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    Tartan High School will have its choir concert tonight.

    Tartan High School hosted its Choir Concert Monday night, featuring an original Christmas tune.

    Among an variety of Christmas songs, Tartan's Concert Choir performed an original Christmas song at the high school tonight. The song was written by Judith Johnson, a Grant Township resident.

    Tracie Hanson, who direct's the concert choir, said she connected with Johnson through the Woodbury Community Orchestra, which has played with Tartan and North High School for 16 years at the school's yearly Masterworks concerts every fall. Johnson is a reitred art and home economics teacher and a pianist. 

    Johnson wrote her Christmas song about her younger brother, Casey, who was stationed in Iraq. 

    "She was thinking of him and missing him and wanted to write a Christmas song about her feelings. It came to her all at once and she played out the melody and the lyrics just fell into place," Hanson said. "As a gift, her husband had a choral arranger Phil Kadidlo, put the song together with parts for a choir. Then Judith wanted a section of the song to have  Spanish text so a friend helped her find a Spanish teacher that translated a section of the song into Spanish for her over the phone. That’s how the song came to be."

    Johnson was in the audience Monday as the Concert Choir performed her song. 

     

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    Danielle Jelinek of Oakdale has not been seen or heard of since Saturday, Dec. 8.

    Search warrant documents recently made public reveal authorities found traces of blood at the Chisago Lake Township residence where Danielle Jelinek was last seen, according to recent news reports.

    Jelinek, 27, of Oakdale, has been missing since Dec. 8. She was reported missing on Dec. 9 after no one had seen or heard from her. 

    The Chisago County Sherriff's Office conducted a search of the home of Jelinek's on-again, off-again boyfriend, Aaron Schnagl, who has been named a person of interest in the case. Schnagl was arrested on Dec. 9 for possessing  more than 12 pounds of marijuana, which deputies found at the residence after retrieving a search warrant. 

    During the search at the residence, deputies found blood-stained paper towels, paper towels that had been soaked in bleach and blood stains in Schnagl's vehicle, according to a report by the Star Tribune

    An analysis by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension found blood stains in Schnagl's master bedroom, on a stairway and on a couch, according to the Pioneer Press

    Chisago County Sheriff Rick Duncan told the Star Tribune that people should not assume the blood is Jelinek's. 

    Schnagl has not been charged in connection with Jelinek's disapearance. 

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    During an interview with investigators on Wednesday Schnagl said that he and Jelinek went out drinking and spent the night together Saturday, Dec. 8, and went to bed around 2:30 a.m. Schnagl said that he woke up at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and Jelinek was gone.  

    A friend of Jelinek's told investigators that she received text messages from Schnagl around 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, stating that Danielle "took off on foot last night she was all messed up its snowing I'm worried," according to the Star Tribune's report.

    Authorities have noted that Schnagl has been uncooperative in the investigation.

    The documents also state that Schnagl allegedly assaulted Jelinek on three different occassions in the past where Jelinek was choked, received two black eyes and was pushed out of a moving vehicle, according to the Star Tribune's report.

    Hundreds of volunteers have been searching of Jelinek in the Chisago City area with no results. 

    A candle light vigil was held for Jelinek at Five Oaks Church in Woodbury Monday night. After the vigil, the Danielle Mary Jelinek Search Team Facebook page posted the following:

    The Prayer Vigil was Incredibly Beautiful. The amount of support and love people are showing has definitely made an impact on the Jelinek family. 

    We're praying hard and hoping for a miracle. We will not stop searching and we will continue to stay strong for Danielle.

    Thanks again to those who traveled to Five Oaks Church tonight and thank you to those who sent prayers as well. Much Love!

    Plans for another search have yet to be announced. 

     

    Related:

    Candle Light Vigil Set for Missing Oakdale Woman Monday Night

    'Person of Interest' Named in Missing Oakdale Woman Case, Search Continues

    Day Two: Search Continues for Missing Oakdale Woman Thursday Afternoon

    Local Nonprofit Speaks Out to Family of Missing Oakdale Woman

    Search Launched Wednesday to Find Missing Oakdale Woman

    Sheriff's Deputies, Other Agencies Search for Missing Oakdale Woman

    Sheriff's Office Investigates Oakdale Woman's Disappearance

     

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    Flags flew at half staff Saturday afternoon.

    The North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District released a statement following the shooting in Newtown, Conn.:

    We at the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District are deeply saddened to hear of the news of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut. We send our condolences to the Sandy Hook Elementary School community in the wake of this horrific tragedy.  

    Additional school psychologists and counselors will be available...to provide extra support for students who may need it. The National Association of School Psychologists also has tips for helping children cope with news such as this: http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/talkingviolence.pdf.

    We take the safety of our students and staff very seriously, and we are proactive in taking measures to keep children safe. If you have questions or concerns, please contact your child’s school principal. 

    For contact information for your child's school click here.

    School officials held staff meetings Monday morning in each of the schools across the district to discuss emergency procedures and plans at each building-level, said Jennifer McNeil, the district's communications coordinator. 

    During the staff meetings, the district provided resources to teachers to help them respond to students' questions about the shooting. School counselors, social workers and psychologists were also on hand to lend support to students.

    In addition, the district-level crisis team is meeting to review procedures and expections for emergencies. The school district will be working closely with police and fire departments regarding safety as well as practice safety drills with students, McNeil said.

     

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    The following people were arrested according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office:

    Dec. 11

    • Jeffrey Paul Quitter, 58, of Oakdale, arrested at Lake Elmo Park Reserve on DWI charges.
    • Sedat Saipi, 49, of Naperville, Illinois, arrested at Fleet Farm on theft charges.

    Dec. 12

    • Joseph Michael Sauro, 45, arrested on fifth-degree assault charges.

    Dec. 14

    • David Jonathan Batres Campos, 28, of Oakdale, arrested for DWI, crime against administration and traffic charges.
    • Denitra Raeann Lagarde, 40, of Minneapolis, arrested at the 4900 block of Hamlet Avenue on theft charges.

    Dec. 15

    • Vincent Lavonte Brown, 20, of Oakdale, arrested at the 3800 block of Granada Lane on property damage and theft charges.

    Dec. 16

    • Cortney Rae Hernandez, 20, of Oakdale, arrested in Mahtomedi on drug possession and traffic charges.
    • Chao Lee, 30, of St. Paul, arrested at Highway 5 and I-694 on DWI charges.
    • Brian Ray Schowalter, 42, of Blaine, arrested at 15th Street and Helmo Avenue on DWI charges.
    • Christopher John Harry Sell, 21, of Oakdale, arrested at the 1100 block of Guthrie Avenue on traffic charges.

    Dec. 17

    • Kory Conrad Anderson, 24, of Oakdale, arrested on DWI charges.
    • John Andrew Bergstrom, 23, of Oakdale, arrested at the 7400 block of Hudson Boulevard on felony theft charges. 

     

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     Imperial man charged with attempted sexual trafficking of a child.

    Remember: It's the thought that counts.

    We all have at least one person in our lives that presents a perennial problem during the holidays: They're impossible to shop for. Maybe they're a vegan who can't countenance any animal products whatsoever, or a friend who is allergic to everything from angora to silk, or worse, the one who never wants anything.

    Enter Melissa Hardin, creator of Flaunt, a mobile boutique run by a group of fashion artists and style consultants out of a studio in Fridley. Also on deck are Jennifer Zafft, Marketing Director for The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove, and Lisa Buck, a resident of the Lake Minnetonka area and veteran holiday shopper, and Kelly Bray of Zida Boutique in Burnsville.

    Stymied? Whipshawed by confusion? These ladies will help you find a thoughtful, affordable gift on the fly.


    Dick’s has suspended the sale of certain semi-automatic rifles.

    Two national retailers—WalMart Stores and The Dick's Sporting Goods—have decided to remove some rifles from store shelves.

    The Dick's Sporting Goods chain said Tuesday that it is suspending sales of some rifles nationwide because of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, USA Today is reporting.

    Dick's Sporting Goods has more than 500 stores in 44 states with Twin Cities locations including Roseville, Minnetonka, Richfield, Maple Grove, Burnsville, Woodbury, Coon Rapids and Monticello. 

    In a statement, the Pittsburgh-based sporting goods retailer said today, "We are extremely saddened by the unspeakable tragedy that occurred last week in Newtown, CT, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and to the entire community.

    "Out of respect for the victims and their families, during this time of national mourning we have removed all guns from sale and from display in our store nearest to Newtown and suspended the sale of modern sporting rifles in all of our stores chainwide.

    We continue to extend our deepest sympathies to those affected by this terrible tragedy."

    USA Today said, "It's not clear how long the suspension will last. A spokesman for Dick's did not immediately return a call for comment on Tuesday."

    Meanwhile, WalMart Stores has taken similar action.

    "Walmart announced Monday that the chain is pulling the Bushmaster Rifle from its web store, a military-style weapon similar to that used by 20-year-old Adam Lanza in the mass shooting that killed 20 children and six staff members Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School," according to CBS' Los Angeles affiliate.

    Walmart has several stores in the Twin Cities metro area with locations in, among other places, Apple Valley, Burnsville, Fridley, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, St. Anthony Village, Maple Grove, Shakopee and Woodbury. 

    Meanwhile, later in the day, the National Rifle Association issued the following statement:

    "The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown.

    Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting.

    The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."

    Answer our poll and explain your answer in the comments.


    What's selling in Oakdale?

    In this feature, we take a look at the best Oakdale ads on Craigslist. From the strange to the collectible to the helpful, we'll bring together these ads and more in a weekly post for you.

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    Mirror, Mirror? 

    large mirror - $100

    Large mirror.. very heavy and solid

    Need a light?

    2 beautiful lamps - $100

    2 very rich looking lamps, solid heavy .. 2 settings...

    Cool it

    Delonghi 12000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner New In The Box - $250

    This listing is for a Delonghi 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner that is brand new in the original box. This air conditioner is perfect for rental properties, apartments, townhomes, cabins, trailers, and boat houses. If you have any questions, please contact us. 

    Need a seat or two?

    2 Mid Century Bar Center Island Stools Price for 2~! - $55

    Great deal! Mid Century Vintage Arthur Umanoff! Go on line see how much one chair is! You receive both...Very industrial in appeal! Great for the cabin bar...center island stools if you have a tall one. Fits great in a pottery barn...old world look! Great tall chair Stool.

    Measures approx. seat 29" tall....backrest is 42 1/2" tall 17" wide by 14" deep

    Looking for a bike?

    Wood Radio Flyer Push Foot Bike Great Condtion - $20

    Great condition, great price! Ready for your little one to use or for you to display!! 

    Take a look

    Rear View Backup Camera - New - PRICE REDUCED - $50

    High resolution and waterproof. New in the box. Includes hole saw bit to cut mounting hole. Requires video screen and input designed for this use. Most newer cars with a video capable display will be able to use this camera. All cords and cable are included. 

    Let's stick together

    Magz Magnetic Toys - $12

    Over half an ice cream bucket full. Good condition.



    Brian Mehlhorn appeared in court last week.

    An Oakdale man suspected of abducting a Shoreview woman this fall just made his first appearance in court last week for six other felony charges.

    Brian James Mehlhorn, 29, was charged in Washington County Distrct Court in October. Last week he appeared in court facing five felony theft charges and one third-degree burglary charge. 

    In addition to Washington County's formal charges, Mehlhorn is being investigated as a suspect in a Shoreview woman's abduction from last month. Ramsey County is handling the investigation. 

    According to the first complaint for the third-degree burglary and one count of felony theft charges:

    The Woodbury Police Department was called on Dec. 26, 2011 that someone had broken into an unattached garage at an apartment complext. A vehicle's tires and rims valued at $2,424 were stolen along with a bicycle valued at $330. 

    When police arrived to the scene they observed a hole in the wall and damage to the overhead garage door locking mechanism. A pry bar at the scene was taken into evidence where they test the pry bar for DNA samples. Authorities found DNA samples belonging to Mehlhorn.

    According to the second complaint for four counts of felony theft charges:

    Police were called to the 6800 block of Fourth Street on June 24 on a report of a vehicle theft. The victim said that her car had been stolen from the street in front of her house. 

    Police later discovered that a vehicle matching the victim's description was last seen in Hugo and was part of a credit card fraud investigation at a gas statoin.

    The gas station's surveillance footage showed Mehlhorn at the scene

    The vehicle was later found in Maplewood, where authorities found a cigarette butt, black sweatshirt, soda bottle, cell phone charger and paper reciept in the car. The items were sent to the Burea of Criminal Apprehension for a DNA analysis.

    On July 27, police responded to a vehicle theft report at the 800 block of Greenway Aenue. The car was stolen while the victim was picking his children up from daycare. 

    The vehicle was later found in Vadnais Heights. Police were able to find a blood sample on the steering wheel, which was later confirmed as matching Mehlhorn's DNA.

    If found guilty, Mehlhorn could face up to five years in prison and pay up to $10,000 in fines for each charge. 

    Related:

    Police Investigate Woman's Abduction by Oakdale Man, Other Suspect

    Oakdale Man Suspected in Abduction Investigation Charged with Six Other Crimes


     

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    Join Grayslake in placing a candle on your porch from 7-9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, in honor of the Newtown shooting victims.

    Several universities have announced graduation lists.

    More than 800 University of North Dakota  students were eligible to receive degrees during this year’s Winter Commencement on Friday, Dec. 14, at Chester Fritz Auditorium on campus.

    About 200 of those students were eligible to receive post-graduate and professional degrees at the winter ceremony.

    UND President Robert O. Kelley presided over the event.

    Oakdale resident Kaitlin Durkin received her Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BSN) and graduated with Cum Laude honors. 

     

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  • 12/19/12--08:55: Vote for the Best 'Decked' House (chan 3369197)
  • Vote for the most decked out house.

    We had tons of national entries in this year’s Deck the House contest and in our quest to find the most over-the-top holiday decorations in the country, we’ve seen everything from a life-size Santa to holiday lights so bright they could blind the neighbors.

    We loved showcasing everyone’s holiday spirit, but Deck the House isn’t over yet. We’re still looking for the one home so spectacularly decorated that it could be the national grand prize winner of our contest.

    We will choose 25 finalists from all our entries across the country. From Dec. 18- Dec. 28, vote for your favorite and that person could win $100,000 for his or her local school district.

    All you have to do is visit this page to browse a gallery of the finalists and cast your vote beginning Dec. 18. On Dec. 29, we’ll announce the grand prize winner of our Deck the House contest.

    So, now’s your chance to tell us who has the best “decked” house in the country. Let us know by voting for your favorite beginning Dec. 18.


    Winter weather is on the way.

    The National Weather Service has issued the following winter weather advisory for the Oakdale area from 9 p.m. on Wednesday until 6 p.m. on Thursday: 

    ... WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 9 PM THIS EVENING TO 6 PM CST THURSDAY...

    THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN HAS ISSUED A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW... WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 9 PM THIS EVENING TO 6 PM CST THURSDAY.

    * TIMING... LIGHT SNOW WILL BEGIN LATE THIS AFTERNOON... AND INCREASE IN INTENSITY BY THIS EVENING. STRONG WINDS WILL FOLLOW THURSDAY MORNING.

    * IMPACTS... 2 TO 4 INCHES OF SNOW ARE EXPECTED BY THURSDAY AFTERNOON. STRONG SUSTAINED WINDS OF 15 TO 25 MPH WITH OCCASIONAL GUSTS OF 30 TO 35 MPH ARE EXPECTED THURSDAY AS WELL.

    * MAIN IMPACT... BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW COULD MAKE FOR DIFFICULT TRAVEL ON THURSDAY.

    PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

    A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW MEANS THAT VISIBILITIES WILL BE LIMITED DUE TO A COMBINATION OF FALLING AND BLOWING SNOW. USE CAUTION WHEN TRAVELING... ESPECIALLY IN OPEN AREAS.

    &&

    More Information

    ... SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW IS EXPECTED IN FAR SOUTHERN MINNESOTA AND PORTIONS OF WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN TONIGHT AND THURSDAY...

    A WINTER STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR TONIGHT AND THURSDAY FOR PORTIONS OF FAR SOUTHERN AND SOUTHEASTERN MINNESOTA ALONG WITH PORTIONS OF WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN. THE WARNING INCLUDES AREAS ALONG AND SOUTH OF A LINE FROM RED WING TO FARIBAULT TO WASECA TO FAIRMONT IN MINNESOTA... AND ALONG AND SOUTH OF A LINE FROM CORNELL TO ELLSWORTH IN WISCONSIN. A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS ALSO IN EFFECT FOR THE COUNTIES IMMEDIATELY NORTH AND WEST OF THE WARNING AREA.

    SNOW WILL DEVELOP ACROSS NEBRASKA AND NORTHERN IOWA THIS AFTERNOON... AND BEGIN TO SPREAD NORTH AND NORTHEAST ACROSS THE MINNESOTA BORDER BY SUNSET. THE AREA OF SNOW WILL CONTINUE TO SPREAD NORTHEAST ACROSS SOUTH CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA... AS WELL AS PORTIONS OF WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN OVERNIGHT. SEVERAL INCHES OF ACCUMULATING SNOW ARE LIKELY IN THE WARNED AREA... WITH A FEW INCHES IN THE ADVISORY AREA.

    ALTHOUGH THE CURRENT TRACK OF THIS STORM TAKES THE BULK OF THE HEAVY SNOW ACROSS IOWA AND WISCONSIN... THERE HAS BEEN A SLIGHT SHIFT TO THE NORTHWEST ON THE MORNING MODEL RUNS. THEREFORE... SNOWFALL AMOUNTS HAVE BEEN SLIGHTLY INCREASED AND ACCUMULATING SNOWFALL IS POSSIBLE AS FAR NORTH AS THE SOUTHERN AND SOUTHEASTERN SUBURBS OF THE TWIN CITIES.

    IN ADDITION... STRONG NORTHERLY WINDS WILL DEVELOP TONIGHT AND CONTINUE THROUGH THE DAY ON THURSDAY. SUSTAINED WIND SPEEDS FROM 15 TO 30 MPH ALONG WITH GUSTS IN THE 30 TO 40 MPH RANGE ARE POSSIBLE. THIS WOULD LIKELY RESULT IN CONSIDERABLE BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW WITH NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA WHERE THERE IS A WINTER STORM WARNING. IN ADDITION... SEVERAL INCHES OF FRESH SNOW FELL ACROSS THE WARNING AREA TUESDAY MORNING WHICH MAY ALSO BE PICKED UP BY THE STRONG WINDS.

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    Bill Pulkrabek is running for the District 2 seat on the Washington County Board.

    Ted Geisel, more commonly known as Dr. Seuss, once wrote “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Well, I have a lot to smile about as my service on the Washington County Board concludes. As is in life, if I have one thing that I should have done more often while on the board, it is simply to say thank you. 

    Therefore, I would like to thank the nine commissioners, past and present, that I have had the honor to serve with. I would like to thank Jim Schug, Molly O’ Rourke and Kevin Corbid for their stellar leadership of our great county.  I would like to thank all of our department heads, our county attorney, and our sheriff for their collective outstanding leadership. I would like to thank all of our employees for making Washington County the best county in the state of Minnesota. 

    I would like to specifically thank the following people, who over many years have made my position as a commissioner easier, more fun and have made me smile:  Dan Papin, Don Theisen, Wayne Sandberg, Lowell Johnson, Judy Hunter, Jane Harper, Pat Conley, Nancy Brase, Linda Engh, and of course, Pat Raddatz. 

    A personal thanks to my parents, Earl and Nancy Pulkrabek, who instilled in me the competitive spirit and mental toughness it takes to be in the political arena. I want to thank my former spouse, Lori Pulkrabek, for all of her support and guidance over the years. A thank you to my campaign manager, Damon Dolton, whose endless hours of work on my behalf can never be repaid. And finally, a thank you to Senator Norm Coleman and Mayor Bill Sandberg for inspiring me to run for elected office many years ago.   

    There are numerous county projects, programs and services that I could point to as successes over the last 14 years.  As I take a step back and look at the macro I think the major, overarching success of the county can be summed up with this:  Washington County enhances our high quality of life by providing excellent core and essential services at low levels of taxation.  This is why Washington County is a model for not only other counties, but all layers of government.  I am glad to have played a small part in this success.

    Lastly, I want to thank my constituents and the all the residents of Washington County for bestowing on me the honor and privilege of being a commissioner and trusting me to make decisions on their behalf. 

    For this, my smile will endure.  Thank you.

    Bill Pulkrabek


    Danielle Jelinek of Oakdale has not been seen or heard of since Saturday, Dec. 8.

    Addtional search teams have been sent out, but there is still no sign of an Oakdale woman who was reported missing on Dec. 9.

    Danielle Jelinek, 27, has not been seen or heard of since Dec. 8. She was last seen at her on-again, off-again boyfriend's house in Chisago Lake Township. Since her disappearance, Aaron Schnagl — who was the last to see Jelinek — has been named a person of interest in the case.  

    Searchers spent Monday looking for Jelinek from helicopters. The fresh snow from earlier this month made initial searches difficult when Jelinek first disappeared, but the recent warmer weather prompted search teams to search by helicopters over targeted areas, according to the Star Tribune.

    The search team was unable to turn up any clues to Jelinek's whereabouts. A call to the Chisago County Sheriff's Office has not been returned. 

    A candle light vigil was held in Woodbury Monday night where more than 400 people attended. 

     

    Related:

    Authorities Find Blood Evidence in Missing Oakdale Woman Case; Abuse Allegations Arise

    Candle Light Vigil Set for Missing Oakdale Woman Monday Night

    'Person of Interest' Named in Missing Oakdale Woman Case, Search Continues

    Day Two: Search Continues for Missing Oakdale Woman Thursday Afternoon

    Local Nonprofit Speaks Out to Family of Missing Oakdale Woman

    Search Launched Wednesday to Find Missing Oakdale Woman

    Sheriff's Deputies, Other Agencies Search for Missing Oakdale Woman

    Sheriff's Office Investigates Oakdale Woman's Disappearance

     

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    Check out what stories were most popular each month in 2012.

    This is the first post in a "Year in Review: 2012" series. Oakdale Patch is recounting the most popular stories of each month in 2012.

    1. District 622 Teachers Show Displeasure at Board's Failure to Renegotiate Contract

    2. Maplewood Man Fatally Hit on I-694 near McKnight Road, Man Laid Down in Front of Truck

    3. Driver Arrested in Rollover Crash on I-694 in Oakdale

    4. Pedestrian Fatally Hit on Century Avenue North of I-94

    5. Police Meet with Oakdale Village Residents About Tenant's Murder

    6. Suspect in Oakdale Woman's Murder Identified, No Charges Yet

    7. Oakdale’s New Indoor Market Begins Saturday Afternoon

    8. Parents Protest Planned Shutdown of Little Angels Preschool

    9. Affidavit Provides More Details on Oakdale Woman's Murder

    10. Prison Term Stayed, Plus 25 Years Probation, for Oakdale Man Convicted of Sex Crime

     

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    What are your holiday traditions?

    We all remember some holiday traditions from when we were kids. 

    When I was a kid, one of my favorites was arguing with my brothers about who got to hang the beloved ornament on the tree. The "Mouse House," as we called it, was special because inside a mushroom was a family of mice, each doing their own thing. We would stick a lightbulb inside the house from a string of lights so you could see what was going on inside.

    I know, I know, that sounds pretty lame. But it's just one of those things that sticks with me. With all that's going on in the world right now, sometimes it's nice to take a break and think about memories that are simple and happy.

    We want to know: What are those traditions that just "stick with you?" 

    Did your Grandma make you an ugly sweater every year that you were forced to wear? Do you buy your kids matching Christmas jammies? Is there one food item that just makes the holidays complete for you? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below. 


  • 12/20/12--08:30: POLL: Arm Teachers? (chan 3369197)
  • A Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum Model 65.

    Updated below. Should Minnesota teachers carry guns at school?

    One staff member at a Minneapolis public school apparently thought so—according to authorities, she brought a loaded .357 Magnum to Seward Montessori Wednesday.

    MN Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) has a bill that would let educators have firearms in classrooms, according to WCCO-TV. The idea is to prevent massacres like last week's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT that left 20 students and seven adults dead. Cornish told WCCO:

    “We found out that nothing else works, and I think teachers are the best people to confront this. Even an armed security or an armed cop doesn’t do a lot of good if they get by him or her. Then they’ve got all these classrooms that they can go to. So, I think the best defense is a teacher."

    Update: Rep. Cornish told Patch by email Thursday:

    "The bill has not been formed yet. I will introduce one, however. I just don't want to hurry it now that I've seen that two other states have announced they will work on a policy in the same way as Texas generally. I'd like to get as many examples as I can." (Those states are Virginia and Tennesse, he said.)

    Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) disagreed, saying, “I think that would increase the danger. To have weapons in classrooms, to me, just defies common sense,"MPR reported.

    The question of arming teachers has heated up across the country:

    Do you support or oppose efforts to arm teachers? Take the poll above and leave a comment below.


    A screenshot of a Patch site darkened at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 21, 2012, in honor of those killed in Newtown, CT a week before.

     

    Patch websites in Minnesota will go dark for a moment Friday morning to honor the memory of those killed one week ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

    The brief Patch blackout is set for 8:30 a.m. CST on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012.

    Gov. Mark Dayton has called for a moment of silence in Minnesota one hour later, at 9:30 a.m. CST. In his statement (click on PDF thumbnail), Dayton also asked places of worship and government buildings that have bells to ring them 26 times "in honor of each life that was taken far too soon at Sandy Hook Elementary School."

    Twenty children and six adults died in the mass shooting. Newtown Patch's news hub has extensive coverage of the events of Dec. 14 and since, including the names of those who died that day.


    Connie Dow has been tutoring children in reading for several years.

    Editor's note: Connie Dow received the most votes of four nominees to be named Oakdale Patch's Person of the Year 2012.


    Behind every great accomplishment is someone working tirelessly and, too often, thanklessly, to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

    For Oakdale, that person is Connie Dow.

    Dow, who is the executive director of Oak Meadows Senior Living and avid volunteer in the community, was voted Oakdale Patch’s Person of the Year during a four-day poll on Patch. In doing so, she received 55 percent of the votes—15 of 27.

    "Here is this person who is incredbily busy — she has an enormous job here — but she sitll takes the time to do this volunteer stuff," said Kim Utecht Prayfrock, the director of community relations at Oak Meadows. 

    Dow, 62, took her job as executive directorat Oak Meadows 15 years ago. In fact, she took the job before the building was even completed.

    "The first time I was out there, there was just the framing up for the living building and I thought it was cute," Dow said. "When I came back to the building for the job it had doubled in size."

    Dow had previous experience in property management before and decied to pursue the job after a friend had recommended her. Dow planned on working at Oak Meadows for about five years or so at the time.

    "I planned on it being an interim thing, but I kind of got hooked and am still here," Dow said. 

    In addition to running Oak Meadows, Dow spends much of her time volunteering at Oakdale Elementary School. Dow does reading tutoring twice a week for the first graders at the school. 

    "I love to read, so that's why I like tutoring the kids in reading," Dow said. "It's very near and dear to me."

    Not only does Dow tutor kids in reading, but she is also part of the Oakdale Business and Professional Association, the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce, the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Aging Services of Minnesota and participates in Reign in Sarcoma

    She has also led Oak Meadows to participate in the Holiday Helping Hands program for 14 years. She and staff have also raised more than $5,000 by participating in the Alzheimer’s Walk for the past three years. 

    "She is so involved with things," Prayfrock said. "I could never keep up with her." 

    When Dow isn't volunteering — which is rare and in between — she spends time with her seven grandchildren. She also joines the Yarn Works Club at Oak Meadows where they have taught her how to crochet. She recently took up a pottery class as well.

    Dow had no idea she was even nominated up until the voting had ended. She was more than a little surprised. 

    "It was quite a surprise and it's quite an honor to be acknowledged by your staff," Dow said. "It's really nice and I really appreciate it." 

     

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