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.
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.
"Let's make sure that 'Sentence to Serve' cap says 'staff' on it," joked Commissioner Lisa Weik.
District 54 legislators to address constituents
State Sen. Katie Sieben and state Reps. Denny McNamara and Dan Schoen are scheduled to address constituents at Cottage Grove City Hall later this month.
Sieben, who last week took her name out of the running for lieutenant governor, and McNamara and Schoen, her fellow legislators from District 54 — which encompasses Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park and South St. Paul — plan on taking questions and comments from voters. The event will take place Feb. 24 from 10 a.m. to noon at City Hall, 12800 Ravine Pkwy. S.
Sieben and McNamara met voters at a similar event in Hastings this month.
St. Croix Region
Park superintendent speaks about Costa Rica
Chris Stein, superintendent of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, will be the featured speaker at the Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society annual meeting on Sunday, Feb. 9, from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. He will talk about the sister park agreement between Midwest National Parks and Parks in Costa Rica. People interested in birds and joining the Audubon chapter are encouraged to attend. The meeting is at the St. Croix River Association office, 230 S. Washington St., St. Croix Falls, Wis,
Discovery Center to hold annual indoor garage sale
The Oakdale Discovery Center will hold its annual garage sale on March 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Twenty-five vendors will sell clothes, books, home décor, toys, collectibles and more. The center is located at 4444 Hadley Av. For more information, call 651-747-3860 or visit www.oakdalefun.com.
Deadline approaches for volunteer award
Nominations for the Doris Hill Legacy Award, given every year to outstanding volunteers in Mahtomedi and White Bear Lake, must be received by Feb. 21. A recipient will be announced in March and recognized at a community reception in May at Century College.
The award recognizes "people who are highly motivated and committed toward helping others" in the two cities. Nomination forms are available online and at several locations in White Bear Lake and Mahtomedi — Century College Foundation, Mahtomedi Area Educational Foundation, and White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation — and can be returned to those locations, submitted to a Doris Hill board member, or e-mailed to email@example.com.
County library reopens, water damage repaired
The Wildwood Library, 763 Stillwater Road, Mahtomedi, has reopened to its regular hours. The library had been closed since Jan. 3 when a pipe burst, resulting in water damage to carpeting and wiring. Residents of Mahtomedi and the surrounding area can visit the refurbished library to see the changes, county library officials said.
TEDxMahtomedi returns for another run
Speakers at the second annual TEDxMahtomedi next month will explore issues such as how today's trends will affect Mahtomedi and what residents can do to "shape a bright future in the face of change" organizers said.
The event, organized by Mahtomedi Area Community Education, the city of Mahtomedi and Century College, will feature 18 presentations on topics ranging from business and education to technology, and screenings of two TED talks, organizers said. It is modeled after the TED talks, the popular web series featuring presentations by prominent thinkers with "ideas worth spreading."
This year's theme is "Ideas Worth Spreading." The event will be held March 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Century College's Lincoln Mall, 3300 Century Av. N. in White Bear Lake. The cost of attendance is $25. Tickets go on sale Feb. 15 and will be capped at 100 "to keep interaction and conversations lively," organizers said. Tickets can be purchased by visiting at tedxmahtomedi.com or by calling 651-407-2018.
A recording of the event will be made available online.
Kevin Giles, Libor Jany