Eagan qualifies for drug-trafficking grant

EAGAN, MN – The Eagan City Council voted to accept a $103,157 grant from the federal government for high-intensity drug trafficking areas (HIDTA).
   The city accepted the grant in its role as fiscal agent for the Dakota County Drug Task Force. The grant is one of a number issued nationwide to communities considered to be critical drug-trafficking areas, according to the federal government.
   To qualify for consideration as a HIDTA, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, an area must meet the following criteria:

   Be a significant center of illegal drug production, manufacturing, importation, or distribution;
   Already have committed resources from state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to respond to the drug trafficking problem in the area, thereby indicating a determination to respond aggressively to the problem;
   Drug-related activities in the area are having a significant harmful impact in the area and in other areas of the country; and
   A significant increase in allocation of Federal resources is necessary to respond adequately to drug related activities in the area.

   The city council voted to accept the grant as part of the consent agenda at its March 5 meeting. The consent agenda is a list of items approved summarily, without discussion or a separate vote.

Traffic stop leads to drug arrest

   A Minneapolis man is facing a felony drug charge following a traffic stop by Eagan police.
   Robert Mohs, 42, 4040 15th Ave. S. #1H, Minneapolis, was charged with fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, a felony, and driving after license cancellation, a misdemeanor, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint.
   Mohs was stopped by Eagan police shortly after 4 a.m. on Feb. 21 for a broken brake light, according to the complaint. His driving privileges were cancelled in 2000, according to the complaint.
Dakota County is one of the few areas in the country qualifying for federal high-intensity drug-trafficking grants, according to the federal government. The federal government map above shows counties qualfying as High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas.

City approves final Vikings Parkway payment

EAGAN, MN – The Eagan City Council approved a final payment of nearly $159,000 for construction work on Vikings Parkway.
   The payment was part of a $3.2 million contract for street and utility improvements awarded to the Frattalone Companies in March 2017, according to city documents. The final payment was released following inspection by Eagan’s public works department, according to the city. The city also accepted “perpetual maintenance subject to warranty provisions.”       
   The item was formally approved as part of the consent agenda at the Eagan City Council’s March 5 meeting. The consent agenda is a list of items approved summarily, without an individual vote or separate discussion.

Even storm drains need love; city wants residents to hang out in the gutter

EAGAN, MN – Feeling a void in your life?
   You might want to consider adopting a storm drain.
   The Eagan City Council has approved an Adopt-A-Storm-Drain program, to be operated by the Public Works department from stormwater utility revenues. Adoptive storm drain parents are expected to take responsibility for their chosen storm drain by inspecting its grate, clearing dirt and debris from the drain, and disposing of the cleared materials, according to city documents.
   The program was proposed, according to a city memo, because “The City of Eagan currently does not have a public-service opportunity for residents, groups, and businesses to help prevent stormwater pollution by cleaning up grates of storm drains and surrounding areas. This proposed new program would enable volunteers to be more actively involved in the community and would help to promote civic pride and community spirit.”
   Those wishing to display their civic pride and community spirit can contact Eagan Water Resources at (651) 675-5300 or [email protected]
   The program was formally approved as part of the consent agenda at the Eagan City Council’s March 5 meeting. The consent agenda is a list of items approved summarily, without an individual vote or separate discussion.

City planner to retire

EAGAN, MN – Mike Ridley -- the city planner who oversaw a record period of development, including the move of the Minnesota Vikings headquarters to Eagan -- will be retiring.
    The Eagan City Council approved Ridley’s retirement and recruitment of his replacement at its Tuesday, March 5, meeting. Ridley’s retirement is included on the council’s consent agenda, a list of items approved summarily, without separate debate or discussion.
    Ridley’s retirement marks another transition in Eagan city government. The city’s police chief and communications director retired last year.
    Also included on its consent agenda, the city council iapproved the retirement of city code enforcement specialist William Henk and authorized recruiting and hiring his replacement. The council is also approved the hiring of an Eagan Police Department cadet added as part of the department’s budget increase. 
EAGAN, MN, March 14, 2019 -- Eagan was in a fog Thursday as rising temperatures melted snowbanks. Visibility on city roads and at the city's major intersections, such as this one at Pilot Knob and Lone Oak roads, was poor until late afternoon.

City to buy new fire truck, with trade-in

EAGAN, MN – The Eagan City Council has approved the purchase of a replacement fire engine for the city.
   The new engine will cost $675,000, less $175,000 for the trade-in of a 2005 engine. The purchase was approved the purchase as part of the consent agenda at its March 5 meeting. The consent agenda is a list of items approved by the city council by a single vote, with separate discussion.

Man pleads guilty to two Eagan bank robberies

   A St. Paul man has pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges stemming from the robbery of two Eagan banks in 2018.
   Damien McDonald, 40, of 2204 7th St. W. #2, St. Paul, pleaded guilty to two counts of armed bank robbery, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. McDonald was charged with the April 14, 2018, robbery of the U.S. Bank branch in the Lunds & Byerly grocery store on Denmark Avenue and the June 6, 2018, robbery of the Associated Healthcare Credit Union on Yankee Doodle Road.
   The anticipated sentence, under the terms of the federal plea agreement, is 7 ½ to 9 ½ years in prison, according to court records. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the prosecution and defense can appeal a sentence imposed by the court if it is less than 92 months or greater than 115 months. McDonald is scheduled to be sentenced in July.
Damien McDonald

Senators seek answers after Argosy U. closing

   Minnesota’s federal legislators are looking for answers from the federal Department of Education regarding the closure of Argosy University’s Eagan campus.
   The for-profit university, which has a building near the Eagan Community Center, closed its doors on March 8 after it was placed in receivership following the loss of federal financial aid status. Minnesota’s senators and federal representatives have written to the federal Department of Education looking for answers by March 15 about the options available for Argosy’s students after the school’s closing. Klobuchar’s office claimed about 1,000 people were affected by the closing of the Eagan campus.

Fix that wall: police hq cost increase

EAGAN, MN – The price of the new city hall has gone up again.
   The Eagan City Council March 5 approved the eighth change order to the renovation of city hall and police headquarters. The change orders are a series of cost increases to the project, originally approved at a cost of about $15.7 million.
   The latest change to the project is a leak repair to a wall in the second story of the Eagan police department. The cost of the repair is nearly $60,000, according to city documents.
   The charge was approved as part of the Eagan City Council’s consent agenda, a list of items approved by the board without a separate vote or discussion.
A combination of rain, sleet, and snow Saturday left a slushy mess at the intersection of Pilot Knob and Diffley roads. Melting snow banks combined with rain left some city roads flooded.
Sketches of a proposed 172-unit development in the Cedar Grove section of the city. The Eagan City Council approved the developer's request to eliminate a restaurant in the building and add 21 more apartments.

City council approves change in housing plans

EAGAN, MN -- After acknowledging the Cedar Grove redevelopment district has not risen to the city’s original vision, the Eagan City Council this week approved a request to abandon plans for a mixed-use development with a restaurant, converting the project to a single-use high-density residential building with nearly 14 percent more apartments.
   The 4-1 vote to approve a planned development amendment for The Preserve at Cedar Grove allows the builder to increase the number of apartments at the site from 151 to 172. City Council member Paul Bakken cast the sole vote against the initial change but, once the majority approved the change, went along with the council for other votes related to the project.
   Bakken explained his dissenting vote by expressing concerns about the “fiscal sustainability” of such projects in the future. Bakken has repeatedly voiced preference for commercial development perceived as placing less of a burden on city resources than high-density residential buildings and bringing in more tax revenue.
   The developer of the project was not able to find a restaurant or retail operation willing to do business in the apartment building, located near the Eagan outlet mall. As part of the change in plans, the apartment complex will be adding two areas for dogs.
   In supporting the plan, Mayor Mike Maguire acknowledged the final product might not be what the city originally envisioned for a thriving redevelopment district,  but cited a need for the city to move on with the plan.
   “I think that the pictures we’ve had of a new urban downtown were maybe a bit idyllic,” Mayor Maguire said. He cited the nearby Cedar Flats development as an example of the types of retailers locating in the area near Silver Bell Road and Cedar Grove Parkway.
   “They’re great people to have around,” the mayor said. “It’s no offense to the people they’ve gotten in there, but I think it’s a different type than the ones we envisioned.”

Suspect arrested for threatening to shoot pharmacy employee

EAGAN, MN – An Apple Valley man is facing a felony charge for allegedly threatening to shoot the manager of a local pharmacy.
   Marsean Crockett, 25, of 14182 Pennock Ave., Apple Valley, was charged with felony threats of violence, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint. The charge stems from a March 5 episode at the Eagan CVS Pharmacy.
   Eagan police arrested Crockett shortly after noon on March 5. Police were called to the Eagan store on a report of a theft, according to court records.  
   Police allege Crockett and a woman entered the store and stuffed merchandise into a large bag. When the store manager followed the pair to the exit and told them he was going to call 911, Crockett allegedly reached towards his waistband and threatened to shoot.
   Police stopped a car fitting the description of the suspect’s vehicle and arrested Crockett, according to the complaint. As Crockett was being placed in the police car, he allegedly admitted to police he had threatened the store employee when the employee told him he would call police.
Marsean Crockett

ISD 196 cancels day off April 19

    Extra school closures because of heavy snow and below-zero temperatures prompted the ISD 196 school board to cancel a day off for students scheduled April 19, a Christian and Jewish religious holiday and a day some communities will be commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings.
    The ISD 196 board cancelled the day off at a special school board meeting in February. The district has not released minutes of the meeting and, unlike most regular school board meetings, a recording is not available.
    April 19, a Friday this year, is Good Friday and, at sundown, the start of Passover. It is also the last school day before the twentieth anniversary Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo. In 1999, two teenage students at Columbine killed 13 students and a teacher and injured 21 more people. The anniversary is typically a high-alert day at schools. Last year, on April 20, students at schools across the country walked out of classes in protest for stricter gun laws.

Caretaker's husband charged with theft

   The husband of a caretaker for a nursing home resident has been charged with felony theft, according to Dakota County court records.
   Kevin Grotto, 56, of 1579 Motor Ave., S. St. Paul, has been charged with felony theft over $1,000, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint. The charge stems from a police investigation into a report of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult living in a West St. Paul assisted living facility.
   The victim had made arrangements with Grotto’s wife to watch over his residence, pay his bills, and take care of his pets while he was in the care facility, according to investigators. Police allege the caretaker used the victim’s credit card to pay personal expenses.
   The victim returned to his home on Aug. 13, 2018, for a walk-through before the sale of the home. At that time, according to police, the victim discovered his coin collection, worth about $20,000, and a box containing about $6,700 in cash was missing.
   Police checked a pawn store database and allegedly discovered Grotto had pawned eight coins for more than $1,200 in July. The caretaker told police she had removed the coins from the home for safekeeping and returned coins to the victim, according to police.