Volunteers at the Sibley Historic Site in Mendota opened an envelope in late December to find an anonymous $10,000 gift, earmarked for property maintenance and improvements, field trips for schoolchildren and the site's endowment.

"It's a significant gift," said Bob Minish, president of Friends of the Sibley Historic Site.

The 106-year-old site on the Minnesota River is home to four limestone and brick buildings that are among the oldest standing structures in Minnesota. They include the Sibley House, the Faribault House, the DuPuis House and a cold store. Today, the restored buildings help tell the history of the fur trade, the involvement of Henry Sibley, Minnesota's first governor, in statewide business and politics and his role in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.

The site is one of 26 historic sites and museums in the Minnesota Historical Society's network.

Erin Adler


Hastings offers new lifetime dog license

The Hastings City Council changed its city ordinances Jan. 3 to offer a new lifetime dog license in addition to the standard two-year license. Hastings dog owners are required to obtain a license, but can now do so just once. The cost is $30 for spayed or neutered dogs and $45 if the dog is unaltered. The two-year license is still available and costs $12 for spayed or neutered dogs and $20 for unaltered dogs.

Pet owners' convenience was a major reason for the new offering, said Melanie Mesko Lee, city administrator.

Council Member Lisa Leifeld expressed concerns that the lifetime license doesn't require pet owners to prove their dog has a rabies vaccination on a periodic basis, one purpose of the two-year renewable license.

"My concern was and still is that people are not going to be held responsible for getting their vaccinations on time," Leifeld said, adding that having to renew a license acts as a reminder.

City officials said the rabies vaccination can be dealt with if an issue arises.

The council approved the lifetime dog license 6 to 1, with Leifeld voting against the measure.

Other cities that offer lifetime licenses include Minneapolis, St. Paul, Roseville and Farmington.

Erin Adler


Hy-Vee grocery store proposed for city's new business park development

Chaska's Planning Commission recommended approval of a preliminary plan to build a Hy-Vee store at a new business development near Engler Boulevard and Creek Road, just west of Hwy. 212.

The proposal includes a 105,000-square-foot supermarket, with a liquor store and an educational room for wine and beer tasting. The city would need to first approve an off-sale liquor license before it could open.

Hy-Vee also plans to build a 24-hour gas station, convenience store and car-charging station. If approved by the City Council, construction would begin in spring 2019 and the store would open sometime the following year.

The Iowa-based company has dramatically expanded in the Twin Cities, with stores planned or being built in Shakopee, Robbinsdale, Savage, Maple Grove, Farmington and Columbia Heights.

Liz Sawyer

Dakota County

Dakota County Board committee approves joint powers agreement to clean up lake

The Dakota County Board's physical development committee approved a joint powers agreement Jan. 10 with the city of West St. Paul and the Lower Mississippi River Watershed Management Organization to clean up Thompson Lake, located in Thompson County Park in West St. Paul. Thompson Lake is identified in the county's master plan as a critical resource, and improving the water quality is identified as a long-term goal.

The lake is contaminated with phosphorus and sediment, which contains now-banned chemicals once used on asphalt driveways.

In addition, a large stormwater cleanup project is already planned to reduce the volume of pollutants entering the lake, as stormwater flows directly into it.

The projects will cost about $2.02 million. They are being done together to lessen the impact on the park and save money. West St. Paul will pay $144,000 and Dakota County will allot up to $1.3 million from its County Environmental Legacy Funds toward the effort. The Lower Mississippi River Watershed Management Organization is giving $576,000, which it received as a grant from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources Clean Water Fund.

At the same meeting, the County Board approved a $139,340 contract with Tetra Tech and Civil Methods for engineering services to determine how to best restore the lake. The board will take final action on the measure at a later meeting.

Erin Adler