St. Olaf holds Commencement, Seminars and Concerts

By Cate Grochala '06

click to enlargeCommencement is the culminating event of St. Olaf College's Celebration Weekend 2006—three days of events that begin today, May 26. The weekend will feature three learning seminars and three concerts, all of which are open to the public.

Commencement (open to the public if held outdoors at Manitou Field) will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 28. This year's commencement speaker is Peter Agre, recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Raised in Northfield, where his father was on the faculty at St. Olaf College, Agre went on to a successful career in medical research. In 1991 he discovered the channels that regulate the transport of water through cells, research that has led to a better understanding of many medical conditions and the Nobel Prize. Currently, Agre is vice chancellor for science and technology at Duke University Medical Center.

St. Olaf senior Breanna Peterson, who plans to continue her studies in nursing and public health at Emory University in the fall, will be the student speaker.

A public baccalaureate worship service will precede Commencement on Sunday at 9 a.m. in Skoglund Center Auditorium.

Read the rest of the story for more commencement events...

Sesquicentennial Executive Committee reunion

Click to enlargeSix months after the fact, the Northfield Sesquicentennial Executive Committee once again gathered to raise a glass to this fine community Wednesday evening at the Contented Cow.

Pictured [click photo to enlarge] are: Top row (l-r): David Gonnerman, Rob Schanilec, Bo Aylin, Dan Freeman, Debby Larsen and Dan Berguson. Bottom row (l-r): Jennifer Sawyer, Renee Huckle, Lora Steil, Candy Taylor and Brett Reese. Not pictured: Mark Fagerwick, Keith Covey and Geralyn Sheehan.

Richardson isn't going to Des Moines

Chris RichardsonOne of our readers passed along a story this morning from the DesMoines Register reporting that officials in Iowa's largest school district have selected Nancy Sebring as their new superintendent.

Northfield superintendant Chris Richardson, who grew up in DesMoines, was one of three finalists for the position. Richardson recently told the Northfield News that he didn't seek out the Iowa position and that if passed over for the job, he intended to remain in Northfield.

Weekend Entertainment and Events

Click to view PDFI know it's a long weekend, and you're thinking of leaving town, but you really should stay. There's a lot to do right here, and besides...your friends are here! A quick look at the Northfield Entertainment Guide (you can download it here or pick up a Guide at key spots around town) will tell you all you need to know.

Read the rest of this entry for the full scoop...

Rotary Honors WWII Vets

Click to enlargeToday's Rotary Meeting was dedicated to honoring the WWII Veterans in the Northfield Rotary Club and hear some stories that reminded us all of the sacrifices and dedication needed at a critical time on our planet to fight for the freedoms we enjoy.

Each of these men (click the photo to enlarge it) stood up to share a story or two with the group: (left to right) Bob Lampe, Earl Crow, Frank Cerny, Al Alberg, Orv Marks, Bob Will, Bill Culp, and Bob Reitz.

There's also photo gallery from the event.

Locally Grown features Mill Towns Trail, 2:30 pm Friday at The Hideaway

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We're taking our Locally Grown radio show/podcast to the streets this summer. This week, we're recording 2:30 PM Friday in back room at the newly opened James Gang Hideaway, 421 Division St. Our guest: Mill Towns Trail board member Peggy Prowe. Attend the recording session to help provide ambient background noise and maybe even participate.

The legislature just allocated $1 million dollars for the trail. I snapped the photo (above right) today after Northfield Rotary's lunch at the Northfield Golf Club. L to R: Rice County Commissioner Jessica Peterson, Faribault Councillor Carol King, Representative Patti Fritz, Peggy Prowe, Jim Schlicting, Representative Ray Cox, Mill Towns Trail Friends Chair Meg Otten, Senator Tom Neuville, Peter Stolley, Laurie Williams, Neil Lutsky. (Click all photos/images to enlarge.)

This week in the Northfield Blogosphere...

The 'Sphere is back again, and the theme this week is presented in haiku form:

bq. _Northfield, your profuse_
_writing makes my job easy._
_Keep up the good work._

People were in the writing mood; this week, we're looking at entries over 500 words. Even more inside...

Policy and Picnic...What a Combo!

Reminder: this event is TODAY.

Steve MorseThe public is invited to hear about gains for environmental quality achieved during the 2006 Minnesota Legislative session. Steve Morse, Executive Director of Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP), will address the topic and answer questions from 4-5:30 p.m., Thursday, May 25, at the Northfield Public Library.

Steve is a former state senator and a former deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Steve was elected to the State Senate the first time in 1986, representing the Winona area. For most of his 12 years in the Senate, he served as chairman of the Senate Environment and Agriculture Budget Division. He served in the DNR from 1999 to 2003.

You're invited to a mixer . . ., it's not one of these mixers, although this may be the more familiar variety during construction season.

It's one of those FUN MIXERS, where you can meet and greet your downtown neighbors and fellow lovers of downtown food, cash bar, plenty of socializing and stimulating conversation, hear the latest news, get motivated to make a difference or just kick back with your friends

The Northfield Downtown Development Corporation is sponsoring this event which will be held at the Tavern Lounge in the Archer House on Thursday, May 25, from 5 to 7 pm. Meet members of our Board of Directors, tell us what you really think and share whatever gossip you’ve heard. This event is free and open to the public.

Questions? Call 663-0319 for more info.

Dan Bergeson is president of the NDDC.

NHS Honors Art Students Present Their Final Show at the NAG

Click to enlargeThe Northfield High School Honors Art students are pleased to present their semester's body of work at their end-of-the-year show at the Northfield Arts Guild.  This year's show has been named "A Feast for the Eyes" and it will showcase the work of 13 senior artists.  The show will open on Thursday, May 25th and run through Saturday June 3rd.  There will be an opening artists reception on Saturday May 27th from 7-9 p.m.  The NHS women's choral group, Cattywampus, will be singing at the reception and there will be desserts and refreshments for everyone.  The reception is free and open to everyone.

The artwork that will be on display at the show was created during second semester. Each student in Honors Art had the opportunity to create a thematic series of work that embodied their individual interests in both mediums and concepts.  The artwork in the show represents the wide array of interests and mediums that the students chose to work with.  The art forms include:  acrylic paintings, watercolor paintings, mixed media, fashion design, ceramics, digital fim, graphite drawings, pastel drawings and Photoshop. 

The featured Honors Art artists include:  Nat Allister, Lotte Brackee, Emma Closser, Athena Currier, Josh Engen, John Fischer, Sarah Goldfeather, Derek Huber, Ali Kopseng, Josh Nelson, Riahl O'Malley, Anna Sweitzer and Caitlin Truax. 

All of the artists hope that you enjoy the show and greet them on Saturday night.

Katherine Norrie is an art teacher at Northfield High School. 

City faces tough choice on new theater

Editor's note: How many screens, how many cars, how much popcorn does it take to make money in the movie business today? Check back later for an in-depth interview with Steve Mann, one of the owners of the successful Twin Cities-based Mann Theatres chain.

Southgate CinemaAnyone who thinks small town government isn't a challenge is nuts. I've been covering small towns for many years and the questions they decide often leave them in a no-win situation—with friends and neighbors on both sides. They're decisions I wouldn't want to make.

For example, lots of cities face zoning issues where community officials know that a developer can take a lucrative project to another city if they don't approve it. Rarely, however, does the developer have the option of moving a mere 80 feet away to get to that other community.

That's the philosophical debate the City Council will face in June when they receive a Planning Commission recommendation to refuse a change in the Comprehensive Plan to allow commercial zoning for about seven acres of land along Highway 3 across from Target. The change is the first step needed for landowner James Gleason and a developer to build a multi-screen movie theater complex.

James Gang Hideaway is open!

Joan and Jim SpauldingHey Northfield tastebuds – you now have some fresh and flavorful options such as grilled asparagus, brie, roasted red peppers, with a basil pine nut pesto or fajita chicken, grilled zucchini, roasted red onions, topped with provolone cheese and pesto mayo – both on ciabatta bread and hot off a pannini grill. That’s the sort of fare being offered at the James Gang Hideaway now open downtown on Division Street.

Co-owners Joan and Jim Spaulding (pictured) also operate the James Gang Coffeehouse on Highway 3. They’ve brought over many of the mainstays from that enterprise and added a whole lot more.  “Our appetizers are not your standard fare,” says Joan, offering olive tapenade, basil pine nut pesto and Italian oils and bread for dipping as examples. The HideAway also provides deli service with fresh pastas and pre-wrapped sandwiches to “grab and go.”

Their wine and beer list is unique to the area, too. They have selected “the best of very good products.” By limiting their list to a dozen or so wines and half a dozen beers, they’re confident they’ll be able to give their customers quality beverages at a reasonable price.

Minnesota's Future: More Walkers than Wagons

Tom Gillaspy at LWV forumUpdate: Tom Gillaspy's presentation is attached.

Take a look at the future of Minnesota and you'll see more people with walkers than with wagons. There will be more immigrants—though not nearly as many as in the beginning of the last century—from more countries than ever. And as they have for the last 60 years, Baby Boomers will again change the state and the country to suit their needs. It's a future that clashes with our view of the United States.

"That's how we define ourselves, as a youthful nation," said Minnesota State Demographer Tom Gilllaspy at yesterday's League of Women Voters 4th Monday event at the Northfield Public Library.

It's hard to make statistics come alive, but Gillaspy held the audience with a staggering, if not entirely surprising, series of key demographic illustrations. For example, the state labor force is expected to grow to 421,000 by 2010, but it will grow by only 175,000 workers between 2010 and 2020. By 2020 there will be more people in Minnesota aged 65 and older than there will be children under 18.

The two factors above will push the state and the country to deal with a shift from education services to healthcare services. They also point out the reality that we will not have enough workers to support the number of people heading into retirement.

It's time for you to 'Choose Your News!'

Listening sessions planned to get your feedback about

Well, we've been telling you this is your website. And now it's time for you to tell us what you want to see on it! Let's just call it the Choose Your News campaign, because we're out to win you over in a big way.

The board members of Northfield Citizens Online (the group that runs and I will be hosting listening sessions over the next few weeks to determine what kind of content you want to see—and what kind of stories, photos, essays and commentaries you'd like to write. The first session will be Tuesday, May 23, at the Contented Cow. I'll be there at 7 p.m. and I'll stay as long as you have something to talk about.

Here's your chance to have your say. Want more sports news? A political page full of debate and conversation? Should we add letters to the editor, or guest commentaries, or maybe both? How about wedding announcements?

Just for fun, what if we ask you to use your digital and cell phone cameras to send photos from your vacation, from town events, from your favorite fishing spot after you land the big one? Will you do it? Do you want to see those pictures from your friends and neighbors?

Peterson campaign Northfield kick-off Thursday

Click to visit campaign websiteThe Contented Cow will be the site for the official Northfield kick-off for Jessica Peterson and her campaign for State Senate. This public event will be from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, this Thursday, May 25.

Everyone is invited to this open-house event. It will be a good chance for people to meet the candidate, ask questions, express concerns, volunteer to help out, and generally mingle with others who want to see Northfield once again have progressive representation in the state legislature.

Scott Covey is Jessica Peterson's campaign manager

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