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Northfield City Council Meeting - February 19, 2013

February 20, 2013 at 11:47 am
By Jane McWilliams

Presentation:  Kathy Topp, Employment Liaison at Epic Enterprise, and three of Epic’s workers, were on hand tonight to thank the city for its contract with Epic. Now located in Dundas, for 35 years the non-profit company has provided supports to people with disabilities in Rice County and the surrounding area. Since 2004, when Ms Topp met with Human Resources Director Elizabeth Wheeler to explore the city’s interest, Epic has had a contract with the city. Epic pays workers’ salaries and benefits, the latter being more to the individuals than dollars and cents, according to Ms Topp.

Currently, Epic workers are assigned jobs in the ice arena, parks, shop, NCRC and the wastewater facility. Ms Topp noted this has been a win-win situation for both the departments and workers. A team is chosen for each job site and works with a job coach with the expectation that they will meet or exceed quality standards and work toward efficiency and attention to detail. Relationships between the work crews and departments are so important. “Hiring people with disabilities is not a charity. Bringing them into the city of Northfield is an exemplary act which models corporate and civic responsibility.” Ms Topp thanked Jerry Ness, Waste Water; Bernie Shakel, Facilities; Alison Watkins, Recreation; TJ Heinricy, Streets and Parks; and Ms Wheeler for their work with Epic. She singled out Ms Wheeler who had “opened the door of opportunity for Epic workers.”

Representatives Brian Zimmerman, Ken Brockton, and Bill Sorbel presented Mayor Dana Graham a certificate recognizing eight years of service. Mayor Graham, in turn, gave each man a sweatshirt bearing the motto: “Northfield, Working together.”

Street Improvements: The council approved preparation of plans and specifications for improvements  of 6th Street between Water and Washington Streets, and 9th Street between Water and Washington Streets. They also called for a second hearing on the Maple Street/Prairie Street Veterans Park Maintenance Project, which they failed to approve for plans and specifications at their previous meeting. Following the hearing on March 19, the council may decide to consider the projects separately in order to gain the necessary supermajority for ordering the improvements on one or both projects.

Council Rules of Business: At their January 19 work session and at their retreat on January 29, Mr. Madigan made some changes in the original proposed revisions. The council had a detailed discussion of the present draft and made suggestions for additional changes.  They approved a motion to adopt the rules with the changes made at this meeting.  Staff will provide a revised version.

Other Actions: 

Approved the 2013-2016 Recreation Agreement between the city and Northfield Public Schools Community Resources Division for recreation programming. 

Proclaimed February 24, 2013 as Peace and Justice Day on Northfield.

Declared February 2013 Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month throughout the City of Northfield.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:17 p.m. 

Comment:  As observer, I spoke to the council commending them for removing the original language in the Rules of Business minimizing the need for parliamentary procedure and mentioned that I had suggested to the LWV Board that we sponsor a community workshop on that topic for public and non-profit organizations. I also commended the addition to the city’s website the subsequent inclusion in council packets of materials distributed at their meetings so that the public would have access to these. ( ) It has sometimes been difficult to obtain paper copies during the meeting, and until the new website version, they weren’t available electronically.


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