Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening.
You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'.
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It's a strange experience to look back at the last year's work. Some stories I remember well. Others I completely forgot. Either way 2011 was an interesting year full stories that needed to be told -- some wonderful, some sad and some that were just weird. Here are my favorite stories from the last year. The addition of the community garden I chose this story as a favorite because it's a topic close to my heart.
The Rosemount City Council voted Tuesday night to change its website services provider. Starting later this year, the city will use CivicPlus instead of its longtime provider, GovOffice. The council has made it a goal to improve its communications with residents. Part of that goal is improving the city's website so it's more user-friendly and offers more to residents. Communication director Alan Cox said that GovOffice has too many limitations to make the city's website goals happen.
If you hear the sirens going off this week, don't worry. The outdoor warning sirens are being upgraded to meet federal requirements. And to test the new equipment the sirens will be activated for brief periods during daytime hours this week. According to a press release from the city, the project is being jointly funded through a Federal Department of Homeland Security Urban Area Security Initiative grant secured by Dakota County and by the City of Rosemount. The work is expected to done by Jan. 6. The usual monthly siren tests will continue on the first Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m.
Since her time at the School of Environmental Studies, Rochelle Roche knew she wanted to work with the environment. After being laid off last spring, the 26-year-old decided to follow her heart. She did that through the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa. Roche recently finished a six month stint with the Conservation Corps. As part of the corps she helped manage natural resources around the Twin Cities. Duties included buckthorn removal, erosion control and creating rain gardens. The Conservation Corps traces back to the Civilian Conservation Corps that was started in the 1930s.
Dakota County is looking for your opinion on a new 456-acre regional park in Empire Township. County staff will use those comments to create a final master plan for the project. County staff will take comments through Jan. 12 on the draft master plan, and the county will hold an open house from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Jan. 5 at the Dakota County Western Service Center in Apple Valley. Mary Jackson, with the county's planning and analysis office, said so far comments have trickled in.
2011 has been a big year for the Rosemount Area Arts Council. The group, which aims to build and strengthen the community through the arts, sponsored 25 events over the past 12 months. And while members would like to do more, it's definitely been a year of accomplishment. RAAC started in 2007. During its first few years the small group of volunteers decided to concentrate their efforts on getting the nonprofit established. That meant becoming a 501©3 and writing bylaws. Over the last few years RAAC has concentrated on hosting more events to meet its mission.
Christine Larson has long had an interest in her family history. She enjoys learning about her ancestors and making connections to the people who went before her. As a Dakota County librarian she also enjoys helping others find their own family histories. Larson will lead a class on finding family history on the Internet from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Robert Trail Library computer lab. Larson said the class will focus on the basics of finding family history online.
The Dakota County Community Development Agency plans to initiate a loan program in 2012 that will help people winterize their homes. The city of Rosemount would like to see the program happen, so the city council directed its 2012 Community Development Block Grant funds to help get it up and going. Rosemount will allocate a little more than $42,000 to program. The funding will be used to offer Winterization Plus Program loans to Rosemount residents.
In ninth grade, Stephen Sawyer started serving as a student volunteer on the parks and recreation commission. That was almost four years ago, and at the end of the school year his time on the commission will come to an end. All in all, Sawyer said it was a good experience that taught him a lot about what goes into the city's parks and how local government operates. "Developing a park is a pretty intensive process.
Christmas will be over before long, and for some that will mean strings of lights that need to be discarded. Instead of throwing them out, though, residents should consider recycling. Boxes have been set out at various Rosemount location including two at the Rosemount Community to collect unwanted holiday lights and extension cords. Collection bins are located in the upper lobby of the community center and at the parks and recreation office. The office is open weekdays from 8 a.m.