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The Carletonian

    Cows and Contentment: A look at what’s been happening lately around Northfield

    <an style="font-weight: bold">Top Heroin Dealer Sentenced

    A chapter of Northfield’s recent struggles with heroin closed on Tuesday with the sentencing of Travis Roy Peterson, the largest known heroin dealer in Rice County. The 19-year-old received a prison term of more than seven years under a plea deal. He was accused of selling more than $1,000 worth of the drugs per day and employing a minor in his business.

    Northfield’s heroin epidemic goes back to 2006, and is responsible for at least seven overdose deaths. Awareness of the problem spiked in July, 2007 when then-Police Chief Gary Smith estimated that about 250 Northfield youth abused heroin and the prescription painkiller OxyContin. Many Northfield residents criticized the high estimate, but the announcement nonetheless made headlines in the Cities.

    Peterson was arrested in October 2008 along with seven other young people from Northfield, Dundas, Farmington and Edina. Law enforcement officials now say that the drug’s use is down, but a Northfield heroin overdose in January of this year shows that the drug is present even with its largest known group of traffickers behind bars.

    Federal Recovery Dollars at Work

    The roadwork planned near Faribault along Interstate 35 may look like any other springtime construction job. But in addition to orange cones, the job will bring federal money to the area: the construction marks the first wave of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act infrastructure projects to arrive in Rice County.

    The I-35 maintenance work is part of $502 million in road maintenance funded by February’s recovery bill statewide. With 96 shovel-ready projects, Minnesota was one of the first states to allocate half of its funding –well ahead of the June 29 deadline. Some of these projects began work this week, and most should start before the end of the month.

    The Rice County job along Interstate 35 involves mill and overlay work (related to the highway’s surface) as well as culvert repair and installation of a wire median barrier designed to reduce cross-median crashes. Crane Creek Asphalt of Owatonna won the $8 million contract (half of it coming from the Recovery Act) in bidding that ended on March 27.

    Road construction generally plays a significant role in the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which commits $48.12 billion to transportation projects in general, and $27.5 billion specifically to highways.

    GIS Entrepreneur

    In the private sector this week, the GIS software and consulting startup StrataPoint finalized plans to open an office in Northfield after the City Council granted it a $50,000, 3.25% loan.

    Founded in 2002 as a consulting firm, StrataPoint is now a software company that customizes Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for large land managers -thus far city governments and golf courses. Its current clients include the city of Milwaukee and the Medinah Country Club near Chicago. The company’s technology combines maps and databases to analyze multiple layers of an area’s organization: from trees to transportation systems to sewage.

    The firm has already begun to renovate the office it will occupy on Armstrong Road near St. Olaf. It currently has three employees, which it has pledged to expand to twenty by 2013. It has also agreed to raise $175,000 in local capital.

    Brad Leonard, Vice President of Business Development hopes that Northfield will serve as the model community that StrataPoint can show to future clients: “Our goal is to one day have the city, both colleges and the Northfield Golf Club on board,” he said.

    Source: Northfield News

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