Could 35/19 intersection get a roundabout?; Underdahl comments on whistleblower lawsuit; Volunteers, sewers and cloth donations needed –

By Teri Knight, News Director

On Tuesday the Rice County Board of Commissioners officially approved an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to review, develop and fine tune a proposed roundabout at I-35 and Hwy 19. The Faribault Daily reports the county will spend $33,000 with MnDOT covering the remainder, about $67,000. This intersection has long been a problem area and last Fall MnDot initiated and funded a safety analysis. While MnDOT officials haven’t made a funding commitment to the project, they have directed the county to apply for competitive programs. County Engineer Dennis Luebbe said traffic has increased substantially since Pilot Corporation bought the Flying J and expanded it. A total of six exit and entrance

ramps would be included in the proposed roundabout, that include access to and from I-35, Hwy 19 and several area frontage roads that have been considered possible sites for economic development. County Commissioners are not inclined to invest a lot of county dollars on a project that includes an interstate and a state highway. They’re looking at 10% of the estimated $3 million project.The county will apply for a combined $1.6 million from two MnDOT pots of money, but will be up against plenty of other competitive projects. Grants are expected to be awarded within the next couple of months. If the funding is secured, Luebbe said construction could start on the project by summer of 2022. 

Underdahl comments on whistleblower lawsuit

Northfield Hospital and Clinics President and CEO, Steve Underdahl, addressed an employment lawsuit against the hospital filed this week, saying, “we’ll be filing our response in the next few weeks”. He’s limited on what he can say at this point but added that “this is a case without merit in our perspectives”. The implication of the whistleblower suit is brought by a former employee regarding the Hospital’s endoscopy procedures. Underdahl noted that standard techniques evolve often, he said, “it doesn’t mean that an older, proven technique was dangerous, which is sort of insinuated in the complaint. We regularly review the care that’s provided”. He added, “our patients that required follow-up care for any reasons have been notified and talked to by us, which is always the case”.  Because this type of story can alarm people, he said, “if we have patients that are concerned about their own care that they had or care that they may be scheduling, we encourage them to call us and we’ll connect them with somebody that they’re comfortable with to help give them the information that they need and answer their questions”. Kaya    Latzke insinuates that she was demoted and then fired for alerting administration to improper protocols in that department. 

Volunteers, sewers and cloth donations needed

Northfield Shares is looking for volunteers and cloth. Rachel Meissler is helping to lead efforts connected to Covid-19. Northfield volunteers have already made over 20,000 masks. That said, Meissler added there are still places that need masks including the Food Shelf, which gives them to people who don’t have them as they pickup groceries curbside. The Northfield Public Library needs more masks and the largest need comes from the Northfield School District which has requested 1300 masks equally divided among adult and children size. She’s been closely working with Kathy Ness and her creation of the Supply Depot at the Northfield Chamber. There is also a need for isolation gowns, in particular for Care facilities such as Three Links and the NRC. If a new resident comes in, each visit from staff requires a new isolation gown, that could be up to eight a day.  If you can sew, supplies are at the Chamber, if you don’t, “maybe you could donate a set of micro-fiber sheets. A twin set because that’s what’s being used. They’re really easy to sanitize, really easy to work with”. Meissler added that the Food Shelf is in serious need of volunteers, in particular to shop orders inside for curbside pickup. They need stockers as well. She assured that the CAC is adhering to all protocols to keep everyone safe only allowing ten volunteers in the inside space at a time. Check out   Meissler’s full interview is on