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HEADLINES FOR APRIL 6, 2018

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



City Council agrees to negotiate land sale for downtown housing

By Doug Voerding

High-density housing may be coming to downtown Buffalo.

On Monday, the Buffalo City Council directed city staff to negotiate a sale price for the south end of property owned by the city known as the old St. Francis School property.

Roers Development is proposing 50 units of mixed income housing on the site that is behind the Buffalo Post Office, extending to 1st Avenue NW. The city would retain ownership on the north portion of the property bordered by Central Avenue on the east, 1st Avenue NW on the west, and 3rd Street NW on the north.

That northern portion has been planned for a future downtown fire station and community center with sketch plans showing the station and center facing 3rd Street NW. The sale of the south property to Roers would not affect those plans.

For Roers to qualify for tax credits, the company must have a purchase agreement in place before applying for the credits.

Jared Ackmann of Roers Development told the council that to get tax credits, the building must be 80 percent affordable and 20 percent market rate.

"But," said Ackmann, "in Buffalo you won't see a difference. Here, affordable housing and market rate housing are about the same."

Ackmann said that the rents are currently estimated to be $750 for a one-bedroom apartment, $900 for two-bedroom, and $1000 for three-bedroom.

Ackmann also said that the apartment vacancy rate in the Buffalo area is at a low of five percent, citing that figure as a need for more apartments in the city.

City staff will bring the purchase price back to the council for final approval.

Other details about the development will also need to be worked out, including city zoning approvals, possible Tax Increment Financing through the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), bank financing, and possible tax credits.

Construction on the housing could begin in 2019.

In a memo to the council, Laureen Bodin, assistant city administrator, noted that the Buffalo HRA is working with Roers on the sale of the north part of the old Coborn's parking lot. Roers is planning a 95-unit assisted living facility on that site.

 

Annexation

After holding a required public hearing, the council agreed to annex eight acres owned by Gail and James Sturges.

The property is on the southeast corner of the County Road 134 and County Road 35 intersection. The property abuts the city limits, and infrastructure is nearby for future development of the site.

Wayne Elam of Commercial Realty Solutions of Buffalo told the council that a purchase agreement has been prepared for the sale of the land for a Casey's General Store.

The annexation agreement must first be approved by the state before development begins.

 

Lease Purchase

The city received two bids for the lease purchase package of $304,440 and accepted the low bid of 2.9 percent from BankWest of Rockford. KleinBank of Buffalo had bid 3.79 percent.

The purchase will include Police Department, $33,232 for a records management system; Street Department, $35,000 for a Ford 350 4x4 extended cab pickup; Electric Department, $64,598 for a multi-one loader; Water Department, $90,000 for the purchase of 500 radio-read water meters; Liquor Store, $46,405 for a point-of-sale software system; and Wild Marsh Golf Course, $35,205 for a tri-plex mower.

The lease purchase agreement is for 48 months with the city paying $6726 per month.

 

Local Control Support

At least 40 bills have reportedly been introduced in the legislature this year that would restrict local decision making.

In response, the council discussed a resolution from the League of Minnesota Cities that supports "local decision-making authority and opposes legislation that removes the ability for local elected officials to respond to the needs of their businesses and constituents."

City Administrator Merton Auger said the message of the resolution is that "We do a good job of managing and regulating cities across Minnesota. Let us continue to do that."

Acting Mayor Scott Enter agreed. "We are the pulse of the community. It is easy to contact us, and we have an open ear. It is extremely important to continue this way."

Councilmember Steve Downer said, "Some of the issues being discussed at the legislature would not happen here. I just don't like the politics of this. I don't see a reason to go out on a limb, so I am not going to support it this time."

Councilmember Linda Kittock said she was "supporting it right now."

Because Mayor Teri Lachermeier and Councilmember Eric Anderson were absent, the council tabled the issue to the April 16 meeting.

 

Flora of Buffalo

Carlson Greenhouses of Montrose submitted a bid of $5625 to provide the materials for the round and in-ground planters and 50 hanging gardens seen throughout the city.

The council accepted the bid, noting that $3,355 has already been donated for the program and that donations continue to be received.

Anyone interested in adding a donation for the flowers and plants should contact city hall.

The city would like to receive at least $10,000, so that the flower maintenance costs are also covered by donations only.

Nick Knese Construction

 

Donations

The council accepted several donations for Flora of Buffalo including Pebble Ridge Townhomes Association, $500; John Siffert Trust, $180; Clifford and Nancy Ahlgren, $65; Beverly and Gary McFadden, $50; Dan and Chris Husom, $65; Del Haag, $65; and Kellie Johnson, $50.The council also accepted $1,000 from Buffalo Lions for Buffalo Fishing Forever.

 

Other Action

In other action, the council:

• hired Payton Polston as Class C Wastewater Operator, a position that had been vacated due to a resignation. The city is still in need of a Class B Wastewater Operator.

• learned from Kittock that the Park Board is still working on a new dog park and is considering a dog park either at the Gary Mattson Park on the northwest side of Buffalo Lake or on property near Crossroads Animal Shelter.

• approved a temporary on-sale liquor permit for St. Francis Xavier Church. The parish annual Spring Fling will be at the school, 223 19th Street NE, on Saturday, April 21.

• approved a three-day on-sale beer permit for the Buffalo Lions. The Buffalo Lions will be at the Buffalo Rodeo on Friday, June 22, and Saturday, June 23.

• called for a public hearing on April 16 to certify one delinquent utility account.

 


Statewide tornado drills, April 12 - MN severe weather awareness week

During the week of April 12, the Department of Public Safety and the National Weather Service will be promoting severe weather safety and emergency preparedness information in the media. In addition, statewide tornado drills will be held Thursday, April 12 at 1:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. 

This is the perfect time for families, communities, schools and local businesses to review and talk about their emergency plans and how they can prepare for the upcoming severe weather season.

Each day of the week highlights an important seasonal weather safety topic. Monday will focus on alerts and warnings; Tuesday, severe weather, lightning, and hail; Wednesday, floods; Thursday, tornados (including state wide tornado drills); and Friday, extreme heat.

 


Corrections from March 29

Wright County Journal-Press and The Drummer is dedicated to providing our readers with accurate, timely information, and thus would like to correct a discrepancy in last week's coverage of the 2016 Crow Springs Park case.

The headline of "Three involved with 2016 Crow Springs murder plead guilty" should read "Two involved with 2016 Crow Springs murder plead guilty." Edward Zelko is slated to plea June 1.

Watch for further coverage of this case in later editions of the Wright County Journal-Press.

 


Seminar April 16 for health care directive plans at Park View Campus Ministry Center

It's important for adults to consider having a health care directive plan in place for family, loved ones, and health care professionals to follow so that your wishes are known when the time comes to for others to make difficult choices on your behalf.

On Monday, April 16, starting at 2:00 p.m., presenter Michelle Olson from Guardian Angels Elim Home Care and Hospice will talk with guests about the history of advanced care planning and health care declarations, as well as other areas concerning this important topic. This event will take place at the Park View Campus Ministry Center in Buffalo.

Provided during the presentation will be coffee and dessert, as well as resources to help you make the best decision for you and your family down the road.

RSVP's are preferred to Theresa Henson, at 763-951-7886 or thenson@elimcare.org.

 


BCT set to perform "On Golden Pond"

Buffalo Community Theatre is preparing for "On Golden Pond" performances, April 13-14, and 20-21. Pictured is Norman (played by Jack Neveaux) and Ethel (played by Mary Markve-Patch), whom navigate their marriage during the "twilight" years at their summer cabin. (Photo courtesy of Zanna Joyce)

Buffalo Community Theater is hard at work on its upcoming spring production "On Golden Pond."  This touching, funny and warmly-perceptive show opens in April, and features the talents of Jack Neveaux, Mary Markve-Patch, Jenny Robinson, Steve Ramirez, Rick Wyman and Kadin Anderson.

A classic American comedy/drama, "On Golden Pond" is every bit as touching, warm, and witty today as when it debuted on Broadway in 1979. Retired couple Ethel and Norman Thayer spend every summer at their cabin on Golden Pond.  Though the summers are fairly predictable, this year they have a surprise visitor that will change things forever.

Bringing the production to the Discovery Auditorium stage is BCT's talented Pro-duction Team, including ,Director Mary Cutler, Stage and Production Manager Tammy Bryant, with Set Construction by Philip Ludwig, Lighting Design by Tracy Paulson, Sound Design by Joel Strand, Set Painting and Properties by Diane Paulu, Costumes by Zanna Joyce, and Graphic Design by Jess Bellovich.

"On Golden Pond" runs April 13-14, 20-21 at 7:30 p.m. and April 15 and 22 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available from the BCT website:  bctmn.org, or at the door.

BCT is funded, in part, by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Central MN Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

 


Bids for new Justice Center discussed by County Board

By Miriam Orr

Presented before Wright County Commissioners on April 3 were bids regarding the projected Justice Center, which were received on March 20. Alan Wilczek, Facilities Director, introduced members from BKB Group, which is the architect group managing the project, and Contegrity Group out of Little Falls, which is the construction management company.

Discussion arose regarding the categories of construction for the Justice Center. Total, there are approximately 39 different categories that required bids, ranging from landscaping and earthwork to courtroom technology. Among the base bid also were opportunities for contractors to provide alternate bids for other projects outside of basic contract work, like a bituminous trail and vegetative roof.

There was much discussion from the Board regarding the trail and the roof, which Commissioners decided against, as the maintenance costs would be long-term. The trail, however, presented some concerns, as eight bids came in for the project, all ranging drastically. The lowest bid for the trail was priced at approximately $6,000.00 dollars in addition to contract work, while the highest ranged at almost $33,000.00

"In regard to these alternative bids," Commissioner Charlie Borrell stated, "we want to be sure that the county's best interest is involved, and that we reserve the ability to reject work if bids continually increase as the project develops further."

Discussion on the amount of information that contractors received to make their bids was made with Commissioners. A contracting representative commented that it was difficult for contractors to make bids based on limited information, and that it was an unfair expectation for the Board to expect solid numbers on bidding estimations, especially regarding the bituminous trail earthwork and grating. The Board was reassured that rejection of work would be an option, depending on circumstances, and after discussion as a group has been made.

The Board awarded contracting work for 38 of the 39 categories, tabling the approval regarding Category One: Earthwork/Utilities for two weeks, until city officials were able to confer further with contractors and discuss details with engineers. Category One work, along with alternative bids regarding the bituminous trail, was ultimately tabled.

Wilczek stated that he was pleased with the projections from the received bids, and that so far, bids estimated that the entire Justice Center project would be "well under budget." According to the county's Five Year Capital Improvement Plan, the summary of the project is not to exceed an expenditure of $54,000,000.00 to finance the construction of the Justice Center. The report states that due to the counties increasing size and population projections, a new Center offering nine courts is in order.

The Board held a public hearing regarding bond capital improvements at 9:30 a.m., where no representatives of the public voiced concerns. 

Bruce Kimmel, Senior Municipal Advisor for Ehlers and Associates, Inc. presented the CIP to the Board, and discussed the 2018 expenditures for the county. The Justice Center is to be funded with the issuance of General Obligation Capital Improvement Plan Bonds, which will be repaid by property tax levy's, annually.

The proposed issuance for Wright County regarding its Justice Center is $51,410,000.00, with and the bonds will be issued for a 20-year term. Interest will begin June 1, 2019, while the principal payments would be due December 1 in 2020 to 2039.

Commissioners asked whether the money that may be leftover from the $51 million could be used for other projects in the county. Kimmel explained that no, since the bonds were to be issued in regards to a Justice Center, whatever funds may remain must be invested in that project, not others. Considering reports, the Board believes the project to round out around $48,000,000.00.

Borrel commented that if the bond was for $51 million, and the Justice Center only used $48 million and the funds could not be allocated anywhere, would it be possible to look into bonding for only the $48 million. Kimmel confirmed that this is what would happen, as overshooting the budget was not the best decision the Board could make.

Kimmel suggested that in the written resolution, the Board agree to adding a third clause to the statement that while the project would not exceed $54 million dollars total, the board would direct Ehler's to "size a preliminary bond issue to fund for approximately $48 million dollars."

"It would be clear that you authorize the CIP, but you authorize us to move forward with a smaller amount." Kimmel commented. The Board has until May 7 to finalize numbers.

Commissioner Darek Vetsch made the motion to adopt the resolution. Commissioner Mike Potter seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.

The award of the sale of bonds is slated for May 8.

 

Agenda:

Highway Department: Virgil Hawkins, Highway Engineer, asked the Board to award pavement preservation project number 1802 to Knife Lake River Corporation – North Central, the amount of $4,674,944.95. Also, he requested approval of an application for easement across DNR state land along CSAH 9. Minn. DNR requires an application process for easement before work along CSAH 9 can begin, as DNR land needs to be crossed to get much of the work done. The parcel of land is around Waverly Lake.

Commissioner Christine Husom stated that she was pleased with the total amount regarding the pavement preservation project, and that the numbers were low. "I'm very pleased to see that this numbers came in low," she commented.

"We were very pleased when the numbers came in," Hawkins replied.

County Attorney's Office: The Board approve a developer's agreement for a solar energy farm on private property in Cokato Township.

Auditor/Treasurer's Office: Warrants issued between March 27 and March 31 were acknowledged.

 


The future of robotics tech, Wright here at home

By Miriam Orr

You might expect to find NASA technology in a research center, or a hospital, or even on your cell-phone and computers – but did you ever stop and think that it might be cleaning the floor at your student's high school?

It is a widely known fact that technology is the future, and that it is constantly expanding and changing – you might even be one of those people who can't keep up with its seemingly constant evolutions. You are not alone, as there are many who are scrambling to get up with the times.

STMA High School is not among them, though. For two years, STMA has been working in correlation with Nilfisk, a leading global provider of professional cleaning services and products, to launch new and up-coming technology in the cleaning industry.

Nilfisk introduced its Liberty A50 floor scrubber to STMA a number of years ago, with an interest in expanding the facilities management and productivity of maintenance departments across the globe.  STMA high school currently hosts the first out of eight Liberty A50's in the world, and is just one testing facility. The project was deemed "The Knight Project," after STMA's Knights.

"This is serial model number one; Serial zero-zero-one," said Terry Zerwas, Director of Buildings and Grounds. "We got the first of these machines in the entire world."

The Libery A50 is an "autonomous floor care machine," according to Nilfisk, and utilizes advanced robotics technology to "multiply effectiveness in any cleaning program." Using 2D, 3D infrared and depth sensors, the machine works in unison with computer processors to handle repetitive tasks, without much training or manual supervision. As stated by Nilfisk online, "this means that time normally spent manually operating a scrubber can now be reallocated to other tasks."

The machine uses mapping technology to understand an atmosphere, says Zerwas. The operator records the floor-space, and the map is automatically saved to the machine's processor, with a matching start and stop point. Once the autonomous "driverless" features are activated, the machine will follow the mapped path and clean, ultimately ending up where it began after it recognizes the job is done.

This project has been in the works for at least five years, but STMA has been involved for the last two to three. So far, the machine runs on a website-based program, which will eventually convert over to cell-phone use, so it can be controlled in a mobile-manual way.

"This is about working smarter, not harder," said Zerwas. "This technology isn't designed to take jobs away, but to reallocate work and manage time and efficiency better. This doesn't require a rider, which in some cases, works two or so hours in one location riding a machine. It's revolutionary and will change the industry forever."

In a way, the machine is self-learning. If it detects movement in close proximity, it will immediately stop until the area around it is clear and deemed safe to continue work. Also, if anything is in the Liberty's path, it will auto-map a way around the object, to an extent. It constantly captures data and uploads it to improve, and research experts are constantly ciphering through it to make improvements and upgrades, while simultaneously troubleshooting problems.

The Liberty A50 has a battery life of approximately six hours, and has the ability to prioritize, in a sense. If it runs out of cleaning fluids or its battery beings running low, it will be sure to utilize its remaining battery-life to "return to home base," or send out a text to its manual supervisor that it cannot finish a job. However, it will do what it can to make sure the job is completed, and even stop working in an effort to conserve battery to return to its charging base.

So far these machines are slated for full production later in 2018. There are currently eight of them globally undergoing 24/97 research phases and demonstrations. Adam Zachman, Building and Grounds Coordinator for STMA high school stated, "These people are constantly running tests and coming up with upgrades and improved technology for these machines. There's one machine that just constantly cleans floors in a lab all the time, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. All that data is uploaded for research."

Zachman currently is overseeing the project at STMA high school. He commented that there are three keys total for the machine; two operating keys and then one for a supervisor. His key, as the supervisor, is fob-like, and is able to program the machine and communicate with it on a different level than the others.

STMA's involvement began when Nilfisk reached out to school facility departments, asking for input on the current stand-up scrubber machines. The company announced they were looking to make the stand-up riders more compact, and were looking for any data from professionals within the industry.

"This is cutting edge technology, that is going to help advance this industry," Zerwas said. It's going to make the job easier for everyone, everywhere. This is the future of robotics technology for us in 2018, right here at home."

 


Highway 25 motorists invited to open house for talks on construction project, Thursday April 12

The construction project along Hwy 25 from Montrose to Watertown. (Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Transportation)

Montrose and Watertown area businesses and residents are encouraged to attend an open house about a major road project that will resurface and reconstruct Highway 25 between Montrose and Watertown in 2018. Highway 25 will be closed to through traffic for several weeks during the project.

The public open house will be held Thursday, April 12, from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at Watertown city hall, 309 Lewis Ave. S.

Open house attendees will be able to learn about the project's schedule, work to be performed, detours and traffic plans, and take home project information. A project layout will be on display, and MnDOT staff will be available to answer any questions. No presentation is planned, and guests are invited to arrive any time.

The project will begin the week of May 14 and be complete in mid-August, and will resurface or reconstruct Highway 25 between Seventh Street in Montrose and County Road 10/Jefferson Avenue in Watertown, replace three underground pipes and one box culvert bridge, install new LED stop signs at the Highway 25/Wright County Road 30 intersection, repair a slope north of Armitage Avenue, upgrade guardrail and install mumble/rumble strips. When complete, the project will extend the life of the road and improve the ride along eight miles of Highway 25, and improve safety and drainage in the area.

To request an ASL or foreign language interpreter, call 651-366-4720. To request other reasonable accommodations, call 651-366-4718; the Minnesota Relay service toll-free at 1-800-627-3529 (TTY, Voice or ASCII) or 711, go online and email your request  to adarequest.dot@state.mn.us.

To stay informed about the project, sign up to have project email updates including advance notice of future traffic changes sent to your inbox, visit the project's website online at www.mndot.gov/d3/2018/h25

To follow this and other Wright County projects on Twitter, follow us at @MnDOTcentral.

For real-time travel information anywhere in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org. To see photos on the route's construction, look inside this edition of the Wright County Journal-Press.

 


First-ever library card design contest

There's no shortage of artistic talent in central Minnesota - and we've  found our own unique way to showcase it.

This April, Great River Regional Library (GRRL) wants you to submit your artwork during our library card design contest!

For the first time in GRRL's history, we are giving you the chance to share your creativity with library card holders in six counties by illustrating our next library card.

Anyone living Benton, Morrison, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd and Wright Counties can participate. We've divided the contest into two age groups: ages 12 and under, and age 13 to adult.

If selected, your design will be featured on a limited-edition GRRL library card in the fall of 2018.

Entries will be accepted from April 1-30. Entries received after April 30 will not be considered. Winners will be notified in June.

Stop by your branch of GRRL to pick up a submission form, or print one by visiting our website.

To see what else is going on at your library, this month and all year long, visit griver.org/events.

 


Co. Sheriff's Office holds dive training

For those curious about Wright County Sheriff presence at Pulaski Lake on  Monday, April 2, the Office was conducting dive training, off the boat launch and around beach area.

 


DC welcomes U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-USA, April 14 

Dassel-Cokato Performing Arts Center is thrilled to announce the arrival of the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America, who will be performing Saturday, April 14, at 7:00 p.m.

Admission is free, but tickets are required. For tickets, please visit: http://PAC.DD.K12.mn.us or call 320-286-4120. The DC Performing Arts Center is located at 4852 Reardon Avenue SW in Cokato.

 


Wright Co. Dairy Princess Coronation

The Wright County Dairy Princess Banquet and Coronation will be Saturday, April 14 at the Maple Lake Legion Club!  The Social starts at 11:30 a.m., with the lunch and coronation starting at noon. 

The Dairy Princess and Ambassador Program is sponsored by the Wright County American Dairy Association, which is made up of your local Wright County Dairy Farmers.  The Dairy Princesses attend and help with local events in Wright County. You can often find them handing out milk and ice cream!

 


22nd Annual Annandale Expo, April 14

Get ready for the Annandale Chamber of Commerce's 22nd Annual Expo, coming Saturday, April 14, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Annandale High School.

This event is free and open to the public, and includes 90+ vendors, live entertainment, children's activities, breakfast and lunch, samplings, demonstrations, and so much more!

For more information, please go online to visit www.annadalechamber.org.

 


A change of heart, literally

It's been nine years since Eddie Kunze's story was told, and there's been a lot of progress, since.

By Miriam Orr

Ten-year-old Eddie Kunze plopped himself down in an oversized computer chair across the desk, examining the work given to him by his mother, Chris. He pushes up his glasses on his nose, and without hesitation, flips open the search-a-word tablet. A set of yellow and green scented markers sits dutifully to his left.

"As you can see, Eddie likes search-a-word puzzles," his mother said with a smile.

Evidence enough is the ream of completed pages, marked with yellow and green. Eddie uncaps one of the markers, scooches up to the desk, and begins his focused duty of searching out words in the puzzle.

 

Eddie, circa 2009

The last time Wright County Journal-Press  shared Edward "Eddie" Kunze's story was in 2009,  when he was "way smaller" and right on the cusp of living. A lot of time has passed since then, with quite a few events rocking the Kunze family world.

When you first meet Eddie, he looks as if he's just another normal ten-year-old boy. However, Eddie isn't your typical fourth grader: he was born worth Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), and is recently a young recipient of a heart transplant.

Chris Kunze, Eddie's mom, can offer a practical explanation of this defect without even thinking twice.

"It is literally half of a functioning heart," Chris explains. "Only one side of Eddie's heart developed before he was born."

Chris had no idea that her youngest-of-five would be born with such a complex defect. HLHS affects one in 4,344 births in the U.S.,  and is pretty difficult to detect while in the womb, though it can be caught on ultrasound.

Chris stated that since she was a "veteran mom of four already," she didn't really invest much time in too many ultrasound, since she felt fine. The one she did have that she remembers most clearly is when Eddie was "doing cartwheels" as the technician was attempting to get a decent picture, and was only partially successful.

Eddie laughed at her recollection of the memory, and she smiled. "We probably could've seen his heart from the picture and been aware of what was to come, but Eddie was too much of a stinker that day."

Eddie's grin is wide every time he hears the story, and he beams up at his mother before going back to his search-a-word puzzle.

Since Eddie's diagnosis, there's been a lot of work accomplished. So far, he's seen three open- heart surgeries, and has spent countless weeks in the hospital that were "never-ending," as he put it.

"There's a lot of maintenance and repair that Eddie's heart needed, since his heart wouldn't ever fully develop," Chris commented.

 

A change of heart, literally

In January of 2017, Eddie was diagnosed with heart failure at nine-years-old. He was admitted to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital on Jan. 9, 2017, and soon after, the process  of putting him on a transplant list for a new heart began.

"At that point, medication was keeping Eddie alive, and his heart wasn't functioning outside of IV meds and constant medical supervision," Chris said.

A lot of work goes into being placed on a transplant list, Chris would soon find out.  Thankfully she knew many other families who had gone through the same ordeal. This " heartfamily," as Chris called them, would be her and Eddie's mental and emotional support in the coming weeks and months away from home.

Eddie was put on the transplant list, and would go on to spend Jan. to Nov. in the hospital under nursing care. "I was always told he'd need a transplant, but I chose not to dwell on it until we needed to cross that bridge. I was really hard, but necessary," Chris recalls of the event.

When you ask Eddie of his time in the hospital facing a total heart transplant, he takes great care in finding the right words. "I was really shocked with the initial reveal. I didn't expect to get hit with a blast like that. It was really scary," Eddie said solemnly, sounding more like a stoic than a ten-year-old fourth grader.

Eddie was listed on the transplant list as a high-priority, class 1A patient. He was transferred from the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit to the sixth floor of UMMCH to establish a new routine, which he would follow all the way up to his transplant in Nov. 2017.

The hardest part was being away from family, Eddie commented. He missed his brothers, Tim, Will, and Ben, and his sister, Abbie. They came and visited sometimes, though not often, as the risk of getting sick was high.

Eddie underwent a complete heart transplant in Nov. 2017 at the University of Minnesota, after 314 days in the hospital. "I always knew this was on my radar, but I tried not to dwell on it too much, otherwise it would drive a mother crazy. I stayed with Eddie everyday, and two times a week my folks would come and stay with him and give me some time to myself. It was so difficult, but Eddie got through it like a trooper."

 

Present-day ten-year-old

Now almost five months later, Eddie is home with his Mom and his brother, Will. His two older siblings are enjoying college, and Eddie was excited to spend Easter with his family for the first time since Christmas 2016 on Sunday, April 1. He was especially looking forward to seeing his eight-month-old nephew, Owen."There's still a lot to do and keep up with," Chris stated. She doesn't skip a beat, preparing an oral syringe of medicine for Eddie.

She hands it to him, and he takes it effortlessly, giving it back to her. "Eddie will constantly, for the rest of his life, run the risk of his body rejecting his heart. He's on medications that help keep that at bay, but it's something he has to learn to cope with."

As of now, Eddie is looking forward to finishing fourth grade with his Parkside Elementary classmates, and enjoys everything related Disney Pixar. One of the highlights of his stay in the hospital was the fact he got to have a phone conversation with Dr. Pete Docter, a Pixar animator, for seventeen minutes.

Docter even sent Eddie a sketch of Woody and Buzz from "Toy Story," which Eddie is more than willing - and thrilled - to talk about.

For the Kunzes, Eddie is the youngest member of their family, and they are thankful he is still a part of their lives. What's more, they will always be especially grateful to the heart donor's family, who made the next chapter of Eddie's life possible.

He is, after all,  still the Kunze's youngest brother - regardless of what heart beats inside his chest.

 


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