Schools prepare for student walkouts

  School District 196 is preparing for student walkouts as part of a national call for legislation seeking to prevent school shootings.
  Some parents have received an email from school about a planned walkout at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14. The national walkout is supposed to last 17 minutes, a symbolic reference to the 17 people killed at the recent Parkland, Florida, high school shooting.
  In anticipation of student protests, the district recently posted guidelines on its website:
  "Elementary school students are not allowed to leave school for a protest unless they are signed out by a parent in person. Middle school students are allowed to leave school for a protest, but are expected to stay on school grounds unless they are signed out by a parent in person. High school students are allowed to leave school for a protest, but the school will provide no supervision of high school students who leave school grounds for a protest."
   Students are allowed to return to school after they leave for a protest, but the portion of the day they miss will be marked as an unexcused absence.

Eagan man faces steroids charge

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    An Eagan man is facing a felony charge for alleged possession of steroids.
  Gavin Greenlee, 20, of 4291 Sun Cliff Road, Eagan, is scheduled to appear in Dakota County district court March 26 on a charge of fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, according to a criminal complaint.
   The charge stems from a June 27 report of a disturbance to Eagan police. Police responding to the disturbance shortly before 5 p.m. allegedly found a box of syringes, various pills, and three vials believed to be steroids in Greenlee’s backpack, according to court records
Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire and Minnesota Vikings executive Kevin Warren share an embrace as the mayor and City Manager Dave Osberg welcomed Vikings executives to their new headquarters in northeast Eagan Monday, March 5. The photo is a scene from a video produced by the city and displayed on its website.

Mayor greets Vikings with hugs and bagels

   While many Eagan residents focused on a major snowstorm that closed the city's schools March 5, Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire and City Manager David Osberg appeared at the Vikings' new headquarters and practice facility, bagels and coupons in hand, to officially welcome team executives.
   In the video, the mayor refers to an initial meeting with Vikings executives that occurred outside the city, in Eden Prairie, more than two years ago.
  “We’re grateful to have Mayor as a partner,” Vikings executive Kevin Warren said.
  The Vikings organization left their Eden Prairie site to move to Eagan last week. The Eagan site, separated from the public road by a tall, black iron spiked fence, is still under heavy construction and is not open to the public. The team’s public relations officer said the team might hold an event at the facility in June, the anticipated opening date of a Vikings “hall of fame.” Similar displays at other NFL sites charge admission.
  The Vikings headquarters and training facility consume about 40 acres of a 200-acre parcel of undeveloped land in northeast Eagan near Route 494. Team owners are also planning to add office space and about 1,000 apartments, further expanding the fortunes of the Wilf family, developers of residential real estate in New Jersey.    
   Watching the video of the city’s housewarming visit to the Vikings’ new office is a bit like watching parents make a surprise visit to their son’s dorm. Although there are hugs and handshakes, and even bagels, the visitors from the city were never invited past the lobby. Meanwhile, photos posted on the Vikings’ website show a party going on in the team’s practice facility in the back of the building, with executives holding purple champagne flutes.
   The team also displayed photos of team owner Mark Wilf installing a mezuzah in a threshold, a Jewish household custom.
 Much of the 40-acre Vikings’ campus is still under construction, although the 2-mile stretch of road connecting the Blue Genetian Road office park area to Lone Oak Road has been completed. With Vikings Parkway no longer a dead end, traffic has begun to flow through the area, even before completion of nearby office buildings such as the Prime Therapeutics campus up the road. With no police presence in sight and few vehicles competing for lanes, the new road resembled a speedway on a recent afternoon, with vehicles seeming to travel well above the posted speed limits.

Woman faces welfare fraud charges  
   An Inver Grove Heights woman is facing felony charges for allegedly lying to obtain public assistance.
  Teresa Lopez, 47, of 9 Royal Avenue, Inver Grove Heights, was scheduled to appear in Dakota County District Court March 12 on charges of theft and perjury, according to a criminal complaint.
  Investigators allege Lopez failed to report four jobs she had while collecting Dakota County Employment and Economic Assistance since 2014, according to court records.  She was allegedly working for a staffing agency under a false name.
   Lopez was allegedly overpaid more than $28,000 in welfare benefits because of her failure to report income, according to court records.

District 196 School Superintendent makes surprise announcement she will retire in June

   District 196 School Superintendent Jane Berenz made a surprise announcement this week she will be retiring at the end of the school year.   Berenz served as superintendent for the past nine years. With about three months before the end of the school year, the announcement leaves the school board scrambling to find a replacement superintendent. District 196 school board chair Jackie Magnuson said the board will likely appoint an internal candidate to serve as interim superintendent for the 2018-2019 school year.
   The board will then conduct a lengthier search process during the next school year to hire a permanent replacement who would begin July 1, 2019.
  Berez’s retirement announcement comes in the midst of a massive $130 million school building and technology program funded by a bond referendum approved by about 8,000 voters in the district. The announcement follows turnover on the school board after last November’s election in which an incumbent school board member was ousted by one of three pro-union candidates backed by the district’s teachers’ union.
     The announcement also follows revelations of a computer security breach at least one of the district’s schools that has prompted an investigation by police.
     The district has released little information about the superintendent’s decision to retire, which was announced as schools closed for a three-day weekend.
   In a prepared statement, Berenz wrote, “This was not an easy decision….I still love what I do and the people I work with and will miss them dearly, but I am at ease in knowing this is the right decision for me and my family at this time.”
Man accused of bringing meth to jail

  A Burnsville man is facing criminal charges for possession of methamphetamine in the county jail.
  Jonathan Worrell, 29, of 3805 Sibley St. #301, Burnsville, was charged with felony 5th-degree possession of a controlled substance, a felony, and introduction or possession of contraband into a jail, lockup, or prison, according to a criminal complaint.
  Worrell allegedly swallowed the methamphetamine before his arrest and excreted it after he was in jail. Corrections officers recovered about .25 grams of the drug, according to court records.
Eagan police stop leads to arrest
   A Cottage Grove woman has been summonsed to appear in Dakota County district court April 9 on a drug possession charge following her arrest by Eagan police.
  Baina Nelson, 29, of 7760 Hemingway Ave. S., Cottage Grove, was charged with third-degree possession of a controlled substance, a felony. The charge stems from an Oct. 16 traffic stop by Eagan police. An officer on patrol stopped the vehicle at about 3:45 a.m. for a loud exhaust system, suspecting that the driver’s license had been revoked, according to a criminal complaint.
  During a search incident to the arrest, police allegedly found three bags containing a total of more than 14 grams of methamphetamine, according to court records.