Teens asked to 'look in the mirror'

Staff Writer
Ken Francis
Juvenile crime is an issue in many communities.
But most juveniles have no idea what the future implications are when they are charged with a crime.
Earlier this month, the Sherburne County Board passed a resolution for law enforcement, the county attorney’s office, probation, health and human services and schools to help educate students and parents about the collateral consequences of juvenile crime.
Along with the resolution, Sherburne County Attorney Kathleen Heaney presented a new brochure about the consequences for juveniles charged with a crime. 
The brochure lists a number different consequences that can have long-term affects for someone who is charged with a crime.
Some of those include:
* A juvenile with a crime of violence on their record is not allowed to ship, transport, possess or receive a firearm for the remainder of their lifetime;
* Committing a crime against children, a crime involving violence, physical assault and/or drug-related crime may prevent your family from being able to adopt a child or provide foster care or day care;
* Having a criminal history may limit your ability to apply or be accepted into the college of your choice or limit on-campus housing;
* Retailers keep a database of individuals stopped for shoplifting. They share the information with other stores who may use it to deny employment;
* Your driver’s license maybe taken away for a felony involving the use of a motor vehicle, fleeing from a peace officer ina motor vehicle, DWI conviction under the age of 21 or underage drinking and driving.
The brochure was developed by a committee that included the county attorney’s office (Kathleen Heaney, Victoria Powell, Erin O’Toole-Tomczik), probation (J. Hancuch, Bobbie Shafer), Elk River Police Dept (Ron Nierenhausen, Eric Balabon), Sherburne County Sheriff's Dept (Joel Brott), Sherburne County Health and Human Services (Sara Stenseng), and Commissioner Ewald Petersen.
Back in August, 2012, Patricia Zenner of Zenner Law gave a presentation on the topic of collateral consequences at the annual Countywide Safe Schools Gathering. The topic generated a lot of questions and discussion, and it became contentious at times. Heaney approached Bobbie Shafer shortly thereafter and wanted more to be done on the topic. That’s when the committee was formed.
In 2013, the committee worked with some Elk River High School students to film, edit and put together a video/public service announcement, which showed examples of how someone’s actions can lead to consequences beyond a court sentence. Unfortunately, the video never debuted because it was accidently deleted and was unable to be recovered.
The committee went back to the drawing board in 2014 and the decision was made to move forward with some written material  for juveniles and parents  that could be handed out in a variety of venues and under a variety of circumstances. 
 The probation department’s juvenile unit came up with the design and format of the brochure, which was subsequently approved by the committee.
Brochures have been handed out to school personnel, local law enforcement, health and human services and any other interested parties. 
The probation department will be distributing them to the juveniles and parents involved in the diversion program, and for those entering the criminal justice system. 
Law enforcement can distribute them via the liaison officers assigned to the various schools and also when officers come in contact with juveniles and parents during their regular course of business. 
School personnel may distribute to juveniles identified as high risk, through parent/teacher conferences and parent information nights.
“We want to get the word out to as many juveniles and parents as possible,” says Shafer, “so we will continue to look for opportunities for distribution and will provide the brochures to anyone who is willing and able to reach juveniles and their parents.”
“The driving issue behind the  group is that we want both young people and their guardians to understand the implications of actions BEFORE the actions are taken,” says Heaney. “It has such widespread implications: work, schooling, housing for the youth and the family.”


(From left) Lexi Freund (Big Lake), Betsey Cornelius and Ben Cornelius (Nowthen), Gunner Dorweiler and Colton Dorweiler (Princeton), Ben Manning (Zimmerman), Bailey Dorweiller (Princeton) and Salene Krueger (Big Lake.) The county fair runs from July 16-19. (Photo by Ken Francis.)

Dr. Lola Sutherland is retiring from clinical practice after 33 years in the Big Lake community. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards.)

SMITTY’S AMATEUR FIDDLERS CONTEST drew 22 musicians to compete in Big Lake this year. They were accompanied by Gilmore Lee.

LEE GERHARDSON, 47, from New London, was found dead in Big Lake near the swimming beach in 10 feet of water Monday. Cause of death is unknown at this time but foul play is not suspected.

Adopt-a-Road participants volunteer for Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and work to clean roadsides that border and bisect refuge land. This spring, from April to June, approximately six individuals, three families, and seven groups, such as boy and girl scouts and 4-H groups, volunteered to clean countless miles of roads. (Submitted photo.)