Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.
- Member for
- 2 years 1 month
Dakota County has grown over the past decade, and that growth has meant an increase in the amount of crime. But according to the Dakota County Indicators Report, a biannual compilation of statistics in a number of areas, the increase has been slow, and things have actually moved the other direction in recent years. Through 2008, the number of adults charged with felonies in Dakota County had declined for three straight years. The number dropped by 8.6 percent from 2007 to 2008. Juvenile prosecutions have had an even longer period of decline.
David Thompson has yet to serve a day in the Minnesota Senate, but he's already been given a big vote of confidence by his colleagues. Thompson, a Lakeville resident who won the seat vacated by longtime Republican Senator Pat Pariseau, will serve as one of four assistant majority leaders in the newly Republican Senate. He said one of his new colleagues came to him prior to the vote and asked if Thompson would be OK being nominated for the role. He agreed, gave a brief speech, then was elected. "Obviously it was an honor and surprise," Thompson said.
Looking back through a year of newspaper stories is always good for a few surprises. Between the two newspapers we put out each week, I write somewhere north of 300 stories every year, and it's hard to keep track of them all. Some of the stories that fall through the cracks of my mind are relatively insignificant. Others are reminders of good times I've had on the job. Then there are stories like the ones I've included here. These are the stories I'd have a hard time forgetting even if I'd written more than 1,000 stories over the past 12 months.
The man in charge of helping the Farmington School District get its message out spent the past 16 years working for the city of Burnsville. But he knows a thing or two about how school districts work. Jim Skelly, who was officially hired Dec. 13 as the district's communications and marketing manager, has been a school board member in Lakeville since 2003. Skelly figures his combination of city and school district experience was a factor in the decision to hire him in Farmington, a district that has had its share of city-district disputes.
The rate at which Dakota County homes were foreclosed on declined from 2008 to 2009, but that's hardly a guarantee tough economic times are over in the south metro. There were 1,859 foreclosures in Dakota County in 2009. That is below the record 2,052 that took place in 2008, but it's still more than 2007's total of 1,580, which at the time was a county record by more than 700. And last year's decline doesn't tell the whole story.
Alfredo, Brent, Jason M. and Jason L. recently completed a college class through Metropolitan State University. This class, though, was held for 15 weeks where the four young men are currently living - the Dakota County Jail in Hastings. Another twist to this innovative program is that, in addition to the 15 inmates who were members of the class, another 15 students in the class were from the "outside," attending Metropolitan State. The Inside-Out Prison Exchange program has an innovative approach for solving challenging problems facing the criminal justice system.
Dakota County elected officials and administrator had their salaries frozen for 2010. They will be thawed slightly for 2011. At its regular meeting this week, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners approved next year's compensation for itself, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom, Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows, and county administrator Brandt Richardson. The end result will be a 1 percent base adjustment plus $400 medical plan incentive payment.
The holiday celebrations are already in full swing. I attended one work holiday party during the middle of a snowstorm. Holiday work parties are always exquisite torture, set to the backdrop of smooth jazz. You stand awkwardly with these people whose peccadilloes involving paper clips and tuna sandwiches are intimately familiar, but whose personal lives are a complete mystery. I was surrounded by tables covered with platters of cookies, crock pots brimming with barbecue meatballs and fancy cheese platters, but I was too busy attempting small talk and too nervous to eat much at all.
For several years in the 1990s, rapid population growth was a fact of life in Dakota County. New developments popped up and were filled, seemingly in a matter of months. The county is still growing today, but the pace of that growth has slowed dramatically. With most of the county's developable land already filled with homes, much of the growth boom has moved to other nearby counties. According to the county's biannual Community Indicators Report, Dakota County remains the third most populous county in Minnesota, accounting for 13.5 percent of the metro area population.
Most days Kayla Peterson wouldn't think twice about performing in front of a few thousand people. As a student at the Classical Ballet Academy, the Boeckman Middle School sixth grader has been a regular performer in Ballet Minnesota's holiday productions of The Nutcracker Suite. But Wednesday, Peterson was nervous. Because on Wednesday she wasn't just in front of a crowd of strangers. She was in front of her classmates. All of her classmates. Wednesday's Nutcracker show was the first of the holiday season for Ballet Minnesota, and there were special deals for school groups.