ISD 196 approves cuts to teaching staff

   Blaming the state for inadequate funding, the Independent School District 196 school board unanimously approved about $7.5 million in cuts from teaching and nursing staff for the 2019-2020 school year. At the same meeting, the board discussed millions in additional spending for leasing buildings and other capital expenditures, magnet schools, and other programs for students classified by racial groups.
    The school board approved cutting 31.5 full-time teachers and nurses from schools across the district, for a cost savings of about $7.5 million. The cuts focus on eliminating teachers and nurses from schools, despite parent sentiment at district-sponsored focus groups to make cuts outside the classroom in administrative and other areas.
    “It’s not our finest moment,” District 196 school board chair Jackie Magnuson said as the school board approved the cuts. She criticized state government for cyclical funding changes.
    “When the state is not a partner with us, for us to continue to have to watch this cyclical, we have money then we don’t have money, and they know it. That’s the most galling of this,” Magnuson said.
    The $7.5 million in budget cuts showed no change from the administration’s original proposal before parents submitted hundreds of comments and suggestions for alternative budget options during focus groups and on an online suggestion board, leaving some parents wondering why they had bothered spending their time and effort trying to help and bolstering sentiment the district is non-responsive to parental concerns.

St. Paul man charged with Eagan hotel assault

EAGAN, MN – A Saint Paul man is facing a felony charge for allegedly trying to strangle a woman in an Eagan hotel room in the presence of her two children on Valentine’s Day.
   Steven Blount, 32, of 1358 Sherburne Ave., St. Paul, was charged with felony domestic assault by strangulation and gross misdemeanor domestic assault, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint.
   Police were called to the alleged assault shortly after 8 a.m. Feb. 14 by a witness who reported hearing “things smashing in the room,” the sound of arguing, and a female saying “let me go.” The female victim then called 911 to request police.
   Police reported hearing “loud arguing” when they arrived at the hotel and found the hotel room in disarray. The victim told police Blount had “choked her until she blacked out,” for about 20 seconds. The victim had been in a relationship with Blount for about three years and the two have an infant who was in the room at the time of the episode, according to the complaint. The victim’s 10-year-old child also witnessed the assault, according to court records.
Steven Blount

Snow forecast prompts more school closings

   ISD 196 closed schools Wednesday, Feb. 20, in anticipation of a major snowstorm forecast to drop 6 to 9 inches of snow in the region. If snow falls as predicted, 2019 will have the snowiest February on record.

City council slated to approve police, public works contracts

EAGAN, MN – The Eagan City Council is scheduled to approve new contracts for the city’s police and public works departments at its Feb. 19 meeting. The council is also slated to approve the hiring of an extra worker for the parks department and a fitness instructor for the Eagan Community Center.
   The contracts are included on the city council’s consent agenda, a list of items submitted for approval without debate or discussion.
   The contracts have not been released to the public.

Woman arrested on child abuse, immigration charges

Iveet Argandar Corrales
EAGAN, MN – A woman arrested by Eagan Police on a child abuse charge was being held at the Dakota County jail on an immigration warrant, according to jail records.
    Iveet Argandar Corrales, age and address unknown, was arrested by Eagan Police on a charge of malicious punishment of a child, gross misdemeanor, and a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) warrant shortly before 2:45 p.m. on Feb. 15. She was scheduled to appear in Dakota County District Court Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Police arrest driver three days after chase

   A St. Paul man who led Eagan police on an early morning car chase last Friday was arrested on a felony charge.
   Brenton Shervheim, 37, of 1805 Minnehaha Ave. E., St. Paul, was charged with felony fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle and giving false information to police, a gross misdemeanor, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint.
   An Eagan police officer on patrol near Lone Oak Road and Highway 55 stopped the car Shervheim was driving shortly before 1:30 a.m. Feb. 8 for a partially obstructed rear license plate, according to court records. The driver told the police officer he had borrowed the car from a friend and did not have identification or proof of insurance. When the police officer returned to his squad car to run checks, the car took off and sped through intersections, eluding stop sticks and a police maneuver to stop the vehicle. Police called off the chase after the car fled to St. Paul.
   Police tracked down the driver in St. Paul three days later and arrested Shervheim at his home after talking to his mother and sister, according to court records.
   Shervheim has an extensive record of motor vehicle offenses, according to court records, with about 42 cases in Minnesota.
Brenton Shervheim
State police responded to the scene of a multi-vehicle crash on Highway 77 Tuesday morning. Collisions were reported throughout the region as about four inches of snow blanketed Eagan and surrounding towns Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Public Works dept. seeks bigger budget

EAGAN, MN -- Faced with an aging city infrastructure and increased development, the city’s department of public works has asked the city council for a list of priorities and more resources.
   In a seven-page memo to the mayor and city council, Public Works Director Russ Matthys detailed an increasing list of responsibilities for his department. “Staff is seeking feedback from the City Council as a read of the current service level as well as thoughts on changes that could impact our citizens,” Matthys wrote.
   The memo proposes about $1.5 million in expenses over two years to meet the anticipated demands on the department. Failure to implement the changes, the department warned, could result in higher utility rates and property taxes.
   “Tasks dependably completed by Public Works staff have steadily increased over the past 20 years without a corresponding increase in resources,” the public works director wrote. “Eagan is getting older and the associated pains of aging are impacting the maintenance and replacement responsibilities of the Public Works staff.”
   The request from the public works department is the latest in a series of requests from city departments for higher budgets. The city recently passed tax increases to add more police officers and full-time firefighters to city staff. The city is also building a $16 million expansion to city hall and police headquarters. 

Three Florida residents charged with flying to region to commit gift card purchase scam

EAGAN, MN – Why would three people fly from Florida to Minnesota in the middle of winter? According to police, to commit financial fraud, buying nearly $25,000 in gift cards from Sam’s Club using stolen credit card numbers.
   Investigators suspect the trio could be involved in the fraudulent purchase of gift cards from Sam’s Club stores during the week of Jan. 22 to Jan. 30, according to court documents. The investigation was prompted by a Jan. 30 call to Eagan police regarding suspected fraudulent purchases at the Denmark Avenue store.
   According to investigators, the three suspects walked into the store and purchased thousands of dollars worth of gift cards using a self-checkout register. Two of the suspects bought the gift cards, allegedly using other people’s credit card numbers, while the third suspect acted as a lookout, according to criminal complaints. The suspects then left the store and went to a car in the parking lot.
   After the Jan. 30 call to Eagan police, officers approached a car described by witnesses in the store parking lot and identified three suspects: Jerry Noel, Yves Nazien, and Claudet Omega. Police found “a number of credit cards” on the three suspects, according to court records. One of the credit cards allegedly carried by Noel appeared to have been created with an embossing tool, not manufactured by a bank, according to a criminal complaint.
   Yves Nazien, 33, 2129 Champions Way N., North Lauderdale, Fla.; Jerry Noel, 38, of 5309 Roosevelt St., Hollywood, Fla.;  and Claudet Omega, 40, 2211 NW 118th Terrace, Miami Gardens, Fla., were charged with felony financial transaction card fraud, according to Dakota County criminal complaints.
   Police discovered that the credit cards used to buy the gift cards had been mailed out from a bank the week before after the bank received telephone calls requesting new cards. Police believe the suspects used a spoofing application to create the appearance the calls to the bank requesting new cards were coming from the victims’ phone. Two victims confirmed fraudulent charges had been made on their accounts, according to court records.
   Police reported finding three gift cards in Omega’s shoes while he was being booked in jail.

Woman charged with having meth at hotel

A South St. Paul woman is facing a criminal charge for alleged methamphetamine possession at an Eagan hotel.
   Jacqueline Pawlenty, 32, of 919 9th Ave. S., South St. Paul, has been summonsed to appear in Dakota County district court April 1 on a gross misdemeanor charge of fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, according to a criminal complaint. The charge stemmed from an Oct. 13, 2018, report to Eagan police by a hotel employee of a woman in a car “scraping a meth pipe,” according to court records. Prosecutors allege the pipe tested positive for trace amounts of methamphetamine.

State's high court strikes down sentence for 2017 murder of unborn Eagan child

   The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the life sentence without parole for a man convicted of murdering his Eagan girlfriend and their unborn child in 2017, holding that the sentence is not allowed for the crime of murdering an unborn child.
   “Based on the plain language of [the statute], we conclude that it does not authorize a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of release for a conviction of first-degree murder of an unborn child,” Justice Margaret Chutich wrote for the Minnesota Supreme Court.
   Vern Mouelle, 26, formerly of Brooklyn Park, was convicted in December 2017 of first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree premeditated murder of an unborn child for the January 24, 2017, killing of his 25-year-old pregnant girlfriend, Senicha Marie Lessman, and her unborn child in her apartment at the Alden Pond townhome complex near Coachman Road in Eagan. Lessman was 32 weeks pregnant when she was stabbed in her Eagan home. Dakota County District Court Judge Erica MacDonald, now the state’s U.S. Attorney, sentenced Mouelle to two consecutive sentences of life in prison without parole.
   The state supreme court affirmed the convictions in the case, rejecting the defendant’s argument that the judge was required to recuse herself from the case. However, the supreme court reversed the second life sentence without parole and remanded the case for re-sentencing.

Eagan woman charged with welfare theft

   An Eagan woman is facing a felony charge based on allegations she failed to report income from work, gambling, and another state’s welfare program while receiving welfare from Dakota County.
   Jaimyra Sweet, 35, of 1540 Thomas Lake Pointe Road #216, Eagan, was charged with felony theft, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint. Sweet received welfare from Dakota County Employment and Economic Assistance from 2012 to October 2018, according to the complaint. Under county rules, welfare recipients are only supposed to receive welfare from one state at a time and are required to report all household income and employment.
   Investigators allege Sweet was receiving welfare from Illinois at the same time she was receiving welfare from Minnesota. During an interview with a county welfare worker, Sweet allegedly denied she was working while she was employed at a healthcare agency, according to the complaint. She had also won more than $18,000 at a casino she allegedly failed to report while she was receiving welfare, according to the complaint.
   Sweet has been summonsed to appear in Dakota County district court April 1, according to court records.