Homeowners with substantial natural areas, wetlands or rare species now have a chance to permanently protect that land through Dakota County’s land conservation program.

The county works with residents on a volunteer basis to protect private land by acquiring conservation easements or working with public partners to buy the area. Through collaboration, grants and land donations, Dakota County has leveraged more than $56.7 million to protect 11,000 acres worth more than $76 million, officials said.

Property owners interested in applying for the program must complete an initial application by Sept. 15. If eligible, a final application must be submitted after meeting with program staff. Residents with unique landscape features, shoreline or areas that could retain more water are encouraged to apply for permanent land protection.

Information and pre-applications are available on the county website at co.dakota.mn.us and by contacting Lisa West at 952-891-7018.

Liz Sawyer


Amazon donates STEM supplies to schools

Amazon workers surprised students at Shakopee East and West junior high schools last week by dropping off equipment to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

Matt Martindale, Amazon senior operations manager, presented two computer-controlled cutting machines and related accessories at a school event last Thursday. The donation is meant to enrich education programs by providing students with innovative technology “to develop real world job skills,” a spokesman said.

The equipment, valued at more than $10,000, will expand and speed up students’ ability to create and execute STEM projects. It’s part of the company’s push to give back in local communities where its associates work and live.

Since last summer, Amazon has opened a sprawling fulfillment center in Shakopee where it initially hired 1,500 employees and is recruiting nearly 1,000 more.

Liz Sawyer


Dakota County courts hold open house

The Dakota County District Court will hold an open house next month with tours and mock jury selection to celebrate Constitution Day.

On Sept. 15, community members are invited to the Dakota County Judicial Center (1560 Hwy. 55, Hastings) from 12:30 to 4 p.m. for a crash course in the criminal justice system. Visitors will hear presentations from local judges and court staff and have access to information from the county sheriff’s office, legal aid, community corrections, Veterans Affairs and college law programs, among others.

For a list of participating agencies, visit dakota.mn.us.

Liz Sawyer

Carver County

Sheriff’s Office to host citizens academy

The Carver County Sheriff is now accepting applications for its fall Citizens Academy course, a free program to inform residents about law enforcement.

Classes begin Sept. 28 and meet every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. The program will conclude with a graduation ceremony for participants on Thursday, Dec. 7. The academy will be held in a variety of locations throughout the county and cover topics such as use of force, crime scene processing, traffic control and investigations.

Citizens will also have ride-along opportunities, use-of-force and scenario-based training and an emergency driving simulation over the course of the 8-week program.

Participation is limited to 20 people. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, live in Carver County, be able to commit to the time requirements, not be on probation and pass a basic background check.

To complete an application, go to co.carver.mn.us or contact Sgt. Lance Pearce for more information at 952-361-1812.

Liz Sawyer


Sewer project to begin near Paisley Park

Sanitation work will begin this month along a stretch of Hwy. 5 near Paisley Park as part of the Metropolitan Council’s Sewer Improvement Project.

Excavation and site preparation will not affect the adjacent roadways or trails in August, but delays will occur sometime after Labor Day as temporary pipes and pumps are installed to divert wastewater as the sewer is lined. Maintenance is required on both sides of Hwy. 5/Arboretum Boulevard. A portion of the Paisley Park fence will be temporary moved.

The following will be closed for the 2017 construction season:

• Pedestrian tunnel beneath Hwy. 5. (Residents can cross on Audubon Road)

• A section of the bicycle trail to the north of Hwy. 5

For more details on the project, visit ci.chanhassen.mn.us. Officials hope to complete the work by the year’s end.

Liz Sawyer


Valleyfair celebrates annual corn feast

Valleyfair’s 41st Annual Corn Feast will return Labor Day weekend, when guests will gobble up more than 30,000 pounds of free corn on the cob at the Shakopee amusement park.

Starting Saturday, Sept. 2, visitors can stop by the Gazebo Stage area to chomp on the cobs. Don’t like the taste of corn? Competitors in the daily corn eating contest could still use a cheering section.

The event runs 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Monday, Sept. 4. Daily admission starts at $35, and season passes run $102. Valleyfair will remain open weeklong through Labor Day, then weekends only until Halloween.

For information, visit valleyfair.com/play/corn-feast.

Liz Sawyer