John R. Russett
John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts.
You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett
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For just the second time since 2006, the Minnesota Psychological Association recognized a county with its Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award. Dakota County and its roughly 1,800 employees learned they received the award last month. "We were excited to be nominated for it," Dakota County Director of Employee Relations Andy Benish said. Dakota County was nominated by Sand Creek, which administers the county's employee assistance program. According to PHWA Committee Chair Jenn Pollard, that is not normally how the process works.
Nearing the end of her collegiate career, seeking a student teacher position, Erin Holmes knew what she needed: marching band experience. She also knew where she needed to go to get it: Waseca. What she didn't know was nearly two decades later she would be named the first female jazz chair of the Minnesota Music Educators Association and one of School Band and Orchestra Magazine's 2017 "50 Directors Who Make a Difference" within the span of a couple weeks. Now, the woman in charge of Farmington's band program knows all of those things.
In Polk County, Wis., a man — young by most standards at no more than 23 or 24 — picked up the phone, dialed 911, then sat down on the couch next to his gun and waited for an officer to arrive. Little more than an hour's drive north of Spring Valley Police Chief John DuBois' office — up through Baldwin, past Pine, Bear Trap, Wapogasset and Deer lakes — sits the town of Centuria. Years before he became a chief, DuBois patrolled the streets of Centuria with its roughly 950 residents, anxious and unsure, awaiting a solitary call.
On a good day, Trish Nolan never would have met the man. It began as a group of four. They would sit around and talk regularly, usually until around 2 a.m., as music from the employee lounge permeated the halls. He kissed her behind the scenes when he thought no one was looking. He lied to her about his alcoholism. He lied to her about his marriage. He got her phone number. Then he showed up at her apartment and raped her. "It was like," Nolan paused, "going into hell."
Far from a new issue, law enforcement and mental illness have become increasingly more entangled since state governments began to close their mental health hospitals in the 1950s, continually taxing the agencies tasked with responding to those in crisis.
An estimated minimum of 70,000 people could benefit from a new service designed to improve interactions between law enforcement and vulnerable residents, according to a press release from Vitals Aware Services, the group behind the endeavor.
RED WING, Minn. — By the time the flurry of back-to-school bedlam begins to subside, the proverbial dust begins to settle, and the sun sets on the final day of summer freedom, many teachers have dipped into their own pockets to purchase supplies for their classrooms. On average, according to education publishing company Scholastic, educators spent an average of $530 of their own money for classroom items last school year.