By Teri Knight, News Director
A Carleton College student charged in April with two counts of drug possession pleaded guilty yesterday in Rice County Court to one count of 5th degree possession. The Northfield Police Department responded to the college after Carleton security contacted them with multiple complaints of heavy use of marijuana, and someone possibly selling drugs in one of the dorm rooms. A search of 19-year-old Alexei Mikolchak revealed various marijuana paraphernalia, a baggie with pot and $340. In his room, they found over 142 grams of marijuana and nearly 52 grams of methamphetamine. Mikolchak said he did it for extra money. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 22, 2019.
People have to “reach their own rock bottom” for Treatment Court to work
The Rice County Treatment Court program (formerly Drug Court) currently has seventeen participants. Not everyone makes it through. Rice County Attorney John Fossum said recently some people have had challenges: “…and that happens, it’s a difficult thing for people to overcome this addiction and be able to pick up and move on.” Some people make it through the program and some people don’t. He said people have to “reach their own rock bottom.” It takes a lot of commitment to make it through the program. If they drop out, then they’ll serve their time. They have one set to graduate and six more being screened for participation. The limit is 25 participants at a time. Fossum said they have a new program coordinator who started in July. He says it’s been a “tremendous success” with sixteen graduates so far. That’s sixteen people that have worked their way out of the system. Qualifications for completion include: “you have to finish your GED if you don’t have one, you have to have a job. So part of it is training people with ordinary everyday living skills that they may not have had.” It costs $33,000 a year to keep one person in prison. Now, those who graduate are paying taxes and, in some cases, reconciling with their families.
Northfield City Council ponders 7.5% preliminary levy
The Northfield City Council held a budget retreat last week. While it’s pretty early in the process, City Administrator Ben Martig said this morning that they didn’t get into the particulars; however, to keep the status quo with the current staffing one of the staff suggestions is a 7.5% increase. Last year the council set it at 7%. He said the increase is primarily driven by higher debt issuance with street project improvements, adding, “our expenses in the general fund, which is kind of the operating funds, are up about 3.65%. Primarily about 61% of our budget is personnel services; that’s primarily driven by salary and benefits.” Additional revenue sources outside local taxes are up just 1.9%. That means property taxes have to make up the rest. He added that Northfield still is at the low end of property taxes compared to peers. The maximum levy must be set by September 17, 2019. It can go down but not up. The final levy must be set in mid December. In 2018 it was 4.4%. In 2017, the council approved an 8% levy, the previous three years averaged about 2%.
Cannon River sediment testing
At the behest of Post Consumer Brands, Barr Engineering is performing routine river sediment sampling on the Cannon River today and tomorrow just upstream of the Ames Mill Dam. Expect to see a small boat and equipment in the river.