Recent Area News

Community News: MCGA focus on taxes, buffers on the Hill

March 18, 2016
MN corn growersMinnesota Corn Growers focus on taxes, buffers during Day on the Hill 22 grower-leaders spent the day visiting with legislators and agency staff at the Capitol in St. Paul SHAKOPEE, Minn. (March 18, 2016) – With the legislative session currently in full swing, 22 grower-leaders from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) spent Tuesday, March 15 at the Capitol in St. Paul talking property taxes, buffers and other agriculture issues during MCGA’s Day on the Hill. “Our top priority this session is property tax relief,” said Raymond farmer and MCGA president Noah Hultgren. “There seems to be bi-partisan support on this issue, so it’s important that we keep reminding legislators how essential tax relief is to both the farm and overall rural economy.” Resolving the private ditch issue and clarifying other items on the new buffer legislation was also a prominent topic. In addition to legislators, grower-leaders met with staff from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to talk about buffers, water quality and other regulatory issues. “Minnesota corn farmers invest about $4 million annually in research and other initiatives that focus on water quality and stewardship,” Hultgren said. “We need to make sure legislators understand how committed we are to this important issue.” Other issues covered during MCGA’s Day on the Hill included transportation, irrigation and MCGA’s role in a broad coalition that is investing in the installation of over 600 flex-fuel pumps throughout the state. With more than 7,000 members, MCGA is one of the largest grassroots farm organizations in the United States. In addition to providing a voice for corn farmers in St. Paul and in Washington D.C., MCGA works closely with the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council to create new opportunities for corn farmers and build connections with the non-farming public.CdnSq3hUEAAtCVX Photo cutline: MCGA grower-leaders meeting with Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Matt Wohlman on Tuesday during MCGA’s Day on the Hill.

Today’s news update – Transit officials hold Open House in Northfield; Another acronym with potential; Color Dash for Habitat

March 18, 2016


Transit officials hold Open House in Northfield

Northfield was the target for Transit talks with MnDot’s Principal Planner Noel Shughart this week at an open house at Northfield City Hall.  Councilor Erica Zweifel said there was a lot of information but the biggest reaction from attendees came with the very narrow parameters used in the study.  They reached out to just a 5 mile radius along the stops planned at Owatonna, Faribault, Medford and Northfield.  Those attending from Lonsdale were not pleased about that. I have posted the map they used which went from Albert Lea to Bloomington.  Nothing of Minneapolis or St. Paul, another issue for those attending. Shughart explained that the parameters were set by past studies.  Zweifel said attendees suggested they be broadened. She added that the audience included, “a very knowledgeable crowd from service providers to commuters to school district to economic development.  The Director from Faribault, the Rice County Commissioner, officials from both cities (Nfld. and Faribault)”.  Included in the presentation was a DOT exercise.  She said they had a big map and they want to know where you’re starting and stopping at. They also surveyed whether people wanted a fast commute to get from A to B or if they wanted a slower commute with more stops.  They’re still taking input on transit and Zweifel encourages people to go online and fill out the survey.  Links are on  There are also details of a webinar scheduled for Monday at 3pm.  Zweifel added that there was also interest in a regional route between Northfield and Faribault.   Interested persons can go to For audio only, dial 877-309-2073 and use access code 142-366-741.southeast regional mndot map











Another acronym with potential 

There are lots of acronyms within the education system and Superintendent Dr. Chris Richardson introduced another one, ADSIS, “which is an alternative to referring a student for evaluation for special education”.  That’s ADSIS. The federal government could allow special education funding to be used for intervention. The idea behind it is, “can we look at intervention strategies and processes that will get a student back on track so that they don’t end up needing to be evaluated for special education and they can remain in regular classroom space”.  If it’s possible, they would avoid much more expensive school programs through their education career.  Most of their issues are behavioral.  Typically, once a student was 2 years behind their peers, they went through an evaluation process for special ed.  The hope of ADSIS is to change the trajectory and get these kids back on track before that happens.   Richardson said the first year has been very positive.  

Color Dash for Habitat

Rice County Habitat for Humanity has plans for 2016.  Representative Dayna Norvold said they plan on building a home each in Northfield and Faribault and also to rehab a home in Faribault.  They have a new fundraiser The ‘Color Dash’.  It’s a 5K Run/Walk wherein volunteers throw colored non-toxic, biodegradable powders on the participants.    If you have a good arm, you’re invited to volunteer to throw the powder.  Dayna Norvold said they’re also looking for a couple of businesses to sponsor color stations.  The advantage at this event is that your business colors (logo colors) are used in the powder.  The 5K race will start at the Middle School on April 9th.  Registration begins at 8am.  All the details are on our website  Click HERE for their full interview and more information on Color Dash.

Omelet breakfast for Boy Scouts

Sons of the American Legion are sponsoring an Omelet breakfast on Sunday at the Eagles Club from 8:30 to 12:30.  The fundraiser will benefit the Northfield Boy Scouts Troop #313.  

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Today’s news update – Franchise fees for all? Maybe; Northfield’s got film cachet; Transportation bill has some dollars for Northfield; Enhanced enforcement for St. Patrick’s Day; 4-H Easter Egg hunt

March 17, 2016


Franchise fees for all?  Maybe

Finance Director Melanie Lammers proposed Franchise fees this week to Northfield Council to pay for street projects.  Currently they use a mixture of state aid, bonding and special assessments on those living on the street being reworked.  Northfield has a unique situation in that the bonds that are levied every year for street improvements, only 67% of properties contribute, says Lammers, 33% are tax exempt.  A Franchise fee is a monthly fee attached to your Xcel energy bill.  Mayor Graham says Xcel keeps a small fee for processing, gives the rest of the money to the City, who puts it in a fund.  The idea being then that everyone pays, including those exempt from taxes.  Northfield has 200 non-profits including the two colleges.  Mayor Graham said with a franchise fee there would be no street assessments.  Street bonding could be eliminated after the fund is built up.  Graham said that IF it should go through, those who are now paying assessments for 10 years, would be refunded.  This is all very preliminary.  Most councilors felt it worthy to continue exploring the idea.  

Northfield’s got film cachet

Northfield was abuzz with filming of The Last Love Letter in January and KYMN’s Wayne Eddy got in touch with Producer Mike Leahy for an update, “the first cut of the film is complete, the Director is now working with the Editor to finesse it and then they’ll deliver it to the studio”, he continued, “but the studio saw that first cut and and they were blown away by the, what we call in the business, the production value of the movie”.   That means it looks like a big movie!  He added, “and the reason, the only reason that it looks like a big movie, was that your town showed up and supported us in amazing ways from the architecture… to the extras … from even the original Winter Walk, which made it into the film”.  Leahy said between filming in Northfield and the Twin Cities, they spent half a million dollars including hotel rooms in town for the crew of about 40 for 2 weeks.  He added the film, “it really highlights your town and your town highlights our film.  So thank you all of Northfield”.  They’re committed to screen the movie here in Northfield, perhaps even on Bridge Square.

Transportation bill has some dollars for Northfield

In Governor Dayton’s Transportation bill, district 20b Representative David Bly said there are some provisions to help Rice County.  Bly says there’s about a million and a half that would go to Rice County, $300,000 to Northfield. Bly says the dollars are not specifically earmarked and it is just a proposal at this point.  

Enhanced enforcement for St. Patrick’s Day

Expect enhanced law enforcement patrols today.  St. Patrick’s Day often means celebrations. Sheriff Troy Dunn says “have a plan”.  Call a cab, have a designated driver.  They don’t want you to be a statistic.  Statewide, fatalities on our roads are up by 60% so far this year.  

Easter Egg hunt this Saturday

Rice County 4-H Ambassadors invite community youth to our annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 19.  This is open to all youth ages 2 through 5th grade.  There will be some hands on activities inside the 4-H building starting at 10:30.  The egg hunts will be split up a little more this year as follows:  Ages 2-5 will begin their egg hunt at 10:45; Grades K-2 will begin their hunt at 11:00; and Grades 3-5 will begin their hunt at 11:15.   Bring your own baskets and dress properly as the hunt is planned for the outdoors.

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Today’s news update – Arson investigation at the Nfld Library construction site; Request for special legislation to extend TIF approved; Kyte to conduct search for Superintendent

March 16, 2016


Arson investigation at the Nfld Library construction site 

Just before 4 this morning, the Northfield Police and Fire Departments responded to a fire at the construction site of the Northfield Public Library.  Fire Chief Gerry Franek said a forklift was fully engulfed when they arrived.  Firefighters had to cut the locks to get into the construction area and use a foam agent to extinguish the blaze due to the diesel fuel in the fork truck.  The State Fire Marshall was called and responded to complete an investigation to try to determine if the fire was set intentionally or if it was a mechanical issue.  There were no workers or other persons present when Officers and Firefighters arrived.  Nothing else appeared to be damaged, the forklift was a total loss.  The investigation continues.

Request for special legislation to extend TIF approved

The Northfield Council approved a resolution authorizing staff to submit a request for special legislation to extend the Riverfront Tax Increment Finance District by three years to July, 2019.  Mayor Graham explains very briefly TIF, “you take the undeveloped piece of land and whatever that tax money is”.. and then figure what the taxes would be with development on there.  “The difference is the increment”.  He added, “we can grab that increment and utilize that money to use as incentive to help development occur”.   The Riverfront TIF will allow tax advantages to The Crossings area at Hwy 3 and 2nd street.  Right now, Rebound Enterprises continues to move forward on a Marriott Fairfield Hotel in that location.  They’ve submitted a site plan and Community Development Director Chris Heineman says they hope to bring it back to council in early May.  He added that the request for extending TIF would impact the overall site development not specifically the hotel site.  The hotel site is primarily on lot 6, the area was planned as the sister site to the condominiums.  If things go as planned, the majority of the site would qualify for TIF funding.  However what, “is not able to be captured are additional either land purchases or development costs on the adjacent parcels that are still within that TIF distinct”.  He added, “this is a legislative process.  It requires our local representatives to carry it forward to committee”.  The legislation itself would be just 2 or 3 sentences.  Heineman says there are many examples of other cities who have extended the tax district.  Council approved it 4 to 1 with Ludescher voting no.  DeLong and Peterson White were absent.  Mayor Graham’s interview is posted online at with further explanation of Tax Increment Financing.  

Kyte to conduct search for Superintendent

Superintendent Chris Richardson will retire in July. The School Board chose to engage one of Northfield’s own, Dr. Charlie Kyte, to perform the search for a new Superintendent.  Richardson said Kyte’s company will be putting together lists of people for focus groups.  The various groups will include teachers, parents, administration and community members.   During the week of March 28th, the consultants will work with them to define and refine the qualifications they’re looking for.  An internal search will take place first and then those candidates would be interviewed the week of April 5th.  If they find that person, the Board could select an internal candidate, if not, they’ll go outside.  

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Community News: Red Cross Helping Family of 5 Following Fire in Faribault

March 16, 2016

6bc31db951db3a8242a3a152157d77caRed Cross Helping Family of 5 Following Fire in Faribault, Minnesota

Rochester, MINN., March 16, 2016 – American Red Cross volunteers are helping a family of five including two adults and three children after a home fire in Faribault, MN. The house has major damage.Following devastating home fires, Red Cross volunteers connect with those affected and provide assistance for their immediate emergency needs, including emotional support and help with long-term recovery planning.

Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a fire. The Red Cross has launched a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent over the next five years. As part of the campaign the Red Cross is joining fire departments and community groups nationwide to install smoke alarms in communities with high numbers of fires. The Red Cross also is asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home. For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information, visit Download the Red Cross First Aid App at to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies including burns.

By empowering local volunteers, the American Red Cross is able to fulfill its mission to prevent and alleviate suffering in the face of emergencies. Become a Red Cross volunteer in your community, 

HOW YOU CAN HELP The Minnesota Region of the American Red Cross responds to more than 600 disasters every year, most are home fires. You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Click, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.Contributions may also be sent to the American Red Cross serving Southeast Minnesota, 310 14th Street SE Rochester , MN, 55904.

About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation’s blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission.

The American Red Cross serving Southeast Minnesota serves more than 520,000 people in Dodge, Freeborn, Fillmore, Goodhue, Le Sueur, Mower, Olmstead, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, and Winona counties. For more information, please visit  Like us on Facebook: American Red Cross serving Southeast Minnesota.

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