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Lakeville August 2, 2013 | Volume 34 | Number 23
NEWS A rousing raid at the fair The Dakota County Fair promises lots of action this year, including a mock shootout with a legendary outlaw. Page 3A
OPINION Helping parents be aware 360 Communities is working with area groups to help make parents aware of quality child care opportunities. Page 4A
Raising children without a home Homelessness among families triples in past four years - Third in a series by Jessica Harper SUN THISWEEK DAKOTA COUNTY TRIBUNE
LaTeasa spent years building a comfortable life for herself and her children only to lose everything: her job, her home, her sense of stability. Following the birth of her second child in 2012, LaTeasa (who asked that her last name not be used) was laid off from her job of 12 years as a telecommunications repair specialist and found herself unable to work due to complications from her pregnancy. The 38-year-old single mother kept the family afloat for several months by turning to personal savings and her retirement account as well as child support. With her savings soon exhausted, LaTeasa found herself unable to afford the rent on her Woodbury home. With nowhere to
Third in a series
Homelessness in Dakota County go, she and her two children were homeless. “I had to face the fact that we couldn’t live in Woodbury anymore,” she said. “I don’t know if I could prepare myself for that.” LaTeasa ended up sleeping in her truck with her infant son, while her 18-yearold son stayed with a relative. The family turned to area homeless shelters, but they were full and the family was placed on a waiting list. On her own since she was 17 years old, LaTeasa had never faced homelessness and
Dakota Woodlands provides free on-site child care services for its residents while they work, attend school or go to appointments. (Photo by Jessica Harper) was devastated. “I felt like a failure,” she said, fighting back tears. Now residing at a homeless shelter in Eagan, LaTea-
sa and her children are among the growing number of homeless families in DaSee HOMELESS, 10A
Council urges caution at first glance of budget City predicts continued development uptick
Curtain call Lakeville playwright Jennifer Cockerill will see the debut of her play “A Certain Age” at this year’s Minnesota Fringe Festival. Page 23A
by Laura Adelmann SUN THISWEEK DAKOTA COUNTY TRIBUNE
Susan and Tim Hatch, of Lakeville, with their dog Rebel. (Photo by Laura Adelmann)
A ‘tail’ of hope
Local dog’s ordeal may help find brain cancer cure by Laura Adelmann
Youth soccer closes summer season Lakeville was one of the sites of the state summer youth soccer tournament. Page 17A
ONLINE To receive a feed of breaking news stories, follow us at twitter.com/ SunThisweek. Discuss stories with us at facebook.com/ SunThisweek
SUN THISWEEK DAKOTA COUNTY TRIBUNE
Rebel’s seizures started in the middle of the night last March, a halfhour long grand mal-like nightmare of convulsions that scared and concerned the springer spaniel’s owners, Tim and Susan Hatch. “We thought it was epilepsy,” Susan Hatch said. The 8-year-old dog, Susan Hatch’s best pal since college, had been
acting lethargic for months, rejecting food and opportunities to take walks; the couple had chalked it up to old age. It’s a common reaction, said Dr. Liz Pluhar, the University of Minnesota veterinarian who treated Rebel for what was discovered to be glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, an aggressive, deadly and common form of brain cancer in dogs and humans. It is the same cancer
SUN THISWEEK DAKOTA COUNTY TRIBUNE
Opinion . . . . . . . . . . . . 4A Announcements . . . . 10A Sports . . . . . . . . 17A-18A Classifieds . . . . . 19A-21A Public Notices . . . . . . 15A
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See REBEL, 15A
Neighbors crowd meeting to oppose parking lot plans by Laura Adelmann
that took the life of Ted Kennedy at age 77, just 13 months after his diagnosis. Susan and Tim Hatch had turned to Pluhar at the suggestion of their veterinarian for possible inclusion in a unique trial treatment program to study a potential cure for brain cancer that could work in humans, too. Rebel was accepted into the program and sched-
About a year after settling a contentious debate over city funding for the Heritage Center project, Lakeville City Council members are holding the line on new spending for the facility in 2014. Council Member Kerrin Swecker, a project proponent, said at a July 24 budget work session she would only approve regular maintenance costs for the Heritage Center next year, estimated at $11,608 in a draft 2014-15 budget proposal. City staff had proposed also spending $29,363 for capital expenses at the Heritage Center, the city’s former police station remodeled to house its senior center, Yellow Ribbon organization and the Historical Society. The $1.09 million project, primarily funded by the city, had been the subject of numerous heated City Council discussions for more than a year before being approved on a 3-2 vote in 2012. Swecker had been the swing vote to move the
project forward, but was the first at the workshop to raise concerns about spending more public funds on the building at this time. “I cannot and will not support any additional funding for the Heritage Center until we get it paid off,” Swecker said, adding the city should seek donations for amenities cited in the budget that included audio-visual equipment, an ice machine, commercial coffee maker and dishwasher. Swecker said she would help find donors. Council Members Colleen LaBeau and Doug Anderson agreed with Swecker, and council members unanimously also rejected spending a proposed $60,000 for an electronic sign in front of City Hall that would advertise community events. The budget draft proposed a $24.3 million levy that included replacing the Police and Fire departments’ computer systems, adding video tape in police squad cars for $175,000 and a voice recognition system for $65,134 that allows officers to dictaSee BUDGET, 10A
Despite neighbors’ concerns, the Lakeville Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of a church group’s plans to convert a residential home into a church building, and per city code, build a 14-stall parking lot. The commission, on a 5-2 vote, also recommended the Lakeville City Council deny Minneapolis Meeting Rooms Inc. (Plymouth Brethren Christian Church) a variance to the city’s sideyard setback requirement of 30 feet, in part because they did not think it was a
significant hardship. Plymouth Brethren Christian Church member Tom Chellberg said the zoning requirement detail was overlooked, and church member Jerry Holman said without the variance, they would have to remove part of the building’s garage, making it hard to resell and adding expenses to the approximately $250,000 to $300,000 of remodeling work planned for the home. The group plans to remove walls in the 1970 home, located on a corner lot at 9880 192nd Street, to allow space for a maximum of 40 people. See HEARING, 15A
Plymouth Brethren Church member Tom Chellberg addressed the Lakeville Planning Commission at a July 25 public hearing. Many neighbors spoke in opposition to the group’s plans that trigger city code requiring the installation of a parking lot in a residential neighborhood. (Photo by Laura Adelmann)
August 2, 2013
SUN THISWEEK - Lakeville
Weber named general manager of ECM Publishers ECM Publishers, which operates 51 publications in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, has named Mark H. Weber as the new south region general manager. WeberÂ will office in Eden PrairieÂ and will
oversee the operations in Dakota County, Eden Prairie,Â Stillwater, Waconia, Watertown,Â Norwood Young America, Osseo and Monticello.Â The Dakota County operation includes Sun Thisweek and the Dakota
County Tribune, which are published weekly in the communities of Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Farmington, Lakeville and Rosemount. Weber joins ECM Publishers with a strong salesÂ and marketing back-
ground and has workedÂ at several dailies across the country, including the Denver Post, Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune. MostÂ recently, he served as director of sales and marketingÂ at Outdoor News in Plymouth.Â â€œWeâ€™reÂ fortunate to bring Mark on board and lookÂ forward to his strong background in digitalÂ and
print sales as well as his strategic businessÂ planning skills,â€? said Marge Winkelman, president of ECM. Weber, who grew up in LeSueur, Minn, is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas-School of Business and the University of Minnesota. He and his wife Cynthia have two daughters and make
their home in Eden Prairie. â€œIâ€™m thrilled to be joining ECM Publishers and to be part of ECMâ€™s unquestioned commitment to our local communities,â€? Weber said.
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/JHIUUP6OJUFCSJOHTOFJHICPSTUPHFUIFS Night to Unite is coming up on Tuesday evening, August 6. During this event, neighborhood parties will be taking place across Minnesota, including more than 80 here in Lakeville.
.POEBZ "VH City Council, 7 p.m. 8FEOFTEBZ "VH Parks, Rec., & NR, 6 p.m. 5IVSTEBZ "VH Planning Comm., 6 p.m. Finance Comm., 7 p.m.
The Night to Unite effort strengthens neighborhoods by encouraging people to get to know one another and meet law enforcement, public safety, and government leaders. Representatives from Lakeville police, fire, or the City Council plan to stop by each party. There is still time to schedule a party by going to www. lakevillemn.gov.
$POTUSVDUJPO6QEBUF Work on the I-35 portion between Elko New Market and the Burnsville split has begun. Motorists can expect to see temporary off-peak lane closures as crews build crossovers and make preparations for the upcoming traffic switches. The long-term, head-to-head traffic switch is tentatively scheduled to begin on or around Aug. 26. The road will be reduced to a single lane north of CR 50 on weekends prior to the Aug. 26 date. I-35E: Both north and southbound traffic on I-35E, between Diffley Road and the I-35/35W/35E split has been shifted to their designated side of the roadway. The roadway will remain single lane as crews remove the crossovers, barrier and re-stripe the roadway. Crews will begin the removals on the southbound lanes and they expect all lanes north and southbound to re-open by Aug. 6. There will still be two weekend closures of I-35W between Hwy. 13 and the I-35/35W/35E split, one for each direction of the roadway. The first weekend closure is tentatively scheduled to begin on Aug 9. For more information on this MnDOT project, visit the City website at www. lakevillemn.gov.
Night to Unite is sponsored by the Minnesota Crime Prevention Association, AAA of Minnesota and local law enforcement communities. If you are not attending a neighborhood party, you can still participate and send a message of neighborhood unity by turning your porch light on from 7 to 10 p.m.
5K Trail Run Tuesday, Aug. 6 Ritter Farm Park 19300 Ritter Trail Cost $10 Pre-Register at www.lakeville-rapconnect. com and enter program #6417 or call 952-985-4600. Day-of registration begins at 5:30 p.m. Run starts at 6 p.m. Event includes door prizes and a post race social. Sponsored by Runnerâ€™s Gate, Life Wellness Center & Lakeville Parks & Recreation
Off-road trail run!
SUN THISWEEK - Lakeville
August 2, 2013 3A
New at the Dakota County Fair: A Mock Dillinger raid Dakota City offers daily entertainment with old-time twist by Andy Rogers SUN THISWEEK DAKOTA COUNTY TRIBUNE
Infamous Depressionera bank robber John Dillinger and his gang escaped through Farmington at one point late in his career after a gunfight in Hastings, so the story goes. Apparently, the Farmington sheriff department was alerted by authorities that he was coming through Farmington and this was a good chance to capture him. Considering the size of Farmington at the time, the sheriff didn’t have much manpower, so the department set up a small road block. “Supposedly, Dillinger just drove past it,” actor Devin Steben-Anderson said. “I guess they fired a few rounds at the cars, but Dillinger just ignored it. They lost too many men at the Hastings’ shoot-out.” Dillinger went on to rob a few more banks in Ohio and Indiana before dying in a shoot-out in Chicago in 1934. Steben-Anderson hopes to capture Dillinger’s spirit as the main actor during a mock bank raid performance at 4 p.m., Aug. 10 and at 5 p.m. Aug. 11 at the Vermillion State Bank within Dakota City at the Dakota County Fair. The reenactment is purely fictional. It will feature Dillinger and his gang as they drive through Farmington, rob a bank, and eventually get into a shoot out with local police
at Monticello and the Three Sisters section. The Three Sisters section demonstrates what Native Americans grow including corn, pole beans and squash, which are all dependent on each other. The beans use the corn stalks as a trellis and the spiny squash vines keep the animals away. Thomas Jefferson gardens feature flowers and vegetables and the remaining sections have vegetable varieties that were available from 1860-1930.
and FBI agents. The reenactment will feature about 10 cars from the era, and star around 15-20 actors: Seven gangsters, three officers of the law, bankers and villagers. Many of the same actors regularly perform a World War II service during Armed Forces Day at the Dakota County Fairgrounds in May. In previous years, the fair featured a cowboy shoot-out, but this year they wanted to freshen up the act. The reenactment is one of many new features during the fair in Dakota City Heritage Village, which comes to life with costumed interpreters and activities of 100 years ago. Dakota City is a 1900 era rural village that also features a blacksmith shop, newspaper office, schoolhouse and millinery shop.
Other events • There will be a tractor parade every day at 1 p.m. featuring about 150 tractors. • The drugstore will sell root beer, food, ice cream and raffle tickets. • Live music at the bandstand will feature the Summer Pops Band led by Apple Valley’s Rich Clausen, young violinists and accordion players Ed Brezina and Maynard Ohm. During the week other musicians and demonstrators can be found on porches. • The millinery will feature hat making. • Lakeville author Gordon Fredrickson will be selling his books in the library. Dakota City Heritage Village is always looking for volunteers for events, school programs and tours. If interested, call 651-460-8050 or visit www.dakotacity.org for more information. More information about the fair can be found at www.SunThisweek. com/tag/Dakota-CountyFair-2013.
Winter in the city
Curator Lynn Stegmaier will have displays on “Winter Life in Minnesota” and hanging vintage quilts in the museum. “When winter came there were a new set of chores,” Stegmaier said. “Folks did not just sit around and wait for spring.” Residents collected wood for the stove, harvested ice blocks of ice for summer, went ice fishing, laced up the ice skates, went for sleigh rides, and Deven Steben will play John Dillinger in a shoot-out reenactment at the Dakota Counglided down hills on their ty Fair. (Photo submitted) sleds. Eastling, Shane Lord, Em- p.m. Saturday. There will The show features several ily Scinto, Aria Stiles and be matinees at 2 and 5 p.m. Chautauqua musical numbers about The Chautauqua Tent the town of Nicols, mak- Tim Bunting playing vari- Thursday and Sunday. Shows will have perfor- ing moonshine, electricity, ous characters based on Garden district mances of “Footprints on Jesse James, the South St. Minnesota history. Chautauqua shows The gardens located the Prairie,” written and Paul stockyards, and life begin at 7 p.m. Monday in the southwest corner directed by Pete Martin, on the prairie. It stars Eric through Thursday. Friof Dakota City feature Email Andy Rogers at throughout the week be- Peltoniemi, Dewey Roth, day’s only show is at 6 p.m. two sections including the hind the drug store. Jennifer Merhar, Marissa and shows are at 5 and 7 Thomas Jefferson gardens email@example.com.
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August 2, 2013
SUN THISWEEK - Lakeville
360 Communities Child Care Aware working to promote Parent Aware by Mischelle Ulrich SPECIAL TO SUN THISWEEK DAKOTA COUNTY TRIBUNE
The first five years of life are crucial in the healthy cognitive development of a child. Many children spend a good portion of those first years in a child care setting, so it is important to help parents and providers develop strong child care programs to ensure children arrive at kindergarten prepared and ready to learn. 360 Communities Child Care Aware, a member of the Child Care Aware of Minnesota network, partners with child care providers, family, friend and neighbor caregivers and community organizations to promote the quality of child care in Dakota County. Our belief is that the entire community benefits when families are able to access high quality child care. There are currently 871 licensed child care providers in Dakota County. This can make choosing a child care provider a daunting task for any parent and this decision can have lasting impacts on a child’s development. A 2010 National Institute of Child Health and Human Development study found that the quality of child care in the first several years of life has a noticeable impact on a child’s cognitive development and academic achievement as far out as a decade later. The study, which followed
Mischelle Ulrich over 1,300 children for more than 10 years, found that negative effects of poor child care endured through age 15. Quality child care provides the educational foundation children need to be ready for school. To make it easier for parents to choose quality care and for providers to differentiate themselves to the public, Child Care Aware of Minnesota is rolling out a new tool to help empower parents across Minnesota to make good child care choices for their children. Parent Aware is a new four-star rating system that aims to provide parents with an objective tool to judge the quality of day care settings while, at the same time, enhancing the quality of child care in Minnesota. When parents see the Parent Aware rating for a provider, they can be assured that the program has volunteered to have their program assessed using a number of proven quality indicators. Each star rating represents a level of training and best practices implementation achieved by a child care
provider. If a provider has a one star rating, it does not mean they are a poor child care provider. Rather, it means they have begun the rating process and have demonstrated a commitment to quality child care. If a provider has a Parent Aware rating, it is a sign that they are ahead of the curve and are taking steps to ensure they are implementing the best practices to prepare young people for kindergarten. For each star level, quality is measured in four areas: • Physical health and well-being • Teaching and relationships • Assessment of child progress • Teacher training and education All participating programs have: • Volunteered for extra, in-depth training • Devoted themselves to strong, caring relationships with each child • Adopted the latest approaches to keeping children’s learning on track • Committed to daily activities and routines that help children learn and grow • Placed a focus on children’s health and safety Jackie Yernberg, early childhood director of Lighthouse Explorers Christian Child Care in Rosemount, says the process of obtaining a Parent Aware rating is hard work and a lengthy process, but it is worth it because parents, child care providers, and
most importantly, children benefit. “Without a shadow of a doubt, this process demonstrates quality early childhood programming,” Yernberg said. “Quality is measurable. It can be measured by positive staff-child interactions, the growth of children through developmental milestones, the pride the child-parent-teacher share when effort, achievements and affirmation are working hand-in-hand.” Dakota County providers who are interested are encouraged to call me for more information at 952-985-4045. New groups of providers start every July and January. Watch for more information about Parent Aware in the coming months. Parents, if you currently have a child care provider, consider talking to them about Parent Aware if they are not yet rated. Everyone can learn more about Parent Aware at www.parentawareratings.org or by calling 888-291-9811. Mischelle Ulrich is supervisor of 360 Communities Child Care Aware, a member of Child Care Aware of Minnesota. 360 Communities provides support to people by engaging communities to prevent violence, ensure school success and promote long-term self-sufficiency. More is at 360Communities.org or call 952-9855300. Columns reflect the opinion of the author.
Letters Sloppily stored garbage bins To the editor: I recently saw a interesting July 15 story in the Star Tribune regarding what some cities are doing to avoid sloppily stored garbage and recycling bins. They are finding that too many homes are storing bins in front of or beside their garages when they should be storing them inside their garage. In Lakeville we are seeing the same problem. For those who have a one car garage, storing them inside maybe a problem but most often it is occurring with residences which have two or three garage stalls. It would be much more pleasing for your neighbors and for the city of Lakeville if the bins would be stored inside. And, the city could avoid having to create an ordinance to address this potential blight problem. LARRY SCHLUTER Lakeville
Clausen helps move the state forward To the editor: With the 2013 legislative session in the rearview mirror, a few observations. I think the session demonstrated how to do the work of governing – the job legislators are elected to do. It made positive strides for our state to improve the economic outlook, invest in education and address our budget issues and our newly elected senator helped make those things happen.
Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley, worked for his constituents and with members of the Republican caucus and compiled a list of noteworthy accomplishments for a first-term senator. With his education background, he authored the bill funding all-day kindergarten. As vice-chairman of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, he helped freeze tuition in our state college and university systems and increase financial aid for college students. These investments in our children, and our future, will pay dividends down the road. The Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area and surrounding counties comprise the 44th largest economy in the world, due in part to our educated workforce. This is an investment we must make. Clausen supported economic development projects in Rochester, a 3M research complex, expansion of the Mall of America, Emerson Process Management and Baxter Pharmaceuticals, in addition to tax-increment financing (TIF) for two projects in Apple Valley. Again, investments in the future for the state and for the quality of life for Minnesotans. It is easy to complain about things that didn’t get done, about raising taxes, about paying back (or not paying back) the school shift from the previous session, and more. But we seldom acknowledge the things that did get done. I thank Clausen for the hard work he did on our behalf. We don’t move forward by standing still, and Clausen didn’t get elected to stand
still or stand in the way. We all know there is more to do, and with Clausen working for us, we have made a start in making Minnesota a state that works again. JUDY FINGER Apple Valley
Kline’s jobs fair falls short To the editor:’ Last week, Brooke Dorobiala wrote a self-congratulatory letter to the editor in Sun Thisweek thanking the 700 participants who attended John Kline’s Career and Jobs Fair in Eagan. While it is critical that we match unemployed people to quality jobs, I fear that Kline’s efforts are too little too late. He lacks a vision for the future. The narrow-minded focus of Kline’s local events and legislative efforts highlights his lack of emphasis on preparing constituents for jobs of the future. This contrasts strongly with Mike Obermueller’s history of supporting early childhood education, robust public schools, special education, closing the achievement gap, affordable higher education, and practical job training. A job fair sounds like it seeks to help constituents. But what is a “career” fair? Take a look at some of the corporate and educational institutions participating in Kline’s event: Argosy University, Brown College, DeVry University, Empire Beauty School, GlobalScholar/Scantron, Herzing University, Interstate Truck Driving School, ITT Technical Institute, Rasmussen College, The Art Insti-
Correction An article about Lakeville’s process to hire a new police chief last week incorrectly quoted Council Member Colleen LaBeau as saying the city’s police department had added a fourth captain. LaBeau did not specify a number, but only discussed changes in the department, which include expansion to three captains, not four. Sun Thisweek regrets the error.
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tutes International MN, and the University of Phoenix. These organizations have one thing in common: all are for-profit companies. Interestingly, for-profit universities or their executives contributed $116,000 to Kline’s congressional campaign last quarter. Rather than striving to match out-of-work constituents with jobs, Kline seems intent on providing his buddies with a chance to market themselves to the public. Kline’s abysmal legislative record also shows that he is looking out for his pals, not his constituents. Real leadership would not just seek to stem the tide of unemployment, but look toward a bright new future by re-training people unprepared for 21st century jobs and providing students with opportunities to succeed. Our current congressman shows his lack of commitment to these ideals every day, whether it be through his bill decreasing federal K-12 education funding below sequester levels, refusing to lock in borrowing rates that give students certainty in their loans, or failing to implement meaningful displaced worker programs. If you think the 2nd District deserves something more than Kline’s occasional self-promoting job fair, vote for Obermueller in 2014. ERIK SPRINGER Northfield
Farm Bill needs revision To the editor: I was upset to learn that the U.S. House’s version of the Farm Bill contains a section created by Iowa Rep. Steve King that would nullify state laws protecting food safety, the environment, and animal welfare. As an example, numerous states
have passed laws protecting mother dogs trapped inside puppy mills, yet these laws would be repealed by this Farm Bill. Fortunately, the Senate doesn’t have this dangerous provision in its version of the Farm Bill. It is my hope that Rep. Collin Peterson, R-Minnesota, who is expected to be in the bill’s conference committee, will work to ensure that the Steve King language doesn’t make it into the final Farm Bill when the two branches of Congress combine their wording. That would help rectify a scary situation our representative is partially responsible for. FREEMAN WICKLUND Lakeville
Valuing parks for decades
portant decisions that need to be made to preserve the natural systems in this park for future generations to enjoy.” A mid-90s DNR Natural Resources Survey reported: “Management and development of (Lebanon Hills) should take these rare features into account … should be valued as examples of pre-development natural resource communities for the enjoyment of park visitors … not viewed as empty spaces to construct more facilities. Limited park lands cannot accommodate all uses requested by the public. … Lebanon Hills is a significant natural resource … because it is the last remaining large habitat of this type in northern Dakota County … elevated in importance each time development takes place in the surrounding area. … Development in Lebanon Hills should be part of an integrated, comprehensive plan with other parks … preserving the natural communities not available at other sites.” The County’s 2008 Park Plan includes developing new trails through most county and regional parks. This greenway corridor will include 200 miles of bike trails. Up to five of the trails are proposed to connect in Lebanon Hills. To preserve Lebanon Hills, the greenway could use existing trails around the park and not bulldoze through this valuable natural resource. A trail hub … perhaps the new Whitetail Woods in central Dakota County. County residents value the parks natural resources for recreation and education … we have for decades. That is a fact.
To the editor: County Commissioner Tom Egan wrongly accused those who oppose pavement in Lebanon Hills of creating their own facts. In truth, protecting the natural character of Lebanon Hills has been a priority of citizens for decades. The 1980 Master Plan states: “It is imperative that the utilization of these natural resources is placed in proper perspective and that each be protected to avoid destroying something that could never be restored to its original state.” The 1994 Dakota County Parks Policy states: “Dakota County believes that all of its citizens should have opportunities for recreation and be able to enjoy nature in settings unhindered by the pressures of development.” The 2001 Master Plan states: “Although human use issues will continue to be of interest to citizens of the region, these pale HOLLY JENKINS in comparison to the im- Eagan
SUN THISWEEK - Lakeville
August 2, 2013 5A
MnDOT plan discussions hit the road Commissioner Zelle travels to talk transportation systems, costs by T.W. Budig SUN THISWEEK DAKOTA COUNTY TRIBUNE
The numbers don’t add up, but Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charles Zelle isn’t throwing up his hands. “I don’t think the number is scary,” Zelle said of $12 billion in unfunded needs confronting MnDOT over the next 20 years. “I think the number is achievable.” Zelle, of Minneapolis, wants to tell his story to the people of Minnesota. And he’ll get his chance. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has been urging Zelle and MnDOT officials to take to the road to show Minnesotans the kinds of transportation systems they can have — first-rate, passable — and what the visions will cost. “Let the people of Minnesota decide,” Dayton said recently. Zelle has been traveling, recently appearing before the Metropolitan Council. Not that the commissioner views MnDOT’s 20-year State Highway Investment Plan, which he presented to the council, as
a gem. Just the opposite. “This isn’t our vision,” Zelle told the council. But there’s simple, telling arithmetic. Some $30 billion in transportation needs is detailed in MnSHIP, but the investment plan identifies $18 billion in secure funding. The investment plan contains other thoughtprovoking numbers. For instance, half of state highway pavement is more than 50 years old. More than a third of state highway bridges are more than 50 years old. Although the plan in the second 10-year phase calls for a focus almost entirely on infrastructure preservation, the number of state roads and bridges in poor condition will double and perhaps triple within 20 years, according to MnDOT. But Zelle will choose his words carefully when meeting the public. “I think that’s always a very delicate balance,” he said of linking given projects to funding increases. With transportation projects, things can happen, Zelle explained. “We don’t want to be so specific that it appears we are giving a promise,” he said. Transportation advocates applaud Zelle’s mission. “We’re thrilled he will be
Department of Transportation Commissioner Charles Zelle has been urged by his boss, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, to travel the state and talk about transportation and the system the public can expect for their transportation dollars. Zelle, pictured during a hearing in the past legislative session, said in his travels he’ll also being doing a lot of listening. (Photo by T.W. Budig) out advocating,” said Margaret Donahoe of Minnesota Transportation Alliance. Donahoe suggested Zelle drum on several things, one being trans-
portation is key to the state’s economy. Business people really do calculate the condition of highways, the proximity of airports, in deciding locations, she said.
Donahoe — like Lona Schreiber, Met Council member — urged Zelle to stress the dedicated nature of transportation funding. That is, gas tax dollars, for example, can’t be diverted by lawmakers to fix the State Capitol roof. “It really does mean that there’s a locked box,” Donahoe said of constitutional dedications. Former Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg said Zelle will do a great job advocating for transportation. Zelle needs to carry the message that the state needs a statewide, broad-use, interconnecting transportation system, Tinklenberg said, that is efficient, reliable and safe. “The fact the number (budget gap) is enormous is not a good excuse for doing nothing,” Tinklenberg said. If the administration crafts a transportation initiative, it must be broadbased, he said. “You can’t just have one part,” Tinklenberg said, ascribing the collapse of the past legislative session’s transportation funding initiative in part to a toonarrow approach. Donahoe agrees. Even with transit, highway conditions are important, she said. Buses are not immune to potholes and congestion, she added. Zelle indicated to the
council the business community is still smarting from tax increases last session. “I remain very optimistic,” Zelle said of buy-in from business. His meetings with CEOs and others in the business community have been positive, he said. Last session the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce did not support transportation tax increases. The chamber is currently forming its 2014 legislative agenda. In its investment plan, MnDOT cites a number of factors eating away at transportation dollars. One factor is inflation, which, over the course of 20 years, could reduce the funding buying power by 60 percent. Increased fuel efficiency and fewer miles being driven – the mileage peaking in 2004 – cut away at gas tax revenues. Dayton opposes increasing the gas tax. “It’s certainly possible,” Donahoe said of crafting a transportation finance package that does not include a gas tax increase. Tinklenberg, now a lobbyist, said there are no transportation funding short cuts. “In transportation, you get what you pay for,” he said. Email T.W. Budig at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charges filed in Dakota County after men caught with $150,000 worth of cocaine, meth In one arrest, the Dakota County Drug Task Force seized on Tuesday, July 23, three times as much cocaine as it had all of 2012. Two Inver Grove Heights men were found in possession of 6 pounds of cocaine and 2 pounds of methamphetamine, which had an estimated street value of $120,000 and $30,000, respectively, according to Da-
kota County Attorney James Backstrom. “This case involves significant quantities of illegal drugs,” Backstrom said. “Illegal drug abuse poses a significant threat to public safety. We are pleased that law enforcement was able to remove from the streets such a large quantity of illegal drugs.” Mike Sanchez, 27, and Josue Ivan Ledezma-Lopez, 22, were
charged with two felony first-degree controlled substance crimes after their arrest. Agents used a confidential informant to order a large amount of controlled substances from Sanchez, to which he allegedly agreed to deliver to Brooklyn Park. Sanchez was stopped en route to Brooklyn Park, and a backpack with approximately 2.2
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pounds of cocaine was found inside his vehicle. Sanchez denied that it is was his backpack. Agents executed a search warrant on Sanchez’s residence and found more than $22,000 in cash, more than 5.85 pounds of cocaine, 2.96 pounds of methamphetamine, and 1.1 ounce of marijuana. Ledezma-Lopez was inside the residence when the search
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Met Council seeks alternatives to groundwater use to save aquifers by T.W. Budig SUN THISWEEK DAKOTA COUNTY TRIBUNE
White Bear Lake poses a simple question: Where did the water go? In part, down the drain; not exactly, but White Bear Lake does illustrate the complexities of water, a resource scarce in parts of the United States and often taken for granted in water-rich Minnesota. That is, until lakes shrink and water tables fall – until now. “If you want to hear anxiety, talk to a public works director whose (city) well is sucking air,” said Tim Kelly, administrator for the Coon Creek Watershed District in Anoka County. Lawmakers and other officials are trying to learn more about, and plan for the better use of, the state’s water resources. In the past legislative session, lawmakers slated an additional $6 million per year for groundwater monitoring, for instance. “I would not characterize our current situation, or anything in the near future, as a crisis,” said former Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Gene Merriam, now of the Freshwater Society. “(But) we’re depleting a groundwater supply that we’re fairly ignorant about.” The Metropolitan Council is active, currently studying means of lessening the pumping of aquifers — geological sponges, which, as believed with White Bear Lake, can lower surface water levels when depleted. Aquifers underlie the metro and the rest of the state. They can recharge but some very slowly; the water pumped from them can be 30,000 years old. In the metro, increased reliance on groundwater has taken place. According to the Met Council, 60 years ago, less than a quarter of the water used in the metro was groundwater. More than 75 percent was surface water — water drawn from the Mississippi River, for instance. But during the 1980s, as the suburbs pushed out, groundwater usage surpassed surface water
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usage. Currently, about 75 percent of the water used in the metro is groundwater. Groundwater is the source of drinking water for 75 percent of Minnesotans and 98 percent of the state’s nearly 1,000 community water systems, according the Environmental Quality Board. “That caused a lot of decline in the aquifer levels in many places,” Ali Elhassan, Water Supply planning manager for the Met Council, said of groundwater use in the metro. The metro area is growing — some 500,000 additional residents by 2030, it’s projected. Current groundwater modeling suggests the Prairie du Chien-Jordan Aquifer, the most used aquifer in the metro, could be 40 feet lower in some areas of the metro in the future than today. Some officials argue the region’s current groundwater use is unsustainable. A Met Council map shows a dark oval in southern Washington County, indicating a Prairie du Chien-Jordan Aquifer drawdown of 30 to 40 feet by 2030 due to anticipated increased pumping. The map shows scarlet blotches across southern Washington County and parts of Dakota County, indicating more than a 50 percent drawdown of the aquifer. Exceeding the 50 percent threshold, Elhassan said, means the DNR steps in and tells you to find another source of water. “Looking at White Bear Lake, it’s an indication. It’s a symptom, rather than a problem,” Elhassan said, expressing sympathy for those living along the shoreline. Although White Bear Lake is the best-known example of the interplay of groundwater and surface water, others exist. Ramsey Wetlands, Brooklyn Park Wetlands, Seminary Fen and Savage Fen along the Minnesota River are other examples of surface water being affected by groundwater, according to the Met Council. Besides affecting sur-
Groundwater chart courtesy of the Metropolitan Council. face water, declining aquifers can threaten city wells. Met Council officials are exploring ways of having more cities use surface water. They look to the rivers. “We are a water-rich state,” Elhassan said. The St. Croix, Mississippi and Minnesota rivers represent trillions of gallons of water flowing through the metro. St. Paul and Minneapolis use a fraction of the river water, according to the Met Council. According to the city of Minneapolis, the city’s average withdrawal from the Mississippi River — the city’s sole source of water — averages about 21 billion gallons per year. Met Council groundwater modeling suggests that if 24 metro communities of the region’s 186 communities shifted to using river water, the aquifer drawdown would slow or even begin to reverse in some areas. “Instead of water levels going down by 40 feet, we have a rebound of about 15, 10 feet in some places, 5 feet in other places, which is a very sustainable scenario than just relying on groundwater for the future,” Elhassan said. According to the council, 16 metro cities currently rely on the Mississippi River for water. Minneapolis sells water to Golden Valley, Crystal, New Hope, Columbia
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has imperiled flowage only twice, Elhassan said. Ninety-five percent of the time there was sufficient water in the Mississippi River. But rivers are no more a boundless source of water than groundwater, Kelly warned. Out West, the Colorado River is a classic example of an overdrawn river, he explained. One less tangible factor is public perception about river water. Merriam, who served on the Coon Rapids City Council decades ago, said, back then, one strike against a proposal from a neighboring city, looking for partners on a project to use river water, was the belief groundwater was cleaner. “Who wants to drink river water?” Merriam recalled of the sentiment at the time. Elhassan, at public meetings, has heard similar comments. Still, the water is inex-
pensive, he said. While groundwater costs about 1 cent for 10 gallons, Minneapolis charges a less than a nickel for the same amount of surface water. “It’s too cheap,” Blaine Mayor Tom Ryan said. Ryan, who argues for conservation, points to automatic lawn sprinklers gushing water during rainstorms as one example of squandering water. “I don’t think it’s an emergency yet,” Ryan said of water issues. “But coming up, it (water issues) will be talked about.” People are paying more attention to water issues, Kelly said. “I think White Bear Lake is a chapter in that,” he said. But as long as water continues to flow from the tap, he added, some will ask, “‘What’s the problem?’ Email T.W. Budig at email@example.com.
Strict management of groundwater suggested by T.W. Budig SUN THISWEEK DAKOTA COUNTY TRIBUNE
Former Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Gene Merriam, now of the Freshwater Society, suggests stricter enforcement and a regional approach as means of better addressing groundwater. Pumping without the proper permit is a misdemeanor, said Merriam, who serves on the ECM Publishers’ Board of Directors. That is, if someone is pumping more than 10,000 gallons per day without a permit, someone could call their county attorney and report the crime. But given that county attorneys are busy, it’s unlikely a water crime would be prosecuted, Merriam said. One way around this, Merriam suggested, is
granting the DNR authority to exact administrative penalties. The DNR is already involved the well permitting process. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has administrative penalty authority, as does the Minnesota Department of Health, he said. But Merriam said convincing lawmakers to support administrative penalties by the DNR is problematic. In addition to sharper enforcement, Merriam suggested the metro take the same approach to water as it did with municipal sewage. Years ago, individual cities, such as Anoka, for instance, had their own sewage treatment plants. Now metro sewage treatment has been centralized under the control of the Met Council. “I think it would make
sense — a metropolitan system — for groundwater, surface water and municipal water supplies,” Merriam said. “Instead of every community figuring out how they’ll meet their water needs, oblivious to what their neighbors are doing or others are doing in the aquifer, we could have some overall management,” he said. But a League of Minnesota Cities’ official expressed concern about granting the Met Council, for instance, authority over the water supply. Cities have billions of dollars invested in their water systems, said Craig Johnson of the League of Minnesota Cities. The Met Council hasn’t invested a nickel. Tim Budig is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Heights, Hilltop, Bloomington and Edina’s Morning Side neighborhood. City officials indicate they have more water to sell. The Met Council has been tasked to come up with cost estimates for the proposed switch to surface water. City representatives are wary. “It’s very expensive to lay a large pipe,” said Craig Johnson of the League of Minnesota Cities. Beyond this, there’s right of way issues, he said, and uphill distances. “It’s an option,” Kelly said of using more river water. Met Council officials do not envision the cities that shift to river water will seal their wells. “When you don’t have water in the river, go back to your insurance policy,” Elhassan said of drought and ground water use. Not that drought routinely threatens the Mississippi River. Over the past century, drought
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A personal sanctuary
August 2, 2013 7A
Lakeville man finds peace in custom basement chapel by Laura Adelmann SUN THISWEEK DAKOTA COUNTY TRIBUNE
Memories, faith, loss and hope combine in Will Schafer’s basement chapel. The Lakeville man’s “Chapel of 200 Crosses” project started last year with the help of relatives when he had a vision of multiple crosses like the ones that now neatly line the unique area’s ceiling. Even rows of identical black crosses, made by his brother-in-law Arnie Schomer, are suspended on the ceiling, a stark contrast to the white background covering beneath them. The chapel’s panel walls are covered with things that are important to Schafer, including biblical messages, pictures of former popes and names and photos of relatives who have died. One section of his personal chapel displays mementos from the Red Lake farm where he grew
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Crosses cover the ceiling of Will Schafer’s basement “Chapel of 200 Crosses,” a special place that with the help of relatives he enjoys. (Photo by Laura Adelmann) up, another features the uniform he wore when he served in Vietnam, and another area is a tribute to his favorite baseball team, the Minnesota Twins. “It’s all my life,” Scha-
fer said. “My whole life is in there, from my birth and education and my background.” A retired certified public accountant, Schafer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1974 and has been on long-term disability since 1999. He is only able to visit his chapel weekly because he needs a smaller wheelchair to get to the basement, so one of his daughters made him a photo book of the chapel for him to enjoy when he is away from it.
Another daughter provided artwork for the chapel that includes scrawling snippets of Scripture and messages of hope including “God lives in our lives.” Schafer said the chapel, which takes up half his basement, is a place for him to pray and reflect. “I feel close to God there, and get some comfort out of being in a quiet space devoted to the Almighty,” Schafer said.
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