Housing Authority of Cass County to open Section 8 waiting list for first time since 2017

WEST FARGO (FNS) — The Housing Authority of Cass County has announced they will be opening their waiting list for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

The last time the waiting list was open for new applicants was in August 2017.

Derek Johnson, deputy director of HACC, anticipates the waiting list to remain open for a week or two before closing again, based on past experience.

Applications are now available for download at the Housing Authority website at casscountyhousing.org, or can be picked up at the HACC office starting Monday, Jan. 6. HACC will begin accepting applications at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8. The applications will be date and time stamped in the order they are received. The waiting list will close after 250 applications are received.

In addition to the Section 8 waiting list, HACC continues to accept applications for its public housing in West Fargo, Casselton and Kindred. Immediate openings are available for housing in Casselton and Kindred.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting HACC at 701-282-3443 or info@casscountyhousing.org.

Cohousing attracting more interest in Minnesota

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (FNS) — At the Monterey Cohousing Community, residents share meals and a lot more — they share lives.

On a recent night, it was Jane Fischer’s turn to play head cook for a group dinner. She cooked up Cuban chicken, yellow split beans and rice and fried sweet plantains, for about 15 people.

Fischer moved to Monterey from Wisconsin more than a decade ago when her son was 13 and she was a single mother.

“One of the main things is I wanted there to be more parent figures for my son and have basically an extended family,” she said of her move to the St. Louis Park cohousing community. “And it did work out that way.”

Fischer treasures the connections she’s developed with the people at Monterey, where residents own private apartments or town homes but share many spaces, tasks, responsibilities and experiences. That’s what cohousing is about.

“It’s a really good way to live, to know people so intimately,” she said. “We make decisions together. We fight. We have fun.”

There are about 170 cohousing communities across the country. About 140 are in planning stages. Minnesota has two in operation: Monterey in St. Louis Park and a rural cooperative in Rushford. There are four perhaps in the pipeline in Minnesota, including Bassett Creek.

The Monterey Cohousing Community started in 1992. Carol Tellett joined early on and raised two children there. She said she loved it but that cohousing isn’t for people whose priority is privacy.

“You have to learn how to get along with a whole lot of different people and accept each other’s ideas and work with them,” she said. “It wouldn’t be for everyone. But if you want to really get to know your neighbors very well, it’s a good way to live.”

Monterey consists of eight apartments in a nearly century-old three-story Edwardian mansion that once served as a nursing home. Seven town homes are connected by a tunnel to the main building, on a 2.25-acre wooded site.

Shared amenities include two guest rooms, a woodworking shop, library, formal living room, vegetable gardens and a kids’ playroom.

Carol Johnson and her husband plan to join Monterey. Johnson has long been a renter. Now, the St. Louis Park resident is ready for home ownership.

“But maybe not be in the traditional house with all the maintenance and things you have to figure out on your own,” she said. “Now you have a whole community of people with expertise and experience you can draw from.”

Chris Baker of Minneapolis plans to move in with his 4- and 6-year-old daughters.

“I’m interested in living in a community where I know people,” he said.

Baker wants his children to know more people, too.

“It’s really nice having other adults who are interested in your children,” he said. “As they get older, having other adults around is beneficial.”

Lynn Englund, vice president of the Twin Cities Cohousing Network, has been part of a group trying to start a new community. But some people want to live along the light rail line in St. Paul, while others insist on living near the light rail line between downtown Minneapolis and the airport.

Even if the cohousing crew reaches a consensus about a location, there’s the matter of land and construction costs.

“Land prices have skyrocketed,” Englund said. “And it’s very daunting for a small group of people to think about buying a million-dollar parcel of land to try to build a $10 million cohousing project.”

But at the Monterey Cohousing Community, there are openings for new residents. Three of eight planned additional units are not yet spoken for. Prospective residents are invited to an open house next month.

It could take weeks for Fargo plows to completely dig out of ‘once-in-a-10-year’ blizzard

FARGO (FNS) — Digging out of a once-in-a-decade blizzard could take weeks, a Fargo administrator said Monday, Dec. 30.

Snowplows in the city have been working 24/7 since the storm hit Saturday, Dec. 28, City Operations Director Ben Dow said. Crews wanted to plow each road at least once by 3 p.m. Monday afternoon.

But it could take two to three weeks before crews entirely catch up. Snowplow drivers will have to go over streets another time, and then they will start the task of widening streets and clearing snow.

“This is a once-in-a-10-year thing,” Dow said.

Fargo counted a foot of snow over the past 24 hours, according to National Weather Service reports on Monday, but other parts of the metro area saw as much as 17 inches. The blizzard was enough to close Interstate 94 from Bismarck into Fargo and Interstate 29 for all of North Dakota.

Wind and falling snow has created large drifts in Fargo, Dow said. Fargo and Cass County closed its offices until noon Monday.

The south part of the city and newer developments have presented the most challenges, Dow said. Some snowplows got stuck, and city crews had to use heavier equipment like payloaders and graders.

“It’s a slow process,” he said. “It’s not like you just get in and drive through and you are just able to plow it to the side. It’s a battle all day.”

Dow advised drivers to take it slow, as roads are still slippery.

“We have everything we got out there on the road and all the manpower we can bring in trying to keep things opened up,” he said.

Body found along road in central Minnesota

KINGSTON, Minn. (FNS) — The Meeker County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a man after a body was found Sunday morning, Dec. 29, along a road.

Sheriff Brian Cruze in a news release said the identity of the deceased is not known at this time. The initial investigation revealed the man died somewhere other than where he was found near Kingston in central Minnesota.

The body was sent to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office for identification and autopsy.

Cruze said anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area of where the body was found during the overnight hours of Dec. 28-29 is encouraged to call the sheriff’s office.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assisting with the investigation.

Public invited to assess vision for Mission Creek cemetery

DULUTH (FNS) —A cemetery concept presentation will be open to the public Wednesday, Jan. 8 as the process to restore a historic cemetery in the Fond du Lac neighborhood of Duluth proceeds more than two years after the grounds were disturbed by a state highway project.

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa will host the meeting at Black Bear Casino in Carlton, where landscape architects from Urban Ecosystems will lead the presentation.

The architects will present three concepts for the cemetery. The event will feature a dinner, followed by small- and large-group discussions with the public to gauge reaction and receive feedback. Both the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the band referred the News Tribune to the architects for comment.

“One of our big design perspectives was coming up with a way of stabilizing and protecting the site in a way that it won’t be disturbed again in the future,” said Samuel Geer, president of Urban Ecosystems based in St. Paul.

The site was disturbed in 2017 by heavy equipment earth moving at the start of a state Highway 23 bridge replacement project over Mission Creek.

The $3.1 million bridge project was scrubbed as the recovery of burial remains became the focus for the ensuing two years. The roughly milelong site has been exposed and blocked off ever since as laborers from the band worked to sift through roughly 160 dump trucks worth of soil in search of human remains, grave goods and other artifacts.

MnDOT declared burial recovery completed in October. At last tally, the burial recovery project had come in at $6 million.

The goal now is “to put everything back where it came from,” said a MnDOT spokesperson in August. It’s unclear what the costs will be and Geer declined to speculate.

He described the process as “an incredible honor,” one guided by listening, critical thinking and research into the neighborhood.

The area around the project is steeped in historical significance, with nearby islands once used as an encampment by indigenous people. Later, the neighborhood became a bustling trading post and site of a riverboat touring company. It also comes with a grim history of multiple cemetery disturbances.

“The St. Louis River estuary was like a mecca for the Ojibwe. You had everything you wanted there — fish, rice and so forth,” tribal environmental director Wayne Dupuis told the News Tribune last February.

MnDOT has taken responsibility for the most recent disturbance and repeatedly expressed its regret. After the cemetery is restored, it plans to reintroduce the bridge replacement project.

Geer outlined the three concepts for the reconstructed cemetery and said he expects the end result, following public input, will be a “fusion” of the three. Fond du Lac’s Reservation Business Council is charged with approval of the final design.

The three concepts Geer described:

• One minimal and subdued.

• Another more grand, creating usable spaces and displays of interpretive information.

• One a balance of the first two.

“It’s such a rich and layered place where the project is,” Geer said. “We see our role in this as conducting a visioning process.”

Urban Ecosystems specializes in fusing the natural environment with cultural systems, Geer said, “in a way that is kind of mutually reinforcing — not separate but designed to be functioning together.”

Urban Ecosystems took up the work in August, and has taken part in one previous public meeting in October.

“We’re trying to focus first and foremost on what this place needs to be for the community and what to do to protect and make this a recognizable place for the Fond du Lac Band,” he said.

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