APC approves ax-throwing theater development

A sketch of the proposed Emagine entertainment complex to replace the recently closed Regal Cinemas 16 at 2055 Cliff Road. The proposal, approved April 23 by Eagan's Advisory Planning Commission, is slated to include a bar, outdoor dining, retail space, a drive-thru restaurant and a 13-screen cinema, bar, and ax-throwing venue.
EAGAN, MN -- Break out your whetstones, Eagan Citizens. You're one step closer to getting the ax.
   The Advisory Planning Commission Tuesday approved Emagine theater’s request to renovate the now-closed Regal Cinemas at 2055 Cliff Road into an entertainment facility that includes
ax-throwing, alcohol, and fewer theaters.
   The plan adds three more buildings to the site, including an as-yet-unnamed drive-thru restaurant. The plan will reduce the number of theater seats by 60 percent, from more than 3,200 seats to 1,100, but the new theater seats will be more comfortable recliners, suitable for drinking alcohol, which will be served. The new owner will also be removing the neon signs from the front of the building.
   In discussing the proposal, board members said they thought the site was “a great area for redevelopment.”
   Representatives from Emagine responded to questions from the planning commission about parking at the site and safety concerns related to ax throwing. “It seems to me the mixing of alcohol with the throwing of hatchets is fraught with personal safety and medical risk,” said Commission Chair Jane Vanderpoel.
   The company said each ax-throwing lane will have an ax master trained in first aid to supervise the activity.  
   No members of public appeared for the public hearing on the proposal.
   Vanderpoel voted against the proposal because of city code compliance issues with some aspects of the plan. The rest of the board voted in favor of the proposal.
   The proposal now heads to the Eagan City Council for approval.

City awards nature trail contracts

EAGAN, MN – The city of Eagan will try to improve upon nature with a series of nearly a quarter of a million dollars worth of contracts awarded for nature trail improvements.
   The largest contract, $181,129, was awarded to Minnesota Native Landscapes to improve trails at Berry Ridge, Patrick Eagan South, Thresher Fields, and Rahn parks, according to city documents.
   The city also awarded a $35,825 contract to Blackstone Contractors for a Deerwood Drive trail and $12,865 to G.F. Jedlicki for a trail near Northview Drive.
EAGAN, MN – The city of Eagan will try to improve upon nature with a series of nearly a quarter of a million dollars worth of contracts awarded for nature trail improvements.
   The largest contract, $181,129, was awarded to Minnesota Native Landscapes to improve trails at Berry Ridge, Patrick Eagan South, Thresher Fields, and Rahn parks, according to city documents.
   The city also awarded a $35,825 contract to Blackstone Contractors for a Deerwood Drive trail and $12,865 to G.F. Jedlicki for a trail near Northview Drive.

Appeals Court reverses drug conviction

   The Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the conviction of a Dakota County drug suspect, reasoning that the trial court should have allowed him to present a defense of entrapment based on a female police informant's persistent attempts to set him up as a middleman in exchange for a lesser sentence in her own drug case.
   The suspect, Juan Garcia, was convicted of first-degree sale of a controlled substance in 2017, according to court records. Garcia was convicted Dakota County district court rejected Garcia’s argument he was entrapped by police who used a female informant seeking a lower jail sentence for herself.
   The informant, whom the court identified only by the initials H.F., was introduced to Garcia by an acquaintance in 2014, according to the court. Garcia saw the woman again about a year later at a fantasy-football draft party and she later contacted him through social media and asked for his phone number.
   The woman called Garcia and told him she was having problems with her boyfriend, whom she claimed would beat her out of jealousy if she contacted her drug dealer directly. She asked for Garcia’s help to get drugs from the dealer. Garcia repeatedly refused the female police informant’s requests, according to the court, telling her he did not want trouble.
   “[The informant] called Garcia multiple times in the following weeks, but Garcia refused to answer because he believed that she intended to keep urging him to serve as a middleman in her drug dealing … and he did not want to participate,” the Court of Appeals wrote.
   The woman persisted, and eventually Garcia answered his phone when she called.  When Garcia told her he was on his way to a fantasy-football meeting and Christmas gift shopping at the West St. Paul Walmart, the woman asked him to hand his phone her drug contact if he was at the fantasy-football meeting.
   The woman’s drug contact was at the football meeting and asked Garcia to use his phone, according to the court. The drug contact called the informant and set up a deal in the parking lot where Garcia had planned to go shopping.
   While he was picking up his pre-ordered Christmas gifts inside the store, the female informant called Garcia’s cell phone and asked him to come outside. Garcia then shuttled between the informant’s car and the dealer’s truck in the parking lot, handing the informant a bag containing methamphetamine and taking the informant’s cash to the other vehicle. “Garcia did not use any of the drugs, took no money, and was not involved any further,” the Court of Appeals wrote. Sixteen months later, Garcia was charged with first-degree sale of a controlled substance.
   “We reverse and remand for more proceedings because the district court erroneously held that Garcia failed to show that the government induced him to participate in the transaction,” Judge Kevin G. Ross wrote for the Court of Appeals.
   “[T]he facts found by the district court necessarily establish by more than a preponderance of the evidence that the state’s agent engaged in inducement by persuading, badgering, or pressuring,” the Court of Appeals concluded. “Garcia met his burden of production on the first element of his entrapment defense.”

Police charge suspected mail thief

LAKEVILLE, MN – Lakeville police charged a Minneapolis man with felony mail theft after he allegedly admitted travelling to the area to steal mail.
   Robert McAloon, 25, of 2404 Colfax Ave. S. #1, Minneapolis, was charged with felony mail theft, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint. McAloon was charged after police responded to a report of suspicious persons near Highview Ave. and 160th St., Lakeville, at about 11 p.m. on Nov. 25. Police found two people carrying pizza boxes who “appeared to be very cold.” Police then “asked if they would like an opportunity to warm up inside a squad car.”
   When police asked the suspects for their identification, McAloon allegedly gave someone else’s name and date of birth and police arrested him, according to the complaint.
   After his arrest, the suspect allegedly admitted he was in Lakeville to steal mail. Police allegedly found McAloon had mail addressed to Lakeville residents along with “a small amount of methamphetamine.” McAloon was summonsed to appear in Dakota County district court June 3.

Foster mother's boyfriend pleads guilty to second-degree murder

    The boyfriend of the foster mother of a three-year-old killed in an Eagan foster care home pleaded guilty Tuesday, April 23, to second-degree murder.
    Dakota County district court judge Christopher Lehmann ordered Charles Homich, 28, was ordered to remain in custody at the Dakota County jail following his plea. Homich was accused of brutally beating his girlfriend’s three-year-old foster child, Zayden Lawson, punching the child in the abdomen after the child stained a diaper. Lawson died in June 2017 after Eagan first responders were called to the 1645 Oakridge Circle foster home, located in one of the Dakota County’s taxpayer-subsidized housing projects, to treat the child.
    The child’s foster mother, Zeporia Fortenberry, 32, is facing manslaughter charges in connection with the case. Fortenberry left Homich to care for the child while she went to work. Another babysitter she left the child with was charged with assault in connection with alleged abuse the day before the child’s death.
    The plea deal spares Homich conviction on a charge of first-degree murder on which he was indicted last December. Homich is scheduled to be sentenced in Dakota County district court on Aug. 13. County Attorney James Backstrom declined comment on the plea because other charges are still pending in the case.
   For more about the case, click the following link: Foster Child Murder.
Charles Homich

After spending millions on police, officials now declare city is safe

FBI crime data for Eagan indicates violent and property crimes rose sharply in 2017, with a fraction of crimes solved by police. The top lines of the graphs, in red, show the number of crimes reported. The lower lines, in blue, represent the city's crime clearance rates.
EAGAN, MN – Sleep easy, Eagan Citizens, but make sure you lock the doors first.
   After the city’s previous police chief warned the city was being targeted by professional criminals from other states, prompting city officials to approve a tax hike to hire more police officers and a multi-million-dollar police department expansion, the city has announced Eagan is one of the safest cities in the nation.
   Citing a report from a website which recently published articles on how to buy the best slime for your children and joint supplements for your pets, the city has announced on its website that Eagan has been “declared the 26th safest city in the United States.” The rankings, according to explanations of the methodologies used, include data compiled before the end of 2017, which would not include Eagan’s most recent homicides.
   While Eagan might not have made the top 25 in the website review, the city is still taking the opportunity to boast. “It’s truly an honor to be recognized as one of the safest communities in the United States,” the city’s website quotes current police chief Roger New.         
   FBI crime data, meanwhile, shows a substantial increase in the number of violent crimes reported in Eagan in 2017, the most recent year for which data was available. The clearance rates for Eagan -- the number of crimes solved, cleared by an arrest, or simply closed by police -- were a fraction of the number of crimes reported, according to the FBI data.
   Data from the Dakota County Attorney’s office indicate Eagan Police prosecuted fewer felons in 2018,  but retained the second highest rate of criminal prosecutions in the county. Eagan prosecuted 260 adult felony cases in 2018, second in Dakota County only to Burnsville, with 343 adult felony prosecutions, according to the County Attorney’s office. Eagan was higher than Burnsville in prosecuting juveniles, according to the county. Eagan prosecuted 126 juveniles in 2018, one more than Burnsville.

Community Center closed

City Hall construction continues

EAGAN, MN – If you were thinking about working off that Easter candy with a run on the treadmill at the community center, you'll need a new plan.
   The Eagan Community Center will be closed to the public this week, from Monday, April 22 to Sunday, April 28.
   Meeting rooms, exercise facilities and parks department offices at the taxpayer-financed building will not be available this week. The city attributed the closing to annual cleaning.
   The city is referring those who want to sign up for city activities or buy passes for Cascade Bay, the city’s water park, to the website www.discovereagan.com.  

City councilor urges everyone else to "get on board" transit

A man slept on the seats of a nearly empty Metro Transit train to Minneapolis during a recent commute from Eagan.
EAGAN, MN – During a brief 15-minute meeting, the Eagan City Council adopted a proclamation recognizing Thursday, April 25, as “National Get On Board Day,” a promotional event to encourage the use of public transportation.
   “This proclamation will help illustrate the City’s support for public transportation as a vital local government service delivery in the City of Eagan, provided by the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority,” a city memo supplementing the city council’s consent agenda read.
   City Council Member Gary Hansen commented about the proclamation, he said, “for public awareness.”
   “That day is intended to encourage people to use public transportation and other forms of transportation to try to reduce the number of vehicles that are on the roads,” Hansen said.
   At a previous meeting, Hansen objected to a local business’s proposal to use 9-foot, rather than 10-foot wide, parking spaces at its site, saying they weren’t wide enough to accommodate opening the doors of the large truck he drove.
   As another item on its consent agenda, a list of items approved summarily without separate discussion or votes, the Eagan City Council approved legal findings of fact for its denial of a local hotel’s request to build 200 park-and-fly spaces to allow visitors to park their cars and take a shuttle to the airport.
   In other business at the April 16 council meeting, the city council approved a variance to Duckwood Drive’s required 40-foot building setback to facilitate the construction of an oral surgery center at 3540 Federal Drive.  
EAGAN, MN, April 20, 2019 -- A new sign has been posted at the access road to city hall as part of the $16 million city hall and police department renovation. The area remains under heavy construction and will likely be largely unaccessible until 2020.

Man charged with drugs at jail

   A Brooklyn Center man has been charged with possession of methamphetamine at the Dakota County jail.
   Pedro Flores, 52, of 4419 Winchester Lane, Brooklyn Center, has been summonsed to appear in Dakota County District Court on June 3 on a charge of fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, a felony, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint.
   A Dakota County sheriff’s deputy reported finding .76 grams of suspected methamphetamine and a glass pipe during a search incident to Flores’s arrest on a warrant at the jail shortly after 5 a.m. Feb. 9.