The West St. Paul City Council has approved up to $12,000 for the city’s Loop circulator buses in 2016.

The fixed-route bus service provides transportation to older adults looking to shop on Robert Street and avoid driving through the street’s construction zone.

The circulator bus is a partnership between Dakota County’s Communities for a Lifetime initiative and Living Longer and Stronger in West St. Paul.

Two buses offer rides between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesdays each month. About 20 riders hop on the buses each Wednesday.

The city is also looking for private donations to help finance the bus service, which began last May.

“This is the least that we can do for our businesses and residences under the circumstances of the street being torn up,” Council Member Ed Iago said.

BEATRICE DUPUY

Jordan

City Council appoints Velishek as mayor

Jordan City Council members appointed Tanya Velishek as the city’s new mayor at a Feb. 1 meeting. Velishek succeeds Mike Shaw, who died of cancer on Jan. 16.

Velishek had been acting mayor for several months and will serve the remaining 10 months of Shaw’s term until a new mayor is elected next fall.

Shaw had served as mayor since 2012 and was also a longtime City Council member.

The council will vote Tuesday to appoint a new council member to fill Velishek’s spot through the rest of 2016.

Erin Adler

PRIOR LAKE, BURNSVILLE

Polar Plunges to raise money for charity

Two annual Polar Plunges, in which brave souls raise money for the Special Olympics by submerging in frigid lake water, will take place this month in the south metro.

The Prior Lake plunge will be at noon Feb. 20 at Sand Point Beach on Prior Lake. Plungers can also participate in the South Metro plunge at 1 p.m. Feb. 27 at Crystal Beach on Crystal Lake in Burnsville.

Organizers require that teams arrive for preregistration, or specific time slots, and recommend packing towels and dry clothes. Last year, the Prior Lake and South Metro plunges raised more than $160,000 and $232,000, respectively.

For more information, go to plungemn.org.

NATALIE DAHER

BURNSVILLE

Detective chosen as Officer of the Year

Police detective Bryan Bye, a 14-year veteran of the Burnsville Police Department, is the city’s 2015 Officer of the Year.

Bye has served in many roles since joining the department. He’s been a community service officer, patrol officer, investigator and member of the Crisis Intervention Team and Emergency Action Group tactical team. He’s also earned five distinguished service awards for his tactical response.

In July, Bye was part of a team that responded when an armed man, after making terroristic threats to his ex-wife and ex-employer, barricaded himself at his home.

“Seconds after gas was deployed into the house, the subject began shooting out of his window,” a city news release said. “Bye and other members of the tactical team maintained professionalism while literally ‘under fire.’ ”

Emma Nelson

ROSEMOUNT

Spring expo to kick off gardening season

The ground might still be covered with snow, but the University of Minnesota’s master gardeners want to help you get ready for spring.

The U’s Master Gardeners of Dakota County will host the 17th annual Let’s Get Growing spring expo March 5 at the Rosemount Community Center, 13885 S. Robert Trail.

A keynote panel will talk about the benefits of plants in your landscape. Panelists include food writer Amanda Paa, author of “Smitten With Squash.”

Classes will include composting, lawn care and sustainable gardening.

Admission is $35. To register, call 651-480-7700 or download a brochure at dakotamastergardeners.org.

CASEY COMMON

EAGAN

Empty Bowls event to benefit food pantry

The Open Door food shelf will have its annual Empty Bowls fundraiser March 3.

For a suggested $20 donation, guests can choose a donated handcrafted pottery bowl and have a meal of soup and bread donated by local restaurants.

A drawing will also be held for artwork donated by local artists.

The fundraiser will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, 4030 Pilot Knob Road, Eagan.

CASEY COMMON