At Monday’s meeting of the Rice County Board, commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of locating a new Rice County Court Annex in Northfield. Rice County Administrator Gerry Wieirs made the recommendation to the Board in 13-page report (PDF) in which he cited a consultant’s study that a large percentage of the increase in lawsuits projected over the next 5-10 years would be from the Northfield area.
“The trends over the past 18 months in Northfield are unmistakable,” said Amanda B. Reckonwith, lead consultant from Reckonwith & Associates LLC. “The number of lawsuits per capita now put the city at or near the top of cities under 25,000 in population.”
Milford Pliasence, District 3 commissioner and an outspoken proponent of the plan, said he’d hoped that the recent election of four new members of the City Council would have precluded going ahead with the plan. “But we’ve looked at the psychological makeup of the incoming City Council members and it’s pretty clear that, despite a desire to reform, the women councilors-to-be have ‘issues.’ Put that together with an episode or two of synchronized PMS’ing and it’s a recipe for disaster. The courthouse in Faribault is just not equipped to handle the likely flood of lawsuits.”
Roscoe Curry, VP of Public Relations for the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce, expressed delight when he heard of the plan’s approval. “Downtown’s stool has three legs: the liquor store, the library, and the post office. If we lose the liquor store, our stool faces elimination. I’ve been pushing and straining for this courthouse plan for over a year, since the idea first emerged. So it gives me great pleasure to be able to release all that I’ve been holding inside and say, ‘Phew!'”
The City of Northfield is rumored to once again receive a ‘Friend of the Bar’ award from MSBA like it did in 2007.