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BACK ISSUES: May 25 | June 1 | June 8 | June 15 | June 22 | June 29 | July 6
Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. Wright County Journal-Press & The Drummer

This year's Fourth of July events look bright for Annandale, Delano, Buffalo

By Miriam Orr

Wright County is gearing up with its traditional Fourth of July celebrations!


Delano Festivities

In Delano, the Five days of the Fourth of July starts Friday, June 29, where the Delano Royalty Coronation at 7 p.m., with softball tournaments starting at 6 p.m.

On Saturday, June 30, make sure to check out the assortment of music at the entertainment tent, as well as the number of baseball tournaments – the first beginning at 8 a.m., bright and early. When Sunda, July 1 rolls around, don't forget to head down to the carnival, which begins at 11 a.m., followed by the Kiddie Parade at 11:30 a.m.

Tuesday, July 3 will host the American Legion Baseball Tournament at noon, as well as a roster of live music events at the entertainment tent. Then, on July 4, be sure to register for the 5k race at 8:30 a.m. (race beginning at 9:10 a.m.) and stay tuned for Minnesota's Oldest and Largest 4th of July Parade, which rolls out at 10:30 a.m. Fireworks kick off at 10:30 p.m. to 10:57 p.m. For more information and a full schedule of events, please visit


Annandale Celebrations

In Annandale, celebrate  the annual Boat Parade on July 3rd, beginning at 7 p.m. on Pleasant Lake. Interested participants are asked to contact Tina Honsey at

The Kiddie Parade will be on Saturday, June 30, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Annandale Middle School.

Prepare for the 129th 4th of July Parade, which begins on Wednesday, July 4, at 10 a.m. The lineup begins at Annandale Elementary and High School, at 9 a.m.

Coronation of Annandale Royalty will be at 5 p.m. on July 4, at the Municipal Park, as candidates prepare to potentially take the step in representing Miss Annandale 2018.

Fireworks in Annandale ignite on July 4 around 10 p.m., at Annandale Municipal Park.

Annandale's Carnival provides an exciting variety of rides, games, and food that you won't want to miss this year. The carnival is held on Oak Street, just north of the downtown area. For a full schedule of times, please visit


Lake Pulaski Boat Parade

And, of course, don't forget Buffalo's traditional July 4 Boat Parade on Lake Pulaski! The ski parade will begin at noon sharp, with the boat parade slated for 1 p.m. Parades will start at Jill and Bart Bjornson's residence, on the southeast side of the lake, located at 1465 Pulaski Road.  Look for the boat and dock with red, white, and blue balloons. Prizes will be awarded for this event.

Be sure to celebrate Independence Day the Wright way in 2018!


Two arrested, charges pending after Buffalo to Montrose police chase

By Miriam Orr

On Friday, June 22, Buffalo Police arrested a male and female in Montrose, after a vehicle pursuit.

On the morning of June 22, at approximately 8:45 a.m., BPD responded to a report of an SUV crossing fog and centerlines on Highway 25, entering the city of Buffalo. The driver of the vehicle,  a 33-year-old male from Plymouth, was approached by officers, who observed that there was an additional passenger in the SUV, later identified as a female from Brooklyn Park.

Upon request to put the vehicle in park and turn the ignition off, the driver accelerated and fled, "initiating a vehicle pursuit," as the BPD news release reported. Officers pursued the vehicle until the Wright County Sheriff's Office deployed tire deflation spikes near the intersection of Highways 25 and 12, near Montrose, where the suspect vehicle's tires were deflated.

The driver, however, continued to the flee into the city of Montrose, where the vehicle "left the roadway." Both the BPD and Sheriff's Office converged on the vehicle, where the driver rammed the suspect SUV into a Sheriff's Office squad car, bringing the vehicle to a stop.

Currently charges against the driver and passenger are pending. No injuries were reported on the scene.


First part of Hwy 25 opens south of Montrose, section two now closed, Watertown

By Doug Voerding

State Highway 25 from U.S. Highway 12 south to Wright County Road 30/90th Street is now open south of Montrose as of Monday, June 25.

But now, Highway 25 south from County Road 30 to the four-way stop in Watertown at the intersection of Carver County Road 10/Jefferson Avenue is now closed.

Work is expected to be completed, weather permitting, in mid-August.

The posted detour from Montrose is County Road 30 east to County Road 13/10 and south to Watertown.

The work of Highway 25 includes resurfacing eight miles of roadway and shoulders, repairing or replacing drainage infrastructure, install new LED stop signs on Wright County Road 30 at Highway 25, repairing  a slope along southbound Highway 25 north of Armitage Avenue, upgrading guardrails, and installing mumble strips.


Comissioners ok County Auditors to participate in general election recount

By Miriam Orr

On Tuesday, June 26, Wright County Commissioners heard from Auditor/Treasurer Bob Hiivala regarding the upcoming recount designation suggestion for Wright County Auditors who wish to participate in  this year's general election.

The Office of the Secretary of State, according to Hiivala's report, would like to include as many county auditors as possible, as they have in more recent years as part of the recount process. The state would delegate recounting authorities to county auditors who are willing to accept the duties to act as officials, with compensation totaling $0.04 a ballot that is counted, with a $100.00 minimum payment per county.

Each precinct will require its own recount team, overseen by the Auditor, though training is required for auditors that would be interested in participating. Training for recount duties is determined for August 16 or November 28, online.

On the subject of election recounts, Commissioner Christine Husom commented, "This process is generally expensive and very involved, and I appreciate the safety and security that we invest into the voting process here in Wright County and across the state."

Hiivala agreed that the process was costly, and stated that while not looking forward to the prospect of a recount; the County itself was in a good position to offer its services. "We are ready for this, when the time comes," he shared.

The board agreed unanimously to move forward with the process.


Other items:

Auditor/Treasurer's Office: Hiivala also asked for the approval of three temporary liquor licenses: two for the American Legion Post 323, the first for July 20 and 21 and the second for September 22; and then also the Clearwater Lions Club for August 17 and 18. The licenses were approved unanimously.

Also requested was the adoption of a resolution which would approve a proposed Tax Increment Financing establishment in Maple Lake's Municipal District Four. The establishment proposed is a workforce housing facility within the proposed District, and by establishing a TIF Plan, the city would assist with the financing of the workforce housing project. The Board approved this unanimously. 

Information Technology: Director Adam Tagarro requested of the Board to approve compensated travel to Nashville, where members of his staff will receive hands-on lab training at an on-base location, which Tagarro stated was an opportunity he felt passionately about for his staff. The travel has been budgeted within the department, and Commissioners approved the request unanimously.

Highway Department: Highway Engineer Virgil Hawkins requested the approval of a highway right of way plat for CSAH 37. This approval would launch the preparation for the project, slated for the 2019 construction season. As of now, the approval will green-light surveying of the plat.


Correction for June 21 issue

Regarding an article in the June 21 edition of the Wright County Journal-Press, the correction to a Maple Lake resident, who passed away from an accidental fall, was one Mark Wurm, instead of the previously published "Mike Wurm."


Another strong Buffalo PRCA Rodeo concludes

Another Buffalo PRCA has come and gone! The rodeo concluded on Saturday, June 23, with competitors and audiences closing another chapter this year at the rodeo grounds. Pictured is Tate Schwagler of Mandan, ND, holding on strong during the bareback riding competition in last Friday's opening day of the Buffalo Rodeo. See more on the rodeo in Sports on Page 1C, as well as the A Section. (Photo by Rob LaPlante)






Saddling up to "Honor the Badge" with Mike Bray  

Mike Bray with his "Honor the Badge" commemorative saddle. See another photo in the A Section. (Photo by Miriam Orr)

By Miriam Orr

Saddle-maker Mike Bray has done it again – and this time, it's for "the men and women that wear blue."

Outside Bray's Monticello home is staked a "We Support Law Enforcement" sign, where one stripe of the American flag is painted a symbolic blue , which represents men and women in law enforcement, not only in Wright County but across the nation.

According to Bray, law enforcement has been stirring up political clout across the nation with alleged racial bias arrests and maltreatment of individuals of color. "These men and women have been getting a lot of negative press and attention, so I wanted to do something that would commemorate their service, which is needed in today's world."

So, Bray did what any saddle-making man would do; he began making a commemorative saddle, much like the one he completed in 2011, which he entitled "Tribute to the Troops." That saddle, a nationally- recognized piece, which commemorates troops both home and abroad, has been featured in many shows and competitions across America, winning Bray recognitio, not only at a local level but one across the country, as well.

Bray's newest saddle, an ensamble complete with hand-carved leather embellishments, painted artwork, braids, and other intricate details, is named "Honor the Badge." What's unique about the saddle is not only does it include many quotes from personal interviews  with men and women who wear the badge of law enforcement, but it also includes that very thing – the badge.

"So far there's about 130 badges total,  from multiple states," Bray stated. "That's not something that just happens. These items are extremely sentimental to men and women, and it's a really personal decision to decide to donate it to a piece of art."

Bray commented that so far, Minnesota's 87 counties have all donated at least one badge to the project, and that other states – Illinois and Washington – have also pitched in on the effort, too. What started out as a project hoping to commemorate men and women locally quickly turned to a multi-state, national ideal, one which Bray didn't anticipate, but is proud of.

The project has been in the works since the state fair of 2016, where Bray promised fair-goers that he would have a project hopefully completed by fair-time 2017. And finished he did, because he featured his saddle in the 2017 fair, where he quickly garnered attention by men and women who were touched by his work.

The hope is that the saddle will make it to Washington D.C., where it can be featured at the many memorials. The saddle has already made a trip to St. Paul's Memorial, and Bray hopes that it will continue to make its way around, with him in tow, to pay tribute to those who put their lives on the line in an area that "isn't so appreciated anymore."

"The police face a similar situation as Vietnam veterans  did," Bray explained. "When Vietnam vets came back from the war, they were slapped in the face with a lot of negative press, and blame. The police are getting the same thing. The small amount of bad that happens in this field is often highlighted, and the good of this field isn't – this is just a way to convey thanks and give appreciation where appreciation is due."

The saddle does have its local touches, as well. Saber, the Wright County Sheriff's Office famous K-9 who died six days before his retirement, is carved into one side of the saddle, along with his badge, and that isn't the only local feature, but the rest is left to be seen.

Along with the saddle is a customized Gibson "Les Paul" guitar, another one of Bray's accomplishments. The instrument is entirely embellished leather, all across the guitar, which is still fully functional, and intricately designed to commemorate law enforcement officers as well. He calls it the "Honor the Badge" guitar, and Bray's great hope is that it someday will play anthems at nationally recognized events.

"I built this to thank the men and women of law enforcement," Bray stated on the set, "I took time to build this to thank these people for the incredible work they do, and my hope is that when others see these men and women, they will take just as much time to get to know these folks and thank them for their service. It is really a thankless job."

Currently, Bray hinted at another upcoming commemorative saddle that he has "in the works," which will pay tribute to those men and women serving communities through EMS and firefighting careers.

Though the saddle and guitar won't be at the State Fair this year, Bray hopes that they, along with all the other saddles he has built, will continue to make their way to events where they can be appreciated, and hopefully symbolize all the thankfulness he has for "a very thankless field."


BCT prepares for "Monty Python's SPAMALOT" in July

"Monty Python's SPAMALOT" is coming to the Buffalo Community Theatre! The BCT cast, volunteers and alumn kicked off this production at the Buffalo Days parade, Saturday June 16. Pictured are, from left to right (front row with sign,) Tammy Bryant, Zanna Joyce; (second row, left to right) Sophie Carlson, Matthew Tiede, Sam Bryant, Sam Carlson, Jon Salmon; (back row, left to right):  Nichola Elo, Neve Elo, Jayden Anderson, Lydea Laudenbach, Diane Paulu, Ardith Nelson, Mark Nelson, Tony Carlson, Charlie Elo, Drew Elo, and Ben Carlson. Look for another photo and a full story inside this week's edition of the Wright County Journal-Press and The Drummer. (Photo courtesy of BCT's Zanna Joyce)


July 4 early copy request

In honor of July 4th, the Wright County Journal-Press and The Drummer offices will be closed Wednesday, July 4. Early copy is requested by noon on Monday, July 2.

Make sure to have a happy and safe July 4th, and be sure to see some fireworks in honor of our nation's independence!


July 10 senior safety seminar by BPD

The public is invited to attend a senior safety seminar presented by the BPD on July 10. This interactive event that will cover topics from safe driving, to personal safety and avoiding scams, presented by Detectives Barrett Chrissis and John Less.

This presentation will be held Tuesday, July 10,  from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., at the Buffalo Community Center.


Concerts in the Park, June 28

Concerts in the Park 2018 kicks off Thursday, June 28, beginning at 7:00 p.m. in Sturges Park.

The events run from June to August, featuring 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.

This Thursday will host "Jonah and the Whales," singing a variety of rock music for audiences in Sturges Park, and on July 5, "The West Metro Big Band" will play a variety of Big Band/jazz music at Sturges.

Anyone wanting to make a donation to the event, and others like it in the community, please contacts the Buffalo Parks Department at 763-682-4132.


Township Officers to meet July 11

The Wright County Township Officers will be holding their Quarterly Meeting on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, 6:30 p.m. at the Silver Creek Township Hall, 3827 134th Street N.W, Monticello, Minn.

In addition to Wright County Township Officers, any Candidates for the upcoming elections who will be serving the Wright County area are welcome to attend.  Candidates will be limited to a two-minute statements, and will be able to visit with people from their districts before and after the meeting.

All attendees please R.S.V.P. with Karen McDougall, Secretary/Treasurer, 612/210-2495.



Catching rides and eating fish

Minnesota's State Bird attracts photographers from all over to catch the young 'riders'

I am wrapping up my Loon photo tours for 2018. Dozens of photographers from around the world came to my home state of Minnesota, and joined me to photograph and learn about the life cycle and behaviors of this iconic bird of the Northwoods.

The Common Loon (Gavia immer) is one of five loon species found in the world. The others being Red-throated Loon, Black-throated Loon, Pacific Loon and Yellow-billed Loon. In other parts of the world, the Common Loon is known as the Great Northern Diver.

The common name "loon" origins are not very clear. The word Loon seems like a very strange word, and to my ear, doesn't have any specific origin. It appears that it comes from the old Scandinavian word lom, meaning "lame" or clumsy or awkward when walking on land. This describes these birds perfectly. Their legs are positioned so far back on their bodies, and also off to the sides of the bodies, that they are unable to walk upright on land. Their chest remains on the ground and they push themselves along with their legs, much like a wheelbarrow without the wheel.

The association between the name loon and loony or being crazy or insane seems to have come along much later. It might be a chicken and egg thing.

The adult Loons are rather large birds measuring over three feet from beak to tail. The breeding adults have a smart combination of black and white plumage. The head is completely black, but when viewed in bright sunlight, it has a green or blue sheen. Not many birds that have black feathers like that are also iridescent.

Often, when out on my boat photographing the Loons, the adults are catching tiny fish or aquatic insects to feed their chicks. What always amazes everyone, along with myself, is how fast these large birds can swim underwater. After all, when you think about it, they need to be able to catch tiny fish underwater. Try it yourself sometime, and you will have a better appreciation for how remarkable this is. They have to swim faster than a fish, and also be able to turn on a dime to continue pursuing the prey.

We often see them zipping about underwater at incredibly high speeds. When chasing fish in shallow water, you can actually see a bow wave on the surface of the water out in front of the Loon as it zips through the water. Then all of a sudden, they pop to the water's surface with a tiny fish held tightly in their large black bill, and start swimming towards their babies.

The parents show great care when feeding their babies. The adults are massive in comparison to the tiny chicks. The parents offer the tiny fish to the young, and almost always the young drops the fish. The adult quickly picks up the fish and tries again. The young drops it again, and this goes on for many, many tries until finally the chick eats. This kind of feeding goes on for the first week or so of life. Then the babies start to get the hang of it and snatch up the offerings and gobble them down quickly.

Baby Loons are well-known for riding on the backs of the parents. In fact, this is what the photographers come to see and capture images of this behavior. The young are only small enough to ride for about ten days, after which time they try to ride but are unable.

The desire for the young to ride on the adult's back is so strong that sometimes it doesn't matter where or what the parents are doing. The young "must" ride. For example, when the parents are fishing the babies will climb up on the back of the parents just before the adult dives underwater. If the young are under the wing, it usually takes a few moments before the baby pops up to the surface. Or if the young are riding, and the adult wants to stretch their wings, which they often do, the adult rises up in the water to shake their wings and the baby goes tumbling off the back down into the water.

One time, a female climbed up on a tiny cattail island with the babies in hot pursuit. When she got settled on the island, one of the babies had to climb on the back of the resting mother, even though they weren't in the water. The other youngster snuggled up close to the mother's chest. These are the sweet and tender moments that I enjoy the most when documenting these amazing birds. Until next time…


Stan Tekiela is an author / naturalist and wildlife photographer who travels the U.S. to study and photograph wildlife. He can be followed on and He can be reached at


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