Richfield has launched an initiative to become "dementia friendly," a label for communities that are safe and engaging for people dealing with mental deterioration.

City officials decided to partner with Dementia Friends, an international program that aims to increase the visibility of people with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, after businesses and residents in the 66th Street and Lyndale Avenue area expressed interest.

More than 750 Richfield residents have Alzheimer's or dementia, according to the city. The dementia-friendly classification would help the city embark on strategies to make it more supportive of those residents, according to Community Health Services Administrator Jennifer Anderson.

"Without quality dementia care and services, community-wide support, and meaningful inclusion in community life, people living with Alzheimer's and their caregivers experience isolation, higher health care costs, and poorer quality of life," Anderson said.

The city held a lunch on June 20 to kick off the initiative, according to a news release.

More than 50 communities in Minnesota are classified as dementia friendly, including Edina, St. Louis Park and Hopkins.

Miguel Otárola


Hy-Vee grocery store to open in September

A highly anticipated Hy-Vee grocery store is expected to open this fall in Robbinsdale, according to Mayor Regan Murphy.

Company officials announced plans to open a store at the site of the shuttered Terrace Theatre in 2016. The theater was demolished and construction began more than a year ago.

Once opened, Hy-Vee will be the only grocery store in the city, according to Murphy.

Hy-Vee will hire about 400 part-time and full-time workers starting in August, with a convenience store component expected to open first, Murphy said. The city's municipal liquor store will be located next to the store.

Murphy said he understands that some people may still have animosity toward Hy-Vee and the city for demolishing the historic theater, but that the store is bringing with it "a lot of positives."

"We do need to move forward," he said. "In the long run, it's going to help Robbinsdale prosper."

Several Hy-Vee stores have popped up across the Twin Cities in the past few years. The Robbinsdale store is expected to be the last before the company halts plans for other new stores in the metro area.

Miguel Otárola

Brooklyn Park

Cunningham starts new role as fire chief

T. John Cunningham took over last month as fire chief of the Brooklyn Park department, almost a year after the department's previous chief resigned.

Cunningham has more than two decades of experience in firefighting, most recently serving as Elk River's fire chief and director of emergency management. He is currently the president of the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association.

First on Cunningham's agenda, he said, was to get to know his staff and community members.

"I look at this as a new beginning," he said. "The best thing for me to do is learn where we're at today and focus on building on the foundation that's already been laid in front of me."

The position was opened after Fire Chief Ken Prillaman stepped down in July 2017. Some city leaders say Prillaman was pushed out by "a culture of hostility" involving a council member who had worked for years as a paid on-call firefighter.

Katie Galioto


School board reviews interim schools chief

The Shakopee school board met in closed session for more than an hour Monday night to evaluate Interim Superintendent Gary Anger's first year at the helm. Administrators later reported that they received 510 survey responses from district employees that largely sang his praises.

Anger, a charismatic leader from the Zumbrota-Mazeppa schools, took the reins at Shakopee Public Schools last summer. He was tasked with boosting morale in an embattled district stung by the scandal of his predecessor Rod Thompson, who resigned amid accusations of embezzling public funds.

Within weeks, Anger had written thank-you notes to more than 1,000 Shakopee school district employees and became a regular presence in the classroom.

"He's a culture leader, and our cultural scores are quite strong, along with our credibility and customer service," school board member Matt McKeand said Monday night.

This year, board members expect Anger to pivot his attention toward daily district operations, while maintaining cultural growth. Back-to-back budget deficits have forced the district to make tough cuts, including to special education, technology and staffing.

Anger thanked staff members for their feedback.

Liz Sawyer

Anoka County

Board backs hunting, shooting group

An advocacy group hoping to call attention to the economic impact of hunting and shooting sports found a strong show of support last week from the Anoka County Board.

The board unanimously approved a resolution to back Hunting Works for Minnesota, a grass-roots coalition that promotes hunting and recreational shooting sports and the role they play in the local economy.

"This is actually a very historic day because Anoka County is the first county in America that is recognizing the Hunting Works project," Ryan Bronson, of Federal Premium Ammunition, told commissioners at Tuesday's meeting.

More than 500,000 licensed hunters live in Minnesota and spend more than $733 million on hunting activities each year, according to the resolution.

County officials noted the north metro's strong outdoor traditions and the hunting companies located there, including the annual Game Fair in Ramsey and Federal Premium Ammunition in Anoka.

Hannah Covington