Commissioner Larry Pogemiller of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education toured Inver Hills Community College Wednesday to tout the need for the $698,000 in lab and classroom improvements that Gov. Mark Dayton recommended funding in his bonding bill.

If the bill is approved as Dayton has proposed, 31,800 square feet of the technology and business center would be updated to create “state of the art learning environments for programs that lead to high-paying, high-demand careers,” according to an Office of Higher Education news release.

The money would pay for the design phase of a remodeling project that would eventually create 11 classrooms for the computer network technologies and security (CNT), paralegal and business programs and four rooms exclusively for the CNT program.

Other proposed improvements include linking the technology and business center to Heritage Hall to allow students better access to informal computing and science, technology, engineering and mathematics advising, the Inver Hills website said. The bill, if approved, would also enable the college to complete thousands of dollars in deferred maintenance projects.

The changes would eliminate unusable space — the result of a sloped roof — and improve energy efficiency, the college’s website said.

An additional $14,745,000 would be needed to construct the plans, which the college would request from the Legislature in 2020.

Inver Hills Community College offers nearly 40 degree options, according to the college’s website. Founded in 1970, the school’s nine buildings sit on 90 acres in Inver Grove Heights.

Erin Adler


Local “suitcase murder” on TV show

The 2013 case of a missing Farmington mother who was eventually murdered by a former Milwaukee police officer and found dead in a suitcase was featured on the TV show “Web of Lies,” which premiered March 20 on the Investigation Discovery channel.

The remains of Laura Jean Simonson, 37, and an Oregon woman were found in a pair of suitcases by highway workers in Walworth County, Wis., on June 5, 2014.

The channel summarized the episode, titled “Dark Corners,” like this: “Vulnerable mother of five Laura Simonson seeks comfort in the online world of sexual bondage. Lured by a mysterious user named ‘Mr. Handcuffs,’ Laura doesn’t know that she’s walking straight into his twisted trap.”

Simonson, who struggled with mental illness, was likely killed in a Rochester hotel room after she went missing in 2013, police said. She was found naked except for a collar, with a rope around her neck and a ball gag in her mouth.

Steven Zelich, 52, a security officer who served as a Milwaukee police officer from 1989 to 2001, pleaded guilty to Simonson’s murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was also sentenced to 35 years for the murder of Jenny Gamez, 19, the other woman found in the suitcase, who was killed more than a year before Simonson.

Farmington police officers are interviewed on the program, a representative from that city’s police department said.

Erin Adler


City Council OKs pay bump for city leaders

The Lakeville City Council narrowly approved increasing the salaries of the mayor and council members on Monday for the first time since 1999.

The vote was 3-2, with Council Members Luke Hellier and Bart Davis voting against the measure.

The new salary is $1,250 a month for mayor and $833.33 for council members, with a new payment of $25 for outside meetings attended by elected officials.

Previously, the Lakeville mayor’s monthly salary was set at $833, with council members making $722 a month. A City Council memo compared these rates of pay to more than a dozen similarly sized municipalities and found that Lakeville was dead last.

Maple Grove, for example, pays council members $1,125 and mayors about $1,281 a month, while mayor and council member compensation in Apple Valley equates to $2,402 and $2,109 a month, respectively. The Apple Valley numbers reflect that the city contributes to elected officials’ health insurance.

Originally, the Lakeville City Council proposed even larger increases — a salary of $1,347 for the mayor and $950 for council members monthly, plus an automatic inflation calculation. Those figures were amended at the meeting.

There were two nay votes. City administrator Justin Miller said Davis didn’t like the $25 payment for meeting attendance while Hellier didn’t believe an increase was necessary.

Erin Adler