Samantha DiMaggio, Shakopee’s economic development coordinator for four years, has accepted the job of economic development director for Le Sueur, a city about 60 miles southwest of Minneapolis.

Le Sueur’s population of about 4,000 is a tenth of Shakopee’s 40,000 residents. In her new role, DiMaggio will lead Le Sueur’s Economic Development Authority and Comprehensive Plan Action Team. As she did in Shakopee, she will work closely with city residents and business owners to bolster economic growth.

“To say that she is a superstar is pretty much known to all. That’s how she was robbed from us,” joked Bill Reynolds, Shakopee city administrator. “She essentially wrote her own check for the city of Le Sueur.”

DiMaggio helped grow Shakopee’s commercial sector by attracting industries such as Shutterfly, a digital photo company that employs about 250 people. Under her watch, the city has created more than 2,500 jobs and secured an Amazon distribution center.

Before Shakopee, DiMaggio worked for more than a decade at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, where she was a senior loan officer. She is a graduate of St. Cloud State University.

At a recent City Council meeting, Shakopee Mayor Bill Mars commented that he’d told Le Sueur Mayor Greg Hagg that “he’s getting a true champion.”

In Le Sueur, her starting pay will be based on an annual salary of $91,498, but that will increase to an annualized salary of $93,786 after six months. She began her new position May 10.

Liz Sawyer

Carver County

Mentor volunteers sought for special Veterans Court

Mentors are needed to volunteer for Carver County Veterans Court, a specialized judiciary that aims to help U.S. military members charged with crimes overcome issues with chemical dependency and mental health.

Since 2014, the court has provided intensive supervision and treatment to stabilize participants with the goal of returning them to the level “of personal dignity that they once knew when they were soldiers.” Defendants who enter the program are struggling current and former service members who need support, organizers said.

Veterans Court promotes consequences and accountability, with services tailored to the veteran’s specific needs. Mentors assist participants in their journey to better their lives.

Mentor candidates must have served in the U.S. military and have been honorably discharged. Approved mentors will receive training before being paired with a veteran. Officials are seeking both male and female candidates. Those interested should contact the mentor coordinator at 612-868-6592.

Liz Sawyer

Dakota County

Names for Orange Line’s 17-mile bus route down I-35W to Burnsville under consideration

Metro Transit officials presented an update on the Orange Line, the bus-rapid transit project planned for Interstate 35W, on Tuesday at the Dakota County Board’s Regional Railroad Authority meeting. Phase one, a 17-mile stretch from Minneapolis to Burnsville, is planned to start operating in 2020.

The $150.7 million project, which has enjoyed bipartisan support, has been stalled because of broader regional transit funding questions, said Charles Carlson, a project director for Metro Transit. The Orange Line’s price tag doesn’t include an extension going to Lakeville.

The engineering designs of bus stations in the project’s first phase are 60 percent complete except for the Lake Street station, which is completely designed, Carlson said.

The stop will include bike racks, pylons, signs and benches.

The next step is to name the stations. Burnsville city staff volunteered to gather input for their three stops, located on Nicollet Avenue, Burnsville Parkway and Burnsville South. The Regional Railroad Authority has said it would prefer not to use specific people or area buildings as station names, according to a county memo.

Suggestions from the Burnsville City Council include “Burnsville Heart of the City” and “Heart of the City Travelers Trail” for the Nicollet Avenue station, “I-35 and Burnsville Parkway” for the one on Burnsville Parkway, and “42 Commons” and “Burnsville Center” for the Burnsville South station, which won’t be built until the project’s next phase, the Orange Line extension.

Recommended station names will be presented to the Metropolitan Council Transportation Committee at the general meeting this summer for review and approval.

Erin Adler

Dakota County

New ‘Save the Food’ program joins national campaign to help residents reduce waste

Dakota County is launching “Save the Food,” a new program to reduce food waste among residents, part of a national campaign by the same name.

The initiative, a collaboration with the Ad Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council, aims to “increase awareness of how much food is being discarded and provide resources to better shop, store and cook food,” according to a news release from the county.

Discarded food makes up 17 percent of all waste in Minnesota and costs an average family $1,500 per year, the release said.

In a 2016 focus group, county residents said they were “frustrated with and feel guilty about” the amount of food they waste.

Producing food that ends up discarded costs money, uses water and creates methane — a damaging greenhouse gas — in landfills.

The county is promoting the informational campaign through videos and print materials, including its newsletters, posters and ads. For more information, go to

Erin Adler