ABC Newspapers Local News from The Anoka County Union, Blaine Spring Lake Park Life and The Coon Rapids Herald Sat, 22 Nov 2014 23:00:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 County to turn back county road to Blaine Sat, 22 Nov 2014 23:00:04 +0000 Anoka County will turn back a road on the county highway system to the city of Blaine next year.

Acting on a recommendation from its Transportation Committee, the Anoka County Board Nov. 12 approved a joint powers agreement with the city of Blaine to switch control of 105th Avenue (currently County Road 87) to the city.

The Blaine City Council has previously approved the agreement for the turn back of 105th from Highway 65 to Radisson Road.

But under the agreement, the county won’t just turn back the road, it will provide Blaine $1.1 million to pay for needed road improvements.

The transfer of jurisdiction will take place May 1, 2015 with the county maintaining the road, which provides access to the National Sports Center and Schwan’s Super Rink, to “acceptable driving surface” in the meantime.

That includes snow and ice removal and pot hole patching, the agreement states.

The county will pay Blaine $500,000 on execution of the agreement and the balance, $623,000, when the turn back is finalized.

According to Doug Fischer, county transportation division manager and county highway engineer, in determining which roads the county turns back to municipalities, the function of the road is considered.

It should be a road that carries a high volume of traffic from community to community in the county, Fischer said.

That’s not the case of 105th, which is a short stretch of road between Highway 65 and Radisson Road only in Blaine, he said.

By contrast, another county road, 109th Avenue, just to the north of 105th, runs from Coon Rapids to Blaine and then to Lino Lakes, carrying heavy vehicles and a lot of traffic, Fischer said.

The dollars to Blaine, $1.1 million, would cover the cost of rehabilitation to the county if it had remained a county road, according to Fischer.

The county would have done a reclaim and overlay project on 105th Avenue with some storm drain work, Fischer said.

When the Blaine City Council approved the joint powers agreement, it also hired the consulting engineering firm, WSB & Associates, to prepare preliminary and final design plans for the reconstruction of 105th. The cost of the design work, not to exceed $348,700, will come partly from the county turn back dollars, but also from other sources.

]]> 0
The Corner for Nov. 21, 2014 Sat, 22 Nov 2014 22:37:07 +0000 {This is the first in a two part series on the subject of NYSE auction market.}

Have you seen pictures of the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and wondered what is going on down there? It may seem chaotic to a visitor with people taking calls at phones, brokers gathered at trading posts, pages pushing through the crowd and electronic equipment everywhere. While it may seem disorganized, the operations that occur on the floor are orderly and systematic as all get out.

NYSE is an agency auction market, as opposed to a dealer market. What does that really mean and what are the advantages?  The essential point is that trading at NYSE takes place by open outcry of bids and offers by licensed Exchange floor brokers, acting as agents for institutions or individual investors. Buy and sell orders meet directly on the trading floor or by NYSE data center computer. In contrast the price is determined by dealers who buys and sells out of inventory on NASDAQ and the over‑the‑counter markets,

At NYSE, each of the over 3,000 listed issues are assigned to a single post and can be traded only there. At each post are specialists (designated market makers) that are assigned to each stock. These folks provide liquidity to every stock that trades on the floor. At one time the floor had 17 posts located in four different rooms—The Garage, Main Room, Blue Room and New Blue Room. Over the past 12 years, the active posts are down to four, all in the Main Room. In keeping with the past, the flow of buy and sell orders for each stock is funneled to a single location.

In the past this heavy stream of diverse orders was one of the great strengths of NYSE. It provided liquidity — the ease with which securities can be bought and sold without wide price fluctuations. Over the years, 92 percent of all NYSE trades occurred with no price change or at the minimum variation of just pennies from the preceding trade.

NYSE auction market works this way: an investor in, say, Chicago tells his broker to sell 10,000 shares of ATT stock “at the market” (at the best possible price). Meanwhile, an investor in Atlanta instructs her broker to buy 10,000 shares of ATT shares at the market.

If the trade does not go electronic then two floor brokers will arrive at the trading post where ATT is traded. They may find the stock quoted at $35.08 bid, $ 35.10 asked. This quote is not some arbitrary figure pulled out of the air. It may be based on orders already placed by investors for execution when the specified price is reached or the specialist may provide the quote from his or her inventory. The broker with the Chicago investor’s sell order knows that an offer of $35.12 will not complete the transaction: as in any auction, bids and offers are treated in the order they arrive — and someone else, in this case, has already offered to sell at $35.10. So the broker goes to the next lower price and shouts out, “I have ten thousand ATT at $35.08,” and the broker for the investor from Atlanta may say, “Take it.” The trade is completed.

But this is merely the simplest of the transactions. Most are larger and more complex. Often if there are no buyers or sellers for a particular transaction then the specialist (who is located at the post and is assigned to make a market in that particular stock) may get involved. Sometimes, the specialist will have knowledge of other buyers or sellers and act as a catalyst to bring buyers and sellers together. Stay tuned for “the rest of the story” next week.

Quote of the Week: Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run him over. — Dwight D. Eisenhower

Bart Ward is the chief executive officer of Ward & Co. Ltd., an Anoka-based registered investment adviser – specializing in the management of stock and bond portfolios in companies which are listed on the NYSE.

]]> 0
Hoffman graduates from the Legislative Energy Horizon Institute Sat, 22 Nov 2014 20:00:15 +0000 Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin, Brooklyn Park and Coon Rapids) graduated from the Legislative Energy Horizon Institute on Nov. 13, having just completed 60 course hours of instruction on North American energy policy and regulation. This year, the institute brought together 34 state and provincial legislative energy leaders in its 2014 class for its acclaimed certificate program.

Sen. John Hoffman graduated from the Legislative Energy Horizon Institute on Nov. 13, having just completed 60 course hours of instruction on North American energy policy and regulation.

Sen. John Hoffman graduated from the Legislative Energy Horizon Institute on Nov. 13, having just completed 60 course hours of instruction on North American energy policy and regulation.

In its sixth year, the institute offers policy makers the chance to dramatically improve their knowledge of the energy infrastructure and delivery system, enhancing their ability to make the complex policy decisions that will be necessary to ensure their citizens have a stable, secure and affordable energy supply and delivery system. The recent three-and-a-half day session in Washington, D.C. afforded legislators to meet with top officials in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, EPA, and the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as Natural Resources Canada, the US DOE compliment.

“Completing this LEHI program and working with legislative leaders throughout the USA and Canada as we interacted with the major energy related businesses and agencies of both countries has been an invaluable opportunity. I return to my position as vice chair of the Minnesota Senate Environment and Energy Committee with an informed and optimistic vision of the energy future of Minnesota and North America,” Hoffman said..

More than 100 policy makers have attended the Institute. Those completing the 60-hour executive course receive a certificate from the University of Idaho in Energy Policy Planning. These Alumni have gone on to become leaders in their respective state and provincial governments in energy, chairing energy or environment committees. The program was developed by the Pacific NW Economic Region, in cooperation with the National Conference of State Legislatures, US DOE, and Natural Resources Canada.

]]> 0
Books close on profitable golf season Sat, 22 Nov 2014 17:00:52 +0000 As Anoka’s city-owned Green Haven Golf Course closes the books on the 2014 golf season, things are looking good.

“Projections are that the golf operations will pay its bills, pay its debt service and put $40,000 in the bank,” said Larry Norland, golf manager. “It has been a good year, it hasn’t been a fantastic year. I hope we have better years ahead.”

That positive financial news was met with a “Hallelujah,” from Council Member Steve Schmidt when Norland gave an update on the golf operations to the council earlier this month.

From opening day through Oct. 31, more than 32,000 rounds of golf were played at Green Haven. This breaks down to an average of 167.5 rounds a day through the season – peaking at 220 during the busy months of June, July and August.

Norland also said course records show 70 percent of golfers come from outside Anoka.

That means those golfers are driving into town, potentially stopping at a gas station, restaurant or bar and “hopefully leaving some extra money in Anoka,” Norland said.

He said he has goals of increasing those rounds to 35,000 a season.

Green Haven could be at an advantage as other golf courses in the metro go out of business.

“There are golf courses that are closing – not because they are struggling but because they are being developed,” Norland said.

Demographics are also setting Green Haven up for success with high numbers of baby boomers retiring.

“Green Haven is set up extremely well for senior golfers, it’s playable, walkable and affordable,” Norland said.

Future challenges include the rising costs of chemicals used on the course as well as staffing.

Not only is it getting more expensive to employ people, Norland said Green Haven has had a tough time finding employees who are qualified, nice and empathetic.

This past season he said they ran about 40 to 50 hours short on staff each week and would have liked to have hired a couple more people.

During the past seven years, Norland and Green Haven’s staff have taking on a long list of projects that have not dipped into capital funds and instead have been paid for through the golf operation’s budget.

These have included course enhancements like a new senior and ladies tee for the first hole, and a number of other improvements to tees and landscaping, including the planting of nearly 300 trees.

Planned projects include rebuilding and adding cart paths throughout the course and reconstructing old bunkers.

Schmidt noted that Norland seemed leery to increase green fees for the 2014 season.

“Looking at 2006 the rounds are the same and the revenues are the same,” Schmidt said.

Norland agreed.

“There is no doubt the probably biggest mistake this year I was not aggressive enough in the pricing structure,” Norland told the council. “Going into the year I was a little gun-shy of the economy of the last couple of years and the late start to the spring… there’s no doubt that there’s going to be some pricing power over the next couple of years.”

He said his priority will be to make sure golfers are finding a fair value in the prices.

“I can’t imagine that anybody that is regularly golfing Green Haven wouldn’t understand that if you raise the prices and then you keep doing improvements like this, that’s a very fair trade,” Schmidt said.

]]> 0
Anoka County History: The Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 Sat, 22 Nov 2014 15:35:05 +0000 Last week this column focused on the deadly Spanish Flu that spread across the globe like wildfire, killing millions in 1918. The medical community was helpless, and scientists searched for some clue to fighting this mysterious disease. While thousands of soldiers sickened in Europe, doctors at home were hampered by limited knowledge, a cloak of wartime fear, and by a shortage of medical personnel.

Bacteriology was a reasonably new science at the time, and the Spanish Flu simply did not behave as a bacterial infection should. Germs had been seen under a microscope, but viruses were still undiscovered. Penicillin had not yet been developed, and would not have helped even if it had been available, because Spanish Flu is a virus, not bacteria.

The war caused a substantial shortage of medical personnel to fight the disease at home. So many doctors and nurses were sent to Europe that the remaining medical community was overtaxed and undersupplied. Because they were unable to protect themselves, doctors and nurses were among the hardest hit. At one point, Minneapolis City Hospital reported that half the nursing staff had been sick with the flu. Superintendent Dr. Harry Britton reported that Minneapolis City Hospital, which had become the designated influenza hospital, had beds enough to service an additional 70 people from the waiting list, but did not have enough healthy nurses to staff them. Other hospitals were expected to share their nursing staff, but Dr. F.C. Plondke, of St. John’s Hospital in St. Paul reported, “The area hospitals have refused to send a single nurse to aid the fifteen who are caring for 90 patients at St. John’s.”

There was tremendous fear about the flu, and those in the know were often the most afraid. Many doctors simply refused to treat flu patients. Dr. H.M. Bracken, the head of the State Board of Health, reported to the U.S. Surgeon General that he had been unsuccessful in recruiting physicians to help with the influenza efforts. “A number whom we have called have made excuses or have not come at all.” Others promised but simply did not show up.  In response to the urgent need, Dr. Bracken attempted to recruit senior medical students from the university, but this too was unsuccessful. The Dean of the medical school, the Army Surgeon General, and the Committee on Education and Special Training were all approached, and each insisted that someone else authorize the use of students; while they bickered, the need went unmet.

The high level of professionalism that we expect from doctors today was not often the case in 1918. In fact, only about half of the practicing doctors at the time had even been to college, and many medical schools were slipshod affairs, not affiliated with a university. Some doctors were little more than folk healers, especially in rural areas or immigrant neighborhoods.

Others, of course, were extremely dedicated and talented scientists. A vaccine was developed and thousands were inoculated but it proved ineffective. Food was studied as a possible defense against disease, resulting in a good deal of knowledge about vitamins and other food nutrients. Blood was studied after the first indirect transfusion in 1914 but, because the Rh factor was still not understood, the patient sometimes recovered and sometimes died. Either way, it had little to do with the flu. X-ray equipment was widely available to doctors by 1918, but they were unaware of the radiation dangers, and, again, it was not useful against the flu.

Before anything effective could be designed, the flu had simply run its course.

Anoka County lost 13 men in action in WWI and lost 18 more from disease.  An unknown number died at home from the Spanish Flu.

Maria King is a volunteer with the Anoka County Historical Society.

]]> 0
Andover approves plat for homes north of Wal-Mart Sat, 22 Nov 2014 14:00:57 +0000 Another housing development will be constructed north of Wal-Mart in Andover.

The Andover City Council Tuesday night, Nov. 18, approved a preliminary plat and a rezoning request for a 26 single-family home development called B & D Estates on a 6.39-acre site. The density, setbacks and architectural style would be similar to the Parkside at Andover Station single-family home development to the north that sold all homes within two years, according to Community Development Director David Carlberg. Parkside was developed by Capstone Homes while E.G. Rud and Sons will develop B & D Estates.

“These homes look great,” Mayor Mike Gamache said after seeing concept images presented by the developer.

The 6.39-acre property is what remains of the former Pov’s Sports Bar site on the north side of Bunker Lake Boulevard, west of Jay Street. Brad Povlitzki had completed a lot split and held onto this piece when he sold a much larger portion of the property to Wal-Mart.

To make a residential development possible, the site had to be rezoned from General Business to M-1 Multiple Dwelling Medium Density. With this property not being very visible from Bunker Lake Boulevard because of Wal-Mart and being next to other homes, Carlberg said commercial “is not viable” and thus the rezoning request made sense.

“It will be an improvement to go from commercial to residential,” said council member Julie Trude.

Neighbors to the west raised concerns about the density of the development when it came forward as a sketch plan. No residents spoke at the Nov. 10 Andover Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing, but feedback the city heard earlier in the year reflected on the commission’s discussion.

John Pratt, who lives in the neighborhood to the west, said he has noticed his property values go up since Parkside at Andover Station and Wal-Mart went in, but was concerned about the loss of trees.

Shaun Corbett, who lives on the north side of 139th Avenue in Parkside at Andover Station, said he was concerned about the loss of wildlife and increased traffic on 139th Avenue.

“Within the last year, the families in the neighborhood have been completely grateful being so close to a wooded area filled with wildlife and places for children to play,” Corbett wrote in an email to the city.

E.G. Rud & Sons completed a tree inventory and are able to save 124 trees, mostly on the south side toward Wal-Mart and the east side facing Jay Street.

“We did make a good faith effort to preserve trees,” said Jason Rud, business owner.

Planning commissioner Lynae Gudmundson asked that Rud plant more trees in the back yards of the seven lots on the west side of the development.

Commissioners Steve Peterson and Kyle Nemeth wanted trees added to the back yards of three more lots on the south side that they felt had fewer than their neighbors.

Gudmundson and four other planning commissioners disagreed that additional trees were necessary for these three south-side lots.

Povlitzki noted that there are a lot of trees on the north side of Wal-Mart’s site, facing the south side of this housing development.

“There are lots of trees behind Wal-Mart. They are fairly substantial pines,” said Timothy Cleven, planning commissioner. “I don’t see the need for additional trees.”

With their request not included, Nemeth and Peterson voted against the preliminary plat request at the Nov. 10 commission meeting.

The council asked that these trees be planted on the lot line between this new development and neighbors to the west rather than within the back yards of the new homes in order to avoid a 25-foot-wide drainage easement.

Trude thought the trees would have been fine in the easement, assuming the roots would absorb the water. Carlberg considered a tree an obstruction in a drainage easement.

“We try to keep our drainage easements clear of anything that would obstruct the flow of water,” he said.

The neighborhood design no longer includes what Rud referred to as the “golf club” cul-de-sac design that had a landscaped island in it. Rud liked this feature, but the city did not. Councilmember Sheri Bukkila was concerned that maintaining the landscaped island in this cul-de-sac would have become the city’s problem.

Council member Tony Howard was concerned that the drainage easement would make it difficult for a property owner to construct an accessory shed. Rud said the lots are deep enough to accommodate a patio or deck. Carlberg felt the regular attached garages would be large enough “to take care of most people’s storage needs.”

]]> 0
Outdoors column: One more time for late-season grouse ends with success Sat, 22 Nov 2014 11:28:30 +0000 A recent trip to the Grand Rapids area with my buddy Tom Thiry for one of the last grouse hunts of the year was a success with numerous birds flushed. And better yet; some of them made it to the game bag and there is no finer dining than when grouse is the main entrée.

Things didn’t start out with a bang though and it took some extra miles and downright difficult walking to find the numbers we were looking for.

Tom Thiry of Cambridge, MN and his dog Otis made a big change to find these ruffed grouse.Submitted photo

Tom Thiry of Cambridge, MN and his dog Otis made a big change to find these ruffed grouse.Submitted photo

We started on a classic logging road that traversed through both new and old growth aspen as well as stands of red pine where Tom had recently found some birds just a couple weeks before but they just weren’t there.

With fresh snow on the ground you could see whether or not you were barking up the wrong tree and we were for the first few miles.

We found a couple of tracks early on in the first hike that ran in and out of cover but no birds and no more tracks.

The next area we hit was a clear-cut that bordered a pine covered ridge that eventually transitioned into a blow down area.

The blow downs are the result of straight line winds a couple of summers ago that toppled millions of trees in a wide swath that goes for miles.

The thickest of the downed trees were along a south facing slope that dropped down into a beaver pond and is where we busted the first bird and then the next nine or 10. In a short 300-yard stretch we flushed at least 10 birds, four of which didn’t make it. Unfortunately we got on the pattern late in the hunt and we both felt that if we could have spent more time on it there would have been a lot more action.

The drawing card for ruffed grouse to logging trails early on is clover and wild strawberry, which is a preferred food source, but snow that covers it up can change things and was definitely the case on this trip.

The birds that we cleaned had crops full of catkins which are a key to finding late season birds.

For now the snow isn’t that deep to get through and there are enough birds to make it fun so at least one more last-of-the-year trips is in order. See you in the woods.

Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.

]]> 0
Ramsey lowers density requirements for property within The COR Fri, 21 Nov 2014 23:30:56 +0000 All land within a quarter-mile of the Ramsey Northstar rail station can develop at a density less than what the former Ramsey City Council intended.

The current Ramsey City Council on a 4-1 vote approved a zoning change that allows all properties within the COR-1 zoning district to be developed at a floor area ratio of 0.65 instead of 0.75.

“The likely outcome is starting to see larger surface parking lots instead of the original vision of parking ramps,” Community Development Director Tim Gladhill said, but he noted that a second ramp in The COR could still be possible.

The council addressed this zoning issue after Ramsey-based PSD, LLC said it would have difficulty justifying a parking ramp based on the rental rates it is seeking for this new apartment development.

The $1.9 million purchase agreement for 14 acres that the Ramsey Housing and Redevelopment Authority approved in July expired Sept. 15 when the two sides failed to close the deal. The council, which also serves in the role HRA commissioners, preferred to tackle the zoning issue for all land in the COR-1 zoning district before addressing any new offers.

“We’ve been sitting on this land for a long time,” Council Member Mark Kuzma said. “There’s not a lot of developers who are coming to us right now that want to do something, so to me that means we have to make a modification on this property to move it forward.”

While council member Randy Backous is anxious to sell all land in The COR, he believes the Highway 10-Armstrong Boulevard interchange project will improve its marketability.

“I can’t even believe I’m making this argument because I’m one of the biggest proponents to getting rid of all this land out there, but we’re having this market discussion and I don’t hear the overpass being brought into it and that concerns me,” Backous said.

The COR-1 district is approximately 50 acres and includes the Ramsey Municipal Center, Northstar rail station and The Residence at The COR.

Also included is the COR-1 district next to the 14-acre property is the Fountains of Ramsey event center and office building that PSD is based out of and the Northwest Metro VA Clinic. Jim Deal is the registered business agent of the separate LLCs that own these properties along with undeveloped land east of these buildings.

The city owns the land on the opposite side of Sunwood Drive from the municipal center that is also within the COR-1 area.

City-hired real estate broker Brian Pankratz, of CBRE, hopes the Armstrong interchange will improve the market for The COR, but said developers weigh many factors.

From a retail perspective, what matters most is rooftops, community demographics and a city being “pro-development,” he said. Being flexible on zoning restrictions such as this floor area ratio demonstrates the cities willingness to work with developers.

CBRE’s analysis was that the current market rental rates would not support building a parking ramp without subsidy.

“We have consistently received direction from this city council to try to encourage land sales and to try to reduce or eliminate subsidies to projects,” City Administrator Kurt Ulrich reminded the council.

PSD requested no monetary subsidy in its last purchase agreement with the city, which expired.

Mayor Sarah Strommen asked if a developer’s cost of constructing a parking ramp would be less of an issue once the interchange is in.

Ulrich said that in his opinion, CBRE’s market analysis reflects the current market reality that the funding for the Armstrong interchange is in place, but has yet to break ground. He believes land values in The COR will go up once the interchange is completed in the next two to three years but how long it takes for property values to increase is tough to predict.

Strommen noted that the city has “already committed to the idea of transit-oriented development” and wondered whether it would be able to meet its housing goals for The COR considering the city’s receipt of grants for the rail station and parking ramp was based on this transit-oriented development vision.

Gladhill said the full build-out of The COR aims for 2,000 households.

“I think we can still achieve that,” he said.

To date, PSD has only submitted a concept of its development. It is looking at constructing a two-phase, 210-unit apartment development on a 9-acre parcel across the street from the Ramsey Municipal Center. Its parking plan is 279 surface stalls, 152 detached garages and 78 tuck-under garages.

PSD does include a parking ramp if needed along with a 73-unit hotel on an adjacent 5-acre property.

Council Member Jill Johns said she does not want to look at “a sea of parking lots,” but noted that the city can look at aesthetics later when specific developments are proposed.

Gladhill said the city regulations in The COR limit the amount of parking stalls that can be right next to a road. In many cases, a building or a “nice architectural wall” will screen the parking stalls. The apartment buildings and the detached garages would screen most of PSD’s surface stalls, according to a conceptual site plan PSD gave the city.

Council Members John LeTourneau and Jason Tossey were absent from the Nov. 12 meeting when this floor area ratio zoning change was approved, but both were supportive of moving this proposal forward when it was addressed at the council’s Oct. 28 meeting.

LeTourneau pointed out that this council action affects all properties in The COR and not just the site PSD wants to purchase.

Patrick Brama, economic development manager and assistant to the city administrator, said the 14-acre property is on the market for anyone to make an offer.

“We’re not doing this for one particular person,” LeTourneau said. “We’re doing this for our community because we believe this is the right way to move forward with that development.”

]]> 0
UnionHerald Looking Back for Nov. 21, 2014 Fri, 21 Nov 2014 21:32:26 +0000 New theatre

Anoka’s new playhouse is nearing completion. The new theatre being completed on Main street by C.D. Green & Son is attracting much favorable comment. Outwardly the building is nearly done. The glass for the front is not yet in place but will be in a few days. Inside the place will be a surprise to Anoka people who have not seen the work in progress. Beautiful inverted lights, the chandeliers tinted to match the walls and lined with silk, gives a pleasing effect. The stage is large and attractively decorated. Every one of the 150 seats is a good one.

-100 years ago, Nov. 17, 1914
Anoka Herald

President names city project   

Washington, D.C., November 20–Special to Anoka Union–Delighted to inform you that the president has designated the following project as part of the WPA and this project is now eligible for operation at the discretion of the state works projects administrator: $88,771 has been allotted for a non-federal project to improve city owned streets and alleys throughout the city of Anoka.

– 75 years ago, Nov. 22, 1939
Anoka County Union

Anoka county has given Mondale strong support  

Anoka county likes Walter F. Mondale, new U.S. senator-designate. This is indicated by the sensational vote Mondale received when he swept the county as well as the metropolitan area running for the attorney general’s office in 1962. He held his own in staunch Republican areas.

– 50 years ago, Nov. 20, 1964
Coon Rapids Herald

Sloppy days are here again

The season’s first substantial snowfall changed not only the local scenery but some local attitudes as well. For the most part, Tuesday’s powdering sent residents scurrying for long-lost scrapers and shovels. However, not everyone felt remorse over the flakes. Students at Lincoln Elementary School in Anoka took advantage of their snowy surroundings, slipping and sliding their way to some extra fun times during recess. To them, the white stuff was the right stuff to make touch football and soccer a tad more challenging.

– 25 years ago, Nov. 17, 1989
Anoka County Union

• Compiled by Sue Austreng

Editor’s note: “Looking Back” is reprinted exactly as the items first appeared.

]]> 0
UnionHerald crime briefs for the Nov. 21, 2014 edition Fri, 21 Nov 2014 21:30:55 +0000 Two-year jail sentence seven years after drug bust

A St. Paul man was convicted on a first-degree drug charge in Anoka County District Court after a warrant was out for his arrest for more than six years.

Humberto Becerril, 41, was sentenced Oct. 31 to serve two years in state prison with credit for 173 days served.

He was involved in a drug bust executed in front of the Coon Rapids Verizon store in 2007, according to the criminal complaint.

The Anoka-Hennepin Drug Task Force worked with a confidential informant to purchase methamphetamine from David Ortega, of Minneapolis, and Becerril.

On March 5, 2007, around 6:50 p.m., a woman drove Ortega near the Verizon store, where he met the informant as drug task force members looked on, according to the complaint.

Ortega returned to his vehicle before getting into a Suburban that pulled into the lot.

The Suburban drove around briefly, then Ortega got into the informant’s vehicle again, the complaint states.

Because the informant was wearing a wire, the task force overheard conversation about a drug transaction and were able to execute a bust, according to the complaint.

Law enforcement arrested Becerril, who was in the Suburban; Ortega; the woman driving Ortega; and the informant.

The woman driving Ortega and the informant were released.

Detectives recovered a bag containing 27.1 grams of meth and $1,660 in or near the informant’s vehicle, the complaint states.

In a post-Miranda statement, Becerril said he supplied Ortega with an ounce of crystal meth, which Ortega then sold to the informant. According to the complaint, Becerril said he has sold meth in the past, but doesn’t do drugs himself.

Ortega was convicted of first-degree drug possession Oct. 12, 2007, and had an 86-month prison sentence stayed for 30 years. He served 155 days in jail.

After pleading guilty, but before sentencing, Becerril evaded law enforcement for more than six years. A warrant for his arrest was issued May 29, 2008, and he was not re-arrested until Sept. 9, 2014.

~ Olivia Alveshere

Andover man charged with burglary

A 37-year-old Andover man was arraigned in Anoka County District Court Oct. 30 after allegedly trying to break into two homes on Xavis Street, just west of Crosstown Boulevard.

Mason Robert Prochniak is accused of attempted first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary and possession of burglary tools.

Law enforcement officers were dispatched to Xavis Street in Andover to respond to a burglary Oct. 28, 2014. A caller provided the description of a man who attempted to break into her house by breaking a window, according to the criminal complaint.

On the way to the scene, a deputy saw Prochniak walking alone; he matched the caller’s description, the complaint states.

The deputy spoke with Prochniak before retrieving a backpack Prochniak was carrying and had dropped, the complaint states.

Law enforcement found Prochniak’s driver’s license, a Fossil watch, a wrist rocket slingshot, a cordless drill and charger, $114 in cash, and other miscellaneous jewelry and knives in the backpack, according to the complaint.

Prochniak allegedly had a window punch tool and glass cutter with him, too.

The woman who called the Sheriff’s Office identified Prochniak as the man she saw trying to break into her house, the complaint alleges.

At the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office’s suggestion, the woman’s neighbor checked his windows when he arrived home and discovered that a rear window was broken, the complaint states. The man searched through his home and found a Fossil watch, a wrist rocket slingshot, a cordless drill and charger, and a minimum of $85 missing, the complaint states. He wasn’t sure what his wife’s jewelry box contained.

In a post-Miranda statement, Prochniak said he broke into a house and stole a watch, wrist rocket slingshot and a drill, the complaint states. He said he intended to break into a second home and steal other items.

~ Olivia Alveshere

Man sentenced for felony theft in Ham Lake

A Minneapolis man was sentenced Nov. 3 in Anoka County District Court on a felony theft charge stemming from a Ham Lake case.

Paul Martin Tiessen, 47, was sentenced to 13 months in prison, but given credit for 249 days served. He must pay $531 restitution.

According to the criminal complaint, Tiessen tried to steal a tractor and three snowblowers from the Suburban Lawn Care business in Ham Lake after 1 a.m. Jan. 23.

Responding deputies with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office found a pick-up truck inside the secure gated area that had been tampered with. Its ignition box was ripped off and wires were hanging loose and the driver’s side door handle was broken.

Video surveillance of the property allegedly showed Tiessen and another man climbed over the business fence and loaded up a trailer with a tractor and three snowblowers. The business owner told police this property was worth more than $12,000. But the thieves fled before police arrived, authorities saw on the video.

According to the complaint, Tiessen was found hiding in a fenced-in area of a neighboring business.

~ Eric Hagen

]]> 0