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From the Editor’s Notebook:

By Staff | Sep 29, 2019

Editor’s note: This week’s ‘From the Editor’s Notebook’ column is in no way meant to make fun of the job our local law enforcement personnel do every day. No other job in Faribault County has the potential for danger and bodily harm happening each and every time they put on a uniform and head out to work. Is there any other job where a gun is one of the tools you need to have with you? I thank them and salute them all for everything they do to protect and serve all of us.

It has been a weird and wacky week here at the Faribault County Register. That includes some bizarre requests, strange phone calls and a few hard to understand critiques of what we do.

Actually every week can be a bit strange in the newspaper biz. However, this last week, well, it was stranger than normal. And there wasn’t even a full moon.

Monday night was a prime example.

It was about 10:15 p.m. I was about 15 minutes away from heading upstairs to bed and reading my book for a while before going to sleep. The book is the brand new novel from William Kent Krueger called “This Tender Land,” and it is really good.

But then my cell phone rang.

It was a Blue Earth 526 number, but it had the area code 507 in front of it, so I thought it could be a fake robo-call and I didn’t answer it. Then it rang again and a voice message popped up at the same time, so I thought I better find out who it was.

It was the dispatcher at the Faribault County Law Enforcement Center. My first thought was he might be going to alert me to some big news event happening. That was sort of true.

“We are getting a 911 call from inside the Faribault County Register building,” he said. “And I am looking for someone with keys to the building, or else my officers are going to break in the door.”

That will get the adrenalin pumping. I told him I did indeed have keys to the building and I could be there in two minutes. I live six blocks away and the keys were in my pocket.

Luckily, after 47 years of being married to a newspaper editor, my wife is not alarmed when I get a phone call at night and say I have to go and then rush out the door.

I think it took me one minute to get to the back of the Register. I may have sped a little bit.

Law enforcement personnel had the Register office building surrounded, and I let them in. There were both Blue Earth Police officers and Faribault County sheriff deputies there. They went in and searched the building leaving me outside. In case you don’t know it, the Register building is not just home to the newspaper, but several businesses and services rent office space there, as well.

Blue Earth police officer Missy Felion came back to me and said the dispatcher had traced the call to a phone belonging to Habitat for Humanity and asked me if they had an office in the building. I said yes. She let me in the building to get the key to that office and the officers went in.

No one was there.

They called the dispatcher from the phone on the desk in the Habitat office, and he reported that was not the phone which was being used to dial 911. He said there must be another phone.

Turns out he was right, there was another phone in the office. It was the fax machine.

Yeah, that’s right. The fax machine was dialing 911. My guess was it had detected something was not right and so it dialed 911 for help. Maybe it had run out of paper. (That was a feeble attempt at humor, by the way.)

The officers did not arrest the fax machine for making false 911 calls. The solution instead was to unplug the fax machine and everyone heaved a big sigh of relief it was not something serious. At least not this time.

So in case you were out on Blue Earth’s Main Street on Monday night around 10:30 p.m. and wondered why there were three sheriff squad cars parked in front of the Register office (and a Blue Earth police squad in back), now you know the story.

And, in case you are still wondering how on earth a fax machine was the culprit dialing 911, just Google it. Turns out there are quite a few cases of it happening. No real explanation is given in those cases, however, except maybe static on the phone line.

I just put it up to the fact it was just another strange thing that happened during a weird and wacky week at the Faribault County Register. I’m hoping this week we are back to just a normal amount of wacky.

And by the way, I was also happy to find out that if you have to call 911 for an emergency, a lot of help arrives in a hurry to give you assistance.

Even if you are a fax machine.