Recent Area News

Today’s news update – Schmelzer vs Chamber trial moved to April; Northfield graduate gives back in Mexico; Mental Health First Aid;

January 25, 2016
news radio Schmelzer vs Chamber trial moved to April The lawsuit brought against the Northfield Chamber of Commerce by it’s former Executive Director Mary Schmelzer will not begin today.  The trial scheduled for 9 this morning has been moved to April 18th.  According to court records there was a flurry of documents served on both sides all last week including witness lists.    Updated from this story. Schmelzer suit and Judges Order–Schmelzer Northfield graduate gives back in Mexico Katie Theis is a 2010 Northfield High School graduate who just arrived in Cuernavaca, Mexico, about 50 miles south of Mexico City, where she will be spending the next year working with children through Nuestros Pequeños  Hermanos – NPH which means Our little brothers and sisters.  Theis will be specifically working with kids from 15 to 22.  She said they are children who have been abandoned or their parents can’t afford their entire family or their parents have died or whatever that caused them to be orphaned.  Theis said she’s known for sometime that she wanted a long term volunteer opportunity, “I have been blessed with a really great life and I wanted to give back”.  She worked for a couple of years and then found NPH by googling Catholic Charities.  (She told me she would have never thought of herself doing this but is so happy to be there).  The organization provides her an apartment, they eat the same food as the children and get a very small stipend every 2 weeks.  She’s in training for the next 2 weeks and then will be putting together various projects starting with budgeting to benefactors to completion and follow through.  Volunteers serve the food each day and then hang out with them.  Play soccer, watch a movie, help with homework or whatever the kids want to do.  Theis explained that they’re looked at as an aunt or sister.  Discipline is referred to someone else “because they don’t want the kids to not trust us. And so I really like that aspect of it because it’s all about building trust and a positive relationship with the children”.  Theis has started a blog of the experience and explaining in greater detail about NPH – Nuestros Pequeños  Hermanos.  You can also donate to the organization. Mental Health First Aid First aid isn’t just for cuts and bruises anymore.  “Youth Mental Health First Aid” is help that’s offered to a young person experiencing a mental health challenge or mental disorder. Any adult can learn this first aid, and free training sessions are open to community members.  There are 2 opportunities starting February 16th at the Northfield Hospital Conference Center.  There is no cost. Registration is required. The sessions are especially suitable for parents and grandparents, teachers, neighbors, youth leaders and more.  Participants will learn:     Risk factors, warning signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders.  For information and to register call Northfield Community Services at 507-664-3649.  We’ll also have the information on Movie crew says adieu to Northfield It’s all over but the editing.  Strike Accord has left town.  The movie production crew took over  Bridge Square last Friday into Saturday morning.  Plenty of Northfielders had their opportunity to shine.  Tim Freeland was one of them.  We’ll hear from him later today. Click below to listen to the 1-25-16 NEWS podcast:

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Today’s news update – A Felony warrant leads to 2 arrests; Multiple dui’s and more; Arcadia Charter to hold Open House; Tonight’s the night!

January 22, 2016

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A Felony warrant leads to 2 arrests

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Two Northfield men are in jail after Northfield Police were alerted to the whereabouts of 30 year old Cory Joseph Wunderlich who had a felony warrant out for his arrest.  Officers responded to the SuperAmerica late Wednesday evening and found Wunderlich inside a vehicle driven by 24 year old Steven Wesley Aronson.  The two were searched as was the vehicle.  Officers found hash, drug paraphernalia and  methamphetamine.  Aronson is charged with 2 counts of 5th degree controlled substance, both felonies and possession of a small amount of marijuana, a misdemeanor.  Wunderlich is charged with 5th degree  controlled substance.  Both men are facing up to 10 years in prison.  They remain in the Rice county jail.

Multiple dui’s and more

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A man with multiple dui’s whose license was revoked more than 4 years ago and was determined inimical to public safety, is charged yet again with DUI.  According to the criminal complaint, a State Trooper found 36 year old Gary Lee Padilla of Faribault walking along Co. Rd. 45 around 8:30 Wednesday evening after putting his vehicle in the ditch.  He’s charged with 2nd degree DUI refusal to submit, 3rd degree dui and driving after revocation.  All gross misdemeanors.  His history of driving under the influence dates back to 1997 according to State records.

Arcadia Charter to hold Open House

Arcadia Charter School is about transitioning students into college with a focus on individualizing the instruction.  Executive Director Patrick Exner said they use project based learning and that is individual interest driven projects that can be assessed to state standards.  Arcadia is a small, tightly knit school with just 128 students which allows staff to focus more time per student.  The ratio is 16 to 1.  Northfield School district is Arcadia’s Authorizer, reviewing their programming each year.  Arcadia is a public school and receives the same “per pupil” funding from the State.  Art Instructor Bob Gregory-Bjorklund said they fulfill the same graduation standards as any public school in the state.  They’re holding an Open House on January 28th.  There will be students, parents, teachers leading tours and a presentation on their programming.  Arcadia serves 6th through 12th grades.  Exner particularly invites 5th graders to check out the school.  The event begins at 6 o’clock.

Tonight’s the night!

Tonight’s the night.  It’s the final night of filming for the movie with the working title “The Last Love Letter” and the Production crew needs to fill Bridge Square like it was at Winter Walk.  Come down starting at 5:30 this evening, dress warm, wear your Christmas hat or any festive holiday gear.  All the details are on  Search “So you want to be an extra”.

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Today’s news update – Rice Co. Admin exits; Northfield PD wins Innovation Award; Sen. Thompson won’t run; WINGS invites non-profits to apply for grants

January 21, 2016

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Rice Co. Admin exits

And another Administrator is gone.  Rice County Administrator Tony Murphy resigned Tuesday morning after a special closed meeting of the Rice County Commissioners, effective immediately.  The closed session was scheduled for Murphy’s second performance review.  Commissioner Malecha commented, “He has served us very well as a Administrator in the last 2 years”.  He said Murphy is a good guy and, “there’s no smoking gun, no scandal involved in his resignation.  It’s just… he’s going to move on to other things in life”.  Murphy was offered the position in January 2014 after the resignation of Gary Weiers who held the position for 10 years.  The next steps include hiring an Interim and commissioners will be making some decisions as to whether they will use in-house resources to perform the search or go out for bids to hire a search firm.  Malecha said Commissioners will discuss approaches to their process and, certainly, keep it open.

Northfield PD wins Innovation Award

On December 10th, the Northfield and Faribault Police Departments, received an Innovation Award from the Humphrey Institute for their work in partnership with the Rice County Chemical Health Coalition on its medication disposal effort, Take It To the Box.  After several opioid overdoses in 2008, the coalition, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Youth Task Force decided it would be a good idea to tell people in Rice County to empty their  medicine cabinets of unwanted/unneeded prescription drugs and over the counter medications.  The Coalition’s Kathy Sandberg.  In 2009, with the help of Faribo and Nfld PD’s, they started to collect the medications at the police stations.  And then dispose of it through incineration.  That first year they collected 2295 lbs of drugs.  Sandberg said disposal of the drugs collected proved to be more problematic.  The cost that first year was over $9,000 because the drugs, in particular scheduled drugs such as opiates, had to be taken by police escort to southern Illinois for proper disposal.  Today, they go to Mankato.  The evidence techs of Faribault and Northfield PD take them down.  Round trip is a couple of hours.  Sandberg said the program has been very successful and become sustainable.  They’ve collected over 16,000 pounds of drugs so far.  She said without the support of local law enforcement it could not have been done.  Chief Nelson said the next step will be lock boxes for people’s homes.

Sen. Thompson won’t run again

District 58 Senator Dave Thompson will not run for re-election in November.  His seat covers the portion of Northfield in Dakota County.  The Senator from Lakeville is moving to North Carolina for work.  Thompson, a Republican, who was first elected in 2010, plans to move his family after his term is over. Lakeville Mayor Matt Little, a democrat, has announced his bid for the seat.

WINGS invites non-profits to apply for grants

WINGS (Women in Northfield Giving Support) invites Northfield area nonprofit organizations to apply for a 2016 WINGS grant. These grants are given in support of projects benefiting women and youth in the Northfield area. WINGS funds grants focusing on economic, housing and food stability,, safe environments for victims of domestic violence, early learning, and more.  In 2015, WINGS awarded $73,868 in support of 27 grants. For more information or to apply go to the WINGS website at Applications must be submitted by March 15th.

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Today’s news update – The City of Nfld will stay in the Liquor business – 4 sites selected for study; HRA elects 2016 officers and discusses work plan; Arts Guild and Golf Club team up for unique fundraiser

January 20, 2016

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The City of Nfld will stay in the Liquor business – 4 sites selected for study

The Northfield Council decided to stay in the Liquor business.  That’s the question Mayor Dana Graham wanted answered before they started debating which sites to further consider for a new municipal liquor store.  Councilor Zweifel said, “our liquor store does a tremendous job of promoting respectful and safe use of alcohol so I firmly believe that it should stay as a muni”.  Graham said the only control the City has over outside stores is zoning and there would be no guarantee on the number of liquor stores allowed.  Some councilors were concerned about a store like Total Wine coming in.  Liquor Operations Director Stephen DeLong said, “I don’t see there’s any chance … unless the Northfield/Dundas population grew threefold to fivefold for there to be a big box retailer that would be interested in coming down here”.  “The demographics wouldn’t support it”.  Council had set 4 goals for a new liquor store:  Control the sale of alcohol, Provide revenue to supplement traditional tax and fee revenues, Provide economic stimulus to the central business district and Provide a convenient location for residents to purchase alcohol.  They chose 4 of the 10 sites put forth.  They are the Q-Block at 2nd and Hwy 3, the EconoFoods lot on the south side, the Chamber location at 3rd and Hwy 3 and Hwy 3 and Clinton Lane on the south side of Jefferson Pkwy.  The next step is to further study each of the 4 locations.  Staff will study the site for feasibility in terms of cost to purchase and build.  They will then, again, narrow down the choices.  The Amcon site was highly rated for location but due to it’s access, proximity to St. Dominic’s school and possible environmental cleanup it was eliminated.  Graham says he doesn’t expect it to come back to Council until April.  Municipal Liquor Store profits currently go to local youth organizations and the City’s General Fund.

HRA elects 2016 officers and discusses work plan

The Northfield HRA elected officers for 2016 last week.  They remain Dayna Norvold as Chair, Kris Vohs as Vice Chair and Jayne Hager-Dee as Secretary.  Norvold said there have been discussions with other interested outside organizations such as the CAC, looking at what their next big project might be.  Norvold pondered, “how can the land we have and some version of tiny homes meet the needs of older people and people with special needs?”  That group will meet again in February.  Hager-Dee brought up the need for emergency shelter for the homeless.  As Community Action Center’s Board President she said the CAC is spending upwards of $2,000 a month to house individuals and families.  They have a facility.  She said it’s busting their budget.  Norvold said she’s heard the same elsewhere but emergency shelter isn’t addressing the real problem.  She asked that the issue be added to their 2016 work plan despite restrictions on how their tax funded dollars can be spent.

Arts Guild and Golf Club team up for unique fundraiser

The audience will get into the act Valentine’s Day weekend as the Northfield Arts Guild and the Northfield Golf Club partner to present The Case of the Riverboat Rendezvous, an interactive murder mystery dinner show. The experience is a fundraiser for the Northfield Arts Guild and includes a four-course meal served before the show. The performances will be February 13th and 14th at the Northfield Golf Club.  For more information on times and tickets, stop by the Northfield Arts Guild’s Center for the Arts on Division Street or  go online at, or call 507-645-8877.

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Today’s news update – Probation violations land Nfld man back in jail; Nearly 43 year veteran named Fireman of the Year; Muni gets top billing at Council meeting tonight; New dog owner? Wannabe owner? Learn more at PEHS

January 19, 2016

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Multiple probation violations land Nfld man back in jail

A Northfield man is back in jail after repeatedly violating probation.  A warrant was issued for 22 year old Kalvin Allen Burwell on January 6th and he was booked into the Rice County jail on Saturday.  He pled guilty, in August of 2014 for possession of a gun by an adjudicated delinquent for a crime of violence and was sentenced to 5 years STAYED as long as he remained in substantial compliance with his probation.  He was also ordered to complete the long term Teen Challenge treatment program and comply with aftercare and supervised probation for 5 years.  This was to be concurrent with a separate incident in which he was found guilty of 2nd burglary in September of 2013 and also sentenced to another treatment program.  His criminal history lists several probation violations and another warrant.  For now he’ll remain in jail.

Nearly 43 year veteran named Fireman of the Year

The Fire Relief Association hosted the 23rd annual Northfield Fire Department banquet at The Grand on Saturday.  43 year veteran Mike Kruse was named Fireman of the Year.  He expressed surprise but added that since his retirement from the electrical union in 2014, he’s devoted more of his time to the department including talking with students during Fire Prevention week and 6 other preschool groups he takes a truck to.  He’s also in charge of Truck and Tractor Night and Healthy Kids Day.  Plus, of course, all the calls he’s on.  He added the award, “it makes a person feel good about what he’s done”.  Asked for words of wisdom for the 6 new firemen who started  in October he said, “pay attention” to the older firefighters “because we’ve been around a long time and we’ve been through the mill”.  He plans on retiring in a year or so to a home and property he has in Finlayson.  Kruse was profiled in the Strib and the Northfield News a few years ago for length of service and for the number of decades he’s lived at the firestation.  Fireman, Joe Lompart, was recognized at the Banquet on his retirement after 12 ½ years of service.  We have pictures of Kruse, Lompart and the 6 new firefighters on

Muni gets top billing at Council meeting tonight

The Northfield Council meets tonight at 7 o’clock. The only item listed on the regular agenda is the municipal liquor store.   Mayor Graham will be in studio tomorrow morning at 7:20 with a recap.  Stay tuned this evening after the 6 o’clock news for Beyond the Open Mic with Victor Summa and Don McGee as they discuss the 5 candidates for City Administrator.

New dog owner?  Wannabe owner?  Learn more at PEHS

Dog Trainer Shahar Fearing will be hosting a one hour question/answer session for new/potential dog owners Thursday evening at 7 o’clock at Prairies Edge Humane Society.  Fearing will talk about feeding, healthy weight and exercise, basic training, leash walking, preventing resource guarding and any other topics people would like to ask about.  This is a FREE opportunity for anyone considering a getting a dog or anyone who has a new dog in their home to ask questions.  Call the shelter at 507-664-1035 to register!

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