Today’s news update – Fire Relief seeks to increase benefits; Council gets mid-contract reports; Riverwalk Market Fair proposes 3 year funding; Social host ordinance cited in fewer underage drinking citations

news radioFire Relief seeks to increase benefits

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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9-25-15 news

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Today’s news update – Two lingering lawsuits to come up in December; Bike lanes or sharrows – Bike Northfield efforts; Goats are gone and so are noxious weeds

news radioTwo lingering lawsuits to come up in December

As the City slogs through another sordid situation, there are a couple of lingering lawsuits.  Former Interim Northfield Police Chief Chuck Walerius is suing the City for age discrimination after Monte Nelson was named Chief in January of 2014.  He’s asking for back pay, front pay and any benefits he would’ve received, compensatory damages and court costs.  No dollar amount has been set.  A pretrial court date is set for December 7th with a jury trial, should it be needed, set for January 2016.  Former Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mary Schmelzer is suing the Chamber for wrongful termination claiming her whistleblowing of allegations of sexual harassment of a subordinate led to her dismissal.  Her suit was filed in October of last year.  Pretrial in her case is scheduled for December 31st with a trial date in January if needed.  Schmelzer is asking for general and special damages in excess of $50,000 and punitive damages of $25,000 as well as court costs.

Bike lanes or sharrows – Bike Northfield efforts

Bike Northfield, an organization working to get Northfield named a Bicycle Friendly Community through the League of American Bicyclists, discussed bike lanes on several streets on the west side during Council’s work session.  The roads are Lincoln Parkway/Lincoln Street/Spring Street and First Street.  Bruce Anderson is the Chair of Bike Northfield said it’s proven that when bike lanes or sharrows are added in a community, ridership goes up.  (people feel safer riding)  The question is whether to designate bike lanes or sharrows which are lanes painted with a bicycle to alert bicyclists where they should ride and to alert motorists they’re there.  Mayor Graham said this will come back to council next year as they’re focus from now till the end of this year is on our budget and levy.  Public Works Director Dave Bennett said  one of the challenge areas should there be bike lanes will be around Greenvale Elementary.  There’s a lot of staging on Lincoln Pkwy around afternoon pickup.  Bike Northfield and the City will hold an event on Tuesday morning, Sept. 29th.  The League of American Bicyclists Bike Friendly specialist Steve Clark will be coming to Northfield for a bike ride and then a Q & A and planning session at City Hall to continue Northfield’s quest to designated a “Bike Friendly Community”.   Gathering at City Hall at 8am, the bike ride will leave at 8:30am.  The program will start at City Hall at 10:30am and scheduled till noon.  For more information listen to Betsy Buckheit and George Kinney Morning Show interview posted this week on

Goats are gone and so are noxious weeds

The goats are gone and so is much of the buckthorn.  Commenting on the job the goats did in Hauberg Woods, Streets and Parks manager TJ Heinricy said he was shocked and amazed at what those 4-legged creatures could do!  Pictures courtesy of TJ Heinricy – continue reading below…

They used 10 goats on about an acre of the Woods.  Heinricy said the before and after was like night and day.  He said you could see where they girdled the buckthorn, ate the foliage of buckthorn and other noxious weeds like poison ivy and nettles.  And have opened up the canopy to more sunshine.  The natives can take over now.  The goats eat the leaves and berries of buckthorn.  The berries are not viable after passing through a goats stomach.  Jake Langeslag owner of Goat Dispatch will come back with humans in the winter time to cut back some of the bigger buckthorn bushes.  He added that someone walking through the area without knowing the goats were there would wonder “what went on here?”  “Did someone come in with a big weedeater?”  Heinricy says he’d love to use the goats in several other areas in the City.

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9-24-15 news

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Today’s news update – Mayor expresses frustration over recent “situation”; Still, they must work – Council discussed the PW organizational structure change and interim Admin; Nfld “leads the State that leads the Nation”; Big Woods holds annual meeting

news radioMayor expresses frustration over recent “situation”

The Mayor took issue this morning with an editorial piece in the Northfield News wherein Jerry Smith’s headline reads “Mayor, city council failed community in Haggenmiller departure” Graham said, “we were put into a situation based on the actions of an individual… or individuals that forced us to a situation that we don’t like”.  {listen to podcast below for quote}  He’s speaking of the written complaint against Haggenmiller for an inappropriate relationship with a female department head.  The debate dogging the Mayor and council has been the public’s right to know and the privacy of the accused and accuser.  He said, again, they followed the advice of 8 attorneys and stands by the Council’s decision.  Graham said the individuals involved in the complaint are the ones who let the city down.  “It’s not easy.  This stinks.  I absolutely hate everything that we’ve gone through in this process”.  He said the Council has taken the matter very seriously and did what they felt best.  He added that Nick Haggenmiller had every opportunity to open it up to a public hearing but chose to keep it closed and chose to sign the agreement.  Councilor Ludescher has been vocal in his belief that the Council did indeed violate the open meeting law as Smith contends in the oped.  In the meantime, caught in collateral damage are 3 female department heads who’ve not done anything but will get scrutinized and some City employees who have chosen not to wear their logo’d shirts because the public is asking them questions they can’t answer.

Still, they must work – Council discussed the PW organizational structure change and interim Admin

The Northfield City Council still has work to do and last night in their work session they discussed the proposed Public Works organizational structure change.  Some councilors expressed concern about moving ahead without a City Administrator.  After talking it over with Public Works Director Dave Bennett, Zweifel said she felt confident they could move forward with Bennett at the helm.  The consensus was to move forward.  It will eliminate the Project Manager position which was just recently instituted.  Four other manager positions will be filled in Engineering, Streets & Parks, Utilities and Facilities.  Total financial impact is will be just under $36,000.  Mayor Graham discussed the search for an interim administrator.  He and HR Director Michelle Mahowald are working with the League of Minnesota Cities on a list of names and will be making phone calls.  These candidates are generally retired or between jobs.  An interim Administrator would likely hold the position for about 6 months as council works to find a replacement for the fired Haggenmiller.  Last night Graham said that Gary Weiers, who found Haggenmiller, guaranteed he’d be around for at least 2 years.  Since that didn’t happen, the next search will be on his dime.

Know the burning restrictions

As cool weather will get here, the Northfield Police Department asks residents to keep 2 things in mind when building a recreational fire.  First to be considerate of your neighbors who may be affected by the smoke and to know the burning ordinance within the City.  Briefly your fire pit must be at least 50 feet from any structure, it can’t be any larger than 3 feet in diameter or reach higher than 3 feet.  The complete press release with the rules is on our website under Community News.

Nfld “leads the State that leads the Nation”

Yesterday the Northfield Chamber held a State of our School district luncheon at the Northfield Golf Club sponsored by Benjamin Bus.  Superintendent Chris Richardson spoke on the progress of our school district calling Northfield “the district that leads the State that leads the Nation” in academic excellence. Northfield’s K-12 student population has changed little over the last 2 decades holding pretty steady at 4,000.  Richardson briefly discussed the Master Facilities Plan.  There will be another public meeting next Tuesday evening in the high school auditorium from 7 to 8:30.   Richardson remarked on one area they are working to improve and that’s providing more vocational training opportunities for students who wish to work in the trades, professions that will be in high demand in the coming decade.

Big Woods holds annual meeting

Friends of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park are holding their annual meeting and program Thursday evening beginning at 6:30 at the park office.  Master Gardener, Lisa Reuvers, will talk about pollinators.  Find out about different types of pollinating insects, why they’re important and what you can do to help.  The public is invited to attend, light refreshments will be served.

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9-23-15 news

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Community News: Recreational Fire Restrictions in Northfield 9/22/15


September 21, 2015

Subject: Police Memo – Public Release, Recreational Fire Restrictions in Northfield

From: Monte Nelson, Northfield Chief of Police

As we head into Minnesota Fall weather, the Northfield Police Department would like to remind
Northfield residents of the fire restrictions inside the city. This time of year, many people choose to
light a fire in their yards, whether for a cool evening bonfire or other reasons. Though family time
around a campfire might be enjoyable, we often receive complaints related to burning inside city

The Police Department requests Northfield residents to consider two guiding principles when having
outdoor fires.

1. Please be considerate of neighbors who might be affected by the smoke from a fire.

2. Please follow the Northfield Ordinance related to outdoor fires/burning, Chapter 26, Article 1 (26-
61 through 26-66.) The following info is a summary of info from the Ordinance.

a. Campfire (and Recreation Fire) means a fire set for cooking, warming, or ceremonial purposes, which is not more than three feet in diameter by three feet high, surrounded by noncombustible and nonsmoke or odor-producing material, either of natural rock, cement, brick, tile or block of ferrous metal only, and which has had the ground five feet from the base of the fire cleared of all combustible material.

b. Wood means dry, clean fuel only, such as twigs, branches, limbs, presto logs, charcoal, cordwood, or untreated dimensional lumber. The term “wood” does not include wood that is green, with leaves or needles, rotten, wet, oil soaked, or treated with paint, glue or preservatives. Clean pallets may be used for recreation fires when cut into three-foot lengths.

c. Campfire and recreation fire sites shall not be located closer than 50 feet from any structure.

d. Burning. A campfire or recreation fire may be ignited only with an approved starter fluid, using dry clean wood; shall produce little detectable smoke, odor or soot beyond the property line; shall be conducted with an adult tending the fire at all times and extinguished completely before quitting the occasion; and shall be conducted with due respect for weather conditions, neighbors, burning bans, and air quality so that a nuisance or health or safety hazard will not be created.

e. The burning of any leaves, brush, refuse, or other materials of like nature is prohibited.  (Many complaints are related to inappropriate items being burned, producing noxious smoke.)

f. Burner means a burn barrel or similar enclosure for burning; Burners are prohibited.

The Northfield Police Department asks residents to be considerate and safe when having a Campfire
– Recreation Fire. Please contact the department with any questions at 507-645-4477.

Today’s news update -Written complaint against Haggenmiller “He refuses to leave me alone”; Council meets for work session; Only 10% of addicts seek treatment; The Y celebrates 1 year and hosts “Mindful Eating”; Heritage Square Block party

news radio“He refuses to leave me alone…”

Nick Haggenmiller

Nick Haggenmiller

“In trying to terminate a romantic relationship, Nick Haggenmiller has refused to leave me alone”, that’s part of an email sent to the City of Northfield’s Human Resources Manager Michelle Mahowald from the person who filed a complaint against the City Administrator.  The email is dated August 21st but within the formal complaint is an indication that this person complained in May when, according to the complaint, she tried to end the relationship for a 2nd time.  Her name and other information has been redacted from the complaint. The Northfield news reported that it is a female department head after listening at the door of the first closed meeting on September 8th.  There are four of them at City Hall.  No one from City Hall is talking.  The only communication is through data request forms sent to Mahowald.   According to Haggenmiller’s separation agreement his employment formally ends September 30th.  He’ll receive another 2 months salary and health insurance paid through November 30th.

redacted written complaint

Haggenmiller separation agreement

Council meets for work session

The Northfield City Council meets tonight for a work session.  They’ll hear from Bike Northfield who is proposing more bike lanes in an effort to be get a bronze certification in the Bicycle Friendly Community program.  Leah Eby with Growing Up Healthy will give a mid-contract report as will Executive Director of the Northfield Historical Society.  Public Works Director Dave Bennett will report on the public works organizational analysis.   Mayor Graham will be in studio tomorrow morning at 7:20 with a recap.

Only 10% of addicts seek treatment

September is Recovery month, a time to celebrate those in recovery and take away the stigma of addiction.  Rice County Chemical Health Social Worker Yvette Marthaler says we have a great support system here to offer hope.  Marthaler says only 10% of addicts seek help.  She assesses indivduals through the County.  [listen to her full quotes on the podcast below]  Marthaler says Steve’s Law was passed during the last legislative session to promote calling 911 if you’re with someone overdosing on opioids.  The law gives them amnesty for calling and staying with the person until police arrive.  Naloxone is a drug given to someone overdosing that reverses the effects.  On September 30th at 5:30, the Moravian Church is sponsoring a one hour training event on Steve’s Law and on the use of naloxone.  The drug is administered by shot and is available as a prescription.  Marthaler says addiction needs to be treated as a mental health issue and remove the stigma.

The Y celebrates 1 year and hosts “Mindful Eating”

It’s the Northfield Area YMCA’s One-Year Anniversary and they’re celebrating all week with fun themes each day!  There are over 4,800 current members and another 75-125 community members visit each week.  The Y has over 80 full and part-time employees.  This Thursday they’ll host “Mindful Eating”.   Northfield Hospital & Clinics registered dietician nutrionist coordinator Kristi Von Ruden will lead the seminar designed to help participants shift out of a diet mentality, and enjoy eating instead.  The one-hour session starts at 6:30.  The event is free and open to the public. Registration is preferred; walk-ins are welcome as space allows.  Often when people think about food and health, they focus on diet and weight control. Mindful eating is a different perspective that helps people approach nutrition and wellness from a positive viewpoint.  All participants for “Mindful Eating” will receive two free days at the Y.

Heritage Square Block party

Heritage Square Retail Center off Highway 3 is under new ownership and they’re having a block party today!  The Northfield Real Estate Fund is a group of local citizens who’ve joined together to invest in the Northfield Community and they’re celebrating with food, games, live music by the Counterfactuals, tours and a cash bar from 4:30 till 7.   KYMN will be broadcasting live from 4:30 to 6.

Click below to listen to FULL newscast:

9-22-15 news

Listen for news updates on-air at 6, 7, 8, Noon, 3 and 5

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