Olmsted County commissioners approved a one-quarter of 1 percent countywide sales tax increase last week that will go toward transportation.

The increase, which will go into effect in July, is expected to generate $7 million a year through 2041. Consumers will pay an extra 25 cents on a $100 purchase.

Minnesota law allows non-metro counties to approve up to a one-half of 1 percent sales tax increase to go toward transportation funding. Olmsted is one of more than two dozen of the state's counties that are using the tax.

Even with the increase, county officials say they face $373 million in unfunded transportation needs over the next 25 years. They blamed inaction by state and federal governments, particularly for failing to increase the gas tax.

"We cannot let our investment in these roads and bridges go away," said Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden.

Mark Brunswick


City drops cases against judge's properties

The city of St. Cloud has dismissed administrative citations against four contract-for-deed properties owned by a district judge and her husband.

District Judge Vicki Landwehr and her husband, Don, faced the citations after several of their properties were identified by neighbors and St. Cloud city officials as blights on their neighborhoods. In November, police raided one house owned by the Landwehrs and found a meth lab.

Charges of renting without a license in violation of city code were dropped after the Landwehrs remedied the problems, said Matt Staehling, the city administrator.

The city, however, has reserved the right to reinstate the charge against one home if complete compliance isn't achieved by May 1.

The home where the meth lab was discovered is undergoing methamphetamine remediation, Staehling said.



American Legion to close, building to put up for sale

The decades-old American Legion bar and restaurant in downtown Crookston will be closing early next month.

Membership in the armed services veterans' organization is down, and there haven't been enough customers to support the operating expenses, including liquor liability, said financial officer Bob Altringer.

The Legion's building will be put up for sale after it closes on April 2, but the organization will still exist, Altringer said.

The organization has about 300 members now, Altringer said, down from 400. It has donated anywhere from $40,000 to $55,000 into the community, he said.

"It is hard to get any young people to join organizations now," Altringer said. "It is sad, because they're great organizations and they supply a lot to the communities that they're in."

Pam Louwagie