By Jack Hammett May 7, 2019

St. Paul Police Department Cmdr. Steven Frazer will be Prior Lake’s new police chief, the city announced Tuesday.

Frazer will oversee a department of several dozen employees and a budget of about $4.6 million, according to a news release from the city. City Manager Michael Plante made the decision after two finalists held interview panels with community stakeholders and police department staff.

“I am humbled to have been selected as the Prior Lake Chief of Police,” Frazer said in a written statement. “I cannot wait to make Prior Lake my home and place of work. “

Frazer has more than 27 years of police experience in various roles. He moved from serving as a peace officer in Roseville to serving as commander in St. Paul in 2006. He also served as chief deputy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office managing day-to-day operations.

Frazer said he plans to hear out stakeholders, including elected officials and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

“I want to get an idea of (the community’s) overall vision and view and kind of their report card: How’s the PD doing? What are we doing right? What could we do better?” he said.

Frazer said he will spend his first 90 days determining the city’s priorities.

“There’s always room for improvement in any endeavor,” he said.

Prior Lake Cmdr. Brad Cragoe said the department will need a chief focused on developing the next generation of leaders, as several retirements may be coming up within the next four or five years.

“There’s a big age gap (between supervisors and patrol),” he said. “We need to get ready to step up and move people into those spots.”

Frazer will replace Don Gudmundson, who stepped in as interim chief earlier this year after interim Chief Booker Hodges accepted a state government position. Former Chief Mark Elliott’s resignation last year for undisclosed reasons set off the series of department leaders.

Frazer is scheduled to be sworn in May 20 during the regular City Council meeting.

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By Wes Mader Community Columnist May 1, 2019

Our second president, John Adams, wrote, “Remember Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes exhausts and murders itself.”

Adam’s words seem appropriate for the current state of affairs in Washington. Our president and leaders of the opposition party are wasting time, energy and resources in petty bickering while Americans grow exhausted from the result. What we get is a non-stop barrage of unverifiable, he-said, she-said allegations belched out by national news sources while once-hallowed institutions like the FBI and the courts lose their luster.

Is our democracy murdering itself, and have we lost pride in being Americans?

It was fifty-three years ago on May 8 that a stranger in a faraway place rekindled my pride in America in an unexpected way. My wife, Char,had driven me to the Roanoke, Virginia, airport the day before to embark on my first-ever trip to Europe. I would land the following morning in Oslo, Norway.

When Char commented that I had forgotten my coat, I wasn’t concerned. At 31 years old, my inflated ego was relishing the upcoming adventure of spending several weeks visiting defense contractors in Norway, Germany, France, Italy and England.

The left-at-home coat came to mind when we landed Sunday morning in a wind-driven snowstorm. I felt a bit foolish crossing the tarmac in suit and tie while other passengers were bundled up against the cold. It didn’t help my ego when the driver who met me asked if I knew that it got cold in Norway. He drove me to a clothing store to purchase a topcoat before dropping me at the Intercontinental Hotel downtown.

Alone that evening in the almost-empty hotel dining room, I noticed a very distinguished looking older couple across the room. While struggling with menu selections written in Norwegian, I was startled by a voice asking if I was American. It was the older gentleman from across the room. When I said yes, he asked, “Would you honor us by being our guest?”

Responding that I didn’t understand, he explained. May 8 was Liberation Day, the anniversary of Norway’s liberation from Nazi Germany 22 years earlier. The gentleman had served in the Norwegian underground resistance, fighting against Germany’s forces and providing tactical information to U.S. intelligence.

His story was one of personal courage, but his message was about America’s role in saving Norway. He said it would be an honor for him and his wife to have an American as their guest on Liberation Day.

They made it an unforgettable evening, driving me on a lengthy tour of Oslo after dinner. When they dropped me at the hotel at the end of a long evening, I was wide-awake absorbing the emotion of that special evening. When they said again they were proud to have had me as their guest, they couldn’t have imagined how proud they had made me.

Less than two years later, I was visiting Kongsberg Vapenfabrikk (Norway’s leading defense system contractor). It was January 24, 1968, the day after North Korea captured the USS Pueblo intelligence ship.

I was unaware of the incident because of my preceding overnight flight. When I arrived at Kongsberg, I was ushered into a conference room and greeted by a senior executive. The atmosphere was somber as he informed me of the Pueblo news. In sincere tones he expressed concern for U.S. Commander Lloyd Bucher and his crew. Then, more emotionally, he said Norway would never forget that America’s entry into World War II is what saved Norway from Hitler 24 years earlier.

With criticism of American involvement in Vietnam percolating worldwide, it was comforting to again hear support for America from a respected ally.

While I have no worry about Norway’s forgetting what America did, it seems some Americans have. Lest we forget, it was America that led the effort to save Europe from the oppression of Hitler and to save Asia from Japan’s expansionist appetite during the war — and then America bore much of the cost to rebuild the countries and economies of these enemies.

America led the UN effort that saved South Korea from being conquered by North Korea and led the coalition of nations that drove Sadaam Hussein’s army from Kuwait. And most recently, American involvement has been crucial in diminishing the influence and cruelty of ISIS. While I’m still proud to be American, our borders are open for those who aren’t and who may wish to leave.

God bless America’s loyal ally Norway and her people as they celebrate Liberation Day.

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Wes Mader is a former Prior Lake mayor. Following retirement after serving as president of Bowmar Aerospace and Defense in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Wes and his wife Char retired in Prior Lake.

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Prior Lake firearms safety course emphasizes control and care

May 3, 2019

By Dan Holtmeyer May 1, 2019 Hunting and shooting sports can be fun, relaxing pastimes, but wielding the guns they use is deadly serious, several Prior Lake volunteer firearm safety instructors told a handful of residents in recent weeks. An old friend shooting himself while cleaning a loaded gun, a child accidentally killed by […]

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Letter from Prior Lake mayor and council members: Collaboration wins in divisive landscape

April 12, 2019

Dan Holtmeyer Apr 4, 2019 A Minnesota Supreme Court case. A powerful lobbying association. A six-figure public relations effort. A senior economist with a Ph.D. leading the industry group. Affordable housing hijinks. Municipalities playing catch up with few resources. A split legislature. The sluggish speed of government. The brink of a moratorium on growth. Muddled […]

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Commentary: $25 million in unintended consequences

April 4, 2019

By Wes Mader Community Columnist Apr 3, 2019 In his recent column, John Diers provided background about the $25 million burden that may hit taxpayers in Prior Lake. A decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court brought this issue to a head. To reiterate, our city has been imposing a fee on developers to recover additional […]

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