Items related to the running of Northfield

Send us your holiday news!

Once again the holidays are upon us, with Thanksgiving just ahead and a host of others following close behind.

Please share your holiday news. Is your church or organization holding a special holiday meal, a campaign to provide food or toys to families or a community music program?

Is your business offering special holiday hours, shopping services, delivery or shipping options or other great reasons to shop here? Is your restaurant offering seasonal menu items, entertainment or other holiday specials? We'd love to hear from the local business organizations, but we also are happy to hear from individual businesses.

You can post the information yourself, just by clicking on the Submit News link at left. If you have questions or need help, just e-mail me at and I'll get back to you.  

And, as always, we'd love to see your family photos, your thoughts about the holidays and any other ideas that pop into your heads. You can join one of the conversations in the new Forums at left or start one of your own.

Park Board Supports Creation of a Nonmotorized Transportation Advisory Board

Northfield’s Park and Recreation Advisory Board has voted to support the creation of a Nonmotorized Transportation Advisory Board. Creation of a new board still requires City Council approval.

Discussion at the Park Board meeting last Tuesday included how the two boards might work together, how the new board might help the city, and the challenges of getting City Council approval. Attending the meeting as advocates in support of the resolution were myself; Bruce Anderson, Executive Director of RENew Northfield; John Stull, board member of the Mill Towns Trail and former mayor of Northfield; Charley Skinner; and Dave Davison. Each advocate made valuable contributions to the discussion. Special thanks to all for their support and to the Park Board for its favorable vote.

Note: A slightly different version of this post can be found at

Ciy Hall Insider

Al Roder

City Administrator Al Roder has prepared a detailed report of everything that went on at  City Hall last week. Everything's here, from police activity statistics to street closings and budget meetings.

Just click here to read the pdf version of the report. You need Acrobat Reader to read the file. And head to the City Hall site to check out the complete city events calendar and find the agendas and other details for all meetings.

This week...

It's a short week, with City Hall closed Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving.

City Council, 7 p.m. Regular meeting. City Hall.

Charter Commission
, 5:30 p.m. City Hall.
Environmental Quality Commission, 7 p.m. City Hall.
Library Board, 7:30 p.m. Northfield Public Library.

City seeks comments about rental home issues

Submitted by Brad Kmoch

Editor's note: This story was published earlier, but City Clerk Deb Little e-mailed to let us know that there is no public hearing scheduled on Nov. 20. There is a City Council meeting, and residents are allowed to speak on issues, even when they aren't on the agenda. The city is involved in a long process to balance the concerns of landlords and neighbors of rental housing, particularly in the areas near the colleges.

Do you have any houses in your neighborhood that are for sale or might be in the near future and might be bought by a rental-developer?  How would you feel about that?

The Northfield City Council plans to hold a public hearing regarding changes to the existing rental codes in Northfield on Monday, November 20, 2006 at 7 p.m.  Please attend this meeting to let the city council know about your concerns.

In this past week a group of 30 to 40 landlords met with the city and declared that there are no problems with rental properties in Northfield or with the present ordinances and asked that the city drop all plans for changes to the ordinances.

If you are concerned about the general quality of our neighborhoods or if you are concerned about these problems moving into your neighborhood please let the city council know about your concerns.  Even if you are not able to speak at the meeting your presence is still crucial to show the council the level of concern in the community.

We've set up a forum for you to discuss this issue - click here to visit it. 

Recount Results: Voting Machines Win!

recount2006The vote tabulators counted and we recounted.

I had the priviledge of sitting in on both the Rice County election review and the Rice County Commissioner District 2 recount today. Both Rice County precincts selected at random for post-election review passed with flying colors with results matching those of the vote-tabulator machines.

The recount of the race between Galen Malecha and Betsey Buckheit also showcased the accuracy of the machines with a net change of only one vote. The post-recount unofficial results show Galen with 2,040 votes and Betsey with 2,031 votes.

I 'blogged in more detail at

Photo courtesy of Betsey Buckheit.

Share the fun -- and your ideas -- at NCO annual meeting

It's that time of year...time to celebrate our accomplishments, thank our friends and plan our next adventures.

And you're all invited along for the fun. That's right. It's time for the Northfield Citizens Online annual meeting, Thursday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. at Carlson Capital Management. Paying members are special guests, but everyone who reads the site is welcome. No reservations are required, but we'd love to know if you're coming so we can plan refreshments. (We don't want to blow our tiny budget on cookies and then have to eat them all ourselves.)

You can come and meet and vote on our new board members, hear our plans for the new year -- and add your ideas and opinions. (Be warned that people with ideas get to help implement them.)

We'll have reports available in writing and will post them online after the meeting, so we can keep the business meeting short. We'll be around to show you how to post a story or join an online discussion.
But most of the evening will be devoted to fun, good conversation and a good start to 2007.

Recounting, rehashing, rebounding after elections

The election may be over, but there’s still work to do in recording the results – and an outside chance that some of those results may change.

In fact, two close races in the Northfield area are up for recounts. And while the supporters of a successful school district levy campaign are done with their original task, organizers say they plan to continue working on school issues.

Slim pickings
At 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Rice County Auditor/Treasurer will conduct a recount of the County Commissioner District 2 race between Galen Malecha and Betsey Buckheit. Malecha defeated Buckheit 2,041 to 2,031. The 10-vote margin was less than the .05 percent needed for an automatic recount. County Auditor Franx said it is unlikely that recounts will overturn an unofficial total, but they serve a purpose. “The candidates can watch,” he said. “They feel satisfied at the end of the process.” The public is welcome as well.

December duel
David Bly and Ray Cox also face an automatic recount of their race, in which three-time DFL challenger Bly finally won, 9,292 to 9,235. But the new count won’t happen until after Thanksgiving. Kent Kaiser, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office, said the State Canvassing Board will meet next Tuesday in St. Paul to verify the results and set recounts in three races. The recounts will take place in St. Paul. A fourth state recount will happen in Dakota County because the legislative seat is completely within the county boundaries. When districts include more than one county, the state handles the recount.

City to consider Non-Motorized Transportation Board

At the next meeting of the Northfield Park and Recreation Advisory Board - which will be held on Tuesday, November 14, at 7 p.m. at the Northfield Community Resource Center - Bruce Anderson and I will ask for the Board's support for creating an official city Nonmotorized Transportation Advisory Board. We propose that such a group would assist the city with planning and implementation of its trail plans, help to coordinate a Safe Routes to School program, and do other activities that would improve nonmotorized transportation in Northfield.

Other cities have created such boards. The documents we submitted to the Park Board reference similar boards in these six communities, the first two being about the same size as Northfield: Bainbridge Island, Washington; Brunswick, Maine; Davis, California; Columbia, Missouri; Kent, Washington; and Madison, Wisconsin.

Anyone interested in joining us at the meeting would be welcome. Your support will be even more crucial if and when we go to the city council for their approval of a Nonmotorized Transportation Advisory Board. Look for more info here on when that may be.

The new Booker has arrived!

Editor's Note: Our old friend, Griff Wigley also managed to get some photos of the new Booker. You can check them out here.

City employees TJ and Ryan picked up the "new to us" bookmobile in Ohio yesterday and drove it back to Northfield.  Library staff and some Friends of the Library were on hand to get a first look at the new vehicle as it arrived at the City Street Shop last night.  It is nice, clean and very white! 

You can get a look at the NEW BOOKER at the Friends of the Library at the annual meeting on Thursday, November 16, at 6:30 p.m. in the library meeting room. This year we will have three great reasons for coming to the meeting. 

1. Henry Emmons (above, left) will be on hand to discuss his book "The Chemistry of Joy".
2. Our new book bus will be here for your inspection.
3. We will have our annual update on our last year's amazing accommplishments. Plus! we will elect our officers for next year.

Northfield Elections from Within

So, we made it. Adverts are over; votes are placed; and results are in. It’s time to look back and see what happened and speculate as to what the results mean.

As the head election judge for Northfield’s Ward 4 Precinct 2, I had the privilege of watching the election from within the system. We had some surprises, a little controversy, some close calls and a little history in-the-making – all things that excite policy caring folks like me.

Unofficial numbers show Bly, Neuville, Malecha win

Editor's note: 7:30 a.m. We will have a complete list of results posted soon. The big update this morning is that the school district excess levy proposal passed handily, with 52.86 percent in favor and 42.45 percent opposed.

OK, the modems at City Hall didn't work, so the official results are dragging, but the very unofficial numbers show Democrat David Bly and Republican Tom Neuville ahead in squeakers, with Galen Malecha ahead of Betsy Buckheit by only 10 votes in their race for the Rice County Board.

The numbers that appear on the Secretary of State's website show:

State Senate
Tom Neuville: 16,730
Jessica Peterson: 15,500

State Representative
David Bly: 9,292
Ray Cox: 9,235

Rice County Board:
Galen Malecha: 2,041
Betsy Buckheit: 2,031

Northfield City Council: Ward 4
Jon Denison: 780
Victor Summa: 731

Northfield City Council: At Large
Noah Cashman: 3,655
Terry Gersemehl: 1,891

Kids choose Pawlenty, Klobuchar, pass school tax

Northfield's youngest voters were as split as their elders, but narrowly supported Gov. Tim Pawlenty in his bid for a second term. They also split their tickets, giving Amy Klobuchar a solid victory in her first bid for the Senate.

The Kids Voting project drew 1,089 kids to the polls, about half the number who voted in the presidential election two years ago.

Hundreds of volunteers fanned out through the polling places to handle the voting process, then about three dozen counted ballots by hand.

Pawlenty beat Mike Hatch 39 percent to 37 percent, with 25 percent voting for other candidates. Klobuchar won with a 53 percent majority. Democrat Jessica Peterson and Republican Ray Cox won the youth vote, while Betsy Buckheit beat Galen Malecha in the race for Rice County Board.

The kids voted for the Northfield School District's tax levy proposal by a  sound 69 percent majority.

You can download the full Excel spreadsheet of the results below. You can click on the photo to see a gallery of photos on the Kids Voting project.

Share your election news, then party with us

Here are some photos of the crowds on hand when the polls opened this morning at St. Mark's Church. Pretty impressive. There were 15 young voters taking part in Kids Voting in that precinct before school started. (Thanks to better half, who was volunteering, for the photos and info.)

What's the turnout in your precinct? How do you think your candidate will do? How do you feel about the national results? Are you just glad it's over?

We want to know.

This is a citizen-produced site, so we depend on citizens like you to help make our election day coverage complete. Just like you all shared great photos and comments on that big hailstorm, we'd like you to share your thoughts, your photos, your political rants. Enter a comment now. Come on down to the Contented Cow tonight and enter them in person. We'll show you how. Or just follow the directions on this home page and send your photos to us. You can even call with information. Just call me at 612-227-0071.

It's not too late for a crash course on elections

Editor's note: We're leaving this post at the top of the page to make it easy to find, so look for new stories below. And join us election night. You can view the results in real time here, or you can join the crew down at the Contented Cow, where we will be discussing outcome -- and celebrating the end of one of the most unpleasant election seasons in memory.

The election is almost here, but even if you’ve been avoiding politics this season, there’s still time to catch up on the candidates and the issues.

In fact, there’s so much information out there and the voting process is so easy, there’s really no reason to skip out and leave the rest of us to decide your future. Here's the last-minute news you can use:

Kids Voting gives young citizens a voice

Dozens of volunteers will be at the polls Tuesday to help voters who are years away from casting their ballots officially. They're part of the Kids Voting movement, a national effort that teaches kids about democracy—and lets thousands of kids cast ballots right along with the parents.

I am familiar with the Kids Voting effort in northern Minnesota and I can tell you it does more than teach kids about voting. Having kids involved is a powerful tool to get adults to the polls.

Rev. Joseph Crippen, pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church, local actor and all-around busy guy, is the leader of the Northfield volunteers this year. Rick Estenson, VP of First National Bank and an outgoing member of our own board, graciously offered the meeting space at his rural home for the training.  

I talked to Joseph on Monday as he nailed down the final details. 

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