Kaitlyn Roby

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at kroby@lillienews.com or 651-748-7815.
Follow her on Twitter @KRobyNews.


Legislation would rename Hwy. 36 in North St. Paul to honor slain officer

North St. Paul Police Chief Tom Lauth testified at the Capitol on March 3 on behalf of a bill by Sen. Chuck Wiger that would rename a stretch of Hwy. 36 in honor of slain North St. Paul Police Officer Richard Crittenden. Christine Crittenden, widow of the slain officer, also testified. (photo courtesy of Sen. Wiger's office)

Christine Crittenden testifies at a state Senate committee meeting on March 3 at the Capitol in St. Paul in support of renaming the stretch of Minnesota Highway 36 that runs the North St. Paul after her late husband. Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, right, presented the bill, honoring Officer Richard Crittenden who was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call on Sept. 7, 2009. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

Christine Crittenden, the widow of North St. Paul Police Officer Richard Crittenden, listens as city manager Jason Ziemer (not pictured) testifies for a bill presented by Sen. Chuck Wiger, right, which would rename a stretch of Minnesota Highway 36 for the slain officer. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

Pictured, from left to right, are North St. Paul Police Chief Tom Lauth, state Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, Christine Crittenden, the widow of North St. Paul Officer Richard Crittenden, state Rep. Leon Lillie, DFL-North St. Paul, and state Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park. Schoen is a Cottage Grove police officer. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

Supporters of a bill to rename Minnesota Highway 36 in North St. Paul “the Officer Richard Crittenden Memorial Highway” stand in front of the slain officer’s squad car, which was repainted as a memorial to Minnesota officers killed in the line of duty, at the state Capitol March 3. Crittenden’s wife, Christine, is at center, holding pictures of her husband. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

Pain palpable nearly 5 years after Rick Crittenden’s death
Nearly five years after North St. Paul Officer Richard Crittenden was shot and killed responding to a domestic dispute call, those who revered and loved the husband, father and grandfather are still striving to honor him.
“He gave his life for two people he didn’t even know,” Police Chief Tom Lauth said. “He answered the call. We don’t all know that. We’re not all tested with that. He was and he did.”


Maplewood police take new look at old clergy abuse cases

The Maplewood Police Department recently began digging into two inactive cases, which previously didn’t lead to charges, involving members of the clergy who were accused of sexual abuse.
With a similar lookback by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Twin Cities law enforcement recently, Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell said the department wanted to ensure such cases have had a chance at a thorough investigation, if possible.


Designer picked for Janie Zahradka memorial playground in North St. Paul

The rendering of part of the unique playground from Play by Design

At the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting on Feb. 26, Sarah Zahradka describes the options for an all-ages playground that will be built at Casey Lake Park in North St. Paul as a memorial to her daughter, Janie, who passed away in September at 18 months old. She and her husband, Tony, collected donations for the whimsical play structure.

Tony Zahradka holds his daughter, Janie, on a swing at Casey Lake Park in North St. Paul when she was about 7 months old. She died less than a year later, on Sept. 30. The family is donating money toward toddler-friendly structures at the playground in her memory. (submitted photo)

At 17 months old, Janie Zahradka heads toward the playground at Edgerton Park in Maplewood. (submitted photo)

A whimsical, toddler-friendly playground could be built at Casey Lake Park in North St. Paul this summer.
The Parks and Recreation Commission moved the unique play structure one step closer to construction on Feb. 26 by recommending hiring New York company Play by Design, which put together a colorful “Magical Forest Tot Lot” that organizers say would draw families throughout the region.


Lake Elmo allows chickens, bees in smaller yards

Chickens move about their Oakdale coop. Lake Elmo residents with at least half an acre can now raise chickens of their own. Bees are also permitted. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

Horses in Lake Elmo stand out among the setting sun. They used to be the only livestock allowed on less than 10 acres. Other livestock including chickens and bees are now permitted. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

Natasha Fleischman took in a brood of chickens when a friend was forced to get rid of the fowl.  
“I really thought they were fun to have around,” the Lake Elmo resident said. “They come running when you call them. They’re fun to watch.
“There’s something so fulfilling about going out and getting your own eggs. For three years, I didn’t buy eggs at a grocery store, ever.”


Maplewood man convicted for burglary, check forgery

A Maplewood man was recently convicted of third-degree burglary and felony check forgery in two separate crimes he committed more than a year apart.
Perry E. Williams, 27, was convicted Jan. 22 as one of three suspects who broke into a Woodbury apartment complex in 2012, and for using four fraudulent checks in St. Paul Park in 2011. The complaints said he was caught on security cameras while committing both crimes.


Frozen water pipes cause problems for North St. Paul residents, staff

Sub-zero temperatures have frozen about 35 service pipes in neighborhoods around North St. Paul this winter, leaving some residents without water for less than a day to as long as five days.
Scott Duddeck said he hasn’t seen this many iced-up water lines in one year in the more than 20 years he’s worked with the North St. Paul Public Works Department.
“We’ve never had anything this extreme,” the public works director said. “We’ve had an occasional service freeze here or there. This year is very out of the norm.”


North St. Paul couple donates $34K for toddler park in daughter’s memory

North St. Paul City Council member Terry Furlong, who also works with the Parks and Recreation Commission, left, stands with Tony and Sarah Zahradka. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

The story of Tony and Sarah Zahradka moved hundreds of people throughout the Twin Cities area to help build a park for younger children in North St. Paul.
With the help of many donors over about two months, the North St. Paul couple recently contributed $34,350 to a fund for a toddler-friendly play structure at Casey Lake Park. They presented the ceremonial check to the city at the Feb. 18 North St. Paul City Council meeting.


Police try to identify gunman who threatened to rape 2 women in North St. Paul, Maplewood

Investigators have been following up on tips pouring in through phone calls and text messages, searching for the suspect who appears to be the same man who got into one car in North St. Paul and then another in Maplewood on Sunday night, threatening to rape and shoot the two women who drove them.
One woman took her chance to run away, and the other convinced the man to let her go unharmed.  By Tuesday afternoon, police had received many calls and texts from people who claimed to have seen the man, but they haven't yet led investigators to the suspect's identity.


Check fraud in Maplewood leads to multi-city mail theft investigation

Two arrests made; charges likely, police say
Maplewood detectives have been sifting through two large cardboard boxes of mail addressed to homes in several cities, a process that may lead to criminal charges for two residents of St. Paul’s East Side.
The Maplewood Police Department responded to a report of two people who were  trying to cash a fraudulent check on Feb. 14 at a bank on the 2900 block of White Bear Avenue, according to a police statement.


Maplewood acquires Fish Creek land

Fish Creek cuts through a property in south Maplewood that the city recently acquired, after pursuing the land for more than 20 years. (Courtesy of the city of Maplewood)

Across the Mississippi River from South St. Paul, the Fish Creek waterfall is among the treasures to behold on the 70-acre future preserve. Maplewood recently acquired 62 acres of the land surrounding the creek near the river bluff and is gathering funds to permanently protect the remain eight.

For around 30 years, Carolyn Peterson pushed for the purchase of an expanse of land in south Maplewood recently acquired by the city, even though she still hasn’t seen most of it.
She contracted polio at a young age, leaving her disabled, she said. When Peterson was introduced to the 70-acre Fish Creek parcel decades ago, it was too difficult for her to trek through parts of the rugged property.