Northfield’s push for denser development

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 6:44pm

City hopes to aid development of local businesses

The city of Northfield is working to increase density and encourage redevelopment to make the city’s economy more accessible. The city helped fund the opening of Reunion bar and restaurant and the forthcoming Fifth Street Lofts apartment complex, among other endeavors.

The emphasis on redevelopment follows a study completed in December 2018 by Urban3, a community development consulting firm from Asheville, NC. The Economic Development Authority (EDA) of Northfield commissioned the firm to analyze Northfield’s density and locate areas suitable for redevelopment. They used a per-acreage assessment of the health and utility of each parcel of land the city owns.

“[The EDA was] able to identify some key parcels within the community, especially in the downtown, Division Street, where some of the properties were high value and low cost,” said Northfield Economic Development Coordinator Nate Carlson ’15.

While the study concluded that Northfield has developed sustainably over the years, it recommended a return to the denser development of the town’s early history. This recommendation encouraged the EDA to utilize or redevelop existing land in more efficient ways, as was done with the Fifth Street Lofts apartment complex.

The complex will be constructed on an under-utilized plot of land downtown, Carlson said. The market-rate housing development will help move the city’s tax base away from single-home residential property taxes.

“Northfield has had a majority of the burden of property taxes on the residential population,” Carlson said. “Efforts like the Fifth Street Lofts, Reunion, the hotel – these are all commercial businesses that, prior to their original use, have a much denser footprint and generate much more tax that can balance out the rest of the tax base.”
Northfield worked in partnership with these commercial businesses, offering hefty loans to incentivize development through their Northfield Revolving Loan Fund Program. In the case of Fifth Street Lofts, the city created a new tax-advantaged financing district to meet development needs, the Messenger reported in early October, alongside a $250,000 loan through the EDA.

In the case of Reunion, which occupies the former J. Grundy’s Rueb ‘N’ Stein space on Division and Fifth Street, the EDA approved a $100,000 loan on Feb. 8, 2019, to “assist with construction and renovation costs,” according to a March economic development update. Reunion used the loan to build new sidewalks surrounding the restaurant that meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, Reunion manager Chad Jenkinson said.

Alongside these larger loans, the EDA also issues micro-grants of up to $5,000 to local businesses under the Clement F. Shearer Micro-Grant Program. The program aids growing mid-range businesses that need help expanding, according to the grant application.

In December 2018 and January 2019, Groundwire Coffee Roasters, a downtown cafe that promotes equitable coffee sourcing, and Launch5 Media, a downtown digital video consulting agency, both received grants of $5,000 to bolster expansion efforts.
These micro-grants follow a development philosophy that Carlson defined as “economic gardening,” placing emphasis on the consistent growth and expansion of local, stable businesses.

“You want to take care of what you currently have,” Carlson said. “So by offering loans or grants, you’re tending to your current businesses and acknowledging them for their importance.”

Many of the EDA’s efforts reflect a growing need for diversifying the tax base due to current over-reliance on residential property taxes. The EDA also hopes to make the economy more accessible for new business ventures by offering to meet gaps in financing through grant and loan programs, Carlson said.

Reunion has seen business flourish since its opening in June 2019. The restaurant has increased foot traffic in the surrounding downtown area, Jenkinson said.
Hideaway Coffeehouse and Wine Bar has also seen its number of customers rise in recent months, primarily due to spillover business from the opening of Reunion only a couple of shops away, owner Joan Spaulding said.

While business has increased for several downtown establishments, others, such as Ragstock and Antiques of Northfield, reported negligible increases since the opening of Reunion. Owner of Antiques Carol Christenson said that property tax rates have heightened for local businesses in recent years. The store has also seen its rent increase. However, Christenson noted that tax and rent increases are natural processes and wouldn’t necessarily be caused by a shift to higher density.

Carlson said the development of Fifth Street Lofts will revamp the downtown area, assuaging fears that growing density will drive out smaller businesses.
“I think it’s been a positive belief,” Carlson said. “It’s going to be pretty monumental to have 79 units a block off of Division, and having that many people in that area to drive small town, local businesses.”

Finally, Carlson, a St. Olaf graduate, is confident that a more accessible and revamped Northfield economy will attract students to the community.
“Sure, you can stay on Olaf, you can stay on Carleton’s campus as much as you want, but ultimately what’s driving that community is what the city’s doing,” Carlson said. “When it’s vibrant and active, the colleges themselves are benefitting from that vibrancy.”

Categories: Colleges

Reunion: Northfield’s newest student hub

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 6:41pm

There’s a new place downtown that’s shaking up the local bar and restaurant scene. Reunion is a polished casual restaurant serving American cuisine on Division Street. Although they have only been open since April, they have already made an impression, revamping their corner of Division Street and drawing flocks of college students each Thursday.

According to frequenters of the new eatery, Reunion has been successful at creating an upscale dining experience that keeps college students returning. Jack O’Hara ’20 remarked on the restaurant’s leather furniture and complimented the bar setup, outdoor patio and dance area. Jon Thomas ’20 and Luke Wallace ’20 also spoke favorably of the ambiance, layout and patio.

The chic, modern look was no mistake.

“Our original vision was to have a polished casual restaurant with an industrial-type feel to it,” said Reunion manager Chad Jenkinson. “We wanted the restaurant to be urban and rustic.”

The sleek interior design came on the back of a major remodel of the former J. Grundy’s Rueb ‘N’ Stein space in which three buildings were torn down. Reunion’s six-person ownership group, of which Jenkinson is a part, hired Northfield Construction Company as contractor and Dave Medin as architect. A $100,000 loan from the city helped finance the overhaul and went towards new sidewalks that meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, Jenkinson said.

The group also owns The Tavern of Northfield, another Division Street restaurant that recently closed after a fire damaged the interior. Repair work is underway, though there isn’t an opening date yet, Jenkinson said.

Similar to that of the Tavern, Reunion’s menu is dominated by protein-heavy American fare, much of which is cooked over a woodfire grill. It also features sandwiches, shareable plates and salads.

Most students, however, don’t come for the food. The bar’s happy hour and late-night happy hour specials are a bit more enticing. Happy hour is 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and late-night happy hour is 9 p.m. to close every day of the week.

Thanks in large part to the happy hour deals and chic interior, Reunion has supplanted Froggy Bottoms River Pub as the primary Thursday-night destination for drinking-age students. Froggy’s, now under new management, no longer hosts a DJ on Thursday nights and eliminated its Thursday-night special, contributing further to students’ shift towards Reunion. Froggy’s did not respond to requests for comment.

Jenkinson hopes Reunion can be both a gathering space for residents and a destination spot for visitors. He also hopes to support local businesses. Reunion buys its bread products from nearby Brick Oven Bakery, for instance, and gets its cakes from Cakewalk.
“I’ve been in the restaurant world for 27 years but when it comes to Reunion, what I like best is the community of Northfield and the support that we’ve received,” Jenkinson said. “Hearing people say that this is what Northfield needed is nice to hear.”

Categories: Colleges

College introduces new registration system

Manitou Messenger - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 6:36pm

The College’s course registration process is completely changing, with a first-come-first-serve “live registration” system replacing the current process fall 2020. The overhaul is meant to make registration simpler and less stressful.

The new system will allow students to immediately add courses to their schedule, provided they are open, College Registrar Ericka Peterson said. Once a course is added, it will remain in the student’s schedule.

Other changes to Student Information System (SIS) will accompany the registration overhaul, such as the ability to add preferred gender pronouns and indicate proper name pronunciation.

Live registration
Peterson compared the updated live registration system to online shopping – students will simply add open courses as they would in-stock shopping items. However, once a course is full, students can no longer add that course to their schedules, just as one can’t purchase a sold-out item online. As such, students will need a ‘plan B’ course in case a class they need is filled by the time they register. Waitlists for individual courses will remain accessible as they have in the past.

Under the current system, students list courses they want in their schedule during registration. They get added to these courses after the registration period according to factors like their class year.

The Registrar’s Office hopes the new system makes registration less stressful and more equitable for students.

“We’re really trying hard to meet students where they are and make it smoother, simpler, easier,” Peterson said.

The Registrar’s Office and a team from IT have held meetings over the course of the last year to create the new system, which will be modeled after systems used at other universities. The incoming class of 2023 and students taking summer classes tested the new system over the summer. They offered no complaints and were all able to find classes, even if they might not have gotten their first-choice for every slot, Peterson said.
As part of the implementation process, the system underwent stress testing to ensure students will be able to register without the site crashing.

The live system will open for seniors the first day, juniors the second and underclassmen the third and fourth. Throughout the week, students will be able to adjust their schedule provided the courses they want to add are open, Peterson said.

Preferred pronouns and pronunciation in SIS
Along with the update to registration, students can now add their preferred gender pronouns to SIS and can soon indicate their name pronunciation.

These pronouns will appear to faculty on their class rosters, advisee lists and the online directory.

Working with the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion, these changes come at the request of faculty and students, Peterson said.

Previously, faculty would have the option to ask students to share their preferred pronouns in class. This was distressing for some.

“Expecting everyone to announce their pronouns can be uncomfortable for those that don’t want to share,” Hannah Timm ’22 said.

In giving students the option to indicate their pronouns on SIS, the College seeks to bring more visibility to using correct gender pronouns and prevent faculty and students from misgendering others, said Assistant Director for Gender and Sexuality Jon Mergens.

The registrar’s office hopes to add the name pronunciation tool in December. The new feature will allow students to record themselves saying their name and upload the audio to SIS.

“I would love the pronunciation tool so I could practice on my own without putting it on the students and requiring them to correct me,” said Associate Professor of English Rebecca Richards.

Some students and faculty feel that mispronunciation creates a barrier by putting pressure on students to constantly correct professors and defend a part of their identity.
“My heritage is lost when my name is mispronounced,” Regina Vera Estrada ’22 said. “My name is really relevant because its part of who I am.”

These two new additions will ensure SIS accurately represents and expresses student identities.

“We’re really trying hard to meet students where they are and make it smoother, simpler, easier.”
– College Registrar Ericka Peterson

“At their core, both of these changes are directly tied to important aspects of someone’s identity,” Mergens wrote in an email. “Our hope is that these new features in SIS will provide students, faculty and staff with more information to decrease mis-gendering and mispronunciation of names on campus.”

Problems with current system
The current registration system comes with an unnecessary amount of stress, chaos and anxiety, Peterson said. Students often spend the days-long registration period anxiously checking their “projected results” to see whether or not they will get into their favored classes. These results change as more students register.

“It’s really stressful because I’m watching the numbers. I’m being kicked out,” Abby Lund ’22 said. “Then I’m back in and there’s no way of knowing if I’ll ultimately end up in the classes.”

However, some students like the longer, more relaxed time frame, saying it’s more equitable. Unforeseen occurrences, such as failing internet or personal events, may prevent students from being able to register the first day, Lizzie Strauss ’22 said.
Beyond provoking anxiety, the current system has also failed to register some students for required courses.

During registration last spring, over 100 seniors who planned to graduate in May had one or more GEs left because of an inability to register for courses fulfilling those GEs, Peterson said.

However, some students and faculty see this issue as a consequence of current class offerings and substantial GE requirements rather than the registration process itself.
“I think that more forethought could go into the planning of courses, both relating to timing and number of course offerings,” Henry Henson ’20 said. “For students with STEM majors, a major problem is finding ways to register for General Education requirements while simultaneously signing up for labs.”

Categories: Colleges

County records: jailer has history of mistreating inmates

Northfield News - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 5:15pm
A Rice County corrections officer charged with assaulting two jail inmates, seriously injuring one of them, has a history of troubling behavior, including mistreating inmates, harassing coworkers and lying when questioned about alleged policy violations.
Categories: Local News

Environmental Quality Commission Meeting

City of Northfield Calendar - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 3:49pm
Event date: November 20, 2019
Event Time: 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM
801 Washington Street
Northfield, MN 55057

City Council Work Session Meeting

City of Northfield Calendar - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 3:31pm
Event date: November 12, 2019
Event Time: 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM
801 Washington Street
Northfield, MN 55057

Give a gift that grows!

Give a gift that grows!

Before I get to my usual plug for our ever popular Knehct’s gift certificates, I want to give a little thanks!  It has been a busy growing season here at Knecht’s Nurseries & Landscaping!  As our hard working crew tackles the BIG job of preparing the nursery and plants for the Minnesota winter, we reflect on all we have, both individually and together.  We are thankful for the hard work and commitment of our staff, and for the loyalty and patronage of our customers and followers.  We look forward to continuing to grow with you next season!

Think of us as you make your holiday shopping or wish lists!  Knecht’s Gift Certificates make wonderful host & hostess gifts, are perfect for someone with a new or new-to-them home, are excellent stocking stuffers, and are about as green as you can get!  They are available for purchase in any amount, and they don’t expire!  You can purchase over the phone or in person during our open office hours, or we can mail them to you/your recipient.  It’s an easy way to give an experience and an actual gift, all at the same time!

November & December Office Hours:

November: Monday through Friday 8:00 – 4:30 Closed November 28th & 29th

December: Monday through Friday 9:00 – 2:00 Closed December 24th – Jan 5th

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Categories: Businesses

Mark Joseph on AWD, 11/6/19

KYMN Radio - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 12:27pm

He’s a musical legend in the making, and just happens to hail from Northfield! Such a treat to welcome back to the studio Mark Joseph (aka Mark Grundhoefer), who recently released a fantastic new solo album, The Musician and The Muse. Mark and his band (along with other special guests) will also be celebrating the

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Bump-outs hot button during Nfld council meeting; Phone scam uses Sheriff’s Dept. phone number; Blaze orange ‘color of the day’ for Saturday

KYMN Radio - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 12:02pm

By Teri Knight, News Director It passed but it wasn’t without designing from the dais. The Northfield City Council approved the 2020 Mill & Overly Street Project this week. The focus of the project will be on the northeast side of town, mainly in the area around Carleton. Another smaller area is off Jefferson Road,

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Northfield Rotary Cogwheel – Thursday, November 7, 2019

Northfield Rotary Club - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 10:36am

Today: Kim Fuhrmann, Classification (Maus)

Next Week: Trisha Duncan, Classification (Pursell)

Birthdays: Rotarians Around the World

Last Week:

District Governor Paul Perez – dressed as a Polio Plus superhero for Halloween – shared stories of the impact Rotary has had on him and his family. Paul’s wife Susan is an active Rotarian; their son Anthony was a Youth Exchange student in Germany, the same year their family hosted their first Rotary student. “I’ve grown so much in Rotary, and my family and I have had so many opportunities,” Paul says. “Every time I’ve said ‘Yes’ to Rotary, good things have happened.” 

Paul walked us through Rotary’s new vision statement – the first-ever statement drafted by Rotary International Board of Trustees and the Rotary Foundation together: “Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change — across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.” 

He talked about Rotary’s four focuses for this year:

Grow Rotary – more members, and also more giving to Rotary Foundation plus more and bigger service projects. 

Involve families – “Rotary should complement, not compete with, our families. We should be intentional about including our families” in socials and service projects.

Built pathways to District leadership – “We want to make the process easier. Members shouldn’t have to be retired [to have the time] to be District Governor.”

Strengthen Rotary’s partnership with the United Nations – In fact, 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the charter between Rotary and the U.N. Watch for activities to honor and strengthen that partnership.

Paul spoke to the core values of Rotary – fellowship, integrity, diversity, leadership and service. (His first test of service during his induction? Being served a raw egg. He ate it. “I guess that proved I have the stomach for Rotary,” Paul laughs.)

Paul not only plays a Polio Plus superhero on Halloween, he is one in real life: Paul and Susan traveled to India with Rotary to give polio vaccinations there. “You’d give a baby those two lifesaving drops, and you could just see the relief come over that mother’s face, that her child was safe from contracting the virus,” Paul recalls. 

“It’s really our own stories that show others the passion of Rotary.”


Jean Wakely stitched together a lovely little mini-classification about traveling with her daughter to speak at the American Quilt Study Group’s Seminar in Lincoln, Nebraska. Jean spoke to the group about her mother’s story quilts. 

Best Costume:

The Best Halloween Costume contest began with an auspicious 13 contenders . . . ultimately bested by Alyssa Herzog Melby as Rosie the Riveter.


Guest: Tim McCone (Quinnell)

Scholarship Enhancement: Ara Ruiz Gonzalez


• Jesse Steed invited volunteers to help with outbound student interviews on Dec. 2 (5:30-8:00 pm). Contact Jesse or Rachel Estrella if interested.

• Rick Estenson offered Turkey Trot yard signs – promote this great event in your own front yard! P.S. register for the run online at

• Jim Pokorney is rounding up Turkey Trot volunteers. Watch for his email with a SignUpGenius link.

• Robert Bierman knows there’s more to a healthy diet than just turkey: Turkey Trot is collecting donations for the food shelf this year. Participants and volunteers are asked to bring a food item (or more!) on Trot Day to donate to the food shelf.


Categories: Organizations

Comedian Jen Kober

KYMN Radio - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 10:14am

Comedian Jen Kober talks about her upcoming show, “Wine, Women & Comedy.” at the Paradise Theater for the Arts in Faribault on November 9. For more information and tickets, visit

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Gary Gilbertson and Bill Davis, Parts 1 & 2

KYMN Radio - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 9:50am

Former Northfield Pastor Gary Gilbertson and Bill Davis from Tampa Florida join Wayne in the studio.  Davis was once jailed next to Charles Manson and is now the founder of Bill Davis Ministries.    

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Rice Co. Sheriff Troy Dunn

KYMN Radio - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 9:50am

Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn describes a scam in which the Sheriff’s Department non-emergency number appears on the caller ID; he also provides tips for safety during deer hunting season, discusses an incident in which a Rice County jailer was charged with assault, and talks about a study to be conducted relating to space at

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Simmons Prepared Foods, Inc. recalls poultry products due to possible foreign matter contamination

KYMN Radio - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 7:24am

Class I Recall108-2019 Health Risk: HighNov 6, 2019 Congressional and Public Affairs Veronika Pfaeffle (202) 720-9113   WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2019 – Simmons Prepared Foods, Inc., a Gentry, Ark. establishment, is recalling approximately 2,071,397 pounds of poultry products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety

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Interest in soon-to-open Rice Co. solar garden growing

Northfield News - Wed, 11/06/2019 - 5:30pm
A new community solar garden will open soon, giving residents of four area counties the opportunity to save money on their Xcel Energy electric bills.
Categories: Local News

Rice Co. Sheriff Dunn warns of phone scam alert

KYMN Radio - Wed, 11/06/2019 - 4:23pm

MEDIA RELEASE – SCAM ALERT              FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  November 6, 2019 Contact Information: Troy D. Dunn, Sheriff   Tel.: 507-334-4391 Description of Incident:   This past week, a number of residents received phone calls from scammers identifying themselves as Sheriff’s Office staff and stating that they are following up on legal action.  They state that

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Sheriff: Calls representing his office are hoaxes

Northfield News - Wed, 11/06/2019 - 3:30pm
This past week, a number of residents received phone calls from scammers identifying themselves as the Rice County Sheriff’s Office staff and stating that they are following up on legal action.
Categories: Local News

Wine Tasting - Vinocopia

City of Northfield Calendar - Wed, 11/06/2019 - 1:35pm
Event date: November 22, 2019
Event Time: 04:00 PM - 07:00 PM
116 5th St W
Northfield, MN 55057
Join us for a free wine tasting with Vinocopia.

Vinocopia Wine and Spirits is a Minnesota wholesaler and distributor of the finest small-batch, craft and specialty wine and spirits brands from around the world. Family-owned and operated since 2006, Vinocopia represents more than 300 brands from nearly two dozen countries to the farthest corners of Minnesota.

Wine and Spirits Tasting - Vinocopia

City of Northfield Calendar - Wed, 11/06/2019 - 1:34pm
Event date: November 14, 2019
Event Time: 04:00 PM - 07:00 PM
116 5th St W
Northfield, MN 55057
Join us for a free wine tasting with Vinocopia.

Vinocopia Wine and Spirits is a Minnesota wholesaler and distributor of the finest small-batch, craft and specialty wine and spirits brands from around the world. Family-owned and operated since 2006, Vinocopia represents more than 300 brands from nearly two dozen countries to the farthest corners of Minnesota.

New dance series provides opportunity for radical self-care

St. Olaf College - Wed, 11/06/2019 - 1:28pm
A dance workshop series that "prioritizes self-care as urgent, proactive, and deeply intertwined with the body" gives students the opportunity to explore their identities in a way that employs tactics to better their mental health.
Categories: Colleges
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