Tag Archives: Northfield News

Robbie’s weekend in the limelight

My sweetie, Robbie Wigley, was in the limelight a bit this weekend.

Robbie Wigley - Melaleuca convention 2013 (photo by Vicki Dilley)20130505_061245

Left: She got an award at the Melaleuca convention in Salt Lake City. Among the hundreds of Senior Directors, she was third in customer retention for the year, this is like getting  seal of e-excellence on her field, like the online companies receive.

Right: She was in a photo on the front page of yesterday’s Northfield News in a story about the Clothes Closet at the Community Action Center of Northfield where she volunteers.

Sex al fresco redux by the Northfield News: ‘Getting it on in the great outdoors’

Last month, the Northfield News posted this to their Facebook page:

There is something blissfully naughty about getting intimate in public. In high school, we necked in the back seat of our cars on a deserted road because there was no where else to go. Then, we grew up, got married and forgot about the thrill of fooling around under the threat of getting caught. Plenty of studies suggest a little hanky panky in public is a great way to heat up your sex life. But let’s be real, we’re southern Minnesotans. We don’t do that kind of thing.

Or do we? When the mood hits and you’re looking for a change of scenery, where do you take your partner? A local park with secluded trails? A dead end road with a great view of the sunset? A boat in the middle of a quiet lake? Let us know, SoMinn, where do you go to fool around in the great outdoors? We’ll use as many of the locations as we can in our upcoming edition of our A&E publication, SCENE.

I added a comment in response to Faribault Daily News editor and article author Jaci Smith:

Props, Jaci! I did a “sex al fresco in Northfield” blog post back in 2007 on LoGro, based on a Vita.mn article by Alexis McKinnis. Details: http://locallygrownnorthfield.org/post/1607/

So MN Scene - April cover 2013 So MN Scene - Getting it on in the great outdoors
The April issue of SouthernMinn SCENE is now out in print and online and Jaci Smith’s article, Getting it on in the great outdoors, is on page 42.  She included this reference to VitaMN and LoGro:

Closer to home, about six years ago, the Star Tribune’s Vita.mn took an informal poll and discovered that there was plenty of outdoor sex going on in the Twin Cities, particularly in some of the more isolated areas of the University of Minnesota-St. Paul campus.

So, Northfield blogger Griff Wigley did his own informal poll on Locally Grown Northfield, and found out that outdoor sex is alive and well in the city Jesse lames made famous. And Wigley makes a great point, too. Sex al fresco has been going on since the Garden of Eden.

For a look back, see my 2007 blog post Sex al fresco in Northfield and attached comment thread.

VitaMN‘s original story by Alexis McKinnis, Sex … al fresco, is still online.

vitamn-sexalfresco-cover-tn

$35,000 and counting: It’s time to stop the outdated taxpayer subsidy to the Northfield News for City and School District public notices

Public-NoticeThere is a Minnesota state statute (Chapter 331A) requiring local units of government (cities, counties, townships, school boards) to publish public notices in newspapers, everything from minutes and agendas to tax levies, financial reports, project bids, forfeited properties, etc.

I blogged about this in early 2011 (Something Democrats and Republicans can agree on: Move public notices to the web) when there was a bill introduced at the legislature to change the law. Short description of the MN House version of the 2011 Bill:

Political subdivisions authorized to publish proceedings, official notices, and summaries on their Web sites in lieu of newspaper publication.

The bill didn’t get very far. See this 2011 MN House Session Daily story: Plan to post public notices online nixed.

I started thinking about this issue again when I saw this article in GovDelivery about the very same issue in the UK: Public notices: the case for radical reform.  So I requested information from the City of Northfield and the Northfield School District to see how much this was costing us taxpayers.

1. City of Northfield

The City of Northfield has a contract with Huckle Media LLC, the publishers of the Northfield News, to spend a minimum of $15,000 this year to publish public notices and other city-related ads. (See page 2 of the Jan. 3, 2012 minutes.)  The 2012 rate for legal ads is $13.35 per column inch.

Thus far in 2012, over $21,000 has been spent. Last year it was over $18,000.

Huckle Media 2012 Contract City of NorthfieldHuckle Media 2012 Check detail City of Northfield
The above is the 2012 documentation: 1) the 2012 contract with Huckle Media; and 2) the 2012 check detail. I have 2011 data as well.

2. Northfield School District 659

The District doesn’t have a contract with Huckle Media like the City, but just pays the legal ad rate of $13.35 per column inch. 

Northfield School District Public Notice Expenses Northfield News 2011 2012
In 2011, the District paid $14,000 to the Nothfield News, nearly all of it for publishing school board minutes. Through Oct. 15 this year, the total is $13,400. See the PDF.

3. Northfield Hospital; Rice County

A good reporter would have sought similar data from both of these bodies. If anyone reading this would like to request the info from them, I’m happy to add it to this blog post.

2011 articles present the arguments, pro and con

See:

The above articles contain many of the arguments, pro and con. 

One big issue is about government transparency, that requiring notices to be printed in a newspaper helps ensure this.  I disagree. Only a very small % of citizens are without internet access these days. (Over 85% of Northfielders had high speed internet access as of 2 years ago.) If local governments are required to post all public notices in public buildings (eg, post offices, libraries, etc) then that’s sufficient.  And the tens of thousands of tax dollars saved can then be put to better use.

A violation of the law?

State statute also stipulates that any paper that charges for subscriptions must put public notices on its website for free. Here’s the language from the Statute, Subd. 5. Posting notices on Web site:

If, in the normal course of its business, a qualified newspaper maintains a Web site, then as a condition of accepting and publishing public notices, the newspaper must agree to post all the notices on its Web site at no additional cost. The notice must remain on the Web site during the notice’s full publication period. Failure to post or maintain a public notice on the newspaper’s Web site does not affect the validity of the public notice.

The legals section page linked from the top nav bar of the Northfield News website is the same legals section used for all of Huckle Media’s newspapers in southern Minnesota. But only notices for the City of Faribault, Faribault Schools, and Rice County are listed there, an apparent violation of the law.

Our new DFL legislators

Kevin-DahleDavid-Bly

I’d like to see our new DFL legislators, Kevin Dahle and David Bly, team up with some of their Republican colleagues and get this antiquated law changed.  In 2011, then DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk were against changing the law.

Surely the combined efforts of the League of Minnesota Cities, the Minnesota School Boards Association, the Association of Minnesota Counties, and the Minnesota Association of Townships can muster enough influence to challenge the Minnesota Newspapers Association.

It has happened in other states. Follow the Legal Notice.org blog for the latest.

Northfield citizens decline to help capture robbery suspect; severe impact on tourism feared

America's Best Value Inn & Suites - NorthfieldWhen the word of this morning’s robbery at America’s Best Value Inn & Suites on Hwy 3 began trickling out via police scanners, most Northfielders were sound asleep.

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.”

robberWhen 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.”

Prairie’s Edge Humane Society to Host "Meow’s For Maggie" and "Dogs Along the Cannon" Events Thursday, July 26th

Maggie LeePut on your purple and stop by the Northfield News office (115 5th St. W.) for “Meows for Maggie,” a cat adoption event in conjunction with Northfield’s Crazy Daze and “Wear Purple Day” for Maggie Lee, longtime employee of the Northfield News and notable resident of the community.

The adoption event, put on by Prairie’s Edge Humane Society, will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the News lobby. Maggie has been a long time supporter of the Prairie’s Edge Humane Society and is well known for her love of cats, a regular subject of her weekly Northfield News column. She has adopted cats in the past from PEHS, adopting her most recent cat Cassandra just over a year ago. Maggie is now 91 and residents of Northfield will be honoring her during the annual “Crazy Daze” event in downtown Northfield.

Kittens and adult cats will be available (depending on what is currently at the shelter) for adoption in honor of Maggie, and anyone who adopts a cat from PEHS that day will be recognized on the PEHS website. Those adopting in honor of Maggie will be able to write a personal dedication to Maggie which will be posted on the PEHS website. Those who cannot adopt a cat have the opportunity to sponsor a cat at the shelter for one month for $25 in Maggie’s name. Those people will also be recognized on the website and a sign will be put on the cat kennel for one month at the shelter stating “I’m A Special Friend of Maggie.”

PEHS will also be selling purple cat harnesses and leashes, purple cat collars and purple “wobblers” – a treat and food dispensing toy for cats. All proceeds will benefit the animals at PEHS. Purple cat nip pillows will be given away for anyone who stops to visit, while supplies last.

Dogs Along the CannonThen after a day of shopping and entertainment you are invited to an artist reception and unveiling party hosted by Prairie’s Edge Humane Society for the limited edition print "Dogs Along the Cannon" from 6-8 PM at our dog training facility at 2018 Jefferson Rd, Suite 1 here in Northfield. Proceeds from the sale of the print will benefit the Prairie’s Edge Humane Society.

Sarah Thornton of Lintu Art returns to Northfield for a second time to highlight the dogs of Northfield, Dundas, Faribault and surrounding communities for her “Dogs Around the Lakes” and “Dogs Along the River” series of colored pencil limited edition prints. Her inspiration came from walking her own dogs around Lake Harriet and observing the many other owners and dogs enjoying time together in these settings. Sarah has done a previous print “Dogs Along the River” back in 2010 with proceeds benefitting PEHS. We are very excited for the unveiling of the 2012 print!  In June Sarah came to Northfield and photographed 36 dogs from the area along the Cannon River. From those 36 dogs, she chose 16 to be on a limited edition print titled “Dogs Along the Cannon”.

Sarah will have prints available for purchase during the event as well as CD’s of the photos of the 36 dogs which were taken back in June from which she selected the dogs for the print.

Everyone is invited to come out and see the print. You are welcome to bring your well behaved, leashed dog to the reception; there will be a-paw-tisers for the dogs and the humans as well!

Suzy Rook departs the Northfield News. No replacement announced

Northfield NewsThe Northfield News announced this week that Associate Editor Suzy Rook has been made regional managing editor of the St. Peter Herald, Le Center Leader, Le Sueur News-Herald and the Waseca County News. Her last day, according to this tweet, was yesterday.

The paper’s announcement made no mention of her replacement so I’m assuming this is a cost-cutting move.  Rook had acquired a great deal of institutional knowledge of Northfield in her years here, especially City Hall.  Despite my occasional criticisms, I think we’re going to miss her reporting.

Who will replace her as the beat reporter on Northfield City Hall? Managing editor Jerry Smith?

WTF! Northfield Planning commissioners behaving badly?

City-of-Northfield-MNNfld News reporter Suzy Rook posted an opinion piece on Thursday titled Northfield Planning commissioners behaving badly.

Two different sources tell me that two Planning Commission members are, well, behaving badly. One, it seems, took it on him or herself to remove signs they felt were illegally placed. Come to find out, the signs were completely legal and placed in the right-of-way by city workers… The second commissioner cranked things up a few dozens notches, apparently dislodging a bench cemented into a Division Street sidewalk and moving to another location down the street.

Members of the City of Northfield Planning Commission-Zoning Board of Appeals (PC-ZBA):

  • Thomas Bisel
  • James Herreid
  • Alice Thomas
  • Steve Rholl
  • Richard Schulte
  • Jay Jasnoch
  • Joey Robison

Um, anyone know what is going on?

Update May 25: I found the wandering bench.

Division St. bench

Props to the Northfield News for the Fire Relief Association ethics story

Northfield NewsSaturday’s Northfield News carried a front page story titled Concerns arise over Fire Department expenses; Northfield officials fear funding is going toward non-firefighting expenses.  (The headline used for the online version: Ethical questions arise over Northfield Fire Relief Association expenses.)

Griff Wigley with May 12, 2012 edition of Northfield NewsI’ve done four fire department/association-related blog posts since January (here, here, here, and here) as well as a three more on attorney David Hvistendahl (here, here, and here) who’s representing the fire and rescue squad associations. It’s a complex and constantly evolving issue.

So it’s really helpful to have a someone else, in this case, Northfield News reporter Suzy Rook, digging into the story, too.   And for the first time, the paper cited Locally Grown (twice) in a story:

Fire Department officials, including Fire Chief Gerry Franek, did not respond to several requests from the News for association financial records or comment. Assistant Fire Chief Tom Nelson at an April 24 City Council meeting said documents posted on the blog Locally Grown are 2010 and 2011 relief association check registers. But those registers don’t clearly state how and where monies were spent, and are likely a listing of transactions from several accounts compiled into a single document…

The association had a net revenue of $14,263 in 2011, according to a Gambling Control Board report to the Legislature. Of that, $4,110 was used for what’s termed lawful purpose expenditures. In 2010, its net receipts were $17,730. Of that, $8,354 was used for lawful expenditures. Figures provided to the state Gambling Control Board don’t match the association’s 2010 tax return, a document Assistant Fire Chief Tom Nelson says he provided Locally Grown. According to that document, the association lost $2,209 in 2010.

I appreciate that. Follow Suzy Rook on Twitter @rooksuzy.