Mike Longaecker is editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. His coverage includes local crime, legislative activity and prep sports.
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The Mahtomedi man arrested in a 2010 crash that severely injured a Woodbury teen is back behind Washington County bars. Edward Thomas Jaworski, 38, was charged Feb. 24 with first-degree test refusal following a rollover crash on I-35W in Roseville. He was taken to Washington County jail on a warrant; he was being held on $150,000 bail. The arrest marks the second for Jaworski since the Aug. 22, 2010, crash at Valley Creek Road and Woodbury Drive that severely injured East Ridge High School student Sean Fitzpatrick.
An allegedly stolen computer turned against a Woodbury man when its webcam captured remote images that police used to arrest him. The suspect, John Tan Nguyen, 29, made his initial court appearance Feb. 17 in Washington County District Court, where he's charged with two felonies: receiving stolen property and fifth-degree drug possession. Woodbury police were called Nov. 8, 2010, by a St. Paul woman who said her Apple laptop computer had been stolen.
Brian Huffman believes today's tough economic times have meant more people representing themselves in court than ever. "This is challenging times for the public," he said. And navigating the legal world all alone can be just as daunting. But Huffman, Washington County's law librarian, said a unique program extending to the county's public libraries will begin putting more tools into the hands of people seeking legal help. Beginning in March, the Washington County Legal Library will present workshops to train the public in accessing and using legal forms and resources.
A St. Paul man who admitted to stealing three vehicles from Woodbury residences over the course of 24 hours was sentenced to spend nearly two years in prison. Washington County District Court Judge John Hoffman on Feb. 7 sentenced Osei Junior Owusu to 30 months.
Woodbury's Aperitif restaurant closed its doors Monday. A restaurant employee confirmed the closure last week. Patrick Short, general manager of the Sheraton St. Paul Woodbury hotel, said the decision to close the restaurant was made "very recently." St. Paul-based JLT Group owns Aperitif and the Woodbury Sheraton. Short said the closure was not related to a federal investigation into JLT. "But it was a decision by JLT to close the doors," he said. JLT Group is involved "in an alleged fraud investigation," an FBI spokesman confirmed last month.
Woodbury's residents have been increasingly reminded of their wildlife neighbors, according to recent police reports. Between Jan. 9 and Feb.
Whatever happens with plans to redevelop the State Farm Insurance building, it won't involve special legislation this session at the Capitol. Woodbury City Administrator Clint Gridley today confirmed the Legislature's timetable would be too narrow a window to draft any possible bill related to the State Farm property. "Time lines are just too difficult to meet," he said of deadlines set this session by legislative leaders.
Federal agents on Thursday searched the offices of a Twin Cities developer who owns numerous commercial and residential properties in Woodbury. A search warrant was executed at JLT Group's offices in St. Paul, FBI special agent Steve Warfield said.
Woodbury figures prominently in a slate of transit options connecting the Twin Cities with Eau Claire, Wis., announced Wednesday by a transportation commission. The seven transit options presented by the Gateway Corridor Commission include mixes of bus traffic, light rail and commuter rail. The commission, formed in 2009, is tasked with studying and planning alternative transportation options along I-94. The options will be presented at Feb. 24 meeting at Woodbury City Hall.
New commercial construction in Woodbury was on the rebound in 2010 for the first time in four years, though local residential property values continued to decline, according to a report released last week by the city. The 58-page report was presented Feb. 7 to Planning Commission members in draft form.