Coffman Union gas line break causes evacuation of nearby buildings

Amy Hackbarth

Construction workers at Coffman Union broke a natural gas line Wednesday, prompting the evacuation of several nearby buildings.

Fearing air contamination, the Minneapolis Fire Department moved people out of Boynton Health Service, the Basic Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Facility and part of Church Street for nearly two hours.

No one was injured in the incident, said University police Capt. Steve Johnson. University and Minneapolis police officers assisted in the evacuation.

Engineers patched the leak and allowed the people to return to the buildings.

Ryan Construction Co. is renovating the union, which is expected to be finished in December.

Balancing act

Two St. Paul men were charged last week with possession of stolen property after allegedly attempting to steal nearly $10,000 in equipment from a St. Paul campus building.

According to police, Daniel Robert Bergquist, 36, and Curtis Michael Walker, 31, took three electronic weight scales from an agriculture and engineering building.

When University police officers responded to a call reporting the theft, they found Bergquist and Walker walking to a car parked in front of the building, the report stated. Officers found the scales inside the car, Johnson said.

“Both of the people, when they were interviewed, blamed each other for stealing the scales,” Johnson said.

When asked for identification, Bergquist produced a driver’s license that was allegedly stolen on July 15, the report stated.

Officers also found several credit cards and a checkbook that were allegedly stolen, according to the report.

Both men were charged at Hennepin County District Court.

Beating around the bush

Mark Haase, program manager at the Career and Community Learning Center, found two of the center’s landscaping bushes missing last week when he arrived at work.

The uprooted plants were on top of a pop machine behind the building, a police report stated.

This is the fourth or fifth time the center’s bushes have been stolen in the past year, Haase said. He said he never finds them in the same place.

“Sometimes there are a couple in the parking lot on Fourth and 18th (streets),” he said. “One time it looked like someone dragged it into a car.”

The center usually has to replace the bushes after they are displaced. This time, however, Haase said, gardeners were able to replant the uprooted bushes.

He remains on the lookout for a suspect.

“I really think it’s just one person,” Haase said. “How many people are out there going, ‘Let’s go pull out a bush for fun’?”

Amy Hackbarth welcomes comments at [email protected]