Recent Area News
Summary judgement denied – Schmelzer case will move forward
Summary judgement denied and a jury trial is set to begin next Monday. That’s the decision by Rice County District Judge John Cajacob in the case of Schmelzer versus the Nfld. Chamber of Commerce. Mary Schmelzer is the former Chamber of Commerce Executive Director who was let go from that position in November of 2013. Her attorney Alf Sivertson alleges,”basically, she was terminated because she engaged in protected activity by raising concerns to the [Chamber] Board about this Jerry Anderson’s conduct in the workplace. She then was retaliated against and terminated”. In October of 2013, the Board felt that Anderson had done nothing wrong in an incident over the annual meeting but should not be a Board member, in November they terminated Schmelzer’s employment citing her “distrust in the Board”. Sivertson added that, “she has not found other comparable employment now for over 2 years so her … damages is wage loss”. He said that would be in excess of $100,000. Sivertson says, under the Human Rights Act, she is entitled to punitive damages if the jury determines they’re warranted and court costs. The complaint was filed October 14th, 2014. A motion for summary judgement was brought forward by the Northfield Chamber and heard in August of last year. Cajacob denied it in November. The trial is scheduled for Monday but Sivertson says there are 11 criminal cases to be heard before that so the actual trial may not begin until Tuesday or Wednesday. We will continue to follow the story.
The water’s back on!
Folks in a 2 block area of Woodley and Linden Street had been without water from yesterday morning till about 10 this morning. Police were called to a water main break around 7 yesterday morning. Utilities Manager Doug Lien said the water was contained and the intersection closed, a detour is posted. American Excavating is wrapping up work, filling in the whole and the intersection should be open by 1:30 this afternoon.
More block closures on Division for movie production
Expect more parking restrictions all this week as the movie crew takes over Division street for parts of the 300 block and all of the 400 block much of the week. Bridge Square will shut down on Friday. Police Chief Monte Nelson says they’ll start around noon and will go all night until they get what they need. It’s their last night of filming. The movie crew will be recreating Winter Walk and need lots of extras. Go to kymnradio.net and search “A Call for Extras” for more details. Parking signs are posted. You can call Northfield police at 645-4475 if you have questions on parking.
MLK Day Community celebration
Northfield’s Human Rights Commission invites you to their 22nd Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration tonight at Emmaus Church beginning at 7 o’clock. Speaker Sara Small is a sophomore at St. Olaf and involved with Black Lives Matter. Susan Sanderson, 10 year coordinator for the TORCH program will receive the Human Rights award.
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Back in school – Board decides student’s fate updated to include Quinnell statement
It took the Northfield School Board 3 and a half hours last night to determine the fate of Noah Bamonte-Grebis. He’s the 18 year old Northfield High School honor student who had an unloaded bb gun in his locked vehicle on school grounds. In a 3 to 2 vote, the Board chose to allow him back in school. A random sweep on December 18th by a K-9 unit discovered alcohol, drug paraphernalia and the weapon. A hearing was held on Tuesday by an independent hearing officer. School board members Ellen Iverson, Rob Hardy and Margaret Colangelo voted to not expel the young man. Colangelo said, “the School Board members gave VERY thoughtful and researched and informed opinions to the discussion”. Julie Pritchard and Jeff Quinnell voted to expel him. Both were unavailable for comment for this report. Superintendent Dr. Chris Richardson would not comment on the deliberations but did say that there were between 75 to 100 people outside the closed session last night, “and vast majority of those have been students at Northfield High School”. A petition with about 425 signatures by students was given to the School Board on Monday evening. The petition had stated that any student whose car is tagged during a search must unlock it or face expulsion. Richardson said, “that’s actually not correct, there’s nothing in our student policies that indicates failure to consent is grounds. That just isn’t there”. The Board looks at petitions but also the level of understanding of those signing it. Bamonte-Grebis was also cited for drug paraphernalia, a petty misdemeanor and having alcohol under the age of 21, a misdemeanor in the same incident. He had been suspended for 12 days while awaiting the decision. During that time he’s been able to continue school work at home. UPDATE: We just learned Bamonte-Grebis was give a 4th citation in the incident for having a small amount of marijuana, a petty misdemeanor. He was fined for all 4 charges.
Quinnell sent his official statement. Here it is in it’s entirety:
To Whom it May Concern,
Dundas K-Mart to close
The Dundas K-Mart will close mid-April. Corporate Communications Director for Sears Holdings, Howard Riefs, says until then, the store will remain open. A liquidation sale will begin January 24th. The Dundas location made it through the previous round of K-Mart closures when they closed over a hundred stores nationwide. Dundas Administrator John McCarthy said he wasn’t surprised this time as their lease was up. The City was informed on Monday. McCarthy added it was “unfortunate but not unexpected”. He was pleasantly surprised it stayed open for as long as it did. The store has 32 employees, most of which are part-time. Riefs said those eligible will receive severance. Most of the associates are part time/hourly. The company would not comment on exactly how many more stores are closing in this round but they all have to do with leases being up and underperforming locations.
Defining Northfield Economic development analysis will wait
The Northfield Council had asked for an Economic Development Analysis to be presented to them in March. Northfield Community Development Director Chris Heineman was seeking clarity, “there’s just sort of this general economic development analysis discussion with several caveats and directions and… quite frankly, I’m not sure where to go”. There are many possible economic partners in Northfield including those they currently contract with such as the NDDC and the NEC. Peterson White warned not to bite off more than they could chew saying they should narrow the scope. Pownell questioned the timing as they are just about ready to hire a City Administrator AND an Economic Development coordinator. This will come back to Council in another work session after an Admin is hired.
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A number of the cast and crew from the upcoming movie entitled “The Last Love Letter” sat it on the Wayne Eddy Affair today at 10am. They announced that they will be replicating “Winter Walk” on Friday January 22nd 2016 around 5pm on Bridge Square in Northfield. They’ll have props and their own stage where co-writer and actor Jay Black will be performing some stand-up comedy to entertain the crowd. Jay is currently the number one college stand-up comedian in the US.
This is your chance not just to show off our nostalgic downtown, but to gather your friends and family for what is to be a memorable evening of filming in Northfield. Since Winter Walk was so popular this year, they’ll need just as many people to be present during the scenes they shoot.
Be sure to dress accordingly and be ready to “hurry up and wait” as the filming process does take patience. They are currently on day six of shooting with five more days planned in this area.
Lead actors include the following:
Listen to the interview HERE
Edina Realty Supports Habitat for Humanity
Bob Stangler recently applied to the Edina Realty Foundation for support for Rice County Habitat for Humanity
and was awarded $2,000 to help with local efforts to build simple, decent and affordable housing.
Habitat thanks Edina Realty and their continued support with financial contributions and their efforts on the
annual Realtor Build Day.
Rice County Habitat for Humanity partners with families who otherwise may be unable to achieve the dream of
homeownership by establishing partnerships among God’s people to build simple, decent, affordable homes.
School Board elects officers and 1 member resigns
The Northfield School board held elected officers on Monday. They are Julie Pritchard as Chair, Ellen Iverson as Vice Chair, Noel Stratmoen is clerk and Treasurer is Rob Hardy. Superintendent Dr. Chris Richardson said long time Board Member Ann Maple resigned her position Monday evening. He said she was an “excellent” board member and heavily involved in the Middle School Bond issue and the 2006 Operating levy campaign. With less than a year left in her term, Richardson said, the Board is able to appoint someone to finish out her term. If you’re interested go to northfieldschools.org or call 663-0600. You have until February 1st to apply, a committee will review the applications and make a recommendation to the Board at their February 8th meeting. Tonight the Board will meet in closed session to decide the fate of a student who had an unloaded bb gun in his vehicle.
Rice County Commissioners look to regional partnerships for Economic development
Rice County Commissioners have had an ongoing discussion with Lonsdale and Faribault regarding regional economic development priorities. Commissioner Galen Malecha said on the list are road, street and bridge funding. Malecha says Northfield is very aware of the conversation and will become more involved when a new City Administrator is named. He says lobbying as a group for state and federal funding worked successfully to resurface Hwy 52 from Rochester to St. Paul. Hwy 14 is another example from New Ulm to Rochester. Rural economic development is another area they’d like to receive more tools to help start and grow businesses. Tax abatement is the only tool they have right now. They’ve discussed the Mill Towns trail expansion and a bus transit center. They’re “doing some visioning for the future of possibly locating a transit center somewhere around the I-35 and Hwy 19 corridor”. Malecha says they’ve already met with Benjamin Bus and Minnesota Valley Transit Authority to “pick their brains” for more information. There’s no firm timeline but Malecha said it could happen within 5 years.
Statewide stats on DWI enforcement cite some scary incidents
Just over 2500 people in Minnesota were arrested for DWI during the Holiday enhanced enforcement campaign. The State Department of Public Safety released information on some of the most frightening incidents. In Olmsted County a driver with a blood alcohol level 3 times the legal limit was arrested for the 3rd dwi in 3 weeks. A 50 year old man whose BAC was .25 was driving with his 11 year old in the car in St. Paul. The highest BAC registered was 5 times the legal limit by a driver in Minnetonka. Traffic Safety Director, Donna Berger, said “unfortunately these examples are all too common”. Northfield Police Sgt. Kevin Tussing said they had two DWI’s, one was a test refusal and one is pending blood test results after an ATV crash. Dundas Police had 7 DWI arrests and 2 controlled substance arrests, Faribault had 5 DWI and the Rice County Sheriff’s Office had 2. The numbers reflect additional TZD officers working overtime as well as on-duty officers. Berger says if you choose to drink, you have a responsibility to find a sober ride home. If you don’t, you’re putting other lives at risk.
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Listen for news updates on-air at 6, 7, 8, Noon, 3 and 5
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