Maple Plain officials are working on plans to expand the city’s fire station.

The 38-year-old station needs more room to accommodate safety stations for firefighters and today’s larger equipment, said Justin McCoy, volunteer fire chief since 2009.

New features would include showering stations, an adequate vehicle exhaust system, a second set of firefighting gear and washing and drying equipment.

“These are basic needs for the modern-day firefighter,” McCoy said.

The department has an aerial ladder truck, fire engines, rescue boat, two tanker trucks and a variety of other trucks for heavy rescue and medical calls, he said. There are six bays’ worth of equipment sitting in four bays, he said.

McCoy stressed the importance of new equipment to mitigate the chances of cancer developing among firefighters, who are at high risk according to some studies. The department has 22 volunteers.

The Maple Plain City Council will explore possible financing if the project moves forward, he said.

The department serves corners of Medina and Independence as well as Maple Plain, and it also has mutual aid agreements with Loretto, Long Lake and Mound.

Last year, Maple Plain firefighters responded to 274 emergency calls, half of which were medical. The west Hennepin County city has nearly 2,000 residents.

The Fire Department will hold a volunteer recruitment open house at 7 p.m. on April 23 at the station, 1645 Pioneer Avenue.

David Chanen


Happe elected to Third Ward council seat

Mike Happe, an insurance executive and former member of a city commission, was elected to the City Council in a special election to fill an open seat Tuesday.

Happe, 52, was elected to the Third Ward seat with 40.1 percent of the vote. Elena Imaretska came in second with 25.6 percent of the vote. Unofficial results showed that 1,225 votes were cast for the field of five candidates.

Happe, who has lived in Minnetonka for 14 years, last served the city as a member of the Economic Development Advisory Commission. He is chief marketing officer for SFM Mutual Insurance, a workers’ compensation insurance company.

“I’m most excited about the opportunity to talk with people and to build more relationships, not just with the council, but with the folks of Minnetonka,” he said.

The seat opened when Third Ward Council Member Brad Wiersum was elected mayor in November.

The council is expected to certify the results Monday. Happe will be sworn in on April 23.

Miguel Otárola


Council criticizes apartment company

Osseo City Council members last week urged a property manager to improve its business practices, after vacancy notices went out to tenants and forced many of them to move from an apartment complex.

The company, QT Property Management, recently took over an 86-unit complex near Hwys. 169 and 610. The company told tenants they had to vacate their units for renovations and that current leases would not be renewed. Remaining residents later learned they would be able to reapply to live in renovated units.

The City Council last week approved a variance requested by QT to build a free-standing office and gym on the property. But council members warned that they would be watching the development closely.

“I want you to be on your best behavior,” Council Member Harold E. Johnson said to QT officials before the vote. “We don’t particularly like the way your operations began with the city.”

Council Member Mark Schulz said he was saddened to hear about residents who had already moved out of the complex.

“I’m looking forward to significant steps by QT Properties to facilitate communication with their residents,” he said.

Tenants also spoke against the company during the meeting, asking the council to prevent similar practices in the future.

Miguel Otárola

Hennepin County

Board awards $215K in youth sports grants

The Hennepin County Board on Tuesday approved more than $215,000 in grants to help cities and schools improve playgrounds and buy equipment for sports fields and facilities.

The funding is part of the county’s Youth Sports Program, which uses proceeds from the county’s ballpark sales tax (which pays for Target Field) to fund the local projects.

Since the program began in 2009, the County Board has awarded $22 million to build or renovate sports facilities and fund equipment projects, along with water safety lessons.

Grant recipients:

• Minneapolis Public Schools, $37,800 for equipment at several schools and neighborhood centers.

• City of New Hope, $37,500, including $25,000 for the playground at Sunnyside Park.

• City of Loretto, $35,000, including $25,000 for the playground at Ponds Park.

• Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, $28,841 for six equipment projects, including $8,900 for safety wall mats at the Northeast Recreation Center.

• City of Shorewood, $25,000 for the playground at Badger Park.

• City of Orono, $10,000 for a multisport surface at Navarre Playground Park.

• Richfield Public Schools, $9,999 for soccer goals and nets at Richfield High School.

• Robbinsdale Public Schools, $9,500 for equipment at Cooper High School.

• Orono Public Schools, $8,450 for softball equipment for Discovery Center.

• Hopkins Public Schools, $5,406 for football equipment for Hopkins High School.

• City of Robbinsdale, $4,302 for softball and lacrosse gear.

• Richfield High School, $2,495 for basketball equipment.

• City of Plymouth, $750 for storage shed at Zachary Playfield.

Kevin Duchschere