Kaia Schomberg, a 2020 graduate of Northfield High School and former Jesse James Days Defeat Ambassador, was named 2023 Minneapolis Aquatennial Queen of the Lakes Saturday night. Schomburg will now represent the city of Minneapolis in the state of Minnesota and North America, making more than 250 appearances over the next year. In addition to trips to Minnesota community festivals, the team will travel to the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, California; Fiesta San Antonio in San Antonio, TX; Festival du Voyageur in Winnipeg, Canada and many more.

According to their website, the Minneapolis Aquatennial Ambassador Organization is a nonprofit, public charity in Minnesota. The AAO focuses its efforts in three areas: community, leadership and scholarship. Throughout each year, Aquatennial Ambassadors visit dozens of communities to build strong relationships and promote the Aquatennial Festival and Minneapolis. Additionally, Ambassadors also volunteer time in service to other deserving organizations.

AAO offers a Nominee Program for Minnesota-based Community Festival Ambassadors to enhance their professional development and leadership skills. At the end of the candidacy program, three Ambassadors are selected from the pool of candidates to continue and represent the AAO for one year. The AAO offers scholarships to the Aquatic Queen of the Lakes and Princesses each year after the end of their year of service.

Schomburg was one of three ambassadors in defeating Jesse James Days, along with two junior ambassadors, who have the distinction of holding their titles for a record length of time. Named an ambassador in 2019, Schomburg and her cohorts have held the title during the Covid-19 pandemic. The 2020 celebration has been scaled down significantly, and in 2021 the announcement of ambassadors has been moved to the end of the celebration rather than the beginning. Therefore, Schomburg and his Ambassador Class have the distinction of holding their titles through three celebrations.

Schomburg was selected from a pool of 37 nominees representing communities across the state of Minnesota. She is the third Northfielder in seven years to be named Queen of the Lakes.

Bennett says summer public works projects are on track

Northfield City Engineer Dave Bennett said the ongoing road construction project in the northwest part of the city is progressing.

Northfield City Engineer Dave Bennett

quite well, and due to the lack of rain this summer, overall this project and others are on schedule.

Bennett said he was very pleased that the 5th Street Bridge project was completed. Started at the end of April, the project was to end at the end of June. However, during the refurbishment project, asbestos was discovered in a utility line. The project had to be stopped while the asbestos was being removed, which caused a delay of nearly three weeks.

The pickleball courts at Lions Riverside Park are nearing completion, he said. Footings and netting posts have been installed, and he hopes final paving can take place as early as next week.

The St. Olaf Avenue plant and overlay project is progressing more or less on schedule, he said. This construction will include embankments to be placed at the far east of the road. This is a necessary component that must be installed in order for the city to request a rail quiet zone through the area. Some of that will take additional time, he said, which might be the only part of the project that will be delayed.

Although ongoing projects have been budgeted and locked in when they were submitted, Bennett said that like every other facet of the economy due to inflation, they are seeing increased costs when considering future projects. In the short term, he said, this could limit the scope for urban road construction.

“Most projects, the cost is pretty much locked in when we go out to bid. We see cost increases when prices related to construction costs come back, so the price goes up. We don’t pave as many meters or kilometers as we usually could, just because of these inflationary costs that we see.”

Bennett said after this spike in construction costs, he expects things to balance out. While he doesn’t see prices returning to pre-pandemic levels, he said he believes after this initial adjustment, inflation will return to average annual increases of 3-4%.

Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Northfield City engineer Dave Bennett can be heard here

CAC creates fund to help owners of manufactured homes

By Cait Kelley

Last Wednesday, the Community Action Center announced the creation of a new designated fund for mobile home repairs and land rentals. help in Rice County.

This fund is different from the Town of Northfield Manufactured Housing Rehabilitation Program. This program was created explicitly to provide funds for repairs to residents of Viking Terrace, while the new CAC fund covers all manufactured housing in Rice County.

The CAC, Healthy Community Initiative (HCI) and the Northfield Racial and Ethnic Equity Coalition (NREEC) collaborated to create the fund.

The creation of the fund follows Lakeshore Management raising land rents and attempting to enforce tough new rules at Viking Terrace in Northfield.

A statement from the CAC said: “We hope this designated fund will provide a way for community members to stand in solidarity with our neighbors living in mobile home communities who need our support now more than ever.”

Mar Valdecantos of Rice County Neighbors United argues that Lakeshore is trying to use citations and forced upgrades to Viking Terrace in order to beautify the park and attract new residents, instead of trying to make homes safe and livable for those already present.

“Lakeshore is forcing people to spruce up the place rather than fix things that really need to be fixed like plumbing or electrical issues, or how to winterize that house so you don’t have to pay a huge amount of money. So you pay rent for the land but then you have to pay the electricity, the electricity bill, which is very high because in the winter people have to use quite a bit [large] amount for heat.

To access these funds for your home, you can contact the CAC or Brian Kopack, the Mobile Home Rehabilitation Coordinator.

To donate to the fund, visit communityactioncenter.org/donate and click on the link for Mobile Home Rehabilitation Fund details.

Rich Larson is KYMN’s News Director. Contact him at rich @kymnradio.net.

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