An empty big box store in Blaine could soon be transformed into a family entertainment center.

There’s interest in dividing the former Gander Mountain building, 10650 Baltimore St. NE., so that a mix of stores and an indoor amusement center can open up there. The 66,000-square-foot building has been vacant since late last year, and the plan is to subdivide it into several tenant spaces.

The proposal won the approval of the Planning Commission in May and is expected to go before the City Council on Thursday. Should the proposal get city approval, first-time business owners Jim and Marilyn Webber said they hope to open by late October or early November.

The amusement center plan, brought forward by the Webbers, proposes converting about 22,500 square feet in the empty building into a facility geared toward children and families.

The amusement center would include bumper cars, an elevated ropes course with a zipline, laser tag, a climbing wall, mini bowling and other games. There are also plans for a casual eatery that offers beer and wine.

The Webbers said they’ve done their research and think Blaine is an ideal spot for such a facility. Jim Webber said it was a bit tricky to find the right building to lease.

“There are a lot of big box buildings available, but they were so big, we didn’t need that much space,” he said.



Moore wins Outstanding Citizen award

Tanya Moore, a paraprofessional who works with Columbia Heights public schools, has been named the city’s Outstanding Citizen for 2018. She will be recognized at the Columbia Heights City Council meeting on June 11.

Moore, married and the mother of five children, has been active in community organizations since moving to Columbia Heights 17 years ago. She is on the board of directors for Columbia Heights Athletic Boosters and will soon join a group of volunteers that advises the police department on diversity issues, the Multicultural Advisory Committee. She is a longtime member of the Lions Club and a regular volunteer with youth sports.

Moore was nominated for the annual award by Nick Novitsky, a City Council member and president of the Lions Club. “Every time I see her she’s doing something that will benefit the community,” he said, in a statement. “She’s always willing to do what she can to help out anybody, and she does it without hesitation or complaint.”

Mayor Donna Schmitt and Amada Marquez Simula, last year’s Outstanding Citizen, chose Moore from a group of nominees for the award. It’s meant to recognize Columbia Heights residents who put the needs of others before their own.



Teen ‘Zone’ moving out of community center

Fridley’s teen hangout is moving out of the city’s community center, and officials are casting their net for ideas on what young people would like to see for future programming.

Teens and tweens for years have mingled at The Zone, which has been offering city-sponsored after-school activities at the Fridley Community Center, 6085 NE. 7th St.

But renovation work soon will begin at the center, run by the Fridley public schools. So The Zone is moving out of the center with no permanent replacement space planned, and city staffers are hoping to make it into a mobile after-school program, said Cleve McCoy, the city’s parks and recreation programs supervisor.

City officials are looking for feedback from residents on planning what’s next for The Zone. Residents are invited to take a survey on the city website, which will be available through the end of July, McCoy said.

Hannah Covington


County’s only shelter for men closes

Cochran House, the Dakota County homeless shelter, closed its doors Friday owing to financial struggles.

The nonprofit agency that runs the shelter has been unable to raise enough money for the past few years to keep it open. County assistance has helped the shelter to avoid shutting down several times.

The shelter, the only homeless shelter for single men in the county, opened in 2010. According to county officials, residents of the shelter are receiving help with finding new housing.

Erin Adler


City meets all drinking water standards

Farmington’s drinking water meets state standards, according to the Consumer Confidence Report, also known as the Annual Drinking Water Report.

While not free of pollutants, the city’s water supply tested within ranges recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency on every contaminant for which it was tested.

Farmington’s water comes from seven wells ranging from 402 to 512 feet deep. The wells draw water from the Prairie du Chien-Jordan and Jordan aquifers, serving more than 18,700 people, according to the report.

The state works with cities each year to analyze drinking water samples, according to a city news release. For more information, go to