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WASHINGTON COUNTY — Two East Metro disability services are now one. Rise, Inc. and ESR announced this summer that they would merge the two companies into one central disability services organization. When ESR's longtime executive director Ed Boeve announced his intention to retire this summer, the organization started discussing whether to hire a new director or to merge with another company. He retired in July. That's where Rise came in.
COTTAGE GROVE — It's time to hit the ground running — or digging. The East Metro Public Safety Training Facility — formerly known as the HERO Center (Health and Emergency Response Occupations) — broke ground Oct. 11 and will be under construction until an estimated opening a year from now. The center has been in the works since 2011, when the East Metro area officials noted a present and future lack for training facilities, as did the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, which recommended state bonding money for such a project.
COTTAGE GROVE — The 25-year-old District 833 Community Education program Gentle Saturday is getting a makeover, to become the Marketplace of Learning. Adult Enrichment Coordinator Gretchen Carlson said they are mixing things up this year, to bring a new feel to Community Education's twice-annual day-long event to test out programs. The event will be similar to Gentle Saturday, except there will be new opportunities over the lunch break for participants. There will be a "market" for instructors to display classes, Carlson said.
SOUTH WASHINGTON COUNTY — Ann Makena knows better than anyone that raising children as a single parent brings its own specific difficulties, and she's hoping to create a community of others like her. A single parent educational support group will be launched next week by the South Washington County School District. Makena, a pastor and parenting help book author, will facilitate.
Zumbro House is hoping to start construction this fall for a four-story, 200-unit supported housing apartment building, but final approvals are pending due to parkland decisions. The conditional-use permit was approved in February, but City Council approved some of the final conditions at the Sept. 20 meeting as part of the developer's agreement.
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.
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.
The East Metro Suicide Prevention Coalition is holding the 8th-annual “Together It Gets Better” fundraiser 5k. The event will be start at 9 a.m. Sept. 15 at the Colby Lake Pavillion, 9715 Valley Creek Road. Registration opens at 8 a.m. There will be a walk/run, food truck, a DJ, and wellness booths to make up a resource fair.