Inside this issue

Walden Heights Park neighbors speak out against proposed cell phone tower in park

  Residents of the Walden Heights Park area Tuesday night spoke out before the Eagan City Council against a proposal to build a 119-foot cell phone tower in the neighborhood park.
    The residents had a tough sell to a pro-business city council. Nevertheless, the council voted to delay a decision until its June 19 meeting. The continuance was intended to allow Verizon time to discuss putting the tower at another site: Easter Lutheran Church on Pilot Knob Road.  
   Several residents told city councilors the proposed Verizon tower would destroy the essential character of the park. The residents speaking at the city council meeting were a fraction of those who submitted public comments outside the meeting and the 178 residents who signed a petition against building a cell phone tower in the park.
     “There’s no need to throw up a Verizon tower right in the middle of our neighborhood,” a Thomas Lane resident told the city council.
     Another Thomas Lane resident told the council the tower would destroy the essential character of a small neighborhood park where children play. “It seems incredibly sad that corporate behemoths like Verizon can come in and put an end to that.”    

Man who killed parents in 1999 escapes Dakota County group home

    The Dakota County District Court has issued a nationwide arrest warrant for an escaped killer.
     Richard Happ, 49, who was found not guilty by reason of mental illness in the 1999 murder of his parents, has been missing from a West St. Paul group home since March 18, according to court records. Happ, a schizophrenic, had been ordered to live in the group home after his controversial release from a state hospital in 2015.
     The warrant was issued in conjunction with felony escape charges against Happ. The Dakota County District Attorney’s office Monday released a criminal complaint charging Happ with two felony counts of escape.
     Happ murdered both of his parents and tried to kill his brother at their Carver County home on March 24, 1999, according to the complaint. He was charged with first-degree murder but found not guilty by reason of mental illness.
     Happ left the group home on an overnight pass on March 17, according to court records. He did not return as required March 18. Officials believed he would run out of his required medication by March 22.
Richard Happ, as he appeared in 2015.

Leigh Monson reviews Unsane

The Eastview High School girls' basketball team won its second state championship since 2014, ending their season with a 32-0 record.

Eagan Police Chief to retire

  Eagan Police Chief James McDonald will retire this year, after 30 years on the police force and 11 years as chief. His retirement was announced during Mayor Mike Maguire’s State of the City address.
  Following the announcement, the audience rose to give the police chief a standing ovation.
  During a recent meeting with city council, McDonald told city leaders that about one-quarter of the 70-member department would soon be eligible for retirement. The city recently trained four new police officers.
  The retirement announcement comes as the city’s police resources have been stretched thin by recent commercial development in the city, including a wave of professional shoplifting at Eagan’s outlet mall. The city also recently experienced a brazen midday robbery from a local retail store. Five suspects were caught fleeing the scene after police chased the getaway car.
  The city is in the process of expanding the police station to provide more room and security.
  The police department itself has not made an announcement about the chief’s retirement and the position has not been posted for hiring.
  The departure of the police chief will further a period of transition for city leadership in 2018. Last month, District 196 school superintendent Jane Berenz announced she will retire at the end of the school year. The city of Eagan is also slated to elect a new mayor and two new city councilmembers in November.

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Eagan police and fire responded to the scene of a crash at I-35E and Duckwood Trail Saturday. Police reported slick roads.
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The state of the city? Invaded by Vikings

City pays deposit on splash pad

Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire was dwarfed by a screen image of "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen  during a 2018 State of the City address heavy with corporate branding.
   One of the most requested amenities for city parks, a splash pad, is one step closer to coming to Eagan, according to city records. The city paid Vortex, a Canada-based designer of aquatic playgrounds, a thirty percent deposit on a splash pad for Central Park at a cost of $52,453.72.
   The aquatic playground in the city park would provide a no-cost alternative to the city’s fee-for-entrance water park, Cascade Bay, which has lost money in recent years as some city residents opt for less expensive water parks in nearby communities such as Apple Valley.
  In a rambling, often bizarre, presentation that included a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial and further displays of the friendship between the city’s mayor and the Minnesota Vikings football team, Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire delivered the 2018 State of the City address to a half-empty, apparently invitation-only, audience at Thomson Reuters.
  The speech, held on Thomson Reuters’ restricted access campus off Wescott Road rather than a public venue, was not open or announced to the public. Video of the speech was placed on the city’s website afterwards.
  In his speech--which, at an hour, ran twice as long as many city council meetings—the mayor praised the city’s rapid business development during 2017. With staged visuals in the background, the speech also rambled across various topics, from the MeToo movement to school shootings. The speech did not reference recent local issues such as a 500-gallon gasoline spill near Thomas Lake, a five-percent tax hike to pay for more police and firefighters, the seizure of nearly 100 pounds of methamphetamine from a home near an Eagan playground, nor an employment discrimination lawsuit filed against the city.
  About half of the seats in Thomson Reuters auditorium appeared to be empty during the speech. No members of the city council attended the speech, according to the mayor.
  In an odd departure from a government discussion of city business, the speech concluded with a video message from a Minnesota Vikings announcer, an appearance by Eagan High School’s marching band, and a group Skol chant.
  The Thomson Reuters logo was displayed behind the mayor during the entire speech. The company was referenced as the city’s largest employer, although it has eliminated staff, including pensioned employees, in recent years. The company, with offices in the Philippines and India, has offshored positions and replaced permanent jobs with contractors, who do not receive health insurance, paid sick leave, nor other company benefits. The company recently sold a majority stake in its Finance and Risk division, which included positions in Eagan. A significant drop in the company’s stock price followed the sale.

Edina man charged with Starbucks threats

   An Edina man is scheduled to appear in Dakota County court April 16 to answer criminal charges related to a fight that broke out in an Apple Valley Starbucks after customers complained about his photographs of scantily clad women.
  Lim Bounhau, 57, of 5200 Lincoln Dr. #339, Edina, was charged with felony threats of violence and misdemeanor assault in the fifth degree, according to court records.
  The charges stem from a Jan. 29 disturbance at an Apple Valley Starbucks. A store employee reported to police that customers were complaining that another customer, identified as Bounhau, was looking at “explicit pictures … of younger women who appeared to be wearing only underwear.”
  Bounhau became upset and began yelling after he was asked to leave, then allegedly lunged at a female Starbucks employee, according to court records. Two customers stepped in to help the barista.
  One of the intervening customers reported that, after he and the other customer told Bounhau to leave, Bounhau alleged grabbed a pair of scissors and told the man “you don’t want a knife in your stomach.”
  A woman followed Bounhau out of the store to take his photo, according to a criminal complaint. He then allegedly became confrontational and said something about a gun.