The policy governing security at the Washington County Government Center will be reviewed after Commissioner Gary Kriesel complained about citizen meetings being held in the basement of the complex.

"I don't want our citizens thinking they're coming into some Third World country," said Kriesel, who described a recent Planning Commission meeting in the basement where projections on a video screen were whited out and indecipherable.

He asked at last week's board meeting why citizen groups weren't allowed to use the county's new fifth-floor board room.

County Administrator Molly O'Rourke replied that an after-hours security policy had been put in place after 9/11 on advice of a consultant, who recommended against access of various floors of the building.

Kriesel said he wanted a review of the policy, and board members voted 4-0 in favor. The fifth commissioner, chairwoman Lisa Weik, was attending a national conference.

st. croix falls

Forest ecologist talks about climate change

Because Minnesota and Wisconsin are positioned in the center of the continent, residents can expect a higher magnitude of warming than many other regions, forest ecologist Lee Frelich will tell listeners in a presentation Saturday, March 16, at the St. Croix River Visitor Center.

Effects of a warmer climate on forests will be seen in more storms, droughts, fires, insect pests and diseases, high deer populations and invasive species, he will say.

Frelich is director of the University of Minnesota Center for Forest Ecology and teaches courses in forest fire ecology and landscape ecology.

The presentation at 10 a.m. is free and open to the public. The visitor center is at 401 N. Hamilton St. in St. Croix Falls, Wis. Reservations are encouraged because of limited seating. Call 715-483-2274 to reserve up to four seats.


Lily Lake lawsuit moves to Stillwater

A lawsuit filed over the death of a Stillwater boy after swimming in Lily Lake has been moved to Washington County.

The suit on behalf of the family of Jack Ariola Erenberg, 9, had been filed in Dakota County. But proceedings now will be heard before Judge Elizabeth Martin in Washington County District Court in Stillwater.

The youth died from a rare parasite in August after swimming in Lily Lake, which has a small beach. His death came two years after Annie Bahneman, 7, of Stillwater also died from the Naegleria fowleri amoeba, which was traced to her swimming in the same lake. The parasite, commonly found in warm freshwater and soil, causes a rare but severe brain infection that is nearly always fatal.

Filed by Jack's father, James Ariola, the suit claims that the city of Stillwater, the Stillwater Parks and Recreation Commission, Washington County and the Minnesota Department of Health failed to issue appropriate warnings to the public.

Children can learn about dinosaurs

The Stillwater Public Library will host Dino Dig, part of the Minnesota Children's Museum's Smart Play program, on Thursday, March 14, at 10:30 a.m.

Children will become aspiring paleontologists and uncover clues from the past to learn about these ancient creatures.

Space is limited; call 651-275-4338, ext. 111, to register. For more information about library programs visit

st. croix region

Namekagon paddle registration still open

The St. Croix River Association's annual paddle of the Namekagon River will be held May 19-24.

Paddlers will explore 92 miles on the river, and some space remains for anyone wanting to register, said the sponsoring St. Croix River Association.

The non-profit organization, with offices in St. Croix Falls, Wis., works to protect and restore the St. Croix River watershed and also celebrate it.

For information about the Namekagon Paddle, including outfitters for anyone needing to rent a canoe or kayak, and to register, visit or call the St. Croix River Association at 715-483-3300. Deadline to register is April 1.


Utility bills are now available online

Utility customers in Woodbury now can pay their utility bill online. Judy Afdahl, assistant finance director, said services include:

• Paying utility bills with credit or debit cards

• Viewing bill, current balance and due date;

• Accessing billing history, payments and charges;

• Viewing historical consumption data;

• Electing to have only electronic bills.

The online service is available via a link on the city's website at This service is available with no additional charge. To access their account, customers will need their account number.

Questions about online utility billing and payments can be directed to the Finance Department at 651-714-3508.

Building approved at Crossroads complex

Plans for the sixth and final building comprising Crossroads Commerce Center recently were approved by the Woodbury City Council after a unanimous recommendation of the city's Planning Commission.

The complex, located near the junction of Commerce and Rivertown drives west of the Sam's Club in Woodbury, includes five one- and two-story buildings. They house an array of tenants, including the Spirit of Life Church, the Islamic Society of Woodbury and Dorothy Ann Bakery.

The new building will have nearly 38,000 square feet.

Plans for the complex were originally approved in 2005. When the final building is completed, the space of all the buildings will total slightly less than 200,000 square feet.

Volunteers needed at Woodwinds hospital

Woodwinds Health Campus in Woodbury soon will have several volunteer opportunities available to share your talents and learn new skills.

The hospital is looking for adult volunteers to lead patients and families on tours through the facility at 1925 Woodwinds Drive in Woodbury.

If you enjoy public speaking and would like to learn more about the program, contact Ivonne Norberg at 651-232-0933.

cottage grove

Public can comment on bike park proposal

Cottage Grove is looking for community comment on a proposal to build a bike park in West Draw Park.

Residents are invited to learn about the bike park at the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Commission meeting on Monday, March 11, at City Hall, 12800 Ravine Parkway S. in Cottage Grove. This would be the first bike park in the east metro area.

At 6 p.m., there will be a short presentation by the Bike Park Task Force. An opportunity for one-on-one conversations with task force members, commissioners and city staff will follow. At 7 p.m., the commission will review the bike park work plan and make a recommendation to the City Council. Residents may speak at either forum.

Bike parks are a system of off-road dirt paths with built-in "natural" features that allow for jump, pump or slalom riding. They are smaller than mountain bike paths and are built for recreational users of all ages and bicycling abilities.

Discussion to focus on domestic violence

A community discussion on domestic violence, including a number of experts on the topic, is set for 6-9 p.m. March 18 in the main lecture hall at Park High School, 8040 80th St. in Cottage Grove.

The session will begin with a showing of the powerful short documentary, "Telling Amy's Story," dealing with domestic violence and domestic violence homicide. The film will be followed by a presentation on risk factors for domestic homicide, information on victim services from the Tubman Shelter, and a panel discussion involving law enforcement, Tubman and domestic violence survivors.

The "Clothesline Project," a memorial to victims of domestic violence, will also be displayed.

Register by e-mailing Det. Sgt. Randy McAlister of Cottage Grove Police Department at or call 651-458-6017.