Eat fish, not just watch them, at the zoo

Fish First, an annual event aimed at teaching the public about "the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources," takes place early next month at the Minnesota Zoo.

Chefs from the The Oceanaire, McCormick & Schmick's, Sea Change, Stella's Fish Café and Prestige Oyster Bar and other establishments will take part in the event at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7.

"Sustainable" means "seafood from fished or farmed sources that can exist over the long-term without compromising species' survival or the health of the surrounding ecosystem," zoo officials say. "With nearly 75 percent of the world's fisheries either fully fished or over-fished, these issues are more important than ever."

The zoo can provide a "Seafood Watch" pocket guide to help folks choose.

The cost is $50 per person, and only those age 21 and up are allowed. RSVP at Proceeds will benefit conservation programs.


MVTA award for rapid bus technology

The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) has won a statewide award for a new technology that helps bus drivers feel more confident blasting their way down narrow shoulder lanes.

The Management Innovation Award, from the state Public Transit Association, was given for a so-called "driver assist system" for bus-only shoulders on suburban highways.

The technology was developed by the University of Minnesota Intelligent Vehicles Lab. It uses satellite tracking and prepares drivers ahead of time in a simulator. It's part of the Bus Rapid Transit line now being readied for use on Cedar Ave.

The MVTA serves Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Rosemount and Savage.


Briefing on oak wilt

The tree-killer oak wilt is on the rise in Prior Lake, and there's a meeting Thursday to help you understand it.

Topics include symptoms, how to protect trees, and how to prevent further spread. The session begins at 7:30 p.m. at city hall in the council chamber.

Call the city forester at 952-447-9892 if you suspect a problem and a certified tree inspector will check the tree.


Are health outcomes fair?

A few months after a national study compared Dakota and Scott county health indicators to those of other counties in the state and nation, Eagan-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation is about to unveil a report on "unequal health" in the Twin Cities.

The foundation commissioned from Wilder Research a report entitled "The Distribution of Unequal Health in the Twin Cities." It's inviting interested folks to attend a conference discussing them.

The event takes place from 8 to 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7, at the Wilder Center, 451 Lexington Pkwy. N., St. Paul. It's free, but registration is required. Contact Jackie Campeau at Wilder Research, at 651-280-2700 or .

The report examines "links between health outcomes and income, education, neighborhood conditions, and race," the foundation says.


Your thoughts on the Vermillion?

Reactions, please, to plans for the Vermillion River corridor.

There's a meeting to gather thoughts from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Dakota County Extension and Conservation Center, 4100 220th St., Farmington.

Water quality, habitat, recreation and potential improvements along the corridor are all on the agenda for an event billed as strictly informal, with folks coming and going throughout the posted time.

The Vermillion River Corridor Plan aims to "promote management techniques and projects that provide multiple benefits: improve water quality, interconnect habitat, provide compatible recreation, and create a framework to help guide future growth and development," according to a statement from county officials.

To take a peek, visit www.vermillionriver and search for "corridor plan." A copy also is available at the Apple Valley, Hastings and Farmington libraries. To learn more, e-mail or call Mary Jackson at 952-891-7000.

Thinking great thoughts at library

Four Monday afternoon forums on foreign policy are being offered this fall at the Apple Valley library.

A "Great Decisions" briefing book is available there for folks who want to bone up ahead of time, either to check out or read on-site. But no homework is required. Each runs from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Here's the lineup:

• The Global Financial Crisis, Oct. 4, Regulation of markets and institutions, emergency measures to prevent a collapse of the system, etc.

• U.S.-China relations, Oct. 18. China's growing influence and rising military spending, and its relations with its neighbors and the United States.

• Russia and its Neighbors, Nov. 1. Topics include: Will Russia regain its traditional leadership role in the region?

• The Persian Gulf, Nov. 15. Topics include: How will President Obama's appeals to Arabs and Muslims impact U.S. foreign policy in the region?

The library is at 14955 Galaxie Av. in Apple Valley. For more information, visit or call 651-450-2918.


City projects recognized in community awards

The city of Inver Grove Heights received two awards for community projects in the 2010 Minnesota Community Pride competition. The awards were announced at the end of August at the Minnesota State Fair and were presented to the city at the city council meeting last week.

The competition was designed to recognize communities' improvement efforts and achievements in specific disciplines, such as entrepreneurship support and arts and culture. The city won best-in-class in community design for its efforts to stop the planned demolition of the Rock Island Swing Bridge. Instead, the structure will be converted into a recreational pier.

Inver Grove Heights was second runner-up in overall community and economic development achievement for communities with a population of 10,000 or more category for its Old Village Area, where the city got its start. Planning studies have been undertaken to discover ways to rejuvenate the infrastructure, housing and public space in the area. The city was given a cash prize totaling $1,450 for the competition.