Everything else in Northfield

Ad hoc group explores options for Northfield's energy future

An ad hoc group exploring creative options for meeting the Northfield area's future energy needs met Wednesday (Jan. 24) in the city council chambers of City Hall. The group heard presentations from Steve Downer, associate executive director of the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association, and Anders Rydaker, president of District Energy St. Paul.

The group included representatives of City government (elected officials and staff), Bridgewater Township, Dakota County, Carleton and St. Olaf colleges, Malt-O-Meal, RENew Northfield, The Science Center at Maltby Nature Preserve, and interested citizens.

Kushka finds her way home to Shepherd's Way Farms

I have great news to report from Steven and Jodi Read at Shepherd's Way Farms.

Last Tuesday I posted a story about Kushka, their white Tatra/Mastiff, who slipped out of her collar outside Countryside Vet Clinic in Dundas. Once free, she made like Audrey Hepburn in "Roman Holiday" and slipped away.

Jodi e-mailed today that Kushka has returned! Jodi wrote:

"Amazingly, she came home yesterday! Sunday afternoon she simply showed up at the farm. She is exhausted but in wonderful shape. She knows where she lives, apparently!"

Kushka is being as mysterious as a Hollywood celebrity about her adventure. So unless the tabloid photos show up, we'll never know.

Good news for health and fitness fans

Northfield.org launches health and fitness team
Meet Jeff Woods Tuesday to share your ideas

I don't have to tell you that Northfield is full of interesting people.

Take Jeff Woods, shown here as we had coffee at Blue Monday to talk about an idea of his. Jeff has volunteered to write a regular column about fitness. A personal trainer and the owner of The Bodysmith in downtown Northfield, he can fill a lot of columns on his own. But we also want to share news about what other businesses, organizations and individuals are doing to stay healthy and help others do so.

We'll be meeting at 2 p.m. this Tuesday at the Hideaway to talk more about how this new project can take shape. Kitty Runzheimer, a fitness expert at the Northifeld Senior Center and Carleton College, will be there as well. There's no charge to business owners who want to share information about their services on Northfield.org, and we're happy to have anyone stop in to share ideas, ask questions or pass along news. If you can't come, send me an email or leave a comment below.

YMCA will offer first programs in February

Have you ever seen footprints in the snow and wondered where they came from or where they end? The Northfield Area Family YMCA offers "Animal Tracking" for children ages 7-9, on Saturdays from 1–2:30 p.m., beginning February 3 at the Sibley Marsh and Prairie. Children will be led by a naturalist from River Bend Nature Center as they explore animal behavior and lifestyles by observing the trails they use and the tracks they leave behind.

Como se dice...? Susan Hvistendahl can teach you

Have you ever thought of learning Spanish?

I'm thinking about it myself, especially after meeting Susan Hvistendahl, who has taught continuing education Spanish for more than 25 years. She's offering three separate six-week series of Spanish classes, starting the last week of January in the Community Room of the Village on the Cannon.

"Profesora Susana," as she calls herself, is a soft-spoken, cheerful woman. She has been offering these classes for residents in the Northfield area since the fall of 2005, when she moved back here from New York. Susan is a graduate of St. Olaf, but also studied at the University of Vera Cruz in Jalapa, Mexico, while living with a Mexican family.

There probably won't be any snow days, since Susan lives in a condo right in the building, which is at 301 West 7th Street. She gave me a tour of the place and of the sunny meeting room where classes will be held. "People like learning in a casual atmosphere," she says, noting that there are no tests and no grades, just a chance to explore the language and culture.

Shepherd's Way gains a barn, loses a dog

January has been a time of good news and bad for Steven and Jodi Read of Shepherd's Way Farms. Jodie e-mailed me pictures and story today about their most recent project, moving a barn onto their land to replace one destroyed by arson late in 2005. She also had more immediate news about their sheep guard dog, Kushka.

First, here's the news about Kushka...

On Tuesday morning, Kushka, a 130+ pound white Tatra/Mastiff dog slipped out of her collar outside Countryside Vet Clinic in Dundas. A sheep guard dog who lives on the farm, Kushka is not accustomed to traffic or city activity. She ran toward the woods behind the Kwik Copy and disappeared.

Kushka is gentle and friendly but barks loudly at unfamiliar people and cars. She may be skittish and run when approached.  Please call 612-306-4211 with any sightings or information. Reward offered for her safe return.

Now, here's the news about the move...

Biofuels expert Jason Hill to speak Thursday at St. Olaf

Submitted by Janet Petri

On Thursday, January 18, Dr. Jason Hill of the Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, will speak on “Biofuels Basics: Energetics, Expectations, Environment, and Economics”. The talk will take place at St. Olaf College in the Science Center, Room 282, from 7 to 8:30 PM.

Dr. Hill formerly taught at St. Olaf, and studies corn and grass-based ethanol, and soy biodiesel production. He has coauthored recent papers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and in Science magazine. His research on biofuels was widely covered in the media, including many newspapers and National Geographic News. (Editor's note: Just Google his name and "ethanol" and you'll be amazed at who's interested in what he says.)

This event is sponsored by League of Women Voters of Northfield, Cannon River Watershed Partnership, St. Olaf College Environmental Coalition, and St. Olaf College Department of Environmental Studies.

Carleton students are looking for Northfield(.org) stories

The weather was cold, but the reception was warm Monday as I met with students in John Schott's new media class at Carleton College.

The students are going to spend the next two weeks looking for stories they can post on Northfield.org. The idea, of course, is to get them some practice in working in an online setting, from shaping a story in a few paragraphs to working with links and impossibly small photo sizes (see the one I took above). The other piece of the project is a challenge, a way to get them to get off campus to see what they've been missing, take a new look at something they've taken for granted, or answer a question that has been playing in their heads like a bad TV jingle.  

Here's where you can help. Each student has to write two stories, short or long, funny or serious. They need ideas, they need questions -- and they need people who can answer questions. For example, one student is wondering, if Northfield is the town of Cows, Colleges and Contentment, where are all the cows?

SCUBA certification class begins Wednesday

Northfield Public Schools Community Services Division has an exciting SCUBA opportunity. By taking the SCUBA Open Water Certification Class, participants will become certified to dive the underwater world.  The SCUBA Open Water Certification Class is held on Wednesdays, January 17 – February 21.

For more information or to register for this class, stop at the Northfield Public Schools Community Services Division office located on the first floor of the Northfield Community Resource Center (NCRC) at 1651 Jefferson Parkway in Northfield, call 664-3649, or go online to www.nfld.k12.mn.us and follow the Community Services link.  Space is limited, so register today.

It's time to get out of the house!

What are we going to do now that winter has arrived?!!

You can choose from lots of great classes offered through Community Services.

  • Pick up cooking skills in How to Boil Water; Jan 16.
  • Get underwater in the SCUBA Certification class; Jan 17.
  • Learn American Sign Language Jan 18.
  • Pound on those keys with Intro To Blues Piano Jan. 20.
  • Sock some money away in a mattress with Making Sense of Retirement.
  • And don't forget about the first Friday Family Fun Night, Jan. 26, at Greenvale Park Elementary School.

This Week in the Northfield Blogosphere - Baby, It's Cold Outside

We're back for another teeth-chattering, ear-freezing, car-not-starting edition of the 'Sphere. It's finally, finally cold enough for extended winter activities, which makes some of us rejoice and others grumble. Fortunately, reading is still an all-weather sport, so pour some hot chocolate on the keyboard and shut the world out for a while...

Bill Ostrem addresses the previous warm weather with a post about Paul Douglas and Global Warming...

Paul Douglas, the senior meteorologist at the WCCO television in the Twin Cities, continues to impress me with his scientific take on global warming. See his comments on last year’s weather and warming trends in his StarTribune weather column today

Fishing and Thinking in Minnesota stays tangentially on the topic by discussing ethanol, farming, and conversational snippets...

Photo Contest Winners Announced: Mary Mueller

Christmas photo contestNow that Christmas is over and things have gotten back to normal, it's a good time to announce the winner of our Christmas Photo Contest: Mary Mueller.  Her still life of a snowboarder catching some air in her living room beat out many other very good pictures to win.  You can see the full gallery if you click here.

Congratulations to Mary and many thanks to all the others who entered.  Keep an eye on Northfield.org for more exciting contests and give-aways!

NCO Board to set plans for 2007

The board of Northfield Citizens Online, the group that runs this little website, will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at Carlson Capital Management.

We have a lot of good ideas for the year ahead, from environmental and health columns to online book clubs, in-person issues salons and and arts and authors sections. We will be prioritizing all the projects, setting timelines and lining up volunteers to help make them happen.

If you have ideas or comments, please send them our way and we'll add them to the mix!

Immigration raids spark work on city emergency plan

Federal raids in December targeting undocumented workers in Minnesota and across the country have sparked serious concerns in the area’s Latino community. Hundreds gathered in Worthington over the weekend to show support for families affected there. WCCO-TV has a complete list of stories related to the raids and their impact.

But the issue of emergency planning reaches beyond immigrant famlies. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina showed how easy it is to lose important documents, bank accounts, cash, and most importantly, family members, in a crisis.

Now a group of Northfield leaders are working on plans that will help them — and everyone — deal with emergencies they hope they never encounter. Last Friday more than a dozen people, from the superintendent of schools and police chief to representatives of social agencies and churches met to take the first steps in creating a community emergency plan.

League creates handy list of local meeting spaces

Did you ever try to set up a meeting, then drew a blank when trying to determine the perfect place? Who has rooms available? How big are they? What are the fees?

It can be maddening, especially when there are so many places ready and waiting for you to use. At least 27 places, according to some interesting information just collected by the League of Women Voters. Margit Johnson of the League sent along the complete list, which you can download here as either a Word doc or a PDF file.

Margit says: 

"The impetus for this list came from a meeting at the Public Library last summer. That meeting room is constantly in demand while other meeting places are underutilized.

Also the LWV thought that community members would appreciate a "one-stop shop" resource for information about locations, capacity, contact numbers, and details. We hope that you and others find this list useful. Updates will be forthcoming as needed."

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