Heroin at The Key, Liquor at The Council

KeyLeadership.JPGTonight (Monday) at 7 pm will be an exciting time for the discussion of two important topics for our community.

In response to the StarTribune’s recent, unfortunate, and inaccurate, characterization of our community and our youth, The Key will host the Northfield Union of Youth’s public discussion of heroin use. The discussion will be inter-generational and address the issues of heroin use among Northfield youth. This will be the first opportunity for community members to come and listen to what youth have to say about the issue. The Key is located at 303 Water Street South. For more information, call 663-0715.

After receiving and reviewing four or five different consultants’ reports over the past two or three years (most, if not all, reportedly pointing to the east and west sides of the 600 block of Division Street), the Council will reopen the discussion and, apparently, restart the exploration for a new site for the Municipal Liquor Store. The meeting will be held in Council Chambers at City Hall. For more information, call 645-8833.

It will be interesting to hear reports on the simultaneous discussions by these two groups, one at the edge of emerging leadership and the other at the brink of competitive shuffleboard. Regardless of their position on the spectrum, we should all acknowledge and praise both groups’ contributions to service to our community.


  1. Curt Benson said:

    Hey Ross, the Star Tribune didn’t come to town unbidden to slander us. They were invited, along with all the TV stations, to Chief Smith’s press conference. The first Strib article was mostly a recap of Smith’s words. (I think the strib did inflate one of the numbers, IIRC.)

    Fortunately, the Star Tribune did a second article, fact checking Smith’s confabulations. We should be glad they tried to set the record straight.

    July 16, 2007
  2. Ross Currier said:


    I did not accuse anyone of slander.

    I think that the Strib’s “inflation” exceeded “one of his numbers”.

    After making Northfield the lead story on the front page, they followed up with an opinion column, in a prominent location in an inner section, which added to, what I believe to be, an unfair and inaccurate depiction of our community.

    Finally, in a less prominent location, perhaps even “below the fold”, the Strib suggested that some people in Northfield thought that the original story inflated the scope of the problem.

    I guess that I don’t consider the paper to have “set the record straight”.

    July 16, 2007
  3. John S. Thomas said:

    Also on the City Council agenda tonight is item #10a, resolution 2007-082 to request that Rice County take the necessary steps to


    The resolution information is contained on page 17 of the packet: http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/assets/p/Packet56.pdf

    The intersection of CSAH 28 (Woodley Street) and Prairie Street currently is a partially controlled intersection with stop signs on the north and south bound lanes of Prairie Street. During the two neighborhood meetings that have been held for the Woodley Street Project, a number of comments on the control of this intersection have been raised. The majority of the comments recieved center around the safety of the pedestrians crossing CSAH 20 at this intersection and the speed of uncontrolled traffic through this intersection.

    Rice County holds the juristdiction over the east and west bound lanes of traffie along CSAH 28. Ultimately, it is the County’s decision to install teh 4-way controlled intersection. The council is being asked to pass the resolution requesting the County to evaluate the warrant for a stop sign at this intersection based on teh Minnesota Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD).

    I will be attending the City Council meeting, both as a private citizen, and a member of the Northfield Non-Motorized Transportaion Task Force.

    I hope to break free from the meeting, and be able to attend a portion of the proceedings at the Key as well, as I see them both as very important issues.

    July 16, 2007
  4. Christine Stanton said:

    “In response to the StarTribune’s recent, unfortunate, and inaccurate, characterization of our community and our youth…” Ross, I think that the “inaccurate” part is still in dispute, if you are referring to the number of users. I have seen no proof that the number of users quoted is inaccurate, nor have I seen any statistics to prove that the quoted numbers are accurate. To me, that means that we do not really know. I would like to see us pursue how we might deal with the problem of heroin use instead of worrying about our image. The drug counselor quoted that 50-60 kids (that she is aware of) kids in our community are either using or have used in the past. I consider that a problem.

    July 16, 2007
  5. Curt Benson said:

    Ross, you might be right, maybe the Strib inflated more than just one number. A careful listening to press conference podcast would give us that answer.

    I also wish the Strib’s clarifying article would have had as prominent placement as the first article. I wish that the paper would have fact checked Smith before they summed up his words in the first article. Give the paper the benefit of the doubt–obviously their reporter assumed Smith was competent. I wish the TV cameras would have been there to cover the clarification as well.

    I also wish that when you google “heroin, Northfield” you did not get 167,000 results. (growing every day.)

    I wish that Gary Smith would have conferred with others in this town before he developed his NIMBY plan and called the Tribune, NPR, and all the TV stations to cover his press conference.

    Mostly I wish we had a police department that wasn’t a laughing stock, one that could be a help, not a hindrance in solving this problem. (Heroin in town for 18 months, burglary rates way up. No indictments. Jeez, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in awhile.)

    One more thing, Locallygrown had prominent, “above the fold” links to the Strib’s original article, and Kersten’s article.

    Why haven’t you drawn any attention at all to the clarification article?


    July 16, 2007
  6. Christine Stanton said:

    Here is a quote for the article Curt just posted from the Scrib.

    “Sarah Shippy is a behavioral-health specialist who operates the only chemical dependency treatment program in town and who spends one day a week counseling students at Northfield High. Shippy said she knows of 55 to 60 Northfield youths who have either tried heroin or oxycodone, used it or become addicted. Those numbers may be lower than what Smith cited, but they’re still significant, she said.”

    “‘We have more [heroin] use going on than is generally witnessed in a community of this size [about 19,000],’ she said.”

    I would think that she might be a good source. Remember, there are only the users that she KNOWS about.

    July 16, 2007
  7. Ross Currier said:


    I think that we would all be better off if we stopped obsessing over numbers, particularly when it is highly unlikely that we will ever have perfectly precise counts.

    As I stated in a previous comment, if even one high school student is a heroin addict, I think that we have a problem.

    I have talked with dozens of Northfield High School teachers, administrators, specialists, and students and, based on these discussions, I am quite confident that the numbers publicized by the Strib are substantially, in Curt’s word “inflated”.

    However, in my posting, I was referring to the “inaccurate characterization” of Northfield.

    I do hope that you will be able to attend the session at The Key tonight and get a sense of the high school student’s perception of the scope of the problem.

    July 16, 2007
  8. kiffi summa said:

    As an adult board member of the Key, I would like to publicly congatulate their youth board and membership for holding the first public forum, this evening. Once again they prove their committment to good citizenship.

    I do have a request for the adults attending: Please do a lot more listening than talking. We , the adults in the community, need to do a LOT of LISTENING to our youth at this time. I’ve heard a lot of genuine concern , and suggestions from adults on LG; tonight I very much want to hear what the kids have to say.


    July 16, 2007
  9. Anne Bretts said:

    Sorry, Ross and Curt, but the Strib didn’t cause this problem and neither did the chief. The story started ON THIS SITE. No one in the Twin Cities media wrote a single headline until your Heroin Network in the High School headline and mainlining photo, based on two sentences and NO SUPPORTING DATA AT ALL. After two weeks, you changed the headline and didn’t make a new story noting the backpedaling, you (LocallyGrown) buried a reference in a comment.
    The chief didn’t have a word about heroin on his blog before the LocallyGrown story and nothing after, until the media ASKED FOR interviews to catch up with you. You can Google this and track the timeline. I did.
    Could everyone have done a better job? Sure. Should the city administration review the police performance? It should be doing that as a matter of routine. I agree with you, Ross, on one thing: we need to stop obsessing about the numbers, get the right ones — and lower them.
    And remeber, these are the same media outlets who have fawned over Nothfield for ages. You guys are getting the kind of positive strokes most towns in the area only dream of. They are not out to get you.
    As usual, I will end with the disclaimer that I like this site and think it is a wonderful addition to the community. But it is a glass house, so you might want to put down the rocks.

    July 17, 2007
  10. kiffi summa said:

    Actually, this story started in a report from a director at Hazelden, in which there were a few sentences about Northfield, that then published in the Star Tribune, then read by a NF businessman, who then brought it to Griff’s DT office (GBM), and asked Griff if he had seen it. And that is how this story began, here on this site.

    I submit this, for clarification, no rocks in hand…………

    July 17, 2007
  11. Anne Bretts said:

    OK, I had posted all that before and was just trying to summarize (another example of one person’s summary of information being another’s unreliable misrepresentation.)
    I used the word headline for a reason. The original story — in the PiPress — was about the entire report and headlined a drug use decrease in the Cities. Northfield was a mere mention at the bottom. The mention and the story essentially died until five days later when the businessman sent along the mention and Griff used it without fact-checking. The headline and photo here sparked the crisis coverage.
    I’m just pointing out that Griff meant no harm, and neither did anyone else who thought they were helping understand an important story that the community needed to know.
    And since we’ve all made our points and now are just repeating them, I’m taking my own advice, burying this dead horse (so to speak) and moving on.

    July 17, 2007
  12. BruceWMorlan said:

    Kiffi, you suggest that the adults should do more listening and less talking. I think I have to disagree to a certain extent. While it is important to hear what the youth want to say, it is important to remember that they did not get into drugs by listening to the adults, they got into them by ignoring the warnings, pleadings and direct orders (that’s what “illegal” should mean). To point to adult use of recreational drugs and call adults to task for not abstaining themselves completely ignores what we know about brain development and age. An interesting article (Brain Immaturity Could Explain Teen Crash Rate) suggests that

    A National Institutes of Health study suggests that the region of the brain that inhibits risky behavior is not fully formed until age 25, a finding with implications for a host of policies, including the nation’s driving laws.

    This article suggest to me that we are unwise to call even 21-year olds “adults”.

    Our youth culture has become compartmentalized by the abdication of parenting as an adult responsibility. It’s “Lord of the Flies” in our schools as too many parents just throw up their hands and drop the kids off at school expecting teachers (who are supposed to teach) to be surrogate parents as well. We are used to blaming inner city problems on the absence of adults, especially rule-enforcing disciplinarians (often identified as “male role models”). Well, just because a parent has not left home does not mean that they are there parenting for their kids.

    The question I posed at the meeting was, “how do we re-establish the sort of vertical hierarchy that large families used to provide?” To my mind, it is mentoring programs that hold the most hope. Just as an older brother saw it as his responsibility to keep his younger brother out of trouble, so should we should empower and expect seniors to mentor sophomores, sophomores to mentor middles schoolers and so forth. Build lines of responsibility and concern that pierce the walls that the very institutions we worship (sports, arts, and other clique-building tools) have created in our youth culture.

    And as for 20-30 hrs of health class indoctrination per year (or propaganda, as young person called it), do not expect that feeble attempt to be sufficient to overcome the marketing effect of hundreds to thousands of hours of popular culture. Culturally, we have to be prepared to tell kids how to behave and have some expectation that they will listen, not because we prove that we are right but because they believe we have their best interests in mind. Does anyone really want to try to make the kids read the extensive medical literature on drug use, abuse and the effect on young, developing brains? Well if the alternative is to continue to run an uncontrolled experiment in our schools, then sign me up as a guest lecturer; we’ll all begin with chapter 1, “Probability, Statistics and Medical Experimentation”.

    Sorry for the soapbox. I’ll gladly continue this discussion downtown.

    July 17, 2007
  13. kiffi summa said:

    Bruce: always love to chat with you, many cogent arguments, etc.,etc.
    What I wanted to emphasize was we need to give kids the respect and TRUST that they should have , if they ARE the People we thought we raised. After all, their upbringing has been our responsibility, as parents, and community members. An expression of doubt in them can only be an expression of doubt in ourselves.

    What I heard mostly from kids in our group last night, was that 1. health classes in the schools are wildly unrealistic; here’s a direct quote: “Frankly, I don’t know anyone who takes them [i.e.health class] seriously”. If I were the school board I’d be taking that sort of comment very seriously. and 2. Its really tough to try to be a good kid and not have your parents exhibit any trust in you. [i.e. too much checking up, questioning, etc.]

    After coming home last night, I was fervently wishing I could contact both my parents, long gone now, and thank them for their wisdom in trusting me, as a teen, to usually make good choices, while at the same time understanding that there would many times I would not make the safe choice, and they were just wishing I’d get through those difficult years having learned a lot through my own mistakes, not by lectures to which I too often turned a deaf ear. Way too long a sentence but it’s OK if you read it slowly.

    Anyway, thanks again to the Key, and I think the next step on their part should be to hold a community forum at the Armory; they’ve proved they can do a good job.

    Let’s trust them with it……

    July 17, 2007
  14. Charlene Hamblin said:

    Just wanted to say “Hat’s Off!” to Josh Hinnenkamp and *ALL* of the youth & young adults at The Key for hosting Monday night’s discussion regarding the heroin topic. You all did a great job – from organizing the small group discussions – complete with an agenda, to providing water, cookies, and fan’s to ensure all were comfortable. Thanks for all you do; your endeavors do not go unnoticed!

    July 17, 2007
  15. As for trusting anyone, no, you have to earn my trust and then keep it going.


    July 17, 2007

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