Reporter's notebook

JORDAN

Unusual line of questioning

Jordan city councilman Jeff Will initiated an unusual line of questioning during the April 15 meeting of the Jordan City Council. At the end of City Administrator Tom Nikunen's report, Will asked Nikunen if he observed Will at city hall when he paid his water bill last month. Nikunen said he did.

"Was I loud?" Will continued. "Talking dirty? Flipping people off? I'm just asking if any of those behaviors happened."

City Attorney Brian Wisdorf told Will the line of questioning was inappropriate. Later, Will said he was trying to demonstrate that his behavior at city hall has been non-confrontational and civil.

Last month Will was the subject of a personnel complaint by a city staff member. Eventually nine city employees or contractors contributed to the complaint. As a result, Will was removed from the personnel committee and barred from one-on-one contact with city staff for the remainder of the year.

- Michael Strasburg

SHAKOPEE

About that extra lane on Highway 169... can we keep it?

Rep. Brad Tabke, D-Shakopee, recently told supporters by email the state Department of Transportation planned to leave the Highway 169 on the Bloomington Ferry Bridge restriped with three lanes (rather than the usual two) until at least mid-July, when the department will re-evaluate the situation.

Highway 169 restriping

The state transportation department worked to restripe lanes on northbound Highway 169 Sunday to add a lane and ease congestion in the southwest suburbs.

After area lawmakers publicly called out MnDOT for not moving swiftly enough to add a lane to ease congestion due to flooded roads and bridges, the department quickly responded by painting in another lane within a couple of days. 

Locals cheered, since 169 is the bane of many a commuter's existence. 

Tabke said in his email MnDOT is working hard to leave the bridge restriped "as long as possible" even though the drains along the bridge "weren’t built for this type of use" and "The snow this week caused considerable safety concerns on the bridge."

The question now is, can we just leave it this way? I posed that question to Tabke in response to his email, and he said the extra lane cannot stay forever.

"As we saw this week, there is nowhere to place snow and the drainage wasn’t intended for this type of use," he wrote in response. "As we work through a transportation package in the Legislature, permanent additional lanes on 169 will be a reality if our House Transportation bill is passed and signed by the governor."

- Deena Winter

SCOTT COUNTY

Sandbag-filling machine

Scott County commissioners approved the $25,000 purchase of a sandbag filling machine to mitigate the risk of floods resulting from melting snow.

Mentioned at the Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District meeting on April 9, the machine is expected to greatly increase the efficiency of filling sandbags, a typically time-consuming process.

Natural Resources and Environmental Services Manager Paul Nelson requested approval of the purchase, saying the Scott Watershed Management Organization fund balance at the end of 2018 was within recommendation by the state auditor and had sufficient funds for the purchase. Therefore, the 2019 budget was amended to include the additional $25,000.

The move stays within the Scott WMO Management Plan, according to county board materials.

- Jack Hammett

SHAKOPEE

Valleyfair ranked one of most affordable theme parks

Valleyfair has been named one of the most affordable theme parks in the country, based on the total cost of the trip, according to HomeToGo, which looked at 50 theme parks and came up with a top 10 list.

Valleyfair

With more than 75 rides and attractions, Valleyfair is a major Shakopee attraction.

To determine the total cost of a visit to each park, they added the cost of parking, one adult ticket, a meal deal, and nearby accommodations to come up with the following winners:

1. Frontier City, Oklahoma: $78.81

2. Holiday World, Indiana: $83.94

3. Quassy Amusement Park, Connecticut: $85.04

4. Park at OWA, Alabama: $91.71

5. Wild Adventures Theme Park, Georgia: $92.22

6. Family Kingdom Amusement Park, South Carolina: $97.97

7. Carowinds, North Carolina: $102.74

8. Valleyfair, Shakopee: $105.45

9. Kings Dominion, Virginia: $107.21

10. Adventureland, Iowa: $111.49

- Deena Winter

SAVAGE

Mayor remembers when Savage was 'nothing but farms'

Every year since 1989, the city of Savage formally recognizes Arbor Day and hosts a community celebration.

Mayor Janet Williams declared April 27 this year's Arbor Day and the month of May as Arbor Month at the April 15 Savage City Council Meeting.

"As someone who grew up in Savage when there was nothing but farms and no trees, when you see an overview of the city now you are quiet surprised to see how many trees there are," Williams said.

The city hosts an Arbor Day celebration each year, and festivities include a tree sale, nature activities, raptor and pollinator programs and community enhancement projects.

"Many of these activities would not have been possible without the help from volunteers, civic groups and support from the mayor and council members," Williams said.

She also thanked Jon Allen, the city's natural resources superintendent, for guiding the city's natural resources programs throughout the years.

For 26 years, Savage has been recognized as Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. The designation is given to communities that demonstrate sound urban forestry management, maintain a tree board or department, have a community tree ordinance and spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.

- Christine Schuster

Overheard in the newsroom

"No one's going to start catfishing because they read about it."

- Regional editor Mark Olson

- Michael Strasburg

- Deena Winter

- Jack Hammett

- Deena Winter

- Christine Schuster

- Regional editor Mark Olson

South regional editor

Deena is the regional editor for Shakopee, Jordan, Prior Lake and Savage and is passionate about uncovering the truth. Deena also enjoys gardening, playing tennis and up-cycling furniture.

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