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Second Amendment under fire

Pine County residents get involved

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
The Second Amendment is under fire.
Discussions, at the State and Federal level about doubling down on gun control with greater restrictions, have fueled fear with gun owners in Minnesota that their ownership and possession of guns is at risk.
Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America states:
“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Residents want Pine County commissioners to commit to enforcing the Second Amendment by making the County a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary County. They are signing a petition that has been circulating and has been placed at several locations in Pine County including the Victory Station, in Sandstone and Slim’s and Curt’s stations, in Hinckley.
It reads: “We, residents of Pine County, agree with the proposal to make Pine County, Minnesota a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary County.”


At the March 16, Pine County Board meeting, discussion on the Second Amendment was added to the agenda by Chairman Steve Hallan. This came in response to unnamed commissioners saying they have been engaged by residents about the Second Amendment.
Hallan led the limited discussion, at which time he said he took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States when he was sworn in and that should be enough.
He said it would be part of committee discussions and mentioned it being addressed at committee of the whole meetings which are random meetings of all commissioners.
As of August 2020,13 Minnesota Counties had passed resolutions of support as Second Amendment Sanctuary Counties. They include neighboring Kanabec County whose county board passed the resolution more than a year ago, on March 3, 2020.
Their resolution states that its intent is that public funds of the county not be used to restrict Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Kanabec County and that county resources not be used to aid other agencies in restricting Second Amendment rights.
The board’s resolution says its intent is to “…oppose any infringement on the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms using such legal means as may be expedient, including, without limitation, court action.
The locations in Pine County carrying the petition also have a sample resolution.

photo by A. Croup for PiCK News

Above: Victory Station in Sandstone is one of several businesses carrying the 2nd Amendment petition and the sample Sanctuary County resolution.

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Pine Co. Board approves mutual aid for Minneapolis during Chauvin trial

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Pine County Board entered into a formal agreement, with the city of Minneapolis, to provide deputies for the upcoming trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin is one of four Minneapolis police officers charged with the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death triggered riots, arson and looting over several days in the Twin Cities. The mutual aid agreement for law enforcement services was approved by a 4-1 vote at the board’s regular meeting, Feb. 16, 2021..

photo by A.Croup for PiCK News

Pine County Sheriff Jeff Nelson

Commissioners Josh Mohr, Terry Lovgren, Matt Ludwig and Steve Hallan voted yes. Commissioner JJ Waldhelm voted no.
According to the background information provided by County Administrator David Minke, the agreement can be cancelled at any time and expires Dec. 31, 2021. The three remaining officers charged with aiding and abetting in the death of Floyd will be tried together on August 23, 2021. The agreement will still be active.
There is no specific amount of time commitment and mutual aid defined in the agreement. It would be at the discretion of Pine County Sheriff Jeff Nelson, who would consider the availability of deputies and the existing conditions...

Pine County Attorney determines Deputy Pepin's use of force justified

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) has completed its investigation of the Oct. 9, 2020, officer involved shooting of Anthony Michael Legato.
Pine County Attorney’s Office reviewed the information collected by the BCA and concluded:
“It is our conclusion that Deputy Josh Pepin’s use of deadly force in the line of duty was necessary to protect himself or others from apparent death or great bodily harm as is permitted by Minnesota Statutes section 609.066 subdivision 2(1) and (2). Given our conclusion, we will neither issue a criminal complaint nor present this case before a grand jury,” according to the memorandum from Pine County Attorney Reese Fredrickson.
(View the MEMORANDUM and detail of the pursuit on Oct. 9, 2021)
At the Dec. 1, 2020 county board meeting, there were about a dozen virtual attendees who called for the firing of Joshua Pepin. They wanted criminal charges to be brought against him. They also pressed for the county to release the body camera and squad camera footage.
Body and squad camera footage, along with statements from law enforcement officials, Deputy Pepin and those involved in the 911 call and dispatching of deputies is contained in the information gathered by the BCA, which the county attorney’s office used to determine if lethal force was necessary.

Dispatch was contacted at 1:46 p.m., Oct. 9, 2020, by Grand Casino Hinckley security when a guest reported an assault

photos by Ailene Croup for PiCK News

Top: Pine County Deputy Josh Pepin was determined to be justified in the use of lethal force against Anthony Legato Above: Supports of action to charge Pepin criminally were present at December Pine County Board meeting.

and having a gun pointed at her. She stated that Legato, who had four active warrants for his arrest and was using someone else’s identity, was violent and had a big bag of methamphetamine when he left.
It was reported he was driving a large SUV pulling a trailer.
Shortly after, officers located Legato southbound on Hwy. 61 near Beroun. He turned around and went northbound at a high rate of speed, swerving into oncoming traffic and, at times, driving north in the southbound lane.
The pursuit continued as he entered the I-35 freeway at Hwy. 61 and Hwy. 23 south of Hinckley. He entered the freeway on the off ramp and drove against traffic. Deputy Pepin followed onto the freeway attempting to warn northbound traffic with his lights and siren.
It was Friday afternoon and freeway traffic was heavy.
Legato stopped the SUV and appeared to be trying to remove the motorcycle from the trailer when Deputy Pepin stopped his vehicle in front of the SUV. Legato got back into his vehicle and proceeded southbound in the northbound fast lane. Deputy Pepin, who had drawn his weapon, was directly in front of Legato. Legato ignored him and accelerate into oncoming traffic.
In Deputy Pepin’s interview with BCA, he said he felt his life and the life of the woman who was parked in the fast lane were in jeopardy. He fired four shots. The fourth one hit Legato. His SUV slowed down and Legato, who was wearing a grey backpack, got out and fell on the pavement. The SUV crashed into another vehicle. Deputy Aaron Borchardt and Chief Deputy Paul Widenstrom secured Legato with handcuffs thinking he was still alive because he tensed when they applied handcuffs.
When Legato was unresponsive, Widenstrom and Borchardt immediately began life-saving procedures and continued until EMT’s arrived and took over nine minutes later.
Inside the backpack was a stolen .45 Smith & Wesson, a Ruger SR40, a methamphetamine pipe and 18.396 grams of methamphetamine and the documents for the identity he was using. Legato’s DNA was found on the grips of both guns and on the trigger of the Smith & Wesson.
Fredrickson told PiCK News, “The BCA has done an extensive investigation over the past three months. They have had a large amount of material to go through. It’s impressive what they have done in that time.
“A loss of life is always tragic and we also have to think about how this affects law enforcement. They go through their whole life hoping they won’t ever have to use lethal force. Officer Pepin performed his job as a Pine County Deputy, using his years of training to assess the incident and take action.”


Rural Pine County resident target of mail theft, sheriff issues PSA

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Pick News reporter Ailene Croup asked Pine County Sheriff Jeff Nelson, at a Jan. 5, 2021 board meeting, if he had heard of recent mailbox thefts in the county.
Nelson said there had been a few. She asked if he would issue a notice for the press about precautions to take to avoid mailbox theft.Most of Pine County is rural and residents receive their mail through rural delivery in a mailbox, sometimes more than a half mile from their homes.


PiCK News had received information from Barry Township resident Roberta Butler about a letter she had received, in December, from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.
The letter stated: “On November 10, 2020, the Sheriff’s Office (Ramsey County) conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle in which property believed to belong to you was recovered.”
Butler was told she could make arrangements to retrieve the property from the sheriff’s office.
The letter also state: “Specifically to you, the Sheriff’s Office recovered a banking document in which a bank card was removed from the document.” The letter instructed Butler to contact the property room deputy to retrieve the property and a phone number of an investigator if a report had been filed with the Pine County Sheriff’s Office.
Preparing for a trip last October, Butler realized her bank debit card was expiring and she had not received her new one. She had a temporary card issued. She didn’t realize she had misplaced the original card. The bank canceled it and sent a new card. She watched for it but it never arrived and had another card sent to replace it. The bank canceled the last card. She didn’t give it another thought until the letter arrived from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.
Butler now has her neighbor watching her mailbox when she’s gone.
She cautions those in rural Pine County to have a friend pick up their mail if the resident will be out of town. Incoming and outgoing mail is at risk for mailbox theft.
On Jan. 25, 2021, the Pine County Sheriff’s Office sent this public service announcement to the media.
The Pine County Sheriff’s Office would like to caution people about leaving checks and other forms of payment in any mailbox on the roadway. Deputies have responded to several reports of outgoing checks being stolen out of mailboxes. The checks can be altered and cashed. Often the victims are not aware of the theft until the rightful recipient notifies them of a late payment. The delay in reporting can make the identification process difficult at times.
If you can deliver the payment directly, please do so. The best method, if you need to mail a check, would be to take it directly to the Post Office.
If you discover a payment was not received, notify your banking institution and also report it to the Sheriff’s Office. Over this past weekend, deputies recovered checks and then had to track down the owner as the theft had not been reported yet.
If you see suspicious activity around your mailbox, get a vehicle description and report the activity.
Pine County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 320-529-8380.

New faces on Pine County Board

photo by A. Croup for PiCK News

Left: Terry Lovgren, District One, took her place on the Pine County Board of Commissioners at the Jan 5, 2021 regular meeting. Right: JJ Waldhelm won the District Four commissioner's seat in the November elections.

Makeup of Pine County Board changes as two new members fill former incumbents' seats

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
The first regular meeting of 2021 for Pine County Board of Commissioners was held at Courthouse boardroom. Regular meetings have been held at North Pine Government Center in Sandstone since March of 2020. With COVID restrictions, imposed by Governor Walz, it has been easier to meet in Sandstone and take advantage of the teleconferencing options of the new building.
Two new commissioners took their places at the table.
In the November general election, Terry Lovgren won the District Three Commissioner’s seat long held by Steve Chaffee...

From the editor's desk: 2021

Tolerance: What's in a word?

NLX: The train to nowhere supported by taxpayers

Editorial: Permits, fees and fines "Oh My'

For more information about these events:

- County Board meeting April 5, 2021, North Pine Government Center, Sandstone, at 10 a.m. Click on the link above to get details regarding social distancing


of the week

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Grindstone Dam Reservoir one step closer to extinction

photo by Ailene Croup for PiCK News

Removal of the Grindstone Dam by the DNR will soon make this view of the Grindstone Reservoir and Dam a thing of the past.

Funding for Grindstone Dam removal expires in 2020

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
The 26.6 acre Grindstone Reservoir is one step closer to extinction as the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) goes through the motions required to remove he Grindstone River Dam located on the north end of the city of Hinckley.
There was an informational meeting in 2017 where residents and interested parties had the opportunity to ask questions about the future of the river, recreation and funding necessary to complete the removal.
DNR officials reported at that time that funding for the project expires in 2020.
The next step is public comment required for the environmental impact statement (EIS).
“The EIS will describe the potential environmental effects of the proposed dam removal,” according to the DNR’s news release today, Oct. 12, 2020.
Social distancing requirements, because of COVID-19, will make it impossible for some residents to be able to voice their concerns in person or for those who do not have computer skills. The DNR has set up dates for participating by phone or through computer teleconferencing. Their will be one date available for in-person comments by computer set up for that purpose at the Hinckley Community Room, 106 1st Street S.E., in Hinckley.
Click this
LINK to see the dates and times for public comment.

Sheriff's report

This week's Pine County Sheriff's Blotter

What PiCK News doesn't cover, this website does. Featuring great writers with tons of information about this great state. This isn't spoon-fed news. It's real n e w s.

~ Rural reporter derails Star Tribune on new Amtrak train to Duluth.

What's wrong with Socialism?

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders patted Castro on the back. Maggie Ickes tells the real story with her first-hand review of Castro's socialism

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News

Reporter’s note: I met Magaly “Maggy” Ickes in 2003 when I interviewed her while working for the Bedford Gazette in south central Pennsylvania. She was a Cuban refugee. Her story began with Fidel Castro’s six-year revolution culminating in 1959 with the overthrow of Cuban Prime Minister Fulgencia Batista. Under Castro, Cuba became a socialist state.


Maggie’s story

Thanks to a woman Magaly (Falcon) Ickes calls her guardian angel, she is able to tell her story and express her gratitude for the gift of freedom.

Her guardian angel made it possible for her to survive three brutal years in Fidel Castro’s labor camp where she worked cutting sugar cane and picking vegetables, awaiting her turn at America and freedom.

Maggie, who is now a resident of Dutch Corner, in south central Pennsylvania, was only 6-years-old when Fidel Castro became dictator of Cuba. The date was July 26, 1959.

“It was a day I won’t forget. He called it our independence day,” she mocked.

“Everything was rationed. You were given a passport-type book and you could get a pound of coffee, one of meat, sugar, rice and other staples per person, plus a liter of milk for a family to last a month.”

She and her father, Jesus Falcon, supplemented those rations by using slingshots to hunt for frogs and small birds, “Like the ones you see on cows backs,” she explained...more

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