In what is perceived as a social stigma in a two-college town, members of Northfield Southwest Neighborhood Association (NSWNA) have filed a discrimination law suit against the City of Northfield for it’s refusal to replace the four street signs in the neighborhood which have the words ‘W Nineth St’ on them in stead of ‘W Ninth St.’
Three of the neighbors in particular are perturbed because they are accomplished spellers, finishing 2nd as a Northfield Rotary team in the Friends of the Northfield Public Library Spelling Bee in 2007. NSWNA neighbors Jeb Flufkin, Ricky Coldman, and Mitch ‘Penny’ Lane say that its not just the image of the neighborhood that’s at stake.
"Northfield is known for it’s educational values and the value of our homes in the neighborhood are likely to be negatively effected the longer that we have to live under this cloud of misspelling," said Flufkin. "My stomache just churns when I drive down the street every day and see those signs."
The group has retained the services of Northfield attorney Dave Hviscerate. "This is yet another sign of the incompetence at City Hall, and their intransigence is unconscionable. How hard or expensive could it be to change four signs? These people have suffered enough. Residents of 9th St. east of Division don’t have to put up with this embarrassment. Neither should those west of Division."
Ward 4 Councilor Jesse Anderson Black declined to comment on the suit but Public Works Director and City Engineer Jose Staphylo said it was with out merit. "We know their misspelt and we plan to fix them. But its not cheap. We tentatively have it in the department budget for 2014. Its not like people will be unable to navigate the neighborhood in the meantime."
Below are photos of the Ninth St. signs west of Division St.
When KYMN Radio and Northfield Patch began sounding the alarm at around 6 am that one of the suspects had fired at police officers and fled, members of the Northfield Police Department assumed that citizens would respond in droves to help capture one of the suspects who was still at large and believed to be in the Sechler Park area.
By time the Northfield News began covering the story several hours later, gloom was apparent on the faces of the police officers on duty. “We had extra department staff ready to handle the flood of citizen volunteers by deputizing them and issuing them firearms,” said Taylor Marcus, Northfield’s Public Safety Director. “No one showed up. No one emailed. No one tweeted. We had no choice to but to call other law enforcement agencies for help. It was embarrassing.”
When the suspect was finally apprehended mid-morning, the Defeat of Jesse James Days and Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce boards of directors were already in an emergency joint session. “It’s a Category 4 public relations nightmare,” said Chamber Executive Director Marie Schmaltzy. “If word of this colossal failure of our citizens to respond gets out, we’re likely to see a devastating impact on attendance at DJJD next year.”
“I’m not surprised at all,” said Dewayne Reddy, DJJD board member. “Northfielders have essentially become a bunch of yellow-bellied, lily-livered, milk-toasted, panty-waisted wimp chickens. We’ve been riding on the courage of the town’s ancestors from the 1876 bank raid for over 100 years and we’re now morally bankrupt, no pun intended. It’s a sad day. I feel like turning in my spur.”
Noting that the weapon used in today’s robbery had not yet been found, KYMN radio’s Jim Friedman, organizer of the annual DJJD Horseshoe Hunt, said he would attempt to mobilize the citizenry in the morning to help find the suspect’s gun. When asked what he would do to motivate people to participate, Friedman said, “I haven’t got a clue.”
The issue surfaced over the summer after a revised pool apparel policy was approved in the spring (see Revisions to outdoor pool rules now in draft), the result of a 2011 controversy involving a complaint by a parent who was told she had to put a swimsuit top on her three-year-old daughter while at the pool.
While that issue was resolved before summer, news from Seattle surfaced in June that a breastless cancer survivor was told by the Seattle Parks and Recreation department that she could not swim topless in public pool.
When two local residents inquired about Northfield’s swimsuit policy for breastless women, they were told that the issue had never come up. In August, the PRAB appointed David Viscousdahl, Lyle Nuzky, and Gracie Quark to a task force to study the issue. They presented their recommendation to the board last night.
"We think the vast majority of Northfield residents would find it uncomfortable to view the chest of a breastless woman at a public pool," said Quark. "But to head off future controversy and to level the playing field, we recommend a policy requiring men with enlarged breasts to cover them up with a mansierre while at the pool." Quark then held up a photo of Jack Nicholson and said, "Besides, man boobs are an eyesore anyway."
When PRAB chair Knute Nathanial asked how pool staff would go about enforcing such a policy, Viscousdahl cited the Ann Lander’s pencil test. "That type of test should work equally well for men. Plus, pencils are cheap and in-service training would be minimal. I’m happy to be the practice subject for the lifeguards, no charge."
PRAB members then discussed whether more input from the public was needed. "We’ve interviewed lots of people," said Nuzky. "It’s no secret that we’ve been studying this. Anyone who was truly interested would have contacted us by now or shown up for tonight’s meeting."
Hearing no comments from the assembled residents, the PRAB unanimously approved the measure. It will go into effect for the 2013 summer season.
"We felt it was important to save a piece of Northfield history and to have it stick out right outside our door," said Hayes ‘Gabby’ Scriver, Northfield Historical Society board member.
"There was stiff opposition to the project for a while," wrote Ava Gina, Chair of the Northfield Arts and Culture Commission in an email to Locally Grown. "We went to great lengths to make our case. It was hard. In the end, we believed strongly that inserting this design into the most pubic [sic] space of Northfield was in the best interest of all."
The revamped Northfield Target store will include a Starbucks coffeeshop (Nfld News article here, Nfld Patch article here). They plan to sell a lot of coffee, evidently, because earlier this week, oceangoing containers filled with coffee arrived in the north parking lot. Jeesh.
The 2011 national survey results from the Monitoring the Future study show decreases in teen smoking in all three grades under study—grades 8, 10, and 12. The proportion saying that they smoked at all in the prior 30 days fell significantly for the three grades combined, from 12.8% in 2010 to 11.7% this year.
Officials from the City of Northfield this week, while acknowledging that this is good news for obvious reasons, expressed some concern because the Northfield Municipal Liquor Store profits from its sale of cigarettes and cigars.
"These teens are our potential future customers," said Juan Morefore DeRhode, Muni Manager. "If this trend holds up, we’re going to have to revisit the revenue projections in our long-range plan and adjust accordingly."
When asked what marketing strategies he’d consider that might help to ensure future tobacco revenues, DeRhode said he continues to have discussions with the gift shop at the Northfield Hospital, owned by the City of Northfield but operated by the Northfield Hospital Auxiliary. "We’ve always said that one of the reasons we carry tobacco products at the Muni is for the convenience of the customer. That rationale holds up for the hospital’s gift shop, too, with so many of its patients addicted to tobacco. We’d be delighted to work with them and split the profits."
"Tobacco will prematurely kill the kids who smoke but only when they get much older," said Task Force member Dr. Kirsten Mashton. "So we’re not really concerned about that. Our worries are tied to the revenue projections. We received $15,750 in 2011 from the Muni. If the decline in teen smoking continues, that jeopardizes our future funding and our ability to make an impact."
The City’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) is also concerned. "We worked hard to bring two tobacco businesses to Northfield in the past year," said EDA President Janis Tappan. "It would be a shame if Tobacco Field or Division Tobacco took a hit from this decline in teen smoking and had to close."
Northfield City Administrator Tim Madagascar announced last week in his Weekly Memo that City Hall will open for business at midnight (12:01 am) on Black Friday.
"Since it’s the busiest shopping day of the year, our customers—sometimes known as citizens—are demanding that we be responsive," Madagascar said. " Northfield Target is opening at midnight and we want to be ready to serve those folks who might want to apply for a license, make a reservation, or submit an application for the council vacancy when they’re done shopping. It’s part of our mission—striving for excellence, committed to service."
"My Board of Directors thinks it’s an opportunity for us to tell the out-of-towners who will be heading to Northfield Target all the great things about shopping in Northfield," said Fellbore. "Frankly, I think that’s a stretch, since no other stores are opening at that hour. Nonetheless, we’ll be open, handing out CVB brochures and selling our line of Buy More cards that we have left over from last year."
When asked whether it might be more cost-effective for the City and the Chamber to be offering these services via their websites 24X7, both indicated that e-commerce was something they’d be adding in the next five years or so. "Online shopping is likely to catch on with the public by then and when it does, we’ll be ready for it," said Fellbore.
The goal of the project is to get citizens who spend too much of their leisure time watching television indoors to spend more time outdoors.
"We know it’s not realistic for most hard-core couch potatoes to become recreational users of our parks overnight," said Knute Nathanial, PRAB chair. "Research shows that the use of recliners are effective at helping people make a gradual transition. And since TV programs can now be watched on one’s smartphone, the time was perfect to try this."
The PRAB has rescued a number of Barcaloungers and La-Z-Boys from the colleges’ dumpsters in recent years so that no taxpayer money has to be spent on acquiring them for the project. All the recliners will have plastic tarps stored underneath them to protect them from the elements.
While the 2011 Horseshoe Hunt clues have started appearing on the DJJD website, some members of the DJJD committee have begun to question the wisdom of this year’s location for Horseshoe.
On early Saturday morning, DJJD volunteers were seen lowering Horsehoe Hunt Chair Tim Freeland into the Cannon River adjacent to the Ames Mill, dressed in a diving suit.
While Freeland’s final destination for the Horeshoe remains a secret, its approximate location quickly became controversial, once other DJJD Committee members learned of the activity.
"I know that we’ve had some problems in the past with the Horseshoe found too quickly," said Hayes ‘Gabby’ Scriver, a 3rd-year DJJD Board Director. "But this looks to me like it’s a little over the top. If the Horseshoe is anywhere near the dam, we can expect that Malt-O-Meal will object. They own the Ames Mill dam and they certainly don’t want anyone messing around there, underwater or not. What if the dam was accidentally damaged?"
DJJD General Chair Dwayne Reddy disagreed. "You can’t be spoon fed all your life. In recent years, the Horseshoe has been so easy to find that you hardly even need to read the clues to find it. If the frickin’ Mayor of Northfield can find the Horseshoe, what does that tell you?" Other committee members agreed, though they wished to remain anonymous.
The Northfield Fire Department has agreed to rent out its diving suit to anyone interested in searching the river for the Horseshoe. "I know it’s a bit unusual but considering the City’s budget problems, we need all the revenue we can find right now," said Fire Chief Harry Frantek. "The bingo tent during DJJD ain’t the cash cow folks think it is."
On Monday, an alert citizen used his cell phone camera to capture this photo of a truck parked improperly in front of the Goodbye Blue Monday. He used the Tell the City form on the City of Northfield’s website to report the problem.
Almighty Lord God, who for the sin of man didst once drown all the world, except eight persons, and afterward of thy great mercy didst promise never to destroy it so again; We humbly beseech thee, that although we for our iniquities have worthily deserved a plague of rain and waters, yet upon our true repentance thou wilt send us such weather for the Taste of Northfield, that we may receive the fruits of the earth in due season; and learn both by thy punishment to amend our lives, and for thy clemency to give thee praise and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
"While some of our parishioners are mechanically savvy enough to repair their bikes without assistance, many are not," said Father Demster. "To have the Blessed Virgin on hand for intercessory prayers while bikes are being worked on can really help. We’re also hoping it can diminish the frequency if not the volume of taking the Lord’s name in vain that we typically hear during bicycle repairs."
While the bike repair stand is intended for parishioner use, any community member can use it.
All residents of Northfield, and all students enrolled in Northfield schools, are eligible and encouraged to submit short poems (10 lines, 240 characters maximum) that are appropriate for the public sphere.
Up to 10 winning poems will be stamped into Northfield sidewalk pavements and will be considered for other public purposes including publication and readings.
There were evidently some tense negotiations on Monday about the fee that the organization would have to pay for use of the library’s meeting room. With the library’s recent budget cutbacks, Director Lynne Young is on the lookout for additional sources of revenue and has reportedly become a tough negotiator over non-profit use of that space.
Friends president Bill North and treasurer Kathy Sommers ripped on Young during their presentations but she placed responsibility for the Library’s financial predicament on the City Council, as well as on library patrons like Will Healy who have hundreds of dollars of unpaid library fines for overdue books.
All went well until after Henry’s speech when Lynne Young noticed Monkey See Monkey Read bookstore proprietor Jerry Bilek selling copies of Henry’s book. She argued that the Library should get a commission on all books sold on the premises. Jerry told her to stick it in her bookdrop. Henry refused to moderate the dispute unless someone agree to pay him his usual counseling fee. The crowd was getting riled up, and when someone mentioned Zamboni tires, I decided it was time for me to leave.
They’re selling these ‘buy more’ cards and putting up similar posters in store windows around town.
Roscoe Curry, VP of Public Relations for the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce, had some reservations about the initiative when it was first discussed at a staff meeting with Executive Director Katarina Fellbore. "I thought some of the merchants might think it a little too doomsdayish," said Curry. He did an informal straw poll, going door-to-door with the merchants along Hwy 3, and all were in favor.
"I like that it’s direct," said Hugh G. Wreckshun, proprietor of Northfield Kwik Kondom (‘Kows, Kolleges, Kondoms, Kontentment’) near the intersection of Hwy 3 and Heritage Drive. "No sense pussyfooting around."
Last night while riding my bike downtown, Woody Wannamaker, one of the original members of the PQCC (not his real name; we use it here—and the photo of his shoes–to protect his identity. His real name is Jim Gleason) alerted me to this vehicle parked in front of KYMN’s studios on Division.
He also sent me this photo he’d taken earlier in the day with his cell phone of a car erratically parked in front of the GBM.
He was in Northfield yesterday afternoon and captured this video of a rainbow over Carleton College. How amazing is that? All I can say is, the Lord works in wondrous ways. Click play to watch. 57 seconds. PG-13 for language.
Churling maintained that Northfield’s sculpture walk would have to meet a high artistic standard. “We’re not interested in anything involving Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
“The success of the Community Expectations policy is what gave me the idea,” said Police Chief Marcus H. Traylor, citing the ordinance that addresses cleanliness, respect, safety, and pedestrian friendliness in the downtown area. (See the April 27, 2009 blog post for more details on that program.) “We asked citizens to behave better downtown over the past year and they’ve done it. We’re confident now that if we ask citizens to consciously avoid breaking laws just one day a week, it’ll save a significant amount of payroll dollars that will help to avoid layoffs.”
Why Thursdays? Traylor consulted with area pastors who suggested Thursdays because Wednesday nights are ‘church nights’ in the area. The ministers pointed to the impact of the ‘prayer ladies’ (see the Aug. 2007 blog post Prayer group meets at City Hall) on the improved climate at Northfield City Hall and felt that with a more comprehensive prayer effort, Northfield area crime that’s likely to happen on Thursdays could be bumped into Fridays or even the weekend.
Northfield Riverside Baptist Church pastor Cory Ellingston cautioned, however, that the impact of Northfield’s Police yourself Thursdays would have geographic limitations, not unlike the prayer ladies who attend City Council meetings. “Prayers for the City Council are just not as effective if those doing the praying are across the street or down the block,” said Ellingston. “The Dundas Police Department should not expect crime reductions in their city on Thursdays.”
The Orgasmic restaurant is opening up soon on Division St. between 3rd and 4th. Gourmet pizza!
The exterior sign went up Tuesday (not a Jim Bohnhoff sign) after they finished replacing the concrete sidewalk in front of the restaurant with attractive ceramic tiles. (Hopefully, they’ll have sidewalk dining.) Yesterday I got a peek inside at the upper level after workers hauled in furniture.
And in a nice touch:
The appetizers section of the menu is labeled "Foreplay."
The Ely Chamber of Commerce’s International Dairy Queen Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (IDQBWCAW). See the PiPress article for details, since the Chamber’s site evidently can’t handle the traffic. Oy.
Seizing the moment, Northfield’s Defeat of Jesse James Days committee announced on Thursday that it was pursuing actress Sandra Bullock to be a featured celebrity at this year’s event. A significant number of other notable women could join her.
“Celebrating the citizens’ defeat of Jesse James and his gang in 1876 will remain the focus of this year’s event,” said Ava Gina, General Chair of the DJJD Committee.
“But we realized that women everywhere could be very attracted to a festival that celebrates the defeat of a just-as-despicable 21st century Jesse James.”
“And what could be better than having Sandra Bullock and all the other women who’ve been given tours of his monster garage come to Northfield? I’m not exactly sure what a re-enactment might look like, though one can image some possibilities involving a vanilla gorilla, that sort of thing.”
Helen Albers: A big Tree Hug to all of our town tree-lovers! With thanks to all who have responded to express their appreciation of trees! Happy Holidays! Helen Albers
Beth Kallestad: Thank you Helen for your tree planting and reminding us of the need to protect those trees!
John S. Thomas: It truly is a beautiful tree. I am still “sick” of the way the trees on Fourth Street look. It will be MANY years before they mature… and I hope they do!
Marsha Kitchel: What a lovely photo of Helen Albers, beautiful in red, hugging her red maple. Hold on for dear life if “new and improved” means touching this gorgeous tree or any of the trees on Bridge Square. Northfielders would be...
Griff Wigley: Northfield City Engineer Joe Stapf sent me these photos today of the repairs to Armstrong Road and the adjacent Mill Towns Trail. Joe wrote: The trail paving is complete (still being rolled so not yet open), and the roadway is...
Doug Peterson: Hi Griff, After reading Jan Hill’s reply, I realize my mis-understanding on “riding the rails”. You got me. Can I blame that on getting old?
Jan Hill: I knew this was a send-up, Griff, having investigated possible routes ourselves (and knowing you!) But I thought for sure the cyclist on the rail was a fake–until I watched the video. Now that’s scary.
Griff Wigley: Nick, I’ve heard from another Northfielder on this who wrote via email: The part where you suggest that riders go on to the active rail line does not make good common sense to me. I have worked on the railroad as a head...
Nick Benson: Your non-pussy readers should note that trespassing on railroad tracks, as shown there, is both dangerous and illegal; trains can be surprisingly quiet when approaching on smooth welded rail like that, which doesn’t...
Ross Currier: I just walked through Bridge Square and ALL THREE of the tables were occupied. It didn’t look like they were playing chess, though, more like eating lunch… …and what a day for it, in beautiful downtown Northfield,...
Griff Wigley: The three picnic tables were installed last week. Each has an inlaid backgammon and chess/checkerboard. I’ve added photos to the blog post above.
Griff Wigley: Joe, thanks for that explanation. And if your eighth grade English teacher, Mrs. Gentilini, is still around, I think she might approve of your communications style.
kiffi summa: Joe or Mr. Stapf… Thanks for the explanation; I think its/they’re great, and long overdue… I just didn’t want anything to put off the Bridge Square redesign implementation … and often it’s...
Joe Stapf: Ah-h-h-h, yes, The Gaming Tables… Question #1) Who authorized them!!!??? I did. The picnic tables (if you recall, a trial) were deemed by me to have been a success. We received absolutely 100%, pure, unadulterated positive feedback...
Griff Wigley: Two new parking-related blog posts: A bicycle field trip with Dale Gehring to get smarter about ‘making the connections’ http://northfielddowntownparki ng.org/2013/08/30/a-bicycle-fi eld-trip-with-dale-gehring-...
Griff Wigley: New blog post: Proposed layout of directional and way-finding signs for public parking
Griff Wigley: New blog post: Washington St. lot restriped to optimize parking spaces
Griff Wigley: Blog post update: recommended downtown parking management action steps for Aug. 13 Council work session
Griff Wigley: Blog post update: July 31 parking management planning meeting at City Hall
Griff Wigley: There is a Prayer Walk for the Northfield School District today, 4-8 pm: By Maria KayLynn Olson and Kiersten-Kiwi Williams Bielenberg Schedule: 4:00-4:25 Prairie Creek 4:30-4:55 Arcadia 5:00-5:25 Greenvale 5:30-5:55 Sibley 6:00-6:25...
Griff Wigley: Hi Marie, thanks for asking. I’ll contact you via email.
Marie Wright: I’d like to use this photo on my website. My theme is vintage Main Street USA. I feel that I need your permission to copy this photo and use it. (Julia Rose Grey is my pen name for my genre of novels.)
Griff Wigley: Dave, I like the two-prong attack, too. Can you let us know when the short-term task force is due to meet? I’d like to attend, and I’m sure some of the neighbors would as well. And make sure that pizza with mushroom...
Griff Wigley: Nfld News article on Tuesday’s Council action on this issue: Subcommittee to explore fixes for tax-forfeited land acquired by Northfield During heavy rain, water has overtaken the yards and basements of Karen Moldenhauer and...
David DeLong: Griff, I’m told there’s over 50,000 cubic yards of dirt in the pile which translates to over 2,500 dump truck loads. I think there’s enough to go around. The problem is moving all that over residential streets, if we sell it or...
Griff Wigley: At last night’s meeting, the City Council opted to A) form a 4-week task force of 3 council members plus engineering staff and citizens to deal with the runoff problem in the neighborhood; and B) ask the Parks & Rec...
kiffi summa: good to know, Griff… I trust that you’re correct about the amount of dirt needed for the create of a bike park. Maybe if there’s so much more than needed, a berm could be created between the park and the houses, if...
Nancy Averill: Ah KDWB. THE best radio station ever. We had the KDW-Beatles. We had the KDW-Beach Boys. We were color radio. We had leaky billboards. I maintain that Professor James Francis Patrick O’Neill is the very basis of my humor. We...
Griff Wigley: Paul/George, they reopened the old culvert and put in a new larger secondary one. I’ll try to get photos.
Griff Wigley: Thanks everyone for your kind comments about the photos. I’ve added a few of downtown to the blog post above. See Rob Hardy’s comprehensive listing of links related to the flooding on Northfield.org.