Northfield became a Charter City in 1910, a time when the seat of government was 2 days away. It gave citizens local control over their destiny. Victor Summa has long been involved in City government as a councilmen, a board and/or commission member, a downtown building owner and as a citizen. He says the Charter is, “the rule book for the City staff and the City Council. And it is the citizens rule book although the citizens aren’t all that involved in it”. Mayor Rhonda Pownell says it’s our “foundational document”. She added, “Now that being said, there are times when we really need to get special advice or
counsel on particular issues where the Charter and the State statute are in conflict or we really need some sort of wisdom and guidance on how we move forward. But that doesn’t negate the substance of the Charter”. KYMN’s Jeff Johnson questioned why it would appear that at times, Council seems to pick and choose which rules they want to use, Charter or State Statute. One of the biggest flaps was 2 years ago when the Planning Commission brought forth 7 changes to facilitate economic development within the downtown and surrounding district. Pownell, a Councilor at the time, brought forth 6 amendments to those changes including requiring new buildings at 2 stories or more for the district which surrounds the downtown and runs along Hwy 3. It was a contentious debate. The Charter said they needed a 5/7 vote but State Statute said they only needed a 4/3. The vote was 4/3 and they chose to pass it, although Mayor Dana Graham never signed it. (The Council meeting was around 4/7/15) At issue is the Charter’s enforceability. Mayor Pownell says citizens do that by petition and recall and through voting. She added, “I would say that we are doing a good job. No situation is easy to handle, there’s always going to be differences of opinion. What the people need to know and understand is that we’re doing our due dillegence”. Administrator Martig was not here during the LDC changes but he believes the current Council has followed Charter. In terms of the difference between Charter home rule and Statutory laws, he says, State laws are more black and white. The Charter Commission languished for a time with not enough members to even form a quorum. They now have 7 members including Greg Colby and Judy Schotzko. Listen to Pownell and Martig’s full interview on kymnradio.net.
Speeding, seatbelts and motorcycle awareness
Once again, Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn couldn’t make it into Northfield without having to stop someone or two. He had a meeting in town on Wednesday and, “had a person that almost caused 2 head-on collisions so that was kind of scary to see that and then when I got the person stopped, the people are honking and clapping as they go by because, I mean, it was just crazy”. And then yesterday morning on his way to the KYMN studios, someone was late for work and he passed the Sheriff at 20 to 25 mph over the speed limit. The seatbelt enforcement wave continues through Sunday. Dunn said, “there’s still people not wearing their seatbelts and when we have crashes we’re finding approximately 30% of the people aren’t wearing their seatbelts”. Many older people are the ones getting tickets with the explanation that they never wore them as kids. Dunn said, “Cars have changed a lot since then”. He said you don’t want to be going 50 mph into the dashboard while the airbag is coming at you at 100 mph. “That’s not going to be good”. Dunn also encourages drivers to look for motorcycles and riders to take safety training, to brush up on skills including evasive moves. Just last weekend a 79 year old man was killed in erin township when a driver pulled out in front of him. And, Dunn says, even though it’s not sexy, wear a helmet.
Riverwalk Mkt Fair opens
The Riverwalk market Fair opens tomorrow! The fair on Bridge Square in Northfield is open from 9 to 1 each Saturday through October and features handcrafted items, fresh produce, music and more.