Norbert Skluzacek

Today, we will say goodbye to a dear friend and former employee, Norbert Skluzacek.

Norbert worked for us for 4 years following his retirement.  Having worked most of his adult life as a dairy farmer, he brought his farming knowledge and incredible work ethic here to the nursery.   He was such a hard worker and his work ethic was second to none – a trait we sincerely valued.

Norbert was a gentle man, probably the kindest man you would ever meet and had a heart as big as the sky.  His eyes would sparkle when he smiled.  Norbert’s love for his wife, family, his faith and friends was evident during  any conversation you would have with him.

We will always treasure our memories of Norbert.  We love you Norbert – may you rest in peace.


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Categories: Businesses

Four Fireplaces We Love

Northfield Construction Company - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 6:14pm

The fireplace traditionally has been a necessary component and the “heart” of a home, functioning as a source of heat for many families. Its ambience and comforting warmth now provides contemporary homeowners and designers with an aesthetically pleasing centerpiece for any room, balancing function with beauty. We selected some of our favorite fireplace designs for the […]

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Categories: Businesses

Minnesota’s Open Meeting Law and social media: A step in the right direction

Wigley and Associates - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 1:42pm

On August 1, 2014, Minnesota’s Open Meeting Law was amended to guide the use of social media by elected officials:


The use of social media by members of a public body does not violate this chapter so long as the social media use is limited to exchanges with all members of the general public. For purposes of this section, e-mail is not considered a type of social media.

As a consultant who specializes in online citizen engagement, I was excited to see this change. It has seemed to me that elected public officials in Minnesota have been generally reluctant to participate in online public policy-oriented discussions out of fear that a violation of the open meeting could occur.

But a closer reading of the new statute raised some questions in my mind.  A July 21 article about the new law in the Faribault Daily News titled Elected officials and the use of social media included this:

Reporter Brad Phenow: “Come Aug. 1, elected officials can use social media without the fear of violating the law, so long as the use is viewable by members of the general public.”

The reporter’s use of the word ‘viewable’ seemed wrong to me, that the statute’s emphasis on “exchanges with all members of the general public” indicated that interaction was a required component.

But I still was left wondering how those ‘exchanges’ would have to be structured.  For example, could I host a week-long blog/Facebook discussion in which the first couple of days were devoted to interaction among city council members, followed by several more days of interaction between council members and the public? Could I moderate a live one-hour web conference, Google Hangout, or Twitter exchange that featured 15 minutes of discussion among the members of a school board, followed by 45 minutes of Q&A with the public?

On September 24, I attended an Open Meeting Law workshop hosted by the Information Policy Analysis Division (IPAD) of the Minnesota Department of Administration.


The IPAD staff indicated that they believed the statute’s use of the phrase “limited to” was key, that the intent is to not allow exchanges among a local unit of government’s elected officials but only between the elected officials and the public.  They indicated that this was a result of negotiations between the Minnesota Association of Townships Association and the Minnesota Newspaper Association.

A May 2 article in the Rochester Post Bulletin titled Quam’s social media bill faces stiff opposition describes the disagreement prior to the bill’s passage:

This session, the Minnesota Township Association and the Minnesota Newspaper Association worked to craft compromise language that would have only allowed public officials to interact with the general public on social media and not each other. But that proposal ran into stiff opposition in the Minnesota House last week. Members on both sides of the aisle said they fear this bill will hurt the public’s ability to know what their elected officials are doing.

… He [Mark Anfinson, a lobbyist for the Minnesota Newspaper Association] said the big problem with the earlier bill’s language is it does not specifically limit public officials to interacting with the general public, leading to the possibility that they could be interacting with each other online.

At a basic level, this indicates to me that a local elected official can now engage in discussions with their constituents on their public Facebook page timeline, the comment threads on their blog, or their Twitter feed. If one or more elected officials from that same elected body joined these discussions, they would have to be careful to address their comments only to the public.

Likewise, it indicates to me that special online events involving a local unit of government’s elected officials must be structured in a way that prevents (discourages? minimizes?) those members from interacting with each other. For example, a live web conference could use a Q&A format where a moderator and citizens submit questions to elected officials who then respond back directly to them.  A moderator’s task would be to intervene if the elected officials tried to interact with each other.

I can imagine a scenario in which the elected officials talk about one another. For example, Councilor Jones might say/write, “I think Councilor Smith is sadly mistaken on that point because…” followed by Councilor Smith responding with “What Councilor Jones doesn’t seem to realize is that…”   It could also be done in support of one another, eg, “Councilor Smith’s rationale makes perfect sense to me.”

Would that type of exchange be a violation of the statute? I don’t know but my inclination as a moderator would be to intervene and ask the elected officials to refrain from using each other’s names.

So I’m glad to see this change to the statute and I’m eager to work with local units of government to put it to use for the benefit of citizens and their elected officials.


Categories: Businesses

Tor Birchleaf Spirea

Tor Birchleaf Spirea – –  Spiraea betulifolia ‘Tor’

If you are looking for a versatile, hardy, compact, low maintenance, down right pretty shrub then you should consider Tor Birchleaf Spirea to be at or near the top of your list!

This lovely spirea has a compact, mounding habit and really nice grey-green rounded leaves that have a resemblance to birch leaves.  In late spring tiny white flowers bloom in clusters that cover the plant.  Prune lightly or for shape right after the first bloom to promote additional flowers and to freshen it up.  As if all these lovely attributes aren’t enough, Tor Birchleaf Spirea has one more surprise in store for you!  In autumn Tor Birchleaf transforms itself into a vibrant and showy mound of stunning fall color!  Vivid shades of orange, red and purple will delight your eyes and have your friends and neighbors asking, “What is that beautiful plant?”

Here’s some more dirt on Tor Birchleaf Spirea…

2-3’ Tall x 2-3’ wide

Full sun is preferred but they can handle light shade.

Hardy Zone 3-8

Deer Resistant

Excellent used as a specimen or in group plantings.

Rock gardens, low hedges, along paths or walkways and foundation plantings .

Thanks to Heidi Brosseau for this blog post!

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Categories: Businesses

Glory Time for Burning Bush

Right now both the standard and dwarf Burning Bush are star attractions in the landscape with their brilliant red fall foliage.  Also known as Winged  Euonymous, the Burning Bush have long been a favorite due to the intensity of the red fall color that develops each October as nights get cooler and days shorter.

Burning Bush are versatile shrubs that can grow in light conditions ranging from full sun to pretty heavy shade.  We’ve seen Burning Bush do well in shady areas where many other plants struggle with the low light levels.  When positioned in a shady area Burning Bush will be a nice green healthy shrub, but will not develop the intense red fall color that takes place when grown in full sun.  Burning Bush prefer neutral to acid soils and soggy ground should be avoided.  Prune one every year or two to maintain good density.

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Categories: Businesses

Hastings Antique, Boat, and Garage Auction, Saturday, October 25, 10:00AM

Kuhlman Auctions - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 9:32am

Long time Hastings residents will be selling their collections at public auction on Saturday, October 25 (10:00AM)  at 933 2nd St W in Hastings (just off of Nininger Road)

Items include:  HOUSEHOLD: Ethan Allen china cabinet, curio cabinet,  chandeliers, floor lamps, numerous small clocks, bells, décor items of all kinds, gun cabinet, Coldspot chest freezer, vintage Crosley Shelvador refrigerator, fancy brass plant stands, large ornate hall mirror, lots of household items, dishes, small appliances and electronics, enamelware, Tupperware, etc

ANTIQUE & COLLECTIBLES:  Old fashioned dental cabinet, antique store fixtures, display case, several clocks,  large(34” x 39”) oil painting (“Ballroom”)  by German artist Richard Schlomer, collectible birds, large porcelain peacock, two large GWTW style lamps, upholstered chair & matching footstool, antique kneehole desk, sewing rocker, lamp table, very nice cedar chest, large old trunk,

 GARAGE:  1976 Century Arabian boat w/Velvet Drive “V” drive, 5Hp Craftsman wood chipper, vintage Niehoff  T17 condensometer, Niehoff T-19 Cam angle meter, Niehoff T-16 CVR volt ammeter, heavy duty “cherry picker” engine lift, GMC 4.3 V6 engine, Ariens EZR 1540 mower, two Toro snow blowers, 20” Weedeater mower, Sears air compressor/sprayer, bench grinder, small band saw, jig saw, jack stands, floor jacks, Toro mower, belt sander, Craftsman table top lathe, drill press, large railroad vise, many small hand and power tools, fishing tackle & lures, dwell tachometer, parts washer, Barcalo, Williams, Snap On, SK, and Thorsen tools, metal “Ampco” cabinet,  vintage spark plugs, large quantity of vintage automotive and clock parts

See more pictures in our photo album

Categories: Businesses

Laura Baker Services East Building

Northfield Construction Company - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 3:18pm

We have been working to finish up the new east building at the Laura Baker Services. This building is another residence for the Laura Baker clients. It is a wonderful light, airy building that will be enjoyed by the residents that live in it. The ceilings have been going in, along with the completion of […]

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Categories: Businesses

New Home Trend: The Open Floor Plan

Northfield Construction Company - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 3:11pm

A prominent new home trend for 2014 has been the open floor plan. What’s an open floor plan? The term refers to a type of floor plan which utilizes a large area to create a single, extensive living space and reduces the use enclosed spaces (living room, office, etc.). An open floor plan has both […]

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Categories: Businesses

The Nine Most Awkward Moments on Social Media

Brand Yourself Consulting - Tami Enfield - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 1:36pm
If you’re a Social Media Manager, you’ve definitely experienced awkward and sometimes...
Categories: Businesses

Fantastic Fall Color

Right now many of the trees and shrubs at Knecht’s Nurseries are putting on their autumn color show as various combinations of yellow, gold, orange, red and burgundy are revealed.

Fall has traditionally been a successful time to plant trees and shrubs, so stop in and see for yourself how these plant materials can light up your landscape with end of the growing season foliage colors.  As always, we have deep inventories that give you plenty of selection, and all plant materials are on sale at discounts of 20% off to 50% off.  The savings you can realize right now are amazing.

If you’d like to take advantage of our fall sale prices, but don’t want to do the planting yourself, we still have some room on our schedule to have our experienced cress do the planting for you.  Ask our sales staff for details on your next visit.

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Categories: Businesses

Ornamental Grass

That Flame Grass is ON FIRE!!!

Everyone wants to know, “What is the tall grass with the fluffy plumes on top?”

That is Flame Grass and this is the time of year when it becomes completely irresistible.  As our days become shorter and shorter the Flame Grass (AKA: Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens’) foliage gets more and more vibrant and it’s plumes get brighter and fluffier.  Even a gentle breeze gets those seed heads dancing around.  We really love this ornamental grass for its’ hardiness and versatility.  Upright dark-green leaves form clumps that turn flame-orange-red and bronze in fall.  The tall spikes of rose colored flowers mature to silvery-white plumes that remain attractive all winter long.  Flame Grass will grow to about 4 feet tall spreading to around 3-5 feet wide.  It can handle moist but not soggy soils and anything from sand to clay and anything in between. This makes it a good choice for raingardens.  It prefers full sun or partial shade.

Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass proves itself year after year!!!

Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass

Karl Foerster (AKA: Calamagrostis acutiflora) is an easy, low maintenance, award winning grass.  It proves its’ landscape worth year after year with its strong vertical habit.  Hardy and versatile it maintains a dense vertical clump of dark green foliage that turns yellow in autumn.  The airy seed heads mature from late summer to early fall becoming dense and wheat colored as they age.  This grass is an excellent selection for landscapes or as a specimen plant because of its clean dense habit.  Karl Foerster grows to 4-5 feet tall with a mature clump width of 2-3 feet.  Grows best in full sun to partial shade and in just about any soil provided it is well drained and not soggy.

Tips: Ornamental grasses should be left standing through winter and then cut back in the early spring before new growth begins to emerge.  They are very easy to dig and divide


Thanks to Heidi Brosseau for this blog!

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Categories: Businesses

Prepare Your Home for a Safe Halloween

Northfield Construction Company - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 3:31pm

We love watching the trick-or-treaters come to our door every year with their enthusiasm and clever costumes. So we want a safe Halloween for all children this year, which is why we’ve come up with a few safety tips. If you plan on preparing your home for Halloween, safety should be the biggest priority. Do not […]

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Categories: Businesses

Tile: it’s no longer square

Vivus Architecture + Design - Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:32am

сондажиIf you haven’t been on the lookout for tile lately, treat yourself and start looking closely at some of the amazing options. It’s no longer just square, 4 x 4 or 12 x 12 inches. And it isn’t for homeowners who can’t think of anything else to do with their walls and floors.

Yes, glass tile is still popular, and people are using it in new and unexpected ways, not just on the kitchen backsplash anymore. (Although I think that is a great application since you can experience it up close and it creates a sense of depth.) Here is a fun application in a shower, the glass tile designating the water flow area of the space.

I also like how tile can really set the mood for a room. This bathroom has glass tile and ceramic tile setting a formal stage for a beautiful bathing area. It just feels like you would be pampered in European spa-like style. Notice that the tub/shower area is a standard size, but the tile treatment really dresses it up.

Natural stone tile has been popular for a long time, and marble is really taking center stage. Note how this shower has the size and height to be very traditional (it feels like it’s from 1920) but the mosaic glass tile on the floor and in the niche bring it into contemporary times. The partial glass wall helps control spray but keeps the space airy and open in a way a shower curtain wouldn’t.

Unfortunately, tile is not an inexpensive endeavor. The product and labor adds more cost to a project than simple drywall or a tub/shower surround would do. I like to help homeowners plan their tile where it will make the most impact, sometimes placing the tile in unpredictable ways or making decorative elements stretch further by using them creatively.

Thanks to my helper for providing a sense of scale in the photos!

Categories: Businesses

Clean Out Your Garage Before Winter

Northfield Construction Company - Wed, 10/01/2014 - 1:14pm

Does your garage feel cluttered? Do you have to park on the street because your garage is full? It may be time to clean out your garage for good, especially with winter on its way. You’ll want space in your garage for your car and other important items. Remember defrosting your car in zero-below weather? […]

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Categories: Businesses

Big Tooth Aspen

In recent years, Big Tooth Aspen have become one of my favorite trees.  Native to southern Minnesota and with a range that extends north into central Canada,  Big Tooth Aspen put on quite a fall color show, and are tough enough to withstand corn country heat and 50 below zero winters.

I try to spend a few days each fall in the Ely, MN area where Big Tooth Aspen are found in mixed forests with their better known cousin the Quaking Aspen, as well as Paper Birch, Red Maple, Spruce, Pine, Fir, Larch and even a few scattered Red Oak, Bur Oak and Northern Pin Oak.  While the Birch and Quaking Aspen take on a mixed mantle of yellow/gold in mid fall, the Bigtooth Aspen typically color up a week later and sometimes add intense orange and red highlights to complement their basic gold fall color.

When you witness a grove of Big Tooth Aspen literally glowing in the sunlight with a shimmering apricot color as the leaves rustle in the slightest breeze,  it is a sight to behold, especially when there is a clear blue sky for a backdrop.

In the canoe country a very common and super hardy low growing understory native shrub called Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle turns lovely shades of red and burgundy, providing a lovely contrast to the color show of the BigTooth Aspens.  Dwarf Bush Honeysuckles mae great groundcover shrubs.  The accompanying photo shows both plants as they occur just a miles south of Ely!

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Categories: Businesses

20% to 50% Off Sale

From October 1st through November 10th – ALL trees, shrubs and perennials are on sale at discounts of 20% off to 50% off.  Mid to late fall is a good time to add plant materials to your landscape, and there are great deals available throughout the entire nursery.

At Knecht’s, we maintain excellent inventories even in mid to late fall, allowing you to choose from the thousands of trees, shrubs and perennials we have in stock and ready to plant – and to get discounts of 20% to 50% off on all plant materials.

Stop in today at our garden center – We are here 7 days a week for your shopping convenience.

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Categories: Businesses

New Generation Elm Trees

The time has arrived.  Be not afraid.  You CAN plant the new generation elm trees and have superb disease resistance, fast growth, toughness, durability, longevity, and a great shade tree.

If you have difficult soils on your property where other trees have failed, you may want to consider trying one of the many excellent elm varieties that are resistant to Dutch Elm Disease.  We have admired the appearance of Triumph Elm, Accolade Elm and Discovery Elm, all complex hybrids of several strains of disease resistant elms.

These true American Elms we carry have been extensively tested and shows very high levels of Dutch Em Disease Resistance. Princeton American Elm, New Harmony American Elm and Prairie Expedition Elm grow quickly into stately shade trees and have very tough wood that resists storm damage quite well.

An elm tree may be just the right choice to add diversity and disease resistance to the roster of trees on your property.  We have plenty to choose from, in a variety of sizes.

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Categories: Businesses

When Parents Join Facebook

Brand Yourself Consulting - Tami Enfield - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 4:15pm
It finally happened. Mom or Dad created their own Facebook page. Should...
Categories: Businesses

East Side Remodel and Expansion

Northfield Construction Company - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 1:26pm

We have started a nice remodel and addition on the east side of Northfield. This will eventually be a significant expansion of the existing house as we will be constructing a two-story addition as part of our work. Our first task was to remove the existing attached one car garage. We cut the roof between […]

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Categories: Businesses

Capture the Wonder

The calendar tells us summer has come and gone, but warm weather has moved in, and since we had a patchy frost almost two weeks ago, it feels as if this is Indian summer.  It’s a reprieve before more persistent chilly weather sets in, and hopefully this fall we will enjoy several periods of these delightful and virtually perfect days. It’s such a great time to be outside enjoying the day and watching critters as they prepare for winter.  Some birds and butterflies have begun their migrations south, and certain Red Oaks in my yard are dropping the first good crop of red oak acorns in several years.  It’s bound to make the squirrels fat and happy, as well as the deer and wild turkeys. Those chubby acorns also make me happy.  A couple days ago, I collected Red Oak acorns to grow a crop of native trees.  These were the nicest acorns I can ever remember collecting for propagation.  This year 98% to 99% of the acorns I picked up were fat, heavy and free of weevils.  Almost every acorn will be capable of producing a tree and germination will begin over the winter. To germinate properly Red Oak acorns need to experience chilly temperatures for 60-90 days.  Once this chilling has taken place, internal changes begin that slowly result in the swelling and splitting of the acorn, and the emergence of a root shoot that senses gravity, and heads down into the soil of the forest floor, or into the potting mix filling the special air root pruning pots I use to propagate container trees with first rate root systems. Every time that I see an acorn sprouting it stimulates my sense of wonder.  It’s like being a child again, when the whole world is waiting to be discovered, and every discovery is wonderful and exciting. It’s a wonder to think that the sprouting acorn can become a towering tree that provides cooling shade, nesting sites, food for the wildlife and eventually timber to build furniture and houses  It’s a joy to nurture an acorn until it’s a tree large enough to catch the eye of a customer who in turn places it into a special place in their garden until a few years later their child or grandchild picks up a chubby acorn with a sense of wonder and a passion for discovery, and begins the cycle of life once again. Life is rich and wonder filled when we are discovering new things, new ideas and learning how to open our eyes to all the beauty that surrounds us. It’s the dynamic that makes gardening the most popular hobby in this country. Whether a garden lover lives in Maine or New Mexico, Minnesota or Florida, a few steps into the garden takes us to a place of continual discovery and wonder.  It reconnects us to the sense of wonder we experienced in childhood. Indian summer days are some of my most favorite times to be out in the well-tended landscapes or on wilderness lakes and trails blazing with red, orange and gold fall colors.  It’s a fine time to discover beautiful places, things, and people, to allow ourselves to give free rein to our sense of wonder, and to give thanks for all we have and are able to experience. Thanks for taking this little journey of the pen with me and enjoy your Indian summer day of wonder! My grandson Jordan, several years ago collecting acorns with me. A time I’ll forever treasure!

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