Cannon Falls Fire Department 125th Anniversary!

The Cannon Falls Fire Department will be celebrating its 125th anniversary on Saturday, July 29, with an open house at the fire hall from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Activities will include bounce houses for the kids, a rock climbing wall, dunk tank with local celebrities, face painting, a live DJ, and equipment demonstrations including vehicle extrication and rope repelling.

There will also be a display of local firefighting history at the hall, along with more items to see at the Cannon Falls Museum. Food and beverages will also be available for purchase.


Lakeville district considers cutting back on busing fees

Lakeville district officials are discussing whether to cut busing fees and offer free transportation for students who live close to school, a move that would result in thousands in lost revenue but likely prove popular with the community.

Having passed two referendums since 2013, the district’s financial outlook is rosier now than it was in 2009 when busing fees were instituted, said Michael Baumann, the district’s finance director. So the school board instructed him to re-examine the fees.

Like many districts, Lakeville charges busing fees to students who live less than 2 miles from school. The cost is $150 per student, with a per-family cap of $450.

At the Oct. 20 meeting, Baumann proposed reducing the mileage boundary for elementary students paying the fee from 2 miles to 1 mile. The maximum family rate also would be cut to $300.

Secondary students would continue to pay $150 if they live less than 2 miles away.

If the changes were made, the district would lose $230,000 in revenue. More students probably would take the bus — Baumann estimated 1,500 — at an additional cost of $10,000, he said.

“It’s challenging for folks” to afford current fees, he said, and they aren’t viewed favorably by the community, Baumann said.

The district gets complaints about the fees from 150 to 200 parents annually, he said. Some who live just inside the 2-mile boundary grumble that they have to pay while those who live just outside it don’t. Others say it’s not safe for kids to walk so far in the winter, when it’s dark and cold.

“Those are legitimate concerns that I think are fair to express,” Baumann said.

Falon Krause is among the parents with objections. Having to pay for busing appalls her, she said, because of Minnesota’s severe weather.

“When I went to school, there was no such thing as paying to ride the bus from school,” she said.

Across the metro

State law says that schools must provide transportation for students living 2 miles or more from school, and allows districts to charge students who live closer but still want to ride. But different districts have their own guidelines.

Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, for instance, offers busing to elementary school students living 1 mile or more away, and secondary students living farther than 1.5 miles away. The busing fee is $250 per student.

The school board has never discussed reversing the fee since imposing it about five years ago, Superintendent Jane Berenz said. “Without additional funding, the only way to [reduce the fee] is to cut somewhere else,” said board member Joel Albright.

An analysis of 10 metro-area districts showed that more than half charge for busing, with fees ranging from $100 to $270 per student.

Parents aren’t the only ones in opposition. Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius has been “very vocal in the past about disliking all fees” because they present a barrier for families, said Josh Collins, spokesman for the education department.

Baumann said that Lakeville board members seem supportive of his proposal.

The district already has reduced fees for sports and activities, noted board member Jim Skelly.

“When the economy was down, people stood by the [busing] fee even if they didn’t like it,” Skelly said. Now that the district is better off financially, officials will continue to discuss what to do with that money, he said.

The board will revisit the discussion in December.

Road construction preview for south metro.

Road construction preview for south metro

City and county officials in the south metro weighed in on the south-of-the-river road projects most likely to create snags for drivers this spring and summer. 

By Erin Adler Star Tribune

March 11, 2016 — 11:03pm


Star Tribune file photo

Family and friends gathered to remember Alyssa Ettl at the Dodd Boulevard location where she died in a 2013 accident. A project will improve Dodd.

With spring’s warmer weather comes construction season, that six-month period when reduced speed limits, pesky detours and closed lanes are a fact of life. The only recourse for drivers is to plan ahead. City and county officials in the south metro weighed in on the south-of-the-river road projects most likely to create snags for drivers this spring and summer.

Hwy. 13/150th Street, Prior Lake/Savage: The intersection will be rebuilt, including adding a stoplight at 150th and moving the whole intersection a couple of hundred feet south. Hwy. 13 will be widened, with a median installed and turn lanes added at 150th Street. The $8.8 million project begins in April and runs through Oct. 31. Look for reduced speed limits.

Shenandoah Drive/4th Avenue, Shakopee: This project improves the roads around’s new distribution center. The city is repaving and widening Shenandoah Drive from 4th Avenue to County Road 101, and on 4th Avenue from Shenandoah Drive to County Road 83, another lane will be added, making it three lanes. The road will stay open, but speed will be reduced on 4th Avenue. Expect the $2.7 million project to last from May to September.

County Road 16/Eagle Creek Boulevard, Shakopee: The road, which connects west and east Shakopee, will be converted from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway with a median. Construction will take place from County Road 83 through the County Road 21 intersection. The new road will be slightly to the south of the current one; the current road will become a frontage road. The $11 million project, scheduled from May through late fall, will reduce the road to one lane.

County Road 42 at 35W, Burnsville: A six-week, $2 million project will affect this busy stretch of County Road 42 from Aldrich Avenue to Nicollet Avenue. The bridge over Interstate 35W will be resurfaced, and a turn lane will be added to make getting onto northbound 35W easier. Cars will be rerouted during the project, planned for summer to early fall.

Pilot Knob Road, Eagan: The section of road from Interstate 35E north to Central Parkway will be widened, with construction happening in stages from May through November. Northbound traffic on Pilot Knob Road will be reduced to one lane through August, with night and weekend closures in early summer. Southbound Pilot Knob will close in July and August. The goal is to fix capacity issues and minimize intersection delays.

Dodd Boulevard, Lakeville: The section from 185th Street to 194th Street — scene of the 2013 car accident that killed Alyssa Ettl, a junior at Lakeville North High School — will be converted from a two-lane road with little shoulder to a four-lane divided road with a median and turn lanes. At 185th, a stoplight will be installed. About 9,400 cars a day use this portion of Dodd, which will be closed from late April to late August.

County Road 38/McAndrews Road, Apple Valley: This $2.2 million project will affect travelers to the Minnesota Zoo this summer as the road from Cedar Avenue to Johnny Cake Ridge Road will be repaved. Expect lane closures.