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STILLWATER — A Woodbury man pleaded guilty to identity theft charges of over 300 victims and two counts of unlawfully securing unemployment benefits. Hai Jay Phu Vu, 53, a former employee at Minneapolis-nonprofit House of Charity, pleaded guilty in Washington County District Court July 16. According to the criminal complaint: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development investigators originally investigating unemployment benefits found other strange transactions in Vu's account.
After serving kids ages 5-18 for around 40 years, the Youth Service Bureau is opening its age restrictions to young adults up to 25 years old. Over the past two years, YSB has been constantly expanding both geographically and in its services, with age expansion being the latest addition. "We're seeing a lot more kids that are college-aged that come home for the summer ... that are continuing to have need for therapy services for anxiety, depression and other mental health," Executive Director Bob Sherman said.
ST. PAUL PARK — After a swift reconstruction, Dingle Park is back. The park — located between Pullman, Portland and Holley avenues — closed in May and reopened July 14, just in time for the July movie in the park night. Reconstruction was made possible by a $32,000 Department of Natural Resources matching grant. Next summer Heritage Park will undergo the same treatment with a $50,000 matching grant. Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Andrew Cison said they are already brainstorming for the summer 2019 improvements.
NEWPORT — Gazing around the one-room library, the cozy setting stands out: the room is filled with board games, armchairs, couches, a play area and, on Tuesday nights, a well-trained dog helping kids practice their reading skills. Sara-Marie Malewitz, who was recently named the new library coordinator, said all of this has been donated over the past six years since the Newport Library and the Washington County Library system split.
COTTAGE GROVE — On a wet, rainy summer day, the 3M settlement working groups sat down together for the first time to start brainstorming solutions to perfluorochemical pollution in East Metro water. Facilitated by Colorado-based contractors Abt Associates, two meetings spanned the day at the Cottage Grove Washington County Service Center for the Government and 3M Working Group and the Citizen and Business Working Group each to begin considering how best to use the remaining $720 million from the 3M Corp. and state of Minnesota lawsuit settled in February.
COTTAGE GROVE — Two years after an expansion that nearly doubled the Renewal by Andersen campus, the business is expanding again to keep up with its rapid growth. The company purchased 9.2 acres to the west of its current site — just south of its business park neighbor LeafLine Labs — to enlarge the parking area. Renewal by Andersen spokesman Adam May said though the lot is only slated for increased parking right now, it could house more expansion of the business in the future.
ARDEN HILLS — Five students form Park and Woodbury high schools attended the Minnesota American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program June 10-16 at Bethel University. Linda Lubi, Giselle Nuñez and Katelyn Wollschlager attended from Park High School. Isha Desai and Swetha Ganeshkumar attended from Woodbury High School. Mackenzie Swaim from Park High School was a second alternate.
WOODBURY — A Woodbury Middle School student now wears the title of merit winner. Sooryabala Sundravel Balamurugan, who just finished eighth-grade at Woodbury Middle, has been named a state merit winner for Minnesota in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Balamurugan submitted his video, "Synthesis of Silver Nanoparticles," which explains his proposal to use herbs to kill infectious bacteria. He was one of 35 winners chosen from the hundreds of applicants.
GREY CLOUD ISLAND — Another parcel has been secured for the long-in-the-works Grey Cloud Island Regional Park on Lower Grey Cloud Island. A 30-acre parcel — seven of which are above ground and 22 under water — was approved for purchase by the Washington County Board of Commissioners June 5 from the estate of Betty Kartarik for $550,000. A master plan for the Grey Cloud Island Regional Park was completed in 1994, and the county has been slowly chipping away at land purchases. The county currently has about 140 acres of the 1,440 proposed for the park.
Just under half of the 16-member Citizen-Business Working Group regarding the 3M settlement funds will be coming from South Washington County. The six local members are: Jack Lavold and Dave Schulenberg from Cottage Grove, David Filipiak and Michael Madigan from Woodbury, Amy Schall from St. Paul Park and Barbara Ronningen from Afton.