First 2017 baby at Buffalo Hospital

The Birth Center at Buffalo Hospital welcomed Alexis Ann Brownell as the first baby born in 2017. She was born at 8:05 a.m. on Tuesday, January 2, 2017, to parents Christopher Brownell and Ashley Keesling of Rockford. The New Year’s baby weighed in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces, and was 21 inches long. She was welcomed by Buffalo Hospital leadership with a gift basket given by the Birth Center. Above are Ashley Keesling holding baby Alexis just as her eyes open for the photograph with father Chris Brownell. (Submitted photo)



County Board reorganizes

Wright County Board begins work for 2017

Just before being sworn in, the new Wright County Board pose for a photo. Above are, front row, from left,  District 3 Commissioner Mark Daleiden, District 1 Commissioner Christine Husom, and District 5 Commissioner Charlies Borrell, and, back row, from left, District 2 Commissioner Darek Vestch and District 4 Commissioenr Michael Potter. Borrell was elected chair, and Daleiden will serve as vice- chair for 2017. (Photo by Doug Voerding)

By Doug Voerding

The Wright County Board, meeting for the first time in 2017, reorganized and assigned commissioners to various responsibilities including commissions and committees.

That came after all board members were sworn in by county auditor/treasurer Bob Hiivala.

District 4 Commissioner Michael Potter and District 5 Commissioner Charlie Borrell are returning to the board after being re-elected in November. District 1 Commissioner Christine Husom and District 3 Commissioner Mark Daleiden were not up for re-election in 2016. New to the board is District 2 commissioner Darek Vetsch, who is replacing Pat Sawatzke, who did not seek re-election.

Elected chair of the board was Borrell. Daleiden will serve as vice-chair.

Committee appointments include: Building Committee, Borrell and Potter; Finance, Daleiden and Vetsch;  Ditch Committee, Borrell, Daleiden, and Husom; Labor Management, Borrell and Husom; Nuclear, Vetsch and Husom; Personnel/Employee Relations, Daleiden and Husom; Technology, Vetsch, Daleiden, and Husom; and Ways and Means, Husom, Borrell, and Potter.

Advisory Board members include: Area Transportation Planning, Potter; Bertram Chain of Lakes Advisory, Vetsch and Daleiden; County Extension, Borrell and Potter; Highway 25 Corridor Coalition, Potter and Vetsch; Highway 55 Coalition, Potter and Husom; Parks Advisory, Daleiden; Planning Commission, Borrell; Soil and Water Conservation District, Borrell; and Wright County Agricultural Society, Borrell.

For the Association of Minnesota Counties, Borrell will serve on the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee, Vetsch on the General Government Policy Committee, Daleiden on the Health and Human Services Policy Committee, Husom on the Public Safety Policy Committee, and Potter on the Transportation and Infrastructure Policy Committee.



- approved an agreement with Rockford Township for the improvement of Briarwood Avenue SE.

- approved a request for federal funding for the improvement of the County 19 intersection between Chestnut Ave SE and Ash Avenue NE in St. Michael. The request is for fiscal year 2021.

- agreed to serve as the sponsoring agent for the City of Howard Lake which is seeking funding for safety improvements on Highway 12.

- heard the oath of office for county assessor Tony Rasmuson.

- appointed Erik Heuring as agricultural inspector and Michael Young as drainage inspector.

-approved participation in the 2017 Minnesota Cities Participation Program that provides first-time homebuyers with loans.

- reappointed Dan Bravinder for a three-year term and Jim Shovelain for a two-year term to the Great River Regional Library Board.

- reappointed Dan Bravinder  for District 5 and Ken Felger for District 4 to the Planning Commission.

- reappointed Paul Aarestad for District 4 to the Board of Adjustment.

- approved cleaning contracts with Green View,  Inc., for public works and highway sites.

- approved the renewal of the property/casualty and workers compensation insurance for 2017.



New Buffalo Mayor, Council take office

 The new Buffalo City Council at their first meeting of 2017 are, from left, Councilmember Linda Kittock, Councilmember Scott Enter, Mayor Teri Lachermeier, Councilmember Eric Anderson, and Councilmember Steve Downer. At the meeting, appointments were made as the council serve as representatives to several committees and commissions. Scott Enter was appointed acting mayor. (Photo by Doug Voerding)


By Doug Voerding

It’s official. The City of Buffalo has a new mayor and two new councilmembers.

Mayor Teri Lachermeier was sworn in at the council’s regular meeting on January 3, as were councilmembers Steve Downer and Linda Kittock. All three were elected in November. Lachermeier had served as councilmember before being elected mayor. Downer had previously served as councilmember, while Kittock will be serving her first term on the council.

Said Lachermeier, “I thank the voters for giving me the opportunity to give back to the city. I am honored to serve the city.”

Referring to the council, Lachermeier added,  “I believe with this fine group of individuals up here, we will do great things for the city.”

Following the swearing in, the council approved the annual appointments.

Those appointments included Joe Volk and Jud Goerss to the Parks Advisory Board and Patrick Day to the Library Advisory Board.

Positions are still open on the Parks, Airport, Library, and Community Center Boards. Residents can apply for these positions at city hall.

The 2017 mayoral appointments for city council representatives include Eric Anderson for Liquor, Public Works, Planning, and United for Youth; Steve Downer for Utilities, Finance, Airport, and Golf Course; Scott Enter for Safe Schools, WCAT and Trailblazer, and Acting Mayor; Teri Lachermeier for Public Safety and Finance; and Linda Kittock for Parks, Community Ed, Library, and Community Center.

Other appointments were Merton Auger, City Administrator and Clerk-Treasurer; Susan Kadlec, City Attorney; Pat Budke, Civil Defense Director; Kelly Brecht, assistant weed inspector; Wright County Journal-Press, official newspaper; and Kleinbank, designated depository.


The council accepted several donations.

The Buffalo Rotary donated $1000 to the Buffalo Community Center Toy Shop.

Donations to the Buffalo Fishing Forever program were from Dena and Barry Mansur, $1000; Monrticello VFW Auxiliary Post 8731, $250; Albertville Lions Club, $200; Rebound O and P, Loretto, $200; Anonymous, $100; Anonymous in honor of Erv Schmidt, $100, Mies Olson, $100; Laurie Cameron, $20; Nadeen Klett, $20; and Kathleen Swanson, $10.

During the open forum, Rainer Pensky announced that the Rotary Club would be giving $1500 for the first concert in the park next summer and $700 for the Flora of Buffalo. Pensky also told the council that again the Masonic Lodge 135 will match up to $25,000 in donations to the Buffalo Food Shelf.


In other action, the council

- called for a hearing on January 17 on five delinquent utility accounts.

- approved the attendance of golf course assistant groundskeeper Anthony Oldfather to the Golf Industry Show. There is no direct expense to the city for Oldfather’s attendance at the show.


Be careful on the ice on area  lakes

So far this winter, the Buffalo Police Department and the Wright County Sheriff’s Office are not reporting any issues with people out on the ice on area lakes.

Buffalo Police Chief Pat Budke said that he has only seen fish houses on the lake. “People are being careful  and not driving any vehicles out on the ice. That’s good because nothing can be taken for granted, especially with the rain on top of the ice.”

Chief Deputy Todd Hoffman of the Wright County Sheriff’s Office said there has been no calls for rescue yet this winter.

However, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), as late as last week, the changing weather conditions were creating unpredictable and unsafe ice.

The DNR is warning: ‘Think twice before going out on the ice.’ Due to widely variable weather conditions across much of the state, ice is deteriorating rapidly and creating potentially dangerous conditions for anglers, snowmobilers, skiers, and others planning to recreate on the ice. Caution when going onto any lake covered or partially covered with ice, especially those that feature aeration systems

Ice that formed quickly during the recent sub-zero temperatures is now thawing and refreezing, which leads to extremely weak ice that is dangerously deceptive.

“The calendar nor air temperatures can be used as indicators of ice thickness or safety,” said Lisa Dugan, DNR recreation safety outreach coordinator. “There are many variables to consider, including whether a body of water has a current or run-off, the freeze-thaw cycle, and snow cover. Rivers have been especially problematic, as water levels have continued to drop even after surface ice formed, creating dangerous air pockets under the ice.”

A layer of insulating snow, coupled with above-average temperatures, means new ice takes longer to form, Dugan explained, adding that ice that has thawed and refrozen is only half as strong as new, clear ice.

According to the DNR, ice conditions cannot be judged by appearance or thickness, other factors including water depth, size of water body, currents, snow cover, and local weather all combine to determine its strength.

Ice seldom freezes uniformly. It may be 9 inches thick in one location and only an inch or two just a few feet away.

For new, clear ice only 2” or less: stay off; 4”: ice fishing or other activities on foot; 5”: snowmobile or ATVs; 8” to 12”: cars or small pickups; 12” to 15”: medium trucks.

Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe. White ice or “snow ice” is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.



Carbon monoxide is dangerous, check CO alarms

The Buffalo Fire Department had a recent call to a home in Buffalo where the carbon monoxide alarm was sounding. Using their equipment, firefighters determined that no carbon monoxide was present, but that the older alarm needed to be replaced.

Carbon monoxide alarms do lose their ability to sense carbon monoxide. The dates on those alarms should be checked. Generally, carbon monoxide alarms last between five and seven years.

Minnesota state law now requires that every home have at least one operational CO alarm within ten feet of every room legally used for sleeping. All CO alarms should conform to the latest Underwriters Laboratory (UL) Standards. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement of your CO alarm, and take note of the suggested replacement date.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas formed by the incomplete combustion of fuels. When people are exposed to CO gas, the CO molecules will displace the oxygen in their bodies and lead to poisoning.

Since CO has no odor, color, or taste, it cannot be detected by our senses. This means that dangerous concentrations of the gas can build up indoors, and humans have no way to detect the problem until they become ill. Furthermore, when people become sick the symptoms are similar to the flu, which can cause victims to ignore the early signs of CO poisoning.

CO is often called the “silent killer” because people will ignore early signs and eventually lose consciousness and be unable to escape to safety.

For most people, the first signs of exposure include mild headache and breathlessness with moderate exercise. Continued exposure can lead to more severe headaches, dizziness, fatigue and nausea. Eventually symptoms may progress to confusion, irritability, impaired judgment and coordination, and loss of consciousness.

You can tell the difference between CO poisoning and the flu with these clues: You feel better when you are away from home. Everyone is the home is sick at the same time. The family members most affected spend the most time in the house. Indoor pets appear ill. You don’t have a fever or body aches, and you don’t have swollen lymph nodes that are common with the flu and some other infections. Symptoms appear or seem to get worse when using fuel-burning equipment

CO is produced whenever a material burns. Homes with fuel-burning appliances or attached garages are more likely to have CO problems. Common sources of CO in our homes include all fuel-burning appliances and devices such as furnaces or boilers, fireplaces, water heaters, gas stoves and ovens, and wood stoves.

It is important to know what appliances in your home are fuel-burning and make sure that they are maintained properly. All of these appliances should be vented to the outside. You should have your fuel-burning appliances, especially furnaces checked by a qualified heating contractor every year to look for potential problems.

With ice fishing so popular in Wright County, people should be careful with heating devices in their fish houses

Ice fishing houses that use heating equipment should have a working CO alarm installed and users should crack a window for additional ventilation. Heating equipment in cabins and ice houses should be regularly inspected and be in good condition. Do not place portable generators near open doors and windows.


Enjoy outdoor activities at Ney Nature Center

You survived the holidays, and what do you do next? Do you stay inside all winter? Wright County Parks hopes not.

Wright County Parks will open the doors to the Nature Center at Robert Ney Regional Park for the winter season on Saturday, January 7. At the Nature Center, you will find plenty of activities to do throughout the winter months. Every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4:00 p.m., you can come out and rent cross-country skis or snowshoes for the day for $5.

Throughout the season, many different activities will be offered including a Family Snowshoe Adventure and a Moonlight Snowshoe Adventure. These are wonderful opportunities to explore Ney Park in a way that can only be done in the winter. Minnesota Master Naturalist David Grack will lead you into places in the park that are only accessible during the winter.

On Saturday, January 14, we will place lanterns around the Pond Loop Trail at Ney Park and open the Nature Center for you to rent skis, or just come in and warm up as you enjoy the trail after the sun goes down. The lanterns will provide just enough light for you enjoy a peaceful time in the woods on your cross-country skis.

For more information about the winter programs at Wright County parks or the parks department visit online at or “Like” us on Facebook at

To register for any of our programs please contact us at 763-682-7894 or by email at


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feature photos

One last look at 2016

People and events around Wright County