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17 years in the making, Washington County Heritage Center opens Saturday

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17 years in the making, Washington County Heritage Center opens Saturday

With just a few days to go before the grand opening of the Washington County Heritage Center in Stillwater, Brent Peterson this week was overseeing last-minute details and answering myriad questions.

Could he help lift a glass display case in the John Runk exhibit? Were duplicates of the same piece of audio-visual equipment ordered on purpose for the Royal Credit Union Education Center? Will the glass doors for the exhibit on black baseball arrive on time?

“Yes. No. I don’t know,” Peterson, executive director of the Washington County Historical Society, said Tuesday as dozens of workers buzzed around him installing items, hanging artwork and mopping floors. “We’ve been working on this for 17 years. It’s amazing to see it all come together.”

The grand opening of the $5 million center at 1862 S. Greeley St., will be 10 a.m. Saturday.

One of the first exhibits people will see as they enter the center is “John Runk: A Curious Mind.” Runk, the legendary Stillwater photographer, spent a lifetime documenting the history of the city and amassed one of the largest individual historic photography collections in Minnesota.

Before he died in 1964 at age 86, Runk divided his collection and cameras among the Minnesota Historical Society, the Washington County Historical Society and the Stillwater Public Library.

A camera in the John Runk exhibit at the Washington County Heritage Center. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Many of his cameras, on loan from the Minnesota Historical Society, are on display, including a box camera that dates back to 1895, said Nancy O’Brien Wagner, a partner at BlueStem Heritage Group, which designed the exhibit. “For a camera buff, this is heaven,” she said. “They’re just beautiful. Some of them are in great condition. This one has the rubber bulb still connected — it’s 115-year-old rubber — that’s super unusual. If you know your cameras, this tells the whole history.”

Runk took thousands of photos, documenting everything from prison life to the logging industry on the St. Croix River, Peterson said. Many of Runk’s photos fill the walls, including photos that Runk took of himself.

“He took a lot of selfies, back before selfies were a thing,” Peterson said.

Visitors will be able to see Runk’s notebook; blue glass bottles he used to store chemicals, his hat, and his price list. Also on display: a Kleantone Manufacturing Co., record-cleaning device for Victrolas, which Runk invented and had patented, Peterson said.

Next to the Runk exhibit is a display comparing and contrasting fashions of the 1860s and the 1960s. An 1860s blue silk brocade ball gown, once owned by Stillwater resident Eliza Purinton, is on display in the same exhibit as a dress from the 1960s, and a Civil War uniform is on display next to a Vietnam War uniform once worn by retired U.S. Army Col. Buzz Kriesel.

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Part of the “From the Woods to the World” exhibit. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

The largest exhibit, called “From the Woods to the World,” details the state’s logging history, from woods up north to the St. Croix River where they were sent downstream to the mills in Marine on St. Croix and Stillwater. There, they were cut up into logs and made them into lumber and then “shipped all over the world,” Peterson said.

The idea for a Heritage Center was first floated in 2005 during a strategic planning session with the historical society’s board of directors, staff and key stakeholders of the organization, Peterson said. “Out of that came the need to move forward as an organization and to make the mission of the organization — to collect, preserve and interpret the history of Washington County and the state of Minnesota — a true focus of the society,” Peterson said.

In 2013, the historical society purchased the former UFE building at 1862 S. Greeley St. It later rented the building to the Minnesota Department of Transportation for its St. Croix River bridge construction office.

Peterson said the site was chosen because of its proximity to the Washington County Government Center and because it “was in the center of the county to make access easy for all residents and visitors to Washington County.”

WASHINGTON COUNTY HERITAGE CENTER GRAND OPENING

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A sign near the front door welcomes people to the soon-to-be-opened Washington County Heritage Center in Stillwater. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

The grand opening of the Washington County Heritage Center, 1862 S. Greeley St., Stillwater, will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission will be free. Special activities include: live music and axe throwing and log cutting by world-champion lumberjacks Jim and Jamie Fischer.

After the grand opening, the Heritage Center will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays; cost for admission will be $8 for adults; $3 for kids, 6-17; and free for kids 5 and under. Members of the Washington County Historical Society get free admissions to all the WCHS historic sites.

For more information, contact the Historical Society at 651-439-5956 or email at [email protected]

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One in custody after police chase ends in Granite City, Illinois

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One in custody after police chase ends in Granite City, Illinois

ST. LOUIS — Jacita Massenberg is the executive pastor of Tabernacle Church St. Louis on West Florissant Avenue.  The church is approximately two miles away from the area where two St. Louis Police officers were wounded Wednesday.  

Massenberg said a combination of violence and other tragedies have added up to a noticeable increase in stress and sadness from some community members.   The church is inviting anyone experiencing grief or struggles to attend a hope and healing service.  The new service will launch on Feb. 5 and take place each Saturday at 3 p.m.

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Ask Amy: Dad moved in, now — how to get him out?

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Ask Amy: Offering hope regarding the endless pandemic

Dear Amy: I’m asking a question on behalf of my friend, “Brad,” who is in a sticky situation.

Brad’s dad had surgery several weeks ago and is doing well now.

He stayed with Brad while he recuperated for nearly two months — all through the holidays.

The dad has his own home nearby and is a widower.

He has settled into Brad’s home with absolutely no regard for other family members. Brad’s daughter recently packed her bags and moved out because there is no more privacy at the home.

Brad and I actually took the dad to a medical appointment and then took him to his house to see what shape it was in.

The home is organized, cozy and his own, but he is refusing to leave Brad’s house.

He has no concept of privacy. He took over the entire first floor living room, kitchen, guest bathroom, den, and dining room.

Brad can’t enjoy his own home anymore, and his dad won’t budge!

Do you have any ideas on how to politely and tactfully ask Dad to return to his own home?

Is there a way I can mediate this situation to take some of the burden of Brad?

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University of Minnesota Duluth looks to build academic health care center in downtown medical district

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University of Minnesota Duluth looks to build academic health care center in downtown medical district

DULUTH, Minn. — The University of Minnesota is requesting funding to design and build a new academic health care center affiliated with its Duluth campus and located in downtown’s burgeoning medical district.

The University of Minnesota said in a news release that it’s collaborating with Essentia Health and St. Luke’s to provide a larger health care workforce to “address the needs of Duluth, Greater Minnesota and local Indigenous populations.”

As a part of the university’s 2022 comprehensive legislative request, it is asking for $12 million for the design phase.

“This opportunity is in line with our land-grant mission and our continued commitment to Greater Minnesota and the Duluth region, specifically. We are thankful for the opportunity to discuss how academic medicine, including training and clinical research, can enhance the great care provided to Minnesotans in the region,” said Dr. Jakub Tolar, dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School.

The new building would be built in close proximity to Essentia and St. Luke’s. Mayor Emily Larson said during a Thursday news conference that its exact location is still being determined, but St. Mary’s Medical Center is a potential location. Essentia Health announced last week that St. Mary’s will be demolished once its new $900 million hospital is complete. St. Luke’s is also in the process of redeveloping its entire campus.

“This is proof that we are leaders for health care technology and innovation and proof that people want to be here, and the more opportunity we give them to be here, our population grows, our vision grows bigger, and we can make the best use and purpose of this in the city of Duluth,” Larson said.

If the proposal is approved, design could begin this summer. U President Joan Gabel said in the news release that the goal is to have the new building completed as early as fall 2025.

“The University of Minnesota is committed to expanding our capacity to provide world-class care for Minnesotans in Greater Minnesota,” Gabel said. “Through this important partnership, we are amplifying the university’s impact and contribution to communities by creating new space for classrooms, specialty labs, student life and beyond.”

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