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County Attorney James Backstrom stepping downJanuary 11, 2021 -

Dakota County's longest-serving county attorney announced Friday he is stepping down after 33 years in the role.

Attorney James Backstrom, who has been elected eight times since his first appointment in 1987, is resigning effective Feb. 27, citing ongoing health issues.

"Being a county attorney is not always an easy job. It comes with a lot of long hours and a lot of stress at times, but it also comes with a lot of fulfillment," Backstrom said. "I could not have asked for a more important and meaningful career."

Because Backstrom is leaving before his term ends on Jan. 1, 2023, the next county attorney will be appointed and serve until an election on Nov. 8, 2022.
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Burnsville State of the City presented March 17, 2021Although the pandemic continues with restrictions the City was able to return to the Ames Center for the State of the City report with fewer people and the event live-streamed.
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Burnsville State of the City presented March 17, 2021Although the pandemic continues with restrictions the City was able to return to the Ames Center for the State of the City report with fewer people and the event live-streamed.
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Building a community of belonging 2021The Burnsville Bulletin - Winter 2021-

Over the past two years, the Burnsville City Council has dedicated time for a deep dive into evaluating and defining what is most important in serving the Burnsville Community...
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Burnsville City Council and other elected officialsBurnsville Community Guide 2021 - 2022 -

The Burnsville City Council and other elected officials.
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Burnsville City Council 2021The Burnsville Community Directory 2021 - 2022 profile of the Burnsville City Council. Vince Workman, Cara Schulz, Elizabeth Kautz, Dan Kealey and Dan Gustafson.

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Council: No TIF for apartmentsJanuary 22, 2021 - Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News:

A proposal to replace blighted commercial buildings with apartments on a prominent Burnsville corner may not get off the ground...
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Dan Rootes Superintendent Birnamwood Golf CourseMarch 26, 2021 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News

A profile of Dan Rootes, the superintendent of Birnamwood Golf Course, by John Gessner.
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Drones are coming, but can be managed 2021March 19, 2021 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News

Council member Dan Kealey is a member of the Unmanned Air Mobility Integration Advisory Forum...
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Food forest, gardens a hit with city council 2021March 12, 2021 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News

Plans for a $125,000 grant to plant a food forest and public garden in Burnsville were greeted warmly by the City Council...
food_options.pdf
A finer grade of park fare? 2021March 5, 2021 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News

At a Feb. 26 council work session Council member Dan Gustafson suggested the city look into letting established restaurants set up concessions in parks, such as Crystal Lake Beach, to replace city concessions sales...
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MPCA forever chemicals leaked into groundwater by local landfills 2021March 19, 2021 Savage Pacer.



MPCA: 'Forever chemicals' leaked into groundwater by local landfills

By Christine Schuster cschuster@swpub.com Mar 19, 2021


The Freeway Sanitary Landfill and Dump is a 150-acre site near Interstate 35-W in Burnsville.
Courtesy of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.


Closed landfills in Scott and Dakota counties are among those leaking high levels of "forever chemicals" into the groundwater, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency announced Thursday.

The Freeway Landfill in Burnsville and Louisville Sanitary Landfill near Shakopee are among 15 landfill sites with "forever chemical" contamination levels in groundwater exceeding the state's health-based guideline value by more than 10 times.

Both landfills are located along the banks of the Minnesota River.

"With the discovery of PFAS contamination in groundwater, the MPCA will expand its water monitoring to ensure drinking water is monitored and the full extent and magnitude of the contamination is known," the agency stated Thursday.

Statewide, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination exceeded the state guidelines at 59 closed landfill sites in 41 counties, according to the report.

The agency detected some level of PFAS contamination in the groundwater at 98 of the 101 closed landfills tested.

“Once again, our assessments tell us that PFAS is everywhere in our environment," MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop said in a statement. "That’s why the agency needs the ability to use dedicated funds more flexibly to rapidly respond to these urgent contamination incidents.”

Last year, an underground fire broke out at the Louisville Sanitary Landfill near Shakopee. The landfill closed in 1990.

The MPCA's report found seven of the 12 active groundwater monitoring wells at the site detected high levels of PFAS contamination.

The site's PFAS contamination measured 22 times higher than the state's health-based values.

At the Freeway Landfill in Burnsville, the levels tested 714 times higher than the state's health-based values.

The Burnsville site tested second-highest for contamination with the Gofer Landfill in Martin County reaching the highest levels with PFAS testing 1,343 times higher than the state's guidelines.

The agency plans to additionally sample nearby residential water supply wells, the Minnesota River and Gifford Lake in Louisville Township.

The MPCA is requesting state lawmakers allow the agency to use funds from the Closed Landfill Program to rapidly address unexpected environmental incidents.

"Under current state law, the MPCA must wait until the legislature appropriates funding before responding to a contamination incident," the agency stated. "Legislative delays or gridlock could put Minnesota communities at risk."
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Market Garden recycling site will replace rink 2021April 9, 2021 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News

The underused outdoor ice rink in Burnsville's Civic Center park will be removed to make way for a market garden and organics recycling site...
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Burnsville City Council 2021The Burnsville City Council, 2021. Vince Workman, Cara Schulz, Elizabeth Kautz, Dan Kealey and Dan Gustafson.
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Karissa Bartholomew hired as human resources director 2021Burnsville Bulletin - Winter 2021 -

Karissa Bartholomew began her position of Human Resources Director in September 2020....
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Burnsville aunches review of ordinances 2021March 5, 2021 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News

Citizen task force will help shape rules...
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State of the City address 2021March 25,2021 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News by John Gessner


Exciting times’ ahead, mayor says

Dark for a good portion of 2020, the Ames Center was back to hosting one of its annual events this month — Burnsville’s State of the City address.

Speaking March 17 to a socially distanced audience, Mayor Elizabeth Kautz said seeing the city’s performing arts venue “filled with light and hope today” portends “exciting times yet to come.”

The address, sponsored by the city and the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce, included many references to a year of COVID-19.

“2020 challenged the city in ways we could never have dreamed of,” said Kautz, Burnsville’s mayor since 1995. “It challenged all of us in every facet of our lives. It altered the way we worked and communicated. It changed the way we spent our time with friends and family. It tested our resiliency. And it tested what is fair and just.”

When the pandemic hit, city staffers quickly pivoted to holding virtual City Council and committee meetings, Kautz said.

“It was important to us that we remained accessible and transparent,” she said. “Things we learned during this transition will no doubt improve the way we communicate going forward.”

Staffers “amped up our use of social media to inform and engage.” Public events were “reimagined” to provide “different kinds of fun.”

“Our teams put together drive-in movies and concerts, and other outdoor events to keep people connected and feel some semblance of normality,” Kautz said.

The City Council set aside $2 million of Burnsville’s CARES Act funding for local businesses — a bigger percentage of its federal pandemic relief than any city in the region provided, she said. Grants went to more than 116 businesses and nonprofits, including M Health Fairview Ridges Hospital, Kautz said.

“We also worked with Dakota County to make sure that our businesses could access their CARES funding,” she said.

Providing public safety “was hard in 2020, but our team also worked to find and bring joy to others during this time,” Kautz said. “We saw faces of wonder and excitement as our police and firefighters surprised kids on their birthday with a drive-by parade. Special events like a sidewalk dance party delighted our neighborhoods.”

Work in progress

The city broke ground last year on a new Fire Station 1, which will improve public safety and provide “state of the art tools to keep our first responders safe on the job,” Kautz said.

A new “first responders unit” was launched in 2021 to “proactively address mental health-related calls,” she said.

“We want to extend our values of respect and belonging through the development of this unit,” the mayor said.

The Police Accountability Act passed by the Minnesota Legislature last year “continues to be front and center,” Kautz said. “We are committed to continually reviewing police policies and compliance.”

The Police Department deployed 80 new body cameras in early 2020, she said, adding that Burnsville was the first city in Minnesota and second in the nation to deploy body cameras, more than 15 years ago.

The city continues to push for special legislation allowing neighboring cities to create consolidated “fire protection districts” for fire and emergency medical services, Kautz said.

“The consolidation would eliminate duplication, but most importantly, it would help our first responders to serve our residents better and address the rise in calls,” she said.

Burnsville’s diverse housing stock continues to grow, with more than 500 new units now in the permitting phase, Kautz said.

“Taxable market values have increased across all sectors, but especially with new multifamily developments,” she said. “Once the new multifamily developments come online, the new tax value is estimated to be $78.6 million in 2022.”

The city is committed to successfully redeveloping Burnsville Center, half of which is now owned by New York-based Kohan Retail Investment Group, Kautz said.

“We are working collaboratively to move toward the Center Village concept with mixed uses of housing, hotels and entertainment,” she said. “We have prioritized this area for a tax-increment financing, or TIF, district, and are currently working to get legislative approval.”

The Freeway Landfill and Dump in Burnsville is “not a new issue,” and the city remains determined to “remediate” the properties along Interstate 35W to “protect the environment, drinking water supply and the Minnesota River,” Kautz said. “The city is supporting efforts for nonbonded state funding allocated for remediation. This solution benefits the city and benefits the entire state by allowing for meaningful redevelopment opportunities.”

The city’s sustainability efforts led to a “big win” in 2021 — a $125,000 grant from the U.S. Conference of Mayors to expand access to locally grown food, she said.

The Grow Burnsville program will include planting of a public “food forest” and a Community and Market Garden, Kautz said.

“The grant will be used for creating opportunities for healthy eating for the city’s most vulnerable residents: families in poverty, families with nutrition access limitations, and families underserved by park spaces,” Kautz said.

On transportation, the city is “embarking on a multimodal study to understand how to move people in better and different ways around the community,” she said.

The city is working with the YMCA and its Equity Innovation program to “examine equity in the way we serve our residents, from policing to policy,” Kautz said. “We look forward to inviting the community into inclusion and diversity conversations in 2021.”

She closed with a nod to residents Ben and Shannon Honken, who won a city songwriting contest around the theme “You Belong Here,” the city’s branding slogan. A Burnsville Community Television music video of the song, which was professionally recorded at The GARAGE in Burnsville, was played.







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Burnsville City Council strikes tobacco provisionMarch 19, 2021 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News

The Burnsville City Council voted Tuesday to strike a proposed tobacco ordinance provision that would have barred sales by store clerks younger than 18...

City Manager Melanie Lee receives raise...
student_rep.pdf
Burnsville council may appoint youth liaison 2021March 5, 2021 Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News

Burnsville City Council members agreed Feb. 25 to consider appointing a youth liaison to the council...
         
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