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New Brunswick

Nelson assumes full time role today; Rice County Horticulture Day set for March 11; LBSA seeks event volunteers

After eight years of existence, recommendations from three different independent advisors and two solid years of debate, The Northfield

Area Fire and Rescue Service has a full-time chief.

Tom Nelson, who served two decades as an assistant chief under former Chief Gerry Franek and spent the last year as an interim chief, will become the first full-time fire chief that either the Northfield Fire Department or the Northfield Area Fire and Rescue Service has ever had.

The chief’s job has become too big, with too many responsibilities and too many time demands to serve part-time, even for a department served by paid on-call firefighters. Nelson, who has been a respected radio technician for 36 years, said the transition to becoming a full-time fire chief will be a strange experience but something he’s looking forward to.

“It’s a strange transition for any of us who’ve worked anywhere for a long time. I’ve been with Minnesota Public Radio for 18 years and before that with WCAL in Saint Olaf. You know, it’s really exciting to think about waking up in the morning and just thinking about a full-time job. I mean what both John Mahacek and Gerry Franek were as bosses before me and me in this transition period [have had to deal with] are you [already] have a full-time job. And we try to do those things that we all know need to be done, but there aren’t enough hours in the day.”

Over the past year, Nelson, in his role as interim chief, has reorganized the governance structure of NAFRS, giving all important responsibilities to the two deputy chiefs, Jesse Thomas and Sean Simonson, and their captains. As Chief, Nelson is not only responsible for overseeing the organization’s activities, but he is also the Chief Fire Code Inspector for the entire NAFRS area. As such, Nelson brought new meaning to the role.

Northfield City Council, on the recommendation of Nelson and Police Chief Mark Elliott, recently passed a new public safety ordinance that will, among other things, require every commercial building in the NAFRS area to submit its designs. Nelson said the new ordinance will also enforce parking bans on fire trails and public and private property. He will also meet with staff at Carleton and St. Olaf College to plan for people in large tents in the event of a fire, something he said would affect the Defeat of Jesse James Days as well.

As he begins his new position, Nelson said he also does his best to talk to fellow chiefs and firefighters about how best to do his job. He said he had exchanged views with various people at conferences and meetings over the past few months and had some interesting conversations.

“I can actually speak to some of these inner cities that are doing similar things in different ways, as well as have people who have gone from part-time to full-time and still manage paid on-call services and are able to pull things away from that, so that’s really been a help. ”

Although today is Chief Nelson’s first day in his full-time position, he said he will officially step down from MPR at the end of the week.

You can hear Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with NAFRS chief Tom Nelson and board chairman Brad Ness here

Rice County Gardeners host Rice County Horticultural Day

After a three-year hiatus thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Rice County Master Gardener Volunteers are hosting the return of rice County Horticulture Day on March 11 at St. Olaf College campus.

Before the Covid break, the event had become a very popular seminar. This year they are offering four speakers throughout the day on a range of relevant gardening topics.

Katie Derwitz from the University of Minnesota Extension will give a talk entitled “How Not to Kill Your Trees” at 9:00 am.

At 10 a.m., Becky Swenson of Swenson Gardens in Howard Lake will answer the “Top Ten Peony Questions.”

Meg McAndrews Cowden, the author and operator of seedtofork.com, will speak on ‘Gardening in a New Climate’ at 12:30pm.

dr Lisa Philander of the University of Minnesota’s Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing will end the day at 1:30 p.m. speaking about the “healing power of gardens.”

This day of Gardener Talks costs $45 to attend. A light breakfast is offered and lunch is included in the ticket price. Vendors will also be on hand to shop and there will also be a silent auction.

The Rice County Horticulture Day event will be held on March 11th at Tomson Hall on the St. Olaf campus. The event begins at 8:30 a.m. with registration and ends at 3:15 p.m

Funds raised will go towards programming the master gardener program in Rice County.

Attendees are encouraged to register online at the University of Minnesota Extension website, where the event brochure with more details can also be found. Registration deadline is March 1st.

Servers, Cleanups, Miscellaneous needed for LBSA Dinner Theater

And the Laura Baker Services Association has announced the return of another event suspended by the Covid-19 pandemic, the LBSA Dinner Theater, on Friday February 17th.

The LBSA Dinner Theater is billed as an elegant evening of dining and entertainment for Laura Baker’s clients and guests. As such, the event requires a significant number of volunteers to be successful and the organization is reaching out to the community for help.

According to an email obtained by LBSA, the organization needs 23 more employees to help. Volunteers can sign up as table attendants, dishwashers, waiters, kitchen helpers or for the cleaning crew. Volunteers are asked to arrive by 4:30am and will most likely be ready by 7:30am.

The Laura Baker Services Association has served the developmentally challenged and disabled members of Northfield and greater Rice County for more than 125 years, providing housing and support services, family support and resources, and more.

The LBSA Dinner Theater will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church on February 17th. For more information on registering as a volunteer, contact Andrei Sivanich at [email protected]

Rich Larson is the news director of KYMN. Contact him at [email protected]

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