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Area briefs: Fillmore County road project wins paving award

Eagle Center names curator for art collections;

Bill Mercer.jpg
Bill Mercer has been named the Curator of Collections at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha.
Contributed photo / National Eagle Center

PRESTON — The paving of Fillmore County Road 1 between the Mower County line in the west and the intersection of Fillmore County Road 39 near Spring Valley received an award from the American Concrete Pavement Association.

The 9.2-mile project received a Silver Award in the County Roads category for 2021 Excellence in Concrete Pavement.

Croell, Inc., which worked on the project with the county, was honored for the concrete overlay of blacktop that was designed to improve "ride associated with the existing horizontal curves" and ensure "minimal disruption to the local farming community during the height of planting season." The project was also completed 21 days ahead of schedule.

“Congratulations to Croell, Inc. on a job well done," said Laura O’Neill Kaumo, ACPA president and CEO. "You set a standard for others in the industry to work towards, and you represent the best we have to offer.”

Eagle Center names curator of collections ahead of expansion

WABASHA — Bill Mercer, a longtime leader in the museum industry, has been named Curator of Collections of the National Eagle Center.


“We are extremely excited to add Bill to our team at this pivotal time in the Center’s history as we embark on Phase I of our multi-year $27 million renovations and expansion,” said Dr. Meg Gammage-Tucker, CEO of the National Eagle Center. “Bill will help guide the development of — and access to — the world-renowned Preston Cook American Eagle Collection. He will also work to bring attention to spiritual connections to eagles as we partner with the Prairie Island Indian Community and other cultural groups."

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Retired real estate investor Preston Cook spent 50 years amassing a collection of more than 25,000 eagle objects, which he committed to the National Eagle Center in 2017.

Included in the collection are more than 65 distinct collections that include fine art, clothing, military and historic war memorabilia, sheet music, advertisements, photographs, postcards, stamps, coins, a 1,500-item library, and much more.

“This is an incredible opportunity to share this one-of-a-kind collection and a significant number of cross-cultural presentations with the world,” said Mercer.

MatasCastillo selected as new Great River Rail Commission chair

RED WING — Ramsey County Board member Trista MatasCastillo was elected as the new chairwoman of the Great River Rail Commission.

Trista MatasCastillo
Contributed photo / Great River Rail Commission

The commission, which advocates for increased passenger rail service, particularly the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago second train, met last week to set its calendar and agenda for 2022.

"I’m excited to explore opportunities to improve passenger rail services in ways that will have both environmental and economic benefits,” said MatasCastillo. “I am very passionate about equity and the environment and passenger rail is perfectly suited to advance both issues.”

Goodhue County Board member Paul Drotos was re-elected to the vice-chair position on the commission.


Old power plant getting torn down in Austin

AUSTIN — A 30-megawatt power plant that has stood in Austin for more than 50 years will be torn down early this year.

NE Austin Power Plant.JPG
The former Northeast Austin power plant owned by Austin Utilities will be demolished beginning this month and continuing through April.
Contributed photo / Austin Utilities

Austin Utilities' Northeast Power Plant at 2901 11th St. NE will be demolished by Veit & Company beginning this month and expected to be finished in April. The project was originally scheduled to be completed in 2020, but was delayed because of the pandemic.

Work inside the plant began in late November with crews removing asbestos and equipment. All usable motors, power plant electric equipment and steel will be refurbished by Veit and reused by others who purchase the recycled items.

The total project cost is $1.056 million. There are no plans for the site at this time, however, Austin Utilities continues to own a substation and well house located on the property.

$270,130 in Legacy funds to history MN Organizations

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Historical Society awarded 31 grants totaling $270,130 in Legacy Amendment funds through the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants programs.

Small grants of $10,000 apiece or less were given to help nonprofits, educational organizations, government units and federally recognized tribes to preserve and share Minnesota history. This quarterly cycle of awards was approved Dec. 9.

Grants in Southeast Minnesota included:

• $5,000 to the Friends of St. Rose, Inc., Kenyon, to contract with qualified professionals to prepare construction documents for ADA improvements at St. Rose of Lima, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


• $10,000 to the Giants of the Earth Heritage Center, Spring Grove, to hire qualified consultants to develop and install an exhibit on Minnesota author and artist Peter Rosendahl's comic strip "Han Ola og han Per."

• $6,000 to the Houston Area Preservation Initiative, Houston, to hire a qualified historian to complete an evaluation to determine eligibility for listing in the National Register of Historic Places for the 1878 N.H. Forsyth property.

• $4,495 to the St. Olaf Heritage Association, Rochester, to design, produce and install two historical markers for the Tverberg Log House and West St. Olaf Church in southeast Minnesota.

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