See the County’s 4-H Champions’ special section inside the Journal-Press
This week’s issue of the Journal-Press includes another Wright County 4-H Champions special section.
With the help of the Extension Service, we have put together several pages so you can see the accomplishments of the 4-H members, who have devoted their time and efforts throughout the year.
See more 4-H special sections in the coming weeks.
Congratulations to the 4-H Champions of 2018.
Three Wright County departments recognized for Governor’s Safety Award
Three Wright County departments were recognized for excellence in workplace safety and health at the Governor’s Safety Awards luncheon earlier this summer. Wright County’s Health and Human Services, Sheriff’s Office, and the Parks and Recreation Department each received a Meritorious Achievement Award.
Meritorious Achievement Awards are earned when incidence rates are better than the industry average for at least three years. Wright County is one of more than 270 employers to be honored through the awards program, coordinated by the Minnesota Safety Council.
“Congratulations to Wright County for helping to make life safer inside their organization and beyond,” said Paul Aasen, president of the Minnesota Safety Council. “Safety may start at work, but it extends to the roads and to home and we are all safer due to the good work by Wright County.”
Comments from Wright County Coordinator Lee Kelly, echoed those of the safety council president. “Wright County is committed to providing a safe environment for employees and visitors to our facilities,” Kelly said. “We are honored to be recognized by the Minnesota Safety Council for our continuous improvement efforts in the areas of safety and risk management.”
Monticello man killed in I-94 crash, traffic locked in six-hour standstill
On August 15, Kevin Parker, 40 of Monticello, was killed in a vehicle crash while driving eastbound along I-94 near Highway 101 and Brockton Lane.
Five vehicles were struck head-on when a delivery truck, a 2016 Freightliner, jumped the median on Highway 101 and vaulted upward over the steel-cable barrier. John Houdyshell of St. Louis Park was the driver of the Freightliner.
A nurse on-scene provided CPR on Robin Grebinoksi of Otsego, who was also a victim of the crash and was airlifted to North Memorial.
Houdyshell reported to state troopers that he was alert at the time of the crash, but may have suffered some unknown medical condition which, a lieutenant reported would need medical examination and confirmation.
The American Legion Post 270 to celebrate its Centennial birthday
The American Legion is turning 100, and American Legion Post 270 in Buffalo is planning to celebrate locally, even though they’ve been celebrating already throughout the year.
The post, located in Buffalo, was chartered on October 13, 1919. The organization, as a whole, traces its roots to March 15-17, 1919, in Paris, France, in the aftermath of World War I. The American Legion was federally chartered on Sept. 16, 1919, and quickly became an influential force at the national, state and local levels, dedicated to service to veterans, strong national defense, youth and patriotism.
Post 270, currently numbers: 264 members plus 134 in the affiliated American Legion Auxiliary, 33 Sons of The American Legion, and 11 Legion Riders.
To kick-off this centennial celebration, the Legion is hosting a family event, and you are invited on Saturday, September 8 from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Brats, dogs, burgers, and sides, as well as kid and adult beverages will be served. A jumping house, climbing wall and dunk tank will also be featured. Live music starts at 4 p.m. by the “Everett Smithson Band.” Admission is FREE; western parking lot of the Legion.
10th Annual Street Party of Hope to illuminate downtown Buffalo
Each year, Buffalo Hospital Foundation hosts the Street Party of Hope in Downtown Buffalo, MN. This annual event, formerly called the Pink Street Party, elevates cancer awareness and raises money for Buffalo Hospital Foundation’s Community Cancer Care Fund, which provides financial support to individuals who have found their cancer diagnosis to be a financial burden. The new name was created to better recognize people experiencing any type of cancer. Along with the new name, the event is taking place this year on a new date: Thursday, September 13, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Throughout September, downtown Buffalo will be illuminated with lights in eight different colors, recognizing many of the most commonly diagnosed cancers, as well as caregivers. Community members are invited to sponsor a string of lights as a tribute to loved ones who have experienced cancer and will also have the opportunity to hang a medallion in their honor on one of the eight colored trees on the Splash Pad during the event. The highlight of the evening will be at 8 p.m. where organizers will throw the switch, illuminating downtown in lights that honor, support, celebrate and remember those who have experienced cancer. To learn more about these tributes and honor someone you love, go online and visit streetpartyofhope.org.
A variety of vendors will line the streets, and classic favorites and modern hits by Crows Feet will fill the air from the bandstand located near the Splash Pad. The event will also feature a performance by members of the Buffalo Community Theater as they perform numbers from their fall show, “Company.” Over 60 business and organizations, in addition to food and beverage vendors, will be there in support of the Street Party of Hope. New this year is an almost 5k Fun Run/Walk along the shores of Buffalo Lake, giving people another way to experience the event and honor loved ones by running or walking in their honor. Games, food, and festivities make this an event the whole family can enjoy. Be one of the most colorful guests or pets for a chance to win a prize!
Buffalo gets crafty at the Art and Craft Festival, August 18
Perhaps one of Buffalo’s “craftiest” events, the Art and Craft Festival took to the streets on August 18. Folks were out smiling and perusing wares at all of the different vendors’ tents. Above, you can see smiles abound near a painting tent. See more photos in this Journal-Press issue. (Photo by Miriam Orr)
County Commissioners discuss Safe Harbor pilot program
By Miriam Orr
On Tuesday, August 21, Wright County Commissioners approved the expenditure of funds in order to receive a grant totaling $14,500 for the development of a Safe Harbor protocol program at the County Board meeting.
John Bowen of the County Attorney’s Office, along with Chief Deputy Attorney Brian Asleson, spoke about the coming program, which stems from a concern that many communities share regarding the sexual exploitation of juveniles.
The Safe Harbor Law, passed in 2011, is a state statute which orders that juveniles who are involved/victims of sexual crimes, under any circumstance, will not be tried in court as criminals. Bowen stated that the law treats juveniles of sexual exploitation as victims, and will not hold them legally responsible.
“Sexual exploitation, as you’ve probably seen in media, has been covered for the last few years,” Bowen said of the issue, of which Wright County is not without. “This has been a statewide issue for a few years now, and enforcement in this area has increased.”
Bowen continued explaining that the state has offered grants to five different counties to be part of a pilot program, which Wright County applied for through the Police Department, Health and Human Services, and the County Attorney’s Office. The involvement of these departments is to hopefully develop protocols for how law enforcement, attorneys, law offices, and social workers would handle these highly sensitive instances.
“We applied for this grant for the training of law enforcement and our social workers in handling these cases,” Bowen said. “These are delicate instances that need the utmost discretion, and training.”
Together, the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) awarded Wright County a $14,500 grant to work towards this Safe Harbor protocol program, which already has kicked off as of August 17. Other counties have already started developing their programs; southern areas even are working collaboratively to see the project through.
“We’re in a good position of leadership for the state,” Bowen explained. “We’re getting professional members of the County together in the community to work with one another and write this initiative, with Chuck Derry, of the Gender Violence Institute, overseeing the writing process as the lead writer. I expect that most funding will go to that process. ”
Bowen also shared that the grant money is reimbursement for finances the County expends towards the process, as the grant contract demands. Bowen reassured Commissioners that this expenditure would not be from tax-payer dollars during any length of time in which the pilot is active, but that he suspects the grant will cover the costs the project raises, at least a majority of them. The funds are to come from the professional services fund, as voted unanimously by the Board.
Commissioner Christine Husom was present at the program’s launch, which was held on August 17, and shared her full support of the program by stating that awareness was something which professional and citizens within Wright County should work together for.
Commissioner Mike Potter commented of the issue, simply. “We owe it to the children of Wright County to protect them, and make sure they are well taken care of.”
Highway Department: Virgil Hawkins, Highway Engineer, presented before Commissioners the request to approve a resolution regarding the final acceptance for a roundabout project on CSAH 35 and CR 134, totaling $127,190.92. The contract bids were received by New Look of Rogers.
Hawkins also requested the award of the Woodland Township bridge replacement project to Landwehr Construction, totaling $402,292.30. The project is slated for the bridge on 60th Street, which is north of Highway 12, slightly west of Waverly.
County Coordinator: Assistant County Coordinator Sue Vergin reported on the utilization of volunteers to run the front reception desk of the Wright County Government Center, which the County has been accepting applications and interest in for weeks. The effort is in hope to better utilize staff and merge departments, which has yet to be officially confirmed or denied. So far, Vergin stated, there are four volunteers.
Commissioner Charlie Borrell expressed interest in joining training for the position, which is slated to occur within the first two weeks of September. Vergin shared that they were working to pinpoint the busiest times in the front desk schedule, to make sure that those times were confidently filled, but that, overall, she felt the volunteer interest already garnered will more than suffice.
Commissioner Mark Daleiden explained that having materials available for the public would help alleviate some of the responsibilities the position requires, like have maps available at the front desk. Borrell interjected, stating that signage identifying front desk personnel as volunteers might also be beneficial in gathering more inquiry into the position.
Overall, Vergin was confident of the position’s overall interest, and stated that the County will continue advertising for the volunteer position in hopes to gather a larger pool of volunteers.
New Montrose Ambassadors crowned
The new Montrose Ambassadors, left to right, are Serenity Simmang, and Hannah Ennis. In front, left to right, are the new Junior Ambassadors Charlotte Wood and Isaac Marquette. The coronation was last Sunday, August 19. See inside for more Montrose Days photos. (Photo by Doug Voerding)
City Council talks coming community events, new building developments
By Arynn Maznio
The Buffalo City Council met on Monday, August 20 at 7:00pm. The meeting was opened by Mayor Teri Lachermeier, who shared the success of the Buffalo Craft Fair that took place on Saturday, August 18. She was happy to announce that the fair was a big hit; over 150 vendors were present. Staff member Laureen Bodin agreed that it was one of the best years for the fair. Lachermeier also shared that she attended the SAVE 5k event, which took place last weekend. It was viewed as a good turnout, as over 220 participants ran in the race. A member of the community, Sarah Peter, who attended the meeting shared that she was happy to have participated in the SAVE event.
Mayor Lachermeier stated that she has been frequently approached about questions and comments regarding service in the community, such as the filling of potholes. She replied that the City of Buffalo website has a portal for residents to share their concerns or service requests, which immediately sends messages to city staff. She was happy to report that many concerns are often addressed in a 24-hour period after submission and encourages residents to make use of the website.
During the open forum period, Carey Thompson of Buffalo shared about her “Friends of the Dog Park” group and confirmed the public hearing that will take place during the Park Advisory Board meeting on Monday, August 27 at 7 p.m. She also presented results from a poll to suggest the implementation of a community center in lieu of the new housing development downtown.
Ashley Anderson from the Buffalo Hospital Foundation announced the changes made to this year’s Street Party of Hope, formerly known as the Pink Street Party. This year, the tenth anniversary event will take place on Thursday, September 13, and will create awareness for those fighting all kinds of cancer. Proceeds raised will benefit the community cancer care fund, which supports anyone who needs additional assistance funding their treatment and care while dealing with cancer treatment. A 5k race will be held at 6:00pm along the north shore of Lake Buffalo, ending at the library. Anderson encourages individuals to register to run or to volunteer. A tree-lighting ceremony will take place at 8:00pm during which tribute donations will be recognized.
The Council approved the adoption of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) #23 for the development of the first of the downtown housing projects in the former Coborn’s store site, upon the report and recommendations shared by Nick Anhut, of Ehlers & Associates, and Council Assistant Administrator Laureen Bodin. The TIF would assist the financing of the 89-unit senior living facility, Havenwood. With approval by the Council, the developer would then begin the project of developing the site for an estimated cost of $20.5 million. The TIF would help to reimburse acquisition and site improvements, amongst other costs. While the terms of the TIF district allow it to be open for up to 26 years, Anhut is confident that the reimbursement period would only take up to an estimated 20 years. This time limit ensures the flexibility of the project, though expected to perform well. With the housing facility in place, the City would generate over $130,000 in property taxes and receive roughly $14,000 annually to support the local jurisdiction. Anhut shared the necessity of the TIF stating, “The development is possible but for the use of the tax increment.” The Council approved the TIF #23 as a “tool in the toolbox” that the City of Buffalo is able to use to fill multiple needs in the community. The development of the senior housing facility would spur additional projects, including the planning for a second housing site. Mayor Lachermeier shared that the project addresses the need of the senior housing facility in the community, will create 30 new jobs, and the location is a beautiful setting.
• The Council approved the issuance of $10 million in bonds from the City of St. Paul Park in the City of Buffalo for the memory and short-term care facilities known as the Cottagewood Senior and Memory Care Communities.
Two matters of the Planning Commission were approved:
• The final plat of the Buffalo Pass 2nd Addition by Paxmar LLC
• Steven and Suzanne Stensrud’s construction on a new home.
• A zoning district amendment was requested by Troy Pfeifer to be tabled until September meeting was approved.
• The Dakota Storage Buildings conditional use permit was denied.
Past due accounts were certified to the tax rolls.
Temporary Liquor Licenses were approved to the following:
• Jordan Keske, for a wedding at the Civic Center on September 29 from 44 p.m. to 12 a.m.
• Rosa Espinoza, for an event at the Civic Center on September 8 from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Donations were received with gratitude by the Council for the following:
• A total of $270 from residents for the proposed dog park
• $500 from the Montrose Lions for the Community Center Toy Sop
• $30 from William and Edward Kunze for Flora
A position for the Parks Advisory Board is open to the public for application; one application has been received.
The City Council meeting was adjourned by Mayor Lachermeier and guest Sarah Peter. The next City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 4 at 7:00pm, due to Labor Day.
Gear-Heads motor into Maple Lake for swap meet
On Saturday, August 18, Maple Lake welcomed a swath of bikers, cruisers, mechanics, enthusiasts, and all-around gear-heads for one of its biggest events of the year. The annual Gear-Head Get Together Show and Swap Meet parks along the streets of Maple Lake, allowing for enthusiasts and drivers alike to discuss their machines and have a good time. Here, a lineup of Indian motorcycles glint in the late afternoon sun. See more inside. (Photo by Miriam Orr)
Concerts in the Park continue until August 30
August is here, and Concerts in the Park are still going strong, continuing on every Thursday at 7 p.m. until August 30!
This event features a number of musical concerts and bands, sponsored by local businesses in their performances for the community. It promises to be a good time, with family-friendly music, and all the concerts are free of charge for anyone who wants to join in on the fun.
On August 23, “Heart Strings” will take you down country roads with a variety of country and gospel tunes. Then, watch for the month’s final performance on August 30, “Butch Automatic and the Four Speeds,” who will rock your socks off with 50’s and 60’s hits.
Anyone wanting to donate to the event, and others like it in the community, please contact the Buffalo Parks Department at 763-682-4132.
Bridging Zambia’s final event, August 26
Maple Lake’s Bridging Zambia will be hosting its final event prior to leaving for Zambia in September!
On August 26, Bridging Zambia will be hosting their final pancake breakfast at the Maple Lake Legion Club from 8:30 a.m. to noon. A free will offering is suggested.
Bridging Zambia is a branch of Carol McBrady’s “Action for Children in Zambia.” It is specifically designed to bring volunteers from local areas face-to-face with children in Zambia. The current need is to finish a housing project on the farm, which was suggested by McBrady to raise around $12,000 for the purchase of materials.
Please be sure to stop by and wish the inaugural group farewell before their departure in September! If you’re unable to attend, a tax-deductible contribution can be made online at www.afczambia.org.
‘Totally Turtles’ is coming soon, August 25
“Totally Turtles” is coming Saturday, August 25, 10 a.m. at the trail center in Lake Maria State Park. Here, Emily Roberts from Snake Discovery will present “Totally Turtles,” a program which covers all of Minnesota and Wisconsin’s native turtles. Kids learn what makes turtles so unique when a volunteer gets to “transform” into one!
Kids even have the opportunity to hand-feed a large tortoise and learn about the differences between five native species that will also make an appearance.
The program is free, but there is a $7 daily vehicle permit fee for those without an annual permit. Lake Maria State Park is located approximately seven miles northwest of Monticello, five miles north of Maple Lake and 10 miles northeast of Annandale on Wright County Highway 111.
For more information about directions and activities, call the park at 763-878-2325.
Registration now open for Party of Hope run
Buffalo’s Hospital Foundation invites runners and walkers of all ages and abilities to sign up for the Street Party of Hope Almost 5K Fun Run/Walk, taking place Thursday, September 13, at 6 p.m. This year, the Street Party of Hope, formerly known as Pink Street Party, is going bigger, better, and brighter for the 10th Anniversary Celebration. In order to better recognize people who have experienced any kind of cancer, the event has a new name and date, along with new features.
The Almost 5K Fun Run/Walk is another way people can honor loved ones who have experienced cancer. Each runner will receive a runner bib with a place to write the names of those they are running for. Awards will be given out to the best-dressed individual and best group effort for dressing in Street Party of Hope theme colors in honor of loved ones who have experienced cancer.
Registration is open online at streetpartyofhope.org/run. Advanced registration is $25 and day-of registration is $30, beginning at 5 p.m. at the Street Party of Hope. The race begins near the Splash Pad in downtown Buffalo and runners will run along the north end of Buffalo Lake, turn around and finish at the Buffalo Library parking lot, where treats and swag bags will be distributed.
For more information, call Buffalo Hospital Foundation at 763-684-6800 or visit streetpartyofhope.org.
Another “revving” success for Maple Lake’s Gear-Head Get Together