Community News: Northfield declares SNOW EMERGENCY

MEMORANDUM

Public Works Department

Streets & Park Division

Date:    February 2, 2016

SUBJECT: Snow Emergency

Date Snow Emergency is declared: 2/2/2016

Date residential streets will be plowed: 2/3/2016

Date all downtown parking lots except 5th & Washington Street are closed: 2/2/2016

Date of downtown snow removal: 2/4/2016

Date 5th & Washington Street lot is closed: 2/4/2016

Length of Snow Emergency: 72 hrs

The Public Works Department has declared a SNOW EMERGENCY for the City of Northfield.  The snow emergency will start on the date above and will continue until the streets are plowed curb-to-curb after the weather system has passed.

During the emergency there is NO PARKING OR TRASH/RECYCLING CANS ALLOWED ON CITY STREETS.  Vehicles parked on the street will be ticketed with the potential of being towed during a snow emergency.

When the lots are scheduled for plowing there is “No Parking Allowed from 2:00 AM till 6:00AM” All downtown parking lot permit holders must park in the proper lots during the event.

The 5th & Washington Street lot will be closed during the downtown snow removal, which is currently scheduled for the morning outlined above.  During the downtown snow removal, permit holders who normally park in the 5th and Washington Street lot should park in another downtown parking lot.

When a snow emergency is declared you may not park on a City of Northfield Street until it is plowed curb-to-curb and weather system has passed.

For updated information call the City of Northfield parking hotline at 507-645-3080 or check the City of Northfield web site at www.ci.northfield.mn.us

Today’s news update – Judge rules Castle Rock Township must allow Islamic Cemetery; A NAFRS Administrator position met with mixed response; Liquor, animals, armory and annexation on Agenda

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Judge rules Castle Rock Township must allow Islamic Cemetery

An Islamic cemetery will be allowed in Castle Rock Township after a Dakota County judge ruled that the township’s efforts to block it were “arbitrary and capricious.” According to the Star Tribune, District Judge David Knutson granted a summary judgment last week that forces the township board to issue a conditional use permit for the cemetery.  The Al Maghfirah Cemetery Association bought the 73-acre parcel in 2014.  Castle Rock Township’s zoning rules initially allowed for the cemetery to be built, and the local Planning Commission recommended that the board approve it. But the board denied the application, saying that building a tax-exempt cemetery would cost the township about $17,000 in annual lost tax revenue.  The cemetery association sued the township in late 2015 and asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate possible discrimination against Muslims. In 2014, the township collected only about $1,200 of total taxes for the property.

A NAFRS Administrator position met with mixed response

The NAFRS Board met last week.  They had an audit of their finances.  Chair Glen Castore said their annual budget dropped by $100,000 to $424,000, which he says will likely stay consistent.  That includes the 6 new firefighters.  The elected officials on the NAFRS Board, Mayors Switzer and Graham as well as their City Administrators have been urging NAFRS to hire an Administrator to handle daily business. There was mixed response from the Board.  Castore said the Board voted to move the item to the Personnel Committee for review.  Switzer laid out a job description and salary reflecting 30 hours a week and about $45,000 a year.  He asked to be on the Personnel Committee to further refine his recommendation.  On February 23rd, the NAFRS Board will meet with the Northfield City council at a work session.  Part of the agenda will include the Fire Facility.  The meeting is open to the public.

Liquor, animals, armory and annexation on Agenda

On the Northfield City Council agenda tonight is a resolution regarding a Liquor License penalty hearing and proposed civil penalties for Chapati and a consideration of a request for a permit to keep more than 3 animals.  This item pertains to a resident who has been cited for having 4 adult dogs in her home.   Council will vote on a consideration to purchase the Armory.  Prior to the vote, they are scheduled to tour the building at 2 this afternoon.  Councilors Ludescher and DeLong asked that the Waterford Annexation agreement be placed on the Council agenda to consider payment to the Township from 2010 through 2016.  There is disagreement as to whether State legislation approved in 2009 ends any tax payment to Waterford.   The City attorney opined that Northfield was no longer legally bound to continue payments and the Council at that time voted to stop payments from 2010 and beyond.  Ludescher disagrees.  The council meeting begins at 7pm.  You can view it live on the City’s website.  Mayor Graham will be in studio at 7:20 tomorrow morning with a recap.  On tonight’s Beyond the Open Mic, Victor Summa and Don McGee talk about the council’s discussion on allowing just one open mic period rather than at each item and also the Waterford annexation agreement.  That’s tonight at 6 o’clock, just after the news.

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Community News: White-out conditions, slippery roads and accidents

We’re getting numerous reports of hazardous driving with white-out conditions. Law enforcement agencies are already very busy with accidents.  Northfield Police Chief Monte Nelson says if you don’t have to travel – don’t.  However, if you do, it’s best to get going now.  Rural roads are getting worse by the moment.

This is a link to MnDot’s traveler information service.  You can click on the “dots” and see the roads in those areas.  Navigate around to find conditions.

http://www.dot.state.mn.us/tmc/trafficinfo/cameras_map.html

 

 

 

Today’s news update – Developers encourage Council to let go of Armory and Council adds Waterford Annexation; Fire facility “live-in” responsibilities part of SOG discussion; Ruth’s House in need of supplies; Habitat House dedication tonight

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Developers encourage Council to let go of Armory adds Waterford Annexation

The Developers interested in the Armory pulled their request that Northfield Council purchase the building.  In an email sent to Council and staff on Friday afternoon, they thanked Council for their consideration of their project and continued stating… In light of the discussion on Tuesday evening, we are now asking that the city council vote to NOT acquire the Armory at all, and simply allow it to go to the county and then, likely, to the public. We had hoped that the city facilitating our project would be a good and timely way to proceed with a project that would be beneficial to the community. However, after hearing your many concerns, and after significant discussion within our group, we have determined that it is not the best way for this project to come to fruition.  They added, We sincerely hope that you will still support our project in any way that you feel comfortable.  The email was signed by all 6 partners including Jonathon Reppe and Derek Meyers, the two who presented their idea for a brewery and taproom with a community kitchen, marketplace and event center on Tuesday.  The Council is scheduled to vote tomorrow night at their regular council meeting.  Added to the week’s meeting notices is a tour of the Armory scheduled for 2 o’clock tomorrow.  Councilors  Ludescher and DeLong have requested the addition of the Waterford Annexation agreement be on the agenda, land that was annexed by Waterford for Sheldahl expansion in 1980.  Ludescher has drafted a resolution for consideration.   The dispute is over legislation that passed that, according to Northfield City Attorney Chris Hood, relieved the City for making payments for lost tax revenue to Waterford since 2010.   Waterford disputes that and has continued to send invoices to the City, which have been ignored.

Fire facility “live-in” responsibilities part of SOG discussion

The NAFRS joint powers Board held their monthly meeting last week.  There were 2 significant issues.  The Standard Operating Guidelines or SOG’s and the suggestion to hire an Administrator.  A personnel committee has been working on tweaks to the SOG the City of Northfield developed before the JPA was formed.  The Board received the draft document just days ahead of the meeting and some members felt that was not enough time to digest the changes.  Concern was expressed by Mayors Switzer and Graham.  In particular for Mayor Graham were changes to the Live In responsibilities, which were almost entirely removed, according to the draft at the meeting. Click on the link to read the DRAFT document [NAFRSSOGs-v.2015rev.10.21.15-1] Interim Administrator CC Linstroth and Mayor Graham raised concerns about the liability of the City in regard to the live-in personnel and wanted the most recent OSHA report included in the process.  There have been 2 live-ins for decades, one is retiring next year.  Chair Glen Castore said this morning, “I called, actually, our attorney Maren Swanson… checked with OSHA and at this point it doesn’t appear that there… OSHA doesn’t have a record of a report.  And OSHA reports are not confidential.  So we’re sort of sorting out what do we actually have here”.  After it was pointed out that there was a report, Castore corrected himself in an email stating that personal information is redacted but the document is available to the public.  According to Tonya Jones of the Dept. of Labor and Industry, there is a 2008 report.  There is a written letter dated March 3 2011 from Patricia Todd.. And a report from the OSHA investigation done by Vikki Sanders.  Find it HERE   

A call to Vikki Sanders has not yet been returned.

Ruth’s House in need of supplies

Ruth’s House is accepting donations of neosporin, ace bandages, heating pads, white vinegar, cookies sheets and laundry soap.  From 9am to 2pm tomorrow through Friday you can drop off items at UCC Church.  They’re also looking for volunteers.  If you’re interested call Ruth’s House Volunteer Coordinator, Katie Cooper at 507-334-5043.

Habitat House dedication tonight

There is a Habitat for Humanity House dedication tonight at 7 o’clock for the Morris Family at 215 Spring Wheat Drive in Dundas.  There will be a short program and time to tour the house and meet the family.

Click below to listen to the 2-1-16 NEWS podcast:

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Community News: United Way site helps tax filers with free online tax prep and filing

NAUWFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Elizabeth Child, Executive Director, Northfield Area United Way, 507-664-3510 or cell, 507-645-0119, or connect@northfieldunitedway.org

‘MyFreeTaxes’ Offers Free Tax Preparation

United Way site helps tax filers with free online tax prep and filing

NORTHFIELD, Minn. (January 29, 2016) —  Seventy percent of American tax filers are eligible for free tax
filing, and some don’t know they can save $200 in tax preparation fees every year by using MyFreeTaxes, the first free national, online tax filing platform.

MyFreeTaxes, sponsored by United Way, provides free federal and state tax preparation and filing assistance, both online and in person, to individuals and families who had household incomes of
$62,000 or less in 2015. MyFreeTaxes can be used to file federal and state taxes in Minnesota.

Last year, more than 200,000 tax returns were filed on MyFreeTaxes.com, a 2,400% increase since the
platform launched in 2009.

Offering free English and Spanish tax support, MyFreeTaxes provides qualifying filers access to tax
coaches for in-person, self-preparation assistance. The online tool allows taxpayers to self-file for free
using a simple step-by-step process that includes free telephone, email and online chat support from
IRS-certified specialists.

MyFreeTaxes is an interactive resource for information regarding tax preparation, valuable credits
including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, and personal finance, as well as access
to free, in-person tax preparation sites. It’s funded by a $1.3 million grant from the Walmart Foundation,
and made possible through the collaboration of 1,000 partners, including the IRS, colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, and state and local government agencies.
About United Way Worldwide: With 2.6 million volunteers and 9.6 million donors worldwide, and more
than $5 billion raised every year, United Way is the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit. We’re engaged in nearly 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide to create community solutions that improve life for everyone. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic and faith organizations, along with educators, labor leaders, health providers, senior citizens, students and more. For information about the local Northfield Area United Way, see www.NorthfieldUnitedWay.org.

About Philanthropy at Walmart:  Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are committed to helping people live better through philanthropic efforts that draw on the strengths of Walmart in the arenas of sustainability, economic opportunity, and community. To learn more about Walmart’s giving, visit www.foundation.walmart.com.

Today’s news update – Former Interim Chief Walerius comments on his lawsuit

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Former Interim Police Chief Chuck Walerius will not appeal the decision of a Rice County judge.  Judge Neuville granted the City a dismissal last November saying that the City hired Monte Nelson because he emerged as the best qualified candidate, and Walerius failed to show that this was not the true reason for selecting him.  Walerius had 30 days to appeal.  Attorney Barbara Felt said, in part, while they remain very disappointed with the Judges decision, “their client” has chosen not to appeal.

Walerius had sued the City for age discrimination after Monte Nelson was named Chief of Police in January of 2014.  Walerius commented, “I wish the police department all the best luck in the world, there’s some great people there, there’s no doubt about it.  And Monte’s doing a great job”.  He added, “my beef is and always has been with the City.  And I think that it’s just time, both my wife and I talked about it, and it’s just time to for us to move on”.  Walerius is teaching drivers ed to teenagers and also come college course.

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