Minnetonka is the latest city in the metro area to retrofit its streetlights with LED fixtures.

Starting this month, Xcel Energy started replacing most of the streetlights in the suburb, paying all costs associated with the retrofit. It’s part of a multiyear effort to replace the utility’s high-pressure sodium streetlights throughout Minnesota with LED lights.

LED fixtures use 40 to 60 percent less electricity than cobra head-shaped high-pressure sodium lights and have a longer life, which means less maintenance and fewer replacements.

Once the conversion is completed, communities can expect to save 4 to 7 percent annually on their street-lighting bills, according to Xcel.

Starting last year, Xcel Energy began the nearly three-year process of installing more energy-efficient LED fixtures in nearly 350 communities throughout the state for economic, environmental and aesthetic benefits.



Dankey appointed to fill council vacancy

The Orono City Council last week unanimously voted to appoint Wendy Dankey to fill a vacancy on the council through the end of 2018.

Dankey moved into the seat vacated by former City Council Member Dennis Walsh, who was elected mayor last fall. The other candidates for the position were Bradley Holt, Georgette Jabbour and Jon Schwingler.

Council members had interviewed each of the four candidates for the job and evaluated them in terms of knowledge, experience and perspective; commitment to the best interests of the community at large; familiarity with the policies and plans that guide Orono; perspective on key issues facing the City Council; and knowledge of council responsibilities.



Ames had best financial year yet in 2016

The Ames Center, a city-owned performing arts center in Burnsville, had its best year on record financially in 2016 — though the endeavor remains short of breaking even.

The center opened in 2009 with a $548,000 operating loss, but was just $32,000 in the red by last year, according to a presentation by Brian Luther, executive director.

The venue debuted a new concession stand in November, one factor that helped raise food and beverage profits by about $25,000 in 2016, he said.

“The new stand is positioning us for growth,” Luther said. “We’re going to see an increase in food and beverage revenue in 2017.”

The City Council earlier this month approved the center’s 2017 work plan, created by an advisory commission. Although the center is publicly owned, it is privately managed.

Formerly called the Burnsville Performing Arts Center, the Ames Center has two theatres, a 1,014-seat proscenium stage and a smaller 150-seat black box theater, as well as a gallery and banquet space.

There were 156 events in the main auditorium in 2016 — up 17 from the previous year — including concerts and dance competitions.

Erin Adler


Free display showcases voting rights

An exhibit on the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, and Minnesota’s role in developing it, will remain on display in the ground floor Hennepin Gallery at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis through Feb. 27.

The exhibit, organized by the Hennepin History Museum, showcases local advocacy for the act along with archival materials related to African-American life in Minnesota and Hennepin County in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. It’s free and open to the public from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.



City may get police partnership program

The Hennepin County Board may vote Thursday to expand its Joint Community Police Partnership to Crystal, a move that would cost $120,000 and increase county staff by two.

If approved, Crystal would join Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Richfield as part of the partnership. The program provides a community liaison to each city, establishes a committee that meets at least monthly with police to advise on community policing, recruits multicultural cadets and community service officers and provides cultural awareness training for officers.

The Joint Community Police Partnership, launched in 2005, is a joint effort of the county and law enforcement to increase communication and understanding between law enforcement and local cultural communities. It was originally designed with new immigrants in mind and has since grown to several cities.