At the St. Croix Falls City Council meeting on Tuesday night, Police Chief Erin Murphy went before the council to ask permission to begin fundraising for a K9 officer to join the force.
Murphy presented a proposal and the reasoning behind the department pursuing a canine counterpart.
“We have seen an increase in drug crimes,” observed Murphy. “We have also seen an increase in related crimes such as stolen vehicles, property crimes and crimes against children.
“We not only see an increase in criminal activity, but also the impact of addiction in the number of HHS (Health and Human Services) calls officers are responding to. There has been a recent uptick in the number of drug seizures from our schools. Our officers have been encountering more firearms, recently, apprehending an armed robbery suspect in a related drug deal.
“In 2018 we encountered one of the department's largest methamphetamine arrests of a person residing in the city. During that encounter and subsequent arrest, the suspect was armed with a short barrel shotgun and hand gun in the vehicle. We continue to locate narcotics and firearms together. This department has taken down methamphetamine labs in the city, encountered active drug deals in city parks and open parking lots.”
Murphy noted that the City of St. Croix Falls is the leader of 10 municipalities within Polk County when it comes to drug arrests.
Currently, there are two active dog teams that work all of Polk County. One was added just last year. That is a lot of area to cover and if anything needs to be done it has to be done through the Polk County Sheriff's Department when they have dogs available.
Murphy was requesting the opportunity to start a fundraising effort for the estimated $50,000 for the canine, training and equipment costs associated with establishing the unit.
“I think it's a good idea, but it's the wrong time,” observed Alderwoman Joy Zasadny. “I would like to see this brought back in a year or two.
“It concerns me that 38 percent of the city's budget is law enforcement,” continued Zasadny. “Especially when you can't seem to budget for squad cars.”
Murphy reiterated the point that the department has not been involved in budgeting process for patrol cars.
Finally, Kirk Anderson voted in support of Chief Murphy pursuing fundraising options for a K9 officer. Joy Zasadny voted against the measure.
Milltown is on the move
By Lynda Berg Olds
There's a whole lot of movin' and shakin' going on in the Village of Milltown. At Monday night's regular meeting of the Milltown Village Board, the press learned that the Village Shop is getting a new home; the new cop shop is getting a facelift, and new library plans are moving full speed ahead.
There were also a couple of decisions made in closed session. The first was with regards to facilitating the parking of semi truck (tractor/trailers) for three specific individuals, whose names were not provided as this endeavor is on a trail basis only for now.
The parking will be near the new village shop, which is located at 201 Industrial Avenue, the last place on the left. Going back a bit, in April of 2016, the Village purchased about 26 acres of land to extend the Industrial Park. The Village has been somewhat aggressive in terms of attracting business to town, with great success – and of course now they have more land to develop.
The building, which houses the new village shop is the former home of the Milltown trucking company “Tiger Express,” (abutting Tiger Street). It is the last place on the left as one travels beyond ABC (Arrow Building Center, which is located at 101 Industrial Avenue) and the Endeavors Greenhouses. It is a huge new space for the Village Shop at roughly 8,000 square feet.
In the not too distant, the old Village Shop building will be put on the market and hopefully back on the tax roll.
With an eye to future expansion, village trustees purchased the 26 acres from Carol and Clayton Johnson for $7,500 per acre ($195,000).
Some residents have protested semi parking in their neighborhood(s), so this looks to be a good fit. The village is not going to charge the truckers to park their rigs in this industrial area, but they do need to show proof of insurance – and again, it is on a trial basis for now.
This weather has been driving everyone crazy from athletic directors and coaches to parents and students. The weather has been so atrocious recently that many games have had to be canceled or postponed and that can play havoc with scheduling.
Since last Thursday's weather was so abysmal, the doubleheader between the Frederic Vikings and the Luck Cardinals game was rescheduled for Saturday.
Fans braved the cold to follow the action. The first to take to the court was the girls. The Luck girls have been struggling to find their rhythm all season. In some areas they have seen some improvement, but are still struggling as a team.
The Vikings, however, were on their home turf and that would serve them well. The Luck girls played hard, but were out maneuvered by their hosts as demonstrated by the final score of 58-34, Frederic.
Then the boys took to the court and there were some fun and rough and tumble moments.
The first half of the game saw the Vikings with a two-point lead 20-18.
The hard playing Cards turned the tables in the second half however scoring 37 points while holding the Vikings to 27. Final score: 55-47.
Cardinals Levi Jensen and Chad Eley led luck in scoring with 36 points followed closely by Gage Johansen with 35.
Each member of the Cardinal team was able to score a significant amount of points.
Serving the Cardinal boys well was their ability to take control of the rebounds taking possession 35 times while Frederic took 22 rebounds. Frederic also struggled with their amount of personal fouls, tallying up twice as many as their guest.
The next game to look forward to will be when the Cardinals travel south on Friday to take on the St. Croix Falls Saints for some doubleheader action.
All but three municipalities participating in housing study
By Lynda Berg Olds
The agenda for the Village of Centuria's regular meeting was pretty short on Monday, which is fairly typical for this time of year. Chief among the items was the Housing Study, a project spearheaded by Polk County Economic Development Corporation's Executive Director Vince Netherland.
Netherland had hoped to make it to this meeting, but was unable to attend. Village Clerk/Treasurer Karen Edgell told trustees that he wanted to make sure the board had the appropriate data with regards to the housing study.
“When he called, he said that things are moving along with the housing study and there are only a couple of communities that are not participating – and he wanted to make sure that we did not want to be included. Now is the time to get in on the study.”
Trustee Stan Swiontek said, “I believe that is correct.”
Edgell noted that Frederic and Osceola – and now Centuria – are the only municipalities within Polk County that are not participating in the housing study.
Trustee Katie Hamm is the board's liaison to the Library, and she then gave a brief report. She said the Library Board submitted the annual review to the State – and even with the nasty weather last week, 10 kids showed up for the after school programming. Hamm said Tuesday was going to be another nasty weather day and they hoped kids would show up en force again.
Police Chief Eric Jorgenson indicated there was not a ton going on in the village. Evidently crime rates drop when it is really cold.