Canine officers hired for police, sheriff’s forces

A pair of police dogs will come to the Willmar Police Department and the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office early next year thanks to a private donation from two local businesses. The dogs will be the first for the police department since Willmar canine officer Cato retired in late 2012; the sheriff’s office saw both of its dogs retire in the past two years, said Willmar Police Chief Jim Felt. “We saw huge benefits from the canine program,” Felt said, adding that the two new German shepherds will arrive in January and be finished with training by about May.

A $15,000 donation from Duininck Inc., a road and highway construction firm in Spicer, Minn., and Fancy Coats Pet Grooming and Inn in Willmar covered most of the $16,400 cost of the dogs, provided by Performance Kennels of Buffalo, Minn.

Matt McKinney @_mattmckinney



Another city signs on for high-speed Internet

Little Winthrop, Minn., is one of 32 cities launching Next Century Cities, a city-to-city effort to support leaders who are working to ensure that residents have access to speedy Internet.

Winthrop helped create the RS Fiber Cooperative, a high-speed fiber network reaching homes and farms in Renville and Sibley counties. Mayor Dave Trebelhorn and Mark Erickson, director of Winthrop’s economic development authority, attended the California launch.

“We’re here to help tell the story and to support any other communities that want to go down this path,” Erickson said. “There are a lot of misconceptions and a lot of bad information out there.”

Next Century Cities’ work is being funded by donors such as the Ford Foundation and companies including Google.

Jenna Ross @ByJenna



Luxury apartments could rise on London Road

A stretch of London Road minutes from downtown is being eyed for a new $36 million apartment and retail building, officials announced Friday.

A redevelopment effort on the 2100 block of London Road would replace a former Burger King, an abandoned commercial building and a couple of older homes with 148 units of sleek luxury rentals. The project, which still needs city approval, would feature a large deck overlooking Lake Superior.

Mayor Don Ness said on a Facebook posting Friday that “there is no question in my mind that this is good for our city: hundreds of construction jobs, market rate apartments, retail on London Road, and a huge improvement to an underutilized site.”

Developer Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors, LLC, based in Minneapolis, would aim to open in early summer of 2016. Partner and co-founder Tom Lund said the energy, health care and tourism industries are driving the Duluth economy and “there’s a pent-up demand for quality housing.”

Pam Louwagie @pamlouwagie