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    Farmland Rent Workshop Friday

    The two Farmington Farmland Rent Workshops scheduled for Wednesday, February 20 at the Dakota County Extension & Conservation Center will be postponed to Friday, February 22 due to weather. The first session will start at 9:30 a.m., followed by an afternoon session starting at 1:30 p.m. For more information call the Farm Information Line 1-800-232-9077 or the Dakota County Extension Office at 651-480-7732 the day of workshop or Dave Bau at 507-360-0664, or by email at bauxx003@umn.edu.

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    Borner Farm Offers Garden Shares

    Borner Farm, in Prescott, is again offering a Community Supported Agriculture Program this summer that allows members to buy local, seasonal food directly from the farm. This year, Borner Farm is offering an early-bird sign up discount of $50. Borner Farm is offering the usual full and half shares of main-season veggies, an egg share, and two new types of shares: a spring share for the month of May, and a flower share from July through Sept. for complete details, and to sign up, log on to BornerFarmProject.com.

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    Dakota Co Jail Booking Feb 19

    From the Dakota County Jail booking report for Tuesday, February 19th, police in South St. Paul arrested 38-year-old South St. Paul resident Willie LeVar Hart on felony charges of violation of an order for no contact, violation of probation, and 5th degree possession of marijuana, and misdemeanor charges of providing false identification, and violation of probation. Hart is being held without bail as the charges are processed. Dakota County deputies detained 33-year-old Canton, MN, resident Ryan Matthew Vangness in Ravenna Township on a felony charge of 5th degree possession of marijuana, and a misdemeanor charge of driving with a revoked license. Vangness remains in custody pending an appearance in court, set for the 20th. And Eagan police arrested 34-year-old Faribault resident Antonio Levell Washington on felony charges of illegal possession of a firearm, and 5th degree possession of 5th degree possession of marijuana. Washington remains in custody as the charges are investigated. All persons listed on the blotter report are presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

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    Senator Reacts To Gov Budget

    The announcement made on Tuesday by Governor Walz unveiled his proposed budget included concentration on quote "closing the funding gap in education to assure every child has a good teacher, receives individual attention and has access to the materials they need to develop the knowledge and skills to compete in today's economy.:

    He proposes increasing the basic formula for state funding by 3% in the first year and 2% in the second year of the biennium resulting in an investment of 523 Million dollars.

    Senator Karla Bigham provided her response to the Governor's plan

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    Senator Bigham is my guest each Wednesday for our session update which airs through May.

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    Jurgens On Gov Budget Proposal

    With education on the forefront of the 2019-2020 biennium budget released on Tuesday by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a boost of 523 million dollars over the next 2 years should help Minnesota schools retain qualified teachers and keep class sizes down. Without the additional funding, says Walz, early learning Pre-K spots around the state will be cut in half, impacting 4,000 children. He proposes $59 million to ensure preschool learning opportunities. Wrap around services are also part of the plan with $9 million dollars earmarked for schools that will offer practically everything a family needs in one place including primary health and dental care, job training and classes for adults, and youth development programs

    Representative Tony Jurgens offered this reaction to the Governor's budget which also proposes a significant gas tax.

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    We'll cover more of the details offered in the Governor's budget and question Representative Jurgens on what differences the House budget may present. Hear our Session Update each Wednesday, only on KDWA.

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    Arson Chargees For Area Dentist

    A Woodbury dentist faces charges of arson related to a fire in a boathouse on Bass Lake, near New Richmond, Wisconsin, earlier this month. According to a criminal complaint filed by St. Croix County, Dr. John Michael Haag is accused of setting fire to a run down boathouse belonging to Wallace Cudd. The boathouse has allegedly been a point of contention for the Bass Lake Rehab district, and the local homeowner's association. The criminal complaint states that the boathouse was to be removed by Cudd by the end of winter, but Haag is suspected of taking matters into his own hands by setting fire to the structure. After initial interviews and a warrant search of his property by authorities, Haag allegedly confessed to the arson. Haag faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and a $100,000 fine, if convicted. He made his initial appearance in court on Feb. 4th and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on March 8th.   

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    (Photo Source: St. Croix County Sheriff)

    Tax Season Fraud Warning

    With Tax Season in full swing, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue reminds taxpayers that more than $51.3 million in fraudulent and erroneous refunds and credits were blocked last tax season thanks, in part, to the Department's use of identity verification tools that can also protect against identity theft. The Department also reports that anti-fraud initiatives have saved Wisconsin taxpayers more than $416 million over the past ten years. The Department uses analytics to identify tax returns that indicate possible identity theft. If there's a concern, DOR sends a letter to the tax filer asking them to complete a quiz, enter a Personal Identification Number (PIN), or submit documentation to confirm their identity. The unique PINs are a tool the Department uses to help safeguard tax filers. It is important to note that the Department does not call to request information. Rather, a letter is sent requesting that the tax filer contact the Department of Revenue. For more information, visit the Department of Revenue's Protecting Taxpayers page.

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    Eagle Scout Celebrates Accomplishment

    Hastings Knights of Columbus Council 1600 took part in the honoring of Jonathan Kennedy of Hastings, a member of Troop 503 as he was recognized for earning the highest rank in scouting, Eagle Scout. Kennedy and several members of the KC Council took part in a ceremony on Sunday, February 17th at SEAS Church. His Eagle Scout project was to build the Stations of the Cross at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. Kennedy received funding from the Council with which to build the project.

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    Serres Charged In Fatal Crash

    In an update to a fatal crash on Highway 50 in Douglas Township on Thursday, the driver of the Ford F150, Michael James Serres has been charged in Dakota County Court with one felony count of criminal vehicular homicide. The crash resulted in the death of his passenger, Terri Lynn Stephenson, who apparently was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Serres is also alleged to have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. An initial appearance in court for Serres is set for Wednesday, February 20th, at noon.   

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    (Photo: Dakota County Jail)

    City Seeks Grant Funding for Hwy 316

    A resolution to support a City application for a Local Road Improvement Program Grant for the upcoming Highway 316 Project was placed on the Consent Agenda for the February 19th meeting of the Hastings City Council. According to Public Works director Nick Egger, City Staff is requesting the City Council adopt a resolution in support of the City's pursuit of funding through the State's Local Road Improvement Program that would be applied towards filling an overall funding gap of approximately $1.65 to $2.25 million for the 2021 MnDOT Highway 316 Project. The LRIP Grant Program may be able to provide up to $1million towards closing this gap, even though at the State level, the grant program is not currently funded. The City of Hastings has been in touch with elected officials to encourage that the grant program receives the necessary funding.

    The City Council unanimously adopted a resolution in December in support of the scope of improvements developed by MnDOT and the City after a partnership effort throughout 2018 to gather public feedback and produce a design that would provide the highest and most prudent benefits to the highest number of stakeholders. City Staff will also continue to pursue other opportunities for which the City may be eligible to receive funding, including MnDOT's Local Partnership Program, which solicits applications beginning in April.

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    Food Fight To Benefit HFS

    A proclamation declaring a citywide food fight was placed on the Agenda for the February 19th meeting of the Hastings City Council. The food fight is the annual event to involve residents and businesses in Hastings to help restock the food shelf at Hastings Family Service. According to the proclamation, Hastings Family Service serves an average of 100 families each month, and the food shelf has served the basic needs of Hastings since 1970. 51% of community members who visit the Hastings Family Service food shelf indicate that someone in the household has skipped a meal because there was not enough food. MN FoodShare has coordinated a March campaign for 37 years to restock food shelves around the state of MN, and all gifts of money and food throughout the month of March are proportionately matched by MN FoodShare.   

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    Jurgens On Sovereignty Day

    At the Capitol on Presidents Day, the House of Representatives hosted Sovereignty Day, a time, said Representative Tony Jurgens of culture, information and communication that allowed him to better understand the needs of the sovereign nations that reside in Minnesota. I asked Jurgens the reason behind the visit.

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    Flanigan is a member of the White Earth band of Ojibwe. Jurgens continued with his recounting of the presentation.

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    Photo provided by Representative Jurgens

    Emergency Notifications Explained

    Following an incident that took place on Sunday night, involving the Dakota County SWAT team, questions were fielded by the City of Hastings aimed at the emergency alert that was received by several residents that asked recipients to shelter in place due to an unspecified threat. In an official statement made Monday morning, Police Chief Bryan Schafer had this to say about the alert.

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    Some residents shared that they found the information concerning the emergency lacked specifics on where the event was taking place. This some said caused unnecessary distress for those who felt the information was relayed in a manner that was too little and too late. Social media response then took the limited information and addressed concerns as well as words of appreciation to the city about the notification procedure that many compared to the water emergency that took place in September. Just before 5 pm on Monday, city communications coordinator Lee Stoffel posted a graphic on Facebook which offered a side by side comparison of the NIXLE system and the Everbridge notification differences and origins. According to the information, the Everbridge system is updated annually with phone numbers from the white pages, but it does NOT include cell phones. The reach is county wide and you must opt in, meaning it won't contact you unless you provide your phone or email information to their database. NIXLE, explained Stoffel is similar, but that is run by the City and is used for municipally based events such as snow emergencies and recreational notices. Connections for each can be found below-

    NIXLE- www.hastingsmn.gov/text-alerts.

    Everbridge- https://www.dcc-mn.org/community-notification

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    Sunday Arrest Of Hastings Man

    Monday Morning Update- 10AM-A report from the Dakota County booking log confirms that 37 year old Joseph Marshall Broady was taken into custody following an incident in Hastings that took place on Sunday , February 17th. Broady is charged with one count of terroristic threats, one of stalking and one 5th degree assault charge. The incident resulted in the SWAT team being called to a home in the 1700 block of Carriage Hill Court. A regional Everbridge alert went out during that event calling for neighbors of that area to shelter in place until the situation was contained. Broady is currently held at the Dakota County Jail.

    We now have more information on an incident that caused concern for those receiving a shelter in place message from the Everbridge alert system on Sunday night. Hastings Police Chheif Bryan Schafer provided a statement on the reason behind the warning.

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    Jurgens Authors Bill For City Hall Repair

    State Representative Tony Jurgens is chief-authoring legislation that would rehabilitate and preserve the Hastings City Hall building. Jurgens' bill, House File 1106, would provide $2 million in bonding proceeds to make the needed repairs. Jurgens said the investment in the city hall building is not only worthwhile but also necessary.

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    If approved, a $2.6 million investment from outside sources, such as the City of Hastings, would be needed in order to secure the states bonding proceeds.

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    Foundation Donates To Spark Park

    The Prescott Foundation recently authorized a $10,000 grant for the Spark the Park Campaign to help with the cost of upgrades for Firehall Field, in Prescott. The foundation's grant is for the first phase of the campaign that installs high-quality advertising signs on the outfield fence. The signs will feature local businesses and sponsors, and bring in revenue for CAB for ongoing expenses and future phases of the project. With the $10,000 donation, CAB Company will re-engineer the fence so it is ready to support the aluminum signs year-round. The ball field is used for high school, community recreation, Legion, VFW and town teams. The project is led by the CAB Company, a volunteer organization that has donated both money and time since 1998 to maintain, upgrade and operate the ball field.

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    Dakota County Crash Claims One

    A fatal crash occurred on Thursday night on Highway 50 near Inga Avenue, just after 11 PM. According to the MN State Patrol crash reporting website, officer were called to the scene at 11:18. Investigation of the accident revealed that a Ford F150 driven by 53-year-old Michael James Serres, of Hampton, was traveling eastbound on Highway 50 in Douglas Township when it went into a ditch and rolled near Inga Avenue. Serres received non-life threatening injuries and was transported to North Memorial Hospital. The passenger, 49-year-old Terri Lynn Stephenson, also of Hampton, was not wearing her seatbelt and was killed in the accident. State Patrol investigators also say that alcohol was a factor in the accident.   

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    Band Concert Will Go On

    Despite the cancellation of last week's practice due to a snowstorm, the show will go on for the River Valley Community Band. Their concert will be performed on Wednesday, February 20th at the Hastings Middle School. Director Rufino Ochoada has taught in the area for many years and notes that winter schedules are bound to be challenged by unforseen events. He reminds members to continue their individual practice and a final rehearsal will take place on Tuesday, February 19th from 7-9pm with set up for Wednesday's 7 pm concert to be held after 5PM. The public is invited to the concert which offers a variety of musical selections by the multi-generational ensemble.

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    Prescott Students Safety Awards

    Some safety awards were handed out on Valentines Day to Prescott 3rd graders at Malone Intermediate School. Those recognized in 5 classes were Keira Link ,Jeremy Mabry ,Makayla Johnson, Ellie Manka, Braeden Marth, Faith S and Kalton C each won a free breakfast at the upcoming World Famous Pancake Breakfast served in March at the Prescott Fire Department. Each student presented a winning fire escape plan for their family's home.

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    Jurgens Seeks Social Security Tax Relief

    Looking to build off of last sessions tax relief for senior citizens, State Representative Tony Jurgens is chief-authoring new legislation that eliminates taxation on Social Security benefits. The bill was heard in the Minnesota House Taxes Committee Thursday, and held over for possible inclusion in a more comprehensive tax proposal that will be unveiled later this year.

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    Jurgens notes that under last sessions Social Security tax relief law, nearly 284,000 senior citizen tax filers received tax reductions, and 72,000 of those no longer pay state income tax on their Social Security benefits. The representative says the time is right to finish the job for Minnesotas senior citizens and give all of them permanent tax relief.

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    Hydro Plant Fund Budget Amended

    In a combined request placed on the consent agenda of the February 19th Hastings City Council, the council will be asked to approve a budget amendment to the General Fund and Hydro Electric plant. The request will be to forgo the 4th quarter profit sharing from the Hydro plant that would be added to the general fund. The amount of 119,602 dollars would remain in the Hydro plant fund to offset 2018 needs brought upon by several equipment breakdowns and low water levels. Staff recommends that the funds be kept in the Hydro fund to help stabilize it should additional events impact revenue. To make up for the funding, the request asks that investment income of $30,000, funding designated for the Police department for $26,600 and fees received from building permits and inspections $142,800 be increased to make a positive budget adjustment despite the removal of the Hyrdo income.

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    District Offers Alternate Spring Break

    Hastings Parks and Recreation and YMCA are hosting Alternative Spring Break Camp again this year. The camp is recommended for grades 5-10 and will take place at the Hastings Middle School during Spring Break for District 200, Monday March 11 through Thursday, March 14th. Hours for the activities are 8 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. The cost for each day is 30 dollars per student with a discount of 10 dollars if signing up for all four days. An activity, lunch at a local restaurant, and service type project are included in the itinerary. Cost includes transportation during the day but students must provide transportation to and from the Middle School each day.

    A registration link can be found here : http://hastingsmn.maxgalaxy.net/BrowseActivities.aspx

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    Threat Assessment Bill Gets Hearing

    In our weekly session update with Senator Karla Bigham, a bill she introduced on securing funding for threat assessment practices in Minnesota Schools, received a hearing. The Senator explains the goal of this legislation.

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    Listen each Wednesday for our In Depth Session update with District 54 Senator Karla Bigham.

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    Photo supplied by Senator Bigham

       

    Prescott Snow Management Plan

    The recent snowfalls have impacted nearly everyone including those tasked with clearing the streets in and around Prescott. Drivers with CDL endorsements have a limit to how much time can be spent behind the wheel, regardless of how much snow needs to be removed. The Public Works department reports that it takes about 4 hours to clear traffic lanes with all equipment working with a 4 AM start. Hills and major thoroughfares are completed first with excess piled downtown in the middle of main street. Then comes the work done around the schools with limitations to where that snow can be pushed to still allow buses to get through. During the last rounds of snow removal, several trucks were delivered to the boat lauch parking area and also in McGee park. During the report made to the City council, a question was posed as to whether or not independent contractors might assist to keep more streets clear, to which City Administrator Brand and Mayor Hovel replied that a liability issue would prevent such an arrangement if damage was done to public or private property during the process. The Mayor also noted the narrowing streets may call for some parking restrictions to be enacted that will assure enough room is available for vehicle traffic, especially around the schools.

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    Listening Tour Set For Craig

    U.S. Rep. Angie Craig announced she is launching a district-wide Healthcare Listening Tour to talk with community members, health experts, and providers about how to lower the cost of healthcare and increase the accessibility of quality healthcare to all Americans. She will kick off her listening tour in Eagan on Monday, February 18th. Citing feedback received from constituents, Craig states that people are saying they need Congress to address the growing cost and limited accessibility of healthcare. Craig will spend the next several weeks sitting down with community members and healthcare professionals across the district to hear their firsthand experiences and listen to their ideas to ensure the voices of Minnesotans are heard in all discussions aimed at lowering the cost and increasing the accessibility of healthcare. The time and location of the meeting in Eagan are yet to be announced.

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    SSP Grad Completes Air Force Basic

    The U. S. Air Force has announced the graduation of U.S. Air Force Airman Kayleigh J. Judge from basic training at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland, San Antonio, TX. Judge, a 2016 graduate of South St. Paul High School, completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills, and earned four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force. Judge is the daughter of David S., and Tracy I. Judge of Inver Grove Heights.

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    Not Guilty Plea For Car Home Crash

    Charges have been filed in St. Croix County against Woodbury resident Kellie Marie Finke-Tchida as a result of a motor vehicle accident on December 16th that sent the vehicle Finke-Tchida was apparently driving 110 feet through the air and into the side of a home in Pleasant Valley, WI. The criminal complaint states that officers responded a little before 3 a.m. to the 300 block of County Road W to find Finke-Tchida and the passenger Josh Pettee trapped inside a vehicle that was half inside the dining room of a home. Both were freed and questioned.

    A resident of the home said they heard the two talking about who was driving and that Pettee appeared to ask Finke-Tchida if she wanted him to say he was the driver. Deputies reported smelling alcohol coming from the car and Finke-Tchida was described as having bloodshot, glassy eyes. Charges filed against Finke-Tchida, include felony second-degree recklessly endangering safety, two counts of misdemeanor causing injury while intoxicated, OWI, and operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level above .08. Finke-Tchida has entered a plea of not guilty to the charges, and her next court appearance is set for March 28th.   

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    Davis Named Rotary Student Of Month

    The Hastings Rotary Club has named Hastings High School Senior Drew Davis as the Rotary Student of the Month for February. According to the nomination submission, Davis is motivated and mature, and seeks opportunities to improve himself and his communities. Davis volunteers at the local YMCA, and serves as a leader for Youth in Government's model assembly, leads as captain for the baseball team, and helps direct an initiative about diversity and inclusion. Davis was named at the Rotary meeting on Thursday morning, and the complete text of the nomination is available below.

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    Below is Drews nomination, submitted by Hastings High School Language Arts Teacher Kari Jaeger.

    Drew is a motivated and mature student. His view of the world is broad, and he seeks opportunities to improve himself and his communities. This varies from volunteering at the local YMCA, to serving as a leader for Youth in Government's model assembly, to leading as captain for the baseball team, to helping direct an initiative about diversity and inclusion. As a biracial student, Drew has an important perspective in his almost all-white high school. He is willing to share his perspective on a new committee working to study and improve school climate. He helps guide students through small-group discussions and action research. The group is planning a way to share their stories with the students of HHS and to the larger community of Hastings. This work is not easy, but it is enormously important to the future of our district.

    Drew's greatest attribute as a student is his curiosity. He is driven by his desire to understand and grow. In my college literature course, Drew goes beyond what is required simply to sate his own appetite for knowledge. For example, if he is required to write one page applying a critical lens to a novel, Drew will write at least three pages, exploring multiple avenues. I can always count on his work to use as models for students who would benefit from seeing an example of superior work. Furthermore, Drew is polite and respectful. In college literature, the students have several graded discussions each week. These discussions cover controversial topics, but Drew knows how to disagree without being disagreeable. He listens, is kind, is open-minded, and asks questions. In short, he helps create a productive learning environment.

    Drew is undecided on a major at this point and has been accepted into many colleges next year. He is still making his decision but is hoping to get away from this snow!

    Pictured left to right: Brian Schommer-Rotary member, Todd O'Halloran-rotary member, Derrick Jaeger-Rotary member, Brian Davis-father, Drew Davis-Student of the Month, Cindy Davis-mother, Amy Rowan-YMCA, Kari Jaeger-HHS nominating staff.

    (Photo Submitted by the Hastings Rotary Club)

    Craig Plans Second Town Hall For Red Wing

    U. S. Representative for Minnesota's 2nd District, Angie Craig, has scheduled a second town hall meeting for 2019, on Saturday, February 23rd. Craig will hold the Town Hall meeting at River Bluff Education Center in Red Wing. After hosting her first Town Hall in January covering topics ranging from health care costs to climate change, Rep. Craig looks forward to continuing the conversation on the issues facing the communities in the Second District. According to a press release, Craig has committed to conduct at least one town hall-style public meeting with a robust question and answer period at least once a month and will rotate the meetings throughout each county in the Second District.

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    Chief Michaels Reports to Council

    A brief report was given to the Prescott City Council on February 11th, with Police Chief Eric Michaels providing some overview in the annual report. Telling the council that he would keep it short, the new Chief highlighted the number of officer responses to calls in 2018, and compared that number to the previous year. Although the number of calls decreased, Michaels explained that it was likely because they spent that year understaffed. Alderperson Galen Seipel quizzed the Chief on prospects for filling out their duty roster. The chief replied that the main concern, despite 3 recent hires, is finding part time officer candidates who will remain in the department after training is complete.

    Michaels states that local law enforcement training schools are one resource, but that a chronic lack of candidates is a problem faced by all public safety departments, noting that full time officers are also hard to find, but the cost of benefits can overwhelm personnel budgets. Part time hires are more desireable as they do not receive costly benefits. Other items in his report covered the new computer upgrades and the status of fulfilling the recommendations of the assessment team hired by the city to provide an overhaul to policies, oversight and direction of the Prescott Police Department.

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    McLay Charges Wednesday Update

    We continue our coverage of the story that first aired Tuesday afternoon as Hastings High School Assistant Principal and Head Coach of the Varsity Wrestling Team Josh McLay was charged by the Dakota County Attorney with eight counts of embezzlement of public funds and eight counts of theft by swindle. A total of $13,900 dollars was included in a series of expenses allegedly submitted by McLay for what he described as Coaches Clinics that took place in several states from 2012 to 2018. According to the complaint, an investigation began in the fall of 2018 due to inconsistencies found in documents written and offered for reimbursement to the district's accounting department. The investigation also revealed that no such clinics were attended and the monies are believed to have been used to pay for travel, vehicle rental, food and entertainment for McLay and several other persons, including those not employed by the district, who attended college football games during the dates specified. On Tuesday afternoon, Superintendent Tim Collins responded to our request for a statement. It read-"The Hastings School Board entered into an agreement with Mr. McLay back in November. The agreement is binding, pending the outcome of recent charges, and we are continuing to move forward with that agreement at this point in time."

    KDWA also requested a statement from the Dakota County Attorney's office in response to our question whether or not additional charges will be filed against any other District 200 employee. That office responded late Tuesday afternoon that they quote" are unaware of any other persons being investigated in connection with this matter." That question was then forwarded to the Hastings Police Department. We do not have a response from them as of this broadcast. They were first notified of the situation by the attorney for the district on November 19th and the complaint notes Hastings police began their investigation on December 11th, 2018.

    It should be noted that McLay has not been taken into custody, but will be required to appear before a Dakota County Judge on April 8th for to address those charges.

    Since the posting of the complaint, many from the community have taken to social media questioning various aspects of the topic including the policy and procedures held by the district regarding the use of p-cards and the method of internal audits which are reported to the board on an annual basis. Another question being asked is whether other district employees or those who participated in the trips may face charges. Some speculate that more checks and balances will be written into future policy in light of this incident. KDWA will air any answers which are received from the Hastings Police Department as well as updates in this developing story.

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    New Manager For PH Library

    Pleasant Hill Library has named a new manager as the library prepares to move back into its building after extensive renovations. Julia Carlis will step into the Manager position, which was vacated when Mary Scheide retired. Carlis, who has been with the Dakota County Library system since 2014, was formally named at a meeting held on Feb 5th. Carlis stated she is looking forward to the new facility and working with the staff, whom she said were "really great and super connected to the community". Carlis is a Twin Cities native and went to the University of Minnesota for a degree in theatre and finished a graduate degree in library science through the University of North Texas.

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    District Responds to McLay Embezzlement Charges

    We have the latest Update from this developing story-

    Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced Tuesday, February 12th that Joshua Gerald McLay, age 37 of Hastings, has been charged with eight counts of Embezzlement of Public Funds and eight counts of Theft by Swindle in connection with the alleged theft of over $13,900 from Independent School District #200 in Hastings. At the time of the alleged thefts, McLay was working as the Hastings High School Head Wrestling Coach. He has also served as the Hastings High School Assistant Principal since July 1, 2016.

    The criminal complaint alleges a pattern of expenditures made by McLay which were claimed to be for coaches clinics from 2011 to 2018, but that the funds were allegedly used to purchase tickets to college football games and to pay for travel expenses for trips to Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana and Minnesota destinations for himself and for others. Evidence submitted states that there were no coaches clinics involved in any of the trips. Backstrom states that McLay is not in custody, according to the complaint, but will appear in a Dakota County Court on April 8th. Backstrom thanked the work of the Hastings Police and individuals in the District #200 School administration in bringing the investigation forward and providing information to the court. As in all cases, McLay is presumed innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law.

    3PM Update-

    We have now received a comment from Superintendent Tim Collins on the charges announced Tuesday afternoon against Assistant Principal and Head Wrestling Coach Josh McClay

    "The Hastings School Board entered into an agreement with Mr. McLay back in November. The agreement is binding, pending the outcome of recent charges, and we are continuing to move forward with that agreement at this point in time."

    Stay tuned to KDWA for updates as we continue to follow this breaking story

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    Car Struck By Train On CP Tracks

    An early morning accident involving a train and a vehicle has been reported near Ravenna Trail and Polk Avenue. According to published information, at 4:41 AM Tuesday morning, a vehicle was reported stuck on the tracks in that area. Authorities say there were three bystanders at the scene, trying to push the vehicle off the tracks while the owner of the vehicle was inside. Responders enroute requested dispatch to tell CP Rail to stop all trains on that track, but later received word that the vehicle had been struck. Officials stated the driver of the vehicle received only minor injuries in the incident, and authorities have identified one of the assisting bystanders, but is still seeking the other two to recognize them for their actions in assisting the driver. Names of those involved have not been released, and the incident remains under investigation.

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    (Photo Source: Dakota County Sheriff's Office)

    Chamber Values Economic Coordinator Role

    Economic growth is a pillar for most communities and their goal to expand the tax base, bring in more residents, highlight opportunities and increase visibility must be initiated by a core of representatives from each community. During Hastings State of the City Address, Mayor Fasbender referenced the hiring for the position of Economic Development Coordinator is nearing completion. Morgan Hill was hired in 2017 as the first to hold that position representing Hastings and working with others to connect potential opportunities and inquires. Hastings Area Chamber Director Kristy Barse was asked how important that position is.

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    The decision and name of the person selected is expected soon.

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    Pierce Co Court Log Feb 11

    From the Pierce County Circuit Court log, Shawn M. Krasky, 38, a resident of River Falls, waived extradition on Jan. 23 to Dakota County, Minn., where he allegedly failed to appear in October of 2018 for a probation violation hearing. The conditions of probation were set in 2015 with felony state lottery fraud in which Krasky was charged with claiming a lottery prize by methods of deceit. Also from the record in Pierce County, an arrest from January 25th of Prescott resident Timothy J. Eaton, 37, resulted in the accused posting a $10,000 signature bond on felony strangulation and suffocation (domestic abuse), felony possession of methamphetamine and battery (domestic abuse-infliction of physical pain/injury) charges Jan. 25. The charges resulted from a Jan. 24 incident in Prescott

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    Snowplow Accident Injures Dak Co Man

    A Dakota County man was critically injured following a crash on Friday afternoon, February 8th near Woodville Wisconsin. Thirty-three year old Shane A. Dold, of Apple Valley struck the rear of a St. Croix County Snowplow. A helicopter took Dold to Regions hospital in St. Paul with what were stated to be life-threatening injuries. Alcohol was not suspected to be a factor and the driver of the snowplow did not sustain injuries. The crash remains under investigation.

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    Craig Supports Tech Career Training

    On Monday, second congressional District Representative Angie Craig joined supporters of the bipartisan Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus and has cosponsored a resolution to recognize February as National CTE Month. Rep. Craig joined the caucus to expand career skills and technical education opportunities for students. She released a statement that our focus must be providing career and technical opportunities to our students so they can get the skills they need to be successful in todays competitive job market.

    She also cited data suggesting that there are currently more than 140,000 job vacancies in the state with just .6 job seekers to be considered for each available position. The CD2 Representative hopes to expand partnerships between schools, employers and training programs.

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    Dakota County Conversation On Pot Profits

    On Thursday February 14th, KDWA will air an IN Depth program featuring Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie and Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom that continues the dialogue taking place in Minnesota regarding the possible legislative support to legalize the non-medical use of marijuana. Sheriff Leslie explains what the proposed bill says about the costs.

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    Tune in for our upcoming In Depth that discusses this topic with our guests Sheriff Tim Leslie and County Attorney Jim Backstrom.

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    School Signs Solar Subscription

    The Hastings school district has made a decision to enter into the contract with ReneSola, which is constructing a solar garden in Dakota County. The company will pay the school district $80,000 to become a partner in the project that should get underway within the year. In addition, District #200 will save approximately $100,000 annually over the next 25 years, which amounts to $2.5 million over the life of the contract. In a comment from the school board, they note that the financial incentive for the district is great but it is also important to be a leader in renewable energy for our community. The project will not be placed on school property, rather a centralized location that will also involve other partners who will benefit from the investment.

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    Days Deleated For School Schedule

    On Friday, Superintendent Tim Collins offered additional information about the next step to make up missed days in District 200 to meet the criteria for state funding based on hours of instruction for Minnesota Students. Later that day, a letter was emailed to district parents explaining that a decision has been made and how it will affect students and families. It has been decided that the Hastings School District will have school on Monday, February 18th which was a date originally on the school schedule as a day off for President's Day. He also states that there is a strong chance that Monday, April 22nd, the day after Easter will also be added back. Another email is expected to be shared with the public later this week. Collins talks about making the snow or cold day decision today on the Tim Collins Show. Tune in at the bottom of each hour or select the complete conversation as posted on the home page at KDWA.com

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    Prescott City Meetings Monday

    A meeting of the personnel committee for the city of Prescott will take place on Monday, February 11th at 5:30pm. Two main topics of discussion are listed on the agenda with the first being a review and discussion of the Police Department Assessment Findings. A professional consultant was hired in February of 2018 at a cost of $7,000 to determine where the department stands in regard to policy, managment, training, supervision, accountability and program development. Definition of job descriptions, reporting expectations, oversight hiarchy, and development of policy were prominant in the assessment with several segments involving policy and training upgraded during the tenure of Doug Ducklow, who helped in the transition between July and January, using the assessment as a template to improve the stability of the current employees and to prepare a better environment for future hires. Ducklow has transitioned back to his position within the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, leaving behind newly appointed chief Eric Michaels to continue the progress using the tools now in place.   

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    One item on the upcoming Prescott Personnel committe meeting that will be held on Monday, February 11th, is to request to change the contract retaining the City Administrator to allow for living outside of the city limits. The contract signed in June of 2013 between the city and Jayne Brand states that terms include salary at that date of 72,500 per year which was raised to 77,000 after completion of certification for training required to become a Municipal Clerk and Treasurer as required in the State of Wisconsin. The original contract also stipulated that the Administrator be a resident of the City for the duration of her employment. Brand is a resident of Ellsworth.

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    Dakota County Jail Log Feb 7

    From the Dakota County Jail booking report for Thursday, February 7th, South St. Paul police arrested 25-year-old Lakeland resident Maquis Lynn Johnson Ziegelman on a felony charge of possession of a firearm with the serial number removed, and misdemeanor charges of carrying a pistol without a permit, driving under the influence of a controlled substance, and 4th degree driving while impaired. Johnson Ziegelman remains in custody and made an appearance in court on the 7th. Farmington police detained 61-year-old Rochester resident Lori Margaret Erickson on a felony charge of 5th degree possession of marijuana, and a misdemeanor charge of driving with a canceled license. Erickson remains in custody as the charges are processed. And Rosemount police arrested 20-year-old Kyle David Lovejoy, of Rosemount, on a misdemeanor charge of violating a restraining order. Lovejoy was booked and released pending an appearance in court. All persons listed on the blotter report are presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

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    Local Businesses Benefit From Snow

    There's no business like Snow business, thanks to the recent storms, the demand for snow related services and products is resulting in some healthy balance sheets for local businesses. In an industry where it is often feast or famine, for every functioning snowblower, there is likely one that is in need of work due to mechanical or operator error. Inadvertently running over ice chunks, the dog's bone or a landscape paver can take you out of the game pretty quickly. A call to a pair of local service shops confirms a waiting list ranging from a few days to over a week, depending on how much damage has been done. Bent augers, broken shear pins and gummed up carborators are just some of the repairs written on tags that dangle from the handlebars of equipment waiting for their turn to roar back to life again. Until then, the supply of shovels, salt, grit and even kitty litter is being scooped up at a rapid pace in an effort to protect pedestrian traffic from ending up in the human version of the repair shop- the local ER. Conditions are expected to clear until just before Valentines Day. Be still my heart.

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    Greatfulness Gathering At ArtSpace

    Hastings' next Gratefulness Gathering is coming up. Here's host Lisa Valentine with the details.

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    Grant To Honor Native History

    For much of the 20th century, Native Americans viewed modern museums as places where their cultural objects were displayed and interpreted by voices that were not their own. Times are changing and today more and more museums across the country are including Native American history and culture in their presentations. Through a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for $650,000, MN Historical Society will pilot a new Native American Undergraduate Museum Fellowship for Native American students interested in pursuing careers in cultural heritage fields. The new training and internship program will build on the work done through the existing American Indian Museum Fellows program, which began in 2011. The program will also incorporate the expertise of MNHS collections staff who have been working over the past decade with tribal community members on the preservation and transfer of intergenerational knowledge through the care of Native American material culture.

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    Dak Co Changes Terms For SMART Center

    At their February 5th meeting, the Dakota County Commissioners voted to amend terms in a $1.08 million purchase agreement for the site of the SMART Center with the City of Inver Grove Heights. According to information published in the Hastings Star Gazette, the original agreement contained a stipulation that allowed Inver Grove Heights to use the building free of charge, but County Commissioners voted to remove the stipulation, citing concerns of setting aside a special deal for one community, per District 6 Commissioner Liz Holberg. The County Director of Operations Taud Hoopingarner said he did not expect any issues with the City of Inver Grove Heights in removing the stipulation. The Purchase Agreement will likely be officially signed in three to four weeks by both the county and Inver Grove Heights, barring any future negotiations.

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    Prescott Honors At Annual Dinner

    The Prescott Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner, held on Wednesday night at the Old Ptaceks Event Center was seen to be a success by the organizers. Highlights of the evening included naming of the various Chamber Award winners. Award winners were Jeremy Raverty as Chamber Ambassador of the Year, Lisa Johnson, Chamber Member of the Year, Cyndi Cashman, Citizen of the Year, and Helen Raebel & Nick Johnson were named Educators of the Year. On the business side, First National Bank was named Business of the Year, CAB as Organization of the Year, and the Community Appreciation Award went to the No Name Saloon. The annual dinner was the final one for Chamber Secretary Trisha Huber before she steps from that position.

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    (photo source: Prescott Area Chamber of Commerce)

    Food With Friends Canceled Tonight

    Our Saviour's Evangelical Church has canceled Food With Friends for tonight, Thursday, February 7th, due to weather. For questions, contact the church at 651-437-9052.

       

    First State of City For Fasbender

    During the State of the City Address, Mayor Mary Fasbender offered that the progress and goals for the city can only be achieved through successful partnerships.

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    She also acknowledged that a quote from a friend

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    Public Hearing For CG Liquor License

    The opening of the new Muddy Cow in Cottage Grove continues to get nearer, and the proprietors of the restaurant have applied for an on-sale liquor license with the City of Cottage Grove. A public hearing regarding the license will be held by the Cottage Grove City Council during its meeting on Wednesday, February 20th, 7 PM at City Hall. The Muddy Cow has announced an anticipated opening date sometime in March, and will hold a hiring fair in mid-February. The restaurant is located in the old Ruby Tuesday facility on Hardwood Avenue.

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    Great Rivers Symposium Canceled

    The Great Rivers Symposium at the Afton State Park Visitor Center that was scheduled for Wednesday evening was canceled Wednesday afternoon, due to anticipated snowfall accumulations on top of already fallen snow. Symposium organizers have not provided any information on a rescheduling of the session.   

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    Cannon River Plan

    The draft of the One Watershed, One Plan for the Cannon River is now available for public review on the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District website, and an open house for the plan is set for Wednesday, February 20th, from 6 to 8 PM, at South Central College, 1225, 3rd Street, in Faribault. In 2016 planning partners joined together to submit an application to the Board of Water and Soil Resources to develop One Watershed, One Plan for the Cannon River Watershed. The goal of the plan is to align local water planning on major watershed boundaries with state strategies towards prioritized and targeted implementation plans, and measurable goals over the next 10 years. In August 2016, the Board of Water and Soil Resources selected the Cannon River as one of seven major watersheds across the state to receive a planning grant. The plan for the watershed includes portions of Dakota, Goodhue, Rice, Le Sueur, Waseca and Steele counties.   

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    February At PH Library

    February is Black History Month, and the Dakota County Library System encourages you to celebrate the contributions African Americans have made to the political, economic, and cultural history of the U.S. by reading the biography of President Barack Obama, the true story of school integration in the 1950s in The Girl from the Tar Paper School by Teri Kanefield, or the story of a slave who made a daring journey to freedom in a packing crate in Henrys Freedom Box by Ellen Levine. Get more reading recommendations from your local librarian.

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    Public Hearing Set On Summer Project

    The Hastings City Council will conduct a public hearing to receive feedback on the proposed scope and features for the 2019 Neighborhood Infrastructure Improvements Program during their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, February 19th, during the City Council meeting. The City Council will receive public comments on the proposed project scope, features, and estimated costs. The estimated cost of the 2019 program is $3,173,000, and proposed assessments for the affected area total $1,797,000. Public input to the proposed improvements will be heard at this meeting. A separate Public Hearing for the assessments is scheduled for Monday, March 18th. For more details on the scope of work, and the area affected by this proposal, visit HastingsMN.gov.

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    Pierce Co Teen Dies

    On Saturday, February 2nd, at approximately 12:52 PM, the Pierce County Sheriff's Office received a report of a one-vehicle rollover on 190th Avenue in the Town of Salem. According to a Sheriff's Department press release, the first deputy arriving on the scene found that the lone male driver, a 16-year-old resident of Plum City, was ejected from the truck, listed as a 1989 Ford F250. The deputy began lifesaving measures. As a result of his injuries sustained from the crash, the driver did not survive. After further investigation, it was determined the subject was hill jumping at the intersection of 290th Street and 190th Avenue when he lost control of the truck, causing it to roll. The crash remains under investigation by the Wisconsin State Patrol.

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    Dak Co Seeks Land Stewards

    The Dakota County Soil & Water Conservation District, a local government unit, is a resource for those interesting in partnering for soil and water conservation. One of their programs for Dakota County residents is the Landscaping for Clean Water program, which includes free educational workshops, hands-on design classes, assistance at site visits, and grants for homeowners. The goal of the Landscaping for Clean Water program is to teach residents how to beautify their yards while also protecting local water quality and providing habitat for pollinators. These goals seem to resonate with Dakota County residents, as participation in this program has been skyrocketing over the past two years. In 2018, the number of rain gardens and native pollinator gardens installed through the grant program was 33% higher than in 2017 and 74% higher than in 2016. Registration is now open for the 2019 introductory workshops. Many courses are expected to sell out this year, so pre-registration is important. Workshops are open to anyone, no matter where they live. The public can learn more and register online at the Dakota SWCD website, at DakotaSWCD.org.

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    Out With The Old in SSP

    A proposed renovation of 5th Avenue south, in South St. Paul received a go-ahead nod from the City Council. The estimated $5.4 million project will include a full street reconstruction emphasizing traffic safety and accessibility, as well as updates to the avenue's water and sanitation infrastructure. Construction is expected to begin this spring and be completed by the fall. The renovation will completely repave the road and sidewalks between Southview Boulevard and Park Street, replacing 50-year-old concrete that is showing advanced deterioration. In addition to repaving, the reconstruction will narrow Fifth Avenue slightly, allowing for increased green space and trees along the boulevard. The street's reduced width will not significantly impact traffic flow or the amount of parking, as Fifth Avenue will remain a two-lane thoroughfare with two designated parking lanes.

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    Hampton Home Explosion

    On Tuesday, the Randolph-Hampton Fire District and the Dakota County Sheriff's Office responded to an apparent home explosion and fire in the 24700 block of Lewiston Boulevard, in Hampton. According to a press release issued by the Sheriff's Department, authorities were called at 6:15 a.m. after residents reported hearing a loud boom and fire at the home. The Sheriff's Office received reports that the explosion could be heard as far away as Hastings and Farmington. Upon arriving, deputies observed a male wandering the scene with severe burns over much of his body. He stated he was looking for his wife. Deputies and firefighters began providing care and first aid and searching for the spouse. The male was later brought to Regions Hospital Burn Center for care. At approximately 8:55 a.m., a body was recovered from within the blast debris. At this time, it is believed the man and his wife were the only occupants inside the home at the time of the explosion. Identification of the victims will be released once confirmed and family members are notified. The cause of the blast remains under investigation.

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    DakotaCo Arrests Feb 3

    From the Dakota County Jail booking report for Sunday, February 3rd, police in Hastings arrested 53-year-old Hastings resident William James Walker on a felony charge of assault. Walker remains in custody pending an appearance in court, set for the 5th. Hennepin County deputies arrested 27-year-old Newport resident Ashley Marie Mackenzie on a felony charge of robbery. Mackenzie remains in custody pending transfer to Hennepin County for processing. And Eagan police arrested 28-year-old Hampton resident Ashley Rae Alpaugh on a felony charge of making terroristic threats. Alpaugh remains in custody pending an appearance in court on the 5th. All persons listed on the blotter report are presumed innocent until proven guilty by due process of law.

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