Pritchard is not seeking re-election to the school board; Dispersion of ARPA funds planned; Mental health is a priority for Northfield PD

The deadline to apply to the Northfield School Board was Tuesday.

Julie Prichard

There are six candidates to fill three seats on the board. They are current board members Jeff Quinnell and Tom Baraniak, and challengers Robert Coleman, Ricky Antonio Livingston, Ben Miller and Jenny Nelson.

One name not on the list of candidates is Julie Pritchard, who will apparently step down after serving on the board for twelve years, seven of them as school board president.

Pritchard elected to step down as chairman of the board in January and was replaced by Claudia Gonzalez George. On this occasion, the Superintendent of Schools, Dr Matt Hillmann, commended Pritchard for her work on many levels, saying she is an exemplary student-focused leader who listens to families and supports school staff. district.

Candidates with the top three vote totals in this fall’s election will become board members in January 2023. Election day is Tuesday, November 8.

ARPA fund for the benefit of several non-profit organizations, HRA, community development, others

As the city progresses through the annual budgeting process, decision time draws near for several items. Tuesday evening, during the Northfield At the City Council business session, the council gave initial approval for the allocation of remaining funds received from the U.S. Federal Bailout Act, much of which will have a direct effect on property tax for 2023. .

Northfield received $2,266,732 in total ARPA funds which was paid in two installments – one in the summer of 2021 and the second just in the last few months. The first installment allocation was approved in April and included payment for various Covid-19 mitigation programs, as well as City Hall security upgrades and funding for the city’s full-time Spanish translator. city ​​for two years.

The allocation for the second tranche includes several other items. The city is contributing nearly $225,000 for sewer and water hookups for the Hillcrest Village and Spring Creek II affordable housing projects, $150,000 to the Housing and Redevelopment Authority for rental and manufactured housing grants, just over $160,000 goes to the Community Action Center to help with the food shelf, rental assistance programs and bilingual support in Northfield, and HCI receives $50,000 over two years to help fund the new coordinator for the rehabilitation of prefabricated houses.

Meanwhile, $180,000 will be used to cover contributions owed to the Northfield Area Fire and Rescue Service to cover repairs to a fire truck and to replenish $100,000 in required reserves. Another $200,000 will cover the costs of replacing the city’s Showmobile with a new stage for city events.

City administrator Ben Martig said council’s initial agreement on how the funds will be used will give much more clarity to the budgeting process.

“So it’s a pretty important element. We are going to redo some of our numbers now that we are clear how some of these [funds will be] used, which will really set us up for the September 13 budget meeting. We will have to set preliminary drawdowns at the end of September, and we hope that will be quite close to what we think the final drawdown could be for this year. »

Formal approval of the allocation of funds is expected to take place at the regular board meeting next week.

Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Northfield City administrator Ben Martig can be heard here

New mental health priorities for law enforcement will pay off

This summer has been a particularly difficult time for many residents of the Northfield community. Just two weeks ago, Melanie Valencia, 14, died after suffering catastrophic injuries after being hit by a car on her bicycle. The disappearance of Elle Ragen after her mother was found dead by suicide in early July continues to haunt the community. Even though most of us are enjoying something resembling a pandemic-free summer, there are still circumstances and events that can be hard to hear and even harder to understand.

The effects of these events, and others, can also impact first responders, emergency personnel, and those with careers in public safety. Northfield Police Chief Mark Elliott spoke about the priority he places on mental health care for all in his department, and Deputy Police Chief PT Haider echoed Chief Elliott’s thoughts.

“Things have happened this summer that are not ‘the norm,'” he said. “And that can be emotionally taxing on the department.”

Haider was candid in his comments, explaining that police officers see things every day that are very difficult for anyone to see even once, let alone on a regular basis. For this reason, every sworn officer and every sworn support staff member of the Northfield Police Department goes through what they call a “wellness check”.

Haider said he thinks it’s important for a police officer – who is usually someone with a strong personality who feels the need to convey a sense of strength – to have a conversation with someone brought in by the department. with whom he has no personal connection. . The benefits of these conversations, he said, pay dividends in both their professional and personal lives.

“Because when we go home, we go home. That’s it. People go home. They take off the uniform and go home with their children and their family, and they have to separate what happened at work from their family life. And sometimes it’s hard for people to do that. And in law enforcement generally – in Minnesota – the mental health aspect is now really focused and scrutinized, as it should be. Because we want to make sure our officers are mentally healthy themselves. On a day-to-day basis, Wells Officers will take better care of the people they work with and serve.

The same also applies to departmental support staff. Haider said staff see the same reports every day and have the same daily conversations with officers about things that are going on, and it’s just as important that people in those roles get the same support as officers.

Haider said that in his early days as a police officer, these issues were not addressed. But now that the attention is in the right places, he believes it has made the Northfield Police Department an even more capable organization, which has made the community even safer.

Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Northfield Deputy Police Chief PT Haider can be heard here

Rich Larson is KYMN’s News Director. Contact him at [email protected]

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