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COTTAGE GROVE — The city and Minnesota Department of Transportation are considering a noise-blocking barrier along Highway 61 and East Point Douglas Road. A meeting Sept. 13 gauged community interest in the noise barrier that would be built between Hefner Avenue and 90th Street to fight highway noise. The need for a noise wall is determined in individual areas based on criteria including future highway traffic noise models, community support, cost feasibility and the age and density of the affected neighborhoods.
COTTAGE GROVE — A 3 percent levy increase for 2019 was approved by City Council at the Sept. 5 meeting. Finance Director Robin Roland said the city has set an estimated 2019 general fund balance of $13.7 million. The 2018 general fund was $13.3 million. The tax base grew by about 9 percent between 2018 and 2019, she said. Roland said the city is currently close to the recommended limit on debt service under the city's bond policy.
COTTAGE GROVE — Though most of this summer's work on the 15-year-in-the-making Ravine Parkway is now complete, one section may not be done until next summer. Due to a surveying error over a decade ago, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources owns a section of land the project needs to finish the intersection of Ravine Parkway and Keats Avenue.
COTTAGE GROVE — The National Fitness Campaign is looking to help create 200 outdoor Fitness Courts in 2019, and Cottage Grove is hoping to be one of those cities. The Parks and Recreation Department budget has had money flagged for outdoor exercise equipment for the past several years, waiting for the right system. Parks Director Zac Dockter said the National Fitness Campaign's Fitness Court may be the right one, as it comes with a different design and backend support. "We've been looking for something unique, something people will gravitate toward," he said.
COTTAGE GROVE — A fire started in the second-floor bathroom of Park High School led to evacuations and missed classes, but no injuries. Cottage Grove Fire Department was called to the school just before 11:30 a.m. Sept. 19. Police said a 16-year-old male student was responsible for the fire and that it was an "isolated incident." The fire, contained mostly to a toilet paper roll inside a dispenser in the men's restroom, was quickly extinguished by staff. The fire led to a significant amount of smoke.
COTTAGE GROVE — In the latest in a series of chain stores and restaurants abruptly closing, Perkins served its last plate Sept. 16. The 60-year-old company suddenly shuttered the Cottage Grove restaurant location Sunday, telling customers they were closing for good that day at 1 p.m. It had been open there since 1985, Perkins spokeswoman Vivian Brooks said. Brooks said the company "made the tough decision not to renew our lease and hope to have an opportunity to welcome our loyal guests" in other franchise locations.
COTTAGE GROVE — Five of six candidates for the Cottage Grove City Council debated city issues at a League of Women Voters forum Sept. 11. Incumbents Dave Thiede and Steve Dennis, along with newcomers Chad Poitra, Dwayne Brauch and Jerret Wright, debated issues ranging from housing, to a community center and clean water. Candidate Evan Kolstoe did not attend. Jeff Mack filed for candidacy, but has since pulled his name from the ballot.
WOODBURY — A White Bear Lake woman has been charged with sex trafficking, promoting prostitution and money laundering using a business in Woodbury. Shixun Lan, 51, was arrested Sept. 11 following an investigation by the East Metro Sex Trafficking task force.
COTTAGE GROVE — Two expansive gardens won the highest honor for Cottage Grove green thumbs. Cottage Grove awarded the Green Garden award at the Sept. 5 City Council meeting to St. Luke's Lutheran Church in the commercial category and Kent and Nicole Raymond in the residential category. Parks Department Horticulturist Marcus Honcharenko said the Raymonds' gardens were chosen this year based on the emphasis pollinator plants were put in the arrangements.
A Wabasha man was sentenced to one year in jail and two years probation for soliciting sex from a minor in September 2017. Mark Leonard Poirier, 48, was sentenced in Washington County District Court to one year in jail with 60 days credited, two years of probation and probationary terms including no use of internet dating or chat sites. According to the complaint: Undercover officers posed as a 15-year-old girl offering services on Backpage.com.