Five new Eagan police officers sworn in to service 

  Announcing the Eagan Police Department was “reborn,” Police Chief James McDonald June 5 swore in five new police officers.
  The five newly hired officers, an expansion of the force necessitated by departmental retirements and development in the city, swore to uphold the Minnesota and U.S. constitutions. The new officers, Kirsten Dorumsgaard, Rebecca Kopp, Justin Boughton, Nicholas Elenz, and Chad Zastrow, came to the department through a recruitment process that included lateral transfers from other police departments, and Pathways to Policing, a program designed to transition professionals from other fields to police work.
  The new rookie class will be the last for Chief McDonald, who will retire at the end of the month after 30 years with the department. McDonald has not been easing to retirement, but has been busy transitioning the department with an experienced deputy as the new chief, seeking funding for and hiring five new police officers, and shifting the department to temporary quarters in city hall while a new police headquarters is built. In addition, the Chief has been asked to appear before a number of local organizations, from graduating fifth-graders to the Rotary, as part of his farewell tour of the city.
  Chief McDonald described the new officers as “the best of the best.”
  Officer Kirsten Dorumsgaard came to the Eagan Police Department through the Pathways to Policing program. She has a background in speech and debate and a 4-year college degree in political science, McDonald told the city council. She recently helped the department apprehend criminals following a foot chase. When the Chief asked his staff how the new recruit did on the assignment, the seasoned officer responded “Mac, the new girl can sure run.”
  The other four new police officers came from other departments. “We raid the cupboards of other police departments,” Chief McDonald said. “It’s going to make our organization better.”
  Police Officer Rebecca Kopp came to Eagan after 19 years with the police department in Duluth.  “She was the linchpin in getting some good crooks off the street,” Chief McDonald said.
  Officer Justin Boughton came from the Forest Lake department, joining his wife in the city workforce. She is a teacher at Glacier Hills.
  Chief McDonald described Officer Nicholas Elenz as a “local hero,” an Eagan High School graduate who played on local sports teams.
  Officer Chad Zastro is also an athlete, a walk-on football player at Mankato State.
  The five new police officers join the Eagan department at a time of transition. About a quarter of the department is or soon will be eligible to retire and police headquarters is under renovations. Chief McDonald asked the city council last year to add five officers to the department’s roster because the department was stretched thin by the development of hotels, shopping malls, and the Vikings’ new headquarters, the new home to its training camp. The police chief also noted outside criminal organizations, such as shoplifting teams from Chicago, were targeting the city. In addition to shoplifting rings at the Eagan outlet mall, there have also been several recent robberies of banks and stores, drug trafficking, and child pornography arrests.
Thomson Reuters makes changes at the top; four executives leave
   Thomson Reuters, one of Eagan’s largest employers, announced a shake-up in its corporate executives and plans to buy back more than $1 billion in stock. The announcements stem from the sale of a majority stake in the company’s finance and risk division to a private equity firm.
  The $1 billion share buyback is in addition to a $500 million buyback authorization in May. The share price of the stock dropped more than 9 percent in 2018.
  The company named Brian Peccarelli and Neil Masterson as its chief operating officers, an announcement accompanied by news of the departure of four executives, including the president of its legal division, Susan Taylor Martin. Three other executives will also be leaving the company as part of the reorganization: Gonzalo Lissarrague, president of the Global Growth Organization; Chief Communications Officer Gus Carlson; and Chief Strategy Officer Brian Scanlon.
   The company’s stock hit $41 a share June 11, higher than it has been in recent weeks, when it dropped below $40 per share, but down from the $46.52 price Jan. 30.
   The company served as the backdrop for this year's state of the city address by Mayor Mike Maguire.

Eagan City Council ousts one of its own

  In a highly unusual action, the Eagan City Council ousted one of its own members, Council Member Meg Tilley, following Tilley’s extended leave for what was characterized as an absence for medical reasons.
  The remaining three members of the city council and Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire unanimously approved a resolution declaring Tilley’s seat on the city council to be vacant. The action was taken under a state law allowing a seat to be declared vacant when a council member is unwilling or unable to attend meetings.
  Tilley did not respond to a request for comment about the decision.
  The city council is expected to consider further options, such as naming a temporary replacement for Tilley, at its next meeting on June 12.
   The action came just hours after the June 5 deadline for prospective candidates to file papers to run for city council. Under normal circumstances, Eagan residents would be voting for two city council members in the next election. Both incumbents, Paul Bakken and Gary Hansen, filed papers to run again, as did Mayor Mike Maguire. A third city council candidate, David Meyer, also filed an affidavit of candidacy before the deadline.
  Tilley has been absent from city council meetings since January 16, according to the council. During that time, business before the council has included ongoing renovations to the city’s municipal government building and police department, issues related to the relocation of the Minnesota Vikings’ headquarters and training camp to Eagan, and the appointment of a new police chief to replace Chief James McDonald, scheduled to retire June 30 after 30 years on the police force.
  Before voting to declare her council seat vacant, the mayor and city council members wrestled with trying to balance compassion with the need to conduct the city’s business. Without Tilley, the council has three voting members, leaving little room for other absences, abstentions, or split votes.
  However, the mayor and council members also expressed frustration about Tilley’s long absence and the uncertainty over her return. City officials have declined comment as to exactly why Tilley has been off duty for so long. Discussion at the June 5 meeting alluded to unspecified medical issues, but city officials also voiced expectations, as recent as that afternoon, she would have returned to the council. At one time, city officials even prepared a policy so council members could literally phone in their participation.
  The mayor and council members weighed their words carefully when discussing the issue, but, at times, frustration was clear. Mayor Mike Maguire claimed he had not missed so meetings even when he spent six months on chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer. 
City Council Member Meg Tilley
Leigh Monson reviews Upgrade
Planning Commission names Vanderpoel new Chair
   The Advisory Planning Commission has named Jane Vanderpoel, an experienced commission member, as the new chair.
  The planning commission is the city’s last stop before development projects head to the city council for approval. The commission holds public hearings about proposed development in the city and can impose conditions on projects. The commission makes recommendations to city council regarding development projects, requests for exceptions to zoning rules, and other construction issues.
  Vanderpoel has been a vocal advocate for city residents, not timid about questioning wealthy developers and attorneys who appear before the commission or voicing concerns about projects. She has been a frequent contributor to discussions among the commission.   

St. Paul man charged with robbing Eagan credit union

   A Saint Paul man is facing a felony charge following his arrest for allegedly robbing an Eagan bank Wednesday morning.
   Damien James McDonald, 39, of 2204 7th St. W. #2, St. Paul, has been charged with first-degree aggravated robbery, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint.
   McDonald is accused of robbing the Associated Healthcare Credit Union at 1460 Yankee Doodle Road on June 6. Eagan police were called to the bank shortly before 9:30 a.m. after a man robbed the bank at gunpoint.
   A man wearing a maroon hoodie, gray sweatpants, blue shoes, gloves, and a black bandana over his face ran up to a bank employee, pointed a gun at her face and told her to fill the bag with money. The bank employee put cash, including $200 “bait money”, into the bag and tried to give it to the robber. The robber told another bank teller to fill the bag, warning the bank tellers not to put dye packs in the bag.
   The robber grabbed the bag full of $8,236 cash, ordered bank employees to the back room, and fled out the front door, according to police.
   Police used surveillance video to identify the getaway car, a silver Mazda. An FBI agent viewed the surveillance video from the robbery and identified the suspect as McDonald, according to court records. McDonald pleaded guilty to federal bank robbery charges in 1998, according to federal court records.
   When police went to McDonald’s home in St. Paul, they saw a silver Mazda with Illinois license plates parked in the alley behind his home, according to a criminal complaint. Police then obtained search warrants for the Mazda and McDonald’s home. While police were outside McDonald’s house, they saw a red car leave the area. Police stopped the car and found McDonald in the passenger seat with his girlfriend driving. Police also saw a blue and white bandana and blue shoes on the passenger side floor.
   Police also saw a stack of cash on the center console of the car, according to the complaint. Police arrested McDonald and searched him, finding a wallet containing about $1,000 in 20-dollar bills, including some of the bait money from the bank, according to police.
   Investigators found a red hoodie in the silver Mazda and a large amount of cash and gray sweatpants in McDonald’s home, according to police.
   McDonald was being held at the Dakota County jail following his arrest.
Suspected bank robber Damien James McDonald
Time to help support the cheer team
  Okay, Eagan, it’s time to support the people who cheer on others.
  Eagan High School’s Competitive Cheer team will be hosting a fundraiser at the Town Centre Cub Foods next Saturday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  You can have your groceries expertly packed by members of the cheer team and drop off a donation. Or, you can save them the work and yourself the calories and just drop off a donation.
  The team needs donations to help pay for uniforms, training, travel to competitions, and other expenses. 

Parks department seeks project suggestions

  Flush with cash from recent development fees, Eagan’s Advisory Parks Commission has kicked off its annual review of capital improvements and will seek public input regarding the city’s parks.
  Park officials are looking at a goal of having a park within a 10-minute walk of the city’s residential areas. The previous standard was within a half mile. However, in certain parts of the city, a park a half- mile away might not be accessible by walking.
  Conditions in the city’s parks varies. Some have recently updated modern facilities such as restrooms. Others, such as Ridge Cliffe Park on Covington Road, have limited accessibility. There is only one handicapped parking spot at the park and visitors must walk up a steep hill to access the back field at the park, where local youth teams play baseball. The park, like others, lacks restrooms and visitors must rely on a single, often unclean, portable facility.
  Travel conditions to the parks vary as well. Some require park users to cross busy roads with speeding traffic, such as Johnny Cake Ridge Road. Last fall, a 9-year-old girl was seriously injured coming home from a park in the Duckwood Road area.
  The Parks and Recreation Department has four major projects underway this year, including a skate park at the Lexington-Diffley athletic fields and a major renovation at George Ohmann park. The city is also redesigning Quarry Park on Coachman Road and building a splash pad near the Eagan Community Center.
  The department encourages public comments and suggestions for city parks.
    "Hearing what the public really wants and needs is an important part of the planning process," says Andrew Pimental, Eagan’s Director of Parks and Recreation.
Trails off Johnny Cake Ridge Road in the Thomas Lake area were closed this week as construction of a natural gas pipeline to a Burnsville energy plant continued.
It wasn’t hard to find a parking space at Cascade Bay’s opening preview weekend as cloudy weather and fall-like temperatures arrived for the weekend. The weather was a sharp contrast to the 90+-degree Memorial Day weekend, when the city-run waterpark was closed. The financially troubled water park open for the suedmmer on Friday, June 8.