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Recent Area News

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.

Click below to listen to the 1-20-16 NEWS podcast:

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

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!

Click below to listen to the 1-19-16 NEWS podcast:

Aviary northfieldretirement-org Picture 1Listen for news updates on-air at 6, 7, 8, Noon, 3 and 5

Community News: Mike Kruse named Fireman of the Year

January 19, 2016

Mike Kruse was named Fireman of the Year at the 23rd annual Fireman’s Banquet.  Listen for more on the story during our newscasts.


Today’s news update – Summary judgement denied – Schmelzer case will move forward; The water’s back on; More block closures on Division for movie production; MLK Day Community celebration

January 18, 2016

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Summary judgement denied – Schmelzer case will move forward

Summary judgement denied and a jury trial is set to begin next Monday.  That’s the decision by Rice County District Judge John Cajacob in the case of Schmelzer versus the Nfld. Chamber of Commerce.   Mary Schmelzer is the former Chamber of Commerce Executive Director who was let go from that position in November of 2013.  Her attorney Alf Sivertson alleges,”basically, she was terminated because she engaged in protected activity by raising concerns to the [Chamber] Board about this Jerry Anderson’s conduct in the workplace.  She then was retaliated against and terminated”.  In October of 2013, the Board felt that Anderson had done nothing wrong in an incident over the annual meeting but should not be a Board member, in November they terminated Schmelzer’s employment citing her “distrust in the Board”. Sivertson added that, “she has not found other comparable employment now for over 2 years so her … damages is wage loss”.  He said that would be in excess of $100,000.  Sivertson says, under the Human Rights Act, she is entitled to punitive damages if the jury determines they’re warranted and court costs.  The complaint was filed October 14th, 2014.  A motion for summary judgement was brought forward by the Northfield Chamber and heard in August of last year.  Cajacob denied it in November.   The trial is scheduled for Monday but Sivertson says there are 11 criminal cases to be heard before that so the actual trial may not begin until Tuesday or Wednesday.  We will continue to follow the story.

The water’s back on!  

Folks in a 2 block area of Woodley and Linden Street had been without water from yesterday morning till about 10 this morning.  Police were called to a water main break around 7 yesterday morning.  Utilities Manager Doug Lien said the water was contained and the intersection closed, a detour is posted.  American Excavating is wrapping up work, filling in the whole and the intersection should be open by 1:30 this afternoon.

More block closures on Division for movie production

Expect more parking restrictions all this week as the movie crew takes over Division street for parts of the 300 block and all of the 400 block much of the week.  Bridge Square will shut down on Friday.  Police Chief Monte Nelson says they’ll start around noon and will go all night until they get what they need.  It’s their last night of filming.  The movie crew will be recreating Winter Walk and need lots of extras.  Go to and search “A Call for Extras” for more details. Parking signs are posted.  You can call Northfield police at 645-4475 if you have questions on parking.

 MLK Day Community celebration

Northfield’s Human Rights Commission invites you to their 22nd Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration tonight at Emmaus Church beginning at 7 o’clock.  Speaker Sara Small is a sophomore at St. Olaf and involved with Black Lives Matter.  Susan Sanderson, 10 year coordinator for the TORCH program will receive the Human Rights award.

Click below to listen to the 1-18-16 NEWS podcast:

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

Today’s news update – Back in school – Board decides student’s fate; Dundas K-Mart to close; Defining Northfield Economic development analysis will wait

January 15, 2016

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Back in school – Board decides student’s fate  updated to include Quinnell statement

It took the Northfield School Board 3 and a half hours last night to determine the fate of Noah Bamonte-Grebis.  He’s the 18 year old Northfield High School honor student who had an unloaded bb gun in his locked vehicle on school grounds.  In a 3 to 2 vote, the Board chose to allow him back in school.   A random sweep on December 18th by a K-9 unit discovered alcohol, drug paraphernalia and the weapon.  A hearing was held on Tuesday by an independent hearing officer.  School board members Ellen Iverson, Rob Hardy and Margaret Colangelo voted to not expel the young man.  Colangelo said, “the School Board members gave VERY thoughtful and researched and informed opinions to the discussion”.  Julie Pritchard and Jeff Quinnell voted to expel him.  Both were unavailable for comment for this report.  Superintendent Dr. Chris Richardson would not comment on the deliberations but did say that there were between 75 to 100 people outside the closed session last night, “and vast majority of those have been students at Northfield High School”.  A petition with about 425 signatures by students was given to the School Board on Monday evening.  The petition had stated that any student whose car is tagged during a search must unlock it or face expulsion.  Richardson said, “that’s actually not correct, there’s nothing in our student policies that indicates failure to consent is grounds.  That just isn’t there”.  The Board looks at petitions but also the level of understanding of those signing it.   Bamonte-Grebis was also cited for drug paraphernalia, a petty misdemeanor and having alcohol under the age of 21, a misdemeanor in the same incident.  He had been suspended for 12 days while awaiting the decision.  During that time he’s been able to continue school work at home.  UPDATE:  We just learned Bamonte-Grebis was give a 4th citation in the incident for having a small amount of marijuana, a petty misdemeanor.  He was fined for all 4 charges.

Quinnell sent his official statement.  Here it is in it’s entirety:

To Whom it May Concern,

The following is my public statement made at around 11;20 PM, after a four hour ‘closed meeting session’ with the Board of Education at NHS on 1-14-16, that began shortly after 7:00 PM. My statement was made prior to casting my vote in favor of expelling the student in question from the Northfield School District, effective immediately. My positions are based on the findings of the Northfield Police and the Northfileld Senior High School Administration during a legal search of the Northfield High School parking lot on December 18th, 2015. This search included, but not limited to the student in question’s vehicle with well trained law enforcement personal and drug detection or “sniff dogs” that are trained to detect illegal drugs and other contraband.
My statement and position on this matter are with out bias and apply to all students in the Northfield School District. I believe my position to be aligned with enforcing state and federal laws, as well as the policies of the Northfield School District. Further more, I support the findings and recommendations of the Independent Hearing Officer hired by the school district to review this case. I also stand behind the recommendation of the Northfield School District Administrator’s to expel the student in question, immediately. Based on the facts of the case. 
My statement is as follows:

Dundas K-Mart to close

The Dundas K-Mart will close mid-April.   Corporate Communications Director for Sears Holdings, Howard Riefs, says until then, the store will remain open.  A liquidation sale will begin January 24th.  The Dundas location made it through the previous round of K-Mart closures when they closed over a hundred stores nationwide.  Dundas Administrator John McCarthy said he wasn’t surprised this time as their lease was up.  The City was informed on Monday.  McCarthy added it was “unfortunate but not unexpected”.  He was pleasantly surprised it stayed open for as long as it did.  The store has 32 employees, most of which are part-time. Riefs said those eligible will receive severance.  Most of the associates are part time/hourly.  The company would not comment on exactly how many more stores are closing in this round but they all have to do with leases being up and underperforming locations.

Defining Northfield Economic development analysis will wait

The Northfield Council had asked for an Economic Development Analysis to be presented to them in March.  Northfield Community Development Director Chris Heineman was seeking clarity, “there’s just sort of this general economic development analysis discussion with several caveats and directions and…  quite frankly, I’m not sure where to go”.  There are many possible economic partners in Northfield including those they currently contract with such as the NDDC and the NEC.  Peterson White warned not to bite off more than they could chew saying they should narrow the scope.  Pownell questioned the timing as they are just about ready to hire a City Administrator AND an Economic Development coordinator.  This will come back to Council in another work session after an Admin is hired.

Click below to listen to the 1-15-16 NEWS podcast:

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