The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) announced a partnership to provide five new direct bus stops to and from Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake along MVTA Route 495, which runs daily between Bloomington, Burnsville and Shakopee.

Tribe chairman Charles Vig said many of the casino's employees use public transit to get to work each day and the new routes will make commutes during peak times easier, according to a news release.

Service at the new morning and afternoon stops starts Feb. 17 and is scheduled to continue for one year. A $75,000 SMSC donation will cover the new service's cost.

"These expanded routes are a win-win for both the SMSC and the MVTA," MVTA Executive Director Luther Wynder said in a news release. "Together, we'll be able to get more travelers where they want to go in an affordable, convenient way."

Find more information on Route 495 and the additional stops at

Liz Sawyer


City Hall space leased to USDA

The Farmington City Council unanimously voted Monday to approve leasing 2,270 square feet in City Hall to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

"I think it's just a good fit to have another government entity be located within a city government building," said Randy Distad, parks and recreation director.

The USDA currently uses space at the Dakota County extension office, next to the Dakota County Fairgrounds.

In mid-2017, the city learned that the federal agency was seeking new office space and submitted a proposal, according to a city memo.

City Hall has adequate space to rent out, and the City Council decided several years ago to make renting out extra square footage a priority, the memo said.

The city will build out the area to be rented at an estimated cost of $113,500. That investment will be recovered through the USDA's rent over the first decade, which amounts to $29,545 annually for the first 10 years and $19,575 for years 11 through 20 of the contract.

The USDA signed a 20-year lease with one year guaranteed, and the department can get out of the lease with 120 days notice.

USDA officials will likely move in this fall, Distad said.

Erin Adler


Police urge residents to lock cars

The Hastings Police Department urges residents to lock their vehicles after a car was stolen from the Walmart parking lot Jan. 28 — the latest in a string of 19 vehicle thefts that began in June 2017.

The most recent theft involved a locked car with a spare set of keys and a handgun inside. After spotting the vehicle, police pursued it for nearly 20 miles as it ran a red light and refused to stop. The chase ended without incident on Hwy. 61 near Warner Road, according to a city memo. Aziz Holmes, 23, of Burnsville was arrested and charged with felony fleeing and motor vehicle theft, among other charges.

Police said that many of the recent thefts — 13 of the most recent 19 incidents — involved keys left in a vehicle or a running vehicle. Such crimes of opportunity are "fairly common," the city memo said.

Residents can remove some of that opportunity by locking their cars, keeping keys with them and reporting any unusual behavior.

Erin Adler

Dakota County

Commissioner Holberg seeks re-election

Mary Liz Holberg, a Dakota County commissioner since 2014, announced her campaign for re-election in late January.

While on the County Board, Holberg advocated for leaving the County Transit Improvement Board (CTIB). The move, finalized last year, allotted $22 million back to taxpayers that the County Board plans to use for road and bridge improvements. The exit will also garner the county $16 million in sales tax revenue when it levies its own quarter-cent sales tax and $20 excise tax to pay for transportation projects. The new tax will replace a previous tax levied by CTIB.

Holberg chaired the Shelter Leadership Working Group, a coalition comprised of religious leaders and county agencies that aimed to address homelessness in the county.

In a news release, Holberg also touted her role in finishing the Hwy. 50 road project, expanding and remodeling Heritage Library in Lakeville and pushing for legislation that ensures Dakota County preschoolers are prepared for kindergarten.

Holberg, a longtime Lakeville resident, previously represented District 58A in the Minnesota House of Representatives as a Republican.

The terms of Commissioner Mike Slavik and Commissioner Kathleen Gaylord also expire in 2018, though neither has yet announced a bid for re-election.

Erin Adler

Historical society to host genealogy talk

The Dakota County Historical Society will host a free genealogy research seminar called "How I broke my brick wall" at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Lawshe Memorial Museum, 130 3rd Av. N. in South St Paul.

Cathi Weber, president of the Anoka County Genealogical Society and chairwoman of the Education Committee of the Minnesota Genealogical Society, will give the presentation — which is a case study of the research she conducted using multiple sources to discover more about her grandfather. He died the year she was born.

She hit a "brick wall" when looking for him, she said, because of several factors: He changed his name, moved across the country, abandoned a family and then started a new one. Neither family knew about the other until Weber told them.

"That's how I really got started in genealogy was finding my grandfather, and it took me over 20 years," Weber said.

Weber has been analyzing her family history for more than 35 years and started her own business, NorthStar Genealogy, to teach classes and help others discover their family trees.

Erin Adler