Meth use has gone back up. Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn said it used to meth labs, but they hit those hard and changes in the law shut many of them down. Now, methamphetamine is coming in from Mexico on Interstate 35. They’re seeing bigger seizures. Now when they stop a car, it’s not someone with a few grams or half a pound but now it’s pounds of meth. Dunn said the cartels will hire
people to drive a car from Texas to Minnesota and swap cars with someone up here, drive back and receive cash. Getting the bigger shipments is a focus of the Cannon River Drug and Violent Offender Task Force. Rice County attorney John Fossum commented that numbers from 2014, his office filed 80 felony drug charges. In 2016 they filed 178. He said the task force has been more effective and aggressive in pursuing things and his office has followed up with prosecutions. Dunn said community members are thanking them for taking down drug operations in neighborhood homes. The Sheriff said they do hear it on the streets, “that you don’t want to mess around in Faribault or Northfield or Lonsdale or something like that because they’ve got a very aggressive task force”. Dunn says they’re seeing positive changes with drug treatment programs and drug court, adding that it’s not just one thing, but a number of things, that will help change the drug problem.
Young people stand in support of City’s choice for Solar
Northfield says yes to the SOLAR. Tuesday night, in a packed Council Chambers, and with time running out during a lengthy Council meeting, Mayor Pownell asked audience members who wanted to speak at the Open Mic to choose a representative if they all were in support. Beth Kallestad, the former director of the CRWP, spoke on behalf of several adults and Elizabeth Penny spoke for the young people saying that Northfield can’t do it alone but by switching to solar, we can be a role model, ensuring a livable planet. (listen to the podcast for complete quotes) In a 5 to 1 vote, Council approved a contract. City Administrator Ben Martig said they’re saving money and helping the environment. They’ll be locked in with a 25 year contract. Should they want to terminate, the fee is extremely costly. At 10 years in it would be almost $2 million. Martig said they negotiated down from where they started. The City will have 27% of their operational power as solar. Councilor DeLong voted against it with concerns over what happens to any extra energy that the solar garden produces, who gets that benefit? And the multiple name changes of the company involved suggesting several shell companies. The City received 3 proposals and chose CF Novel Gardens 5, LLC. The solar garden will be in Steele County.
Hotel construction update
Work has stalled again at the site of the Fairfield Inn & Suites. Community Development Director, Chris Heineman, said the last of the geo-piers were installed at the end of July. That was what set the whole project back originally. Right now, the General Contractor, from Lextar Construction is working to line up all other subcontractors based on the new construction schedule. The footings and foundation work will begin next week. When that stage is completed, the remaining subcontractors should be on site on a more regular schedule.