlier this month to apply for a grant from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs. The state agency is seeking proposals from county and city attorney offices to fund a victim service staff position.

The position will help crime victims, from upholding their rights to increasing their safety and access to services, according to the city. The proposal requires a cash or in-kind match from applicants but also provides the possibility of a match waiver.

Coon Rapids is seeking funding to cover a part-time position, with the grant extending two years.

Hannah Covington

Washington County

Bluegrass festival Sept. 9 in county park

Washington County will host its 16th Annual Bluegrass Festival Sept. 9 from 2-6 p.m. at the Lake Elmo Park Reserve. The event will be held at the South Picnic Pavilion.

The music lineup is:

• 2 p.m., Sawtooth Brothers

• 3 p.m., Wild Choose Chase Cloggers

• 4 p.m., Monroe Crossing, which will play two sets

The festival is free for annual park permit holders and open to other visitors for the price of a $7 daily or $30 annual permit. The festival is supported by the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association. See the Washington County website at and search “Bluegrass Festival” for additional information.

Kevin Giles


Woman sentenced for assaulting nanny

A Washington County woman will spend a year in jail after pleading guilty to third-degree assault with substantial bodily harm on a Chinese nanny.

Lili Huang, of Woodbury, also was ordered to pay $1,190 in restitution in an Aug. 11 appearance before District Judge John McBride.

She was charged with five felonies in July 2016 after the 58-year-old nanny employed at Huang’s residence was found wandering bruised and afraid in Woodbury. After the nanny arrived in the U.S. a few months earlier, she was forced to work up to 18 hours a day doing child care and housework without pay. Huang also was sentenced Thursday in federal court to a concurrent year in the Washington County jail.

Kevin Giles

Grey Cloud Island township

Work begins to revive Mississippi channel

Community leaders in Grey Cloud Island Township recently started work on a channel that will allow water to flow freely in the Mississippi River backwaters between the township and St. Paul Park.

The river channel is within the National Park Service’s Mississippi National River Recreation Area corridor and Minnesota’s Mississippi River Critical Area. It’s also a designated state water trail.

A bridge once connected Grey Cloud Island to the mainland, but the bridge was later replaced with an earthen dam with County Road 75 running on top. Today, the slough has stagnated water and a severely degraded aquatic habitat, Washington County officials said. The project will restore the water flow under a roadway and pedestrian paths will be built.

Kevin Giles

Cottage Grove

School board race draws a crowd

Fifteen candidates have filed for five open school board seats in the South Washington County District 833, headquartered in Cottage Grove.

Ten will run against four incumbents: Tracy Brunnette of Cottage Grove, Katy McElwee-Stevens of Newport, Katie Schwartz of St. Paul Park, and Sharon Van Leer of Woodbury. A fifth seat, once held by Joe Slavin, will be filled for the two years remaining on his term.

Challengers are Patricia Driscoll and William Thurmes of Cottage Grove; and Thor Halverson, Alexandra Hedberg, Douglas Hoffman and David Pyrz, all of Woodbury. Filing for the two-year seat are Wael Abdelkader and Sean Brown of Woodbury, Duane Girard of Newport, and Heather Hirsch and Steve Lagoon of Cottage Grove.

Kevin Giles