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TCU junior wide receiver Riley O’Malley rushes down the field last season against Sibley East. (Carson Hughes/southernminn.com)

Trcka Park skating rink, warming shelter completion calls for celebration
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A vision several years in the making has come to fruition in Lonsdale, and the result is a rink full of children playing hockey.

Trcka Park, located at 1001 Main St. S., is equipped not only with a year-round skating rink (ice and inline) but also a multi-use pavilion with restrooms. With construction completed on the amenities, the Lonsdale Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting celebration Thursday evening.

TCU Hockey players played on the new Trcka Park rink Thursday evening before the official ribbon cutting. (Misty Schwab/southernminn.com)

TCU soccer families and hockey families, along with Park Board members and City Council members, participated in the ribbon-cutting for the rink and pavilion and watched children give the rink a go with their own hockey game.

“This has been a dream for TCU Hockey,” said Nicole Burns, a parent and Tri-City United Hockey Board member. Of the architect, Burns said, “Wow — thumbs up. I’m really excited for the kids.”

Mayor Tim Rud, who spoke at the ribbon cutting for the ice rink and warming house/park shelter, said the vision for Trcka Park began in 2004, when Shirley and Don Trcka owned the farm on the neighboring land. The land was sold to On-Site Marketing, and the city was entitled to either 10% of the land or dollars of equal value. The city of Lonsdale took the 10 acres of land to put forth toward future recreational amenities, and the Park Board and city staff worked together to install the walking paths and more recently the soccer fields.

TCU soccer player Sam Utecht, center, cut the ribbon on behalf of the soccer team during the Trcka Park celebration. (Misty Schwab/southernminn.com)

The vision for the rink and pavilion was laid out for the future, but a grant enabled the city to move forward. City Planner Ben Baker applied for a $250,000 Outdoor Recreation Grant for the ice rink and park shelter, and the Department of Natural Resources approved the grant in spring 2019. Rud said the city received many donations for the matching grant and thanked those departments and individuals that made the project possible. Approximately $388,000 paid for the project, plus donations from various entities. Compared to Belle Plaine’s similar shelter project, Rud said Lonsdale paid substantially less in out-of-pocket dollars.

The city of Lonsdale accepted a $5,000 check from the TCU Hockey Association for the Trcka Park ice rink as part of the rink and warming shelter ribbon-cutting celebration. (Misty Schwab/southernminn.com)

“It’s really been a goal of the city and Park Board to provide as many amenities for our families as we can,” Rud said.

The hockey rink will allow TCU hockey families more opportunities to practice locally. Players can use their rollerblades on the pavement in the warmer seasons and transition to skates when the rink surface becomes ice. Lights in the rink allow for night skating and a new garage houses the Olympia Ice Resurfacer. Walkways are planned for 2021.

The pavilion works as a warming shelter in the winter but also provides a rental space for picnics, parties and other events throughout the year.

“I think it’s pretty well built out for a town our size,” Rud said. “A lot of towns partner with schools for a project like this, so to do it on our own I think is pretty remarkable.”

Staying within budget, council OKs changes to police station project
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Several aspects of the planned police station have been eliminated to keep within the city’s budget for the project, but architects say this won’t interfere with project goals.

Melissa Stein of WOLD Architects and Engineers reported to the City Council during its Thursday meeting that the cost estimate for the project came in above the city’s budgeted $2.2 million. However, architects reworked the site plan in several small ways to keep the project within the budget. According to Stein, these changes would not negatively impact the functionality of the building.

Stein presented visual updates on the Police Department’s site and building plan during the meeting and described the impact of the changes.

To cut down on costs, the new plan includes a change in concrete masonry units (CMU) walls to precast panels with a thin brick onset. Stein said the exterior for the police station will be conducive to a potential future city hall and library, which will be included in the master plan. While the exterior of those buildings haven’t been planned yet, the architects will likely base the buildings’ looks on the facilities around that space.

WOLD also found ways to reduce costs in the mechanical systems by seeking out other options that still meet code requirements. Stein said the building itself does not need a sprinkler system to meet code requirements, so that was eliminated from the plan as well.

While the initial plan included a seven-stall garage, the updated garage houses two less stalls to fit within the project budget.

Councilor Cindy Furrer asked if the five-stall garage would meet the project goal of serving the city for the long term. While the initial plan included a seven-stall garage, the updated garage houses two less stalls to fit within the project budget.

“I want to make sure we’re not for today; we need to be for the future …” Furrer said. “I don’t want to see them be shorted out.”

Lonsdale Police Chief Jason Schmitz, who was present at the meeting and has been involved in building discussions with the architects, said, “I believe five is manageable. I don’t see us increasing the amount of squad cars in the next 10 to 15 years.”

Mayor Tim Rud pointed out that the city could re-evaluate the garage years down the road if the time comes when the department acquires more squad cars.

“I think we’ve told the public now we’re going to build this for $2.2 million, plus or minus, I think we should stay on that target now and build it for that,” Rud said.

Neighborhood meeting

In preparation for the 2021 street and utility improvement project, the City Council held a neighborhood meeting during its regular Thursday meeting. City Engineer John Powell presented on the project, which will impact the Third Avenue SW and Fourth Avenue SW area of town in May 2021.

Powell answered questions for a few residents who voiced their concerns at the meeting. The City Council will host the actual public hearing Thursday, Oct. 29 during its 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall, giving residents a second opportunity to get their questions answered.

Rud encouraged all residents on the impacted properties to take photos of their mailboxes, houses, basements, bushes and other property features in case of accidents related to the construction.

Those unable to join the public hearing may call City Administrator Joel Erickson at 507-744-2327 or email jerickson@lonstel.com or Powell at 952-737-4661 or jpowell@wsbeng.com with questions.

Workforce learning program exposes TCU students to career options
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Going into a business and asking questions is a big deal for high school students and sometimes a little intimidating.

A workforce development program at Tri-City United High School takes some of the strain off students as they consider the career fields they might want to enter.

TCU business teacher Stacy Lindblom said students as young as ninth and 10th grade are becoming more integrated into the pathways program, which allows students to take classes relevant to their specific career options. So this year, quite a few of those students want job shadowing experiences.

Between her two sections of her introduction to business course this year, Lindblom wants to place between 40 to 50 students in workforce opportunities.

“Last year we were able to place almost all of them but two into an eight-hour job shadow, and the kids really enjoyed it, getting out into the workforce,” Lindblom said.

During the pandemic, Lindblom said four-hour job shadowing might be a more realistic goal for her students. Health and safety protocols prohibit field trips this year, so students may not have the same opportunities to step inside the workforce environments they want to explore. Job shadows are possible depending on the companies’ own protocols, and employees can get creative with virtual presentations.

Manufacturing companies may even send construction pieces to the classroom for project-based learning. Minnesota Millwork, for example, plans to provide project-based demonstrations in school with donated materials. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) also plans to do a project-based demonstration and potential job shadowing.

Lindblom surveyed her students to find out the career paths they want to explore. Her students showed interest in a wide variety of fields and subjects, including fish hatchery, equipment dealership and sales, electrical work, construction, architecture, and various types of engineering. Finding registered nurse work had always been challenging, Lindblom said, but she hopes to find some virtual opportunities for students this year. A couple students also want to learn about business ownership, accounting, real estate, teaching and childcare. One student even wants to learn about being in the U.S. Army Airforce.

Another TCU teacher, John Head, is also on the hunt for workforce development opportunities with local businesses and manufacturing companies. Head teaches principles of engineering, introduction to engineering design and computer integrated manufacturing.

“Anything to get those students out into that engineering world, he would be open to,” Lindblom said.

In finding businesses willing to participate, Lindblom said she’d like to prioritize the Tri-City area but won’t limit the radius if students find options in neighboring towns like Mankato, which isn’t far from Le Center, or Northfield, which is close to Lonsdale students.

Workforce Development Coordinator Danielle Duffey said TCU started the workforce learning program last year with a previous employee, and she’s expanded upon the pre-existing relationships and met with TCU schools to determine the students’ goals this year.

Duffey’s grant-funded position represents St. Peter and Le Sueur-Henderson schools in addition to TCU. Since teachers’ busy work schedules reduce their time to seek out business partners, Duffey meets that need by working as a mediator.

“We’re doing a lot of good regional work to engage students and families to continue to live and work in the region even after they graduate from school,” Duffey said.

While Duffey has already contacted a number of regional companies and businesses to find out their interest in participating in the workforce development program, she’s open to hearing from workplaces she may have missed. Those interested in becoming involved may contact her at dduffey@mnscsc.org or call 507-388-3675.

The crib in IRIS’s sculpture of a grieving angel is filled with hearts honoring thousands of children who died in infancy, were stillborn or lost to miscarriage. (Photo courtesy of IRIS)