Tony Jurgens represents District 54B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Minnesota House District 54B, located in the southeast Minneapolis-St Paul metro area, includes the communities of Hastings, Afton, Denmark Township, Nininger Township, and parts of Cottage Grove.
Last night was the annual Point In Time count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people. As I have in the past I went out with Amber from Ally Supportive Services, who does homeless outreach in Dakota County. The PIT count isn’t perfect but it provides insight into the scope if the issue. Thankfully, this time of year there is more “couch hopping” and other resources to get people out of the cold. The unsheltered population grows in the warmer months. No one was home when we visited these camps but Amber left information about available services and a bag of toiletries and other items. We were joined by Caleigh, a staff person from Congresswoman Craig’s office. We need federal and state lawmakers to each do our part to cut red tape and expedite the process when there is an opportunity to house someone.
Over the past two weeks I have stayed up way past my bedtime to ride along with law enforcement officers in the district I represent.
I saw them treat the public with respect, empathy, and understanding without being judgemental. I saw them give tickets and I saw them give breaks.
I saw a man on the worst day of his life, whose decisions that night will have repercussions for years. I saw officers with guns drawn take a non-compliant man into custody safely, with no one getting hurt.
I saw a woman who could barely walk back to the squad car and failed to even attempt a field sobriety test, then blew a 0.0 on the breathalyzer. A cornucopia of illegal drugs were found in her vehicle. There’s no question she would have attempted to drive home when she woke up had someone not called police when they saw her slumped over the steering wheel, passed out.
I saw a ticket issued for driving 107 MPH, but a break given by not adding careless driving to the charges.
I was involved in executing a felony arrest warrant and rescuing a cat from a burning building.
I saw a man who wanted to end his life, talked off a bridge by two young women who happened to drive by at exactly the right time.
These are every day occurrences for law enforcement officers. What I witnessed is nothing compared to what they experience on every shift.
I learned that these officers back each other up physically and emotionally, not only their partners from their own department but across departments.
I saw an officer pull over to take a call from a partner to advise on a situation, then minutes later watch his back when they both responded to a domestic disturbance.
I want to thank Officer Rob Swanson from the Cottage Grove Police Department, Deputy Dave Eichman of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Officer Jake Willers of the Hastings Police Department and Deputy “Tropical” Tony Welin from the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office and their partners for tolerating me and teaching me about their jobs.
They educated me about the many challenges in their work but also how much they love the job.
I also want to thank Sergeant Pat Nickle and Chief Pete Koerner of the Cottage Grove Police department, Commander Doug Anschutz and Sheriff Dan Starry from Washington County, Sergeant Dave Bauer and Chief Bryan Schafer from Hastings Police Department and Sergeant Matt Regis and Sheriff Tim Leslie from Dakota County who all approved and supported the ride alongs.
To all law enforcement officers who protect and serve all day and all night, every day and every night, I want to say thank you and ask that you get home to your family safely after your shift.
It was a beautiful day to have Rep. Leon Lillie along for a visit to Washington County Parks MN St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park in Denmark Township.
Rep. Lillie and I toured the state this fall with other members of the House Capital Investment Committee so it’s nice to visit when the projects are closer to home.
He is an advocate for parks and the outdoors so we were happy he could join Washington County Commissioner Wayne Johnson, Washington County Parks Director Sandy Breuer and Parks Manager Brad Swenson to see this park project.
We also saw the nearly complete storage machine shed that was included in the 2018 bonding bill.
Les Burshten is retiring after 32 years as Cottage Grove Director of Public Works.
When I chaired the Public Works Commission, I would meet with Les regularly. He didn’t have to spend so much time with me but he did; educating me on all the issues we’d bring to the commission, giving me background, history, alternatives, and of course stories. Every meeting included Les saying, “Just one more thing and then I’ll let you go” several times.
During his 32 years at Public Works, the city has grown, added miles of roads to be plowed in the winter and maintained in the spring and summer, added wells, water towers, and increased staff.
Les will be missed but he’s leaving the department in great shape for incoming Director Ryan Burfeind. Les recently told me that they’ve always had great people at Public Works but right now, top to bottom they are the best they’ve ever had.
I was honored to present Les with a House Resolution at his final City Council meeting tonight, honoring his legacy and wishing him and his wife of 50 years, Judy, well in retirement.