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C&C: News in Northfield

<ong>Northfield Middle teacher bites off piece of man’s ear at diner

Strange things can happen when teachers go wild. While some teachers may have nervous breakdowns in the classroom after days, months, or years of consistently unruly students, the actions of one Northfield Middle School teacher are even more peculiar than the average middle school teacher gone berserk.

Susan Mukuhi Mwarabu, 30, has pled guilty to biting off a piece of a man’s ear in a St. Paul diner. A first year teacher at Northfield Middle, Mwarabu has been on paid administrative leave since the school district first heard about the allegations.

At about 4:30 am on Sunday, March 14, an intoxicated Mwarabu was in a diner with her friends when a man at another table commented about one of her friends. Mwarabu then proceeded to lean into the man, lick his face, and bite off a portion of his ear.  She was arrested later that morning. On Tuesday, she pled guilty to felony third-degree assault in Ramsey County court. Mwarabu remains free on bail until her sentencing on May 20.

In the mean time, the school district is debating whether or not to fire her. The district has completed an investigation of Mwarabu, which will be presented to the school board in a closed session next Monday. The district superintendent will make a recommendation on Mwarabu but the school board will have the final say over her job.

Approval of graffiti ordinance is blotchy

An ordinance that cracks down on the freedom of artistic expression upon others’ property has created concerns over its crack down on the freedom of property owners.

The Northfield City Council wants to pass a new ordinance on graffiti that receives far less than unanimous support. The council voted 4-3 on Tuesday to receive more input from the community about the ordinance. The council intends to pass the ordinance once the necessary revisions are made from communal input. Mayor Mary Rossing and Councilors Betsey Buckheit and Erica Zweifel vented their concerns over the ordinance’s infrigement on private property owners’ rights at the council meeting.

The ordinance would make the creation of graffiti on private or public property without the permission of the owner a misdemeanor. A $1000 fine, up to 90 days in jail or both, could punish a future vandal. What is controversial about the ordinance is that it requires the property owners to clean up the graffiti within 30 days of receiving a notification of its existence from the police department.

Some downtown property owners feel that the ordinance “punishes the victim” because cleaning graffiti can waste time and resources.

Northfield Police Chief Mark Taylor, who proposed the ordinance, disagrees. He believes allowing graffiti to remain hurts the city’s appearance and encourages other vandals to add to the repertoire. In order to help victimized owners, Taylor suggests they use Rice County’s “Sentenced to Serve” program to clean up graffiti. “Sentenced to Serve” crews are jail inmates who work on community projects. Taylor said that they were a low-cost option to follow city rules.

Community Resource plans to move to 618 Division

Carls that use Community Resource Bank will soon have to walk a few blocks further down Division to reach their nearest branch. Bank President Don Kuehnast announced that the bank would move to the Phoenix Building, which is located across from Econofoods at 618 Division St, by the end of June.

First National Bank owns Community Resource Bank’s current downtown branch location, 25 Bridge Square.  First National Bank plans to sell or redevelop the property. Community Resource filed a permit with the city to move to 618 Division last year, but backed off when First National Bank extended its lease at the Bridge Square location.

Kuehnast told the Northfield News, “We just found another location that we thought was still within the downtown and provided parking and visibility.”

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