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Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. Wright County Journal-Press & The Drummer


Montrose man dies in Minnetonka car accident after fleeing police

A chase involving Minnetonka police and a 30-year-old man from Montrose had a deadly result on Friday, April 6, when David Baxter's Mercury slammed into another vehicle on Minnetonka Boulevard, according to authorities.

The other driver of the other vehicle was critically injured. The accident occured just before 2:00 p.m at the intersection of Minnetonka Boulevard and Atwater Street on Hwy. 5.

Authorities stated they had called off their pursuit when speeds grew too dangerous. The chase began when officers found the 1999 Mercury Tracer speeding, and they eventually lost sight of the vehicle after having made their presence known. They later encountered the vehicle again, this time involved in a fatal accident.

State Patrol stated that the Mercury continued speeding, and entered the westbound lane, where it collided head-on with 2015 Volvo. The driver of the Mercury, David Baxter of Montrose, was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics upon arrival.

The driver of the Volvo was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.


Hanover City Council talks potential dental clinic

By Doug Voerding

A dentist office may be coming to Hanover at the corner of Labeaux Avenue NE (County Road 19) and 5th Street NE, just north of the Hanover Fire Hall.

With the absence of Mayor Chris Kauffman and Councilmember MaryAnn Hallstein on Tuesday April 3, the council tabled approval of the site plan to the Tuesday, April 17, meeting.

The site plan for Hanover Dental, PLLC, conforms to the city ordinance on land zoned as B-2 Highway Commercial and had previously been approved by the Planning Commission.

The building will be 2335 square feet, and a future addition of no more than 500 square feet will be allowed without a second site plan.

The plan shows 12 parking spaces, enough for two dentists, though only one dentist will be at the site to start.

Also expected on the April 17 agenda is a discussion of Hanover Cove, a major housing development proposed by Paxmar on the site of the former Duininck gravel pit.


Other Action

In other action, the council

- hired Terry Notvedt as a summer employee at $11.50 per hour. Notvedt had worked for the city last summer.

- approved an adjustment to the city's benefit contribution to employees. The benefit will be $700 per month for single coverage and $1000 for family coverage.

- approved the purchase of five new pagers for the fire department


March 20 Meeting

At the March 20 work session, the council

- approved the final draft of a city ordinance related to mine extraction. Any asphalt and concrete recycling facilities on the mining site will be allowed under a separate Interim Use Permit.

- appointed Dani Vetrano and Scott Jamison to the Park Board.

- approved the purchase of a Kubota excavator from Lano Equipment, the low bidder at $86,825. The excavator will be used to assist with stormwater management work. Funding will be from stormwater fees.

-approved the purchase of a trailer for the excavator. The low bid was also Lano at $11,620. Funding will also come from stormwater fees.

-accepted donations for the annual Easter egg hunt of $75 from Mavco, Inc.; $150 from Mark Miller Trucking; $50 from the Hanover Historical Society; and $100 from the River Inn.

- approved an exempt gambling permit for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for a raffle on April 21 at 10940 4th Street NE.


Criminal complaint filed on "Pulaski nail" case, one Buffalo man charged

An investigation completed by the Buffalo Police Department (BPD) has led to the filing of charges by the Wright County Attorney's Office against Joseph William Kurimay, 75 of Buffalo.

The complaint/summons charges Kurimay with Criminal Damage to Property in the First Degree per Minn. Statute: 609.595.1 (3), and carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, $10,000 in fines, or both. In March and April of 2017, Kurimay filed complaints with BPD regarding speeding cars past his home on Pulaski Lake. Kurimay expressed dissatisfaction with BPD's enforcement on his road. Kurimay had purchased a radar gun he showed to BPD during one of his visits.

 On October 13, 2017, BPD responded to its first report of damage to tires from what was found to be a mason's nail. Unique by design a mason's nail is approximately 1.5" long with a sharp pyramid-shaped point and a 1/2 inch steel cap. Upon receiving more complaints from the same area about the same nail, officers learned that local tire shops had repaired or replaced numerous tires that some of the businesses had dubbed "the Pulaski nail." BPD obtained subpoenas from the Wright County Attorney's Office that were served on Buffalo area tire repair stores for customer invoices related to damage by such nails.

On November 13, 2017, BPD published through social media a release about this case with pictures of the nail and asked anyone who had damage from such a nail to report it to BPD. To date, approximately 115 victims have provided statements to BPD attesting to the damage caused to their vehicles' tires, the location it occurred, and copies of invoices related to the costs of repair or replacement of tires in an amount totaling: $22,630.03. Many of the victims had multiple tires damaged at once.

Although most victims were private motorists, many involved motor carriers such as school buses. Ambulance and law enforcement vehicles also suffered damage from the nails.

On October 23, 2017 a search warrant was executed at Kurimay's residence during which Kurimay denied ever having possessed, or purchased such nails. However, one box was located in the search and found to contain some remaining nails matching the nails used in this crime.

Additionally, prior to the search warrant BPD had obtained video surveillance footage of Kurimay along with receipts for several different purchases totaling 600 nails from the Buffalo Menards.


Co. underway with human resource classification and compensation study

By Miriam Orr

Wright County has been preparing for a classification and compensation study, slated to begin April 2018, and determined to be completed by May 31. The County discussed this study's logistics at the Tuesday, April 10 meeting, where they received documentation from Springsted Incorporated, the company hired to complete the study.

Starting in January of 2018, the county received eight RFP proposals from consultants that provide services to public agencies, and Commissioners met in February to discuss agency proposals. On March 6, Commissioners conducted interviews with these agencies who qualified as finalists.

After discussion, staff recommended County Commissioners to approve the  proposal, presented by Springsted, resulting in $60,400.00 for professional services and a maximum of $1,500.00 for out of pocket expenses (e.g., travel, food, copying, etc.).

Springsted's proposal stated that its purpose was to "provide position classification and compensation system consultation services." By their own admission, Springsted has assisted many agencies throughout the U.S., assisting in the addressing of human resource and compensation issues, as well as performing management studies. The study analyzed the county's approximate 145 positions, which totaled about 733 employees. From the analyses drawn from each position and study, the system Springsted developed would: "Establish fair and equitable compensation relationships between positions within the County, reflect relevant market conditions outside the organization, and apply to all county positions professionally, consistently, and objectively, etc."

The goal of the study would be to prepare a Position Analysis Questionnaire, which employees are to complete in an effort to "obtain information regarding positions."

Commissioner Christine Husom commented that she was pleased with the project's progression, and agreed that it was relevant to obtain information regarding County positions in hopes of improving employment conditions and moving forward. The Board agreed to approve consultation services unanimously.



Highway Department: Chad Hausmann, Assistant Highway Engineer, presented before the Board the request to approval a condemnation resolution for the right-of-way on CSAH 18, between Maciver Ave NE and CSAH 22 in St. Michael – Albertville. This project will involve seven parcels, in which the county will require obtaining right-of-way acquisition meetings.

The project is slated to begin directly after school is released, in the interest of getting the most work done in a swift amount of time before the next school season begins in August. However, Hausmann commented that negotiations with private landowners and obtaining easements for the project would be lengthly, and put the project behind schedule.

 The resolution presented would allow the County Attorney's Office to begin eminent domain proceedings, in accordance to Minnesota Statutes, Section 163.02, Subd. 12, which state that the government entities involved may expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation.

Commissioner Mark Daleiden raised the concern that going ahead with the eminent domain proceedings may not be in the best interest of the public. The resolution passed 4-1, with Daleiden voting against the resolution.

Parks and Recreation: Mark Mattice, Parks and Recreation Director, presented a review of the March 12 Wright County Parks Commission minutes. Action taken was the request to authorize the Parks and Rec. Director to explore and begin discussion with sellers on the feasibility of adding additional lands to Stanley Eddy Park Reserve, up to the point of including appraisals. The Parks Commission recommended County Commissioners to pursue an appraisal, to which the Board approved.

Xcel Energy: Scott Johnson, representing Xcel Energy, presented the request for the Board to pass a resolution supporting House of Representatives File 3708, Senate File 3504 regarding the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant. The resolution would allow an additional regulatory option, where the Public Utilities Commission could consider further investments into the plant. Specific to the House/Senate files, the resolution would call for the "establishing [of] a carbon reduction facility designation for certain large electric generating facilities."

Commissioner Darek Vetsch commented that Monticello has already moved forward in regards to this resolution at a city government level, and that he was on board with the resolution in the interest of investing into the nuclear plant. "This accomplishes the area of pursuing funding to operate the nuclear facility in our area, which I am on board with."

Johnson commented that the considerations would allow for the investment in delegation and mapping of funds acquired, and where those moneys would end up allocated before it actually happens, as this is a priority.

Administration: Warrants issued between March 28, 2018 and April 3, 2018 were acknowledged by the Board.


Buffalo Days "Buffalo Sings" looking for 2018 vocalist applicants

Buffalo is hosting, for the second year in a row, a vocal competition during the Buffalo Days Celebration the week of June 10th-17th.   Last year, as part of the Minnesota Sings program, Buffalo joined in with over 60 different communities, in hosting a local event called "Buffalo Sings."    It was hosted in the Sturges Park Band Shell and was well received by the spectators. 

We are looking for vocalists between the ages of 15 and 25 to sing.  ÅgIt is a lot of fun, and a great way to showcase our local talent.  WhatÅfs great is that they can choose their own genre of music, so we get some good varietyÅh said Sue Olmscheid, Chamber of Commerce President.  The top two singers, as voted on by local judges, will go on to the Minnesota Sings statewide competition in September. 

This year the competition will be on Thursday, June 14th, prior to the movie in the park.  Only 20 vocalists will be chosen on a first come first served basis.  If you are interested, please contact the Chamber office at or 763-682-4902 for a simple application.   Applications must be received by May 1st.


Lights, camera, action - Hollywood comes to Rockford filming "$3 Million$ Villains" movie

Catman showcases his wares at Catman's Pawn Shop in the film "$3 Million$ Villains," which is being filmed in Rockford, at Bob Hegland's Tools and Toys store. (Submitted photo)

By Doug Voerding

Bob Hegland's store Tools and Toys on Highway 55 in Rockford recently became the set for Catman's Pawn Shop. The scene is part of the movie "$3 Million$ Villains" that is expected to be released this June.

Last Tuesday, April 3, producer Nathan Wold brought his crew along with actor/comedians Kevin Craft and Steve Gillespie to Rockford for the filming.

According to its Facebook page, "$3 Million$ Villains" is an action thriller set within a comic book universe.

An accountant, recovering from a criminal past as a henchman, has his life turned upside down when he accidentally hits a guy with his car. That guy turns out to be a drug mule, forcing the man to delve back into a Gotham-like criminal underworld, a world filled with Skeleton, a living Ventriloquist Dummy with a Tommy Gun, Cthulhu, Mariachi gunfights, and more, in order to save himself and his daughter.

See more photos in this week's edition of the Wright County Journal-Press.


Montrose Council continues work on franchise fees, public nuisances

By Doug Voerding

Short two members, the Montrose City Council on Monday, April 9, took another step forward on establishing a gas and water meter franchise fee and on revising an ordinance to address public nuisance properties within the city. Councilmembers Roy Henry and Ben Kuehl were not at the meeting.

Last month, the council directed city staff to pursue the procedures to establish a franchise fee of possibly $4 per month for each gas and each electric meter in the city. The charge would be added to the Xcel and Wright-Hennepin utility bills.

On Monday, the council first approved an electric franchise ordinance with Wright-Hennepin, the company who provides electricity in the northwestern part of the city. The city already has such an ordinance with Xcel, whom provides electricity to the rest of the city and gas to the entire city.

Next, the council approved sending notices to Xcel and Wright-Hennepin of the decision to collect a franchise fee based on the meters.

A 90-day notice is required before collection of the fee can begin.

With that 90-day window, the council intends to hold a public hearing on the issue, even though a public hearing is not required by law.

The council can then decide whether or not to establish the fee and, if established, decide on the actual amount of the fee.

No date was set for the public hearing.


Public Nuisances

After several months of work including a Planning and Zoning public hearing on March 26, the council considered a revised ordinance on public nuisances.

Now in the ordinance is an extensive definition of garbage and rubbish. The garbage definition primarily includes items that were once alive, like "decayable animal, vegetable," or other matter. The rubbish definition focuses on solid waste, like "lumber, wood, tree branches, and other combustibles."

However, since that public hearing, City Clerk/Treasurer Dale Powers proposed more revisions on the enforcement part of the ordinance.

The ordinance assigns the enforcement responsibility to the city-zoning administrator rather than to the sheriff's department, with the intent of speeding up the process of removing the illegal debris.

Once an affected property owner has been notified of a nuisance on their property, the owner has 20 days to comply, request an extension, or request a hearing before an examiner.

The appointment and cost of a hearing examiner was the concern of the council.

Councilmember Jill Menard said, "If we accept this tonight, we are creating a position without knowing the cost."

Said Mayor Michelle Otto, "We need to know the cost for hearing officers and the cost of the training."

The council decided to hold a joint meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday, April 18, at 7:00 p.m. to review the new changes and learn what the hearing officer costs might be.

The council is trying to get the ordinance and enforcement procedures established for implementation after the annual clean-up day on Saturday, May 5.


Public Works

The Public Works Department should have a new snow plow/dump trucks by the start of the snow-plowing season next fall.

The council approved the purchase of a 2019 Western Star truck from Boyer Trucks and the needed accessories from Towmaster Truck Equipment. The purchase is through the State of Minnesota bid contract.

The $190,447 cost of the truck will be funded through lease purchase with payments estimated at $31,000 per year for seven years. The truck was budgeted in the Capital Improvement Plan for purchase in 2018.

The 2002 Sterling will continue to be used for hauling sand and salt, but not for snow plowing.

The council also approved five percent raises for four public works employees, all based on "exceeding performance standards."

The raises are James Swartzer to $17.40 per hour, Dan Remer to $29.44 per hour, Jason Hilgers to $28.47 per hour, and Jessica Bonniwell to $19.02 per hour. Bonniwell's raise also includes another $1.00 per hour for added responsibilities, including staff liaison to the Parks and Recreation Commission.


Audit for 2017

At a workshop meeting prior to the regular meeting, the council reviewed the 2017 audit.

"The audit has an unmodified opinion," said Andy Berg of Abdo, Eick, and Meyers. An unmodified opinion is the cleanest of an opinion for an audit.

The audit showed that the general fund balance has increased every year for the last five years. The increase in 2017 was $108,057, and the general fund balance now is $1,055,006.

The fund balance stands at 113 percent of the 2018 city budget, above average for cities of the same size. The city maintains the fund balance in order to pay monthly bills when the major tax revenues are received only in June and November.

The stability of the fund balance has allowed the council to fund the Garfield Avenue and Montrose Meadows street reconstruction without property assessments. Money from the general fund balance is also planned to fund the city's portion of improvements to Highway 25 in 2019.

The five enterprise funds, which must each balance individually, all showed strong cash balances.

The water fund has a balance of $860,681, an increase of $195,408. That fund balance is sufficient for current operations. The yearly receipts are covering the operating costs of the water system and the debt payments for previous water utility improvements. Remaining bonds are $1,439,501.

The sanitary sewer fund has a fund balance of $580,432, an increase of $120,403 from last year. This fund balance also covered the operating expenses and the debt payments on sewer improvements. The remaining sewer bonds are $327,500.

The fund balance for the refuse or garbage fund is $277,193. With that fund balance, the council may consider lowering the garbage fees later this year.

The revenue for the storm water fund met the expenditures, and the fund balance of $208,762 showed an increase of $6829.

The wastewater treatment fund has a fund balance of $821,741, up $133,798 from last year. The receipts for this fund are used to operate the wastewater treatment plant and pay down the bonds used to build the plant. The remaining payable wastewater bonds are $1,842,000.

The city continues to pay on bonds for three projects including CSAH 12 wells and lift station, Buffalo Avenue, and Clementa Avenue. About $2.2 million remains to be paid over the next three to nine years.

As it has in the past, the audit includes two deficiencies concerning internal control and limited segregation of duties.

"These are very common for small organizations," said Berg, "and they do not rise to the level of material weaknesses."

The council adopted the audit without comment during the regular meeting.


Fire Department

Fire Chief Kevin Triplett presented the 2017 annual report for the Montrose Fire Department.

According to the report, the department responded to 176 calls, including 133 rescue, 18 fires, seven service calls, seven false alarms, five good intent, four severe weather/natural disasters, and two hazardous conditions. Those 176 calls totaled 1692 hours.

The 23 firefighters were involved in an additional 2614 hours of training including active shooter response, medical, bus extraction, firefighter rehabilitation, and pump and apparatus training.

Uncounted were community event hours that included the department's assistance at several community events and participation in parades in neighboring communities.

The department serves the city as well as portions of Franklin, Marysville, and Woodland Townships and offers mutual aid to surrounding fire departments as needed.

Jeff Holt and Eddie Andreoff were hired by the council as probationary firefighters.

The council also accepted the resignation of Mitch Weege, who left the department due to increased time commitments required by his young family.

A two-month leave of absence was granted to Ralph Brown.

Triplett told the council that the department is still looking for people to serve as firefighters. Application materials are available at city hall.

Calls for fire department service continue to outpace those of last year. In March, firefighters responded to 19 calls, 17 medical, one motorcycle fire, and one motor vehicle accident.

Those calls bring the total to 63 this year compared to 41 for the same months last year.


New City Attorney

Matt Brokl of Campbell Knutson of Eagan is the new city attorney.

Earlier this year, the council had called for requests for proposals for city attorney. Eckberg Lammers, who had been the city attorney, did not submit a proposal.

The council had interviewed four attorneys at a special meeting on March 26. In addition to Brokl, those with their hourly rates were Mary Tietjen of Kennedy and Graven, $155 per hour; Trevor Helmers of Rupp Anderson, $170 per hour; and Sarah Schwarzhoff of Hoff Barry, $175 per hour.

The rate Matt Brokl of Campbell Knutson will be $155 per hour.

Tom Loonan of Eckberg, Lammers will continue to work with the city on the completion of union negotiations.


New City Engineer

At a special meeting on March 27, the council interviewed five engineering firms and selected Wenck of Golden Valley with Shawn Louwagie as the city's engineer. Wenck's charges will be four hours per month at $80 per hour with additional hours at $130 per hour.

Bolton and Menk of Willmar, the cityís engineer since 2000, came in at $125 per hour. Justin Kannas of Bolton and Menk will complete two projects, the Montrose Meadows street reconstruction project and the work on the new well and wellhouse through the design stage.

The three other proposals and their rates were MSA Professional Services of St. Paul, $140 per hour; Sambatek of Minnetonka, $150 per hour; and WSB of Minneapolis, $163 to $182 per hour.


2017 Sheriff's Report

In 2017, Wright County sheriff's deputies responded to 2199 calls for service. Of those calls, 1168 incidents were turned into a case report and required further investigation.

The category of crime incidents in Montrose included 42 thefts, 29 fraud complaints, 19 criminal damage to property, 18 drugs, 13 court order violations, nine burglaries, three sex-related, and one assault. There were no robberies or homicides.

Compared to last year, significant crime calls dropped from 151 to 134, an 11 percent decline.

 In the quality of life category, the numbers of calls were 104 for suspicious activity, 88 medical, 80 civil, 74 domestic disturbances, 51 check welfare, 46 animal, 42 alarm, 29 noise, 26 juvenile complaints, 19 citizen aid, 19 harassment, 15 unwanted persons, 13 threats, ten lost-and-found property, six disorderly, and three neighborhood disputes. 

In the traffic category, deputies made 386 traffic stops and responded to 95 traffic complaints. There were 45 snowbirds, 31 parking, 18 motor vehicle accidents, ten driving under the influence, and one traffic hazard.

In 2017, the highest number of calls was between 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m. On a day of the week basis, the ranking fairly even was Thursday with 333 calls, Friday 331, Wednesday 328, Monday 313, Tuesday 310, Saturday 305, and Sunday 267.

In 2017, the Wright County Sheriff was contracted for eight hours per day. That coverage was increased to ten hours per day in January of this year.


Open Forum

Resident Doug Voerding thanked and acknowledged Mayor Michelle Otto for representing the city at two events at Buffalo High School on March 14. The events centered on school safety issues.

Resident Jim Trombley told the council that there are water issues that are still not settled after the Highway 12 reconstruction in 1997-1998. He also said that some areas of the Garfield Avenue and Montrose Meadow street project show that compaction under the street surface "needs to be looked into." Trombley was told that those areas will be corrected when the project is finished this summer.

A resident of 1st Avenue North asked the council about continuous nuisance and harassment by a neighbor. The resident asked the city to follow through on its enforcement of city ordinances. The resident was told that the council and city staff are working on revising the procedures and that the revisions and new enforcement policy will be completed soon.

Ken Kronschnabel of 7th Street North asked the council to place a "Slow Children" sign on his street where there are several families with small children and three daycares. The west end of the street is a dead end, and Kronschnabel said that drivers, who do not know that, turn around and speed back out. The council agreed to have the sign placed as requested.



In other action, the council:

•agreed to give the exclusive right for Paxmar, LLC, to prepare a preliminary and final plat for property the city owns due to a foreclosure south of Highway 12 and west of Clementa. The 54-acre site could have 45 single family homes and 54 twin homes managed by a resident association. An amendment to the previous planned unit development for the site may be needed.

• acknowledged all who helped with the recent Easter egg hunt.

• learned that the Park and Recreation Commission is discussing a Northridge walking trail and plans for the green space in Forest Creek.

• corrected by resolution the annexation of city-owned properties at the wastewater treatment ponds and the regional park, as well as the annexation of the Mauk property south of Montrose on Highway 25.

• approved a change in the bank signature cards. Authorized signers on city accounts will now be City Clerk/Treasurer Dale Powers, Public Works Director Wayne McCormick, Mayor Michelle Otto, and Councilmember Ben Kuehl. Powers and Assistant City Clerk/Treasurer Wendy Manson will be able to make deposits and transfers and manage city investments.

• approved the attendance of the mayor at the Minnesota Mayors Association annual conference in Perham.

• approved, at the March 26 special meeting, the repair of the 2004 Chevrolet Colorado by Milhausen Auto of Montrose. The engine will be replaced with a newer engine with 90,000 miles for $3500.


Co. Sheriff's Office to host Law Enforcement Academy

This year's Wright County Sheriffs Office Citizen Law Enforcement Academy is greenlighted to begin April 24.

 This program is offered free of charge, with two-and-a-half hour classes. Theprogram will run for five weeks, ending May 22. Instruction consists of a combination of lecture, question and answer, demonstration, participation and tours. The classes and subjects will be very similar to those taught to new deputy sheriffs and police officers.

Examples of subjects covered include:

• Civil Process

• Crime Laboratory Operations

• Communications

• Court Procedures

• Tactical Team Operations

• Use of Force and Defensive Tactics

• Jail Procedure and Tour

• Narcotics and Criminal Investigation

• Patrol Operations and K-9

•Sheriffs Office Overview

• DWI Enforcement

• Homeland Security

Participation in these classes will give students a unique insight into law enforcement, as the Wright County Sheriff's Office is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the State of Minnesota and is charged with enforcing both criminal and civil law.

This class is a benefit for business leaders, political leaders, teachers, community leaders those who work with law enforcement or interested tax payers who want to know how law enforcement and the criminal justice system work from an insider's perspective. The Sheriff's Office is looking for a representative cross section of the community to participate in this unique educational experience.

Classes will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., April-24, and May l, 8, 15, and 22. The classes will be held at the Wright County Law Enforcement Center at 3800 Braddock Ave NE, Buffalo, MN 55313.

A certificate of completion will be awarded to participants at a commencement ceremony at the conclusion of the class (5th week). Participants must be 18 years old, and undergo a criminal background check to apply.

For questions, please contact Sergeant Brian Johnson at 763-684-2366.


'On Golden Pond' performances this weekend

Chelsea (Jenny Lundeen Robinson) and Ethel (Mary Makve-Patch) entertain Charlie (Rick Wyman) in BCT's performance of "On Golden Pond." (Photo courtesy of Zanna Joyce)

Is there a cure for the seemingly endless winter that is plaguing Minnesota this year?  Maybe only time will provide one, but attending a performance of Buffalo Community Theater's "On Golden Pond" will give you the feeling that you're finally up at the lake! This American theater favorite by Ernest Thompson tells the story of Norman and Ethel Thayer who have been going to their lake home on Golden Pond for forty-eight summers. When their estranged daughter comes for a visit with a boyfriend and his 13-year-old son, life takes an unexpected turn.

The Thayer cabin is a homey, comfortable place, unlike its owner Norman, who is part witty curmudgeon and part cantankerous bookworm, portrayed by Jack Neveaux. Mary Markve-Patch plays his loving counterpart, Ethel, who is adept at dealing with her spouse's crusty exterior.                 

Rick Wyman contributes charm and humor as Charlie, the rural mailman who dated the Thayer's' daughter, Chelsea (Jennifer Lundeen Robinson) in his youth. Steve Ramirez, plays Chelsea's boyfriend, Bill, who's not exactly a firecracker, but is no pushover, either.

Kadin Anderson completes the cast as young Billy Ray, who's just mouthy enough to be potentially annoying and just smart enough to be endearing.

"On Golden Pond" is a classic combination of wit, humor and family drama, and a warm, hopeful distraction from the winter that won't go away.

"On Gold Pond" will  be running at Discovery Elementary School's Auditorium, April 13-14, 20-21 at 7:30pm and April 15 & 22 at 2:00pm, tickets are available at the door.

Or, if you wantthe best seats in the house, you can go online and purchase tickets from the Buffalo Community Theatre's website: Look for another photo in this week's edition.


Genealogy workshop coming to History Cntr.

Wright County Heritage Center (2001 Hwy 25 N, Buffalo, Minn.) is pleased to announce its "Danish Genealogy" workshop with Heather Mullen, on Tuesday, April 17 at 6:30 p.m.

Interested in learning more about researching your Danish heritage? Join Heather Mullen, President of the National Danish American Genealogical Society, on Tuesday, April 17 at 6:30 p.m. for great information, tips and tricks, and all the insights you need to get started.

This presentation will be held in the Activity Room at the Wright County Heritage Center (2001 Hwy 25 N, Buffalo, MN). Attendance is free but limited to 20 participants; RSVP's are required, to 763-682-7323.

We regret that walk-in participants cannot be accommodated due to size of the room. For more information please call 763-682-7323 or go online to visit


STMA/Delano annual rain barrel sale

The Crow River Organization of Water (CROW) , the City of St. Michael, and the City of Delano are currently holding their annual rain barrel sale. Each barrel is $55 (cash or check only), including tax, and will be distributed on Saturday, May 5.

Made from recycled materials, one barrel holds 54 gallons and features a removable debris screen, hoses, and a flat back, allowing it to be place near a building.

Placing rain barrels alongside your homes and structures is an easy way to help the environment and reduce your water bills. They can capture and store runoff flowing from rooftops during rain events that can be used later to irrigate flowers and landscaped areas. As well, reducing the amount of water that immediately flows in the storm drains cuts down the amount of contact water has with contaminants, such as oil, salt, pesticides, fertilizers, and trash.

The CROW Joint Powers Board works to provide leadership in improving and conserving the integrity of the Crow River and its tributaries through community engagement and the protection and restoration of water resources.

• St. Michael location and time:  May 5, 2018 7 am - 1 pm, at the Public Works Building, 3150 Lander Ave. NE, St. Michael, MN 55376.

• Delano location and time: May 4, 2018 3 pm – 5:30 pm, at the Public Works Building, 402 County Road 30 SE, Delano, MN 55328.

• Please call/email Diane Sander to pre-order in St. Michael and Delano Area.

Limited supply on hand, please reserve ahead of time. Contact Diane Sander, Watershed Coordinator by phone at 763-682-1933 Ext. 2916 or for more details and orders.


Kiwanis sale postponed until June 2

Buffalo Kiwanis is hosting their 7th Annual Garage and Craft Sale, Saturday, June 2, at the Discovery School in Buffalo. 

We are looking for any crafters and garage sale vendors to participate. No direct sale vendors please. $25.00 for 10x10 space and you must provide your own tables. The sale is from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Set up available the night before from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., or Sat. from 6:00 a.m. to 7:45 a.m.

For information, call Jean at 612-581-0482. Benefits Crisis Nursery and E.C.F.E. 


Operation: Big Orange

Vanoss is at it again, this time in full gear

By Miriam Orr

It was bitterly cold outside when Steve Vanoss and Leon Gilder circled around a familiar-yellow school bus, idling just outside Vanoss' Maple Plain business, First Pitch.

"After 971 miles from Little Rock to Maple Plain, it's finally here," Gilder explained, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "It was a long trip up here, but the bus made it."

Vanoss is too busy trying to block the Minnesota cold to comment further about the 15,000-pound AmTran International bus. The decals and lettering removed, the bus is the generic, factory-yellow that most would recognize, along with the familiar vinyl seating and folding door.

"Let's get inside and talk about it," Vanoss commented, visibly cold. "I can't wait to get over to Haiti out of this cold!"


Looking back...

Many might remember Steve Vanoss, owner and operator of First Pitch in Maple Lake, as the man who is also internationally heading Caroline's House orphanage in Fonds-des-Nègres, with about 300 children in the community facing difficulties. Vanoss began the project of building an orphanage overseas in July of 2016, and it has been thriving since.

Vanoss has overseen a number of projects since the construction of the orphanage, including shipping vehicles filled with supplies and consumables to the people of the Fonds-des-Nègres community. It's been perilous work, however – everything requires being shipped overseas, where it arrives in Miragoane, and endures a vicious journey to the village, which involves navigating a ravine.

 One of his visions has been to take a bus filled with supplies overseas to the village, where children would be able to travel back and forth to school, and families within the community could be serviced with mass transportation. It's been a challenge finding an available bus, however – until recently.

Vanoss recently purchased a 2006 AmTran International school bus in Arkansas, where a good friend of his, Leon Gilder, drove the vehicle up to Minnesota after purchase. Gilder is a mechanic, and has been involved with helping Vanoss maintenance vehicles to ship overseas to the people of Haiti.

"It's my way of giving back," Gilder stated. "I give the vehicles a once-over before they ship out to Haiti, and make sure the consumable parts are ready to go – brakes, oil filters, that sort of thing. Those people really need help, and it just makes me feel good knowing I'm helping in even a small way."

Gilder has serviced the bus, which is now ready for donations. Vanoss' goal is to have the bus filled and ready for shipment sometime in June for a July arrival to Haiti, where it will make the journey to the village.

To get there, though, requires two things – Minnesota community involvment, and also construction on the Haitian end.


Part one: Minnesota

Minnesota's half of the project is pretty simple, comments Vanoss. Since the Wright County Journal-Press' story on Vanoss' heart and vision for the people of Haiti some months ago, the community's response has been "through the roof," Vanoss shared. So far, his donations have doubled, and so many have stepped forward to help his dream come alive.

"I'm so grateful for the help," Vanoss said. "It really helps take some weight off my shoulders – the provisional part. I know that the community is here to help me, and that just gladdens my heart. Now the burden on my heart for the people just continues to grow and grow!"

The bus, Vanoss stated, will circulate around the community and receive donations a week or two at a time. For instance, the first place he is hoping to park the vehicle is the Maple Plain Community Church, where donations can be received at the church office and loaded on board. A similar scheme is slated for other locations within the community, though details haven't been entirely finalized.

"The bus can hold about 8,000 pounds," Vanoss estimated. "It's not its max weight, but I thought that was a reasonable limit to prepare to ship overseas."

The bus has already gone through a "complicated" licensing procedure, and has been mechanically fine-tuned and approved by Vanoss' friend, Gilder.

"All it needs now is the donations!" Gilder affirmed.

Items that are currently in demand for the community range from children's clothing, hand and power tools, to shoes and dishes. Vanoss is looking to fill the bus with "gently used" items, as they tend to last longer for the people in the community.

"The donations have been such a blessing, and I hope people are still moved enough to help fill this bus," Vanoss said.

Once the bus undergoes the donation phase of the operation, it will travel to Miami, Fla., where it will be parked on a ship to cross the ocean, to arrive in Miragoane, Haiti with three other vehicles that Vanoss is sending, as well. He's been shipping vehicles and goods with Seacoast Shipping for a number of "supply runs," and has been impressed with their service and efforts.

Another challenge, though, is the financial aspect of the operation.

"It costs $110.00 per foot to ship something," he said. "It gets pretty expensive. I'm looking at about $4,000 to ship the bus alone, not including the other vehicles I want to send too. The numbers just add up really fast, and that makes it really tough."


Part two: Haiti

The bus is slated to arriv in Haiti by late July, early August, commented Vanoss. However, before the bus can go anywhere, there's a major delay in operation: the ravine leading into Fonds-des-Nègres.

"There is absolutely no way a bus can cross that ravine. It's top heavy, and would topple over," he said. "A bridge needs to happen, first."

And happen it will. Vanoss is currently scheduled in Haiti as of Wednesday, April 11, where he will begin overseeing construction of a long-awaited bridge across the ravine. That was only made possible, however, by an anonymous, local donor not too long ago, who told Vanoss that they would fund the project with a $6,000 check.

"I was so stunned that I almost cried," Vanoss said. "It was such a burden and a concern for me, and now it is finally going to happen. The people have been waiting and praying so long for this. It's going to help so much."

Until the bridge is complete, the bus has to wait on Minnesota soil before it can arrive on Haitian shores. There is a lot to be done in the process, however – including preparing kids for the upcoming school year, and making arrangements at the orphanage.

For Vanoss, one of those tasks is settling in his two newborn twin girls, Anna Rose and Ava Marie, who were born in February. Vanoss' wife, Venite, has been caring for them as her husband goes back and forth between the States and Haiti, and Vanoss couldn't be more thrilled to go and see them.

"I've seen them as I go back and forth, but I just can't wait each time I prepare to go," Vanoss said, thrilled. "They are just such a blessing, and such beautiful girls."

 As Vanoss sees his family, he also meets other members of the community during his visits. While oversight on the bridge remains a priority this trip, he and the staff of the orphanage will also begin examining efforts to prepare for school, as that is the biggest arch of his vision.

"There are just so many kids that are going through life there, uneducated," he stated. "They're just floundering out there; kids with a lot of talent and dreams, as well as responsibility. They have no chance at a prosperous life without education. I just want this to be about thriving, not just survival."


Rallying the community

 While the community's outreach towards his vision has been helpful, Vanoss is still looking for any helping hands he can find. He is currently planning a trip in late 2018, where he is looking for people to join him on his ventures and help out on projects.

"It isn't just about the work," Vanoss commented. "I want people to go and see these folks, for who they are and where they are. I want them to fall in love with the Haitian people, like I have, and experience what I have experienced. It's such an enriching experience."

What's more, Vanoss hopes for donations and active participation with "Operation Big Orange," a name which he has given the bus project. Donations of children's clothing and shoes, adult shoes, toiletries, kitchens supplies, linens, tools, and mattresses are all items that are desperately in need by the Fonds-des-Nègres children and surrounding communities.

For more information on the bus route, how to donate, or potentially volunteering, please contact Steve Vanoss at 612-500-1995, or

"This is about people – the mission hasn't changed. The community has been such a blessing, and I am so thankful for that. However, with a bridge coming along, and the school year coming up, and a bus that is going overseas, I could use all the helping hands and support the community has to offer. I don't say that lightly – I am truly thankful. I couldn't be more thankful for the help and positivity of the people. And rest assured, they are more appreciative for our generosity than you could ever possibly believe."


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