Washington County

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Forest Lake Reaches Tentative Agreement to Keep Police Department

It appears that the Forest Lake Police Department will not be disbanded after all. Days after the Forest Lake City Council voted to dissolve the police force, and contract with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the city of Forest Lake, the Forest Lake Police Department, the police union and Sheriff’s Office issued a joint press release announcing that a tentative agreement had been reached. Forest Lake patrol officers and sergeants unions will each hold a vote on the agreement on Thursday. The agreement will be presented to the council next week. City leaders and union representatives negotiated the agreement at the encouragement of Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry, county commissioners and city council members, the news release said. Continue Reading →

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First Open House for Osgood Avenue Project in Oak Park Heights, Stillwater Set for Feb. 8

Washington County is hosting an open house next week to present information — and gather feedback — about potential improvements to Osgood Avenue (County Road 24) between 50th Street North in Baytown Township and Oak Park Heights and Orleans Street East in Stillwater. The public meeting will be from from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the Washington County Government Center. The open house will be in the lower level conference room 16. This is the first of two planned public open houses relating to the $2.4 million project. Continue Reading →

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3 Washington County Commissioners Sworn Into Office After Re-Election

Three Washington County commissioners were sworn into office Jan. 3 after being re-elected in November. Commissioners Gary Kriesel (District 3), Fran Miron (District 1) and Lisa Weik (District 5) were sworn into four-year terms.

Commissioner Kriesel was first elected in November 2004 to represent the residents of District 3. He was re-elected in 2008, 2012, and again, in 2016. He retired from Xcel Energy (formerly Northern States Power) after 33 years, and served two years on the Stillwater City Council. Continue Reading →

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Elections 2016: Races for Washington County, Stillwater City Council Take Shape

A few local races took shape Tuesday night as candidate filing periods for for state, county and two seats on the Stillwater City Council came to a close. Here’s a quick look at the races:

Stillwater City Council

Brennen Swanson and Dave Junker will vie for a seat to represent Ward 2 on the Stillwater City Council. Tom Weidner will run unopposed to represent Ward 3. Washington County

Former Oak Park Heights Mayor David Beaudet will challenge incumbent Gary Kriesel in a race to represent District 3 on the Washington County Board of Commissioners. Minnesota Senate

Sten Hokanson (D – Stillwater) will challenge incumbent Karin Housley (R – St. Continue Reading →

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Washington County Seeks Election Judges for Primary, General Election


Washington County is seeking election judges for the 2016 primary and general elections. During the this year’s primary and general elections, about 2,000 election judges will be needed to staff polling locations throughout Washington County. Election judges and election judge trainees are the officials who staff the polling location and ensure that the rights of voters are protected on Election Day. Required qualifications for an election judge are:

U.S. citizen eligible to vote in Minnesota;

at least 18 years of age (if you are 16 or 17 years old, see information on the Washington County website and search “election judge;”

Able to read, write and speak English; and

Complete a two-hour training, which can be done online. Required qualifications for a student election judge are:

must be at least 16 years old;

have approval from parents and school’s principal;

must submit a written request to principal at least 10 days before Election Day; and

must complete an application that is to be signed by parents/guardians and school’s principal. Continue Reading →

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Washington County Commissioner Ted Bearth Dies at 77

It is with great sorrow that we share the news of the passing of County Commissioner Ted Bearth this morning, March 10, 2016. He was 77. Commissioner Bearth was first elected to the County Board in 2012 and was re-elected in 2014.  Commissioner Bearth was elected Chair of the County Board in 2016. Commissioner Bearth represented the Second District of Washington County. Ted’s family is making funeral arrangements.  His obituary, along with information on visitation and funeral services will be available on the Maple Oaks Funeral Home website at http://mapleoaksfuneralhome.com/. Continue Reading →

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Lake Elmo Park Reserve Closed Nov. 7-8, 14-15 for Deer Harvest

Lake Elmo Park Reserve will be closed Nov. 7-8 and again on Nov. 14-15 for a controlled deer management harvest. Only hunters who have obtained a special lottery permit from the Minnesota DNR will be allowed into the park for the deer harvest. All participants will be required to attend a safety and deer harvest orientation course. Continue Reading →

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Washington County Board Begins 2016 County Budget Process

A Washington County news release:

The Washington County Board of Commissioners began the process of crafting the 2016 budget on Aug. 11. The recommended 2016 county budget would increase the county net tax levy by 3.49 percent, to $92.8 million, and is based on the county receiving non-levy revenue of $94.1 million. If the budget is approved with the recommended increase in the property tax levy, it would mean that the median valued home in the county of $247,400, assuming its value increased just more than 1 percent since 2015, would have an $18 increase in its county property tax levy. The county’s operating expenditures for the year would be $157.2 million, an increase of 3.46 percent, with capital expenditures of $26.6 million, excluding bond-funded projects. Continue Reading →

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Commissioner Gary Kriesel Elected Washington County Board Chair in 2015

The Washington County Board on Tuesday elected District 3 Commissioner Gary Kriesel to serve as the board chair for 2015. Kriesel was elected in November 2004, and re-elected in 2008 and again in 2012. He retired from Xcel Energy (formerly Northern States Power) after 33 years and served two years on the Stillwater City Council. Kriesel is a U.S. Navy veteran and has been an active member in many civic organizations and on advisory boards of Washington County. During the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting, county commissioners Ted Bearth and Karla Bigham were sworn into office. Bearth was re-elected to the District 2 seat in last November’s election. Continue Reading →

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North Frontage Road Realignment Plan at Osgood Moves Forward with Land Acquisition

The North Frontage Road realignment project is moving forward. The Washington County Board of Commissioners on Sept. 9 approved the acquisition of land to realign the North Frontage road at Highway 36 and Osgood Avenue in Oak Park Heights. The roadway’s current intersection with Osgood Avenue will be closed, and the intersection will be moved north to align with the northern entrance with the Walgreens parking lot. The roadway will travel west through the Fury Motors land, and then turn south at Oren Avenue North (just east of Joseph’s), and reconnect with the current North Frontage Road. Continue Reading →

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Washington County Considers Restorations for St. Croix Boom Site

Washington County will work with the Minnesota DNR and MnDOT to administer federal funds to improve and restore portions of the Historic St. Croix Boom Site north of Stillwater. The County Board approved agreements with both agencies during June 24 meeting. The county has been asked to sponsor a federally-funded project proposed by the DNR to improve and restore portions of the Historic St. Croix Boom Site. Continue Reading →

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Washington County Gives Support to Use of Surplus State Land for New Bayport Fire Station


The Washington County Board of Commissioners have given their support to legislation that would allow the transfer of surplus state land to the city of Bayport for a fire station. The 4.2 acres of surplus land is on the southwest corner of Minnesota Correctional Facility – Stillwater. The current Bayport Fire Station was built in the 1940s and is in need of extensive repairs. The station is also undersized to serve a growing population and to provide service to a number of high-value properties, including Andersen Corporation, the King Plant, two state prisons, high-density senior housing, the new St. Croix River Crossing and two public schools. Continue Reading →

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Increase in Permit-to-Carry Applications has Washington County Sheriff’s Office Strapped for Time


A continued increase of permit-to-carry applications has the Washington County Sheriff’s Office strapped for employees to process the requests. The continued increase in the permit-to-carry applications has pushed the sheriff’s office ability to process the permits from five days to nearly 30 days. Currently, a number of Sheriff’s Office staff that has other duties is taking time away from assigned tasks to complete a portion of the gun permit process. Relief came Tuesday morning when the Washington County Board of Commissioners approved the addition of a half-time position to the sheriff’s office through Dec. 31, 2015 to process applications for permits to carry weapons, and adding a full-time Public Safety System Manager. Continue Reading →

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With Today’s Technology, Should Local Government Have to Pay to Publish Legals in Community Newspapers?


The Washington County Board of Commissioners are throwing their support behind legislation that would allow local government to use their own website to publish official legal notices instead of paying to publish them in an “official newspaper of record.”

Currently, state law—Minnesota Statutes Chapter 331A—requires a county board to designate an official newspaper at the beginning of each year for the publication of the summary of official proceedings and publications of legal notices, delinquent tax lists, and financial statements. The Minnesota Newspaper Association has been a longtime advocate of the statute requiring governmental entities to publish public notices in the newspapers of record. Just this week, ECM’s Editorial Board wrote a pointed piece published in the Gazette opposing the proposed legislation. But Washington County staff estimates they would save at least $16,000 per year if legals were allowed to be posted on the county’s website in lieu of a community newspaper. The Association of Minnesota Counties, in collaboration with the League of Minnesota Cities, have prepared legislation that would allow a local government to use its official website to publish the public notices. The new bills—House File 1286/Senate File 1152—were introduced in 2013 and will likely be considered this legislative session. The city of Stillwater last month named the Stillwater Gazette the “newspaper of record,” and entered into a contract paying ECM more than $3.50 per column inch to publish legals. Continue Reading →

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Washington County Begins Study to Improve Traffic, Pedestrian Safety Along Highway 5 Corridor in Stillwater

The Washington County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates to begin plans for improving pedestrian and traffic flow along  Highway 5 in Stillwater. The contract for design engineering will not exceed $84,380. There are several areas of concern along the Highway 5 corridor including school crossings at Lily Lake and Stonebridge elementary schools, a trail crossing at McKusick Road, and a lack of adequate pedestrian facilities through much of the corridor that forces pedestrians to walk in the roadway. Traffic speeds, improper passing and lack of appropriate turn lanes are also areas of concern. The preliminary design will include the entire corridor from Croixwood Boulevard to Highway 96 except for the segment from Olive Street to Linden Street, and will develop a plan for future improvements to the highway corridor. Continue Reading →

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Saving Browns Creek: Washington County Purchases Palmer Property in Stillwater Township

In a move to protect the natural area along Browns Creek, Washington County, the city of Stillwater and Stillwater Township have finalized the purchase of the Palmer Property, a 17-acre lot just southeast of Highway 96 and Manning Avenue in Stillwater Township. The county used a portion of the Land and Water Legacy funding to protect Browns Creek, Washington County Commissioner Gary Kriesel said. The acquisition of the land from Central bank was finalized on Friday afternoon. Last summer, Washington County’s Parks and Open Space Commission recommended the use of Legacy funds on the condition that the township restore land along Browns Creek to improve infiltration and to add thermal protection to the creek. The western part of the Palmer property is envisioned as a trailhead for the Lake Links and Central Greenways regional trails, which intersect at the property, and the forthcoming Browns Creek State Trail that is a third of a mile to the south, according to Washington County public records. Continue Reading →

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