Dakota County's Board of Commissioners approved an over $600,000 design contract for the Safety and Mental Health Response Training Center on Tuesday, March 26.

The board is partnering with Collaborative Design Group Inc. on the SMART Center, an Inver Grove Heights-based training and law enforcement facility, for its architectural and engineering design. Collaborative Design Group Inc. was one of five companies to send the county proposals.

"[Collaborate Design Group Inc.] .... they've done this before," said Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie. "They understand humidities ... and all that kind of jazz we've run into in the past."

Commissioner Liz Holberg said she hopes that a wide number of building users - the SMART Center is funded through both state bonding dollars and county funds - are collaborated with throughout the design process.

"We have state bonding dollars involved in this project as (it) was sold to the Legislature, we talked about the availability of the facility for a variety of uses ... I just hope in the planning process that it is taken into consideration," she said.

The county purchased the site for the SMART Center in February and is set for a 2020 opening.

Pollinator and monarch butterfly grant

The county received a $150,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The grant will help supplement activities through 2020 and center around habitat restoration and enhancement, while also spreading native plants in county parks, said Meghan Manhatton, a natural resources specialist with the county. The grant required a county funding match of $64,700.

The county was one of seven recipients of the grant funding and will use the funds to help better existing activities to restore areas like Lebanon Hills Regional Park and Thompson County Park, she said at the meeting.

As part of prior natural resource restoration goals, the county has about 750 acres of existing prairie that it has pledged to help maintain, Manhatoon said.