Friday, August 14, 2009

August 2009 Update

Einhausen group: Shoreview has a sister city relationship with Einhausen, Germany, and this year a group of Einhausen residents came to visit Minnesota. Senator Rummel and I met with them in early August for a tour of the state capitol. Find out more about the sister city organization here.

Business visit: I visited Old Dominion Freight Co in my district in Blaine, where they are celebrating 75 years. It included a very cool traveling trailer with exhibits, including a Wii truckdriving game (I crashed) and a radio-controlled 18 wheeler that I successfully backed up after 10 minutes. Argh.

Group house: Senator Rummel and I received a lot of e-mail from irate Lino Lakes residents about a proposed group house in Centerville that would house the developmentally disabled. After the house was vandalized and after a crowded public meeting, the organization proposing the facility, Zumbro House, cancelled the project. KSTP did a story on the controversy. I still don't have all the facts about what type of residents were to live there, other than that they were teenaged and disabled. Some of the information I received but couldn't confirm was that the residents were to be either low-level sex offenders or had serious behavioral issues.

Recent criminal activity: A murder recently took place in 53A, where a Circle Pines man killed a Blaine resident over what appears to be a drug case. A Star-Tribune article has the details. There was another murder in Circle Pines earlier this month in a case of domestic violence.

LEED certified building: I recently visited a house in Lexington that is LEED certified--meaning it has many green components to its design. A husband and wife team designed it and operate their business there. You can visit their web site and see how it was built!

Meeting with Senator Franken about pharmaceutical waste: On August 13th, I attended a great meeting in North Branch for Sen. Franken on Chisago County's successful take-back program for unused pharmaceutical waste. My bill HF1217 would help expand this statewide--look for it in 2010. A description of the problem we are seeking to solve comes from the Product Stewardship Institute. Chisago County worked on this because they originally had a big meth problem, and now teens have moved from meth (which is harder to make now) to "pharm" parties where they swipe drugs like painkillers from adults and mix it with alcohol. When certain pharmaceuticals are flushed down the toilet, our wastewater treatment plants cannot break down some endocrine-disrupting compounds and that can change the genetic structure of fish and also end up in someone's drinking water.

Rice Creek Trail: The Rice Creek Trail that I tried to get state funding for in 2008 will be partially completed by next spring. John VonDeLinde, Director of Parks and Recreation for Anoka County sent me this update:

"...Lino Lakes Town Center to Rice Lake Elementary Trail

"At this point, all of the cultural resources review is complete, and we have found a way to construct the trail through the park, while avoiding any buried artifacts, etc. As you may know, the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes area is rich in Native American history and we are taking the
normal protocols in avoiding disturbance.

"Wetland assessment is also complete. Our engineer, SRF Consulting, has been working with the Rice Creek Watershed District on wetland impacts and floodplain mitigation. We do have enough credits from previous wetland creation projects in the park, so all appears to be good in that regard.

"Construction documents are complete for the trail from the Lino Lakes Town Center to Rice Lake Elementary. Our consultant has also completed the Project Memorandum for this section, which is a federal project requirement.

"In designing the project, we have determined that the old snowmobile bridge over the Rice Creek will need to be removed and replaced. It does not meet federal standards. The new bridge will provide more clearance over the creek and will be shared with the snowmobile trail.

"So, the project design for the main trail is now nearing completion.

"Hodgson Road to Baldwin Lake Trail

"Given the good bids the county has been receiving this year, we have also decided to move forward with construction documents on the section from Birch Street and Hodgson Road to Baldwin Lake Park. Originally, we did not think that this would be financially feasible - it may be now.

"This additional section will require similar planning and construction documents. We expect those to be completed within a month. Once those are in-hand, we can submit the entire design package to MnDOT for review and approval.

"In summary, my expectation is that we will be out for bids in July or August. Construction should be underway by September or October. The project will no doubt carryover to June of next year for completion...."

More information on the project was published in the Quad Communities Press.

Till next time: I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. My family and I spent two weeks in June and July visiting Glacier National Park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and the Black Hills.