Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.
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The federal government has agreed to pay Xcel Energy more than $100 million to cover the costs of storing spent nuclear fuel U.S. Department of Energy was supposed to remove. Thirteen years past its deadline, the government has failed to pick up radioactive waste from plants, spurring lawsuits throughout the country. The U.S. Department of Energy and Xcel have reached a settlement for local costs. The government will pay Xcel about $100 million to cover used fuel storage costs through 2008 at the Prairie Island and Monticello nuclear plants.
After more than four months of brainstorming, meeting and drafting, Red Wing has released a strategic plan for public review. The document aims to present a long-term vision for the city with specific steps to achieve those goals. Dave Unmacht from consulting firm Springsted facilitated City Council workshops, and members also sought input from department heads and city staff.
Red Wing is working to make its roads safer and more pleasant for pedestrians, and area residents are encouraged to give their input. On Thursday, a cluster of Red Wing residents took part in Red Wing's first "walkabout," an event to help determine how safe and enjoyable it is to be a pedestrian in the city. The group walked down Main Street on a hot Thursday afternoon, noting the noise and narrow sidewalks as they passed.
Wisconsin Republicans released their proposed congressional redistricting map Friday, which was met almost immediately with Democrats' cries of partisanship. Among other changes, the proposed plan would add a section of central Wisconsin to Rep. Ron Kind's 3rd District, absorbing parts of the current 6th and 7th districts. The 3rd District traditionally has hugged the Mississippi and current extends from La Crosse to Hudson.
ELLSWORTH -- I'd been to Ellsworth once before on a quest to find out what my coworkers meant by "squeaky" cheese curds. I wasn't sure I wanted my food to squeak, as I was told good, fresh curds do, but I made the trek to the creamery nevertheless and was instantly addicted to the salty snacks. That was months ago, but on a trip this week I wanted to see what else Pierce County's seat had to offer. Of course, I did head to the creamery - who could resist fresh cheese curds so close by? - but I wanted to get to know the rest of the village.
CANNON FALLS -- As the average population at the Goodhue County jail continues to hover at lower numbers, county commissioners are pushing for solutions to cut costs. "We just want to stop the bleeding," Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel said at a Thursday Committee of the Whole meeting on the Cannon Valley Fairgrounds. "We have a sieve here." At a March Committee of the Whole meeting, commissioners encouraged the sheriff to look for ways to trim the budget, including boarding inmates from other prisons.
CANNON FALLS -- So far, the sweltering heat hasn't kept fairgoers from enjoying the Cannon Valley Fair, which kicked off Thursday. This year's fair has plenty of fun for people with a variety of interests. With food stands, live music, a midway with rides, a BBQ cook-off, a demolition derby, bull riding, a parade and fireworks, there are many options for fairgoers. But in keeping with the tradition of country fairs, showing animals is a key part of the festivities. Much of the animal showing will take place today, including the 4-H and FFA dairy show, sheep, goats, rabbit and poultry.
The Red Wing Port Authority has taken a crash course in the digital age. Earlier this week the group launched its new website, which director Myron White said he hopes will draw more people to the Red Wing area. The existing website was at least five years old, White said.
Unruly patrons and other issues could have caused Andy's Sports Bar and Grill to lose its liquor license this year, but the City Council renewed it Monday - with some conditions. Police Chief Tim Sletten said his department has received numerous complaints about the bar and its patrons ranging from shouting, inappropriate language and littering to fighting and urinating. "There is enough of a concern where I would not go along with reissuing this license if this behavior continues," Sletten told the council. Owner Rick Judd said he has been working to correct the problems since a meeting
Serving alcohol at a celebration after the Miss Red Wing coronation has not raised objections in the past, but Council President Ralph Rauterkus questioned the practice Monday. A temporary license allowing the Elks Lodge to sell liquor to the public during the Miss Red Wing coronation party on Aug. 7, during River City Days, ultimately was approved 5-2 at Monday's City Council meeting. However, Rauterkus had pulled the item from the consent agenda.