ABC Newspapers http://abcnewspapers.com Local News from The Anoka County Union, Blaine Spring Lake Park Life and The Coon Rapids Herald Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:30:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Anoka County man wonders if rock may be meteorite http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/anoka-county-man-wonders-if-rock-may-be-meteorite/ http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/anoka-county-man-wonders-if-rock-may-be-meteorite/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:30:09 +0000 http://abcnewspapers.com/?p=147075 On a mission to find some nice rocks his wife could use as accent pieces in her Circle Pines garden, Gary Buhr searched the ground at his family farm in Black Brook, Wisconsin.

Homesteaded by his great-grandfather in 1868, Buhr knew the history of the acreage, how it had been settled and how his great-grandfather cleared the land of white pine and rocks, piling those rocks along the fence line in the field.

Rock picking at his family homestead in Wisconsin, Gary Buhr uncovered this unusual stoney composition and wondered, “Could it be a meteorite?” Photo by Sue Austreng

Rock picking at his family homestead in Wisconsin, Gary Buhr uncovered this unusual stoney composition and wondered, “Could it be a meteorite?” Photo by Sue Austreng

What Buhr didn’t know was what an unusual stoney composition he would uncover in that rock pile.

Due to its weight (it took two men to lift it into his truck, Buhr said) and the unusual pock marks and pits and cracks and coloring, he thought maybe the rock is a meteorite.

“I was always curious of its origin, and with my sister’s urging and brother’s help loaded it in my (truck) and hauled it back to my house … hoping to have it examined to determine if it was a meteorite, volcanic or some other composite,” he said.

Buhr invites anyone who might know something about rocks – or meteorites or volcanic deposits or any other unusual rock formations – to drop him a line and enlighten him as to the possible origin and make-up of the rock.

“Chances are it is not a meteorite, but we would like to know what it is. Whatever the outcome, it will be a nice addition to my wife’s rock garden,” Buhr said.

Buhr can be reached at gab8cab22@comcast.net.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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Ramsey looks at possible streets assessment policy http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/ramsey-looks-at-possible-streets-assessment-policy/ http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/ramsey-looks-at-possible-streets-assessment-policy/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 20:30:25 +0000 http://abcnewspapers.com/?p=147063 The Ramsey City Council took a first look at a new street assessment policy at its Oct. 14 workshop meeting.

The council has been weighing its options for paying for long-term roads maintenance. After it decided to not pursue a monthly franchise fee of $8 per natural gas and electric utility, it turned its attention to special assessments.

The Garnet Street and 168th Avenue neighborhood road reconstruction project has been delayed until the Ramsey City Council can determine a long-term roads funding solution. City Engineer Bruce Westby is encouraging the council to make a decision on a draft special assessment policy by November so city staff can start seeking bids for 2015 projects such as this during the winter when bids would be lower. File photo by Eric Hagen

The Garnet Street and 168th Avenue neighborhood road reconstruction project has been delayed until the Ramsey City Council can determine a long-term roads funding solution. City Engineer Bruce Westby is encouraging the council to make a decision on a draft special assessment policy by November so city staff can start seeking bids for 2015 projects such as this during the winter when bids would be lower. File photo by Eric Hagen

The council has not made a final decision on this special assessment policy and set no timetable. It directed city staff to concentrate on the streets assessment policy and save the utility assessment discussion for another day.

City Engineer Bruce Westby said city staff looked at special assessment policies in Andover, Blaine and Champlin when compiling this first draft of a new policy in Ramsey, but he noted there is no universal policy that all cities abide to. It is up to the Ramsey council to decide what it wants to assess for.

The draft policy requires abutting property owners to pay 100 percent of the cost of a new road, as has been the case in the past. Under the new policy, assessed property owners would pay 50 percent of costs for upgrading a gravel road to a paved road and 25 percent for a reconstruction or overlay. Seal coats would not be assessed.

The city would cover the remaining percentage, but Westby clarified there are some costs that would not be assessed under this draft policy. For instance, the city would take on all costs of upgrading a road from a rural to an urban street, meaning it would pay for the curb and gutter and making the road wider or thicker to handle more traffic. The city would pay for subgrade improvements underneath the road and trails.

How the assessed costs are divided amongst the property owners would depend on the neighborhood set-up. In single family residential neighborhoods with similar lot sizes, assessments would be divided equally per lot.

For commercial and industrial lots, the city could use a method that calculates based on the number of square feet or acres within property boundaries.

Or in these commercial or industrial areas as well as properties with multi-family homes, the city could employ an “adjusted front footage” method of assessment. Westby noted that this would not be a simple calculation of dividing the cost based on how many feet a property has along a repaired street. There are odd-shaped lots, particular in cul-de-sacs or curved streets that make it necessarily to have a formula to calculate a fair assessment. Residential lots greater than 1 acre would fall under the “adjusted front footage” method rather than the “per lot” method.

Residents over the age of 65, or those who are retired because they are permanently disabled, could request deferral of the assessment to a date that would be determined by the council, but the deferral request must come within 60 days of the council approving the assessment.

Property owners would have multiple years to pay of the assessment. The council has not weighed in on how long of a pay-back period it would consider.

Westby encouraged a quick decision on the streets assessment policy so the engineering department can seek bids for 2015 reconstruction projects this winter when prices are low.

“Staff would like to bring closure to this in November,” Westby said.

One neighborhood project the city has held off until it could figure out long-term road funding is Garnet Street and 168th Avenue.

Westby said at the time these neighborhood roads are reconstructed, the council must decide whether it wants to put sanitary sewer pipes under the road and if so how will this be paid for. He said a reconstructed road should last 60 years if properly maintained by future city leaders, so it does not make sense to tear apart a new road to install sewer pipes. He said the presence of sewer does not mean people will be forced to connect.

“The (city) charter says we cannot force residents to connect,” Westby said.

Council Member Chris Riley said the city should save the sewer discussion for another day.

“Right now we’re not talking about sewer,” he said. “That’s a hot topic and we don’t want to derail the roads discussion.”

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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Big Parade of Little People http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/big-parade-of-little-people/ http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/big-parade-of-little-people/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:43:01 +0000 http://abcnewspapers.com/?p=147273 The Big Parade of Little People made its way through downtown Anoka Friday afternoon. Kids from area elementary schools took to the streets and local middle school marching bands helped keep the beat for the hundreds of kids in costume on Anoka’s Main Street. It all leads up to Saturday’s Anoka Halloween Grand Day Parade, which starts at 1 p.m. Dennis Carlson, recently retired superintendent of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, is serving as this year’s grand marshal for the Halloween parades.

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Blaine police reports for the week of Oct. 5-10 http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/blaine-police-reports-for-the-week-of-oct-5-10/ http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/blaine-police-reports-for-the-week-of-oct-5-10/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:30:05 +0000 http://abcnewspapers.com/?p=147080 Theft, Burglary

• On Oct. 5 at 4:28 p.m. in the 1800 block of 105th Avenue NE, it was reported that someone broke a vehicle window and stole a purse.

• On Oct. 8 at 9:34 a.m. in the 11700 block of 3rd Street NE, it was reported that someone stole a Sylvania DVD system and Elipcis Verizon tablet from a vehicle.

• On Oct. 8 at 11:27 a.m. in the 9000 block of West 35W Service Drive NE, the theft of construction materials was reported.

• On Oct. 8 at 2:33 p.m. in the 1500 block of 124th Avenue NE, an identity theft was reported.

• On Oct. 9 at 8:36 a.m. in the 10700 block of Mankato Street NE, it was reported that someone stole two catalytic converters off two work trucks.

Criminal Property Damage

• On Oct. 5 at 1:44 p.m. in the 8600 block of Goodhue Street NE, it was reported that someone severely damaged an overhead garage door, possibly with a baseball bat.

• On Oct. 6 at 2:04 p.m. in the 1100 block of 122nd Lane NE, it was reported that someone smashed a vehicle window.

• On Oct. 6 at 5:06 p.m. in the 12100 block of Fergus Street NE, graffiti was reported on playground equipment.

• On Oct. 7 at 5:33 p.m. in the 11100 block of Lexington Avenue NE, graffiti was reported at a park.

• On Oct. 8 at 4:51 p.m. in the 13100 block of Hastings Street NE, a keyed vehicle was reported.

• On Oct. 9 at 9:01 a.m. in the 12500 block of Ulysses Street NE, it was reported that someone broke  glass on a home’s front door with a BB gun.

• On Oct. 9 at 10:16 p.m. in the 1800 block of 105th Avenue NE, it was reported that someone broke a rear driver’s side passenger window and stole a purse.

• On Oct. 9 at 11:03 p.m. in the 9200 block of Lincoln Street NE, a Samsung Note 2 phone was reported stolen from a vehicle which had a smashed window.

• On Oct. 10 at 4:10 p.m. in the 8200 block of West 35W Service Drive NE, a trailer theft was reported.

DWIs

• On Oct. 4 at 4:18 a.m. at the intersection of Ulysses Street NE and 125th Avenue NE, a woman was issued a citation for underage drinking and driving.

• On Oct. 5 at 2:07 a.m. in the 13000 block of Eldorado Street NE, a man was arrested for DWI.

• On Oct. 9 at 10:56 a.m. in the 11800 block of Ulysses Street NE, a DWI arrest was reported.

Miscellaneous

• On Oct. 4 at 10:21 p.m. in the 11200 block of 7th Street NE, police responded to a suspicious persons report. Two men were sleeping in a car. In the vehicle was marijuana, heroin, pipes, unused syringes and mail.

• On Oct. 5 at 10:56 p.m. in the 12400 block of Aberdeen Street NE, a woman sleeping in a car was found with marijuana and three smoking pipes.

• On Oct. 6 at 8:21 a.m. in the 1200 block of 99th Court NE, people were found in a vehicle slumped over. One suspect falsely identified herself. Police frisked her and found a knife and heroin. Another small baggie of heroin was found in the vehicle.

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Dreshars’ dead-end home wins Halloween House Decorating prize http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/dreshars-dead-end-home-wins-halloween-house-decorating-prize/ http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/dreshars-dead-end-home-wins-halloween-house-decorating-prize/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:05:24 +0000 http://abcnewspapers.com/?p=147260 Spooks and spirits hover among the skeletal trees surrounding the Dreshar home in Andover. Ghouls and zombies, ghosts and others undead wander the yard, peer from hidden houses and moan and weep, their agony echoed in the darkened night sky.

John and Candy Dreshar’s dead-end home (located at 17741 Orchid St. NW, Andover) was awarded the $150 cash prize for first place in the 2014 Anoka Halloween/US Bank House Decorating contest.

HalloweenHouse2Second place went to the home at 981-38th Lane, Anoka; third to the property at 1300 Fourth Ave., Anoka.

Honorable mentions were awarded to homes at 313 Park St., Anoka and 15780 Potassium St. NW, Ramsey.

All awarded and honorably mentioned homes will be on full, animated and active display 7-9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 24, 25 and 26.

So stop on by and see how the spirit moves you …

With more than a half-dozen scenes and dozens of characters – some living, some not – the Dreshar family’s Orchid Street home turns into a tantalizing spook show during the month of Halloween. This year, the Dreshars took home the first place prize in the Anoka Halloween/US Bank house decorating contest. Ghoulish spirits float amongst the trees ... Miniature ghosts and child-sized witches greet youngsters visiting Maggie’s Place. Frankenstein and his bride exchange vows in this spirited scene. What Halloween scene would be complete without an empty casket – or is it? This skeletal preacher delivers a spirited sermon for Frankenstein and his bride. Bats and spirits and ghouls of all sorts float among skeletal branches in the Dreshars’ front yard during Halloween. A spooky stalker peers out from a haunted hut ... Even the Dreshars’ porch takes on a haunted aura during Halloween season.

Sue Austreng is at
sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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BHS speech and debate program named one of best in nation http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/bhs-speech-and-debate-program-named-one-of-best-in-nation/ http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/bhs-speech-and-debate-program-named-one-of-best-in-nation/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:30:59 +0000 http://abcnewspapers.com/?p=147078 Blaine High School’s speech and debate team has earned another significant recognition. The team has been awarded membership into the National Forensic League’s Societé de 300, which is reserved exclusively for the top 1 percent of high schools in the country.

Ross Eichele, the school’s speech and debate coach, said the award is amazing, but also noted that awards aren’t his goal in leading the team.

“Our goal is to get every student to do better today than they did yesterday. If we’re learning and having fun, nothing else really matters,” Eichele said.

To be a member of the forensic league’s Societé de 300, students earn points and degrees every time they compete. The better a student performs, the more points she or he gets. At certain point levels, students get degrees, which are symbolized in seals for their certificate, Eichele said. All told, Blaine High School’s speech and debate team earned more than 300 degrees, ranking it among the top schools in the country.

In a press release announcing the honor, the forensic league said it’s a remarkable milestone for Blaine High School because “it demonstrates outstanding commitment to teaching students essential life skills — including communication, research, listening, writing and organization.”

And that’s most important to Eichele. “I’ve worked really hard to create an environment where our students reflect on what they’ve done and try to improve,” he said. “That takes a lot of energy and time, but the payoff is that students will leave with the ability to think critically and speak well, which will serve them well as they continue through life. We really don’t take much time to talk about awards … just what we can do to improve.”

The recognition comes on the heels of another prestigious honor for the Blaine High School speech and debate program. Just last year, it was ranked No. 85 on the National Forensic League’s list of Top 100 schools in the nation for the 2012-13 school year.

“These students and coaches have demonstrated outstanding participation and achievement in speech and debate activities,” National Forensic League Executive Director J. Scott Wunn said at the time. “We are pleased to honor them for their hard work and dedication, and wish them continued success in the coming season.”

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Trendy & Thrifty Halloween Costumes Start at Goodwill http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/trendy-thrifty-halloween-costumes-start-at-goodwill/ http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/trendy-thrifty-halloween-costumes-start-at-goodwill/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:30:09 +0000 http://abcnewspapers.com/?p=146031 Download coupon for 50% off one item
– then head to your favorite Goodwill store and brew up an awesome costume for less.

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By Sarah Carlson
Editor, Real Housewives of Minnesota

Every year, I tell myself that I’m going to top last year’s Halloween costumes. I aim to be craftier, trendier – and most importantly, thriftier. For all the above, the easy solution is Goodwill. I find some awesome costumes there year after year, without breaking the bank. But what kinds of things will I be on the lookout for this year? I did a little research and then headed to my local Goodwill to work my magic. Here’s what you need to know.

Sarah-RHofMN

More Halloween Parties This Year

Halloween is on Friday this year. So, you can definitely expect to be invited to more Halloween parties, which also means you’ll be costume hunting for adults! It’s best to think ahead about costume ideas, because you don’t want to wait until the last minute and end up dressing as a zombie bride, again…

Goodwill-halloween2014
Costume and Party Trends

What’s is on trend this year? Glad you asked! Experts say this is the year for masquerades, which you can easily prepare for with masks, beautiful gowns, and stunning updos. Also expect to see lots of characters from Frozen, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Game of Thrones and other popular movies and TV shows. Don’t forget superheroes: Captain America, Iron Man, Superman, Spiderman, Batman – the list goes on and on. Clever, timely costumes like Grumpy Cat and Ice Bucket Challenge are always fresh, too.

When in doubt, a trendy celebrity is always fun and easy to mimic. Just flip through your latest copy of People magazine for some clever ideas, and then go on a thrift hunt for pieces that tie it all together!

Walking through Goodwill, I found several great ideas. We’re talking masks, wigs, face paint, and accessories along with versatile basics like suits, dresses, flannel shirts and solid color separates that work in countless costumes.

I decided on Theresa Caputo from the popular TV show, Long Island Medium. It was easy – I just had to thrift for high heels, tight dress and some long fake fingernails. From there the rest was easy; high hair and a fake tan! Spirits are telling me it’s going to be a hit this Halloween!

Tutorials, Lists & Sweepstakes – Oh My!

If you’re ever short on ideas, or if you need a little extra help, the Goodwill website is a great resource. It has dozens of costume images with shopping lists; makeup tutorials for witch, zombie and vampire faces; and even some fun nail art ideas for fans of the Goodwill  Halloween TV commercial. You can even enter to win a $500 VISA cash card in the annual Goodwill Halloween sweepstakes.

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Moegerle, Voss challenge DeRoche for East Bethel Mayor http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/moegerle-voss-challenge-deroche-for-east-bethel-mayor/ http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/moegerle-voss-challenge-deroche-for-east-bethel-mayor/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:30:33 +0000 http://abcnewspapers.com/?p=146923 East Bethel voters will have three candidates to choose from when electing a mayor Nov. 4. Current Mayor Bob DeRoche, along with Council Member Heidi Moegerle and former Council Member Steve Voss are looking to serve as East Bethel’s mayor. DeRoche, serving on the council at the time, was appointed to the mayor’s seat early this year when it was learned that Mayor Richard Lawrence was no longer an East Bethel resident.

Robert DeRoche Heidi Moegerle Steve Voss

Biography

ROBERT DeROCHE, Jr.

Age: 61

Family: two daughters, two cats.

Education: Kaiserslaughtern American High School, National College of Business, numerous military schools, U of M , St. Paul Tech College. Focus on computer sciences, personal and business finance management, business organization and management.

Occupation: Currently the proud Mayor of East Bethel; retired.

Years lived in city: more than 30.

Community involvement: Mayor, road commission, more than three years on finance commission, police liaison, fire department liaison, East Bethel firefighters relief Association , HRA, EDA, Anoka County Community Corrections Commission, Department of Natural Resources instructor for youth-adult firearms safety, ATV and snowmobile safety. Visit pre-schools with police and fire, speak to Boy Scouts about government.

HEIDI MOEGERLE

Age: 53

Family: Husband, Gary Otremba; two cats.

Education: B.S. Biology, Purdue University 1983; and J.D. Indiana University School of Law, Indianapolis.

Occupation: Retired attorney.

Years Lived In City: Full time since 2009; 2003 – 2009 part-time.

Community Involvement: 2010 – Planning Commission; 2011 – 2014, City Council; 2011 – 2013,  President, East Bethel Economic Development Commission

STEVE VOSS

I am a 20-year resident of East Bethel. We raised our family in a great neighborhood on the north shore of Coon Lake. My community involvement has included the East Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission, and two terms on the East Bethel City Council. I also served on the boards of the Soderville Athletic Association and Forest Lake Baseball Association, and coached in both organizations. I work as an environmental consultant in New Brighton.

1. Why are you running for mayor of East Bethel?

DeROCHE: I am running to continue the mission I started over three years ago and that is to protect the residents against costly decisions made by city councils. I am the only candidate for mayor that voted against the water and sewer project. It was clearly evident that the project would never support itself and the taxpayers would be responsible for the costs. In the previous 10 months that I’ve been mayor, I, staff and other cooperating council members have done everything possible to reduce the impact of this burden by bond refinancing, debt management plans and business attraction and retention efforts.

During my term as mayor, meetings are now conducted in a professional and organized manner, the tax levy has been reduced from 15.1 percent to 0.9 percent and we are beginning to make development progress.

MOEGERLE: I am running for mayor of East Bethel because the city needs an experienced leader that will guide the city through the next phase in the growth of the TH65 business corridor. I am that leader.

Growth will only occur when businesses that come to the city see that the council has a consistent, fair and objective approach to everyone the comes to a council meeting. All issues are personal to the individuals and entities that come before the council and those issues need to be treated with respect.

Residents should feel free to speak publicly about how the city can be improved and their suggestions should be welcomed and given due consideration … even if their opinions are not popular. The council should directly, and publicly, dispel rumors that detract from the city’s reputation by stating the actual facts in a positive manner.

East Bethel must become a great place for members of the building trades to work.

The city’s television channel should be used as a tool for providing residents with information about the City of which they can be proud.

VOSS: I am running for mayor of East Bethel to provide our city with a fair, reasonable, and respectful choice for a leader who will promote our city with a positive tone. We cannot move forward as a city if the banter, disrespect, and negative attitudes in city hall continue. I was actively involved in our city government for nearly 20 years before stepping away in 2012, but I can no longer sit idly by – we need a leader who will move our city forward with a positive outlook and respectful demeanor. As mayor, I intend to lead our city with fairness to all and to promote our city’s great quality of life.

2. What are your top three priorities if you are elected to serve the residents?

DeROCHE: My top priority is to serve the residents by giving them my full attention to their issues and working to make residents a part of the decision making process and feel welcome at City meetings. My other goals are to keep the City financially stable and keep taxes from becoming an undue burden on homeowners and businesses.  Beyond that I will carry on work  to build relationships with other Cities, the County and State to continue our economic development activities to broaden our tax base and provide job opportunities .

MOEGERLE: My top three priorities are to:

1. Refinance the large 2010 bond with a substantial pay down from existing funds, which will reduce taxes;

2. Secure commitments from entrepreneurs and established businesses to locate their businesses in East Bethel; and

3. Update the city ordinances through simplification and clarification to coordinate with state statutes.

VOSS: 1. Restore the resident respect for the City Council. In the last several years, the City Council has been disruptive and disrespectful at times, particularly to each other. Council members are not always going to agree on positions, but they must work together cooperatively toward mutual goals if the city is to move forward.

2. Actively promote our city to facilitate new business growth and development of housing choices. City Council must focus their energies on supporting the initiatives in place and find additional ways to promote and support new development along Highway 65. We need to provide a variety of new housing choices, including senior living.

3. Constantly evaluate the level of services the city provides to the residents to assure it meets their needs and deliver those services in the most cost-effective manner possible. City government is meant to provide those services we cannot provide ourselves – primarily police, fire, and roads. We need to maintain these core services.

3. What should the city do to build its tax base?

DeROCHE: Promotion of positive image of the city is a priority for attracting new development. We must emphasize the positive sides of the city and eliminate the negativity that is the theme of other candidates . I will also work to make the city competitive in terms of tax rates and reduction of unreasonable regulations.

Continuity of city government is vital to portray the stability we need to attract business and industry. We don’t need three different mayors in three years and I’m running to carry on this continuity to enable the city to progress economically. I’ve re-established order at the council level and if elected a term as mayor, I will diligently continue the practice of business and industrial recruitment and retention to broaden our tax base to reduce the impact of taxes on city residents.

MOEGERLE: To build the tax base, the city needs to burnish its reputation through consistent, fair and objective approach to all issues. As policymakers, council members must adopt a policy of welcoming everyone to the city and making reasonable accommodations to allow more businesses and homes to be built in the TH65 corridor.

The council must make it clear that cronyism in the city is dead and that all residents are welcome to the city’s political process.

A particular outreach must be made to the GenXers and members of Millennial generation to encourage their participation in creating the future of East Bethel; creating a city in which they will want to retire.

Only when residents and business owners know that the council will be respectful and fair with all requests presented to it, will they make the effort to approach the council and be willing to invest in the City.

VOSS: In order to build our tax base, we need to work diligently to encourage and support both business development and the creation of more housing choices along the Highway 65 corridor. Higher density housing will require nearby services such as grocery stores, restaurants, and other service-orientated businesses. Manufacturing businesses will require a strong workforce with nearby affordable housing choices. And commercial retail service establishments will require both the nearby workplaces and residential development to provide for a broader customer base.

East Bethel is in a position to promote growth for commercial and industrial businesses, and provide housing choices through the infrastructure improvements the community has created over the last several years. It’s past time to take advantage of our unique position and to move our city forward.

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Blaine Citizens Academy gives residents hands-on experiences http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/blaine-citizens-academy-gives-residents-hands-on-experiences/ http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/blaine-citizens-academy-gives-residents-hands-on-experiences/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:30:15 +0000 http://abcnewspapers.com/?p=147067 It isn’t every day that the average citizen can drive a squad car, climb aboard a ladder truck and saw open a vehicle.

The 14th annual Blaine Citizens Academy, hosted by the Blaine Safety Services Division, offered those opportunities and more to 20 residents. The academy’s mission is to show citizens how many people and practices work to keep the community safe.

Tony Stumpf pulls on protective gear before heading outside of Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View Fire Station No. 3 to saw apart vehicles, one of many hands-on learning experiences offered during this year’s multi-week Blaine Citizens Academy. Photos by Olivia Koester

Tony Stumpf pulls on protective gear before heading outside of Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View Fire Station No. 3 to saw apart vehicles, one of many hands-on learning experiences offered during this year’s multi-week Blaine Citizens Academy. Photos by Olivia Koester

Academy participants gathered for three hours on Wednesdays from Sept. 3 to Oct. 22 to learn about community standards, fire and police departments.

Enrollment in the Blaine Citizens Academy is usually capped at 20 and fills quickly when the city begins collecting applications every summer.

Anyone who lives or works in Blaine and is 18 or older is welcome to apply.

Many cities run similar programs, but most don’t include both fire and police services.

“Ours is a little more unique that way,” said Patrol Sgt. Mark Boerboom of the Blaine Police Department.

The Blaine Citizens Academy started up in 2002 and has not changed very much since that time, according to Blaine Fire Marshal Bob Fiske.

Something new last year was an interactive crime scene investigation activity. Opportunities to dig into fire and police work in a hands-on way are typically the most well received, so the crime scene investigation activity was repeated this year.

“I like doing – that’s why I’m here,” said Amy Buchanan, a Blaine resident who was eager to cut open cars as part of education on vehicle extrication Oct. 15.

A couple participants were less eager after Fiske cautioned them about equipment that is powerful enough to saw through a car. If it can cut through metal, it can cut through flesh “like a warm knife through butter,” he said.

Buchanan signed up for the academy because “it sounded like a great time to get educated about what’s happening in the city and have fun while doing it,” she said.

In addition to hands-on activities, presentations engaged residents by featuring Blaine people and places.

Participants were nodding vigorously and shaking their heads furiously during Fiske’s hour-long lecture on fire inspections Oct. 15.

He displayed photos of code violations, showcasing local businesses that buried fire hydrants, had exit signs where no exit was to be found and more.    

After thinking about applying for the Baine Citizens Academy for the last few years, Joanne Sveningson, of Blaine, finally did so this year.

“It’s been marvelous,” she said. It has motivated her to double-check that her own home is as safe as it can possibly be, she said.

The experience has made Sveningson aware of all that firefighters and police officers put into their professions. “They are concerned for us,” she said.

This kind of community education, not a surge of new volunteer firefighters, is what the city is after with this free program, according to Blaine’s Support Services Manager Wende Ferguson.

It’s a learning experience, and it’s especially fun for those who may have wanted to be a cop or firefighter when they were younger, Boerboom said. “You can get a little taste of it.”     

Olivia Koester is at olivia.koester@ecm-inc.com

Blaine Fire Marshal Bob Fiske prepares Citizens Academy participants to break windows and saw open cars in Fire Station No. 3’s parking lot Oct. 15. Fiske warned citizens to protect their eyes and wear their gloves so no shards of glass could touch them. Blaine Fire Marshal Bob Fiske explains to an attentive bunch of Blaine citizens what tools are used to extract victims after a car accident. Blaine Fire Marshal Bob Fiske illuminates the cracked windshield that often appears on the passenger side, but not on the driver side, when airbags are deployed. When the windshield sports a star on the driver side, emergency responders typically assume that the driver’s head has made that mark, Fiske said. Joanne Sveningson saws through the front windshield of a vehicle, assisted by SBM Firefighter Brian Pevito. Blaine Citizens Academy participants peel the front windshield off of a car before cutting into the vehicle. ]]>
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Three look to fill two seats on East Bethel City Council http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/four-look-to-fill-two-seats-on-east-bethel-city-council/ http://abcnewspapers.com/2014/10/24/four-look-to-fill-two-seats-on-east-bethel-city-council/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:15:09 +0000 http://abcnewspapers.com/?p=146913 Three candidates are vying for the two open seats on the East Bethel City Council. Voters will choose from the field of Tim Harrington, Brian Mundle and Randy Plaisance. Harrington is a current member of the city council, appointed early this year to fill Bob DeRoche’s seat when he was appointed mayor.

Tim Harrington Brian Mundle Randy Plaisance

Biography

TIM HARRINGTON

Age:  57

Family: Two adult children (son is 29 & daughter is 27)

Education: High school graduate.

Occupation: Retired for more than two years from Xcel Energy/Northern States Power Company.

Years lived in city: More than 10.

Community involvement: Road Commission; assisted with start of East Bethel Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament.

BRIAN MUNDLE

Age: 32

Family: Five nieces and a nephew.

Education: Bachelor of science in construction management from MSU – Mankato.

Occupation: Construction manager.

Years lived in city: 20.

Community Involvement: Member of East Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission since 2011, chairman 2012 and 2014; member of East Bethel Website Committee, 2012 – 2014; Eagle Scout from East Bethel Troop 733.

RANDY PLAISANCE

Name: Randy Plaisance.

Age: 52.

Family: Wife and three children.

Education: Minneapolis West High graduate, Hennepin Technical Institute – layout and design.

Occupation: Lead digital printing, Target Corporation.

Years lived in the city: 20 years.

Community Involvement: East Bethel Website Committee, Planning Commission, 4-H, Boy Scouts, School events, etc.

1. Why are you running for East Bethel City Council?

HARRINGTON: I’m currently a member of the existing council and wish to continue dedicating my time to help our community. I care about the residents and the businesses. I want to see the city get through the sewer and water problems, and help bring in new business and housing in the sewer and water district corridor along Highway 65.

MUNDLE: I’m running for City Council because East Bethel needs to move forward. There are two kinds of cities, a drive through or a drive to. For many years East Bethel has been a drive through, and that simply will not do anymore. I aim to evolve the city to a place where people want to come to, to do their shopping, for entertainment, to work in and make their homes here. I want to do this, while keeping the rural elements as they are. East Bethel already has a charm to it, and I never want to take that away.

PLAISANCE: I am running for City Council in the interest of keeping our taxes low by encouraging dialog with respect and dignity to all prospective parties that wish to invest in our city. Engage our current business owners and residents on the possibilities of services required and desired.

2. What are your top three priorities if you are elected to serve the residents?

HARRINGTON: Keeping a good relationship between the city and the businesses and residents in East Bethel; keep taxes low; help find new development and new business.

MUNDLE: My top three priorities would be to:

1. Attract new businesses and housing developments to the city along the Highway 65 corridor.

2. Preserve and help grow current businesses already in the city.

3. Encourage community involvement.

PLAISANCE: Provide focus on the need for development of our community to build services and reduce the cities tax burden.

Work with city staff and elected officials for the goal of respectful cooperation with each other as well as business leaders and residents. Building a reputation of a friendly can do partner for all.

To Listen. Our lives have become busy and our focus on the doing of everyday tasks can be overwhelming. I intend to make it my goal and share with my fellow members who have volunteered to serve the city of East Bethel of the necessity of stopping to listen carefully to every concern. To remember that we are here to help our friends and neighbors have a better life.

3. What should the city do to build its tax base?

HARRINGTON: We need new commercial businesses to come to our city.

MUNDLE: In order to build the tax base, undeveloped land needs to be developed along the Highway 65 corridor. For example, taxes on an empty 80 acre parcel are minimal, compared to a community of approximately 240 homes on the same 80 acres that are hooked into a city sewer and water system. While the city is not a developer, the city can be development friendly by working with developers, streamlining the review and approval process, offering incentives and creating programs beneficial to developers. By encouraging development the money owed in 2020 would be substantially reduced due to the payments received from the sewer and water access charges paid by developers.

PLAISANCE: The city can’t build its tax base by itself; it will require collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and the business leaders of our community to share the benefits of what our city has to offer. The city can work to advertise our opportunities for greater exposure and look for incentives for investors to bring their opportunities to East Bethel.

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