ABC Newspapers Local News from The Anoka County Union, Blaine Spring Lake Park Life and The Coon Rapids Herald Sat, 28 Feb 2015 20:00:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Anoka County comes up short on transportation priority list Sat, 28 Feb 2015 20:00:05 +0000 Last week Gov. Mark Dayton released a list of 600 priority transportation projects that could be tackled if funding can be secured.

Dayton is proposing a $6 billion investment in transportation over the next 10 years, coming from a variety of sources including a half-cent metro-area gas tax.

County leaders were not pleased to see only two Anoka County projects on Dayton’s transportation priorities list.

Commissioner Scott Schulte, who serves as chairman of the county’s transportation committee, said Anoka County has “weighed in loudly with the governor’s office” with its displeasure.

Schulte said as the third largest county in the metro and the fourth largest in the state, Anoka County’s transportation needs should have had more consideration.

The two projects on the list are the Highway 169 bridge over the Mississippi River as well as improvements to a 3-mile stretch of Highway 47 in Anoka and Ramsey.

Noticeably absent from the priority list are improvements to Highway 10, something for which county and city officials have been intensely lobbying.

Schulte said they were also surprised that the bridge project made the cut since it hasn’t been on the radar locally.

Priority was given to projects that would extend the life of roadways and bridges behind the current 20-year State Highway Investment Plan, according to the governor’s office. Criteria included fixing roads in urgent need of repair, making longer-term fixes on current projects, preventing problems before they happen and strategic expansion.

MnDOT officials said these local projects, two of a list of 600 released last week, are examples of the “types of projects that could get funded” if the governor is able to secure the $6 billion in needed funding.

The two projects listed for Anoka County have not been scoped, according to Kevin Gutknecht, communications director for MnDOT.

Projects on the list were recommended by planners and engineers, Gutknecht said.

Schulte said the problem with putting out a list is that these are the projects people expect will get done. He said he was told Highway 10 was not listed because the priorities announced last week were projects that don’t already have identified funding and are not on MnDOT’s State Transportation Improvement Program funding list.

Currently, the interchange at Armstrong Boulevard is the only Highway 10 project aimed at reducing congestion and improving safety within the current corridor study listed on the State Transportation Improvement Program funding list through 2018.

]]> 0
City of Coon Rapids hiring paid-on-call firefighters Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:00:47 +0000 The city of Coon Rapids is currently recruiting qualified candidates for the paid-on-call firefighter eligibility roster. These positions do not require training or experience. The city will provide training to candidates who are hired.

To be a paid-on-call firefighter, you must meet response time requirements, which is based upon maintaining residency within a response zone of 10 minutes or less from each Coon Rapids fire station.

Candidates cannot be an employee of the city of Coon Rapids or an active member of any other fire department. A valid driver’s license with a good driving record is essential. The salary is $12 per hour.

An information session will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 11 at Coon Rapids Fire Station 1, 1460 Egret Blvd.

Candidates will be required to pass a multiple choice exam and must meet physical agility standards.

Applications for a paid-on-call position must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 20. Visit to apply online or call 763-767-6486 with questions.

The Coon Rapids Fire Department includes 52 staff, 20 of which are paid-on-call firefighters, to provide fire suppression, rescue and first aid, fire prevention, and community service.

Paid-on-call firefighters are called in as additional help is needed when there are large fires or other emergency calls. They can expect to devote an average of 10 to 15 hours per month to training and response calls as well as to community service events. Paid-on-call firefighters are eligible to apply for career firefighting opportunities after two years of service.

For more information about the position or about the Coon Rapids Fire Department, contact Assistant Chief Bret Gageby at 763-767-6477 or email

]]> 0
Garden Views: You can do winter sowing Sat, 28 Feb 2015 14:40:26 +0000 You can’t afford a greenhouse.  You don’t have room for an inside seed-starting area.  You don’t have much time.  But you (and/or your children) would like to grow plants from seed.  Help is here.

Do you have a one-gallon plastic jug?  Milk, juice and water come in these.  If yes, you can do winter sowing.  Make a seed-starting greenhouse out of the jug, place it outside in the ice and snow, and, in the spring, get sprouts to plant in your garden.

Decide on your seeds.  Seeds for perennials (astilbe, butterfly weed), annuals (cleome, marigold), and vegetables (tomato, lettuces) can all work.  Most people use one type of seed per container and make several containers.

Make your greenhouse.  Materials needed: clean, one-gallon, food-grade, translucent plastic jug; sharp paring knife or scissors; clear, 2” wide, plastic mailing tape; permanent marker.  Take the cap off the jug and turn it upside down.  Tape a strip of tape to the bottom, and write the name of the seeds you will be planting using the marker.  Turn the jug right side up.  Cut a small vertical slit at the bottom, in the middle of each of its four sides.  With your marker, draw a horizontal line around the jug below the handle, about 3 inches from the bottom; start and stop the line at the label.  Carefully cut through the jug, following the line.  Do not cut through the label; it will be your hinge.

Plant your seeds. Materials needed: seeds; about 5 cups of seed-starting or potting soil; water; same tape as above.  Open the jug and fill the bottom part with soil, to within about an inch of the top.  Add water to moisten the soil, until it drains through the slits.  Do this in the sink or other place where the jug can drain.  Plant your seeds, as many as you want.  Add a small layer of soil to cover them if needed, and pat it down. Close the jug.  Use a small piece of vertical tape to close the side of the jug opposite the label.  Wrap a longer strip of tape around the jug to completely seal it.  Keep the top open.

Place the jug outside.  When?  January, February, or March for perennials.  Early April for annuals and vegetables.  Where?  North or east locations are best.  It doesn’t matter if the jug gets snowed in.  When the snow melts, it will water the seeds.  You should see condensation in the jug. If there is no snow on top and no condensation, add water to keep the soil moist.  When temperatures start to warm, remove the tape and open the jug.  Keep it open during warm days, and close it (use the vertical piece of tape) during cool nights.  Seeds will remain dormant until the right time for them to sprout.  When the sprouts are big enough to transplant, they will have hardened to the outside air.  For further information visit Anoka County Master Gardeners invite you to visit for information on The Home Landscaping and Gardening Fair (HLGF) – a great place to learn about growing and caring for flowers, vegetables, herbs, lawns, trees and much more. The event takes place April 11, 2015 from 8 a.m. to-3:30 p.m. at Bunker Hills Activities Center, 550 Bunker Lake Blvd. NW, Andover.

Lynda Ellis is an extension master gardener intern in Anoka County.

]]> 0
Andover plans for street overlay project near Round Lake Sat, 28 Feb 2015 14:00:52 +0000 The Andover City Council is looking to overlay streets in the a neighborhood southwest of Round Lake this summer.

The neighborhood in question is called Meadows of Round Lake. After hearing no objections raised during a Feb. 17 public hearing, the council on a 4-0 vote with Council Member Val Holthus absent voted to order the completion of plans and specifications so that the project could be bid out.

According to City Engineer and Public Works Superintendent David Berkowitz, the council will vote on a bid in late April. Construction will start in May and could wrap up by the end of July.

At this point, Berkowitz believes the project will cost $247,170 and that property owners of 54 lots must cover $54,780 of those assessments.

Whether each property owner pays $1,010 per lot or some other amount will be settled by the time the city council holds an assessment public hearing in September. The city bases assessments on actual costs, not projections.
If the amount of $1,010 holds, residents who choose to spread the payment over the maximum allowed time frame of five years would be paying $236.52 a year from 2016 through 2020.

Berkowitz noted that the city letter that informed the neighborhood about this project stated that the cost would be $890 per parcel, but further analysis determined that curb repairs were needed. Berkowitz said this would be bid as an alternate so that the council would have the option of waiting on the curb repairs.

Berkowitz said the roads in this neighborhood are more than 20 years old and thus at a good point to do an overlay to extend the life another 15 to 20 years before a more extensive and expensive reconstruction is necessary.

“This is a method and a practice we feel we can get the most bang for our buck, extending the life of a roadway a good 15 to 20 years,” Berkowitz said. “If we let it go a few more years, it would get to the point of no return.”

Berkowitz said it would probably be at least double the cost to reconstruct versus overlay.

Although the overlay would extend the life of the road, Berkowitz said within the next eight years residents will still see crews out working on these streets. Crack sealing and seal coating are two other methods Andover and other communities use to prolong the life of roads. Andover covers 100 percent of the costs of this maintenance work.

Neighborhood resident Patricia LaBelle came up to the podium during the public hearing to say her questions were answered in Berkowitz’s presentation.

“I had questions on the project as a whole, not realizing how bad it was because it didn’t look bad to me. And my other questions were on the assessment and how that worked and I believe they were all answered,” LaBelle said.

]]> 0
Outdoors column: Blackened Walleye is easy, tasty Sat, 28 Feb 2015 11:13:01 +0000 I have been writing columns for many years on the strategies for catching lots of different gamefish, but I believe it’s time to shed some light on how to actually cook that catch. Here is one of my favorite walleye recipes that is really unique with ingredients that are not bad for you at all – blackened walleye.

Blackened walleye offers anglers a healthier change from the typical fish fry.Submitted photo

Blackened walleye offers anglers a healthier change from the typical fish fry.Submitted photo

Cast iron pan
This style of pan is critical to the success. A good cast iron pan is black as the nighttime sky and seasoned to perfection. A seasoned cast iron pan takes dozens of cooking sessions to fully season. The idea behind the cast iron pan is to let the oils seep from the seasoned pan into the walleye. Actually very little additional oil is used. You do not swim the fillets in oil here, this is using the pan to sear and blacken the walleye with a minimum use of oil.

The recipe
Use just a teaspoon of peanut oil or vegetable oil to lubricate the cast iron pan and get that baby hot! Once that pan is sizzling, place the fillets in the pan and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning. You can use any commercial blackening product or use whatever you have in the cupboard such Lowry’s seasoning salt, Montreal Steak Seasoning or whatever.

Even lemon pepper works. The cast iron pan will sear those fillets and the oils within the pan will do the work. You can turn them over up to three times if you wish. The pan will get the job done rather quickly so make sure you don’t overcook. Basic sized fillets will cook within 10-13 minutes most of the time.

Care of the pan
A cast iron pan is a tremendous cooking asset.

You do not want your cast iron pan to end up like the cast iron pan you find in a cupboard at some resort that is rusted and neglected. Treat it like royalty. Always make sure you quickly rinse off the pan with soap and water and immediately dry it with a towel.

Do not leave it languishing on the counter. After cleaning, immediately spray some vegetable oil or olive oil on the pan and use a paper towel to rub the oils into the pan to prevent rust and help with the seasoning.

The more often you use the pan the better the quality of the food will taste.

Beer batters, heavy flour recipes and deep frying … been there.

This blackened walleye version is awesome and quick and easy with basic ingredients and is a hit with those looking for something off-the-wall for the table.

Catch ‘em and then blacken ‘em!

Steve Carney is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.

]]> 0
Spring Lake Park will see drastically reduced bank fees Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:45:27 +0000 Spring Lake Park City Administrator Dan Buchholtz realized the city could cut its banking fees by more than 85 percent with participation in the League of Minnesota Cities’ Minnesota Municipal Money Market Fund, or 4M Fund.

The city currently does its day-to-day banking with Wells Fargo and paid more than $14,000 in banking fees last year, Buchholtz said.

Fees included, but were not limited to, charges to collateralize deposits, complete Automated Clearing House transactions, utilize branch coin and currency services and cash checks.

In researching options to reduce banking fees, Buchholtz learned of a partnership between the 4M Fund and U.S. Bank.

Authorizing membership in the 4M Fund and amending the city’s list of official depositories to include U.S. Bank would shrink annual bank fees to $1,800 on average, Buchholtz told the City Council at its Feb. 17 meeting.

The fees would be lower because, “essentially our account balance at U.S. Bank will always be zero at the end of the day, so then there isn’t any FDIC insurance costs, nor is there any pledge collateral or any certificates that (the bank has) to have,” Buchholtz explained.

An added bonus, a U.S. Bank location right across the street from Northtown Mall is convenient for the city, Buchholtz said.

The council unanimously voted to authorize membership in the 4M Fund and add U.S. Bank as an official depository. Council Member Bob Nelson was absent for the vote.

“Once again, Dan, you’ve done it,” Mayor Cindy Hansen said. “You have showed us that you are the best city administrator.”

Buchholtz and staff planned to begin transitioning accounts last week. “It takes awhile to get all those things set up,” he said.

]]> 0
Feb 10 Minutes Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:19:26 +0000 Feb 10 Minutes

]]> 0
Tax Increment Dist Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:18:06 +0000 Tax Increment Dist

]]> 0
Ord 2129 Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:16:27 +0000 Ord 2129

]]> 0
2015 Budget Summary Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:14:34 +0000 2015 Budget Summary

]]> 0