Graham says Chamber qualified to run CVB

The City Council met last night in closed session at 6 o’clock to discuss union negotiations.  There are 4 unions the City deals with.  Council received information last night from staffers and a labor attorney.  While negotiations continue, Mayor Graham doesn’t expect any major issues.

Council met for a work session.  The agenda started with a discussion about the structure of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.  The previous council had discussed separating the Chamber and the CVB.  Mayor Graham said that it was a good time for the Chamber to look at what they’d done and where they needed to improve.  The consensus of the council was that the Chamber “can do this job”.  Graham said they’d put a lot of thought into their presentation.  Along with several members of the CVB, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Mary Schmelzer outlined their strategic plan.  The broad idea is to attract tourists and keep them coming back by using a lot more free social media to create awareness of all Northfield has to offer including activities along and on the Cannon River, planning events with other stakeholders and hiring a PR firm.  They also plan on finding new revenue sources including grants, which they just received a matching grant from Explore Minnesota.  Much of the discussion centered around a CVB bylaw that states board members must also be members of the Chamber.  They also talked about whether the CVB should have a physical presence downtown and how to ensure the lodging taxes are paid – which funds the CVB.   Council is scheduled to vote on the CVB budget February 5th including approval of funds to hire a PR firm.  Two companies, OWL Marketing and Haberman Modern Storytellers, partnered up and submitted a proposal Tuesday that would cost about $50,000, according to Schmelzer.  She estimates they would need approximately $15,000 from their liquid reserve to cover the cost.  Council then went over their 2013 Rules of Business and Work Plan.  Mayor Graham was in studio this morning with Jeff Johnson.  His interview and the entire council work session is archived online at

Dundas Planning Commission will hold public hearing on Casey’s

The Dundas Planning Commission will hold a public hearing tomorrow evening at 7 o’clock on the proposed construction of a Casey’s General Store near Menards and KMart.  The meeting will take place at Dundas City Hall.  The Planning Commission will consider both oral and written comments. If you’re not able to attend you can email City Administrator John McCarthy at by 4:30 tomorrow afternoon.  A copy of the proposed plat and development is available at the Dundas City Hall.

Faribault man convicted of fraud

A 39-year-old accountant from Faribault has admitted to forging more than 100 checks from his employer’s account and collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars that he used to buy a lake home and pay his bills.  Ronald L. Schaeffer, pleaded guilty last week in federal court in Minneapolis with bank fraud totaling over $432,000 while working for Environmental Tillage Systems Inc. of Faribault.  The Star Tribune reports Schaeffer used the money from August 2008 to April 2012 to build a lake house in Elysian. He also used the money to make payments on home-equity and car loans. Schaeffer faces up to 30 years in prison, as well as fines and orders of forfeiture. Sentencing has yet to be scheduled.

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