Monticello National Guard unit deploying to Guantanamo

Members of the 257th Military Police Company stand in formation on the Monticello High School Auditorium stage as Brigadier Commander Col. Troy Soukup speaks at the podium.  Those seated on the stage include Congressman Tom Emmer, Company Commander Capt. Jon Schliesing and Chaplain Major Kelly Wasberg.  (Photo by Ed DuBois)

By Ed DuBois

More than 120 Soldiers from the Monticello-based 257th Military Police Company will be deploying to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in support of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, according to a recent National Guard news release.

"Our unit is trained and ready to professionally carry out this very important mission," said Capt. Jon Schliesing, commander of the 257th Military Police Company.

The unit will provide safe, humane, legal, and transparent care and custody of detainees at the Joint Task Force Guantanamo detention facilities.  Prior to deployment, the soldiers will receive specialized training and certifications based on the strictly-enforced standard operating procedures within the facilities and will receive additional on-the-job training once they arrive.

The 257th Military Police Company deployed to Iraq from 2004-2005 (as D Battery, 216th Air Defense Artillery) and to Afghanistan from 2012-2013 where they were responsible for coaching, teaching and mentoring members of the Afghan National Army.

This will be the first time a Minnesota National Guard unit has deployed to Guantanamo Bay.

During a deployment ceremony last Saturday, Jan. 28, the Monticello High School Auditorium was packed with family and friends.  Congressman Tom Emmer was among speakers for the occasion, and he recognized the attendance of State Senator Bruce Anderson (R-Buffalo), a veteran, and State Rep. Marion O'Neill (R-Maple Lake), whose son has been serving in the military.

Emmer stated the event was all about the soldiers, and he said Cuba is the most important strategic place in the Western Hemisphere.  He praised the soldiers and their families and said the soldiers' duty is to "protect our freedom."

"Thank them and the families they leave behind," Emmer said.

"Good luck and God's speed," he concluded.

All members of the 257th were standing on the stage.

Brigadier Commander Col. Troy Soukup recognized the distinguished guests, and then he stated that "the VIPs are those standing in formation behind me."

He added that "our words today are a small part of the debt of gratitude owed to the soldiers and their families."

"We cannot put a price tag on the time away from their families," he also said.

Soukup referred to the soldiers as professionals and Guardsmen, and he offered hope for their safe return and a warm homecoming.

Company Commander Capt. Jon Schliesing, who is a Minneapolis police officer, thanked the VFW, the American Legion and the Patriot Guard for their part in the ceremony.  He said it is an honor to leave and serve while putting civilian lives on hold.  A demanding work schedule is planned at Guantanamo.  The unit has trained a year to get ready for the mission.

He said he appreciates the dedication of the soldiers.

"This deployment will make us a stronger family," he concluded.  "You all make me extremely proud."

The unit's final preparations began at Fort Bliss, Texas on Jan. 29.

For more information on the Minnesota National Guard, visit



Cell phone recovered from lake bottom

By Ed DuBois

A visiting friend from Utah was worried about driving on ice, and then she accidentally lost her cell phone and credit cards when they fell through her ice fishing hole.  All hope of recovering everything was fading, but then her friends had an idea.

Saturday, Jan. 21 began with Renee Burchett of Buffalo taking Kathy Jorgensen of Elk River and Amy Christensen of South Jordan, Utah ice fishing on Lake Francis.

"Amy had never been on a frozen lake," Renee said.

When she told everyone to roll down the truck windows and take off their seat belts, she did not explain it was a safety precaution in case the ice broke.  She did not want to frighten Kathy and Amy.

"When they both asked why, I said, 'Oh, it's a thing we do,'" Renee recalled.

She was a little nervous, as well.  The fog was thick, and there was water on the ice.

They arrived safely at Renee's husband Tom's ice fishing house.  Tom and Renee's son, Tronn Paulson of Annandale, had the ice fishing house ready to go, and everyone soon had a line in the water.

Trouble started suddenly as the heater behind Amy started, and then Amy could smell her long hair being singed.  She jumped up, and that's when her cell phone (in a folding case containing credit cards and her driver's license) fell into the ice fishing hole.  They could be seen resting 19 feet down on the bottom of the lake.

"Amy was upset.  She had no other ID to get on her plane Monday morning," Renee said.

Tronn stood by the truck thinking.  He then called his friend, Troy Shauf of Kingston, and asked him to bring out his underwater camera.

Later while looking through the camera, the cell phone was seen on its side in the mud, and the cards and license could also be seen.

After much discussion, a long pole, duct tape and a trout net were gathered up and brought back to the ice fishing house.  A few more holes in the ice were made with an auger.  Troy held the pole while Tronn dragged the net at the end of the pole along the bottom.  One scoop with the net was all it took.  When the net came up, the cell phone, the license and all the cards were recovered.  (The cell phone would need to be replaced, but Amy would be able to fly home.)

However, the day's excitement was not finished.

"We almost hit a deer on the way out," Renee recalled, "and then Kathy said, 'Where are my car keys?'"

They turned out to be in her car.

"It was a mighty fine day," Renee concluded.

They even caught some fish.



National Legion Commander coming to Buffalo

Charles E. Schmidt

Charles E. Schmidt, the National Commander of the American Legion, is visiting Post 270 in Buffalo next Thursday, Feb. 9.  He is coming for a breakfast gathering at the American Legion Club and is expected to arrive at about 7:45 a.m.

Department Member Director Mark Dvorak will be the master of ceremonies.  Legion and Auxiliary members are being encouraged to attend and invite members of neighboring posts.

The event is open to the public.  Those who would like to attend need to call Marilyn Miller at 763-682-4796 to make reservations "so we have enough food."  Please call by Feb. 5 or earlier.

Charles E. Schmidt is visiting several Minnesota communities from Feb. 6-9, making three stops a day.  His last stop on Feb. 8 is Elk River, and his first stop on Feb. 9 is Buffalo.

He was elected national commander of the 2.2 million-member American Legion on Sept. 1, 2016 in Cincinnati during the 98th national convention of America's largest veterans organization.

Schmidt enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1965 and served on active duty until his retirement in 1993.  During that time, he advanced from an administrative clerk to a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Officer Training School, earning a commission and assignments to Executive Support Officer positions at major headquarters.  His Air Force assignments took him to: Oregon, California, Montana, Nebraska, Colorado, England, Germany, Philippines, and Vietnam.

As an active-duty service member, Schmidt joined Story-Hardin Post 164 in Craig, Mo. in 1984. After his military retirement as a major, he was employed by the Air Force Total Quality Management Program at Lowry Technical Training Center in Denver.

He transferred his American Legion membership to Harney County Post 63 in Burns, Ore. when he moved to Oregon for a 15-year career at the Greater Oregon Federal Credit Union.  He retired from the credit union as the executive vice president.

An American Legion Paid Up For Life member, Schmidt served as the Department of Oregon commander from 2004-2005, and he has served at every level of the Legion, including National Executive Committeeman from 2005-2016.

While serving in the Air Force, Schmidt earned: a Bronze Star, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal, a Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, a Joint Service Commendation Medal, an Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor device and two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Good Conduct Medal with three oak leaf clusters, a National Defense Service Medal with a bronze star, a Vietnam Service Medal, an Air Force Overseas Short Tour Ribbon, an Air Force Overseas Long Tour Ribbon with two oak leaf clusters, an Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with one silver oak leaf cluster, an NCO Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon with oak leaf cluster, a Small Arms Expert Marksmanship with bronze star, an Air Force Training Ribbon with oak leaf cluster, a Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and a Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with four bronze stars.

Schmidt resides in Hines, Ore. with his wife, Linda. They have two daughters, Andria and Cori, and two sons-in-law, Peter and Anthony. They also have six grandchildren: Madeline, Alex, Adam, Raymond, Nicholas, and Thomas.



Allina Health announces restricted visitor guidelines for all hospitals

Starting Tuesday, Jan. 31, Allina Health implemented restricted visitor guidelines at all its hospitals to protect all patients, visitors and staff due to influenza.

Children under the age of five are asked not to visit patients.

Visitors who are sick should refrain from visiting patients in the hospital.

If you or your child has a cough or sore throat, please wear a mask while in our building.

Compassionate exceptions may be considered based on a patient's critical condition/prognosis.  Talk to a nurse.

At all times, please cover your cough.  Please wash your hands or use the antibacterial hand cleanser provide throughout the facilities.

Buffalo Hospital is one of thirteen facilities where the guidelines have been implemented.



Annual St. Cloud Sportsmen's Show taking place Feb. 10-12

The 2017 St. Cloud Sportsmen's Show is featuring more than 100 exhibits and guest speakers, such as pro angler Korey Sprengel and hunter Todd Amenrud.

The 29th annual event is taking place Friday through Sunday, Feb. 10-12 in the St. Cloud River's Edge Convention Center.

Come and see new model boats and marine equipment, as well as the newest gear for fishing, hunting and camping.  Many booths will feature lodges, resorts and campgrounds, and daily seminars are planned.

The show hours are noon to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.  Admission costs $6.50 for adults, $2.50 for children (ages 6-12) and no charge for children under six.

A special feature is the Great Bear Show.  Trainer Bob Steele will discuss bear behavior in the wild and in captivity while his bears show off their learning skills.

Another feature is fishing in a live trout pond.

For more information, call 763-755-8111 or go to



Buffalo NRCS Field Office given traveling Minnesota Earth Team Cup Award

On Jan. 23, Cathee Pullman, State Conservationist, Minnesota Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), presented the Buffalo NRCS Field Office (FO) with the traveling Minnesota Earth Team Cup Award for participation in the Earth Team Program in Fiscal Year 2016.  The Buffalo FO is the first NRCS in Minnesota to ever receive this award recognition.

The Minnesota Earth Team Cup Award annually recognizes offices with the most Earth Team Volunteer participation by means of a traveling cup.

"This is a way that NRCS can recognize its offices for their support of the Earth Team Volunteer Program (ETV)," said Pullman. "The ETV program helps the NRCS accomplish work that it otherwise might not with existing staff levels.  It serves as an effective outreach and communication tool for promoting the services of NRCS."

According to Katie Evans, Soil Conservation Technician USDA - NRCS in Buffalo, "Earth Team volunteers work side-by-side with conservation professionals and are an integral part of the conservation partnership.  The Earth Team offers many new opportunities for people who are interested in volunteering to improve natural resources.  People who are 14 years old and older can volunteer.  Volunteers can work part-time or full-time, work outdoors or inside a local NRCS field office, individually, or as a group."

The Buffalo FO had three individual volunteers in Fiscal Year 2016 who volunteered a total of 144.5 hours.  Jessica Beske, one of the ETV for the Buffalo FO, volunteered 100 hours in Fiscal Year 2016.  She spent the majority of her volunteering time assisting the FO in completing site inspections of existing Conservation Reserve Program land for re-enrollment into the program.  From May - August 2016 she helped complete site inspections for 37 Wright County landowners on over 583 acres.  During her site in-spections, Jessica identified native grasses, forbs, cool season grasses, legumes, trees, and shrubs.  Her volunteer work enabled the FO to complete eligibility reviews on time and provide program information to Wright County landowners.

"Our office has benefited from recruiting volunteers who have assisted with engineering surveys, Conservation Reserve Program field inspections, outreach efforts, and administrative tasks," said Julie Reberg, District Conservationist at the Buffalo FO.  "Volunteers who show dedication, strong work ethic and willingness to learn gain valuable experience.  We are proud to have had two volunteers go on to gain positions with the NRCS."

For more information regarding the ETV program in Minnesota, please visit the Minnesota NRCS website or contact Katie Evans, Area IV ETV Coordinator at, or by phone at 763-682-1933.



Maple Lake ice fishing contest canceled

For the second year in a row, mild winter weather has not produced strong enough ice for the Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby.  The 2017 event has been canceled.

This winter's prolonged January thaw has forced the cancellation of the Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby.  Organizers say the prospects of making enough good ice were marginal at best in the next couple of weeks.  (The event had been scheduled for Feb. 4.)

Even with the upcoming cold snap, Derby Chairman Greg Thomes said last week, "Safety for participants was our primary concern.  We need to be at 18 inches of ice going into this contest.  We are currently 14-16 inches, and the existing sheet of ice has deteriorated."

The Maple Lake Fishing Derby is one of Minnesota's more popular wintertime events, attracting over 7,500 people.  Permanent fish houses are allowed during the contest.  The Derby's other festivities have also been cancelled, including the Artic Plunge, and Ice Auger Drilling Contest and the dance in the tent.

The 2018 Derby is already scheduled for Feb. 3, 2018.

"We trust Mother Nature will be more kind to us in the future years," Thomes said.

Proceeds from this event are used to help fight evasive aquatic species in the Maple Lake watershed, as well as various community organizations.


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feature photos

Long hike to appreciation

Grandsons grow and mature along 110-mile wilderness trail during Yosemite National Park adventure

By Ed DuBois

An experienced hiker, Dr. Tim Cady has introduced his grandchildren to the joys and difficulties of backpacking in the wilderness.  He said during a 110-mile Yosemite National Park adventure last August, a son and three grandsons went along, and it was great watching as the grandsons matured over the course of the challenge.

His son, Mike, had wanted to go on a California trip, and he did the planning and logistics.

"I had backpacked about 30 years with Mike.  But after he got married and started a family, I had gone alone because the grandchildren were too young," said Dr. Cady, who is retired and was a family practice physician at the Buffalo Clinic from 1971 to 2006.

Now Mike's boys are in their teens.  Ethan is 16.  Ryan is 14, and Adam is 13.

The trip took place from Aug. 20 to Sept. 1.

The group took a bus from Fresno to Yosemite National Park.  They obtained a permit at the headquarters building.

"The trail was well maintained," Dr. Cady said.  "Some places were paved with stones.  The trail was well marked in the park."

"We got lost for a short time outside the park," he added.  "We lost the trail, so we each headed in a different direction (while staying in voice distance) and then we found it."


About eight miles a day

They enjoyed "stunning views and mountain vistas."  During part of the long hike, they only saw two other people.

The adventure involved the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.

"We tried to average eight miles a day, but basically, when we were tired, we stopped and camped," Dr. Cady recalled.

He remembers one very pleasant camp with a waterfall and a clear mountain stream pool, "all to ourselves."

Deer often came into the camps and were not afraid.  The group did not encounter any bears, just small animals (including a rattlesnake) and hawks.

They also saw huge cedar and pine trees and beautiful flowers.


Freeze-dried food packets

The routine each day included: a warm breakfast, some walking, a cold lunch, more walking, and then dinner and camp.  Their meals were mainly freeze-dried aluminum packets.  The hikers used a Jetboil stove, which boils water in about one minute.  You pour boiling water into one of the aluminum packets, and in about eight minutes, you are eating.

By bringing the aluminum packs along on the hike, there was no need to carried pots and pans.


Under the stars

Each member of the group assumed various camping duties.  Ethan liked blowing up the pads and pillows each evening.

Dr. Cady said the stars at night and the sunsets were wonderful.

Sleeping on the ground was cold at first, but then "you warm up.  Lying there, you listen for a while and then drift off and go to sleep," Dr. Cady said.

Some parts of the trail involved snow-line hiking.  Toward the end of each day, the group paid attention to water sources.  At times, the creeks were dried up, and everyone had to keep walking until they found water.  They each carried one liter of water, but more was needed for cooking.  Iodine tablets and a filter pump were used to make sure the water was clean enough to drink.

They saw some areas that had been scorched by forest fires, but they mostly saw "incredible country with water, trees and sky."  The trail was near many pristine mountain lakes.

At some point, they saw mountain lion tracks.

"We were not scared, but we looked around a lot more," Dr. Cady recalled.


Connecting the dots

In places where the trail was hard to see, stacks of rocks called cairns served as trail markers.

"When we found a cairn, we stopped and looked ahead to see the next cairn.  It was like connecting the dots," Dr. Cady said.

The hike included the Ansel Adams Wilderness and the Inyo National Forest.

After eight or nine days of hiking, they arrived at Red's Meadow Resort & Pack Station, where Mike had arranged to pick up more supplies, including new food.  A supplies package had been mailed to the pack station office.

After the group hiked all the way to Vermillion Valley Resorts, the 13-day hike was finished, and the group took a bus to Fresno.


Carried personal locator beacon

The highest point along the trail was about 11,000 feet, and most of the hike was under blue skies with warm weather.  The temperature dropped near freezing (32 degrees) only a few times at night.

A device called a personal locator beacon (PLB) took some of the worry away for loved ones at home.  The PLB transmits to an international satellite rescue system and can help rescuers find hikers if they need help.

"New versions (of the device) have a texting feature, which can be used to text those at home," Dr. Cady said.

Fortunately, his group never needed help.


Getting stronger

Interestingly, Dr. Cady was the most experienced hiker, but he was also the slowest hiker.

"I was the oldest, weakest and slowest member of the group, but I could contribute with my experience," he said.

Now and then, his grandsons offered to carry his pack, and he felt very good about their support and affection.  He mentioned also enjoying many stories and jokes told on the trail.

Difficulties on the trail started showing up early, but the outlook improved.

"During the first few days, I heard one of the grandsons say, 'I don't think I can do this,' and in a couple of days there were some tears.  But pep talks and rest stops helped," Dr. Cady said.  "It was more of a mental difficulty than physical.  The boys learned they could do it, and then they enjoyed it."

He added, "It was just a treat to see that happen.  The boys absorbed things that will stay with them well into the future.  They learned you can do some things you think you can't."


Growing appreciation

The youngest, Adam, was so strong toward the end of the hike, his grandpa had trouble keeping up with him.

"I couldn't go as fast as him at the end.  He turned out to be very tough," Dr. Cady said.

He loved the way the boys took on the challenge of the 110-mile hike in the wilderness.  They did a lot of growing up, and it was gratifying to see it happen as they learned to appreciate a hobby he has enjoyed a long time.