John R. Russett
John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts.
You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett
- Member for
- 4 years 10 months
One of the highlights from this year's state legislative session for Dakota County was $6.2 million in funding for the county's Safety and Mental Health Alternative Response Training Center in the bonding bill. Construction on the new center, which is slated to house other public safety partners, including the Dakota County Electronic Crimes Unit, the Dakota County Drug Task Force and the Dakota County Criminal Justice Network as well as serve as a crisis response center, is scheduled for completion by 2020.
Returned from Vietnam unopened with "KIA 10-31-72" written on it in black marker, its contents of Kool-Aid and cookies made known from the note taped to the outside, a plain brown package showed up 20 years later at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. A replica of that package, along with some of the more than 400,000 items left at the wall in D.C., will be in St. Paul at the State Capitol grounds through Sunday, June 24, along with "The Wall That Heals," a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Dakota County Board Tuesday, June 5, gave its approval to move forward with construction projects across the county. One stretch of Highway 55, according to Dakota County Engineer Mark Krebsbach, can be particularly dicey. Krebsbach said left turn lanes are needed for Highway 55 westbound traffic at County Highway 42 and for eastbound 55 traffic at Fahey Avenue. The lack of turn lanes have resulted in increased traffic collisions, he added.
Nearly 300 people registered for the inaugural Irish Way 5K and fun run at Rosemount Middle School. Students, staff, dogs, teachers, parents — some with strollers — showed up Friday, May 18, to participate. "We really do pride ourselves and build ourselves here in Rosemount on relationships and any time we can get people together I think that's our responsibility as a school," said first-year Principal Eric Hansen, who was with the middle school as an assistant principal for the last 10 years.
For just the second time since 2006, the Minnesota Psychological Association recognized a county with its Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award. Dakota County and its roughly 1,800 employees learned they received the award last month. "We were excited to be nominated for it," Dakota County Director of Employee Relations Andy Benish said. Dakota County was nominated by Sand Creek, which administers the county's employee assistance program. According to PHWA Committee Chair Jenn Pollard, that is not normally how the process works.
Nearing the end of her collegiate career, seeking a student teacher position, Erin Holmes knew what she needed: marching band experience. She also knew where she needed to go to get it: Waseca. What she didn't know was nearly two decades later she would be named the first female jazz chair of the Minnesota Music Educators Association and one of School Band and Orchestra Magazine's 2017 "50 Directors Who Make a Difference" within the span of a couple weeks. Now, the woman in charge of Farmington's band program knows all of those things.
In Polk County, Wis., a man — young by most standards at no more than 23 or 24 — picked up the phone, dialed 911, then sat down on the couch next to his gun and waited for an officer to arrive. Little more than an hour's drive north of Spring Valley Police Chief John DuBois' office — up through Baldwin, past Pine, Bear Trap, Wapogasset and Deer lakes — sits the town of Centuria. Years before he became a chief, DuBois patrolled the streets of Centuria with its roughly 950 residents, anxious and unsure, awaiting a solitary call.
On a good day, Trish Nolan never would have met the man. It began as a group of four. They would sit around and talk regularly, usually until around 2 a.m., as music from the employee lounge permeated the halls. He kissed her behind the scenes when he thought no one was looking. He lied to her about his alcoholism. He lied to her about his marriage. He got her phone number. Then he showed up at her apartment and raped her. "It was like," Nolan paused, "going into hell."
Far from a new issue, law enforcement and mental illness have become increasingly more entangled since state governments began to close their mental health hospitals in the 1950s, continually taxing the agencies tasked with responding to those in crisis.
An estimated minimum of 70,000 people could benefit from a new service designed to improve interactions between law enforcement and vulnerable residents, according to a press release from Vitals Aware Services, the group behind the endeavor.