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April 22, 2021

Valian sentenced for rural Harris murder in May 2020
Emotions were still very raw among those who testified at Friday’s sentencing of Justin Valian.  Judge Bollman ordered him to serve to 225 months in prison for an earlier guilty plea to the second degree stabbing death of Joshua Kaczrowski, outside his home in rural Harris, in May 2020.
Friday, April 16, 2021

Ground broken for Falcon Apartments in North Branch
Falcon Apartments are officially under construction in North Branch,  with the groundbreaking celebrated this week.  Pictured are left, city Administrator Renae Fry and Mayor Jim Swenson, third from right— with Kuepers contractors representatives; Ray Austin and Pete Wolf and Chris Raiman for the architects.  City officials were thanked for their swift handling of permits, road access and many other items that had to be addressed before this apartment complex got underway. The site is on the east side of Falcon Avenue, nearby the Ecumen senior living facility and south of Fairview’s Medical Center.  It will be accessed by a new road, 385th, that is coming off 383rd, heading north into the apartments site.

Friday, April 16, 2021

County adopts housing trust
The Chisago County Board voted 5-0 last week to adopt an ordinance putting a Housing Trust Fund into existence.  Chisago will be only the fourth county in Minnesota to have such a financial tool.
Friday, April 16, 2021

No surprises in audit
The 2020 audit was presented to Taylors Falls City Council Monday night this week, and the council was pleased to learn that accounting and budget practices pretty much stayed on track despite covid-19 and  everything going virtual with new deadlines  imposed.  Mayor Mike Buchite commented that city spending was contained somewhat over a traditional year’s purchases, because council was uncertain how projected revenues from property tax payments would be affected. The audit shows no delinquency worries there.
Friday, April 16, 2021

Council approves street repairs; public hearing next step on borrowing
With a heavy thunderstorm rumbling in the background, Center City Council, minus members Donna Higgins and Ryan Pease, tackled a couple hours’ worth of business last week. 
Friday, April 16, 2021

Girl Scout Silver Award project
The Girl Scout Silver Award Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, hosted by Aisha Roche and Kaitlin Carlson at Moberg Park last Thursday, commemorated the efforts of their partners and community members’ celebrate completion of their "The Birdhouse Project."  The event featured a presentation, demonstration, and opportunity to ask questions about the project and check out the birdhouses constructed by community members.  The girls worked with the Park Commission, and placed 30 birdhouses. "The Birdhouse Project" is a sustainable community outreach project that has been led by two ambitious girl scouts, Aisha Roche and Kaitlin Carlson, in partnership with the Chisago City Parks Commission, Gregory Contracting, the East Central Regional Library Chisago Lakes area branch, and the Audubon Society, in a collaborative effort to bring habitat to our local parks.
Friday, April 16, 2021

North Branch Water and Light puts years old trailer park issue on upcoming agenda
North Branch Water & Light Commission welcomed a familiar face to its meeting last week, in the person of Tom Borchardt. The former owner of Oakwood Trailer Park in North Branch, Borchardt is seeking compensation for a six-year-old utility project he says he was “forced” to undertake;  by a utility commission that he says was acting in violation of its own policy.  Commissioners agreed to review the issues and take action at next week’s Water & Light meeting April 21.
Friday, April 16, 2021

Shafer Council reviews bar outdoor events, parking complaint
Shafer City Council met April 6 for a regular meeting.  All members were present with attorney James Monge via zoom.
Friday, April 16, 2021

Numbers are changing - not in a good way anymore, last chance for '21 guide
Well over a week ago it seemed we were turning the page on the COVID-19 situation.  Our numbers were improving, deaths were plummeting, all signs were trending positively.  This week is a complete 180. we are back to double digit daily deaths and our ICU numbers are soaring once again. When is this immunity thing going to kick in?  We are told every night by the nightly news that our vaccination numbers in Minnesota are huge and growing daily.  Then why are the pandemic numbers on the increase? 
Friday, April 16, 2021

Sharing childhood food
Last week, I did a dessert column that featured recipes from some of the ladies in my life: my wife, my grandma, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law.
Friday, April 16, 2021

Chisago County vaccination pace is great, but hospitalizations pick-up
County Public Health officials are seeing good vaccination activity in Chisago County but the hospitalizations of residents has risen.
Friday, April 9, 2021

Farmaste Animal Sanctuary to relocate this summer
A couple ag parcels north of Center City could be finding new life as a non-profit and a rural retail operation.  The County Board will take final action April 21 on the permit recommendations handed up by the Planning Commission.
Friday, April 9, 2021

Role as an extra in 'The Chosen' a blessing
A Chisago City real estate coach and team leader had the opportunity to play an “extra’ in a film production of Jesus’s life, that reviewers and industry analysts expect to have a lasting  impact on entertainment and popular religiosity.  Neal Lawson gathered with about 1,500 other people, on a hillside outside of Dallas Texas for the filming of Jesus’s sermon on the mount for the  The Chosen— a free streaming series with the distinction of being the largest crowd-funded television or cinema project of all time.
Friday, April 9, 2021

One-acre buildable discussion still underway
Three citizens have been assigned to a select county work group— tasked with re-writing an ordinance that for better or worse, has been a tool in the county land use tool box for conserving open space and rural aesthetics.  The working group is assigned to develop new wording replacing “one acre buildable,” a pre-requisite for new plats imposed by Chisago County since 1997. 
Friday, April 9, 2021

Hwy. 8 'open house' to run virtually April 12-29
If you are curious about  proposed improvements along Hwy. 8 or if you have been hoping to give some input or to just learn more about the concept, Chisago County invites interested people to see a website for a “virtual public engagement event.” 
Friday, April 9, 2021

Chisago County Collects: Old and interesting (very)
The Chisago County Historical Society is pleased to announce there’s a new exhibit at the courthouse in Center City.  “Chisago County Collects: Old and Interesting” is arranged in the four display cases on the first floor and highlights antique and vintage items that have been collected by local residents. 
Friday, April 9, 2021

Getting a shot, big decision? Not for everyone it's not; FoodShare month
I hope you and your family. had a wonderful Easter.  You couldn’t ask for better weather!  Let’s hope this weather is here for good.  Somehow I have a feeling it’s not. I think we had snow on my daughter’s birthday last year - that was in June.
Friday, April 9, 2021

Satisfying your sweet tooth
Getting together with family was amazing on Easter. We met at my aunt’s house in West St. Paul and posted up in the driveway with a handful of tables since we didn’t have the whole family there.
Friday, April 9, 2021

Saturday food distribution is coming April 24 to North Branch
There will be a food distribution to members of the public who need some help feeding themselves or their families...it is being held at North Branch Middle School at 38705 Grand Avenue, North Branch, Saturday April 24, from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. or when supplies are gone.
Thursday, April 8, 2021

Guilty plea accepted for May 2020 fatal stabbing
A District Court judge has accepted a guilty plea from Justin Gerald Valian admitting to second degree murder with no intent, and not premeditated.  Valian, 24, faces almost 19 years in prison under sentencing guidelines, according to the County Attorney.  He will be sentenced April 16 in Judge Bollman’s court.
Friday, April 2, 2021

Wireless internet system installation needs more time
The North Branch network of wireless broadband continues to be in the installation phase,  and there’s a few days  needed yet for testing by Genesis Wireless. The Braham based communications firm has a contract to service North Branch clients, who otherwise have not been able to connect to the Internet by wire/fiber optic. Genesis is leasing space atop multiple tower sites provided by the city, which give the company locations on which to erect its wireless equipment.
Friday, April 2, 2021

Chisago City Council approves project funding, looks at ATVs
In a rapidly paced, one-hour meeting March 24, the Chisago City Council acted on a number of projects that will ensure a busy summer in Chisago City.
Friday, April 2, 2021

North Branch mayor lifts COVID-19 remote meeting rules
Big news: COVID-19,  is no longer a public health concern.  That comes straight from North Branch Mayor Jim Swenson, who last week lifted his special declaration relaxing restrictions around remote meeting participation by elected officials.
Friday, April 2, 2021

Mandatory reporter expansion embraced by local youth rec group
A bill casting a wider safety net of mandated reporters who are watching out for abused children, garnered major bipartisan support in the state House on a 130 to 3 vote March 24. 
Friday, April 2, 2021

Flames take down Wild Mountain maintenance building
Tuesday morning, local fire departments were dispatched to a fire at Wild Mountain Recreation Area. Business officials released a statement reporting that only one structure, the maintenance building, caught fire. Although snow-making and grooming equipment and machinery were lost and/or damaged, the winter season next year should see no significant ill effects. Firefighters who responded deserve a huge thank you, and “without them the outcome may have been far worse,” the statement declared.    
Friday, April 2, 2021

School sports teams compete at state level; take vaccinations seriously
The ice is finally gone.  Thank goodness.  It only took inches of rain and wind gusts that rivaled a hurricane to get rid of it.  Nonetheless it just gives one a sense that winter is finally over and what a brutally cold end to the winter we had.  After that deep temp dip spell, the ice actually went off in almost record time.  Bring on the warm weather.
Friday, April 2, 2021

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