AIS inspections ordinance passed
By Ed DuBois
The country is watching, the Wright County Board was told last Tuesday, June 27. The Board was in the national spotlight, the commissioners were also told.
These comments were part of a public hearing conducted by the Board in regard to considering an ordinance for mandatory boat inspections for aquatic invasive species (AIS) in the Lake Sylvia, Lake John and Pleasant Lake area.
By the end of the hearing, it was apparent everyone in the room was in favor of the ordinance. The Board voted 5-0 to approve it.
Chris Hector, president of the Greater Lake Sylvia Association, began the hearing by stating that establishing a regional AIS inspection program is an important opportunity to address aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels and starry stonewort. He said a regional inspection program would be the most cost-effective way to address AIS, and he asked the Board to approve the ordinance and "and give us the opportunity to prove that is true."
A window of opportunity is closing, he added. A matching grant of around $620,000 is available in July through the Initiative Foundation. The funds would help establish a regional AIS inspection site and later add decontamination equipment.
It is hoped to start inspections in July with volunteer labor on land to be donated by the City of Annandale.
Alicia O'Hare, county water planner with the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), talked about the process of establishing a regional inspection site. The SWCD Board would need to approve a plan, and then the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would need to approve the plan. The City of Annandale would need to approve the site.
Commissioner Mike Potter said a strong advocate for the project, State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Douglas County), who serves on the Environmental and Natural Resources Finance Committee, is already urging the DNR act quickly on the project.
Meanwhile, a lake access exit inspection effort has been underway, but maintaining it across the state could likely be extremely expensive, several people said. The idea behind the regional inspection program is to educate the public and establish a habit of getting boats inspected to prevent the further spread of AIS.
A representative from Christmas Lake in the Minnetonka area said their decontamination program would be far too expensive to duplicate throughout the state. He added that, "This solution (the regional inspection project) breaks the mold." He said the project is much more cost effective.
Board Chair Charlie Borrell commented that such efforts should have been started years ago.
Commissioner Mike Potter said the regional inspection program would be a pilot project. If it works, it could lead to more sites wherever Minnesotans love their lakes.
"We have great lakes in Wright County, and we want to keep them that way," Potter stated.
John Rodgers of Clemson University, who has been working 40 years on AIS, said he supports the regional inspection project, and he added that, "The country is watching." Many people are interested in what happens here.
"AIS has been moving around at an unprecedented rate," he explained.
The regional inspection project is a unique opportunity to help prevent AIS from continuing to spread. Rodgers added that the project is an opportunity to gain knowledge and "learn as you go."
Jim Kutzner, president of the Clearwater Lake association, commended the Lake Sylvia association and said the national spotlight is on the regional inspection project.
Representatives of Sugar Lake and Granite Lake added their support.
When it came time for the County Board to vote on the ordinance, it passed 5-0, and the audience stood and applauded.
Afterward, the County Board passed a motion to draft a letter to the DNR and request expeditious action.
In other business:
CEDAR LAKE AIS
Mark Mattice, county parks administrator, informed the Board that zebra mussels, an AIS, were recently discovered in Cedar Lake near Annandale.
A third-party investigation is underway to determine the extent of the infestation. Treatment could follow.
Since the county has a campground (Schroeder Park) and a swimming beach at Cedar Lake, Mattice asked the commissioners if they would consider providing county help with the expense of treating the lake.
Board Chair Charlie Borrell suggested the county could end up being asked to help at one lake after another. However, he recognized that since the county has property on Cedar Lake, a case could be made for assisting the lake association.
Commissioner Mark Daleiden offered a motion to provide $5,000 from the campground fund, and the motion passed.
Property owners on Maple Lake are in the process of gathering signatures on a petition to establish a lake improvement district.
The annual fundraising Ice Fishing Derby has been canceled a few times in recent years due to unsafe ice, and the lake association funds for AIS control and other lake improvement projects have de-creased. A lake improvement district would be able to produce revenue through assessments on properties within the district.
The county has property on the lake, and the Board was asked to consider signing the petition.
The Board took no action, but the matter will likely be discussed on July 18, after the County Park Commission meets. The Parks Commission could provide a recommendation.
The county's license bureau and its satellite locations will not be able to conduct motor vehicle business on July 20 and 21, when a new Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) will be installed statewide. Staff will be able to process driver's licenses, DNR licenses and Game and Fish licenses. The system being replaced is 30 years old. The new system could involve more time at the counter as information is gathered and checked, but information will be immediately sent to the state for faster processing.
NO MEETING NEXT WEEK
The Board is not meeting on the Fourth of July (next Tuesday, July 4).
In other actions, the Board:
• referred a staffing levels matter at the compost facility to the Personnel Committee;
• accepted a Planning Commission recommendation to approve a request from Steven and Pamela Cheney to rezone property in Marysville Township from agricultural use and S-2 residential-recreational shorelands use to A/R agricultural-residential and S-2 use;
• accepted a Planning Commission recommendation to approve a request from James Anderson to rezone property in Clearwater Township from agricultural use to A/R agricultural-residential use;
• approved filling an office manager I position in the Highway Department;
• approved a Wright County Deputies Association tentative agreement and authorized signatures on a labor agreement; and
• approved $313,487 in claims involving 358 transactions with 181 vendors.
Principal and food service director hired by BHM School Board
By Ed DuBois
A new principal for Hanover Elementary School and a new food service director for the entire school district were welcomed aboard at the Buffalo Hanover Montrose (BHM) School Board meeting last Monday, June 26.
Brad Koltes, an assistant principal at Buffalo High School since 2014, is the new Hanover Elementary School principal, effective July 1.
The new food service director is Penny Hoops, who has been the food service director for the Albany and Cold Spring Rocori School Districts since 2011.
Koltes will replace HES Principal Jeff Olson, who is retiring after 23 years of service to the district.
What made Koltes stand out above the other applicants is his dedication to BHM Schools and his dedication to students, according to a BHM news release. He is a leader who will not give up on a student; he will work with all involved to help a student achieve success. Koltes is an individual who is highly focused on learning and continuous improvement for students.
Director of Teaching and Learning Pam Miller says Koltes is ready to lead his own school. "In the three years Koltes has been here in BHM Schools, he has shown he is a strong instructional leader, he is student focused, and he's a team player," Miller explains. "He is student-centered and very energetic, which is what you need at an elementary school. He is very approachable and highly collaborative. We are fortunate to have him in this new leadership role within the district."
Koltes is excited about the opportunity to be the next principal at Hanover Elementary. "The responsibility to ensure that ALL students learn at high levels is something that motivates and drives my work," shares Koltes. "I am a caring, compassionate and collaborative person. I want what is best for all students, staff and families. The decisions that I make are based on what is best for kids. I also know that I don't have all the answers, and I believe I make the best decision with the help of others. As a father of four young children, I want to ensure they get the very best education possible and are prepared for whatever they want to achieve in the future. I know that parents want the very best for their children, and I want to help make this dream a reality for every child at Hanover Elementary."
Koltes prior experiences come from the Anoka-Hennepin School District, where he served as a high school assistant principal intern from 2013-14; he was a middle school professional learning community coordinator and administrative intern from 2009-13; and he was a grades 6-7 social studies teacher from 2007-09. Koltes is a 2004 graduate from Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minn. with a degree in social science and secondary education. He earned his masters in teaching and learning in 2007 and his K-12 principal license in 2012 from Saint Mary's University in Minneapolis.
Hoops will replace Food Service Director Marilyn Splinter, who is retiring from the position after 28 years.
As the food service director for the Albany and Cold Spring Rocori School districts, Hoops was instrumental in helping those districts grow their fund balance and their participation in the food service program during her tenure. Prior to that, Hoops spent six years as the Coyote Moon Grill Events Manager in St. Cloud, Minn., where she was in charge of marketing and promotions for the restaurant and banquets center, and was responsible for the daily lunch business.
Director of Finance and Operations Gary Kawlewski is looking forward to having Hoops join the BHM team. "Penny's experience, strong customer service background, and history of increasing participation will be a great asset to the district," states Kawlewski. "Her student connections and her staff growth focus will be a great fit as well. She is very approachable. Her high energy, creativity, and innovative style will continue to foster the growth that we have seen in the program in recent years. We are excited for her to be the next leader of our food service program!"
Hoops is ready to jump into the position. She shares, "I'm excited to pick-up where Marilyn has left off. She has left the food service program in great shape, and I hope to continue to grow the program even more. I'm excited to have the opportunity to work for a larger district. I think my previous experience and track record working with three districts at once will allow me to rise to this new challenge."
Hoops will begin with BHM Schools July 1, 2017.
In other business:
The Board had reviewed and studied the budget figures for months, and last Monday they approved the budget for 2017-18. The overall budget amount is $84.3 million, which is about $12 million lower that the previous annual budget. A primary reason for the huge decrease is the completion of several construction projects that were funded by a 2014 referendum.
Ever since the recovery from the recession began, the district has been gradually adding teachers to help keep class sizes from increasing substantially. At the same time, the district's fund balance has been allowed to gradually decrease to help keep the tax impact of the construction projects and the staff additions fairly level.
Decreasing the fund balance can continue another year or two, but at some point the district will either need more revenue or budget reductions, said Finance and Operations Director Gary Kawlewski.
"The best long-range solution," he told the Board, "lies in a stable and consistent revenue stream for the district, something that depends on local voter support and reasonable increases in state funding."
The Board accepted requests to set up cooperative partnerships in hockey with Annandale High School and West Lutheran High School. Annandale will be included with both Buffalo boys' and girls' hockey. West Lutheran will be included in girls' hockey.
The teams will continue to be called the Buffalo Bison.
Maple Lake, which has been included in Buffalo girls' hockey, will continue to be included. Delano and Rockford will no longer be part of the girls' team.
Annandale was formerly part of the Monticello, Maple Lake and Annandale boys' team. Maple Lake is returning to a partnership with Monticello in boys' hockey, but Annandale was left with a need to form a new partnership.
The Board accepted $13,186 in recent donations and grants. Supt. Scott Thielman reported that the overall donation amount during the 2016-17 school year was $223,919. He said the generosity of organizations, families and individuals in the community has been tremendous. The school district has been very fortunate to benefit from outstanding community support, he stated.
The Board approved a Buffalo High School yearbook staff trip to Dallas Aug. 1-4. Buffalo has been invited six years by Balfour Publishing, which is paying for the trip. The number of students included each year has been increasing, and four students are going this year. The invitations reflect well on the quality of the yearbook and the fine work of the students.
Supt. Scott Thielman received an annual review, which stated he has become a stronger asset for the district in each year. He has been swift and effective when addressing deficiencies. His efforts are helping BHM achieve a status as a premier school district in the state, reported Board Chair Dave Wilson. Thielman commented that he feels fortunate to serve in a fine district and be part of all it offers to the students and the community.
In other actions, the Board:
• approved a marching band trip to the Cherry Royale Parade in Traverse City, Mich. on July 8, with a side trip to Chicago (Board member Bob Sansevere commented on how im-pressed he was with the HERD as the band performed in the Buffalo Days Parade.);
• approved a resolution establishing Aug. 1-15 as the filing dates for those who want to be candidates in the Nov. 7 school board election (Three seats will be up for election.);
• approved resolutions to pay a share of long-term facility maintenance program budgets for membership in the Southwest Metro Intermediate School District and the Wright Technical Center ($9,099 to SW Metro and $42,495 to Wright Technical);
• approved a Northwinds Elementary School ball fields maintenance agreement with the City of Buffalo;
• approved a resolution that states the district agrees with findings of a student accounting audit performed on the 2014-15 fiscal year by the Minnesota Department of Education; and
• approved a resolution discontinuing the contract of a long-term substitute teacher.
The School Board is proud of:
• BHS cast and crew of "Pippin," who received "Outstanding" ratings from the Hennepin Theatre Trust Spotlight on Education Program for Achievement in Musical Theatre, Overall Production and Overall Performance. Outstanding Individual awards were presented to Katie Swartzer, Brandon Bednar-ek, Jonah Schmitz and Jack Soden; Honorable Mention to Mallory Rabehl and Emily Twardy; Technical Leadership Nomination to Ciarra Fagerlie, Grace Happe, Harrison Bjorback and Ingrid Nelson; and Evaluator Shout Out to Carson JS Reichardt and Calista Cherches.
• Michele Strassburg, German teacher at BHS, who was named the American Association of Teachers of German - Minnesota Teacher of the Year.
• Melanie Olson, QUEST teacher at Parkside Elementary, who was selected to appear on the first episode of PBS's new pilot, "Hands-On Science."
• Antonio Kuklok, curriculum integration specialist at Tatanka Elementary STEM School, who received the Sister Ann Harvey Action Research award from St. Catherine's University for his work on the Effects of Inquiry Based Practices on Students Problem Solving Competence.
The next regular board meeting is taking place on Monday, July 31 at 4:30 p.m. in the Board Room at the Discovery Center.
Fourth of July celebrations planned in the county
The huge annual Fourth of July celebrations in Annandale and Delano are scheduled, and the annual Fourth of July Water Ski and Boat Parades on Lake Pulaski in Buffalo are planned.
In Buffalo, the water ski parade on Tuesday, July 4 starts at noon, and the decorated boats and pontoons parade is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.
The judges this year will be Tom and Melissa Kuzma, along with family and friends. The Kuzmas are located at 1701 Dove Trail (northeast corner of the lake). Balloons will be tied to the dock, and a "Judge" banner will be on their boat.
Prizes will be awarded.
The other celebrations in Wright County include longtime festivals in Annandale and Delano.
The carnival in Annandale is provided by Family Fun Shows. Come for a variety of rides, games and food vendors. The carnival is being set up on Oak Street just north of the downtown area.
A Kiddie Parade is planned for Saturday, July 1. The parade will start at the Annandale Middle School at 10 a.m.
A Pork Chop Dinner is being served Saturday, July 1 from 4-8 p.m. at the City Park Pavilion. St. Ignatius Youth Ministry will be serving.
On Monday, July 3 beginning at 7 p.m., a boat parade will be navigating Pleasant Lake. It finishes near the pier at City Park close to the conclusion of the band concert around 8 p.m. All contestants pick a theme for their ship and entertain the spectators on the shore.
Annandale's 128th annual Fourth of July Parade begins Tuesday, July 4 at 10 a.m. The lineup for the parade is at the Annandale Elementary School and High School at 9 a.m.
A People's Choice Float Contest is planned, and it includes every unit, except the honor guard, emergency vehicles and paid units. There is no cost for entry.
Prizes based on most votes include: 1st Place - $300, 2nd Place - $200 and 3rd Place - $100.
The parade route is changed this year. The parade route will be reversed. The start of the parade will be Poplar/ Cedar Circle, ending at Hemlock. This is expected to better aid in parade lineup, safety concerns and assist in better traffic/ pedestrian flow when the parade ends.
The Annandale Queen's Coronation will be held on July 4 at 5 p.m. in the Annandale Municipal Park.
The Fabulous Armadillos are performing from 7-10 p.m.
Fireworks will begin at dusk (around 10 p.m.) on July 4 at the Annandale Municipal Park.
The Annandale Area Chamber of Commerce is happy to have Pyrotechnic Display Inc. back for its 4th year of fireworks entertainment.
The carnival opens Friday, June 30 at 5 p.m. Other Friday activities include: 6:00 p.m., Mens Modified Pitch Softball; 6:00 p.m., Cribbage Tournament at the Delano Senior Center; 6:30 p.m., Alan Johnson, Comedian Juggler Extraordinaire, Family Stage; 7:00 p.m., Delano Royalty Coronation; 7:30 p.m., Entertainment Stage, Jeff James (opening); 8:15 p.m., Alan Johnson, Comedian Juggler Extraordinaire, Family Stage; 9:00 p.m., Main Entertainment Stage, Pop ROCKS Band; 10:30 p.m., Dazzling Laser Light Show in Delano Municipal Baseball Park.
On Saturday, July 1, a Fireman's Waterball Tournament starts at 1 p.m. FLWA Professional Wrestl-ing begins at 5 p.m. A Craft Beer Social is planned at 6 p.m. At 9 p.m. on the Main Entertainment Stage, The White Keys will be performing.
The Kiddie Parade is at noon Sunday, July 2 (Registration at 11:30 a.m.). A Sidewalk Art Contest is planned on Sunday at 1 p.m. At 4 p.m., Matt Dunn the Magician, is on the Family Stage. A Kiddie Tractor Pull starts at 5:30. Matt Dunn the Magician returns to the Family Stage at 6:00.
More Family Entertainment Stage performers are entertaining on Monday, July 3, including a Farout K9 Experience at 7 p.m. At 9 p.m. on the Main Entertainment Stage, the Johnny Holm Band is performing.
The Fourth of July 5K race starts on Tuesday, July 4 at 9:15 a.m.
At 10:30 a.m., "Minnesota's Oldest and Largest Parade" starts.
Entertainment later that day includes: at 2 p.m., The Teddy Bear Band, Family Stage; 2 p.m., Main Entertainment Stage, Jeff James; 4 p.m., The Teddy Bear Band, Family Stage; 5:30 and 7 p.m., Alan Johnson Comedian, Juggler Extraordinaire, Family Stage; and 8 p.m., Main Entertainment Stage, Diamondback.
At 10:30 p.m., see a huge fireworks show.
Two-truck crash in Albion Township results in serious injuries
A crash involving two trucks at an Albion Township intersection resulted in serious injuries.
The Wright County Sheriff's Office reported that on Thursday, June 22 at approximately 11:40 a.m., Wright County Communications received a report about a motor vehicle crash involving a Wright County Highway Department dump truck at the intersection of CSAH (County State Aid Highway) 35 and CSAH 7 in Albion Township.
Responding deputies located the 2009 International dump truck in the eastbound lane west of the intersection, as well as a 2002 Chevrolet S10 pickup with extensive driver side damage. Medical aid was given to the driver and lone occupant of the pickup truck by Maple Lake Fire and Rescue and Maple Lake Ambulance. Due to injuries sustained, the driver was transported to the North Memorial Medical Center by North Air Care. The driver of the International was not injured.
Investigation by the Wright County Sheriff's Office revealed that the S10 pickup was northbound on CSAH 7 and the Wright County Highway Department truck was eastbound on CSAH 35. The driver of the pickup allegedly failed to yield at the stop sign, according to the Sheriff's Office, and continued into the path of the International. The front of the International struck the left side of the pickup truck.
The driver of the pickup truck was identified as Lucas James Meinstad Klages, 23, of Howard Lake. The driver of the International was identified as James Timothy Casari, 39, of Montrose.
Wright County sheriff's deputies were assisted at the scene by Maple Lake Fire and Rescue, Maple Lake Ambulance and Allina Ambulance.
Large cast set for BCT's July 21 opening of "Mary Poppins"
A large and varied cast will set the stage for fun in Buffalo Community Theater's summer musical production, "Mary Poppins."
Nearly 40 volunteer actors have begun rehearsing for the show, and many turned out to promote the show in the Buffalo Days Parade on June 17.
Rain along the parade route did not dampen the mood of Jane Thelen. The Andover woman will play the title role.
"I saw the auditions notice on (theater website) Minnesota Playlist and I just had to try out," Thelen said. "I've always wanted to play Mary Poppins because I want to be Julie Andrews."
The stage musical shares much with the movie version, and Jane is dedicated to being "practically perfect in every way." She may set out to capture hearts with this role, but Thelen admits the town of Buffalo has already charmed her.
"I just love the community of Buffalo; it's so quaint and so supportive of the arts," she said.
Thelen is joined by a cast of men, women and children from around Buffalo and across the area. Together, they will bring to life this tale of magic and adventure, woven with common-sense lessons, showing audiences that "anything can happen if you let it."
The cast of "Mary Poppins" is: Andrew Jacobsen as Bert, Brad Elo as George Banks, Heather Halstead as Winifred Banks, Hope Schmitz as Jane Banks, Ethan Pavlenko as Michael Banks, Lisa Ellwoods as Katie Nanna and Miss Smythe, Kevin Dietrich as Policeman, Barb Stoffel as Miss Lark, Rick Wyman as Admiral Boom, Kari Wendroth as Mrs. Brill, Jonah Schmitz as Robertson Ay and Miss Andrew, Jane Thelen as Mary Poppins, David Metcalf as Park Keeper and Bank Chairman, Alex Michuda as Neleus, Trenton Wyman as Von Hussler, Tom Johnson as Northbrook, Theresa Anderson Kentner as Bird Woman, Linda Metcalf as Mrs. Corry, Madelyn Benzer as Annie, and Brielle McLearen as Fannie.
Making up the ensemble are: Kumail Akram, Nathan Beal, Madelyn Benzer, Sam Carlson, Calista Cherches, Kevin Dietrich, Lillian Dietrich, Lisa Ellwoods, Zoe Ellwoods, Drew Elo, Neve Elo, Nichola Elo, Jillian Elton, Anna Granlund, Sam Haglund, Tom Johnson, Theresa Anderson Kentner, Elisabeth Krinke, Brielle McLearen, Linda Metcalf, David Metcalf, Alex Michuda, Jessica Pavlenko, Laura Posthumus, Barb Stoffel, Bruce Schelper, Lauren Strand, Avery Thompson, Emma Wyman, Rick Wyman, and Trent Wyman.
This year is Buffalo Community Theater's 30th anniversary. "Mary Poppins" will run July 21-23 and 26-29 at the Buffalo High School Performing Arts Center. Ticket prices range from $8 to $15. For more information, see wwww.bctmn.org and follow Buffalo Community Theater on Facebook.
"This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund."
Go Fund Me page set up for Diane Moen
Seven years ago, Diane Moen of Buffalo was diagnosed with hepatopulmonary syndrome, for which the only known cure is a liver transplant. She immediately had to resign from her position as a social worker, a job she loved, at Lake Ridge Care Center of Buffalo.
Diane's health continued to deteriorate, and she needed increasing amounts of oxygen even for a more sedentary lifestyle.
On March 4, 2017, many prayers were answered, and Diane received a liver transplant at University of Minnesota Hospitals. The new liver has functioned flawlessly, and rejection has never been an issue.
Recovery has been more difficult, though, due to the fact that Diane also has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. She spent two and a half weeks in ICU at the U of M and then was transferred to Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul. Diane spent approximately seven weeks there, and her condition improved a great deal. Her last stop was at transitional care in the Good Samaritan Center, Howard Lake, where Diane had worked in the past. Her condition continued to improve. On June 12, she was finally discharged from Good Samaritan to return home.
Diane has not been able to work in seven years, and medical costs have soared throughout that time. A Go Fund Me page has been set up for Diane, and much more financial help is needed. Any amount you could donate to help defray the medical costs would be gratefully accepted and very much appreciated."Thank you for reading this," said a friend.
Uncommon woman among men
Bonnie Hanson of American Legion Post 270 in Buffalo recently completes term as Tenth District Commander
By Ed DuBois
Many women are active in the American Legion Auxiliary, but seeing a woman rise through the ranks among the men in the American Legion veterans' organization is a rarity. One of those uncommon women is Bonnie Hanson, who recently concluded her term as the Tenth District Commander and is a past commander of Post 270 in Buffalo.
Her achievements in the Legion and Legion Auxiliary were recognized by U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29. Klobuchar made a stop at the Buffalo American Legion Club that day and presented Hanson with a U.S. flag that had flown over the nation's Capitol.
"I was floored," said Hanson, who loves a good laugh. "How did she know all those good things about me?"
Daughter of veteran
Those "good things" began to develop when Hanson was growing up in Brooklyn Center. The daughter of a World War II veteran who fought in Germany, she graduated from Osseo High School and began to consider enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps.
"The Marines recruiting office was right across the street from church," she recalled.
Interestingly, Hanson came back to Osseo in May 2016 for the Legion District Convention, during which she was elected the Tenth District Commander. She mentioned she was also uninstalled as the District Commander a year later in Osseo during the 2017 District Convention.
Joined the Marines
Hanson was only 18 when she joined the Marines. She said she had never been away from home before. It was a tough experience.
"A girl from Minneapolis was with me at the beginning. She was released because she walked in her sleep," Hanson remembered.
One thing that helped Hanson, both in the Marines and later in life, was her attitude about work.
"They could always depend on me to be there," she said.
Her basic training took place at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island in South Carolina.
Her first duty station was Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in California, and then she was assigned to Camp Pendleton near San Diego.
"There were not a lot of women there (at El Toro)," Hanson commented.
"You had to be 21 to go overseas," she added.
Her duties at Camp Pendleton included delivering mail and processing orders for supplies that were needed on ships. The mail run involved driving a golf cart-like vehicle to stops at various buildings.
She completed two years of active duty during the Vietnam War era, and then four years of inactive duty with the Reserves. During her time with the Reserves, she reported to the Great Lakes Naval Station.
Moved to Madelia
Hanson's civilian life included about five years in Fargo, where she was a nurse's aide at St. Luke's Hospital. Later, she lived in Northeast Minneapolis for a while after a divorce. She and her second husband bought a bar in Montgomery, Minn.
It was during her time in Montgomery when Hanson joined the American Legion. That was 36 years ago, she said.
After a move to Madelia, Minn., she became a Post Adjutant, and then she was elected Vice Commander of the Second District. She has a copy of a Madelia newspaper story that says she was not actively seeking the Vice Commander position, but people started campaigning for her after one of the endorsed candidates withdrew. An hour and a half later, she was elected over five other candidates, including one who held the position during the previous year.
Hanson has a friendly, outgoing personality, which was enhanced while working at a bar her husband managed in Madelia.
Served as sheriff's deputy
Her confidence grew as she attended Department (State) Conventions, as well as a couple of National American Legion Conventions. She said she "learned a lot."
In Madelia, where her husband took a job as manager of the Legion Club, she was a bartender by day and Legion commander by night, you might say. They lived in an apartment upstairs at the Legion.
Additionally, she studied law enforcement at the vocational school in Mankato, and then she became a part-time sheriff's deputy.
When she was asked how she managed to serve so many ways all at once, she exclaimed, "I was a lot younger then!"
"Patrol was sometimes an adrenaline rush. I learned how to handle situations," Hanson commented. "I had good luck with people. I said please and thank you, and people responded well to that."
A turning point
Meanwhile, her growth as a leader in the American Legion continued.
"I had never been up in front of large groups. But then at a Department Convention, I had to nominate someone. Afterward, people stood and clapped," Hanson recalled.
"I gained confidence in myself," she stated. "That was a turning point. I learned I can do more."
After Madelia, Hanson and her husband lived in New Hope and owned a North Minneapolis bar. Bonnie took a job as the manager for parking ramps in downtown Minneapolis. She monitored the parking ramps with "a whole wall of cameras," she said.
Her staff included people who walked in the ramps, and for those positions, she often hired veterans.
Before she retired, Bon-nie worked for United Health Care ten years as an intake coordinator. She said she was like a liaison between doctors and clients. She helped answer questions such as, "Is this doctor in the network?"
Legion Post 270
Bonnie moved to Rock-ford 17 years ago, and after several years of not holding a leadership position with the American Legion, she returned 6 years ago.
"I joined the Buffalo Legion and was soon elected Post Commander for two years," she said.
"We have good mentors here," she added.
She served with the Honor Guard, and she "moved up the ladder" to Vice Commander of the Tenth District. As she visited posts throughout the district, she became known. After being elected District Adjutant, she wrote the district newsletter. She then became Membership Chair.
Bonnie was elected Tenth District Commander for 2016-17. She said there are 53 posts in the district, which includes communities from Clearwater to Pine City and from Fridley to Howard Lake.
She was proud when the National American Legion Commander visited three posts in the Tenth District last February, and Buffalo was one of them.
As a dual member of the Legion and Auxiliary, she was proud when the National Legion Auxiliary President visited Buffalo just two weeks ago.
Bonnie is also proud that Carol Kottom of Buffalo has been serving as the Legion Auxiliary Department President.
Blue and white
Bonnie is "turning over the reigns" to a new American Legion Tenth District Commander in July.
"I will take off the blue and white cap and put on a regular navy blue cap," she said.
This will happen at the Department Convention in the Shooting Star Casino at Mahnomen, Minn.
"Serving as District Commander has been so much fun, meeting new people and seeing old friends. There were many hugs," Bonnie said.
She has a great appreciation for all the projects undertaken by the Legion and Auxiliary. The projects benefit the community, and the Legion family ("We're all family.") volunteers to help.
"We're there to help," she stated.
One of her favorite people-helping organizations is Helping Paws, which trains service dogs for those who need them.
Believes in cause
Born after her dad came home from World War II, Bonnie grew up with an appreciation for veterans. After serving with the Marines during the Viet-nam era, it hurt to see a lack of respect for Vietnam veterans. Her involvement with the Legion and Auxiliary has helped heal some emotional wounds, and she has seen a gradual increase in Legion involvement by fellow Vietnam-era veterans.
After 36 years in the American Legion, Bonnie said she is a strong believer in the many Legion projects, which support veterans, their families and the community.
A rare woman among many men in the American Legion, she believes in the cause and has thoroughly enjoyed the experience.