Land use, land sales top this week's city agendas


The past and the future come together this week as the city deals with plans for a new movie theater and begins plans to divest itself of some land that was part of the former Northfield Hospital site.

City Council: meets at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall. The key issue will be a vote on whether to adjust the city’s comprehensive plan to designate about 10 acres of land along Highway 3 for commercial use, rather than light industrial. Technically, the issue isn’t a rezoning, and it’s not tied to a specific use of the land. But in reality, the move is needed to allow a rezoning that would allow property owner James Gleason to sell his land to Steven Payne, owner of Lakes & Rivers Cinema. Payne, who has developed eight cinemas in small towns in Minnesota and South Dakota, wants to build a theater similar to one he owns in Owatonna. If the city refused the change, Payne and Gleason plan to build the theater on an adjacent site across the city boundary in Dundas. The land, directly across from Target and Cub Foods, (in the distance past the familiar intersection pictured here), lies between the busy highway retail area and the light industrial area to the west.

Pictures from the Montessori Annual Carnival

The Northfield Montessori held its annual summer Carnival on Saturday, June 3rd. The weather was in the mid-80's and the sky was mostly cloudless. There was a cake walk, "Soak the Teacher" game, and hay ride, among other things. was there, naturally, and we have a photo gallery from the event for you to peruse. If you see someone you know, please help us out and leave a comment.

City to sell homes, lots near Way Park

We just pulled this from the City Hall website.

An informational meeting outlining the process for the sale of four houses (including the one pictured at left) and three vacant lots from the former Northfield Hospital campus will be Tuesday, June 6, from 7-9 p.m. at St. John’s Church, 500 West Third St. At the meeting, representatives of Northfield Hospital will present their plan for disposing of the properties within guidelines established by the Northfield City Council. There will be an opportunity for questions. City representatives will also be at the meeting.

The former hospital site and adjacent homes owned by the city cover 4.73 acres in the 800-block between West First and West Second streets. The city council decided in 2004 that the 2.7 acres donated for the 1938 hospital be used to expand Way Park. To underwrite a portion of the cost of removing the old hospital, the hospital is authorized to sell the houses and vacant lots acquired after the original hospital was built.

Weekend Entertainment and Events

Click to view PDFSummer is here in full force, so get out and enjoy it!

On a beautiful day there is nothing like outdoor baseball, and you don't have to wait for a new stadium! The Dundas Dukes are sponsoring a baseball tournament at Memorial Field in Dundas this weekend. The Dukes, the Dukes over-35 team and the Northfield Knights will all be playing.

The rest of the weekend's details are inside...

Locals play cowboy at Wild West Roundup

Crazy CoraWhether your view of the old West was shaped by Jesse James, Roy Rogers or the boys of "Deadwood," you have to admit there's a certain draw to the fantasy of life on the frontier.

Now you can be part of that life, at least for a weekend, at the Wild West Roundup, June 10 and 11, at the Rice County Steam & Gas Engine Grounds grounds in Dundas. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, you can take a trip back in time to the Old West. There modern day folks will take on roles as cowhands, blacksmiths, gunslingers and barmaids. Click to visit the websiteThe event also will be a homecoming celebration for our own James-Younger Gang, the bank-robbing reenactors who keep Northfield's history alive. The troupe is performing its signature show on a two-week tour of Germany, a country wild about our West. The boys return just in time for the Roundup, which will kick off the area's reenactment season.

"What we're going to try to do is make this the Rennaissance Fair of the Old West in Minnesota." says Jody Greenslade, better known among reenactors as Crazy Cora (pictured in character above). "Pretty soon people will be coming to the Roundup instead of going to all those other events."

Fishing class? Now that's summer school!

Editor's note: Summer school often means more work. But here's a class in fishing that sounds like a heck of a way to start summer vacation.

You can enroll your child, grandchild or scout troop in a fun, active, four-hour session for children ages 6 to 11. Professionals and trained volunteers from the Minnesota DNR MinnAqua Program will teach children the basics of fishing and the importance of protecting healthy aquatic habitats.

As they move from station to station, the children create their own fishing equipment, learn about regulations, identify fish, practice casting and try their hand at fishing. This lifelong activity connects kids to their local environment!

The class will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 13. Registration cost is $2 for members, $4 for non-members. Reservation deadline is June 9. Children must be accompanied by adults. Location is Lampert Lodge, The Science Center at Maltby Nature Preserve, 789 Sciota Trail East, Randolph, MN 55065. Phone: 507-664-0770; email: See for a map to the center.

Take a Walk in the Big Woods

Hidden FallsFor those who are creatures of habit, the DNR suggests a change of pace and the encouragement to try something new during Minnesota state park’s annual free open house day on June 4.

“Each year the public is invited to visit state parks for free on the first Sunday in June,” said Courtland Nelson, director of DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “There’s probably no better time to try something new than when it won’t cost you anything. We hope that visitors will take this opportunity to visit a different park, try a new activity, hike a special trail or find out something new about their favorite park.”

The Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park is located just minutes from Northfield and has over 14 miles of hiking trails. I've attached a map of the park so you can find your way to the beautiful Hidden Falls (pictured). So why not take advantage of the DNR’s open house this Sunday and take a walk in the Big Woods!

ISSUES List bubbles with library ideas

Surely you've heard that the city is talking about how to meet the future needs of a library that's bursting at its architecturally significant seams. Well, the readers who have joined our ISSUES List have been batting around ideas for how to solve the problem.

The official report estimates costs could run $9.2 million or more. These ideas haven't been analyzed for cost effectiveness, but they all get points for creativity. You can join the ISSUES List discussion, add a comment below or check out the NDDC forum on the topic Tuesday, June 6.

Here are just a few of the ideas...

Vintage Band Festival needs help

Paul NiemistoSummer often is a slow time for academics, but Paul Niemesto is heading into one of the busiest summers of his life. It's the culmination of months of mixing his academic skills with those of an event planner, travel agent and public relations guru.

Paul, the director and founder of the Cannon Valley Regional Orchestra, a member of Ameriikan Poijat and a professor of music at St. Olaf College, has invited scholars from around the world and 15 vintage bands from the United States, Sweden, Germany and Canada. They'll hold a conference, but they also will take the whole town back in time to the late 1800s and early 1900s, when brass bands played the parks of the world. This time, however, they'll all be playing 40 free concerts throughout Northfield July 27-30. Sure, it seems early to talk about the festival, but Paul has been working for months, and he needs help to pull it all off.

"We need money," he says. "We need volunteers. We need folks to help welcome these bands to Northfield."

Heritage Dental celebrates new name, offices

NCO Board member Rick Estenson sent this little bit of news about the former Division Street Dentists.

Heritage DentalThey have a new name, Heritage Dental Care, and a new larger office at 2011 Jefferson Road. The office opened May 1, but last week they held a formal celebration.

"It doesn't take long to get used to being able to breathe," said Dr. David Brust of the new space, which is twice the size of the old one. Brust shares the practice with Drs. John H. Ehresmann, Michael C. Remes and David R. Buck. The men looked for six months for a site downtown, but couldn't find anything large enough. Finally, they settled on building a new office, but that meant taking on a new name to reflect their location near the intersection of Jefferson Road and Heritage Ave.

Downtowners mix business and pleasure

We're a little late in getting to this, but we wanted to share our appreciation for the fun and conversation at the Northfield Downtown Developments Corp.'s mixer last Thursday. For a business organization, these people sure know how to have a good time! And the upper deck tucked behind the lobby of the Archer House is one of the hidden treasures of the downtown.

NCO board chairman Doug Bratland and I also want to thank Rob Schanilec for the great photos. The only catch is that he was taking pictures while we were talking, so there are a few names we didn't get. Doug knows that the picture above includes Dan Freeman, and Sue and Bart de Malignon. Please feel free to check out the whole gallery and point out our sins of omission. If you find your own face and identify it, I'll buy you an adult beverage at the next mixer!

Boats For Books: Canoe Building At ARTech

Working TogetherTwo weeks ago, I began the construction of a cedar strip canoe with nine ARTech students. We cut the forms from and assembled them on the long straight beam called the strongback. Soon the 18' cedar strips were flying on, the rough hull appearing before our eyes. We took our time with the delicate herringbone pattern of the hull bottom and with the last strip in place, began sanding the boat smooth. Then it was time to apply epoxy and fiberglass—a noxious, but important, process.

This course is one of the May Term offerings at Northfield School of Arts and Technology, where students spend the last three weeks of the school year in one all-day class or a combination of two half-day classes. The idea behind this and other May Term courses is to expose students to a variety of experiential learning opportunities. Many of the courses are interdisciplinary and allow students to work in smaller communities as well as on individual projects. It also allows the ARTech staff to share a few of their passions with students. Other offerings included traveling to Washington DC or backpacking on the Superior Hiking Trail.

Carleton to honor two at June 10 commencement

Stephen P. HubbellLila Abu-Lughod
Carleton College will award honorary degrees at Commencement exercises on Saturday, June 10 to Stephen P. Hubbell ’63, botany professor at the University of Georgia, and Lila Abu-Lughod ’74, professor of anthropology and women’s and gender studies at Columbia University. 

Stephen P. Hubbell, a 1963 Carleton graduate, is an internationally known ecologist whose research is on tropical rainforests and in theoretical ecology. He has published three books and more than 100 scientific papers on tropical planet ecology, plant-animal interactions and theoretical ecology. He is founder and chair of the National Council for Science and the Environment, a national organization with more than 10,000 members and more than 200 universities and professional societies, with the mission of improving the science underlying environmental decision-making.

School Board Withdraws Support for Village School

Vote will likely close area charter school

An article in the StarTribune reported that the Northfield School Board voted 5-2 tonight to withdraw sponsorship for the Village School of Northfield, a public charter school that was established in 1997. Of the 125 charter schools that have opened in Minnesota since 1991, the Village School is just the eighth to lose its sponsor.

Concerns over student safety, behavior and academic performance had been raised over the past few months, and the school's situation was a topic of discussion on our ISSUES list in early April, when it was first reported that the school board was considering this possibility.

St. Olaf Class of '06 heads into history

Fun Facts about St. Olaf grads

If you want to hear about all the commencement speeches and know all the reunion details, you can check out the official website.

If you don't want that much info, here are some highlights for trivia fans, with many thanks to Tom Vogel...

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