Stillwater police have launched a felony investigation of the organizer of Lumberjack Days for unpaid bills.
In recent months, police received complaints from three businesses, and the Stillwater area hockey booster club, claiming they weren’t paid by Dave Eckberg of St. Croix Events following this year’s festival.
“This is an active investigation,” Stillwater Police Chief John Gannaway said Tuesday night. Police will not comment on the case until a charging decision has been made by the Washington County Attorney’s Office.
When asked what impacts the investigation may have on Lumberjack Days, Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki said he had "no comment" while the police investigation remains active.
Per the contract for Lumberjack Days between the city of Stillwater and St. Croix Events, Eckberg reimburses the city $20,000 for police and fire services during the event and the city receives 35 percent of gate receipts.
But those bills have not come due yet, according to City Administrator Larry Hansen.
Per the contract, the reimbursement for police and fire services is due Dec. 31, Hansen said. The 35 percent of gate receipts is due before the next Lumberjack Days event.
There is, however, an unpaid bill for police and fire services from the Stillwater Marathon, Hansen said. But that is a separate contract from Lumberjack Days.
The amount owed to the city for police and fire services during the Stillwater Marathon was not immediately available. But it is far less than the cost of public safety services during Lumberjack Days, Hansen said.
To have another event, St. Croix Events would have to get the approval from the City Council, Hansen said.
According to complaints filed with the Stillwater Police Department on Oct. 18, Needham Distributing Company, based out of Grant, and the Woodbury-based Hohenstein's were issued checks for beer and liquor purchased by St. Croix Events, but there was no money in the accounts to cover the checks.
Icabod Productions of North Mankato has also filed a theft by worthless check complaint with the Stillwater Police Department.
According to a KSTP report, Eckberg owes the Stillwater Blue Line Boosters $10,000 after a group of hockey players helped set up the festival grounds last summer in the midst of a heat wave.
That complaint was filed with Stillwater police on Nov. 29.
"I'm frustrated more than anything," Stillwater Area High School hockey coach, Phil Housley told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. "I'm very, very frustrated."
The money was to go for hockey equipment and travel expenses, Housley told KSTP.
Eckberg reportedly told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that he signed the checks to four organizations—including the hockey booster club—even though there were not funds in the account to immediately cover the amounts. Eckberg reportedly said the organizations and companies agreed not to cash the checks until he told them the money was available.
"This kind of thing happens on festivals," Eckberg told KSTP. "We're not happy about it but we're working to get everybody paid."