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Community News: The Engeseth-Rinde Farm to be a place of restoration and education for years to come

April 1, 2016

Northfield Shares and Minnesota DNR Benefit from Community Member’s Major Gift

The Engeseth-Rinde Farm to be a place of restoration and education for years to come

NORTHFIELD, MINN. (March 30, 2016) – Northfield Shares, a community foundation centered on philanthropy and volunteerism, announced today that Donald H. Nelson has donated the Engeseth-Rinde Farm to the organization. The farm, which sits near Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, will be added to the new Prairie Creek Wildlife Management Area.

Nelson worked with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Northfield Shares to arrange the sale of his property, the Engeseth-Rinde Farm. Nelson sold the farm to the DNR and donated the proceeds to Northfield Shares to create an endowment that will support restoration, research and education activities.

When asked about this donation, Nelson said, “I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I visited this farm often. I wanted to keep the farm in the family. Since there is no one in my family who would like to farm the land, I had to find another way to protect it. Selling the land to the DNR was the best way to make sure that the land would be protected.”

Joann Bell, Nelson’s sister, also grew up visiting the Engeseth-Rinde farm. She says, “We grew up in South Minneapolis. Visiting Aunt Lena [Helena] and Uncle Andrew’s farm was a big thrill for us city folks. It was really quite a treat. They ran a beautiful farm.”

The Engeseth-Rinde farm is now called “The Engeseth-Rinde Unit of the Prairie Creek Wildlife Management Area” and work is already in progress to open up the property for public use. Over the coming years, the current crops and woods will gradually return to prairie, wetland and oak savanna.

A Wildlife Management Area protects land and water for wildlife habitat and wildlife-related recreation. The Prairie Creek Wildlife Management Area was established in 2014 when the DNR acquired the 460-acre Koester farm, three miles away from the Engeseth-Rinde farm.

Northfield Shares will use the proceeds from the endowment, which totals $462,000, to support activities at the Engeseth-Rinde Unit, the Koester Unit and other natural areas in between as time goes on and the fund grows.

Craig Ellingboe, Northfield Shares Board of Directors President, says, “This is a very exciting time for Northfield Shares. Conversations are just beginning regarding all of the exciting initiatives that can come out of a gift like this.”

Northfield Shares has plans to use the endowment to engage with area students at all levels. The farm will become a place for research on prairie restoration and will be available for study by students at St. Olaf College and Carleton College as well as Northfield area students and other community members.

Ellingboe continues, “Don Nelson’s passion for the land and our community comes into full view with the finalization of this sale. The Engeseth-Rinde Farm is set to become an incredible addition to the Northfield area and is guaranteed to serve the community for generations to come.”

At 90-years-old, Nelson has a track record of generosity. A retired orthodontist, Nelson worked in Rochester at the Mayo Clinic. It was at Mayo that Nelson first got a taste for philanthropy.  Throughout his life he has focused his giving toward ensuring that places for wildlife enjoyment continue to exist for generations. In fact, the Engeseth-Rinde farm is the third farm Nelson has donated. The first two farms went to Luther College and St. Olaf College, respectively. Each college sold the properties to the DNR, and both became Wildlife Management Areas. In 2000, Nelson also established the Henry and Agnes Nelson Family Endowment to support the curation of the St. Olaf College Natural Lands.

Speaking about her brother, Bell said, “Listening to him, you would never know that he was a dentist. All of his conversation is geared toward the environmental sciences. He is a land conservationist first and foremost.”

Another important player in turning Nelson’s properties into permanently protected conservation lands was the Minnesota Land Trust. Nelson worked with them to place conservation easements on all three farms, protecting the properties from development even if the state were to sell them. In the case of the Engeseth-Rinde Farm, Nelson donated the development rights to the Minnesota Land Trust, which lowered the value of the property and made it affordable for the DNR to buy the farm.

Engeseth and Rinde are two important names in the legacy of Don Nelson. Norwegian in heritage, these two families settled in the Dennison/Nerstrand area in the late 1800s. The Engeseth family built their homestead on the land that is now the Engeseth-Rinde farm.

Nelson’s great-aunt, Helena Rinde, married into the Engeseth family. Nelson and his brother, Richard Nelson, bought the farm in 1982 without a clear idea of what they were going to do with the land, but with a strong desire to keep the farm in the family. Now, 34-years later, the farm has changed hands again, but will forever be tied to Nelson’s family legacy.

Northfield Shares is a Northfield-area nonprofit founded to advance philanthropy, inspire volunteerism and promote collaborative leadership. The organization was formed when 5th Bridge and Northfield Area Foundation merged. For more information on the Engeseth-Rinde Restoration Fund or Northfield Shares, visit

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Community News: Northfield Healthy Community Initiative invites board nominations

March 31, 2016

HCI logoNorthfield Healthy Community Initiative invites board nominations

The Northfield Healthy Community Initiative (HCI) is currently accepting nominations for positions on the HCI Board of Directors. HCI expects to have at least three open adult board positions and one board position for a high school student, beginning in September 2016. HCI board members serve three-year terms.

Formed in 1992, HCI is a coalition run by a board of community leaders, youth, parents, and school representatives. HCI’s mission is to “to cultivate a collaborative community that supports, values and empowers youth.” To achieve this, HCI does not operate or manage its own programs. Instead, HCI works with community partners to foster collaboration and to support community-driven efforts that benefit Northfield youth and families.  The HCI Board meets from 7:30-9:00 a.m. on the third Wednesday of every month.

For more information on the HCI Board or to nominate yourself or someone else for the board, please contact HCI at 664-3524 or [email protected]  To learn more about HCI, visit

Today’s news update – Graham sounds off on NAFRS politics; Fugitive wanted in fraud case involving Northfield; Symposium to feature discussion on contemptuous politics

March 31, 2016


Graham sounds off on NAFRS politics

The NAFRS joint powers board met this morning. The facility was on the agenda which did not sit well with Mayor Graham yesterday.   At the last Board meeting, a motion passed to get questions about the current building answered before voting on it , “we need to know structurally is this building sound.  If we’re going to put millions of dollars into it, is it a sound plan that’s going to last for years to come or if it isn’t, let’s start looking at alternatives”.  Various studies with various cost estimates offer differing views of the current facility.  Building official Jim Kessler said he would not issue a building permit right now.  Chair Glen Castore opened the discussion on facility location with information highlighting response time to fires from the current location and shows it to be optimal.  Mayor Graham said it made no sense to vote on the location without the information they requested on the facility itself.  Mayors Graham and Switzer have been vocal about getting clearer dollar amounts to rehab the facility, others argue they have it with the Medin Study at $3 million.  Northfield and Dundas want an engineer to look at it, not the architect, “that’s what we proposed.  Let’s get this information from experts, but again, they want to go back to the architect and I think that’s a waste of money”.  Castore and member Bernie Street said there are several experts they need to have answer the questions about the building and that Medin can get those experts.  They are awaiting an estimate from him.  Switzer didn’t understand why these questions weren’t answered when Medin originally designed the rehab.  Graham reiterated yesterday that he’s not against staying in the current building but wants assurance that, if they spend the money, the building will remain structurally sound for decades.  Graham called the move to vote on location,  “this is boardroom politics for the facility.  It is not for making sure that we have good equipment, safe equipment so that they can safely do their job, which they do well”.  Castore dropped the idea to vote on the fire location.  Graham had more to say and you can listen to it on our website  

Fugitive wanted in fraud case involving Northfield

A Faribault woman is a “wanted fugitive”.  According to the Waseca County News, 39 year old Heather Leigh OldeenOldeen is wanted for skipping out on probation and charged with illegally obtaining food stamps. In a complaint filed last week in Waseca County court she admitted to using the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.  The card owner reported the March 2015 thefts shortly after being released from Nicollet County jail, telling investigators he couldn’t have used the card while he was incarcerated.  An investigator found 10 purchases for about $830 were made on the card — including in Northfield.  Oldeen, who’s on supervised release following a 2012 conviction in Rice County for intent to sell meth, drug possession and check forgery, has been missing since mid February.  She’s charged with financial card fraud, a felony, and wrongfully obtaining assistance.  If convicted on both counts, she could serve up to six years in prison and be fined up to $13,000.  Her criminal history dates back to 1995 with multiple convictions for theft and drugs.

Symposium to feature discussion on contemptuous politics

With political discord and contempt at a fever pitch in this election cycle, St. Olaf College will host a  two-day symposium featuring three prominent speakers presenting on coarse rhetoric and contemptuous politics. Presented by The Institute for Freedom and Community, this event aims to foster civil discourse and create civility in public debate.  Professor of Philosophy Mark Kingwell of the University of Toronto will speak this evening at 7 o’clock in Tomson Hall.  His talk is entitled “Jerks, Asshats and the Unstable Politics of Civility”.  Tomorrow there will be 2 other speakers.  Information on the when and where is posted HERE.

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Community News: St. Olaf will host symposium on civil discourse and today’s politics

March 30, 2016

photoEvent Alert

The Institute for Freedom & Community Announces Two-Day Symposium with Prominent Speakers and Guests 

WHAT: “Disagreement – a Symposium for Constructive Political Discourse and Inquiry” 

WHEN: March 31 at 7 p.m.

April 1 at 3 p.m.

April 1 at 4:30 p.m. 

WHERE: St. Olaf College

1520 St. Olaf Avenue

Northfield, Minn., 55057 

WHO: “Jerks, Asshats, and the Unstable Politics of Civility”

Mark Kingwell

Thursday, March 31 at 7 p.m.

Tomson Hall Room 280

Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto

Author of A Civil Tongue: Justice, Dialogue, and the Politics of Pluralism

“What on Earth is Happening to our Country? The Moral Psychology of Political Division”

Jonathan Haidt

Friday, April 1 at 3 p.m.

Buntrock Commons, Black and Gold Ballrooms

Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership, New York University’s Stern School of Business

Author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

“Extreme Incivility and Political Voice”

Sarah Sobieraj

Friday, April 1 at 4:30 p.m.

Buntrock Commons, Black and Gold Ballrooms

Associate Professor of Sociology, Tufts University

Author of The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility

WHY: With political discord and contempt at a fever pitch in this election cycle, St. Olaf College is doing something about it. This two-day symposium will feature three prominent speakers presenting on coarse rhetoric and contemptuous politics in today’s society. Presented by The Institute for Freedom and Community, this event will aim to foster civil discourse and create civility in public debate.

For more information on the symposium, please call 507-786-3128 or email Dan Hofrenning at [email protected] or Shawn Paulson at [email protected]. All events are held at St. Olaf College, located approximately 40 miles south of downtown Minneapolis or downtown St. Paul. The campus is located at 1520 St. Olaf Avenue, Northfield, Minn. 55057. Preregistration is not required.

Today’s news update – Dennison water issues prompt visit from Lt. Gov. Tina Smith; Real ID moves in the House but only to allow them to talk about it; 2016 Sidewalk Poetry winners announced

March 30, 2016


Dennison water issues prompt visit from Lt. Gov. Tina Smith

Dennison Mayor Jeff Flaten was just trying to make sure the sewer wouldn’t back up when he got cited by OSHA.  After an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press highlighting aging water systems was published in February, the City was cited because the Mayor has been going down the lift station sewer to make sure it keeps working.  He’s not licensed for that.  After the longtime water and sewer operator retired Flaten has been descending down into the the sewer every day to check that it’s functioning, even discharging sewer water, cleaning the screens and checking water meters in town.  He’s asking the Governor for bonding dollars to build a lift station.  In a meeting yesterday at Dennison Town Hall, Flaten told Lt. governor Tina Smith that it’s “a need, not a want”.  She said, “I think it’s kinda the most basic thing that people expect their government to do for them….We’re going to come together as a community and figure out how to pay for that”.  Flaten expressed frustration to Minnesota Public Facilities Authority Ex. Dir. Jeff Freeman regarding the grant process, “To be honest, I’m getting a little angry right now”… He told Freeman he thinks the system is unfair to small towns and caters to larger cities that have the money to hire lobbyists and consultants to help fill out the grant applications.  Freeman said Minnesota Rural Water Association can help him do that.  Smith told Flaten, “I’m here because I think you’re doing a really good job of representing small communities who are faced with a very specific set of challenges and the reality is that it’s in all of our interests to help Dennison and communities like Dennison all across the state”.  The City is currently working with PeopleService to bridge the gap till a new lift station is built and satisfy OSHA.  The cost for the lift station is $200,000, nearly twice Dennison’s annual budget. The city of 190, proposes to chip in another $48,000, funded in part with a new $25 monthly water fee on residents.  Flaten is asking for another ½ million for a water infiltration system.   The current lift station was built in 1962.  

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Real ID moves in the House but only to allow them to talk about it

It’s only a 10 week legislative session and 4 weeks have gone by.  House District 20b representative David Bly said Friday is the 1st deadline which means, all the policy bills must be heard in committees.  Bly says it means they spend the day there.  Real ID moved through the House but all it means is that the Legislature can talk about it… and hopefully solve the issue.  This will go back to the Senate.  Privacy has been the biggest issue.  Minnesota’s deadline to comply with federal changes is 2018.  

2016 Sidewalk Poetry winners announced

The 2016 Sidewalk Poetry winners have been announced.  Northfield’s Arts and Culture Commission, in partnership with the Friends and Foundation of the Library, selected 9 poems from 102 submitted.   The names of the winners and their poems are posted on our website now under Community News.  Poems will be installed in City sidewalks over the spring and summer.  KYMN’s Paula Granquist will be talking with the winners on her show Art Zany, April 15th.  

Click below to listen to the 3-30-16 NEWS podcast:

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

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