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


 

Hanover Council approves concept plan for 286-unit housing development

By Doug Voerding

A new major housing development took a step closer to construction after the Hanover City Council on April 17 approved a concept plan for Hanover Cove.

Hanover Cove will be on 83 acres on the old Duininck gravel pit, property east of River Road NE and south of 8th Street NE.

Paxmar, the developer, had previously met with the planning commission and the city council with a concept plan of 337 units, and, based on council and public comments, revised their concept plan for the site.

The plans show that there would be about 9 acres for ponds, leaving 74 acres for homes.

As explained by a Paxmar representative, the proposal is now for 286 units on those 74 acres for a density of 3.88 units per acre, a density consistent with the city's comprehensive plan. The plan shows 127 single family lots and 159 patio home lots of various sizes.

The revised plan included reducing by 50 the number of units, removing all town homes and twin homes, moving the west entrance to 5th Street NE, adding a private swimming pool at that entrance, and expanding some lot widths.

Price points for the homes would be between $230,000 and $490,000, depending on the size of the lot and the home. The development would be governed by a homeowners' association with covenants and managed by a professional management company.

Councilmember Doug Hammerseng said, "You got rid of what we didn't like. I am much happier with this design. I have no problem with this."

Councilmember MaryAnn Hallstein, who was the lone vote against the concept plan, said, "I do know this is an unclaimed gravel pit, but I still don't like all the density."

Said Councilmember Ken Warpula, "The biggest obstacles are the roads and the traffic. You have addressed our concerns, and it is underneath the comp plan density."

Councilmember Jim Zajicek said, "This is a 'Hanoveresque' plan for seniors. Seniors want to stay here. The growth of Hanover needs to be for seniors and millenials. I see this as a complement, not a detriment. We have a lot of big lots already, and this is something a little different."

The vote for the concept plan is non-binding.

The next step is the completion of an Environmental Assessment Worksheet, followed by the preliminary plat, and the final plat. Paxton is looking to grade the site this fall and install utility lines next spring.

 

Dental Clinic

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

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.

The council also approved an Economic Development Authority grant of $7500 that will be used to add masonry to the front of the building.

 

Street Improvements

Two street improvement projects will now be completed this summer after the council approved the low bid of $678,524 from GMH Asphalt of Chaska, about 19 percent below the engineer's estimate of $842,209.

The bid will be even lower after the council removed gravel road edging from one of the projects.

The first project on River Road NE requires major improvements including widening the street to collector street standards. Culverts will be replaced, and the street completely resurfaced. This project will be divided into two phases, from 8th Street NE to 11th Street NE and from 11th Street NE to 15th Street NE.

The second project will be mill and overlay of the streets in Pheasant Run and in Schendelís Woodland Hills.

Several residents questioned the need for adding gravel shoulders on the residential streets after the mill and overlay is completed.

City Engineer Justin Messner said that gravel shoulders are needed to allow water to be drawn into the ditches.

"That is standard practice," said Messner, "for mill and overlay."

The council first supported the gravel or reclaimed asphalt for the shoulders, but decided to forego any shoulders on the mill and overlay in Pheasant Run and Schendel's Woodland Hills.

River Road will have shoulders as required by collector street standards.

Seven other companies submitted higher bids including Astech, North Valley, Omann Contracting, Knife River, Park Construction, Hardrives, and Midwest Asphalt.

The projects are expected to start later this spring.

 

Baseball Field Lighting

Stan Kolasa of the Hanover Athletic Association (HAA) told the council that the HAA Board of Directors voted unanimously to donate $100,000 over the next two years for lighting for the new ballfield.

Plans are to install the lighting this fall.

 

Vitalization Award

Jeff Olson, retired principal of Hanover Elementary, was honored with the Hanover Vitalization Award ìin recognition of his outstanding achievements and dedicated service to the students and staff of Hanover Elementary.î Olson served as Hanover Elementary principal for 23 years before retiring last June.

In presenting the award, Kauffman said, "You have educated great students and great citizens."

In response, Olson said, "Hanover is a special community, and it has been a privilege to serve here."

 

Other Action

In other action, the council:

• appointed Stacy Thompson as a probationary firefighter.

• approved the renewal of an annual license that allows Chops Bar and Grill to be open until 2:00 a.m.

• directed City Planner Cindy Nash to update the cityís shoreland regulations in the zoning ordinance to comply with state shoreland rules.

• agreed to update the city signs at BankWest and Hanover Elementary.

 


Montrose Council revises nuisance ordinance

By Doug Voerding

At a special meeting on April 18, the Montrose City Council adopted changes to the city ordinance Chapter 55 Nuisances.

The council had previously approved the changes but while meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission, decided to remove the enforcement methods from the ordinance and create a separate city policy on enforcement.

The council approved the addition of definitions for clarity, noting that the goal of the ordinance is to maintain a livable community.

Two additions include that it will be a misdemeanor if the person permits real or personal property under his or her control to be used to maintain a public nuisance or rents the same, knowing it will be so used; and/or permits, maintains, or harbors an accumulation of junk, garbage, rubbish, disused furniture, appliances, machinery, inoperable or unserviceable motor vehicles, vehicles not displaying current registration, automobiles and parts thereof or any matter which may become a harborage for rats, snakes or vermin, which creates a visual blight, or which may be conducive to fire, or which endangers the comfort, repose, health, safety or welfare of the public.

The two definitions were added for the terms "garbage" and "rubbish."

"Garbage includes all decayable animal, vegetable or other matter that attends the preparation, consumption, display, dealing in or storage of meat, fish, fowl, birds, fruit, or vegetables, including the cans, containers or wrappers wasted along with such materials."

"Rubbish is non-decayable solid wastes such as dimensional lumber, wood, leaves, trimming from shrubs, dead trees or branches thereof, shaving, sawdust, excelsior, wooded waste, printed matter, paper, paper board, paste boards, grass, rags, straw, boots, shoes, hats and all other combustibles not included under the term garbage, and any item where placement outside is not appropriate for the season (e.g. swimming pools in the winter)."

All of the enforcement was removed from the ordinance and replaced with "The Zoning Administrator shall be primarily responsible for enforcement of nuisances, pursuant to the authority vested in the City Administrator or designee in Section 25.02 of the City Code."

Before the discussion on enforcement, City Attorney Matt Brokl told the council that nuisances are a crime under city code and state statute and that the city can use any method to enforce the nuisance code.

Brokl said the city could enforce by criminal charges, court injunctions, a city council-directed process, or civil law suits.

According to Brokl, the council-directed process could include face-to-face meetings, written notices, citations, and abatements. Costs could be assessed back to the property.

"You don't need enforcement details in code," said Brokl. "The details should be spelled out in a separate policy which can be changed at any time."

After discussion with the Planning and Zoning Commissioners, the council adopted an Administrative Citation Program.

The program specifies the enforcement will begin with administrative citation. The property owner will have 20 days after notification to abate the nuisance. The property owner may request a hearing before an appeals panel. If the property owner is not satisfied with the ruling of the appeals panel, they may appeal to the city council. Further appeal would be with Wright County District Court.

Lastly, the council discussed a policy on code enforcement that addressed methods of enforcement, equal treatment, voluntary compliance, calculating administrative fines, and billing and assessment of costs.

That policy was supported by Councilmembers Roy Henry and Ben Kuehl. Mayor Michelle Otto and Councilmember Lloyd Johnson voted against the policy. Since Councilmember Jill Menard was not at the meeting, the policy will be on the agenda of the regular meeting on May 14.

 


Minnesota Supreme Court settles suit, counties now allowed to choose auditors

By Doug Voerding

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday, April 18, upheld a 2015 law that gives counties the choice of hiring private accounting firms, rather than using the state auditor's office.

Wright County, along with Becker and Ramsey Counties, were the defendants in the suit.

The unanimous decision ends State Auditor Rebecca Otto's challenge to the law. A district court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals had previously ruled against Otto.

Wright County Auditor Bob Hiivala said that he was not certain why Wright County was named in the law suit.

Wright County had hired the auditing firm CliftonLarsonAllen of Brainerd several years ago as a more cost effective audit.

In the past, the county signed three-year agreements with the outside auditor after being released by the Office of the State Auditor. Recently, the county had renewed with CliftonLarsonAllen before being released by the state. The state without explanation chose not the release the county from state auditing.

When the 2015 law was passed, Wright County continued with CliftonLarsonAllen.

The court decision, said Hiivala, does not change the right of the state to make a "desk review and can call for a further examination of the countyís financial records if the state notices discrepancies."

The ruling does leave the auditor's office with the ability to oversee any of Minnesota county private audits.

According to sources, Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea wrote that the state auditor retains significant responsibilities in connection with county audits, including ones that hire CPA firms.

A statement from State Auditor Otto, read, in part, "Since the 2015 law change, certain counties have actively rejected the State Auditor's authority to review county finances once a private CPA conducted an audit. The Supreme Court has now made clear that the State Auditor has authority and responsibility over county finances, including the authority to conduct additional examinations of a county following a private CPA firm audit, and that the counties are responsible for the costs."

The statement also said, "As I have said all along, I have a sworn and solemn duty to uphold the Minnesota Constitution and protect Minnesota taxpayers, and in pursuing clarity from the Supreme Court regarding the role of the State Auditor, I have fulfilled my obligation. As State Auditor, I fully intend to use our full authority, on behalf of Minnesota taxpayers, to provide strong oversight over counties."

"Constitutional issues of this magnitude come along once in a generation. Just like the Legislature and Governor, I had a solemn duty to go to the courts to fight for, in my case, the taxpayers. Notably, our Office was able to carry out this two-year fight at a much smaller cost to the taxpayers than the Legislature's own recent litigation against the Governor. Our constitutional authority has been affirmed by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which is a win for the taxpayers."

 


Buffalo Zion Lutheran to host Multi-Event Saturday, April 28

Everyone is welcome to attend the Multi-Event at Buffalo Zion Lutheran Church, 1200 Hwy 25 South, on Saturday, April 28, The event will feature distribution of free children's clothing, free refurbished bikes, and free children car seat checkups.

The Blessing Closet will provide free children's clothing to families with children ages infant thru 18 years from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. There are no income or residency requirements to qualify for free clothing. Children should ideally be present to do their own shopping, but adults can pick up clothing for their children and also shop for themselves.

Allina Health is partnering with Free Bikes 4 Kidz to also provide 230 free bikes. Distribution will be in Zion's parking lot from 10:00 a.m. until gone. Bikes of all sizes will be available, from toddler through teenager and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. A parent or guardian must sign a waiver and the children must be present to receive a bike.  Bikes are not guaranteed for all.

We hope to see you there!

 


Montrose clean-up day is Saturday, May 5

The City of Montrose Annual Clean-up Day will be Saturday, May 5.  The collection site will be at the Montrose City Hall Parking Lot located at 311 Buffalo Avenue South, and will be open from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Enter the collection site at City Hall from the 3rd Street South entrance, and exit the collection site onto Buffalo Avenue South once you've dropped off your items.

The eligibility requirements are that you are a City of Montrose utility billing customer and reside within the Montrose city limits. 

Tires, appliances, miscellaneous items, fluorescent bulbs, and automotive batteries are a few examples of the items that can be disposed of at the collection site.  Prices will vary for each item.

For a detailed list of accepted items and pricing, stop at Montrose City Hall, check the City of Montrose website at www.montrose-mn.com and click on the Quarterly Newsletter, or call 763-575-7422.

 


Buffalo clean-up dates now set for June 8 and 9

The City of Buffalo would like to announce its new clean-up dates as June 8 and 9, following up from thr April 19 cancellation announcement. Clean-up will run from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

More information can be found online at www.ci.buffalo.mn.us.

 


Four Buffalo High School students selected as 'Students of Excellence'

Four Buffalo High School seniors were recently named 'Students of Excellence' and were introduced to the District 877 School Board on Monday, April 23. Above are, from left, Michelle and Seth Lowell, and their daughter, Meg; Meredith Reynolds, and her parents, John and Stacie Reynolds; Jack Oistad, and his mother, Dawn Oistad; and Caleb Drews, with his parents, Michelle and Jeff Drews. Bruce Oistad was unable to attend the event. Four 'Students of Excellence' are selected each year based solely on their grade point average, their ACT test score, and the Advanced Placement and/or college courses they have taken. The four will be honored at a ceremony in St. Cloud on Wednesday, April 25. The program is sponsored by Resource Training and Solutions. (Photo by Doug Voerding)

 


District 877 board refinances bonds, approves bids for summer projects

By Doug Voerding

The bond market worked in the favor of District 877 as the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School Board on Monday, April 23, approved the sale of $5,710,000 refunding bonds at a 2.10 percent interest rate.

The new bonds are expected to save district property taxpayers $88,000 each year of the bond repayments.

Earlier on Monday, Ehlers, the District 877 financial advisor, took bids for the sale of general obligation school building refunding bonds.

Greg Crowe and Jodie Zesbaugh of Ehlers reported to the school board that there were nine bids on the bonds with the lowest interest rate submitted by Fifth Third Securities of Cincinnati, Ohio. The next lowest bid was 2.13 interest rate from Hutchinson, Shockey, Erley of Chicago.

These refunding bonds are all that remain of the $30,175,000 bonds sold in 1994 for the construction of Buffalo High School.

The bonds were refunded in 1999, 2008, and now 2018, each time at a lower interest rate. The three refundings of the bonds have saved the district taxpayers $6,817,634. The bonds sold now are expected to be paid off in 2022.

Gary Kawlewski, Director of Finance and Operations, noted that the district's bond rating is Aa2. Only two other districts in the state have a higher rating.

 

Summer Projects

With the end of this school year near, the board approved the Capital Facilities and the Long-Term Facility Maintenance budgets for 2018-2019 fiscal year, allowing for work to begin on several projects for this summer.

Major projects include remodeling the old office at Discovery Elementary (DES) into a classroom, updating the HVAC controls at the Buffalo High School (BHS), Phase 1 of updating the rigging system in the BHS Performing Arts Center, updating the shower facility in the girls' pool locker room at Buffalo Community Middle School (BCMS), abatement projects at Hanover Elementary School, DES, and BCMS, a new burner for one of the boilers at DES, and continuation of the casework replacement and updating in classrooms at Parkside Elementary.

The budget also shows cameras and door security improvements at several schools, an asphalt playground at Montrose Elementary School, and several maintenance equipment purchases.

The school board approved bids for two of those projects.

The first was to accept the bid of $532,575 from UHL Company, Inc., for upgrading the HVAC controls at BHS. The project will eliminate the pneumatic components that regulate HVAC and replace them with digital components and wiring. UHL was the only bidder, but Hallberg Engineering recommended the company for the work.

John Heltunen, Director of Buildings and Grounds, said that he was confident the UHL would be able to complete the work as the company is the representative for Schneider Electric who provided the original infrastructure in the building.

The upgrade is expected to solve problems with uneven heating and cooling in the high school building.

The second was for improvements to the ball fields at BCMS. The project is to re-grade the ball fields between the school and the stadium, reconstruct the existing ball field, add a second ball field in the opposing corner, and add irrigation and drain tile. The site will also continue to be used as two full-size football/soccer fields.

The second ball field will replace the one on the northwest side of the BCMS site near Highway 25. Work is expected to start June 15 with seeding in the fall. The area will be ready for use in the fall of 2019.

Nine companies submitted bids for this project with the low bid of $173,887 from Land Pride Construction of Paynesville accepted by the board. The next lowest bid was $208,744 from Fehn Companies

Heltunen explained that he had talked to Land Pride about the low bid and to others who have worked with the company in the past. Heltunen said that he has confidence that Land Pride can complete the project as specified in the bidding process.

In a related matter, the board approved a ten-year plan of expenditures for the Long-Term Facilities Maintenance revenue, as required yearly by the state.

The plan is for fiscal years 2020 through 2029 and will apply to the levy for taxes payable in 2019. The plan covers expenditures for health and safety costs, deferred maintenance costs, preventative maintenance, items necessary but not covered by a bond issue, and other items that might occur over the next ten years.

 

Budget Adjustments

According to Gary Kawlewski, the district Director of Finance and Operations, the original 2017-2018 budget projection showed that the district was planning to move the general fund unassigned fund balance from 16.67% at the end of the 2016-17 fiscal year to 12.42% at the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The general fund is for all of the day-to-day expenses of the district including salaries and benefits.

Based on the proposed budget adjustments, Kawlewski said that he is projecting the unassigned/unrestricted general fund balance on June 30 to be about 12.16% or a 4.51% decrease compared to last year, from $17,370,962 to $15,263,615.

That general fund balance is still seen as strong. The overall fund balance from all district accounts is predicted to be $33,071,656 at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

The board approved the budget adjustments, which are usually made at this time of the budget year, before the final adjustments are made in June.

      

Proud Of

- Discovery Elementary students who raised $13,560 for the American Heart Association through the Jump Rope for Hearts program.

- Buffalo Community Middle School student Andy Hackett, Avery McCallum, Henry Lux, Zach Muellerleile, and Sam Cotton who were regional History Day winners and qualified for the state competition.

- Buffalo High School seniors Caleb Drews, Megan Lowell, James Oistad, and Meredith Reynolds who were selected as Students of Excellence for a program sponsored by Resource Training and Solutions.

 

Donations

The board accepted donations from the Hanover PTO of $193 for the 2nd grade musical and $853 for field trip buses.

Donations to the Buffalo High School Music Department were $910 from the Night Out for Music participants, $200 from Kuzma Chiropractic, $1013 from bagging groceries at Cub, and $600 from Dan and Jerry's Greenhouse.

Other donations included $1500 from the Hanover Athletic Association and $1000 from the Buffalo Lions for the BHS All Night graduation party, $500 from Great River Energy for activities at Parkside Elementary, $550 from the Wells Fargo Matching program for Tatanka Elementary, and $8651 from Optum Health Partners, the value of 21 Lego robotic sets, Kari Lenzmeier for Hanover Elementary

 

Other Action

In other action, the board

-learned from Super-intendent Scott Thielman that school districts are expecting the state legislature to pass a pension bill that would fund district contributions to state pensions. The bill has bipartisan support and has already passed the senate on a 66-0 vote. Thielman also told the board that the legislature is expected to pass some monetary support for school safety.

- agreed to raise the custodian substitute pay from $12 to $13 per hour for those substitute custodians who have retired from District 877. Substitute custodians who have not retired from the district will continue to be paid $12 per hour.

- approved a trip for four students to attend the National BPA Conference on May 10 ñ 13 in Grapevine, Texas.

- discontinued the long-term substitute contracts of Ron Stoesz and Abigail Lancaster.

- terminated the contracts of probationary teachers Abigail Bohler and Karyn Bomstad.

- learned that the recent pork chop dinner raised nearly $5700 for the scholarship fund.

 


Montrose Council fires city clerk/treasurer

By Doug Voerding

The Montrose City Council fired City Clerk/Treasurer Dale Powers at a special meeting on Thursday, April 19. The meeting became an open meeting at the request of Powers, whose performance was being evaluated. Powers was hired last October.

Mayor Michelle Otto listed several incidents with dates where Powers was

"inappropriate," including interactions with the public and communications on social media, with staff, and with residents.

Said Otto, "The staff is feeling disrespected. If you don't agree with the commissioners, you get rude and disrespectful. This is inappropriate for a person who represents the city."

"These are concerns that are being brought to the full council," said Otto. "I don't see you as a good fit for the city. I had very high hopes that it would be different."

Councilmember Lloyd Johnson said, "It's disappointing how it turned out."

Councilmember Roy Henry said, "People have said you are the worst we have ever had here."

Said Councilmember Ben Kuehl, "That has not been my experience."

In his defense, Powers said, "I don't know how you can say I am disrespectful at meetings. I answer questions based on my professional experience. I am far from the perfect person. You have been storing up incidents designed for the meeting today. There have been infrequent times when you have had an issue with my work.

"I do appreciate what you are bringing to my attention, but I can't control when I don't know what it's about," said Powers. "For the six months, on balance I have done well. I am asking you to give me another chance, since there are still six months left in my probationary period."

The vote to fire Powers was 3 to 2, with Otto, Henry, and Johnson in favor and Kuehl and Councilmember Jill Menard opposed.

During the vote, Kuehl said that he would like to have seen added probationary time.

The meeting had been posted as "Notice is hereby given that the Montrose City Council will hold a closed special meeting on the 19th day of April, 2018, at 4:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of Montrose City Hall located at 311 Buffalo Avenue South, Montrose, Minnesota. The purpose of the meeting is for a review of the performance of an employee subject to the City Council's authority."

According to Mark Anfinson, attorney for the Minnesota Newspaper Association, the council, under the state open meeting law, would not be able to take action at such a meeting, as the council may not open a closed meeting for action if the posting does not indicate an open meeting.

Anfinson also said that when Powers exercised his right to have an open meeting for an evaluation, "the council should not have proceeded at the scheduled time because the posting refers only to a closed meeting, which would be seriously misleading in terms of the publicís ability to attend the meeting."

 


'Meet Me at the Fair' - Wright County Fair update, and what's slated for summer 2018

 By Miriam Orr

Pictured are members of the Wright County Fair Board. Back row, (left to right) are Gloria Triebwasser, Nancy Betzler, Brent Heinz, Greg Bakeberg, Stan Vander Kooi, Grand Dehmer, Troy Beise; middle roy (left to right) Tyler Gruenhagen, Brian Weese, Richard Fadden, Joel Helmbrecht, Troy Lindenfelser, Scott Peterson, Keith Duske; front row (left to right) Gary Fieldseth, Jerry Quaal, Ward Westphal, Dennis Beise and Jeff Wheeler. Not pictured is John Quirk. (Submitted photo)

"Competition, entertainment, education – these are qualities we want to cultivate with the Wright County Fair, but it is really what people make it. It is, ultimately, the people's fair," said Troy Beise, Director on the Wright County Fair Board.

The Wright County Fair is coming this July, starting on the 18th and running until the 22nd, which are different dates than the last few years that the fair has come to town, said Beise.

This is due, in part, to the fact that Wright County has decided to contract with Merriam's Midway Shows, based in Somerset, Texas for this year's fair, due to scheduling conflicts with previous carnivals. The fair hasn't switched carnival shows for a number of years, comments Beise, but they have exceptionally high hopes for this vendor.

"They've been contracted with other fairs around the area, and we've been able to ask questions and do some research. We have high expectations for this show, and we think it will be great."

Beise spoke to other projects underway at the fair, including the coming construction of a new building, and the integration of new technology. "We've been looking at constructing a new building for awhile, though it just never has happened."

In 2008, the Board had hopes of laying the framework to create a new building, which the fairgrounds need for not only housing maintenance supplies, but also to use as a quarantine space, should any animals during the fair season be sick and need separation from other animals. However, a collapsed roof led them to utilize funds elsewhere, so the idea of a new building was tabled.

The process for this year began in 2017, when the Board began to discuss the building again and examine funds. Once they ascertained that the project was doable, they began setting the framework to begin the process, and brought the idea to the County Commissioners, who approved the plan, contingent upon the Fair Board supplying the funds. 

Currently, the project is in the hands of architects, who are adding the final touches to the schematics and plans, which will ultimately go before the County Commissioners in May.

"The nice thing about the plan is that the building will be multi-purpose during the course of the fair, and during off seasons in the winter, we can rent the building out for storage and bring funds into the fair that way, as well."

As for technology, Beise said that changes are coming for ticket purchase regarding the grandstand events and show times. "We have decided to move forward with online ticket sales for the grand stand," he stated, "which will allow for people to choose their own seating during their events. It's a new program for us, allowing people to choose where they want to sit, but we think it's a positive one. People can print their tickets at home, present them at the gates, and it's as simple as that."

Beise said the Board decided to move this direction due to the fact that many fairs are beginning to integrate technology to the seasonal experience. "This brings modern conveniences to the public," Beise commented.

Eventually, the Board will consider making admission fully online, as well, though that is still very much "in talks," as ticket booths are still a part of the "fair experience." The Board would like to examine results of the online grandstand sales before discussing too much more on the idea of automating ticket sales online across the board.

Among other changes to the fair, Beise commented that the week's schedule evolved just a little from last year. Wednesday night will host Combine Demolition Derby, which has been at the fair for 11 years, and will include the mower, and power wheels derbies as well.

Thursday will welcome the return of bull riding and a children's event, introducing Rice Bull Riding Company again, which hasn't been present at the Wright County Fair for a number of years. Friday will host the fair's first Demolition Derby.

The switch comes on Saturday and Sunday, Beise stated. On Saturday, which has typically been reserved for truck and tractor pulling, will host another demolition derby, which has typically run on Sundays. On Sunday, the fair will present the truck and tractor pulling.

Tickets for the fair will be available around the beginning of June. Grand stand ticket prices will remain at $10.00. Fair admission is $5.00 for adults, $2.00 for students 13-17, and children ages twelve and under are free.

Parking at the fair has increased from $2.00 to $5.00. Beise commented that the increase is due to technicalities, given that making change from $5.00 is "simpler." The increase in revenue will go back into the fair's fund.

 


Friends of Buffalo to meet May 3

The Friends of the Buffalo Community Center (FOTBCCI) invites the public to join us for an informational town hall meeting on Thursday,  May 3, at 7:00 p.m., at the Buffalo Community Center.  The community center is located on Central Avenue, across from the main post office.  Parking  is available behind city hall.

The purpose of the town hall is to inform, seek input, and potentially build consensus for the development of a new, multi-generational facility in Buffalo.

Karla Heeter, Buffalo Hospital Community Foundation Executive Director, will moderate the meeting, with presentations by citizens from Becker, Buffalo, and Monticello community centers.

The FOTBCCI is a 501c-3 entity and has been working to lay the groundwork for the development of an expanded community center for the past two years. 

It is our hope to build support for a community center building that will expedite the city's timeline for this possibility.

All are welcome. Join us to learn more about this exciting possibility for our Buffalo community.

 


Bounce Back's 'Three Good Things' starts April 30

Take advantage of this  free opportunity that's bound to make you a happier person. In partnership with the Buffalo High School's Students Stepping Up Committee,   Bounce Back is excited to once again offer this two-week initiative.

It's as simple as three minutes of your time each evening for two weeks.

Research shows that writing down three good things about the day for two weeks can reframe how we think.

We humans are hard-wired to remember the negative, but flipping this around to focus on the positive can have a lasting impact, increase personal happiness, and lower depressive thoughts for up to six months.

Join us by texting @bounce2017 to 81010 by April 30 to be part of this. Don't have texting? You can still do this by journaling 'Three Good Things' each evening and, if you want, share your story on the Bounce Back project website.

Bounce Back is a partnership of Allina Medical Clinic–Buffalo, CentraCare–Monticello Hospital, Buffalo Hospital, Buffalo Clinic and Monticello Clinic to help individuals in our community improve their health through happiness.

 


Free legal assistance offered as part of Law Day celebration at Wright County Government Center

On Friday, May 11, the Wright County Government Center in Buffalo will open its doors to the public as part of a Law Day celebration aimed at educating citizens about the justice system, and helping residents address their legal issues and questions.

The event will give attendees the opportunity to take part in free legal advice clinics; attend presentations on emerging criminal justice issues; and learn how to reinstate their driver's license, resolve an outstanding warrant, or expunge a criminal record. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Law Day event will feature several legal service clinics, at which members of the public can:

• Receive free legal advice on family law, probate, and civil matters;

• Resolve outstanding warrants for criminal misdemeanors;

• Receive help reinstating their Minnesota driver's license;

• Receive free legal advice regarding criminal expungements;

• Receive assistance with completing a health care directive.

Appointments can be made in advance by calling (763) 682-7549.  Walk-ins also welcome. In addition, visitors will have the opportunity to:

• Attend presentations on the Wright County Adult Treatment Court; Wills, Trusts, and Estates; Texting and Driving; and other important justice system topics; and

• View demonstrations of the Wright County Sheriff'fs Office K-9 unit.

 


First half taxes due May 15

Robert J. Hiivala, Wright County Auditor/Treasurer, would like to remind all County property owners that first half property taxes for most properties are due May 15, 2018. 

If for some reason you cannot locate your 2018 property tax statement and would like to get an additional copy, or if you have questions regarding your first half taxes due, this information is available online at the county website at https://web.co.wright.mn.us/proptax/.

If you have misplaced your tax statement(s), you can print a copy of your statements from 2005 through 2018, if you wish. 

If you don't have access to the Internet, call the Wright County Auditor/Treasurer Department at 763-682-7572 or 763-682-7584 during regular business hours, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Property taxes can be paid in person or mailed and postmarked no later than May 15, 2018, to avoid being assessed a late penalty.  If you are mailing, send to: Robert J. Hiivala, Wright County Auditor/Treasurer, 10 2nd Street NW, Room 230, Buffalo, MN  55313.

In addition, for property owner's convenience, there is a drop box at the north entrance of the County Government Center on 2nd Street NW in Buffalo, to the left of the main entrance.

The county accepts E-Check and credit card payments of property taxes online at the County website at https://web.co.wright.mn.us/proptax/.

Enter your PID# or address, then click "Search."  When the correct property information is displayed, click the red "Pay Taxes" tab.

Please be advised that state law requires convenience fees to be charged to taxpayers who choose to make online credit card or e-check payment for property taxes (M.S. 276.02).  These fees are not retained by Wright County, but rather are paid to a third party vendor to cover the costs associated with the payment services.

 


Plaisted, explorer and hunting camp host

Thirty years ago, the McDonald men rented a hunting shack from Ralph Plaisted and now share their stories

By Doug Voerding

Last week's feature story about Ralph Plaisted and his expedition to the North Pole brought a response from readers in the Watertown area.

The McDonald Clan, as they call themselves, has fond memories of Ralph Plaisted.

Thirty years ago this fall, back in 1988, Philip (Flip) McDonald, his sons Bill and Tim, their cousins John and Steve Borer, and Mike, Ewan (Jake), and Ed Joe McDonald stayed at Ralph Plaisted's hunting camp near Kerrick, Minnesota.

The McDonald Clan was there for a week of deer hunting in the Nemadji State Forest, southwest of Duluth.

They became good friends with Ralph Plaisted that week.

 

Arrival at camp

During the week of deer hunting, Ralph fed them an abundance of food on oversized plates.

On the first day, the hunting party had told Plaisted that they did not need a breakfast and that a few granola bars would be enough, but they woke up at 4:30 a.m. to the smell of frying bacon.

Steve Borer said, "When we rented his deer camp that year, we certainly were not expecting that kind of hospitality for the little bit he charged us. So when we awoke the first morning to see a breakfast buffet that would rival most restaurants, we were quite surprised."

Said Bill McDonald, "There were stacks of flapjacks, eggs, bacon, sausage, and pork chops. It was a buffet, and we were stuffed to the gills before we headed out to our deer stands."

"Then," said Bill, "when we came back for lunch at noon, Ralph had steaks and potato salad ready. I remember that he used cooking pans that were 30 inches in diameter with 10-inch tall sides. No kidding!"

 

Abundance of food

"This went on all week," said Steve, "for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That became the laugh of that year's hunt, that we could not hunt too far from camp because we sure did not want to miss the next meal Ralph was cooking! So, the focus shifted from deer hunting to when we had to be back for our next meal. When we ran out of cookies, Ralph ran into town to buy more."

Bill was a college wrestler at the time, and said that when he went back to college the next week, he was 20 pounds over his usual weight class.

"It wasn't one pork chop," said Bill, "it was four!"

Bill also said that they did see a few deer that week, but didn't shoot any.

 "By the end of the week," said Bill, "after all that food and fun every day, we barely made it into the woods to the deer stands."

Bill also remembers that Ralph charged each guy $75 for the week. "I know we all ate more than $80!" recalled Bill.

"We had a lot of fun that year deer hunting with Ralph," said Steve. "He feed us like kings."

 

And the stories

All remembered that Ralph was a gracious and generous host, full of stories, and was the life of the party.

"Everything he did was huge," said Bill.

Steve said, "After days of hearing Ralph's North Pole stories about how hard they worked, some days chopping ice and building roads all day long just to maintain their position on the shifting ice,  we asked Ralph, 'How did you survive that?'"

Ralph replied, "Back then, I was built like a strap of steel!"

Ralph also told the story about another explorer who was out on the ice pack, one person on cross-country skis. He came into their camp to warn Ralph that he had seen a polar bear that was stalking them.

Bill, a teacher at Watertown-Mayer Middle School, said that he uses Plaisted's stories about his determination and all they had to do to reach the North Pole when talking to his students.

"I also like to talk to my students about a specific Plaisted comment," said Bill. "I asked Ralph how he learned all that he needed for the North Pole expedition."

Said Bill, "Plaisted told me that he was not smart, but hung out with smart people. That is a great message for becoming successful."

The McDonalds said that these and other Plaisted stories still get told often now at their own deer shack near Effie, Minnesota,

Joe McDonald, who was not on the Plaisted trip but has heard the stories, shared that during that week of deer hunting, Ralph fed them an abundance of food on plate sizes that would "make a giant gag."

Added Joe, "They ate and laughed and drank so much that I don't think they even went hunting. At least not much anyway."

"To this day," said Joe, "whenever we have an abundance of food and large plates, we call it the "Plaisted's Plates."

Since 1988, Ralph Plaisted, Ewan, Ed Joe, and Flip McDonald have all passed away. Now the stories of that week with Ralph Plaisted are being passed down to the next generation.

 


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