Carver County officials are seeking input on a proposal to convert Chaska’s Marie Steiner Kelting Hospice Home into a mental health center serving adults in crisis.

Local mental health advocates say the county is in dire need of a residential facility where residents can temporarily stay to adjust medication, get therapy and stabilize. If approved, the center — owned by Ridgeview Medical Center — would expand from five rooms to 12. Patients could stay up to 10 days.

“We don’t have any facility like this near us,” said Gary Norman, director of the county’s community mental health center, First Street Center. Presently, those in crisis must travel to clinics in Mankato or Coon Rapids, Norman said. When those facilities are booked, vulnerable adults may be shipped as far as Fargo or wind up in the psychiatric ward of an area hospital.

That’s not ideal, said Sam DeWeese, a retired Ridgeview physician. “They’re going to a level of care far beyond what they need,” DeWeese said.

In 2016, the Carver County crisis team made 750 contacts with people suffering from a mental health emergency, said Rod Franks, health and human services director. Of those, about 300 were Chaska residents.

At a town hall meeting last week, Commissioner Randy Maluchnik and disability rights advocate Noah McCourt addressed concerns from residents who live near the proposed crisis center. Some wondered aloud about safety and the possibility of housing violent adults.

Norman assured neighbors that wasn’t the case. This facility would specialize in treating patients suffering from issues like depression, who need temporary help and perhaps medical intervention. The center would be open to all Minnesota residents.

It’s not yet clear when construction would begin if the proposal wins approval. The hospice facility near Lake Bavaria closed in June after years of declining revenue.

Maluchnik and McCourt said early intervention is key to preventing crises and public safety issues, which may arise when those in need can’t get help.

“As long as you keep having to use ERs [emergency rooms] as mental health facilities, we will keep having these issues,” said McCourt, a former candidate for Waconia City Council who now sits on Gov. Mark Dayton’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.

The Carver County mental health advisory council supports the plan.

Liz Sawyer


City offers adult skateboarding class

Burnsville residents can brush up on their skills or start from scratch in a new skateboarding class for adults over 18.

A “Shred the Park” class will be offered from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sept. 16 at Burnsville Lions Skate Park, 151 Civic Center Parkway. Adults participants will ride next to professionals, including riders from Zombie Boardshop and 3rd Lair Skate Shop.

Skaters should bring their own board. Helmets and pads are strongly recommended.

Cost is $40 and registration is required. Go to, click on “departments” and then go to “recreation and facilities,” to click on the photo banner that says “register for programs and events.” For questions or to request a loaner skateboard, contact Kelly Hansen-Mundahl at 952-895-4514 or Information about skateboarding programs also is available at

Erin Adler

South St. Paul

St. Mary’s Coptic Church to hold festival

St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church will hold its 12th annual Coptic Orthodox Sept. 16 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sept. 17 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The festival will take place on church grounds at 501 6th Av. S. It features church tours, Egyptian food, pictures with King Tut, face-painting and a chance to have one’s name written in hieroglyphics on a piece of papyrus. Interested participants also will learn about the Coptic Orthodox Church and Egyptian culture.

Parking and admission are free. For more information, go to

Erin Adler

Dakota County

County OKs contract to provide shelter services to homeless

The Dakota County Shelter Project held its third community forum Aug. 10 at Shepard of the Valley church in Apple Valley. The effort is aimed at finding short- and long-term solutions to homelessness in the county. About 175 people attended, according to a Dakota County newsletter.

At the meeting, county staff announced a contract with Matrix Housing Services, a Minneapolis nonprofit, to provide shelter services this winter, the newsletter says. The contract is for $45,000, but a committee of Dakota County and Matrix staff and volunteers still needs to raise $200,000 to fund the shelter.

The contract comes after several south metro churches banded together to create a rotating shelter last December and January. The shelter housed more than 75 people over the winter.

Matrix staff said they plan to use the rotating church model again this winter, but would love for an organization to volunteer space for a longer period so they don’t have to move as often. They are also looking for sponsors among corporations or foundations, said Subi Ambrose, Matrix Services’ executive director.

Homelessness in the county is up due to a shortage of shelter space, few vacant apartments and skyrocketing rents, county staff said.

In June, the Dakota County board passed a resolution creating a work group to research and make a plan for a permanent homeless shelter.

At the Aug. 10 meeting, Commissioner Mary Liz Holberg discussed the work group’s progress so far, the county newsletter said. Holberg will share the group’s findings with the County Board in October.

Erin Adler