An early morning crash delayed traffic for hours on Hwy 19 and I35. Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn reported the call coming in at about 5:15 this morning. A pick-up with a camper struck 2 passenger vehicles. One of the occupants in a vehicle was killed. Two others report minor injuries. Dunn said road conditions were slippery. Hwy 19 was closed until 11:20 this morning so traffic could be diverted up and over the ramps as crews worked to clear the accident. The camper has been extremely difficult to remove as it’s destroyed. Sheriff Dunn said they hope to have both lanes
of I35 northbound open by noon. Hwy 19 was stopped without much go in both directions as drivers had to find alternates. I35 northbound backed up into Faribault, southbound was jammed up as drivers couldn’t turn left onto 19. Co Rd. 1 was also backed up and then, around 9 this morning another serious accident occurred on northbound I35 just south of Co. Rd. 1. The crashes remain under investigation.
Nfld Ice Arena task force weighs options
A new Northfield Ice Arena has been mulled over for years. With a Task Force looking into it, an Administrator with experience in figuring out the ways and means of building it and land gifted to the Hockey association, the discussions have taken on more weight. Councilor Brad Ness, appointed to the Task Force, said the group is discussing options including fixing the current arena, do they build on to St. Olaf’s arena or build a stand alone facility. To fix the current arena would take a minimum $2 million, to remodel it into a nice facility would take another estimated $3 million. Ness said most of the committee, “lipstick on a pig kind of thing. Do we want to spend that much money and still have a facility that people will come and say why do I want to play in this?” St. Olaf raised $6 million to begin construction of a one-sheet rink at the fieldhouse site. If the City wanted to add on to it, St. Olaf said they don’t want that traffic coming through the campus, a new road would have to be built at an approximate cost of $2 million. While they could share some costs, it would likely still cost in the neighborhood of $10 million. The City could possibly “rent” ice time from St. Olaf. The other option is a stand alone facility. A study showed Northfield could accomodate a one sheet arena. St. Olaf has rented one third of the City’s ice time. Surrounding cities could be attracted to Northfield as, right now, they drive to Faribault. Ness said consultants have said, “you can generate enough income with ice rental and auxiliary stuff that goes on to pay for the operations and they also said in terms of adding money into the town, would be $3 million a year, you know, restaurants, shops…”. And hotels. Paying for the building is the big issue. A one sheet, stand alone arena, with all the amenities is estimated at $17 million. Administrator Ben Martig is working on options. Any option would likely be a combination of financing and go to the voters. A look on the Beacon website for Rice County properties shows that a former property owned by Gleason was gifted to the Hockey Association.
More “undecideds” at GOP caucus
Caucuses were held last night. Rice County Republicans gubernatorial straw poll showed Jeff Johnson in the lead with the Undecideds coming in second and Keith Downey in 3rd place. Speculation for GOP leaders is that the Undecideds are higher as they wait for former Governor Tim Pawlenty to make a decision. The last time Pawlenty sought endorsement was 2006. Messages to the Rice County DFLers have not yet been returned. State polls, however, show Tim Walz in the lead for a DFL endorsement for Governor. I heard back from DFL caucus representative Shawn Groth this afternoon and here are their results:
Rice County DFL’s preferential ballot for Governor results:
30 out of 31 precincts reporting:
27 — Chris Coleman
29 — Tina Liebling
41 — Erin Murphy
67 — Rebecca Otto
16 — Paul Thissen
194 — Tim Walz
115 — Uncommitted
(please note: some attendees chose not to participate in the preferential ballot)
Our preliminary attendance count was 511 total. Which exceeded our turn out in 2010 and 2014 comparable non-Presidential years.
We are very pleased with the turn out. We had a lot of first time caucus attendees. There’s a lot of passion and excitement around issues and candidates.
reConvenings brings Wurzer into town tomorrow
The reConvenings is coming to Northfield tomorrow night. Public Radio and TV broadcaster, Cathy Wurzer, was here last year with the Convenings, talks on living while dying and having frank discussions about end-of-life wishes. Teaming up with Honoring Choices, Wurzer has helped stage these events across the state. Tomorrow evening will focus more on creativity. They invited local artists to share how they would present living well and dying well. The event is at the Northfield High School from 6 to 8pm. All are welcome. Listen to the full interview on kymnradio.net.