UCare donates money for housing

The UCare Foundation is donating $100,000 to Anoka County to be used for housing assistance in 2021.

The donation is intended to provide a flexible source of funds for Anoka County residents at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has created widespread housing instability.

Individuals and families with incomes between 200 and 400% of the federal poverty level will be eligible for one-time financial assistance in the coming year. Priority will be given to those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The money can go toward paying housing-related expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities and damage deposits.

More information will be made available through Anoka County Community Social Services and Behavioral Health, but specifics are still in the works, said county spokesman Erik Thorson.

Once the county determines how it will disseminate the funding, it will provide guidance for people who wish to apply.

Kim Hyatt


Departing mayor garners praise

Business people, elected officials and others paid tribute Tuesday to Wayzata Mayor Ken Willcox, who announced earlier this year that he was stepping down from city government after serving 12 years as mayor and four on the City Council.

In a video presented at a recent City Council meeting, which was held remotely, U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, state Rep. Jerry Hertaus, Metropolitan Council Chairman Charlie Zelle, the Wayzata fire and police chiefs, several local business people, City Council Member and Mayor-elect Johanna McCarthy and several other community members took turns reading a proclamation thanking Willcox for his years of service to the city of Wayzata.

Several speakers mentioned Willcox's sense of humor, among other admirable attributes, and the video also included a spliced-together collection of "bloopers" from Willcox's monthly "Ask the Mayor" broadcasts.


St. Louis Park

Chipmunk image proves to be a hit

A five-foot-long, 205-pound bronze chipmunk moved into Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park in early December, making its permanent home on a 3,000-pound slab of stone.

The sculpture was created by Nick Legeros, a local artist with a studio in northeast Minneapolis, and can be found welcoming visitors to Westwood Hills' interpretive center, according to a city news release.

The chipmunk is already a hit with the public, according to the release, and will be joined by an oversized bronze chickadee sitting on a birdhouse made of Alaskan yellow cedar in 2021.

That type of cedar was also used in constructing the Nature Center itself, the city's spokesperson said.

The outdoor sculptures were funded through donations to the city from the St. Louis Park Rotary Club and the St. Louis Park Sunrise Rotary Club, and through a partnership with St. Louis Park Friends of the Arts.

Westwood Hills Nature Center, which St. Louis Park owns and operates, is a 160-acre natural area including restored prairie, marsh and woods.

Erin Adler