Recent Area News

Today’s news update – Rice County DFLers bring out the vote for Bernie; Northfield Republicans choose Rubio; Fill those food shelves – it’s FoodShare month

March 2, 2016
news-radioRice County DFLers bring out the vote for Bernie Voters came out in droves last night.  In Rice County DFL Chair Shawn Groth reports Bernie Sanders was the overwhelming winner carrying 26 precincts to Hillary Clinton’s 4.  They tied in 1.  Total attendance was 3,484 with 3,460 votes cast.  District 20b Representative David Bly was the convener for his precinct at St. Olaf, “we had over 700 students register”.  Carleton had nearly 800.  Bly said at St. Olaf they discussed resolutions, “it was fun to do and great to hear some of the ideas and thoughts of the students”.  They passed 35 resolutions.  Bly says they were strongly in favor of passenger rail.  Bly discussed the upcoming legislative session.  His interview is online at  We also have the breakdown of Rice County DFL votes:  2016 Caucus Presidential Ballot Results_Rice County DFL – Sheet1 Northfield Republicans choose Rubio Rice County Republican party Treasurer, Bron Scherer said attendance at their caucus last night, “we were up 70 plus percent, almost 75% from 2012”.  There were 462 votes in Northfield and in Rice County overall there were 1175 voters.  He said more than half of those were new people who didn’t have a lot of knowledge on how caucusing works in that they don’t just come in and vote like a Primary.  In the caucus system folks meet as a group and discuss candidates as well as issues, “they had every candidate but one speak”.  They had a couple of minutes to speak to the group.  Each of the Presidential candidates had a designee or someone to read a statement for them.  Straw votes then took place.  In Rice County overall Ted Cruz won with 32%, Rubio at 30% and Trump at 22%.  In Northfield Rubio got 40%, Cruz took 28% and Trump was at 16%.  Scherer said what intrigued him was, “the organization that Rubio had at the colleges”.  At St. Olaf, in Ward 4 precinct 2, 64 students came out.  Forty nine of them went for Rubio.  The rest went for Kasich.  Scherer is a co-chair for Cruz but he gave kudos to Rubio’s team.  Republicans have 4 candidates running for Senate District 20 seat now held by DFLer Kevin Dahle.  There are 2 running for House District 20b against David Bly.  Listen to Scherer’s full interview online at Fill those food shelves – it’s FoodShare month March is Minnesota Foodshare month.  Community Action Center Executive Director Jim Blaha said he talks with church groups and any other organization to get the message out about Northfield’s hunger issues, “last year we had 5715 household visits just for emergency and sustainable food to keep them going 3 to 5 days”.  Thursday’s Table also relies on the supplies raised this month.  Board Chair Jayne Hager-Dee says the CAC can purchase from food banks at a much reduced price so donating money is a good way to help them out. Food Banks are a nationwide network, Blaha said.  Essentially they’re paying for transportation, “we can take a dollar and stretch it almost 4 times”.  Local retailers donate nearly 15,000 pounds of food a month, food that is close to it’s expiration date and foods that have sat on the shelf.  They also get bread from bakeries.  Various churches and businesses are collecting food throughout the month.  You can write a check to the CAC or stop in and give cash, they take credit cards or electronic transfers.  The food shelf is located in the NCRC building on Jefferson Pkwy.  Call 664.3550 for more information on donating or receiving food. Click below to listen to the 3-2-16 NEWS podcast:

 3-2-16 NEWS

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

Today’s news update – Child struck in crosswalk; Dept. of Ed sets up plenty of hurdles for Charter schools; NAFRS and Nfld Council hold their first joint meeting; No Council meeting tonight – it’s Super Tuesday

March 1, 2016

news-radioChild struck in crosswalk

A young boy was struck by a vehicle near Sibley Elementary.  Just after 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, a 6 year old boy was in the crosswalk at Sumner and Maple when he was struck by a vehicle. Deputy Chief Mark Dukatz said he was taken to the hospital for observation and kept overnight.  He reports that no citations were issued at the scene. The investigation continues.

Dept. of Ed sets up plenty of hurdles for Charter schools

To begin their 5 year contract renewal process, Prairie Creek Community School Director Simon Tyler presented the results of a self-study to the Northfield School board last week. An external visitation team looked at several factors including their financials and educational programming.  They were all very positive.  Superintendent Dr. Chris Richardson said the Board spent some time talking about how, “things have changed dramatically in terms of what the Department of Education is requiring and asking for as part of the process… that the contracts are becoming more detailed”.  They have contracted with Prairie Creek for the last 14 years and those contracts have been 10 or 11 pages but now, with more detailed assessment and compliance, the sample contracts from the Dept. of Ed are between 125 and 150 pages long.  The more stringent process started five years ago after the Dept. of Education received multiple complaints about some Charter schools, they and legislators moved from school districts being the “sponsors” of these charter schools to “authorizers”, which basically holds them more accountable. Several districts then backed out because it’s more time-consuming.  Richardson has felt it important that Northfield remain the authorizer rather than an outside company.  Northfield is also the authorizer for Arcadia.  Richardson commented on both schools saying, “the good thing is they’ve both got a good track record, they’re in excellent financial shape, they’re doing really good work in terms of providing choice opportunities”.  He added that the Dept. of Education’s micro review is making it difficult.  Only 3 public school districts are now authorizers throughout the State.  Prairie Creek’s application is due July 1st.

NAFRS and Nfld Council hold their first joint meeting

The Northfield Area Fire and Rescue Services joint power board formed a year and a half ago.  The full board met with the full Northfield Council for the first time last week.  NAFRS Chair Glen Castore commented that it was “very important just to establish contact, for all the councilors to be able to ask questions, for all the NAFRS members to meet the Councilors”.  He added that they need to meet regularly, possibly quarterly.  Going forward, the NAFRS Board will send their minutes to all Council members.  There are some big expenditures on the horizon that include the facility and truck replacement.  With Northfield responsible for 72% of expenditures, some councilors wanted more oversight.  The Board minutes are also on NAFRS website.  Chair Castore’s interview is online at

No Council meeting – it’s Super Tuesday

There is no City Council meeting tonight, it’s Super Tuesday. Caucuses begin at 7pm.  Find out where to caucus by clicking on either Rice County Republicans  or Rice County DFL    Also, the Council will be experimenting with just meeting 3 times a month rather than 4.  They will hold 2 regular meetings and 1 work session in between.  Beyond the Open Mic with Victor Summa and Don McGee will air tonight just after the 6 o’clock news.  Tonight they’ll discuss the NAFRS Board meeting.

Click below to listen to the 3-1-16 NEWS podcast:

 3-1-16 NEWS

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

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.
Click below to listen to the 2-25-16 NEWS podcast:

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.

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