In Rochester, the future of work could include this driverless shuttle

By Catherine Richert, Megan Burks and Tom Crann

See the source image

Development in downtown Rochester has been humming along despite the pandemic, and one of its latest offerings is a driverless shuttle.

This is no tram or monorail affixed to a track; the Med City Mover rolls along city streets, using sensors to detect and stop for pedestrians and red lights, and to navigate around objects in its path.

MPR News reporter Catharine Richert described it as a “miniature bus” when she recently met Destination Medical Center executive director Patrick Seeb to learn more about it, and how it fits into the city’s vision for the future.

Their conversation is transcribed below. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Tell me about the Med City Mover.

[It] is a test vehicle that is designed to test out driverless buses. It is here with us in Rochester for a year, as a part of an initiative by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to test out how people respond to autonomous vehicles and how they function in an urban setting. This one is electric powered, so we’re also going to learn a little bit about electric-powered vehicles in the wintertime.

There is, in fact, a person manning the vehicle, though he is not technically driving it. Explain his role to me.

We refer to the attendant as a concierge, and he welcomes people on, makes them feel comfortable, takes notes and learns from people about what their experiences are and how they are feeling about being on an autonomous vehicle. They’re also prepared to intercept or interrupt a situation if a problem emerged.

We have just one of these vehicles here in Rochester. It runs on a 1.5-mile loop. Where else is this being used?

We’re seeing these mostly on college campuses in a more dedicated lane. So this is one of the few places where it’s being done in an urban street system.

When this is implemented on a larger scale, assuming it is, how many of these vehicles would you envision? How many people would you envision it being able to move around?

I would say that what we’re testing today is not so much about this vehicle and this vehicle at a larger scale. It’s really helping contribute to the body of science around how autonomous vehicles work in an urban environment. I think that’s why [the Minnesota Department of Transportation], which is sponsoring this, looked to Rochester as a potential test site because, in many ways, Rochester is known as a city of innovation and a city that has a culture of learning.

But I will say this: As we are learning from this, these sort of miniature buses, as you described it, could be quite appealing. They have a very small footprint and can accommodate six people. And they look kind of cute.

Why does Rochester want these types of options, in terms of the type of people that you’re hoping will move here?

One, we know that as Rochester continues to grow, as Mayo Clinic continues to grow, our street system simply won’t accommodate as many cars as that, if that’s the only way of getting downtown. Moreover, we’re attracting people from around the country and around the world who are accustomed to all of these different options, all of these modes of transportation. It was only a few years ago that Rochester started to allow Uber and Lyft in the community, and I recall meeting professionals flying into Rochester, assuming they could get off at the airport and call an Uber, only to be surprised that wasn’t an option.

How has the pandemic shifted Destination Medical Center plans and timelines?

While we’re in the middle of it, it’s really hard to judge out ultimately what the impact will be. What we do know is that the demand for health care and the understanding of the value of public health and medicine has probably never been higher. And so it makes Rochester and Mayo Clinic even more appealing.

It also means it has changed the workforce, and where people work and how they structure their day. So if fewer of them have to come downtown to their job, it will require that we be more creative in attracting people to come to downtown — where they’re making a choice to come into the downtown.

Mayo has decided that at least some part of their workforce could be working from home indefinitely, which really alters the clientele that you might see down here, for instance, during lunchtime on a weekday, right?

Absolutely. And so perhaps those people who otherwise were coming to downtown every day for their jobs, may want to come down on weekends because they miss the energy and vitality of being out and about among friends and colleagues. We have to respond to that changing environment — and we can and we will.

Richert will take another look at development in downtown Rochester Wednesday on All Things Considered when she’ll introduce us to the owner of ThaiPop. Annie Balow has taken a bet on the city’s future, opening a restaurant downtown when many would-be customers are still working from home.

Website: In Rochester, the future of work could include this driverless shuttle | MPR News

Minnesota Christmas Market

  • DATES: November 13, 2021
  • TIME: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • LOCATION: Mayo Civic Center

The MN Christmas Market is an annual pop-up holiday market that showcases homegrown brands and makers, with a charitable twist. All artisans, makers and brands donate 7% of sales from the event to a local charity that fights for kids in the Twin Cities. This year’s charity is the Reel Hope Project. The Reel Hope Project makes videos of kids in Minnesota who are waiting to be adopted, sharing these videos around the state to find a forever family for every child.

Click on link below for more information.
MN Christmas Market

Fee is $1 at the door to get in.$25 VIP ticket
You will skip the line and receive 1 hour of early shopping from 9-10am with special discounts, and a complimentary cocktail/coffee drink! 

Amazing Minnesota Light Show is Only 90 Minutes From Rochester

If you’re looking for an incredible holiday light display to put you in the Christmas spirit,  you can’t beat Winter Lights at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. (In case you weren’t aware– as I wasn’t– the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum serves as a research center and extension of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.)

And its big light display, Winter Lights, is returning as a walking tour for the 2021 holiday season (after having been a drive-thru event in 2020.)

Actually, that’s incorrect.

Winter Lights isn’t just a single holiday light display, it’s actually 16 different holiday light displayswhich you can walk through as you sip hot chocolate or apple cider and get your fa-la-la-la-la on! Here’s how the Arboretum describes the Winter Lights 2021:

Get outside and enjoy the crisp, fresh air of a winter evening as you experience 16 outdoor light displays, featuring flowers, nature and winter fun, on an accessible, stroller-friendly walk that’s just over a half-mile. Warm-up midway through the walking tour at a bonfire and roast marshmallows over the fire — s’mores packages will be for sale. Artist Jennifer Hedberg’s luminescent ice sculptures will also be part of the display. Embrace all that a Minnesota winter has to offer!

Winter Lights is set to open for the 2021 holiday season on Thursday, November 18th and will run through January 2nd, 2022. (Specifically, November 19-24, 26-28;
December 3-5, 10-12, 17-23, 26-30; and January 1-2.) Tickets cost $15 (they’re free for kids 15 and under) go on sale Friday, November 5th. (Unless you’re already an Arboretum member, then they’re already on sale.)

Read More: Amazing Minnesota Holiday Light Show Just 90 Minutes From Rochest |

Trunk-or-treat events happening around Rochester

By: Miranda Johnson KTTC News

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — A list has been gathered of trunk-or-treat events that are happening this year in Rochester and the surrounding area.

Trunk-or-treat is a way for kids to enjoy the spooky holiday, while also being safe.

This Halloween activity, usually held at a community place, allows people to decorate and open the trunks of their vehicles and hand out candy to trunk-or-treaters.

Trunk-or-treat event list:

Other trunk-or-treat events that are happening and are not listed above, can be sent to [email protected], and will be added to the list.

Trunk-or-treat events happening around Rochester (

‘Creepy Doll Contest’ returns in Olmsted County

As Halloween approaches, an annual contest is back in southern Minnesota.

Olmsted County launched its “Creep Doll Contest” in 2019.

This year, there are nine doll contestants, including several dolls from the 1800s.

The winner will be crowned at a “Creepy Doll Cocktail Party,” happening Oct. 23 in Rochester. There will be live music and experts will be there to answer questions about the dolls.

Voting takes place on Facebook and Instagram all month.

Find information about getting tickets to the cocktail party and the dolls here.

‘Creepy Doll Contest’ returns in Olmsted County |

Seven Ways to Be Safe and Healthy This Halloween

Don’t let your health get tricked this Halloween! Here are a few ways to stay safe and healthy.

1. Get Moving

Carve out time to be active this Halloween – between get-togethers and trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. Take a walk and do some weight training to help you feel good!

Regular physical activity can help control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease and some cancers, improve mental health and mood, and increase your chance of living longer.

2. Eat Well

Don’t spend this Halloween filling up on junk food and sweets. Give yourself and your guests healthier choices and nutritious treats.

Fruits and vegetables are part of a well-balanced and healthy eating plan. Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health.

3. Keep Your Bite Healthy

Keep Halloween candy at bay. Care for teeth the right way – brush with a fluoride toothpaste each and every day.

Tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.

4. Play it Safe

Take precautions to stay safe while trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Watch out for cars, use reflective gear, walk with a group, and carry a flash light.

Check out CDC’s Injury Center for tips to stay safe at home, on the road, and at play.

5. Scare Away the Flu and Colds

Don’t get spooked by the flu. Wash your hands frequently and get a flu vaccine, too!

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. Get vaccinated to protect yourself and your loved ones and learn about good health habits that can help stop germs.

6. Don’t Be a Zombie

Sleep is important– even on Halloween! Adults need 7-8 hours each night. It’s best for staying healthy and helping the disease fight!

Insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

7. Be Afraid of Smoking

Keep your Halloween activities smoke and tobacco free. Being smoke free is the way to be!

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases. Get help to quit smoking.

Seven Ways to Be Safe and Healthy This Halloween | Health Equity Features | CDC

‘Get Picking’ at These 32 Minnesota Apple Orchards

Apple orchards are starting to open for another U-pick season. 

By Rick Nelson Star Tribune

See the source image
Minnesota-grown Frist Kiss apple.

A sure sign of the impending change of seasons is when local U-pick apple orchards open their gates.

Some go all out, offering hay rides, corn mazes, live music and other family-friendly activities. Others operate apple-focused bakeries — a feast of doughnuts, fritters, turnovers, pies and crisps — and many concentrate on general stores stocked with pre-picked apples, freshly pressed cider, caramel apples and other apple-related products. Then there are the purists, who stick strictly to the highly underrated fresh-air activity of apple picking.

These U-pick orchards are within (roughly) a 90-minute drive from downtown Minneapolis. Some have already started welcoming apple enthusiasts, others are opening soon. Be sure to do your research before visiting to confirm hours, services, availability and payment options.

Belle Plaine

Cherith Farms, 27450 Raven Road, 507-665-5055,

Emma Krumbee’s Apple Orchard, 311 E. Enterprise Drive, 952-873-3006,


Deer Lake Orchard, 1903 10th St. SW., 763-682-4284,


Apple Jack Orchards, 4875 SE. 37th St., 763-972-6673,

Apple Tree-O, 5667 SE. 90th St., 763-390-7795,

Elko New Market

Thompsons’ Hillcrest Orchard, 6271 E. 250th St., 952-461-2055,


Trumps Orchard, 1020 St. Paul Av., 507-334-5167,


Afton Apple, 14421 90th St. S., 651-436-8385,

Croix Farm Orchard, 12971 St. Croix Trail S., 651-437-7126,

Whistling Well Farm, 8973 St. Croix Trail S., 651-998-0301,


Minnesota Harvest, 8251 Old Hwy. 169 Blvd., 952-492-2785,


Applewood Orchard, 22702 Hamburg Av., 952-985-5425,

Maple Lake

Organic Breezy Hill, 3944 Iresfield Av. NW.,


Minnetonka Orchards, 6530 County Road 26,


Montgomery Orchard, 15953 State Hwy. 99, 952-221-1051,


Fall Harvest Orchard, 345 County Road 30 SE., 763-972-3894,


Silkey Gardens, 5561 SE. 115th St., 651-357-5092,


J.Q. Fruit Farm & Orchard, 8082 33rd St., 763-389-2567,

Red Wing

Frontenac Hills Orchard, 30202 Frontenac Hills Way, 651-212-1768


Sekapp Orchard, 3415 Collegeview Road E., 507-282-4544,


Knapton’s Raspberries, Pumpkins & Orchard, 5695 Hwy. 55, 763-479-1184,

Rush City

Moulton’s Vineyard & Orchard, 51513 Game Av., 320-248-0042,


Peter’s Pumpkins & Carmen’s Corn, 12860 Old Brick Yard Road, 952-906-0247,

South Haven

Fairhaven Farm, 13835 51st Av., 320-236-7685,


Dew Fresh Produce, 404 375th Av. NE., 763-689-2282,

Jake’s Apple Shack, 601 375th Av. NE., 763-689-2282,


Aamodt’s Apple Farm, 6428 Manning Av., 651-439-3127,


Deardorff Orchards, 8282 Parley Lake Road,


LuceLine Orchard, 2755 Rose Av., 612-817-6229,


Havlicek’s Veseli Vrsek Orchard, 26526 Newport Av., 952-758-4386,

Nelson’s Apple Farm, 3010 Douglas Av., 952-461-3355,


Sunrise River Farm, 7602 Wyoming Trail, 651-462-8220,

Get picking at these 32 Minnesota apple orchards –

New Rochester Middle School Announces Name

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — Rochester Public Schools (RPS) announced in a school board meeting Tuesday night that the new middle school will be called “Dakota” Middle School.

Voting for the new school name was conducted online from September 8 to September 16.

Other names that were considered were Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., Unity, Dakota and Woksape; meaning wisdom in the Lakota language.

The names were submitted by students and are what they believe to best represent the community of Rochester.

New Rochester middle school announces name (

Roller Disco event coming to downtown Rochester in October

By Ethan Humble

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — Roller Disco, the Rochester Downtown Alliance’s newest event, will temporarily turn downtown into an outdoor roller-skating rink on October 9.

The event will feature high-energy music, skate rentals, party lighting and a disco ball. It will include family, teen and adult skate hours.

The temporary outdoor roller rink, which has been featured at large-scale events like Coachella, will be installed for one day at a downtown location yet to be determined.

“Roller skating has made a comeback recently and we hope Rochester really embraces this new program. We envision an exuberant, welcoming event that appeals to all ages, including 12- to 18-year-olds, a demographic we haven’t always served in the past,” said Kanika Couchene, RDA director of events & strategic partnerships.

Roller Disco event partners include Winona State University, Rochester and KTTC TV.

Visit the event’s web page and follow Downtown Rochester, MN on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter as more details are released.

Roller Disco event coming to downtown Rochester in October (

Rochester Joins National Effort to Get People Active This Fall

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Mayor Kim Norton is encouraging residents to join the “Fall Fit City Challenge.”

Rochester is one of 32 communities across the country taking part in the program where people take the time they spend moving on a dedicated app. When the challenge ends on October 15, the ward with the most tracked time will win a party at a local park.

“Rochester is already an incredibly active city with a great public trail system, which includes over 100 miles of trails, and numerous parks and recreation opportunities. It is my hope that this program encourages people to get out and explore the city,” says Mayor Norton. “As America’s City for Health, this initiative supports what we try and focus on as a community.”

The “Fall Fit City Challenge” is a national initiative founded by the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. Rochester is the only community in Minnesota taking park.

Rochester joins national effort to get people active this fall (