Snow returns; schools cancelled

Winter made a comeback Thursday, April 11, with a winter storm that dropped sleet, rain, and about four inches of snow on Eagan. Schools, already over their scheduled number of snow days for the year, were cancelled.

Driver on cell phone gets six months in jail for fatal crash

    A Dakota County district court judge Friday sentenced a distracted driver who killed a Rochester woman and injured three people in October 2016 to six months in jail.
    Lori Hoefs, 57, of 13047 25th Ave. N.W., Oronoco, pleaded guilty last November to reckless driving causing death, reckless driving causing great bodily harm and two counts of careless driving. In addition to 180 days in jail, Hoefs was sentenced to two years probation, 30 hours of community service, a $1,000 fine and ordered to visit the grave of the victim, Brenda Travis, annually for two years, according to the Dakota County Attorney’s office. Hoefs was sentenced to 90 days in jail for the careless driving charges, to be served concurrent with the reckless driving sentence.
    Hoefs was on her cell phone at the time of the crash that killed 78-year-old Travis, who was in the front passenger seat of the silver Toyota struck by Hoefs, according to the criminal complaint.
    Hoefs was originally charged with criminal vehicular homicide for the Oct. 22, 2016, three-vehicle crash at the intersection of Highway 56 and County Road 88 in Randolph Township, according to court records. The vehicular homicide charged was dismissed, according to court records. The start of Hoefs’ jail sentence was postponed to April 19.

State of the City: Dominated by the Vikings

Minnesota Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren introduced the 2019 Eagan State of the City address held at the team's headquarters on the outskirts of the city.
EAGAN, MN – The bromance between city hall and Minnesota Vikings headquarters continued March 21 as Eagan’s mayor presented the 2019 state of the city address at the restricted access, closed-to-the-public Vikings practice facility.
   “Mayor Maguire has been a … friend,” said Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren during an introduction to the state of the city address. Prior to Warren’s introduction, Maureen Failor, president of the Dakota County Chamber of Commerce opened the event with remarks.
   Maguire characterized Eagan as a haven for business and described the state of the city as strong. There was no mention of 13 percent cut in the workforce at one of Eagan’s largest employers and the host of last year’s state of the city address, Thomson Reuters. Nor was there mention of the city’s qualification for a federal grant awarded to areas high in drug trafficking, nor of catastrophic collisions on the city’s roads, including one that led to the death of a young mother of two toddlers, nor of benzene discovered in groundwater following a gasoline spill.
   Much of the program consisted of a series of public relations videos cobbled together to highlight Eagan’s attractions. The program started with a video skit with appearances by various city officials, who were apparently pulled from their actual job responsibilities to participate in schtick. The video included an appearance by the city’s police chief performing in a skit with Mayor Maguire outside a local business whose founder was killed by a drunk driver. The speech also included video footage from an invitation-only event hosted by the Vikings organization for city employees last summer.

Inmate charged with jail assault

   A man is facing a felony charge for an April 3 altercation at the Dakota County jail.
   Dominique Malone, 29, an inmate at the Dakota County jail, has been charged with third-degree assault, inflicting substantial bodily harm, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint. The sheriff’s department did not disclose the name or occupation of the victim of the assault, who was taken to the hospital for a broken nose and required several stitches shortly before 10:30 p.m., according to the complaint.
   Investigators allege Malone approached the victim from behind and struck him with a closed fist on the right side of the head. Malone then allegedly hit the victim again after the victim fell. While falling, according to the complaint, the victim struck his face on a countertop, resulting in injury.
   Malone allegedly told authorities he was angry at the victim because he believed the victim had assaulted his girlfriend the week before.
Dominique Malone

Internet "Jewel" charged with robbery

   A St. Paul woman is facing a felony charge for allegedly leading a man she hooked up with on the internet into a robbery.
   Julie Mukokolo, 33, of 1450 Dale St. N., St. Paul, has been charged with first-degree aggravated robbery, a felony, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint. Police allege Mukokolo, operating under the name Jewel, communicated with the robbery victim via the Skout application and agreed to mutual “massages” for $60.
   Investigators allege Mukokolo met the victim at the door of the Burnsville Parkway apartment complex where they had arranged to meet. As she led the robbery victim up the stairs, two men approached, slammed the victim to the ground and repeatedly banged his head against the floor until the victim pretended to lose consciousness. The robbers fled with the victim’s car keys and his jacket containing $60 in the pocket.
   Police investigating the scene found “a large amount of blood” on the stairs of the Burnsville apartment and the victim’s cell phone. Investigators extracted the texts between the victim and “Jewel” and identified the owner of Jewel’s Skout account as Mukokolo, according to the complaint. Mukokolo had recently been arrested with two residents of the apartment complex, according to police.
   Mukokolo admitted “knowing that the two males were going to ‘jump’ [the victim] once he arrived for his massage,” according to the criminal complaint. She also allegedly admitted to police she led the victim to the men and fled once they began to beat him.
   Skout.com advertises itself as a method to meet people more easily. “A meaningful glance on the train. A 'me too' moment at a club. An instant connection. At Skout, we're all about preserving the magic of unexpected meetings that lead to discovering new people. From friendships to romance, Skout has been connecting people since 2007,” according to its website.
   Mukokolo has two misdemeanor theft convictions, according to court records. Less than a week ago, on April 3, she was sentenced to a year probation and ordered to stay away from Cub Foods, according to court records.
Dakota County Jail mugshot of Julie "Jewel" Mukokolo

After recent cuts, ISD 196 plans to hire and fire staff

   Despite recently announced plans to cut staff in the district’s classrooms, the ISD 196 school board approved the hiring of about two dozen staff at its April 8 meeting.
   The hirings, which include a kindergarten teacher to be paid an annual salary of more than $87,000, were included on the school board’s consent agenda, a list of items approved without a separate vote or discussion. The hirings follow recent action by the school board to cut about 31 classroom and nursing staff because of a budget shortfall.
   The school board also extended the contract of a software project manager paid more than $110,000 per year in salary, plus benefits including more than $2,000 per month in health insurance premiums and five weeks of vacation, according to the district’s agreement.
   The school board also terminated nearly three dozen probationary staff at the district’s schools. The board plans to send letters to those staff members notifying them they won’t have jobs after the end of the school year based upon the April 8 vote, according to school board documents.
    At a recent school board meeting, the board, blaming the state for inadequate funding,  unanimously approved about $7.5 million in cuts from teaching and nursing staff for the 2019-2020 school year.
TIME TO MAKE THE DONUTS? -- The long-delayed opening of the city’s first Dunkin’ Donuts appeared closer Sunday, as drive-thru facilities were present at the 1420 Yankee Doodle Road site. Backers of the local franchise originally predicted a 2017 opening. Since then, two Starbucks opened across the street at Central Park Commons. Those looking for doughnuts in the neighborhood can still find them up the road at Puffy Cream near Coachman Road.