Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.
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A 25-year-old Hampton man faces felony charges of criminal damage to property after he reportedly damaged several cars in the parking lot of a Hampton bar. Dakota County Sheriff's deputies were called to the bar Dec. 18 on a report of a man breaking the windows of several cars. When police arrived there were several cars with broken windows and one that had the hood up and several wires cut or pulled out.
A 29-year-old West St. Paul woman faces several charges after a series of incidents Dec. 13 in which she reportedly fought with family members at an Empire Township home and drove drunk with her children, ages 9 and 6, in the car. Jolene Oldenburg's mother told Dakota County Sheriff's deputies her daughter had assaulted her and broken the phone in her house so she couldn't call 911. She said Oldenburg then put her children in the car and drove away with a bottle of vodka.
Robert Evens' interaction with police quickly went from bad to worse on Dec. 16. Farmington police found the 28-year-old Farmington resident at his home that night and tried to serve him with an order for protection. But according to a complaint filed last week in the Dakota County Attorney's office, Evens wasn't interested in accepting. He reportedly told the officer he planned to rip up the order, and he refused to take his hands out of his pockets when ordered by the officer to do so. After attempting to walk away, Evens ended up in a physical struggle with the officer.
Some years come and go without leaving much of a mark on history, but 2010 will be remembered for quite some time. As many have noticed it appears this year has had as much as five years worth of news, prosperity, and tragedy. With the knowledge we have obtained we can only grow and become more in tune with the people around us as well as ourselves. For the new year is approaching fast and it is up to everyone to reflect, prepare, and to be given a clean slate. Much has happened in the past year. On Jan. 12, Haiti was hit with a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake.
Instead of a New Year's resolution, I'll make a New Year's confession. I really hate having my hair cut. The reusable combs floating in the Icee blue anti-lice solution give me the creeps. Inevitably the stylist complains about how my hair is hard to comb and hard to trim. She recommends approximately six products I need to buy to fix it, none of which are in my budget. I abhor making appointments at the salon. Then I know a judgmental stint in the stylist's chair is looming in the near future and it fills me with dread.
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.