Recent Area News

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

January 29, 2016

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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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Today’s news update – Open public comment debated at Council meeting; Soup and Cycles presents Author James Longhurst

January 29, 2016

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Open public comment debated at Council meeting

The length of Northfield City Council meetings could almost be considered legendary. During their discussion on Rules of Business, Mayor Graham noted his attempt to shorten them by implementing a rule wherein members can speak only twice on each issue. If there are amendments to motions, and sometimes amendments to amendments they can speak twice on those.  Graham said the idea is to allow speaking twice and then a vote.  It takes a motion and vote to change how they do things but they could experiment with changes to the format.  In fact, the Mayor met with Interim Administrator Linstroth yesterday and they will start experimenting with placing council/mayor reports at the END of the meetings.  Another item brought up to “save time” was cutting out some public commenting.  Rather than allowing Open Comments on any subject and then opening a comment period for each specific subject, they would only allow 1 open comment period. Peterson White said allowing public comment on each subject is “no longer necessarily the best way for us to be as accessible as possible”.  LISTEN TO ALL THE QUOTES BELOW IN THE PODCAST                   She added that those comments set the tone for each item and that’s “in some ways is contrary to democratic principles…”
She prefers that the Open comment period be moved to the beginning of the meeting. She added that if there’s a subject they think would have more commenters then they could make an exception.  She and Nakasian said the meetings are too long.   Ludescher then commented that it’s not that they’re (councilors) are spending too much time listening but rather too much time talking.  Zweifel said, “I think what we’re talking about is changing the culture….”                                                                   The public is allowed 2 minutes at the open mic.  If a member of the public wanted to comment on multiple subjects presented at the meetings, they would not have the additional opportunity they do now.  It’s important to note that the Council is not bound to allow comment at each subject.  The public is always invited to call or email our elected officials at any time on any subject.  Their contact information is on the City’s website.

Soup and Cycles presents Author James Longhurst

The 3rd annual Soup and Cycles event takes place tomorrow.  Bike Northfield’s Betsey Buckheit says,”this time we’re also going to expand the conversation…”                                                  Longhurst says the goal of “Bike Battles” is an effort to explain why we’re having such a conflict today in terms of where the bicycle belongs and parking. He adds history to why these debates happen and why they’re “so angry”.  In his book he looks at the decisions of cities made in the past.  Tomorrow, Longhurst will be talking about the first major bike fad in the 1890’s.  The roads, however, were mostly dirt.  There were several movements to create financing to pave paths across the country.  A lot of this has been forgotten.  The Soup and Cycles event begins at 5 o’clock at the UCC.  The event will include lots of information, soup and, of course, Professor Longhurst will speak and have his book available.

Click below to listen to the 1-29-16 NEWS podcast with quotes from Councilors:

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

Today’s news update – High speed chase leaves damage but no suspect; Point of Order – Rules of Business hold court at Council; Budget bites on School Board menu

January 27, 2016

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High speed chase leaves damage but no suspect

A high speed chase through Northfield leaves damage behind but no suspect.  According to Faribault Police Chief Andy Bohlen, agents of the Cannon River Drug and Violent Offender task force learned of a stolen black Ford F-150 crew cab and spotted it traveling northbound on Hwy 3 yesterday afternoon around 2:30.  It was towing an enclosed snowmobile trailer. Agents following the vehicle verified it was stolen and then three marked squad cars attempted to stop it in Northfield. Police Chief Monte Nelson said, “right when the pursuit started it was in a parking lot area between Sheldahl and the offices for Taylor Trucking and that’s where two parked cars were hit”.  Nelson said there was only minor damage.  The truck then went out onto Hwy 3 and hit an SUV causing more significant damage but no one was injured.  The chase was on as the driver headed for Farmington.  Nelson said,  “via a very circuitous route out County Rd. 47 to 86 and then around and round on a bunch of country roads and eventually into Farmington”.  Dakota County, Farmington and Lakeville police joined in.  Nelson said it was a dangerous situation adding that the driver was dragging the trailer on one wheel.  Law enforcement ended their chase in Lakeville at Cedar Avenue and Dodd due to the reckless driving of the suspect, that’s where the trailer broke free.  The suspect remains at large.  In his press release, Chief Bohlen said “The driver had a complete disregard for other motorists and law enforcement attempting to stop the vehicle,” “All agencies involved are working diligently to identify the reckless driver.”  If anyone has information about the driver’s whereabouts, you’re asked to contact the Cannon River Drug and Violent Offender Task Force at (507)334-4305.


Point of Order – Rules of Business hold court at Council

The Northfield Council met last night for a work session.  Mayor Graham said they had a good discussion on their Rules of Business.  He said, “that’s exactly what our work sessions should be.  We’re giving direction to staff by our conversation and we’re talking about how we want to function as a group”.  They discussed the definition of Point of Order and how to use it properly. Peterson White said, “the idea of a Point of Order is not to actually just shut someone up, and that is how we have used it sometimes… not always”.  Another piece was where to place the Council Reports and how often they allow Public Comment.  Mayor Graham said City Code calls for open comment period for the public but, “there’s nothing in here by our rules or in our code that says we need to do and open mic…. open public comment AND each individual item”.  Council has allowed comments at each item along with Open Comments.  Some councilors expressed an interest in allowing just 1 comment period in the interest of time, others felt it was an effort to stifle certain commenters.  Graham said, “I’m not advocating that we only do it once, I wanted to get the conversation out there last night and say how we wanna handle this and if we are going to handle it a different way then let’s make sure our rules reflect that”.  Graham said they may experiment with different formats of the meeting but until someone makes a motion, they won’t change anything permanently.  There’s more on this subject.  View the meeting on the City’s website.  Listen to the Mayor’s interview on

Budget bites on School Board menu

Northfield Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Richardson says he likes to give the School Board bite-size budget topics over multiple months for easier digestion.  He said over the course of 2 or 3 months, they’ll talk about food service, scholarships, Capital, General fund, Debt service and so on.  The hope is that by their June meeting they’re ready to approve the budget.  The Board reviewed their financial situation.  Richardson said he feels they ended the year in a very solid position.  Their fund balance was brought up by $218,000.  They have a $42 million budget.  Richardson says they’re in good financial shape and doesn’t anticipate any changes to programming for this budget cycle.

Click below to listen to the 1-27-16 NEWS podcast:

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Today’s news update – School Board to meet with Administrators regarding discipline policies; Council to discuss Rules of Business, the Armory and their Strategic Plan; And the Award goes to….

January 26, 2016

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School Board to meet with Administrators regarding discipline policies

The Northfield School board met last night for the first time since deciding not to expel a student who had a bb gun in his vehicle on school grounds.  On the agenda was a discussion regarding their process for reviewing District Discipline policies and procedures. Superintendent Dr. Chris Richardson said, “I think there is some real interest on the part of the Administration of trying to get a handle on whether the Board is comfortable with the policies that are currently laid out”.  The current policy identifies all the different types of infractions, what’s a 1st,  2nd and 3rd offense and if there’s a possibility of expulsion.  Richardson said it’s clear they need to take a look at the policies and the tipping point that would warrant expulsion.  Administrators want to handle situations consistently rather than case by case.  Richardson says they’re trying to find the balance, adding that, with nearly 1300 high school students, they’d be spending all their time figuring out an appropriate punishment if they heard each case.  He also said that he believes kids prefer consistency.  When students don’t know what the outcome might be, adolescents will push to find out where the line is.  Richardson wants it very clear to students and parents where the line of expulsion is.  He said there are typically a few incidents each year where a student could be expelled, “in many cases, however, when students get to that level, they will choose to withdraw voluntarily”.  When they do, they can attend the ALC, take classes online or go to another school that will accept them.  Most cases are never heard in the public arena as was the recent Bamonte-Grebis case wherein supporters opened it up.  It’s important to note that Bamonte-Grebis is 18 years old.  The rules vary with students age but it’s generally at adolescence where they make the biggest mistakes.   The Board has agreed to a work session with all the building administrators and are they comfortable with the current expellable offenses or do they want to revise any.

Council to discuss Rules of Business, the Armory and their Strategic Plan

The Northfield Council meets tonight for a work session.  They’ll discuss and review their Rules of Business regarding meetings and work sessions.  They’ll talk about the pros and cons of public versus private ownership of the Northfield Armory and they’re being asked for direction regarding development of their strategic plan.   Mayor Graham will be in studio at 7:20 tomorrow morning with a recap.  You can view the meetings in real time on the City’s website.  click on Meeting Portal.  It starts at 7pm.

And the Award goes to….

The Arts and Culture Commission announced their 2016 Living Treasure Award recipient, Jan Shoger.  The award annually honors a Northfield area resident who makes an outstanding and lasting contribution to the city’s arts and culture. Shoger will officially receive the award, presented by Mayor Dana Graham, on Thursday, January 28th at 7 pm at The Grand Event Center.  The public is invited to attend.   The ACC also invites the public to a special event marking the start of the 2016 Sidewalk Poetry Competition.  You’re invited their Kick-off event on Saturday at 2 pm at Content Bookstore.  Poetry contest entries will be accepted at the Interim Library location at City Hall during the month of February.   All are welcome!

Click below to listen to the 1-26-16 NEWS podcast:

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

Today’s news update – Schmelzer vs Chamber trial moved to April; Northfield graduate gives back in Mexico; Mental Health First Aid;

January 25, 2016

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Schmelzer vs Chamber trial moved to April

The lawsuit brought against the Northfield Chamber of Commerce by it’s former Executive Director Mary Schmelzer will not begin today.  The trial scheduled for 9 this morning has been moved to April 18th.  According to court records there was a flurry of documents served on both sides all last week including witness lists.    Updated from this story.

Schmelzer suit and Judges Order–Schmelzer

Northfield graduate gives back in Mexico

Katie Theis is a 2010 Northfield High School graduate who just arrived in Cuernavaca, Mexico, about 50 miles south of Mexico City, where she will be spending the next year working with children through Nuestros Pequeños  Hermanos – NPH which means Our little brothers and sisters.  Theis will be specifically working with kids from 15 to 22.  She said they are children who have been abandoned or their parents can’t afford their entire family or their parents have died or whatever that caused them to be orphaned.  Theis said she’s known for sometime that she wanted a long term volunteer opportunity, “I have been blessed with a really great life and I wanted to give back”.  She worked for a couple of years and then found NPH by googling Catholic Charities.  (She told me she would have never thought of herself doing this but is so happy to be there).  The organization provides her an apartment, they eat the same food as the children and get a very small stipend every 2 weeks.  She’s in training for the next 2 weeks and then will be putting together various projects starting with budgeting to benefactors to completion and follow through.  Volunteers serve the food each day and then hang out with them.  Play soccer, watch a movie, help with homework or whatever the kids want to do.  Theis explained that they’re looked at as an aunt or sister.  Discipline is referred to someone else “because they don’t want the kids to not trust us. And so I really like that aspect of it because it’s all about building trust and a positive relationship with the children”.  Theis has started a blog of the experience and explaining in greater detail about NPH – Nuestros Pequeños  Hermanos.  You can also donate to the organization.

Mental Health First Aid

First aid isn’t just for cuts and bruises anymore.  “Youth Mental Health First Aid” is help that’s offered to a young person experiencing a mental health challenge or mental disorder. Any adult can learn this first aid, and free training sessions are open to community members.  There are 2 opportunities starting February 16th at the Northfield Hospital Conference Center.  There is no cost. Registration is required. The sessions are especially suitable for parents and grandparents, teachers, neighbors, youth leaders and more.  Participants will learn:     Risk factors, warning signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders.  For information and to register call Northfield Community Services at 507-664-3649.  We’ll also have the information on

Movie crew says adieu to Northfield

It’s all over but the editing.  Strike Accord has left town.  The movie production crew took over  Bridge Square last Friday into Saturday morning.  Plenty of Northfielders had their opportunity to shine.  Tim Freeland was one of them.  We’ll hear from him later today.

Click below to listen to the 1-25-16 NEWS podcast:


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


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