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BACK ISSUES: July 28 | August 4 | August 11 | August 18 | August 25 | September 1 | September 8
Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. Wright County Journal-Press & The Drummer

Wright County's estimated 2016 population 132,598

By Ed DuBois

Wright County's estimated population in 2016 is 132,598, according to the State Demographic Center.  The Wright County Board received the information during the board meeting last Tuesday, July 25.

Bob Hiivala, the county's auditor-treasurer, reported the estimated amount is up about 1,200 compared to the estimate for 2015.

The State Demographic Center also provided estimated 2016 city and township populations.  The largest city is St. Michael at 17,174, followed by Buffalo at 16,119, Otsego at 16,019, Monticello at 13,409, Albertville at 7,370, Delano at 5,947, and Rockford at 3,964.  Most of the other cities are in the 1,000 to 3,500 range.

The largest township is Rockford Township at 3,345, followed by Monticello Township at 3,277, Franklin Township at 2,894, Silver Creek Township at 2,468, Corinna Township at 2,427, Marysville Township at 2,220, Maple Lake Township at 2,146, and Buffalo Township at 1,879.  Most of the other townships are in the 1,000 to 1,500 range.

(See the chart accompanying this story for all the city and township population numbers.)

Nick Knese Construction

In other business:



The county is looking into a possible partnership with the FBI regarding a significant improvement at the Sheriff's Firearm Training Range located about five miles west of Buffalo off CSAH (County State Aid Highway) 35.  The FBI currently used a site near Rosemount, and an agreement for that site is expiring with no option to renew.

The site in Wright County could be a good fit for the FBI.  A possible arrangement with the FBI could include as much as $1 million to $1.5 million from the FBI, according to Commissioner Mike Potter.  The funds would help construct a building with: a training room, a classroom, an ammunition storage room, a gun-cleaning room, range improvements, and a tower.  There is also a possibility that the county's EOC (Emergency Operations Center) could be moved from the County Government Center to the new firearms training facility.  The County Board accepted a Building Committee recommendation to move forward with the FBI to conduct a feasibility study paid for by the FBI.  More in-depth conversations with the FBI could follow the completion of the study.



The Board accepted a recommendation from the Building Committee to move forward on projects at the Surveyor's Shop, including an overhead door opener costing about $1,800-1,900, installing an eye-wash station (no cost given) and retrofitting the mezzanine high ceiling and exterior poles and wall packs with LED lighting at about $11,005 (with a 2.85-year payback due to saving energy).



The Board accepted a Building Committee recommendation to work with Wenck Associates for the design of a new retaining wall at the Health & Human Services Center, and then getting bids for construction and construction oversight.  The estimated cost for design and engineering, a contractor recommendation and construction oversight is around $18,000.  The present wall has been failing and needs to be replaced.



The Board approved reestablishing and correcting drainage system records for County Ditch 10 in the area south of Howard Lake and Waverly.  The cost to do this is around $15,500 and involves soil borings, elevation geo-location and record and profile documentation.  Commissioner Mike Potter said the county is obligated to maintain the records in good order, and Commissioner Mark Daleiden explained the county ditch system serves as a large rural storm water system.  County Ditch 10 drains to Lake Ann.



The Board also approved findings of fact and an order regarding the re-determination of benefits for County Ditch 18 in French Lake Township.



Two commissioners, Chris Husom and Darek Vetsch, were not present at the board meeting because they were taking part in an EOC (Emergency Operations Center) drill involving the nuclear plant in Monticello.



In other actions, the Board:

• approved filling a GIS specialist position in the Surveyor's Office;

• authorized signatures on the 2018-19 Radiological Emergency Preparedness Grant of $437,000 for the Sheriff's Office;

• approved fleet card transactions amounting to $17,269 in a period ending on June 30;

• approved procurement card transactions amounting to $43,482 in a period ending June 30; and

• approved $507,265 in claims involving 404 transactions with 207 vendors.

AHS shelter in Buffalo area closing Nov. 1

Chev of DelanoAnimal Humane Society (AHS) has announced the Buffalo area location just off Highway 55 about halfway between Buffalo and Rockford is being closed on Nov. 1.

A message from President and CEO Janelle Dixon explains the decision.  She said, last month, Animal Humane Society celebrated its most successful fiscal year to date, with a record-setting number of adoptions and the highest placement rate ever.  AHS placed more than 96 percent of the animals entrusted to their care, helping 23,565 find new homes.

"We have reached these milestones by engaging the community, embracing opportunities to innovate, and focusing our resources where they are needed most," Dixon stated.  "To ensure that we are using our resources most effectively, we are continuously evaluating existing programs and making informed decisions about where our investments can have the greatest impact.  This strategic planning has included an assessment of our five locations and their potential for enhanced service delivery and continued growth.  That process has led us to a difficult decision about our underutilized facility in rural Buffalo.

"After careful consideration, we have made the decision to close our Buffalo facility and shift animals, staff and services from that site to our four other locations.  The Buffalo shelter will close to the public on Nov. 1."

"While this decision aligns with our strategic priorities, we know that it impacts people and animals we all care about, and we're working hard to ensure that animals, community members, staff, and volunteers are all supported throughout this transition," she added.

Adoption and other services will be available in Buffalo until Nov. 1.  AHS will continue to serve Buffalo and surrounding communities through the locations in Golden Valley, Coon Rapids, St. Paul, and Woodbury.

"We are confident that the 2,100 animals cared for in Buffalo each year - roughly 9 percent of our total placements - can be cared for and placed through these four other sites," Dixon said.  "Our Kindest Cut mobile clinic, Community Cats program and Humane Investigations team will continue to support Buffalo and its neighboring communities."

She pointed out that the Buffalo area is also well served by Crossroads Animal Shelter, located just 2.4 miles west of the AHS Buffalo site, and by Tri-County Humane Society in St. Cloud.  She said AHS has reached out to their partners at Crossroads and Tri-County and will work with them to ensure that these communities continue to have the resources they need.

No employees will lose their jobs as a result of this transition.  AHS has offered all 19 Buffalo employees comparable roles at other AHS sites and will encourage their 64 Buffalo volunteers to continue their support at another AHS location.  Animal Humane Society employs 393 people in total and works with more than 2,500 volunteers across the Twin Cities metro area.

"The changes we're announcing today will better position AHS for the future and allow us to embrace new opportunities to innovate and advance our mission.  Together, we are creating a more humane world for animals," Dixon concluded.

She will share more details about the transition in the months to come.

New Allina Health Clinic opening July 27

The new Allina Health Clinic - Buffalo Crossroads is opening this Thursday, July 27.  Under construction since last November, the facility is located just north of Highway 55 near CSAH (County State Aid Highway) 35.  (Photo by Ed DuBois)

Allina Health's newest clinic opens in Buffalo on Thursday, July 27.  Allina Health Clinic - Buffalo Crossroads will provide expanded family medicine service and urgent care for better service for patients.  Allina Health will also keep its current primary and specialty care clinic on the campus of Buffalo Hospital.

"We are opening our new clinic to make care more convenient for a growing Buffalo and surrounding area.  Eight providers from our clinic at the hospital will relocate to the new clinic and provide a full range of family medicine care for all ages, plus urgent care every day of the week, including holidays," said Elizabeth Smith, MD, vice president of Allina Health clinics.  "Our architects and planners have given us a design that will best support a healing environment for our patients, community members, and guests, as well as a work environment that is safe, healthy and effective for our providers and staff members."

The new 14,500-square-foot clinic will house family exam rooms, imaging and lab services, as well as provide a connection to the broader network of Allina Health services and providers on the Buffalo Hospital campus including the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, orthopedics and many other specialty services.  The clinic will feature artwork created by members of the Buffalo Art Guild.

The new clinic is located at 755 Crossroads Campus Drive in Buffalo.

Appointments can be made by calling 763-684-6300, or online at allina roads.

Clinic hours are: Monday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Urgent care hours are Monday to Friday, 2 - 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Missing Delano man's body found

Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty reports at approximately 2:02 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19, sheriff's deputies took a report of a missing person.

Family members told deputies that 31-year-old Aaron Luebke from Delano had not been seen since 11:00 p.m. the previous evening after leaving a business in Buffalo.

Just before 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, searchers located Aaron's Honda Civic near the intersection of 65th Street and Farmington Ave. in a swampy area just outside of Delano.

Luebke was found deceased approximately 15 feet from the vehicle.  The incident remains under investigation by the Wright County Sheriff's Office.

Nurses planning informational picket on Aug. 2 at Buffalo Hospital

Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) members at Buffalo Hospital are planning a Wednesday, Aug. 2 informational picket.

They say the purpose of the picket is "to draw the public's attention to Allina Health's failure to bargain a fair contract with" the nurses.

"Nurses are asking Allina Health to negotiate a fair contract that works for both parties," said Debra Kosciolek, RN.  "Allina is attempting to impose a new scheduling system that would harm the hospital's ability to recruit and retain nurses.  It would interfere with nurses' ability to plan and use their scheduled time off.  The proposed compensation for this is significantly below minimum wage and nearly half of what is paid in Monticello and Metro Allina hospitals."

Contacted by the Journal-Press and offered a chance to tell her side of the story, Buffalo Hospital President Jennifer Myster provided the following statement:

"We are disappointed that the union has chosen to organize a picket instead of focusing on our upcoming negotiation session this Thursday (July 27).  Their press release misrepresents our latest offer and is not helping us all get to a fair contract.  Our bargaining team is coming to the table on Thursday ready to negotiate a fair settlement.  We hope the union decides to do the same."

The MNA says the proposed system would require nurses to be available to come to work within 30 minutes on days they're not scheduled to work.

"This unlimited on-call scheduling would interfere with nurses' ability to care for their families and enjoy normal activities," said Kosciolek.

Allina is also forcing nurses to give up their health insurance plans and move to inferior corporate plans, the MNA says.

The MNA nurses informational picket is planned from 2-6 p.m. on Aug. 2 at the corner of Highway 25 and Catlin St. in Buffalo.

Condition of Kade Maresh improving

Caring Bridge journal entries by the family of Kade Maresh this week have provided encouraging information about the boy's condition.

The five-year-old son of Joseph and Tyffani Maresh of Maple Lake is recovering from a severe illness resulting from E. coli exposure.  The same illness claimed the life of his three-year-old sister, Kallan.  They both suffered from kidney failure.

A Caring Bridge entry last Tuesday, July 25 said, "Another day of only good news to report!  Kade's labs all continue to trend in the right direction.  His nausea is better, and he is tolerating whole foods well!  His appetite is coming back, and it's great hearing 'Mom, I am so hungry.'  He is getting six-hour breaks from dialysis now, and we have all enjoyed his freedom outside of his bed during his breaks.  He is working on gaining his strength back and continuing to tolerate food.

"We are so proud of him.  He is so brave and so strong.  He has been such a good listener and does everything the doctors ask of him, even when it is not that fun."

Kade bought a chocolate truffle at the gift shop the day before.  He also bought one for his mom and one for his dad.  They all agreed Kallan is probably eating lots of chocolate in Heaven.  They miss her very much.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Minnesota Department of Health is investigating the cause of the infection that attacked Kade and Kallan.  They had each suffered from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication from the E. coli bacteria infection.  Deaths resulting from HUS are very rare.

Fundraising on a Go Fund Me web page has reached $72,000 for medical expenses, and the goal was $20,000.

Healthy babies, healthy families
lead to healthy communities

Wright County public health nurses provide guidance for pregnant women and families with small children

By Doug Voerding

"We want parents to have joy in their kids," said Karen Jorgensen-Royce. "Babies don't come with instruction books, so we're here to help."

Jorgensen-Royce is a public health supervisor with Wright County Health and Human Services. Nine trained nurses and two aides provide that help and education for pregnant women and families with small children through home visits.

Although the home visits are not well known by the general public, Wright County nurses have been making home visits since 1954. Now, more than 600 families in Wright County take advantage of the help, help nurses design together with each family to meet the family's specific needs and answer their specific questions.

Healthy families are important. Babies begin to learn at birth, and the first three years of life are the most critical. Early parent and child contact develops the child's future relationships. When families have healthier habits, children do better in school, have higher self-esteem, and are more independent.

All parents want what's best for their kids, but some parents don't know how to give the best.

That's one reason why Wright County offers home visits that focus on families. Those home visits might be the Nurse Family Partnership Program, the Family Home Visiting Program, the Healthy Families America Program, or a flexible combination from all three programs, depending on each family's needs.

All of these programs follow best practices, knowing that doing certain things makes a difference in the future.



The Nurse Family Partnership is designed specifically for a woman who is pregnant with her first child.

During the home visits, the woman and the visiting nurse discuss a variety of topics for a healthy pregnancy. The woman and nurse may discuss how to build a strong network of support for the woman and her baby, how to make the home safe for the baby, how to find other needed resources, and how to become a better parent. Most importantly, the woman can learn how to set goals for the family's future and how to find ways to reach those goals.

While that list of topics sounds intense, the pregnant woman leads the topics and discussions, letting her decide what meets her needs.

Of course, the baby's father, family members, and even friends can be involved in the home visits, but the pregnant woman and the nurse decide together who gets involved.

The home visits are scheduled by the woman and the nurse. The visits could be every week or two during the pregnancy and continue until the baby is two-years-old.

This free program is open to any woman who is pregnant with her first child, is 0 to 28 weeks pregnant, lives in Wright County, and meets income guidelines.



Family Home Visiting is for pregnant women and parents with young children who live in Wright County. The program is free for everyone.

The program promotes less stress and more fun for parents and their children.

Again, while specific topics are planned by the parents and the visiting nurse, parents may explore essential parenting skills, healthy habits, setting and meeting goals, as well as how to develop self-esteem in young children.

If asked for, breastfeeding education and support is provided.



With the Healthy Families America program support, and encouragement is provided to new parents by recognizing their strengths and sharing information during home visits.

Healthy Families helps parents and children grow together by building confidence and reducing stress to open the joys of being a parent.

Some topics include infant and toddler care, recognizing baby's need and parent needs, discovering child growth, playing with children, and learning about nutrition and physical activity.



The Wright County Home Visit nurses are passionate about their work and dedicated to bringing parents closer to their children.

Nurses who make home visits first have college degrees in registered nursing and have taken additional course work to be certified public health nurses. They participate in on-going training to maintain their certification and to learn about new ways to make the home visits productive.

At the first visit, the nurse answers questions and shows the family the kind of support they can expect.

At the second visit, the parents' interest in the child drives the planning. The programs are always about the child and doing what's best for the child.

Sometimes, what's best for the child includes the parents setting goals for themselves.

"But," said Jorgensen-Royce, "we don't want to turn off the parents. We want everyone to succeed."

"Most visits," said Nurse Karen Eder, "take place on the living room floor. The parents relax, the child relaxes, and I relax. When a child is exploring, they always look back to the parent for support. We then can help build a stronger relationship between the parent and the child, giving the child trust and security."



For more information about these programs, contact Wright County Human Services, Public Health/Family Health Unit, at 1004 Commercial Drive, Buffalo, or by calling 763-682-7456. The office location is east of Walgreen's on Highway 25 North.

The WOW van will be at the Wright County Fair in Howard Lake next week. Feel free to stop in and ask questions. At the fair, the WOW van will also provide a lactation tent for nursing mothers.



Other Wright County Health Resources include:

- The Follow Along Program for families with children 0 - 3 years old that live in Wright County. This program shows parents how to follow the health and development of their young children with ideas on what to teach at each age.  If parents have concerns about the development of their child, resources are provided for the parents to find help for their child to catch up to other children before school.

- Family Planning for uninsured or underinsured women and men of all ages.

- Child car seat checks.

- Wellness Done Wright for uninsured or underinsured children 6 months to 21-years-old. This program includes physical exams, hearing and vision screening, dental screening, and referrals for any needed help.

- Wellness on Wheels (WOW Van) provides reduced-cost health screenings and immunizations, health education and community resources, car seat checks, as well as radon and well testing kits for purchase.

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