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STILLWATER — A Woodbury man has been sentenced in Washington County District Court to 30 days in jail and probation for engaging in sexual communication with a minor. According to the complaint: John Gary Kipka, 39, made the communication on Whisper, an app used to share secrets anonymously and often used for illegal activity. A Woodbury officer monitoring the app posed as a 15-year-old female named Taylor. Kipka replied to a note the undercover officer posted about being 15 years old.
NEWPORT — Longtime Newport City Council member Bill Sumner is seeking to fill a new seat in Stillwater. Sumner, who is currently serving his third term on council, announced his candidacy May 15 for the Washington County Board of Commissioners. A retired investigator and auditor for the Minnesota Department of Revenue, Sumner has lived in Newport for nearly 30 years. He's also spent the last two years serving on the Washington/ Ramsey Recycling and Energy Center Board.
DENVER — Five East Ridge High School students placed in speech contest categories at the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions May 11-13. Tre' Edgerton won second place in Original Oratory, Jayden Ogbodo won third place in Poetry, Tony May won fifth place in Humorous Interpretation, Gabby Franus won eight place in Humorous Interpretation and Makehba Nelson won 11th place in Original Oratory. The East Ridge team ranked third overall in the large school division.
WASHINGTON COUNTY — A Minneapolis man was sentenced May 18 to more than 12 years in prison for third-degree murder in Washington County court. Rodney Williams Jr., 27, was charged for the September 2014 death of a 21-year-old Oakdale man who overdosed on heroin bought from Williams. According to the complaint:
COTTAGE GROVE — As the city ramps up for construction of the new Ravine Parkway on the northern end of town, so too do preparations begin to close a section of Military Road indefinitely. Military is closing to make room for new arterial road Ravine Parkway, which will provide access to several new residential developments on the northern end of the city. Starting June 11, the road will close from Jamaica Avenue to Keats Avenue. Military will end in cul-de-sacs about a half mile before Keats and near the last property to the north of the future Ravine Parkway.
COTTAGE GROVE — Hundreds rushed through the bright red Standing Strong archway the morning of May 19 for the sixth annual 5k at Hamlet Park. Solomon Lankow, 15, rushed through the finish line first with a time of 20 minutes, 6 seconds. Julia Finch, 13, was the first female finisher with a time of 21:30. The Standing Strong 5k raises money each year for anti-bullying programs at Oltman and Cottage Grove middle schools.
WOODBURY — The Woodbury Community Foundation is branching out with its new grant-giving arm Woodbury CARES. Executive Director Lori Nelson, who has been leading the Woodbury Community Foundation for about a year now, said the 15-year-old organization decided to dive back into grants and fundraising after the board of directors named it a key goal. Board member Paul Parnell had seen a similar fundraising program in Florida, and pitched it to the board to design their own.
ST. PAUL PARK — The St. Paul Park refinery, recently sold to Marathon Petroleum, is under fire from legislators and the community for housing hydrogen fluoride after the explosion at Husky Energy refinery in Superior, Wis. The Star Tribune reported last week that records found at the Chicago Environmental Protection Agency office record a "worst-case" scenario where over 1.5 million people in a 19-mile radius of the refinery could be affected by emissions from the refinery in an emergency situation.
NEWPORT — Washington County Sheriff's Office deputies in Newport have taken on code enforcement at the request of the City Council. After reviewing city codes and determining the most common violations in the city, the City Council decided to make an enforcement plan. Sergeant Bill Harrell, who oversees deputies in Newport, said they will be going through ordinances one at a time, as prioritized by Mayor Dan Lund. They will focus on one ordinance for a month at a time before moving on to the next.
ST. PAUL — A bill to monitor the way 3M settlement funds are spent was passed in the House May 14. The bill, penned by Rep. Kelly Fenton, R-Woodbury, creates an account for funds from the settlement between Minnesota and 3M Corp. in February regarding perfluorochemical pollution in the east metro area. About $720 million remaining after paying legal fees from the $850 million settlement. Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, is carrying the bill in the Senate. It is currently in committee.