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Isaiah Noeldner’s knee was fully-healed by time the wrestling season rolled around in early-December and the senior went on to win 38 matches as a state-ranked heavyweight. (Jon Weisbrod/People’s Press)


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Roasterie brings caring and community through coffee

Scott Haglund loves coffee. He loves the smell of it, he loves the taste of it, he loves the process of preparing it, and more than anything – he loves that it brings people together.

Haglund’s passion for good cup of coffee — and all the details that go into it — is what made it a natural transition for him to open up Straight River Coffee, Owatonna’s first roasterie.

“There is this element of sitting around a table with a cup of coffee, and talking and connecting with people – I think that is part of what I enjoy the most about coffee,” Haglund said as he shared his vision of everything that Straight River Coffee could become inside the space of the former Budget Mart gas station on 26th Street. While cups of coffee cannot be purchased inside the store, the permeable aroma of rich and decadent coffee wafting through the building and out into the street during the day, luring people in simply through their noses.

Inside the building, Haglund roasts coffee beans from all over the world, currently providing options from 10 different countries. The business itself offers coffee in the whole bean or at a medium or course grind, as well as coffee supplies and education from Owatonna’s very own coffee professional — Haglund himself.

“I’ve been playing with personally roasted coffee for a few years, selling it to family and friends and eventually in the farmers market circuit,” Haglund said, reminiscing about his first time trying to roast coffee beans at home with a whirley pop on the grill — an experiment that quite literally ended up in flames. “In the last year Hy-Vee reached out to me saying they would like to provide my coffee in their stores, but in order to do that we had to be commercial. So, I became commercial.”

Moving his operation from inside his garage — which wife Pam swears was the best smelling garage in the neighborhood — next door to Finholdt Repair was as smooth a transition as Haglund’s Brazilian Red Catuai brew. The open space allows customers to explore the coffee varietals, witness some of the in-house roasting by Haglund, and learn a little bit about what goes into the perfect cup of coffee. Haglund, who once led “cupping” classes at Community Education to help people learn about tasting notes in coffee, looks forward to the day when he is able to further expand and do some additional coffee classes.

“Coffee is really very similar to wine in the way that it has flavor profiles,” Haglund said. “The same coffee plant that grows in one area is going to taste completely different than when it grows in another area, because the bean itself absorbs the flavors of what it’s around.”

Haglund also looks forward to combining his coffee business with his wife’s women’s coaching business, Living Well. The couple envisions hosting classes the revolves around coffee tastings, but then opens the floor to open communication and growth. The two stand firm that life can easily improve through caring, community, coaching and coffee.

“We really want this to be a positive place,” Pam Haglund said. “A lot of what we do is faith-based, and that is just the good foundation behind it all.”

The Haglunds are also firm believers in giving back to the community they thrive in, and have already partnered with two different organizations for fundraising efforts. One is a youth horse camp that they are connected with through one of their children, and the other is Rachel’s Light – a shelter for women and children in Owatonna. Scott Haglund previously sat on its board. Currently, a “Rachel’s Light Roast” coffee can be purchased at Straight River Coffee; some of the proceeds toward the purchase goes to the nonprofit.

“We also are hoping to find some local artists who will perhaps display their art here and when their paintings some of the proceeds can go toward Rachel’s Light,” Pam Haglund said. Another fundraising option Scott Haglund said they are hoping to assist with is different organizations selling coffee as a means to raise funds, such as youth activity groups.

For now, however, Haglund, who opened May 28, is happy operating his business as is, getting his footing as the community’s first commercial roaster. Haglund said that it is common for roasters to only be open about once a week, as they are busy roasting and grinding their product that they sell. Currently, Haglund estimates that he is roasting enough beans a week for up to 640 pots of coffee.

Though selling individual cups of coffee is not currently in Haglund’s business plan, he’s happy to have people to stop, learn a little bit about coffee, and hopefully leave feeling just a bit more connected to their community.

For more information or to order online, visit StraightRiverCoffee.com or find them on Facebook.


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Pro-marijuana candidates ready to make local impact

While they aren’t offering anywhere near a full slate of candidates, Legal Marijuana Now and Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party candidates could have an impact on several key “battleground” races in southern Minnesota.

Bill Rood is running as a Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party candidate in the 1st Congressional District, which stretches across southern Minnesota and includes most of Rice County, along with Steele, Waseca, Le Sueur and Nicollet counties.

The 1st District was one of the closest Congressional races in the nation in 2018, with Republican Jim Hagedorn defeating DFLer Dan Feehan by just 1,315 votes. Feehan’s back for a rematch, but now Rood is in the ring as well.

An activist since the Vietnam War era, Rood first ran for public office in the 1980s as a member of the Libertarian Party. Ideologically, he says he’s now much closer to the Green Party, claiming to agree with former Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein on “99% of issues.”

While he strongly backs the legalization of marijuana, Rood holds a broad range of left-leaning positions, as well as staunch opposition to both of the major parties, which he says primarily represent the wealthy and well-connected.

“I think that the people of the 1st Congressional District need to have an alternative to voting for a Republican or a Democrat,” he said.

The cornerstone of Rood’s campaign is a strong anti-interventionist campaign. He’s a sharp critic of the foreign policy of both parties and even left-leaning former Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, regarding it as “imperialist.”

Other local candidates include Jason Hoschette of the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party, who filed to run in Minnesota Senate District 20 and Adam Weeks, a member of the Legal Marijuana Now Party who is running in the 2nd Congressional District. District 20 includes the northern portion of Rice County, the southern part of Scott County and much of Le Sueur County.

Weeks picked up an endorsement on Thursday from Paula Overby, who is currently running as a DFLer for Smith’s seat. Previously, Overby was the Independence Party nominee in the 2nd District in 2018 and the Green Party candidate for Smith’s seat in 2018. The 2nd District is primarily comprised of the southern Twin Cities suburbs, but it comes far enough south to include Northfield and Kenyon. It’s a competitive district which narrowly voted for Trump in 2016 before it elected Rep. Angie Craig, DFL-Eagan.

A Northfield High School graduate, Weeks is now a farmer in Goodhue County. He grows vegetables without any use of chemical pesticides or herbicides and sells them locally. Like many in his party, Weeks’ number one issue is supporting marijuana legalization. He said that the measure would be an important first step as part of a broader commitment to criminal justice reform in the wake of Minneapolis resident George Floyd’s death at the hand of police.

“This past week reminded us that our justice system is anything but just for people of color. We can do better,” he said in a statement. “Legalizing marijuana is the first step. Our entire justice system needs reform, from bottom to top.”

Weeks also said he’s running in opposition to the two-party system and political partisanship. Blasting both major parties as “corrupt” and beholden to “Washington fat cats,” he pledged to be an “independent voice” for the district.

Northfield voters will also have the option to support a Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis candidate, Hoschette, for state Senate. The seat is currently held by Republican Rich Draheim.

Draheim defeated an incumbent DFLer, Kevin Dahle, to win the seat in 2016. He’s facing a challenge this year from Jon Olson, a U.S. Navy veteran and Carleton College professor, in a district that includes both heavily liberal Northfield and conservative rural areas.

Hoschette couldn’t be reached for comment, despite multiple attempts, and Wright said he hasn’t managed to get ahold of him either. That said, Draheim and Olson both welcomed him to the race and said they look forward to a vigorous debate.

“I think it will be interesting to see the discussion between me, John and Rich when it comes to marijuana,” Olson said with a laugh.

Draheim said that he likes to see third party candidates on the ballot providing additional choice for voters. However, he expressed disappointment that many third parties wind up focusing too much on a single issue rather than taking a holistic approach to policy.

When it comes to marijuana policy, even Olson, who expressed a belief that marijuana legalization is “going to happen,” said that the state needs to be very careful and study the examples of other states, both good and bad, before moving ahead with legalization.

Draheim said that while it’s possible that marijuana legalization may make sense at some point down the road, now is not the time. He said that before the state could responsibly legalize marijuana, two major issues would need to be addressed.

First, under federal law it’s currently illegal for marijuana businesses to put money in a federally insured bank. Draheim said that in order to ensure the stability of legitimate businesses, a fix would need to be pursued, perhaps in coordination with the federal government. Secondly, he said a reliable, on the spot drug test would need to be developed to determine the presence of marijuana in drivers. Without such a test, police currently rely heavily on field sobriety tests, making it more difficult to catch intoxicated drivers.

In Senate District 23, a very different dynamic may be present on the ballot. That’s because in the largely rural, heavily conservative district, no DFLer filed to run against Sen. Julie Rosen of Vernon Center, leaving Legal Marijuana Now candidate David Pulkrabek as her only challenger.

Pulkrabek’s experience with cannabis is deeply personal. The military veteran fractured his spine while in the service and became dependent on fentanyl and oxycodone — until cannabis provided the relief he needed. Since then, Pulkrabek has been a vocal advocate for legalizing marijuana. He voiced sharp criticism of the state’s current medical marijuana program, which is among the most restrictive in the country.

“The legislature has done some good work, on this but there’s a long way to go,” Pulkrabek said. “The main thing is that people don’t have access to it, and prices are pretty high compared to other states.”

Pulkrabek said that by legalizing marijuana, the state could not only make the drug more accessible to those who need it to relieve pain, but also provide much needed revenue for a variety of programs at a time of fiscal crisis.

“When it comes to alcohol, we have no problem taxing that,” he said. “Gambling causes more problems than alcohol, so why not take tax dollars from a healing plant rather than from things we already tax?”

Marijuana may be the main issue on Pulkrabek’s agenda, but it’s not the only issue. If elected, he promised to advocate for the district’s farmers, work to improve the state’s education system, reduce the cost of college and be a responsive representative.

Rosen, who chairs the Senate’s Finance Committee, is unmoved by financial and other arguments for marijuana legalization. She expressed particular concern that the legalization of marijuana could harm children.

“My entire legislative career, I have worked on drug-related issues and protecting children,” she said. “I have not seen nor heard a reasonable account of why we should be legalizing marijuana.”

Rosen was born and raised in Colorado, and much of her family still lives there. She expressed great consternation over the effects of marijuana legalization in that state and said its story should provide a cautionary tale for Minnesota lawmakers.


Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman, of Brooklyn Park calls for members to stand in silence and bow their heads for 8 Minutes and 46 seconds in honor of George Floyd Friday, June 12, 2020, as the Minnesota State Legislature met in a special session. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP)


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COURT REPORT: Convicted felon who allegedly stole firearm charged with 3 felonies

An Owatonna man convicted in 2016 of second degree-burglary was charged last week after allegedly stealing a gun from a vehicle at Mystic Lake Casino.

Nicholas Lawrence Dube, 26, of Owatonna was charged Friday with possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a crime of violence, receiving stolen property and altering the serial number of a firearm – all felonies.

The incident reportedly took place June 10 at the Prior Lake hotel and casino. The victim reported the theft to the Prior Lake Police Department after finding the driver’s side rear side window of the vehicle was broken. Among the missing items was a loaded handgun, a Glock 43X. The victim told the responding officer that they had befriended the believed suspect.

Mystic Lake surveillance video reportedly showed Dube breaking into the vehicle, as well as the vehicle Dube and others were traveling in. Because one of the occupants was known to have an Owatonna address, Prior Lake investigators connected with the Owatonna Police Department for assistance.

After Owatonna police interviewed the two occupants identified to have been with Dube during the theft, Prior Lake Police drafted a search warrant for Dube’s Cedar Avenue residence. The police reportedly entered the unlocked apartment after knocking three times, but getting no response.

Inside the apartment, officers located a man, identified as Dube who “looked confused and out it” and was pale and sweating profusely, according to a complaint filed in Steele County court. When walking Dube to the ambulance, officers reported Dube saying that he should have “sent some rounds through the door” before he was taken to the hospital.

In the apartment, officers reportedly found a loaded Glock 43X 9mm handgun that matched the description to the one stolen in Prior Lake. The firearm as reportedly located under the couch, had one round in the chamber and no magazine in the well. Its serial number was unreadable and altered in three different places, according to court records. Officers also located a Glock brand 9mm firearm magazine with five rounds in the magazine on a table near the couch, as well as several other items that reportedly belonged to the victim.

Because Dube was convicted in 2016 with felony second-degree burglary in Steele County, he’s disqualified him from possessing a firearm.

In other reports:

• Brenten Alex Peterson, 30, of Minneapolis, was charged Monday with felony DWI and fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle.

According to the criminal complaint, a Minnesota State Patrol trooper on Saturday afternoon observed a vehicle turn onto Interstate 35 from Hoffman Drive in Owatonna, fail to yield to traffic and make a quick maneuver to prevent striking another vehicle. When the trooper attempted to make a traffic stop on the Bridge Street off ramp, the driver — later identified as Peterson — reportedly accelerated through the ramp and ran a red light. Peterson reportedly led the trooper on a 9.5-mile pursuit, eventually reaching speeds of 106 mph.

At one point, Peterson reportedly lost control of the vehicle on a gravel road and entered the ditch on 50th Street northwest. After emerging back onto the road, Peterson again lost control and allegedly rolled the vehicle back into the south ditch.

Peterson allegedly fled from the vehicle on foot and continued southbound on a field drive across the street from 7512 50th St. NW. During the foot chase, the trooper reported that Peterson stopped and laid prone after multiple commands were given. The trooper observed Peterson make continual movements and acted “paranoid.” Peterson was transported to the Owatonna Hospital; a search warrant was issued to allow hospital personnel to test Peterson for a controlled substance.

• Patrick Marvin Daniels-Simmons, 20, of Owatonna, was charged on June 8 with felony state lottery fraud.

According to the criminal complaint, Daniels-Simmons stole lottery tickets and merchandise from his employer. The employer reported that Daniels-Simmons stole $565 worth of lottery tickets, cash and merchandise on or about Feb. 10-13.

Daniels-Simmons reportedly told a corporate loss prevention officer that he would place lottery tickets into a garbage bag, then take them to his locker, moving the tickets to his coat pocket when he left. Daniels-Simmons reported that he cashed the tickets at another shop in town, and won $300. The officer also reported that Daniels-Simmons admitted to stealing merchandise and taking cash out of the registers.

Out of the 49 lottery tickets stolen, 15 tickets were paid out at multiple locations in Owatonna from Feb. 11-13, according to investigators. Of the 15 tickets that were paid out, a total of $360 was paid to Daniels-Simmons.

• A warrant was issued on June 9 for Allen Duane Lawrence, 56, of Van Meter, Iowa, for second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon for a reported road rage incident that took place on or about May 31 on Interstate 35 in Steele County.

According to the complaint, a female reported that after cutting in front of the suspect – later identified as Lawrence – to pass a slow-moving vehicle, that Lawrence “flipped her off.” After the suspect said things “calmed,” Lawrence reportedly passed her again in the right lane and held a gun with both arms pointed at her. The gun was described by the victim as a shooting rifle.

A Steele County Sheriff’s deputy initiated a traffic stop of the suspect’s vehicle described by the victim. It was reportedly driven by Lawrence. When asked about the incident, Lawrence allegedly told the deputy that he only made a hand gesture at the victim. Lawrence reportedly told the deputy that he picked up a 20-gauge shotgun that day, was a concealed carry holder and had a handgun in the center console of his vehicle. The deputy reportedly located a Winchester 20-gauge shotgun that matched the victim’s description in Lawrence’s vehicle and took it into evidence.