NAFRS budget likely to be approved; the school district will seek feedback from constituents; Age-Friendly Northfield to Offer Internet Skills Classes


NAFRS expected to approve full-time fire chief position

By Cait Kelley

The Northfield Area Fire and Rescue Service (NAFRS) 2023 budget awaits a final vote of approval from the NAFRS Board of Directors in October.

The three entities that are part of the Joint Powers Agreement that formed NAFRS in 2014, the Town of Northfield, the Town of Dundas and a council of seven surrounding townships all approved the budget. NAFRS Acting Fire Chief Tom Nelson personally attended Northfield and Dundas City Council meetings to explain the proposed budget and answer questions. He also recently met with the Northfield Fire Protection Zone Board, which has representatives from the seven townships served by NAFRS and also received approval of the new budget from them.

NAFRS has been operating under a two-pronged budget plan for about a year. The budget for the first year since Gerry Franek’s retirement in January 2022 included a part-time chef position. Year two was seen as a bigger budget to accommodate a full-time fire chief, a move that acting fire chief Tom Nelson says is badly needed.

The NAFRS Joint Powers Board is expected to approve the 2023 budget and in anticipation of this, a full-time fire chief job description and salary scale has been developed and is ready for release. The position will be advertised internally and Acting Chief Tom Nelson is expected to apply for the full-time position if approved by the Board.

“The salary scale is defined. The objective would be that if, in October, we decided to go with a full-time chief, they could launch and have a job description. Several months ago the board of directors decided that this would be an internal position, but there will be a full interview committee, a full recruitment committee for any candidate who applies from within .

If the full-time leader’s budget proposal is approved in October, the full-time position would start on January 18, 2023.

Jeff Johnson’s full interview with NAFRS Acting Fire Chief Tom Nelson can be listened to here.

School district to poll voters

The Northfield High School building has been the subject of conversations within the school district since for several months, and now the school board has decided to ask the public for their collective opinion.

Last spring, the district assembled a 40-person task force, asking them to assess the building itself and identify any updates and renovations deemed necessary.

The task force report came back with a tiered set of recommendations. In total, the total cost of the recommendations would be between $87 million and $90 million. Any building project relating to the school would require a binding referendum to be voted on by district voters, and the council struggled to agree on how best to proceed.

Northfield Schools Superintendent Dr Matt Hillmann said the decision was made to ask residents of the district what they wanted and expected from high school.

Hillmann said the school has “good bones” and the electrical system was updated a few years ago. Despite this stewardship, he said the weather had taken its toll on the facility.

“We looked after the secondary school very well, but it was in the late 1960s that it was built with additions since. Parts of the building definitely need a refresh; they need mechanical work, things like that. And then think about what kind of learning space we want for our children in the 21st century.

The district contracted with Morris Leatherman, a market research group in the Twin Cities, to conduct a “stratified random sample survey” of approximately 400 voters. The survey will consist of 35-40 questions and will help the district better understand what the school district’s appetite for spending on the building is.

A referendum will most likely be offered to voters once the information has been gathered and analyzed. Hillmann was quick to say that the referendum that will be on the ballot in November is not about the school itself, but funding for building maintenance and technology. The bigger question of what to do with high school, he said, will come later.

Jeff Johnson’s full interview with Northfield School Superintendent Dr. Matt Hillman can be heard here.

Age-Friendly Northfield to Offer Digital Literacy Classes

By Cait Kelley

Age-Friendly Northfield will offer online and device-based literacy classes for seniors in community.

CC Linstroth, a member of the Age-Friendly Steering Committee, presented a mid-year report on the work of the organization at the town council meeting on Tuesday evening. A big area of ​​focus for the organization is helping seniors understand how to best use internet-connected devices.

Linstroth pointed out that before the pandemic there was a bigger gap among older people who didn’t have devices to begin with, but as so much of life has moved online, that’s less. true and the problem is rather to ensure that everyone feels comfortable with their devices.

Not only has the pandemic pushed people online, but Northfield is also currently working with internet service provider MetroNet to build a “fiber network accessible to over 85% of Northfield residents and businesses,” according to the Northfield website. the town of Northfield.

Since most people have devices connected to the internet and broadband will soon be more available than ever, Linstroth and Age-Friendly Northfield believe the next step is to provide education on how best to use devices. connected to the Internet efficiently and securely.

Classes would focus on practical skills such as file management, better use of browsers, understanding social media platforms, connecting to Zoom and other video conferencing apps, managing banking apps, and question increasingly important to the protection of personal data online.

For Linstroth, helping older members of the community navigate the Internet comfortably is a matter of fairness. She argues that as online skills become increasingly important in society, it is important to bridge digital divides.

“Everyone is working on DEI, diversity, equity and inclusion. Everyone is trying to figure out how to move forward. Technical skills are one of the ways. If we can bridge the digital divides there; we are now installing the internet, people have access to devices, but now what do they do with these devices? This is the next big question.

To deliver these digital literacy classes, Age-Friendly Northfield will work with community partners like the Northfield Public Library and Northfield Schools.

To learn more about the work of Age-Friendly Northfield, visit

Jeff Johnson’s full interview with CC Linstroth of Age-Friendly Northfield can be heard here.

Cait Kelley is the editor of KYMN News. Contact her at [email protected]


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