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Washington County will partner with a trio of fellow Minnesota counties to survey its residents next year after the County Board approved an agreement with a research firm last week. Colorado-based National Research Center, Inc., (NRC) will conduct resident surveys in spring 2013 to gather information on their views of county services for Washington, Dakota, Olmsted Minnesota and St. Louis counties under an agreement county commissioners OK'd Dec.
The Washington County Board has approved a 5-year capital improvement plan that includes a number of road fixes in Woodbury and Cottage Grove and some long-awaited upgrades to the Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park. The capital improvement plan, or CIP, is a multi-year outline that identifies projects for 2013 through 2017.
The Washington County Board OK'd salary increases for a handful of top county officials at its final meeting of 2012 last week. The approved increases are: - County Administrator Molly O'Rourke, the highest-paid county staff member, will be paid a 2013 salary of $147,609, a 1.5 percent increase over 2012; - A 2.4 percent increase for Sheriff Bill Hutton, bringing his 2013 pay to $135,795, and the county's chief sheriff's deputy, who will be paid $122,216; - County Attorney Pete Orput will receive a 3 percent bump, to $135,795, his first assistant $122,216 and the attorney's executive assis
Washington County Board members praised a pair of outgoing commissioners at its final meeting of 2012, honoring them for their years of service. The board passed resolutions recognizing District 1 Commissioner Dennis Hegberg, of Forest Lake, and District 2 Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek, of Oakdale, both longtime commissioners who were defeated in their bids for re-election last month and will step down Jan. 6.
Newport City Administrator Brian Anderson has been named a finalist for the top administrative job with the city of Faribault. Anderson, who was hired by Newport in 2009 after serving as an assistant city administrator with Lakeville, interviewed publicly Tuesday with the Faribault City Council and is one of two candidates from whom elected officials there will choose on Dec. 11, the Faribault Daily News reported last week. "It just seemed like an opportunity to pursue," Anderson told the Bulletin.
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum said she will continue to support Washington County transit initiatives in her new role representing a large swath of the county. McCollum, a Democrat easily re-elected earlier this month in her redrawn 4th Congressional District that now encompasses all of Woodbury, Oakdale and Lake Elmo, met with the Washington County Board in Stillwater last week. She told commissioners she will back the county's efforts to expand express bus and commuter rail service along the I-94 Gateway Corridor and the Red Rock Corridor along Highway 61.
Washington County commissioners approval of a new agreement with a Newport facility to processes the bulk of the county's garbage exposed an election year division over what the role the county should take in waste management. County Board members last week approved the contract with Resource Recovery Technologies, or RRT, by a 3-2 vote, during a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Washington County libraries will open on Mondays in 2013 - and Sundays, too, at the county's busiest library, in Woodbury, after Washington County commissioners authorized the new hours at its Oct. 2 meeting in Stillwater. The 2013 library schedule will restore Monday hours at the R.H. Stafford in Woodbury, Park Grove in Cottage Grove, Oakdale, Wildwood and Hardwood Creek branches, opening those libraries from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. The smaller Valley branch in Lakeland will open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Washington County will withdraw from a collection of governmental agencies that advocate for high-speed rail after commissioners said the county should focus its efforts on securing funds for freight rail improvements instead. The Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission has been working since 2009 to promote a plan for a high-speed rail connection between the Twin Cities and Chicago. It is an effort, however, that has been hamstrung by a lack of federal funding and lack of support from some major pieces of the puzzle, including Wisconsin Gov.
Library users, rejoice: Sunday hours may be back at Washington County's largest library. Washington County commissioners expressed support last week for a proposal that would open, at least during the school year, the RH Stafford Library in Woodbury for 4.5 hours on Sundays as part of a larger library budget plan that would also restore Monday hours at the county's six libraries. Budget cuts last year forced Pat Conley, the county's library director, to reduce open hours at libraries across the system. Washington County also closed small branches in Newport and Marine on St.