PRIOR LAKE

Senior center opens next to public library

The city on Tuesday formally opened its new senior center, known as the Community/Senior Programming Center.

In addition to space for socializing, card and board games, and reading, it will offer activities: January classes will include Latin and ballroom line dancing and a presentation on preventing falls.

The facility, located downtown next to the public library, will be open at first on Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To learn more, or offer programming ideas, call 952-447-9820.

Mdewakanton Sioux to donate furniture

The Shakopee Mdewakan-ton Sioux Community said that it is shipping hundreds of chairs, tables and other furniture from its bingo operation to Sioux tribes in Nebraska and South Dakota. The furniture wasn't needed once the tribe's new bingo hall opened in September.

The recipients are the Santee Sioux Oyate of Nebraska and the Flandreau Santee Sioux and Yankton Sioux of South Dakota.

SAVAGE

McColl Pond deemed unsafe for winter use

The city of Savage is warning residents that ice on large parts of McColl Pond, in Community Park, may be unsafe this winter because the city began aerating the water on Friday and will continue to do so all winter. That may result in open water or thin ice.

Aeration, helping keep fish alive by furnishing oxygen, will take place on the western end and near the fishing pier. The park is west of the intersection of 135th St. and County Rd. 27. Questions may be directed to 952-882-2678.

DAKOTA/SCOTT

Schmitty & Sons to be sole bus provider

Schmitty & Sons Transit Service of Lakeville recently became the sole bus provider for the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA), which operates in Dakota and Scott counties.

The company and the MVTA agreed in September on a five-year contract of $10.3 million annually for bus service in Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Rosemount and Savage.

Last year the MVTA paid $10.7 million for service from Schmitty and Laidlaw Transit.

The new contract means that Schmitty will continue to operate out of the Eagan garage, as it has for about 10 years, and is replacing Laidlaw at the Burnsville garage. Schmitty began operating out of Burnsville on Dec. 29.

Schmitty & Sons also provides bus service for Prior Lake, the Lakeville public schools and the University of St. Thomas.

BRIDGEWATER TOWNSHIP

Judge rules in favor of township's zoning

A Rice County district judge has dismissed three claims brought in a lawsuit by Advanced BioEnergy LLC, against Bridgewater Township and its three-member board.

The Minneapolis company sued this summer after the town board passed planning and zoning rules that excluded Advanced BioEnergy's plans for an ethanol plant southwest of Northfield.

Judge Gerald Wolf said last week that Bridgewater Township did not exceed its rights as a government body when it approved new zoning rules prohibiting ethanol plants on agricultural land.

Nor did the township have to hold a public vote before passing the rules, as the company argued. Wolf also dismissed a claim that the town board failed to provide adequate notice of public hearings and violated another aspect of the legal process set out for passing zoning rules.

But Wolf did not dismiss the company's claim that the township broke Minnesota's data-practices law during the zoning adoption process.

That issue remains to be decided, and an attorney for Bridgewater Township said in an e-mail that he expects the company to appeal the ruling.

DAKOTA COUNTY

Board raises transit levy nearly 14 percent

Transit funding is taking a bigger chunk out of the wallets of Dakota County residents.

The Dakota County Board, sitting as the Regional Railroad Authority, agreed last month to raise the transit levy by nearly 14 percent for 2008, an increase of about $125,000 in the total levy of $1.04 million. The rail authority's budget is $3.4 million.

Those transit taxes will be used mainly to fund the Cedar Avenue Corridor bus rapid transit project. The transit levy will also help fund plans for the Red Rock and Robert Street corridors.

The rail authority was formed in 1987 to oversee railroads and light rail transit, and development of bus transit along Cedar Avenue.

Kevin Duchschere covers Dakota County and can be reached at 952-882-9017 or at kduchschere@startribune.com.

David Peterson covers Scott County and can be reached at 952-882-9023.