New City Council Will Have Familiar Faces in January

There will be three new faces on the Belle Plaine City Council when it convenes for the first time in 2009 on Jan. 5.

Perhaps "new" isn't the right word since combined the three incoming members have more experience on the council than the three they will join.

Mayor-elect Brad Krick and city council-elects Cary Coop and Gary Trost have all served at one time or another on the six-member council, going back as far as the 1960s to as recent as two years ago.

Krick served one term on the city council in the late 1960s, followed by eight years on the city's planning commission. He worked for the Belle Plaine Public Works Department for 28 years, including the last nine as superintendent before retiring in 2002. He has been a fixture at city council meetings for many years, even after retiring from his city job.

Coop, meanwhile, served on the city council 12 years (1989 to 2000) and has since spent a number of years on the city's park board. Trost is also in double-digits in years on the city council, having served on it from 1997-2007. He has spent the better part of the last two years on the city's planning commission.

In all, Krick, Coop and Trost have served more than a quarter of a century on the city council, while the three they will join in January have a combined 20 years, with Jim Lange accounting for 14 of those. Tim O'Laughlin has four years and Dawn Underferth two.

Leaning Right, Area Voters Return Incumbents With a Few Exceptions

tory last Tuesday electing the country’s first African-American president and handed near complete control of the country to Democrats, local elections were far less dramatic. In most cases, incumbents survived re-election bids and Republicans were the dominant choice of area voters.

Minnesota House

At the state level, Rep. David Bly (DFL-Northfield) and Rep. Laura Brod (R-New Prague) were re-elected.

Bly, whose District 25B includes Belle Plaine, topped Republican Tim Rud, 12,642 to 11,028. Bly enjoyed much of his support in his hometown. Over half of his votes came from Northfield. Bly barely topped Rud in Belle Plaine by four votes, 1,515 to 1,511.

Brod, whose district includes New Prague and areas west of Belle Plaine, defeated DFLer Tim Siebsen by a two-to-one margin. She topped Siebsen in 34 of the district’s 39 precincts

In District 35B, Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan) again defeated Taylor Kristoffe-Jones (DFL-Savage), 15,298 to 8,949.

In other area state races, Rep. Mike Beard (R-Shakopee) retained his District 35A seat with a win over Sue Bruns (DFL-Prior Lake), 15,431 to 12,553.

In District 34A, Rep. Paul Kohls (R-Victoria) once again defeated Marcia Krueger (DFL-Norwood Young America), 18,887 to 8,724.

State Constitution

A proposed change in the state’s constitution, one that increases the state’s sales tax by three-eighths of a cent with the proceeds dedicated to the environment and the arts until 2034, passed with 56 percent of the voters approving it and 44 percent either opposed or leaving the answer blank (a no vote).

In Belle Plaine, voters supported the proposal 1,758 to 1,302. Voters in Scott, Carver, Le Sueur and Sibley counties all supported the proposed constitutional amendment by margins ranging from 9 percent in Sibley County to 19 percent in Le Sueur County. Scott County voters supported the amendment change – 36,627 (56.81 percent) to 27,843 (43.19 percent).

Business Closure Leads to Relocation of Others

A game of musical chairs of sorts is taking place at Valley Business Park, located at 891 Diversified Drive in Belle Plaine (near Westerman Lumber).

The game actually extends to 116 West Main Street downtown, where Airborne Athletics has been manufacturing volleyball and other athletic training equipment since 2000. A couple of years ago the business expanded its operation to Valley Business Center but continued to occupy its downtown location as well.

Doug Campbell of Airborne Athletics said the company is in the process of moving entirely out of its downtown location to Valley Business Center and will expand its presence there to include both the northeast and northwest quadrants of the building. Campbell said he plans to sell his downtown building after Airborne Athletic's relocation to the other side of the highway is complete.

In the meantime, Mike Erdmann of Warehouse Marine, Inc., who has been operating his used boats sales, service and consignment business on the north side of the building since May, will relocate to the southeast quadrant, which until Oct. 31 was occupied by Belle Rental and Elite Auto Spa, both of which have closed.

Building co-owner Paul Creighton of Countryside Construction (Valley Business Park's original tenant), will move his business to the building's southwest quadrant.

Kansas Man to be Belle Plaine's Next Top Cop

A selection process that began with 32 applicants came to a close last week when David Lanning accepted the city of Belle Plaine's offer to become its next police chief, according to City Administrator David Murphy.

Lanning, 42, a native of Salina, Kan., was the city council's choice following interviews with him and the other two finalists on Nov. 1. After mulling things over for a few days, the council held a workshop Thursday night and selected Lanning. The other two finalists were former Belle Plaine police officer Tom Stolee (now with the Jordan Police Department) and Eric Klang, who was sheriff of Crow Wing County from 2003-06 and is currently a deputy with the department.

Lanning, who is a training officer for the Potawatomi Tribal Police Department in Mayette, Kan., was chief of police for Holton, Kan., from 2000 to 2008, a job he was let go from in June.

According to a June 27, 2008 story in the Topeka Capital-Journal newspaper, Lanning said he was blind-sided when he was called into the city manager's office and fired without cause.

"I was totally shocked," Lanning told the Capital-Journal. "However, you have to understand small-town politics. When people get arrested, when things don't go their way – it gets weights."

Man Found Dead in Blakeley Township Identified

The body of a man found in the woods Sunday in Blakeley Township has been identified as 51-year-old Vincent H. Schuette.

According to Scott County Emergency Management Director Chris Weldon, Schuette's last known address is Rochester. A suicide note had been found in a car registered in Schuette's cousin's name, which prompted a massive search of the area that lasted much of the weekend. Schuette's body was found by a member of the Civil Air Patrol at about 2:30 p.m. in a wooded area near Chatfield Drive and Salisbury Hill Road in the southwestern corner of Blakeley Township.

Hannah Schneider Earns American FFA Degree

Hannah Schneider, a 2007 graduate of Belle Plaine High School and a member of the school's FFA Chapter, recently received the American FFA Degree.

Earning the degree means that Schneider, daughter of Greta and Greg Schneider, is one of a select group of individuals recognized for years of academic and professional excellence. The honor was presented on Oct. 25 at the 81st National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.

Schneider, who studies agricultural education at the University of Minnesota, was president of the BPHS FFA Chapter her senior year (2006-07).

The American FFA Degree recognizes demonstrated leadership ability and outstanding achievements in agricultural business, production, processing or service programs. To be eligible, members must have earned and productively invested a minimum of $7,500 through a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program in which they start, own or hold a professional position in an agricultural enterprise. Recipients must also make it their mission to demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities and community involvement.

Each award recipient receives a gold American FFA Degree key, a certificate and a wallet ID card.

Food Drive a Big Success

Belle Plaine High School students prepared to load 5,500 food items and $500 into a truck for delivery to the food shelf at St. John Assumption Church last Wednesday. The food drive pitted classes against each other in a friendly competition intended to increase the size of the donation. Students in Brad Pederson's fourth hour study hall claimed bragging rights, donating money and food items topping 1,600.

B.P.-County Studying Future CR 8 Junction With Interchange

With no money slated for another interchange or an overpass, the extension of County Road 8 toward Highway 169 will ultimately merge with the Belle Plaine interchange at County Road 64.

That’s the easy part. Just how that road will arrive at the interchange is the tricky part.

Last Thursday, representatives of the city and Scott County met with landowners to discuss the study of a potential alignment a connecting road network will take between County Road 8 and the interchange.

The joint city-county study will be completed in the first quarter of 2009 with Belle Plaine and Scott County needing to accept its findings and the role each will play in future.

The extension of County Road 8 and the connecting road to the interchange will both be driven by development. The land along Highway 169 in Belle Plaine and St. Lawrence townships, on the east side of the highway, is ultimately slated for highway commercial development.

But road planners with Bolton & Menk, the city’s engineering firm, are seeking a balance between planning a road network that does not limit development opportunities, respecting the topography of the land between county roads 64 and 66, wetlands, and is most importantly a design supporting safe driving, said Gina Mitchell, a transportation planner with Bolton & Menk.

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