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Does the Constitution protect political contributions as a form of speech? Should constitutional rights extend beyond individuals to entities like corporations or unions? A 2010 Supreme Court ruling concluded "yes" to both questions, but residents of St. Croix County will have a chance to weigh in with their ballots in April.
A westbound lane on Interstate 94 opened again shortly before noon Nov. 20 after a truck hauling more than a ton of frozen seafood ignited early that morning. Lt. Tiffani Nielson with the Minnesota State Patrol said the truck's driver smelled smoke and pulled over to the shoulder near Century Avenue around 6:20 a.m. Flames had engulfed the trailer, which contained 2,500 pounds of frozen fish. Woodbury Public Safety firefighters extinguished the flames.
A Cottage Grove man will spend about a month in jail for raping a 14-year-old girl with two others in 2016. Parker Cole Jarvis Running, 18, was convicted of felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim younger than 15 in a Washington County District Court Nov. 6. He received a 60-day jail sentence with credit for 31 days served and five years' probation. The court dismissed two other charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of aiding and abetting third-degree criminal sexual conduct— all felony charges.
A convicted sex offender St. Paul police identified as a person of interest in a nearly 25-year-old missing person case will spend four years in prison on felony kidnapping charges. A Washington County court handed down the 54-month sentence to Mark Steven Wallace, a 55-year-old Andover man found guilty of kidnapping to commit great bodily harm, a felony. Charges for misdemeanor drug possession and felony stalking were dropped.
St. Croix County supervisors appointed Chris Matter to fill a vacant seat on the county board last week. Matter will replace former Supervisor Agnes Ring to represent District 2, which covers parts of St. Joseph and Somerset. Ring stepped down from the position in September after announcing her new position with Family Resource Center of St. Croix Valley, which she said could cause potential conflicts of interest.
Twin Cities nonprofit Mission Impact Council and other local partners are looking to recruit at least 20 Ethiopian Minnesotan youth to attend SPARK, an annual summit that will this year highlight digital storytelling's role in racial equity. Organizing participation at the event was one of numerous ideas discussed during Ethiopian Immersion Lab sessions. The group wrapped up its final meeting Nov. 4.
Helping people get into shape has been a deeply-embedded part of Gabi and Jacek Kozdroj's lives for more than decade combined. Gabi teaches Zumba classes and spent nearly three years managing a St. Paul Anytime Fitness location, where Jacek, her husband, worked as a personal trainer for 10 years. When the Bielenberg Drive Anytime location appeared on the market earlier this summer, the Woodbury couple seized on the opportunity to own a franchise closer to their home of 12 years.
State troopers suspect a Moose Lake man was under the influence of controlled substances when he led law enforcement on a high-speed pursuit from Woodbury to Hastings in a stolen vehicle Nov. 1. According to a Minnesota State Patrol news release, Joshua Allan Major, 30, will be booked into the Dakota County jail on charges including felony fleeing police, drunken driving and possession of a stolen vehicle once he is cleared from Regina Hospital. He was taken to the hospital for a blood draw following his arrest in Hastings.
A Hastings man faces a felony charge of terroristic threats following a SWAT response in Ravenna Township. Dakota County sheriff deputies took Mathew Laurence Bartz, 41, into custody late Wednesday, Nov. 1, after responding to a crisis call on the 17500 block of Blackbird Trail in which the caller told dispatchers a man at her residence had a gun. Deputies arrived around 7:30 p.m.
Washington County sheriff deputies will have a permanent office in Afton next year thanks to a generous donation from a resident who died nearly a decade ago. The department received more than $100,000 from longtime resident Margo Forrest following her death in 2008. In addition to the new building, about $2,000 from the total $101,191 Forrest bequeathed funded a new CPR device for the fire department. Deputies assigned to Afton currently work out of the Lower St. Croix Valley Fire Department.