The Minnesota Court of Appeals yesterday upheld the conviction and the sentence of a career criminal caught in Rice County. On November 7th, 2017, 39 year old Demarcus Barker, was sentenced to 316 Months in prison for multiple offenses including Importing Controlled Substances Across State Borders, 1st Degree Controlled Substances and Fleeing Police. Barker had gone to Chicago and returned with powder cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. When police attempted to stop him, Barker fled and led them on a chase through and west of
Faribault. During the chase Barker threw out the cocaine and meth pills. Barker has previously been convicted of several felony assaults, firearms offenses and drug dealing in Minnesota and Illinois. County Attorney John Fossum said the Career Offender penalty is necessary for someone like Barker who has a long history of committing, “offense, after offense, after offense”. He has a 20 year history where he would go to prison for a short period of time, remained clean inside and on parole but couldn’t go, “more than a year or 2 without committing new offenses”. The case was investigated by the Cannon River Drug and Violent Offender Task Force, the Faribault Police Department and Rice County Sheriff’s Office. Barker is currently serving his time in Stillwater State Prison. His release date is October 3rd of 2033.
2019 Street project “plaza” caused confusion on concept approval
The 2019 Street reclamation project got the most attention from the Northfield Council last night as they needed a super-majority to pass the resolution ordering plans and specs for the improvements. As there were only 6 attending, they all needed to vote yes. The sticking point was a design for 3rd street that came in a supplemental memo just after noon yesterday that had a plaza area, which could include a sculpture, in front of the Northfield Arts Guild theater. During an earlier public hearing, Residents and representatives of St. John’s Church, the Northfield Arts Guild and the Depot encouraged calming traffic efforts on that street. The area is zoned part of the downtown area. Mayor Pownell explained this morning,“so staff looked at our downtown Streetscape Task Force plan, they looked at the Roundtable framework plans, looked at the Arts corridor plan that had been presented to the council and brought forth some concept plans for us to consider that really enhance the walkability, the look and feel of primarily that short section of 3rd street between Hwy 3 and Longfellow”. Design elements such as bumpouts and landscaping were included but Councilor DeLong questioned who would pay for the plaza, a more expensive element in front of a non-profit, that is not taxed. Engineer Dave Bennett said this morning that the idea was, “it was really just a feature to handle like the drop offs for the people coming up and visiting and could gather and wait outside. So a lot of it was through the feedback. We don’t really have the final design of really what that exactly is going to look like”. He said it was a draft but the Council seemed confused throughout the meeting as the term “draft” wasn’t used and some thought by taking out the “plaza”, they were designing from the dais. Bennett was unable to fully answer questions last night. DeLong suggested that the plaza be paid for by the 1% Arts Fund that is now part of every street project. When asked about paying for it this morning on KYMN, Bennett said, “those type of improvements typically are not added on as a benefit to the property so it’s not going to impact any sort of assessments related to the properties in the evaluation and so the assessments portion from each individual property is not going to go up”. That was not made clear last night. Finally, C. Ness amended the motion to take out the plaza and the resolution passed 6 to 0. There will be another neighborhood meeting and more designing to do before a vote on a final concept. The entire project, which includes much more than 3rd street, is about $4 million. Mayor Pownell and Engineer Dave Bennett were in studio, that interview is online Morning Show. You can view the whole 3rd street area from the supplemental memo. It’s on the last page: 2019_01_22 City Council Supplemental Agenda Background Memo for January 22, 2019 no. 2
Rice Co. drug issues “threatens to swallow the system”
The use of heroin, heroin mixed with fentanyl and methamphetamine continues to be a problem in Rice County. Starting his 5th year as the County Attorney, John Fossum said commented that there are a lot more children in Child Protective cases because of the drug abuse issues that they’re seeing, adding, “it’s a problem that threatens to really swallow the system”. County agencies are overwhelmed and the lack of funding continues. In the meantime, Fossum’s office, last week, charged a drug dealer, Anthoney Fugalli, with 3rd degree murder after the death of one of his customers from a fentanyl laced dose of heroin. Fossum said the problem not subject to easy solutions, however, programs like treatment court and veterans court, are part of the ways they’re looking to reduce the impact, “and take some of those people who would otherwise be facing prison time and find a way to help them get clean, help them stay in the community, help them become employed and become productive citizens”. Sixteen people have graduated from drug court in the last 3 years. Veterans court begins next month.