Herald JournalHerald Journal, Jan. 13, 2003

Rash of forged, stolen checks reported in Carver County

By Dave Cox

The Jan. 7 New Germany City Council meeting began with City Clerk Shelly Quaas administering the oath of office to incoming Mayor Franklin Schoenke, and to Steven Van Lith and Paul Roepke, who were reelected to the council.

The council then passed a motion to approve the agenda. This change was suggested by Schoenke, and should help keep the meetings focussed. Space will be included in future agendas for any new business.

Larry Wittsack of the Carver County Sheriff's Department provided the sheriff's report.

Wittsack said that, apart from the numerous accidents that resulted from icy road conditions last Saturday, things have been relatively quiet.

Wittsack reported that there has been "a rash of forged and made-up checks" in the area.

The fraud begins with the theft of checks from mailboxes. The perpetrators then use the information on the checks to create new checks on a computer, altering the last three digits of the driver's license number.

They then create false temporary driver's licenses using the same information and back this up with fake identification cards, similar to those issued by some businesses.

The culprits then use these items to purchase as much merchandise or gift certificates as they can.

According to Wittsack, the losses in some cases in Chanhassen have ranged from $1,000 to $5,000. Wittsack and the council discussed notifying local businesses and possibly hosting a presentation at city hall to educate people about the crimes.

Jim Borka reported that, although the Bobcat was brought to the shop twice last summer to resolve the problem with the bucket rising on its own, the problem still has not been corrected.

Borka said that the city has three options ­ live with it as it is, spend an estimated $1,000 to $2,500 to try to fix the problem, or replace the Bobcat.

The council moved to table the discussion until the February meeting.

Council member and fire chief Steven Van Lith presented a list of donations made by the New Germany Fire Department Relief Association Gambling Fund in 2002.

The list included items, such as scholarships, playground equipment, and the fire department truck and building fund.

The total for all contributions was $32,832.40.

The council discussed changes to the New Germany Planning Commission. A motion was passed to amend the ordinance so that the commission will consist of five members, including one member of the council, or the mayor and four members appointed by, but not part of, the council.

The appointed members will serve two-year terms.

Council member Shirley Jaeger will remain on the planning commission for the remainder of her term.

Robert Roepke and Jim Pawelk are serving terms that will expire Dec. 31, 2003.

The council passed a motion to approve a resolution appointing Paul Engelhart and Aldan Roepke to the remaining positions.

An ordinance establishing rates and regulations concerning water and sewer services in the city was tabled until the next meeting to give council members time to review it.

The new ordinance is the product of discussions from previous meetings.

The council briefly considered a quote from Jilek Insurance for open meeting law coverage, but decided not to add the coverage at this time.

Motions were passed to approve several resolutions. These included adopting the year 2003 budget for the city, adopting the year 2002 levy for collection in 2003, accepting the appointments and organization for the city, approval of the fire department officers for 2003, and setting the fee schedule for 2003.

Two soft drink licenses were approved ­ one for Steve's Auto Repair, and one joint license for the City of New Germany, the New Germany Fire Department, and the New Germany Commercial Club.

A 2.3 malt liquor and set-up license was also approved for this group.

February will mark water and sewer superintendent Robert Roepke's 22nd anniversary of service to the city. He received his certification in 1980 and began working for the city in 1981.

Roepke recommended the city purchase a lockable tool box to store some of the tools that were purchased in December. This would provide secure storage for the tools and would allow them to be organized so that they would be easier to find and use.

He also recommended the purchase of some socket and wrench holders to help keep things organized.

The original purchase was under budget, which left funds available for this purpose. The council passed a motion to authorize Roepke to pick up the needed items.

Roepke also reported that he and Mark Unglaub, with help from Quaas, had done some cleaning above the rest rooms at the city hall.

Some old benches were moved to the city shed. Roepke recommended construction of a stud wall to create a record storage room at the city hall.

This room could include shelving so that boxes of records could be organized. The council passed a motion to authorize these improvements.

Quaas reported that Norwood Electric has installed emergency lights in the city hall.

She also reported that she had received a complaint from a resident who said that a Waste Management truck was seen driving down the road and losing garbage along the way. Quaas will pass on this complaint to Waste Management.

Schoenke closed his first meeting as mayor by thanking the council for the way they have conducted themselves at meetings.

He stated that he appreciated their contributions and thoughtful discussion.

He said that he appreciated "the way that they had kept things moving along," and noted that "council meetings can be fun."

He repeated these last two points, which may indicate his intention to establish this as the tone for meetings during his term of office ­ meetings that stay focussed on the agenda and keep moving, but in a relaxed, and even fun, atmosphere.

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