Everything else in Northfield

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shiny button Pledge or renew your membership with Northfield.org today!

During the past year Northfield.org published an average of four new stories every day! That high volume was created and posted by some 129 different individuals who represent a cross-section of the community. "The best thing about Northfield.org is that anyone can join and anyone can submit content," says David Gonnerman, chair of Northfield Citizens Online. "Our volunteer board members share a passion for the core mission of strengthening our community. And we have a pretty good time while doing it, so we're reaching out to involve as many people in our efforts as possible."

St. Olaf Alumni create sensation with Billiam the Snowman

Billiam the SnowmanJuly's CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate featured a new format for American political debate: questions posed by users of the popular video site. The questions, broadcast on a large screen during the debate, were pretty standard fare that ranged from healthcare to energy to taxes.

But one individual stood apart from the others. His name was Billiam, and he was a snowman. He asked the candidates about global warming and what they would do to ensure that his son (who also is made of snow) has a "full and happy life."

To read more about Billiam and his creators visit the St. Olaf website.

Written by David Gonnerman '90

Community Services Fall Brochure

brochureThe Northfield Public Schools Community Services Division Fall Brochure is coming soon and it is all new! The brochure now contains all information regarding Early Childhood Family Education, KidVentures, Youth & Adult Recreation, Youth & Adult Enrichment, Project ABLE, and Adult Basic Education. Also, introducing online registration for all programs.

August Writing Roundtable tackles the 30-second Elevator Pitch

“76% of 3543 professionals said they have trouble explaining what they do, and feel uncomfortable pitching themselves.”

~Laura Allen

Self-Marketing Survey


Word-of-mouth marketing. Increase your sphere of influence. An elevator pitch is real. It doesn’t give you a second chance to create that first impression. Remove all doubt and know that you will be remembered with an engaging and confident presentation.

City Pool to stay open a week longer

Temp may go down to 96°F by then

Underwater swimmers
I was at the Northfield City Pool (editoral: It's very nice, have you been?) this evening and I noticed a sign up declaring that the pool had extended it's season for another week. The pool will now be open until August 26th, but with reduced hours for the days of Aug 20-26.

Good news if the heat has been getting you down.

About the bridge collapse

Red Cross Representative David Bly has some helpful information on the Blyblog if you are reflecting on yesterday's bridge collapse in Minneapolis. I know that the Red Cross could really use donations, due to the many emergencies that have occurred in the region so far this summer. Rep. Bly also mentions some basic facts about bridges in Minnesota and the DOT's recent rating of this particular bridge:

The I 35 bridge collapse has everyone's attention and I am sure we will hear more news as time goes on. For those fo you who wish to find out more or learn how you can help here is some information:

Call the Red Cross at 612-871-7676. If callers get a voicemail, leave contact information and Red Cross volunteers will return calls.

To donate money, call 612-460-3700 or mail donations to: American Red Cross - Twin Cities Area Chapter, NW 5597, Box 1450, Minneapolis, MN 55485-5597.

To read the rest, click here.

Mill Towns Trail update

Mill Towns Trail logoSubmitted by Peggy Prowe

The Mill Towns Trail Joint Powers Board will meet at 5:30 pm, Faribault city Hall, Wednesday, Aug. 1.

Katy Gehler-Hess, Northfield city engineer, said that the pedestrian/bicycle bridge in Northfield across the Cannon River, west of highway #3, behind Walgreens will be bid Oct. 1. Due to DNR permit problems, it has been delayed. MNDOT has extended the Federal funding for it. Abutments and the sewer trench will go in this fall, allowing the sewer trench to "settle". Next summer, 2008 the trail and bridge will be completed.

Abandoned or Lost Kittens?

2Kitns Edit(Submitted by J Digiovanni)

These kittens were in a tree near the municipal parking lot at Washington St and Third St for at least 2 days. I suspect that they were dumped there. We coaxed the kittens down from the tree and took them in to feed them. They are very friendly and seem to like people. We have 2 cats already and can't give them a permanent home.

Anyone interested in adopting them or anyone who knows the owners please call 217-617-3381. Thanks!

(Two more pictures inside...)

People of the corn

Northfield corn is one of the best things about living here. It can be argued that one of the best things about living in Northfield in the summer is ... you guessed it ... corn. The corn you buy off the back of a truck just hours after it's picked to take home, husk, cook and devour.

As a Northfield kid I remember that sometimes we got good batches, sometimes not-so-good. But nowadays, it seems, every bag is a winner (if you keep away from the pre-season shysters, that is). Today's stuff is delicious -- who can stop at just one ear? Or four? Have Ma and Pa Kettle become genetic engineers? Whatever it is, they're doing something right.

So here's your chance to sound off on Northfield's corn. What do you put on it (or not -- why mess with perfection)? Are you a boiler, griller or microwaver? Do you have a favorite recipe (how about shaving some fresh corn into your next salad)? What's the weirdest creature you've ever found under the husk?

Chanhassen enacts total watering ban - Northfield still OK.

The Strib today has a story on how Chanhassen has enacted a complete ban on irrigation systems and sprinklers, but still allows hand-held watering cans and hoses...

Residents in Chanhassen have been ordered to turn off the spigot. The city on Monday enacted a total outdoor watering ban because droughtlike conditions have led to low aquifer levels and two of the city's municipal wells have failed.

Other cities such as Woodbury and Eagan have added significant restrictions to residential watering.

New blog about eating local in Northfield (and more)

penelopedia Please visit my new blog at Penelopedia.com. It's a compendium of "This & That in Northfield, MN: Occasional observations on trying to live a bit greener and closer to nature, as I tend my small garden, eat more locally, cook from scratch more often, walk more, drive less, and pay attention to wildlife and the rhythms of season and climate. And stuff like that."

I'll talk about what's in season at the Farmers Market, what's local in my kitchen this week, random adventures in local birdwatching, and lots more. The blog is Northfield-centered, but you don't have to live here to get something out of it.

From allegations to accountability

Anne BrettsAnne Bretts is former Managing Editor for Northfield.org

Don’t you think it’s time to quit talking about each other and start talking to each other?

Simple as that. Pick a date and let’s do it. I volunteer to find a cool spot and invite folks here at the News, all public officials, and all of you reading this. Heck, I’ll even don a suit of armor and invite the dragons of the Twin Cities media. For a couple of hours, let’s log off and figure this out once and for all. I’ll bring chips, some of you bring salsa or a good seven-layer dip or some bars. Bring your own soda –- and your questions and urban legends and all those wild rumors.


Wednesday marked a full month since the original two sentences of anecdotal observation appeared at the end of a fairly routine Pioneer Press story, quoting the fairly routine mid-year report on drug use in the Twin Cities, a report written by Hazelden, a research and treatment center not known for hysteria. Today, we really know little more than we did that first day.

Notice that I didn’t even have to use the word, and you knew I was talking about heroin. Now, replace the word 'heroin' with 'West Nile Virus' or 'hail storms', and maybe we could address this issue with a little more clarity.

Yes, heroin is a problem, but so are meth, cocaine, cough syrup, alcohol and the painkillers in Mom’s medicine chest. Kids are in danger from overeating, molestation by adults they trust, date rape, bullying, texting while driving and a host of other potentially fatal dangers that cut life short or leave it damaged.

And, while all these are community issues to some extent, many of us are more concerned with the dangers of blocked arteries, osteoporosis and prostate cancer. Tell us what we can do to help, but don’t just scare us.

Cheap heroin being pushed to teens is a story that has been surfacing in various places for more than a year. Some kids in Texas have died, and a lot of others got hooked. How many is a lot? Of course, one is too many if the kid is yours, but ‘a lot’ is as useless as ‘many’ or ‘several’ or ‘growing numbers.’

The real problem that needs to be addressed now is information: how to monitor the social climate and adolescent storm clouds and develop reliable warning systems, without sending everyone to hide in the basement on a rumor. Specifically, Northfield needs to learn how to help government, health and school officials, the media, Internet bloggers and ordinary citizens share information responsibly.

It’s not that hard. Lots of communities, even small ones, do it well. Clearly, Northfield does not.

To hear the new police captain explain to the City Council and School Board this week that his solution to the confusion over the heroin issue is to refuse to talk to reporters about anything (a position I admit I gleaned from a newspaper story without independent verification) is wrong-headd. To have the councilors and board members let the statement stand without repudiating it proves we have learned little in this last month.

On a very basic level, the policy won’t work. It appears that the department has had 18 months of silence since it was first told by a health official about the heroin issue, and yet the situation has not improved. Of course there's no way to know for sure because no two experts seem to agree on what numbers to use.

I have expected a perfect storm like this ever since I moved to Northfield about two years ago. Rumors, a holiday week, conflicting definitions of terms converged in disaster. I take no joy in being right.

In my humble opinion, this is what needs to be done immediately:

1. The city must bring in an outside investigator to review the police department and any allegations against City Administrator Al Roder. Mr. Roder and the police chief need to be cleared or held accountable quickly. They should not be tied to a meaty slab of rumors and left in the sun to draw more vultures. (Update: Rice County Attorney is dealing with a city administrator investigation.)

2. The police department should produce, report to the council and post on the city website an analysis of crime over the last five years, noting any trends, spikes, or areas of concern. This can be done using the annual reports on file and the numbers from the first half of this year and shouldn’t take long. Either there is a problem or there isn't.

3. The city and schools and health community experts to agree how to count and what to count. We track the wind across the prairies, the tiny raindrops and the snowflakes. We know the measurements vary from house to house and farm to farm, but we have agreed on some common tracking systems that work well enough to prevent us from getting wet or freezing to death in a snowbank.

4. The city, schools, etc. need an information policy, with a 24/7 response team to handle questions when they come up. You notice I didn't say to handle the media, but to respond to questions and provide answers. We have contingency plans for water main leaks and fallen trees, so there should be one for information. This doesn’t take more staffing, just more coordination and communication. Again, think of decisions on school closings due to snow.

5. Bloggers need to determine their own ethics policies and post them. They don’t need to be journalists, but common sense -- and the playground rules set by the nuns at my grade school -- say you don’t pass on information unless you know it’s true and fair and the persons involved have a chance to defend himself. Otherwise it’s just gossip.

6. People should learn a little more about how the media works before they attack. If you have a concern or question, just call and ask. Reporters get paid to listen, but most of us love to talk about what we do.

That’s it. Pretty simple.

Information matters. How do you know what approach works if you have no baseline, no benchmarks and no goals? Accurate information really matters. Scare tactics are as ineffective with the public as “Reefer Madness” was in preventing drug use in the grandparents of today’s users.

We can’t change the danger of bad weather, but we’ve learned to deal with it. We can’t stop the dangers facing teens, but we can help them stay safe.

Let’s talk.


I am a freelance writer for the Minnesota Real Estate Journal. For the record, I have many years of experience in both traditional journalism and online news and opinion. I have no current involvement with any local media or blogs and no agenda other than to improve communications. I believe blogs and traditional media all have a purpose. I believe most people involved in this problem were working with good intentions, and I will let karma deal with those who weren't. My opinions are my own, no more or less valuable than those of others (although Mom thinks mine are the best.)

Don't forget about the Rice County Fair!

Firefox Screenshot 030Among all the other things happening this week stealing the spotlight (Harry Potter, I'm looking at you), don't forget that the Rice Country Fair is currently going on down in Faribault. The grandstand has bull riding tonight, tractor pulls tomorrow night, DEMOLITION DERBIES Saturday and Sunday.

Click here to visit the Rice County Fair website for lots more information!

Chief Smith goes on indefinite leave of absence

According to Locally Grown:

The Chief has requested an indefinite leave of absence and it has been granted by the City Administrator. Roger Schroeder has been promoted to Captain, effective immediately. Capt. Schroeder will handle day to day operations of the department. If you have any questions, please see a Supervisor. Any questions regarding the Chief will be handled by the City Administrator.

An interesting turn of events, considering the recent swirl of publicity around the Chief.


If you find more, leave a message in the comments and we'll add it to the story.

ODNS introduces science partnership with St.Olaf

pdf image Open Door Nursery School is excited to announce that it will be teaming up with the Biology Department at St.Olaf College to offer new environmental science curriculum. St.Olaf Professor of Biology and Curator of Natural Lands Dr. Gene Bakko and his biology students will bring science into our classrooms and our children into the natural world.

ODNS will host college students from the Biology Department in our classroom throughout the year to introduce preschoolers to several ideas in biology. In addition, the ODNS staff will receive in-service training to conduct field trips to St.Olaf’s natural lands (prairie, hardwood forest, and wetland areas). Children will discover the diversity of organisms as they examine a variety of zoological museum specimens and explore the unique habitats throughout the natural areas. These tri-annual field trips will also give children the opportunity to experience the changing of the seasons first-hand.

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