September 24, 2023

School district sets e-Learning plan; Railway quiet zone a goal for the city; Rotary Turkey Trot returns

As winter approaches, the Northfield School District has posted its e-Learning plan for snow days during this school year.

Northfield Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matt Hillmann said the procedure will be much closer to the way at-home learning was done before the Covid-19 pandemic, and not like the distance learning that happened during the pandemic.  

During an e-Learning Day, students will be required to attend a Zoom classroom meeting that will last for approximately 15 minutes, where they will receive instructions for the day. Lessons will be posted to one of the district’s learning websites, Schoology or See Saw, and students will be required to complete and turn in one activity from each class or curriculum subject depending on the grade level. Teachers will be available during the day by Zoom, email, or phone via voicemail from 9-11:30am and from 1-3pm. 

Adult Basic Education, Early Ventures and KidVenture programs will be canceled at the Community Learning Center. Early Childhood and Preschool families will receive instructions from their school staff. Portage students will follow their regular schedule. 

Dr. Hillmann said e-Learning will not come into play until the second snow day of the year, giving the students a day off during the first snow day. The program is in place in case of multiple snow days throughout the year, will prevent the district from having to extend the school year in June. 

“Minnesota summers are treasures, and we know that families are planning vacations and things like that, so we want to give them some predictability for the end of the school year. We think that this is a good way to keep the momentum of our curriculum moving forward. We’re not going to pretend that it’s the same as a day of being in school., but we think keeping the momentum of our curriculum in February as opposed to June is a different story.” 

Hillmann stressed that an e-Learning day is “a bridge to through a Minnesota winter weather event,” and should not be confused with distance learning, which required much more stringent rules for student participation. 

The Northfield Public Schools e-Learning plan can be found here

Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Dr. Matt Hillmann can be heard here 


City works toward railroad quiet zone 

As the City of Northfield begins planning for the 2022 roadway improvement projects, more discussion is being turned to establishing a railroad quiet zone that would run from Highway 19 past St. Olaf Avenue. The establishment of a quiet zone would end the requirement for a train passing through town to sound its horn at every intersection, ending what is a nuisance to many and a constant source of aggravation to those who live near the train tracks on the west side of Northfield. 

The city commissioned a quiet zone study in 2006, and Northfield City Council will be looking at the subject again early next year. 

City Engineer Dave Bennett said the city will be conducting a mill & overlay project on the streets in the Northwest section of Northfield next summer, including St. Olaf Ave. The Federal Department of Transportation requires that center medians be put in the far east section of St. Olaf Avenue as a safety measure in order to establish the quiet zone, and right now those medians are in the plans. Work on 3rd street safety measures has already been done, and Bennett said the city received money in the bonding funds for the new transit hub building to establish safety measures on 2nd Street as well. 

With other projects in the works, Bennett said the city hopes to position itself to request the quiet zone within the next five years. 

“We know that MnDOT will be looking at Highway 19 in 2025, so we have numerous crossings really in the next five years that could be improved that would get us very close to meeting the criteria for the quiet zone. So, we just want to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to be successful in the next five years to be ready to go.” 

The project is not without controversy, however. Pat and Lynn Ziegler, who own Ziggy’s Gas Station have expressed concern to the council about the location of the medians on St. Olaf Avenue, because they would block fuel trucks from being able to enter the Ziggy’s parking lot. Bennett said the city is working with the Ziegler’s to find a solution. 

Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with City Engineer Dave Bennett and Mayor Rhonda Pownell can be heard here 


Rotary Turkey Trot registration is open 

After a one-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Northfield Rotarians Jim Loe and Scott Richardson said the annual Rotary Turkey Trot, a 5K run/walk, will return this year on Thanksgiving morning. Runners and walkers of all sizes, ages and abilities are invited to participate in one of Rotary’s marquee annual events.    

Richardson, a member of the Turkey Trot committee said the race serves an important role in keeping people from the community in touch with each other. 

“This is sort of Northfield’s unofficial homecoming. On a normal year, we’ll get 1000-plus over there. [There are]eople coming back to town for the holidays and taking the opportunity to connect. I think it probably serves the same function as Facebook, only we were there first.” 

The chip-timed 5K event will begin at 9am at the Carleton College Weitz Center. Awards will be given to the top male and female runners.    

Registration is open now at this link.  Participation is $25. Those who register before Friday will be guaranteed a long-sleeve 2021 Turkey Trot t-shirt. Loe said due to supply chain issues, 2021 shirts cannot be guaranteed for those who register after Friday, but late arrivals will receive a t-shirt from last year. Same-day registration will be accepted between 8:00 and 9:00 on Thanksgiving morning, at the Weitz Center. A $29 “free range” option is also available to those who will not be in Northfield on Thanksgiving but wish to participate.    

This year’s event will benefit several Rotary programs, including youth exchange, polio eradication, and a number of Northfield Rotary’s international projects. Rotary will also be collecting food for the Northfield Food Shelf.   

Masks are required in all Carleton College buildings, and vaccination is strongly encouraged for all participants.    

For more information, visit the Northfield Rotary web site at 

Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Jim Loe and Scott Richardson of Northfield Rotary can be heard here


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


School district sets e-Learning plan; Railway quiet zone a goal for the city; Rotary Turkey Trot returns