The NAFRS joint powers board me yesterday morning. They heard a presentation by Tom Nelson, Secretary of the Northfield Fire Relief Association. They are associated with NAFRS but are a separate entity that receives and manages public dollars for volunteer firefighter retirement benefits. Nelson reported that they would like to increase the benefit level by $1,000 per year from $7500 established in 2006. Volunteer firefighters are incrementally vested beginning after 5 years and are fully vested at 20 years of service. They were not asking NAFRS for any contribution, as they are fully funded right now, but do need the Board to approve the increase. This will come back for a vote in October as will a vote on fee changes and dropping their paid interest to 0%. Currently they pay 5% interest to firefighters over the age of 50 who are fully vested but are NOT retired. The Board approved exploring a possible partnership with Custom Fire, a firm out of Osceola, regarding maintenance, support and evaluation of their fire trucks. This is the company they intend on buying their pumper truck from. Dundas Mayor Switzer indicated, that as a government entity now, they will have to go out for bids on any partnership. He was the only dissenting vote.
Council gets mid-contract reports
The Northfield City Council approved a 3 year contract with The Link Center and had a mid-contract report from Growing Up Healthy’s Leah Eby this week. The Link Center is a clearinghouse of resources throughout Northfield and Rice County. Mayor Graham said he’s very happy with the services they provide and with the same amount of dollars. Council also heard a mid-contract update from Northfield Historical Society Executive Director Hayes Scriven. They’ve been tasked with digitizing volumes of City documents and protecting them into the future. Graham was pleased with the work they’re doing and making those documents available to anyone that calls there is very important to the history of Northfield.
Riverwalk Market Fair proposes 3 year funding
Betsey Buckheit, secretary of RiverWalk Market Fair, presented to the EDA yesterday morning. She said 2015 has been their best year yet. Nancy Stroessner sets up the vendors. She says they are now averaging 30, up from 23 last year. The space allows for a maximum of 34 booths. So far this year, over $150,000 of product has sold between all the various vendors. Buckheit believes that RMF could become self-sustaining. They’ve discussed a possible coop wherein the vendors would buy in and the Fair would then be “free of public support”. At 60 vendors they believe they could be self sustaining with fees, however, they need more space to do it. RMF asked for $10,000 annually for the next 3 years. Mayor Graham asked whether they’d talked with the NDDC. Buckheit said Scott Covey, chair of the NDDC, has a different vision for their organization. RMF’s request will come back to the Board in November. In the meantime, the Fair is on Bridge Square every Saturday from 9 to 1 through October.
Social host ordinance cited in fewer underage drinking citations
The Rice County Chemical Health Coalition reports a steady decline of citations for underage drinking in Faribault, Northfield and Rice County. The data shows the decline from 2011, when social host ordinances were adopted. In 2010 the county totaled 66 citations, that number dropped to 11 in 2014. The number of social host citations issued county-wide since 2011 is small, 7 or less per year, but the data suggests the ordinances are having a deterrent effect. Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn says they’re pleased to see the numbers drop and hopes the community will continue to support initiatives like the social host ordinance which makes it unlawful to provide an environment where underage drinking takes place.
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