Stillwater's Lumberjack Days trial delayed until March.

  • Updated: February 8, 2014 - 2:11 PM

The trial of Lumberjack Days promoter David Eckberg, charged with 10 felonies relating to unpaid bills, has been postponed once again.

Jury selection was expected to begin last week in Washington County District Court, but Judge Susan Miles moved the trial date to March 24 after Eckberg told her that he wanted a new defense attorney, said prosecutor Rick Hodsdon of the County Attorney’s Office. Eckberg has been represented by Eric Thole of Stillwater.

“She very reluctantly granted a continuance,” Hodsdon said of the judge’s decision to move the trial date. Miles warned Eckberg in court that she wouldn’t allow any further delays.

“We’re working on adding an attorney to the team. That’s about all I can say for now,” Thole said last week.

Eckberg was charged in November 2012 after several vendors and youth groups complained to Stillwater police that he hadn’t paid them for their work at the 2011 Lumberjack Days festival in Stillwater. Eckberg said poor weather cut into festival profits that year and delayed payments, but complaints of unpaid bills had surfaced in preceding years as well.

The Stillwater City Council ended its two-year moratorium on summer festivals last fall, approving a new event that will be called Stillwater Log Jam. Promoters of that festival, called “The Locals,” have no affiliation with Eckberg and his promotions company, St. Croix Events.

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Facebook feud builds over spending, taxation

An online feud over government spending in Washington County turned personal last week between a Cottage Grove City Council member and the administrator of Washington County Watchdog, a page on Facebook.

Derrick Lehrke of Cottage Grove and Matt Behning of Stillwater exchanged more than 115 public comments within a 24-hour period in a wide-ranging discussion over taxation and transit. Many of the posts involved arguments over costs as Lehrke and Behning challenged the accuracy of each other’s statements.

Lehrke at one point took issue with another page administrator, Eric Langness. “Is this just Matt Behning [sic] or Eric Langness [sic] personal attack page that they can use at will?” he asked.

Langness replied that he was staying out of Lehrke’s argument with Behning. “You need to spend more time listening and less time telling. It’ll make you a far better representative of your local town,” Langness wrote.

Behning occasionally shows up at County Board meetings to complain about spending, especially for capital improvement projects.

Lehrke is married to Autumn Lehrke, who chairs the County Board, which decides taxation issues. She also oversees the Red Rock Corridor Commission, a planning group for regional transit development. Autumn Lehrke didn’t contribute any comments to the Facebook post.

Hats off to commissioner during wardrobe joking

Commissioner Gary Kriesel came under some criticism for his wardrobe at last week’s County Board meeting, but it was all in good fun.

Fighting cancer, Kriesel has been wearing a blue Navy cap because of hair loss from chemotherapy. He is a Navy veteran and active in Beyond the Yellow Ribbon programs. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer, in November.

Commissioner Fran Miron, a dairy farmer, presented Kriesel with a tan hat that said “Miron Farms” on the front. “It’s an opportunity for Commissioner Kriesel to expand his wardrobe,” Miron said, laughing. Kriesel also might want to borrow a suggestion from fellow commissioner Ted Bearth, who was a Marine, and wear a cap from that branch of the service, Miron said, or even wear a “Sentence to Serve” cap.

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