The Washington County Historic Courthouse in Stillwater, one of the oldest public buildings in Minnesota, will mark its 150th birthday Friday when official court proceedings are held there for the first time in more than 40 years.
District Judge Gregory Galler will hear a calendar of civil and criminal cases beginning at 9 a.m. in the second-floor courtroom. The last case in the old courthouse was heard in 1974, before courts and county offices moved to new quarters about a mile away.
On June 3, the 100-year anniversary of the dedication for the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument, on the grounds of the Historic Courthhouse, will be observed. The free event, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will include tours of the courthouse, live music, carriage rides, Civil War re-enactors, old-fashioned candy and the grand opening of a Civil War exhibit.
The Historic Courthouse is at 101 W. Pine St.
County honors last man in Last Man’s Club
Jean DeCurtins, 98, the last survivor in a Last Man’s Club formed in Stillwater in 1944, was honored with a special week in his name just before Memorial Day.
Tuesday’s proclamation came from the Washington County Board. Commissioner Gary Kriesel asked DeCurtins if he wanted to say a few words, to which DeCurtins succinctly responded in a firm voice: “Thank you.”
DeCurtins, a lifelong resident of Washington County, was among 180 young men from the Stillwater area who joined the National Guard’s 34th Infantry Division before World War II. He was activated for duty on Feb. 10, 1941, and served as part of the Red Bull Division of the National Guard.
DeCurtins was wounded twice in battle and awarded the Purple Heart.
After returning from the war, DeCurtins and other veterans formed a Last Man’s Club. A plaque with the members’ names hung in the Washington County Government Center for many years and recently was moved to the new Stillwater Armory.
Board approves replacing old jail radios
The Anoka County jail soon will be acquiring 60 new portable radios to replace its existing batch of aging devices.
County commissioners last week unanimously approved buying the radios from Motorola at a cost of up to $255,000.
“While this seems high, Motorola kind of has the corner on the market, and it’s a necessary piece of equipment,” Commissioner Matt Look said.
Cmdr. Dave Pacholl, the jail administrator, said the equipment update is urgent and cited safety issues that can emerge from poor reception and transmission.
“If we have an emergency, minutes count,” he said.
At times, requests for assistance from detention deputies have been disrupted by malfunctioning radios, some of which are more than 10 years old, Pacholl said.
“It’ll garble and you won’t get a voice,” he said. “You’ll get static.”
The Sheriff’s Office has proposed replacing all of its radios in coming years, starting with the county jail.
Police body cam pilot moves forward
City leaders recently gave final approval to a police body camera pilot program that could hit the streets as soon as June 1..
Following a required public comment period, City Council members unanimously voted to move the program forward at the May 16 council meeting.
The police department has been researching the program for the past two years. An online survey found that 85 percent of Crystal residents believe that body-worn cameras would increase community trust in law enforcement.
The department has already purchased its first batch of 10 cameras for $11,000 and expects to buy 15 more in early 2018. The program is scheduled to roll out fully in February.
The first cameras could debut as early as next month, Police Chief Stephanie Revering said.
“We’re going to try and get as many officers to touch these before we actually go live next year,” she said.
Construction to limit access at Sports Center
With construction underway for a new elementary school in Blaine, visitors to the National Sports Center will lose certain entry points and parking in coming months.
Two access points from Davenport Street NE. to the main parking lot will be closed, as will the access point near field U3 to parking Lot A, according to a news release.
The school will be built on the Sports Center campus near the corner of 105th Avenue NE. and Davenport.
Traffic to Victory Links Golf Course will remain unaffected, while most other visitors will need to use 105th Avenue NE. to reach the Sports Center. Some of those areas may be reopened temporarily in July for the Schwan’s USA Cup tournament.
Meanwhile, all parking on the west end of the main parking lot will be closed to accommodate construction. Visitors can still park in the rest of the main lot, as well as in Lots A and B.
Maps with construction zones and traffic impacts are available online at nscsports.org/map.
County to open tuj lub courts at Keller Park
A play area designed for the Hmong community will mark its grand opening June 10 at Keller Regional Park in Maplewood.
That’s when new tuj lub (too-loo) courts will be opened to the public near the Golfview shelters. The program will include a traditional dance and pipe performance, along with demonstrations of how the game is played and a chance for attendees to try it.
Tuj lub is a traditional Hmong top-spinning game on a grass court.