Recent Area News

Today’s news update – Data requests and practices; Domestic situations keep cops on alert; Northfield caucuses and locations for Super Tuesday

February 29, 2016
Data requests and practices The City has 10 days to honor data requests.  Minnetonka City Attorney Corrine Heine discussed data practices with Northfield Council last week.  She said it’s really a 3 legged stool of balancing the public’s right to information, individual privacy and getting the work of the City done.  All information is essentially public although there are layers.  She said it doesn’t matter what form, be it paper, email, or voicemail, any data is subject to the public.  It’s also regardless of location.  So as council members, if they use their home computer, they are creating government data or receiving it and it’s subject to the data practices law.  That includes email.  She said, if there’s a lawsuit or simply a data request, the City Clerk, has the authority to go through their home computers.  If there’s a lawsuit, they could be asked to turn over their computer. Domestic situations keep cops on alert A domestic in Fargo ended with an officer down.  We talked with Deputy Chief Mark Dukatz about the procedure in Northfield.  He said most domestics they can handle on their own but if they’ve heard there’s violent behavior or weapons, or even the number of people involved, they’ll lean on other local agencies to respond.  If it’s something serious, they’ll start an emergency response.  Last week when arriving to the scene of an intoxicated male acting aggressively, they discovered he had a rifle, 4 other agencies came to assist.  Dundas police, Rice and Dakota Co. Sheriff’s deputies and the MN State Patrol.  Gratefully, this incident ended quickly and peacefully with the subject taken for mental health evaluation.  Dukatz said anytime they’re responding to a call, it’s always in the back of their mind to watch for movement that seems strange, windows, side of the house, whatever they’re approaching.  An officer spotted movement in a window and that’s when he saw the rifle.  If the officer finds the situation could be dangerous but is not imminent, they will wait for backup.  Our local law enforcement take training together, as we told you about last year.  Dukatz said that’s very important in working real life situations together. Northfield caucuses and locations for Super Tuesday Minnesota is one of 12 states to take part in Super Tuesday.  Political parties will caucus beginning at 7pm, however doors will be open earlier.  They’ll caucus on who they want to support for President, select delegates for state and federal conventions, choose caucus leaders (these are the people who organize political meetings and campaign efforts) and discuss (and possibly vote on) resolutions regarding specific issues.  Precinct caucuses are run by political parties, not government officials.  In Northfield, the Republican Party caucus will be held at the Northfield High School, the Democratic Party caucus will be held at the Northfield Middle School, except for those living on or near the College Campuses.  I’ll have those locations listed on later today. Those in Ward 4 Precinct 2 (residents on and near the St. Olaf College campus) will meet at St. Olaf College’s Buntrock Commons, in The Lion’s Pause room. Those in Ward 1, Precinct 1 (residents on and near the Carleton College campus) will meet at Carleton College’s Weitz Center in room 236. Those in Ward 3, Precinct 2 (Dakota County residents) will meet at Greenvale Elementary, 700 Lincoln Pkwy, Northfield. Participation in the caucus process requires Minnesotans to be eligible to vote in the November election, live in the precinct and generally agree with the principles of the political party hosting the caucus. Precinct results will be refreshed every five minutes tomorrow on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website.  Parties expect to report substantially complete results by around 10 p.m.

Today’s news update – Nfld Council gets training on open meeting laws – did they violate it?; Three new additions to NHS curriculum; EDA okays Coordinator position

February 26, 2016

Nfld Council gets training on Open Meeting Laws – did they violate it?

The Northfield City Council had training on Open Meeting laws and Data Practices.   Minnetonka City Attorney Corrine Heine also instructs at the Minnesota Clerks Institute.  She told councilors that any 3 members can meet and talk about anything they want as it’s not a quorum.  However, it could be a problem if there are serial meetings such as 3 members meet, 2 leave and 2 more come into the conversation with the intent of evading public discourse.  Heine added that the Court recognizes lobbying for your viewpoint determining that it’s an important part of governance.  Heine touched on several other scenarios regarding open or closed meetings. Unaware of the recent sexual harassment suit against former Administrator Nick Haggenmiller, and said that meetings regarding the matter should be closed until a determination of discipline is made.  Once that determination is made, any further meetings (including discipline) must be open to the public.  Council did not do that.  When made aware, she was asked if they did it wrong.  She said, ” I’m not going to give an opinion on particulars”.  She then told council of the penalties for violation.  If a council member intentionally violates the open meeting law, they, not the City, is fined $300.  A lawsuit would have to be brought and the court would impose the fine.   If there have been 3 violations, they would be required to forfeit their office.  Heine said that’s happened just once… in Hibbing when the person strayed into topics other than the one they were closed for.  Labor negotiations are allowed to be closed.

Three new additions to NHS curriculum

Northfield High School Principal Joel Leer introduced 3 new curricular additions to the Board this week in the areas of Consumer Sciences, Technology and Engineering and Business.  Superintendent Dr. Chris Richardson said there will be a new design course that will allow students to receive instruction on basic design principles and then pursue their own individual passion be it interior or fashion.  There are new courses in Business that will allow them some hands-on time with community employers and what they’re looking for.  In Engineering and Technology they will reach across to the Art department to create a new common lab with very sophisticated computer technology that can be used for art applications and design elements of engineering and technology.  Richardson said even 10 years ago this would have been unheard of.  He says it’s an exciting time.

EDA okays Coordinator position

The EDA gives their okay to the hiring of a Economic Development Coordinator.  Community Development Director, Chris Heineman, gave a thorough overview of where funds will come from and the job description to EDA members this week.  He was looking for key areas the members may want addressed in the hiring process.  There were none mentioned at the meeting.  The City is looking to post the job in a couple of weeks and an intended hire date in May.

Today’s news update – Nfld police take man with rifle into custody; Fire Facility discussed; NAFRS Board postpones Facility resolution; Randolph FFA shines in the Region

February 25, 2016

Nfld police put St. John’s on lockdown while they investigate man with rifle – CORRECTION – No lockdown

At about 6:15 last night, NFLD Officers responded to the 300 block of Poplar St. S. for a disturbance involving an intoxicated adult male acting aggressively in a residence.  The initial Officer arrived and reported seeing, through the windows of the residence, an adult male walking around with what appeared to be a rifle.  The Sergeant on duty had dispatch contact St. Johns Church, who was having an event, and asked them to lock down the church.  Northfield Police Officers were assisted by Rice County Deputies in securing the residence.  After a short time, a female exited the residence and set a shotgun against the side of the residence and walked to an Officer.  The man then exited the residence and was taken into protective custody and held for a mental health evaluation.  The weapon was secured by Northfield Police.  No persons were injured during this incident.  Dundas Police and the MN State Patrol also assisted with this incident.   CORRECTION –  Some patrons outside were made aware they needed to return to the inside of the church.  There was never a request to lock down.  There was an Everbridge notification request made through dispatch, but before the notification was put out, the incident had been resolved safely.

Fire Facility discussed

There have been a number of studies on the fire facility with equally as many variations on the needs of the building and the cost.  NAFRS most recently paid DJ Medin to come up with a plan for the current facility.  Questions have plagued the design and the cost which Medin set at $2.7 million.  The Board met with Council this week. Mayor Graham expressed concern on whether $2.5 or 3 million going to do the job or will the building become a “money pit”.  Building official Jim Kessler toured the building last month.  He said the Medin study is missing a few things that need to be addressed.  He’s also concerned about the existing foundation which sits on wood pilings.  He said he needs additional studies on the foundation and would not issue a permit with the information he has now.  NAFRS Board member Gary Bollinger said Medin’s report was a feasibility and concept study.  Saying it was a long way from final engineering.  Councilors were mixed on whether to stay in the floodplain location or move.  Graham quoted one of the councilors, “You need my vote, so I need to be comfortable with how this is going”.  We’re responsible to the citizens of Northfield.  Graham says it’s about due diligence.  There’s $2 million budgeted in 2018 for a facility.  All plans/ideas will go through Northfield City Administrator for feedback from Kessler.

NAFRS Board postpones Facility resolution

In the NAFRS meeting this morning, they voted to postpone indefinitely a resolution to approve the fire station renovation and expansion.  A motion was then made by Board member Gary Bollinger to authorize expenditures for additional engineering costs to get answers on the structural safety of the foundation as well as floodproofing, etc.

NHS 1st Speaker

The Northfield Historical Society is holding their first speaker event of the year tonight.  Retired history teacher, Karl Fredrickson’s talk is entitled “Midnight to Dawn – Lincoln, the Civil War and the end of Slavery in America”.  The program starts at 6:30pm, is free to the public and light refreshments will be served.
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Randolph FFA shines in the Region

The Randolph FFA has had a very busy winter leading up to National FFA week.  Advisor Ed Terry said they held their regional leadership meeting where they elected their officers.  Two coming from Randolph, Vice President is Grace Taylor and Secretary is Laura Church.  Six of the Randolph FFA will get their state degrees.  They are Taina Larson, Grace Taylor, Jackson Neal, Eric Otte, Laura Church and Katie Stein.  Only 3% of all the FFA members in the State ever attain those degrees.  Three other students will move on to state competition with their proficiencies.  Kendra Emery in Forage, Mason Lindenfelser in Ag mechanics design and fabrication and Eric Otte in Ag Services.  Terry reminds folks that the annual Tractor Parade is April 8th.

Today’s news update – 12 year old shoots 13 year old; Richardson raised the District out of serious financial situation; NAFRS meets with Council

February 24, 2016

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12 year old shoots 13 year old

A 12 year old boy shot a 13 year old boy at the Faribault Middle School yesterday.  Just after noon, the School’s Resource officer was notified by a staff member that a student had shot another student with a BB handgun.  The school went into lockdown and the suspect was located within minutes by a teacher.  The suspect told the SRO and staff that he used the bb handgun and the  weapon was found in a backpack in his locker.  The student was arrested and transported to a secure juvenile facility pending charges.  The victim suffered a minor injury to his arm.  He said he had been confronted in a restroom by the suspect and shot.  He reported it immediately.  No other staff or students were injured.  Faribault police Capt. Neal Pederson told KSTP that “it wasn’t an accident”.  He said the gun is a replica of an actual handgun. From a distance or a quick glance at it, it would look like a real gun.  Teachers will discuss the incident with students and councilors are available to students who want it.

Richardson raised the District out of serious financial situation

Northfield School Superintendent Dr. Chris Richardson will retire from the District on June 30th.  After a 46 year career he said that he will turn 68 before the next school year and there are other things he’d like to do outside of education and to spend more time with his family and wife.  School Board Chair Julie Pritchard suggested they form a subcommittee to discuss the process of finding the next Superintendent and have something to present to the full Board by the first meeting in March.  Noel Stratmoen has been a Board member for 36 years.  He had this to say…

“Dr. Richardson came to the District when we were on the brink of a serious financial problem.  He assessed the problem,engaged the voters of the District, and laid the groundwork for a financial recovery.  Today this District is able to whether financial storms, in part, due to his leadership.  During his 12 years in the District, his financial insight would prove to be only one of his many abilities.  Dr. Richardson has shared and invested in the District in numerous ways.  We have been blessed with his leadership.” 

We’ll have more on Richardson in the coming months.

NAFRS meets with Council

The Northfield Council held their first work session with NAFRS. First was a discussion with Northfield’s 5 representatives.  Interim Administrator CC Linstroth started the session by explaining that, in December, Council had discussed meeting the reps and, “what is the responsibility of the Northfield representatives”  “It’s never been laid out”.  So the idea was to get everyone together and talk about it.  Mayor Graham said interpretation of their role is not in the bylaws. His concern is about  Northfield’s financial share of 72%, “does that mean that those of us on NAFRS Board …. think of those financial things as 72%… or not?”  Northfield rep Bernie Street said, “it’s an independent body and I don’t think we need to be worried about the City’s money, the City needs to worry about the City’s money”.  They all believe that their duty is to provide, “to make sure that we’re providing our firefighters with good, safe equipment to be able to professionally do their job”.  The specific dollars were not as important to most of the members. While councilors also want the same high quality given to the firefighters, some also felt the need to be fiscally responsible.  That comes into play when discussing the fire facility.  I’ll have more on the facility tomorrow.

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Today’s news update – Richardson announces retirement; NHS to “pass the torch” on Fireworks display; Open meeting laws, data practices and NAFRS on Council agenda; Style show benefits NAUW

February 23, 2016

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Richardson announces retirement

Northfield School Superintendent Dr. Chris Richardson announced his retirement at last night’s School Board meeting.  He’ll close the door on his career June 30th after 46 years in education as a teacher, building administrator or Superintendent.  The last 35 he’s been a Superintendent in communities in 3 different states.  We’ll have more on Richardson’s retirement and the School Board meeting tomorrow.

NHS to “pass the torch” on Fireworks display

For the last ten years the Northfield Historical Society, along with the late Dan Freeman, had been a part of presenting the annual Northfield 4th of July Fireworks display. After the passing of Freeman, NHS was honored to continue to raise the necessary funds for the show with the idea of transitioning out of that role at a future date.  NHS Executive Director Hayes Scriven formed a small working group that was interested in keeping the fireworks display going.  Through those efforts, they discovered that surrounding communities Fireworks Displays are put on by the City.  Often it’s their Parks Departments and in some cases with other partnerships.  (It’s rare that a non-profit would take it on)  Scriven and Chamber President Todd Bornhauser went before the Parks and Recreation Board last Thursday to broach the subject.  The idea was to set the stage but the Board added it to their agenda that evening and made a motion to recommend to City Council that the City take it over.  Scriven met with Streets and Parks manager Jasper Kruggel yesterday morning who said he would expect it on Council’s agenda in late March/early April.  Scriven added that they have funds to hand over to the City which should cover most of this year’s costs, which should help in the transition.  If the City doesn’t take over the fireworks display, Scriven said, “then another organization will need to come forward with a plan b“. Incoming City Administrator, Ben Martig, is coming from Marshall and in that City, there’s a partnership between the City’s Parks Department and the School District.

Open meeting laws, data practices and NAFRS on Council agenda

The Northfield City Council will hold a work session tonight at 7 o’clock.  They’ll receive training on data practices and open meeting laws.  Corrine Heine is currently the Minnetonka City Attorney and an instructor for the Minnesota Clerks’ Institute.  At 8 o’clock, the Northfield representatives on the NAFRS Joint Powers Board will be invited to the table to update council and to hear what their expectations are.  Then all the Board members will come to the table to discuss the fire facility.  Mayor Graham will be in studio tomorrow morning with a recap.

Style show benefits NAUW

Mainstream Boutique on Division Street in Northfield is presenting a Spring Style Show this evening and 10% of every purchase goes to the Northfield Area United Way.  Trending spring fashions will be modeled by local women including KYMN’s Karen Allawalla and Councilperson Suzie Nakasian.  Wine sipping starts at 5:45pm with the Runway Show from 6pm to 6:30pm.  There will be giveaways and a drawing as well as 20% off any 2 items you purchase.  The event is being held at the store on Division Street.  A $10 goodwill offering to NAUW is suggested for those attending.  The Northfield Area United Way has been a part of our community for more than 40 years and helps one-in-three residents.  All dollars raised stay within our community.

Minute with the Mayor

There’s a new Minute with the Mayor – updating residents about the new Administrator, a possible new liquor store location and new safe crossings across Hwy 3.

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 2-23-16 NEWS

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