By Rich Larson, News Director
A fire broke out at the Rice County Sanitary Landfill over the weekend, producing thick black smoke that could be seen from miles away, and producing concern with some about the air quality during the Northfield High School graduation ceremony.
Northfield Area Fire and Rescue Chief Gerry Franek said they received a call late Saturday afternoon and arrived at the landfill to find 3-4 acres on fire. Landfill fires can be extremely difficult to extinguish do to the highly flammable materials, the unpredictable footing that firefighters encounter, and the sheer amount of fuel to burn. Franek said firefighters worked for about five hours to extinguish the fire, using 10-12,000 gallons of water. He said, another call came in at 5:30 Sunday morning, to report another flare up. It took another four hours to put that fire out.
Concerns for air quality were allayed by the constant breeze on Sunday. No injuries were reported. Chief Franek said there is no way to determine the cause of the fire.
Options are being investigated for Rice County jail building
As Rice County begins to develop plans to build a new jail, the County Board of Commissioners must also decide what to do with the old buildings.
Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn said the board has created a subcommittee to investigate the options for the old jail and law enforcement center, and to make a recommendation on the future of the jail annex.
The Sheriff believes the old buildings could be used for a number of options. He said the Community Corrections Department, is strapped for space and he could very easily see that office moving into the former Law Enforcement Center. He also wondered if the space in the old jail could be converted to help with the inmates who have mental health issues.
Meanwhile, a determination must be made about what to do with the jail annex, which has been used to house minimum security inmates. The new jail will be built with fewer minimum-security beds than the current jail has. Sheriff Dunn said the building has been very useful, but there are qualifications for keeping it.
“The annex was given to the sheriff’s office for a dollar to use as a jail. So, at the point we stop using it as a jail we either have to turn it back over to them, or we have to buy it from the federal government. It’s been a great help for us.”
The subcommittee will report to the Board of Commissioners once a month until it has decided on a recommendation.
Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn can be heard here
Northfield Cemetery Stories begins anew
And the Northfield Historical Society’s annual Cemetery Stories will be this Saturday, June 12th at the Northfield Cemetery. Actors will portray seven different people who are interred at the cemetery, to tell their stories and honor the experiences of past residents of Northfield.
The presentation has undergone some major changes in the last two years. First with the advent of the pandemic, the Historical Society was forced to present an online program last fall. And now they have teamed up with Northfield Public Schools and the Student Community Outreach Program Experience, or SCOPE, to present Cemetery Stories at a new time of year, with a new group of researchers.
The SCOPE Program is an advanced history and writing program that was originally developed for middle school students. This year the decision was made to make it a high school program, led by members of the Senior Class. In the past, SCOPE would always produce a project such as a book or a comprehensive presentation, but with the move to the high school the decision was made to make Cemetery Stories the annual capstone project.
Meadow Verdis, a member of the NHS Class of 2021 said the SCOPE students first worked on their skills in historical writing and research, and then they explored the cemetery collecting names from gravestones. The process then led to the Historical Society where the students researched the names they had collected and decided on one person about whom they could write. That information would then become the script for each of the actors.
The students found that researching some people was easier than others. Grace McCann, a 9th grade student at the high school initially started researching Patty Tollefson, but soon found there was much more information on her son Paul, including a memoire of his experiences serving during World War II, so she decided to write about him instead.
Her fellow 9th grade student, Genevieve Tassava, said she struck gold when she discovered the woman she was researching, Ila Herkenratt, had left a personal diary.
“I was elated to find that. Usually, you look through newspaper articles and you find their wedding dates or their childbirth announcements. So, to find a diary detailing her experiences as a schoolteacher in the early 1900’s was a great resource. I was really lucky to find that.”
Cemetery Stories will be this Saturday. Tours are scheduled for 6, 6:30, 7, 7:30, and 8 pm with a special non-walking tour at 5pm. The event will be held at Northfield Cemetery with parking available at the high school.
Ticket prices are $6 for adults, $5 for NHS members, $4 for seniors, and $3 for students (6 to 16.) Tickets can be purchased at the museum or reserved by calling 507-645-9268.
Jeff Johnson’s full conversation about Cemetery Stories with the members of the SCOPE program can be heard here
Credit: Source link