Search follows Crow River drowning call
By Ed DuBois
A search for a possible drowning victim was started last Monday evening, June 5 in Middleville Township.
Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty reported that on June 5 at 6:56 p.m., the Sheriff's Office received a 911 call about a suspected drowning in the North Fork of the Crow River near the Keats Ave. bridge in Middleville Township. The caller reported that a person who was swimming with a group of people went underwater and did not surface.
At approximately 9:30 p.m. Monday, the search was suspended due to a lack of daylight. The search for the missing person continued Tuesday.
The Sheriff's Office initially withheld the name of the missing person while contacting relatives. On Tuesday afternoon, June 6, the Sheriff's Office reported continuing the search for Levi Wuollet, 18, of Dassel. He was swimming with friends and relatives in the river when he went under and did not resurface.
Those conducting the search include deputies from the Wright County Sheriff's Office Water Patrol, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), as well as numerous volunteers. The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office Water Patrol responded with specialized underwater sonar equipment to also assist in the search.
The Sheriff's Office would like to remind citizens to be cautious around fast-moving water. After some heavy rains this spring, many of the area rivers and streams are flowing rapidly and may have hidden hazards such as logs and boulders.
Rescue personnel responding to the scene Monday evening included: Wright County patrol deputies, the Wright County Water Patrol, the Howard Lake Police Department, the Minnesota DNR, a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter, the Waverly Fire Department, the Howard Lake Fire Department, the Maple Lake Fire Department, and the Winsted Fire Department.
Appeals Court rules in Wright County's favor
By Ed DuBois
The Wright County Board discussed a recent Minnesota Court of Appeals decision upholding a lower court ruling in the county's favor regarding a lawsuit filed by State Auditor Rebecca Otto. The matter was discussed during the Tuesday, June 6 board meeting.
The Court of Appeals decision was made on May 30. Brian Asleson, chief deputy county attorney, delivered both good news and bad news to the County Board.
Discussing the good news, he said the Court of Appeals ruling addressed three aspects. One, the Court agreed that conducting audits is a core function of the State Auditor's Office. Two, the Court disagreed with the State Auditor's contention that a new 2015 law takes away from those core functions. (The new law allows counties to hire private accounting firms to conduct annual county audits.) Three, the Court of Appeals ruled that the new law does not violate the state constitution and is a properly adopted law.
The bad news, Asleson said, is that Otto has already indicated in statements to the media that she intends to seek a ruling from the State Supreme Court. That is bad news because the cost in legal fees continues to climb for both the state and for the three counties named in the suit (Becker, Ramsey and Wright).
The counties had hoped the Legislature would pass a bill to help reimburse them for legal fees in the case. After all, the counties are defending a state law, said Board Chair Charlie Borrell.
Commissioner Chris Husom commented that if the State Auditor's Office conducted the annual audits for all the counties, more staff would be needed to handle the workload. One reason counties like the new law is because, reportedly, private accounting firms can often handle the job without as much delay and for less cost.
In other business:
The Board approved the Sheriff's Office law enforcement service contract rates for cities. The rate for 2018 is $72 an hour, and the rate for 2019 is $74.50 an hour.
Commissioner Darek Vetsch expressed some concerns about the coverage for townships, and also about insurance costs being included in the formula for the service rates.
Townships received law enforcement coverage, and contract cities pay for extra patrols.
Chief Deputy Todd Hoffman was on hand. He said insurance costs were included in the formula, and he said he would be happy to sit down and discuss any questions and concerns. He further stated that much time and effort had gone into establishing the rates. To Commissioner Vetsch he commented that statements after the fact are not helpful.
After the board meeting, there was a heated exchange between Hoffman and Vetsch in regard to statements made during public meetings. Vetsch said the commissioners have every right to ask questions and offer comments for the general public. Hoffman said Vetsch would not have needed to ask questions and offer comments about the service rates if he had asked the Sheriff's Office questions before the meeting. Vetsch expressed a preference for open discussions rather than behind closed doors.
AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES HEARING
The Board scheduled a June 27 public hearing at 9:30 a.m. during the county board meeting that day to discuss a proposed regional inspection ordinance. The matter involves establishing a watercraft inspection and wash site in the Annandale area to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
In other actions, the Board:
• welcomed new IT developer Christopher Greenwald;
• approved filling an office tech II position in the child support L-Z unit of Health & Human Services, and approved filling a sheriff's deputy position;
• reappointed Laureen Bodin of Buffalo to a three-year term on the Wright County Personnel Committee of Appeals; and
• approved $697,518 in claims involving 357 transactions with 230 vendors.
Buffalo's celebration begins this Sunday
Kacy Crawford, Keller Williams Integrity NW
Noelle Green, KleinBank
Sydney Hermansen, Personal Touche
Holly Larkin, Buffalo Hospital Allina Health
Anna Monsrud, HealthSource
Hannah Wallenta, Buffalo Lions and Lioness
Ashley Weber, Lillian's
The 2017 Buffalo Days celebration is getting underway this Sunday, June 11 with the annual Fly-In Breakfast and Car Show at the Buffalo Airport. The breakfast starts at 7:30 a.m., and the Car Show opens at 9 a.m.
Sunday evening, come to the Sturges Park Bandshell for the Buffalo Community Orchestra's Summer Pop Concert. The music starts at 7 p.m.
A whole week of fun and excitement follows. The Carnival opens Wednesday in Sturges Park. A new activity called Buffalo Sings is set for 7 p.m. Thursday in Sturges Park, before the annual Movie in the Park.
Come and hear live music Friday night at Sturges Park, and see the fireworks display at dusk.
Saturday features the Fishing Klinic for Kids and many other park activities.
The Buffalo Days Parade on 5th St. and down 1st Ave. begins at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The Buffalo Coronation is at 6 p.m. Sunday (Father's Day) in the high school's Performing Arts Center.
The entire Buffalo Days schedule follows:
Buffalo Days 2017 Schedule
June 11 - Sunday
• Fly-In Breakfast - Breakfast 7:30 a.m. -12 p.m. Air Show 12-1 p.m.
• 35th Annual Wright County Car Club Show - Buffalo Municipal Airport, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Buffalo Community Orchestra Summer Pop - Free concert at Sturges Park Band Shell at 7 p.m. Rain location, BHS.
June 12 - Monday
• Pool Tournament: Buffalo Community Center: $2 entry fee. 1 p.m.
• Buffalo Public Library Used Book Sale - Hundreds of items at rock bottom prices! Monday-Saturday during open hours.
• Buffalo Library: Kick off the Summer Reading Program with Wonder Weavers Super Sonic Stores. 4-3-2-1-Blast Off! 1 p.m. All ages invited.
• Buffalo Royalty & Buffalo Library - Free ice cream treats at the Buffalo Library 2-4 p.m.
• Royalty Banquet - Huikko's Bison Creek at 5:30 p.m. Cost $15 each. Open to the public.
June 13 - Tuesday
• Community Center Toy Workshop - Sturges Park upper shelter from 9:30-11 a.m. Children invited to assemble and decorate one of several toy selections. Tools and glue included. Free admission. Children must be accompanied by adult.
• KRWC's Medallion Hunt - Begins and continues until found, listen to KRWC/1360AM for clues or check www.krwc1360.com.
• ECFE Community Ed is sponsoring The Teddy Bear Band from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. The concert will be held at the Sturges Park Bandshell. Rain location, Park View Care Center.
• 500 Tournament: Buffalo Community Center. $2 entry fee. 1 p.m.
• Buffalo Royalty Car Wash - 4-6 p.m. at First Minnesota Bank.
• Cribbage Tournament, Buffalo Community Center, 7-10 p.m., $1 entry fee.
• County Line Squares: Square dancing demo- 7-8 p.m., Sturges Park lower shelter.
June 14 - Wednesday
• Carnival - 5-9 pm. Sturges Park. $20 armband for all rides.
• Caricatures by Jenny Beck: Individual or group drawings. Fee applies. Buffalo Library. 10:30-12:30 p.m. and 1-3 p.m.
• Royal Treats with Buffalo Royalty - 5-6 p.m.; Bring a food shelf item or donation to the Buffalo Dairy Queen and enjoy a free Dilly Bar with the Buffalo Royalty.
June 15 - Thursday
• Carnival - 5-9 p.m. $20 armband for all rides.
• Buffalo Days Bingo - Buffalo Community Center. 12:30 -1:30 p.m. Great prizes! Free and open to the public. Seating is limited.
• Kiddie Parade - Wear a costume. Line up at the Buffalo Library and end at Sturges Park. Parade starts at 6:30 pm. Buffalo Royalty will lead the parade. Free.
• Buffalo Sings - Amateur vocal contest for ages 15-25. Pre-registration required. 7-8:15 p.m. Sturges Band Shell.
• Movie in the Park - Secret Life of Pets, Sturges Park Band Shell. 8:30 p.m., Free.
June 16 - Friday
• Carnival - Noon - 9 p.m. $20 armband from 12-4 p.m.
• USTA Junior Tennis Tournament - Ages 12-18 yr. olds. June 16-18. Register at: www.northern.usta.com (ID 550019417). Guaranteed two matches.
• Make and Take Craft Day at the Buffalo Library - Stop by to do a craft at the library. Ages 3-12.
• KRWC Road Show - Sturges Park, 7:00-9:30 p.m. Music, games, prizes - fun!
• FIREWORKS - Sturges Park Buffalo Lake, starts at dusk. Sponsors: American Family Insurance-Chris Chapman, B & D Plumbing, Buffalo American Legion, Bolton & Menk, Buff-N-Glo, Dahlheimer Beverage, Franklin Outdoor Advertising, Menards, Reliable Medical Supply, The UPS Store, & Walmart.
June 17 - Saturday
• Carnival - Noon - 9 p.m. $20 armband from 12-4 p.m.
• 20th Annual Buffalo Days Fishing Klinic - Free event to the public. Sturges Park, 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. 1,000 youth backpacks, 550 tackle organizers and Cabela's giveaways. Youth fishing pros Corey J. Bechtold and Dan Jasper. Raptor Center's Eagle Program, Buffalo Bison Forever Pontoon on site, emergency vehicles on display, 38-plus organizations, KRWC Radio Road Show, and a fun kids' fishing contest on the pier. Rod & Reels from National Professional Anglers Association.
• Dojo Karate - Demonstrations from 10-10:30 a.m. and 12-12:30 p.m. and bounce house.
• Hockey/Lacrosse Demonstration - 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Band Shell Events - On Stage School of Dance at 10:30 a.m.; Gym Nation at 11:30 a.m.
• Cubmobile Races/Cub Scout Pack #358 - Registration is 8:30 a.m.; starts at 9 a.m. Located on First Avenue by Buffalo Cinema.
•PARADE - 6:00 p.m., Downtown Buffalo.
June 18 - Sunday
• Carnival - Noon - 4 p.m. $20 armband from 12-4 p.m.
• Continental Breakfast - 10-10:30 a.m. Sponsored by Buffalo Covenant Church at Sturges Park Band Shell.
• Community Worship Service - 10:30 a.m. Buffalo Covenant Church provides a community worship service at Sturges Park Band Shell.
• Royalty Coronation - Buffalo High School Performing Arts Center at 6 p.m. Admission is $5 (only $2 with a Buffalo Days button).
Ziegelmann sentenced to over three years
By Ed DuBois
The driver in an August 2016 incident that ended in the death of Montrose resident Justin Harvey was sentenced on May 30 to 41 months in prison.
Noelle Ziegelmann, 19, of Montrose was sentenced for felony criminal vehicular homicide. Additionally, she was fined $50, plus surcharges, and was required to provide a DNA sample. The sentencing was carried out by Judge Catherine McPherson.
According to the criminal complaint filed in Wright County, deputies responded at 2:28 a.m. in Montrose, where Harvey, 18, was lying unconscious and bleeding profusely on a street.
Harvey was allegedly attempting to sell marijuana to James Striebel and Ziegelmann. Striebel allegedly grabbed the marijuana without paying for it. Striebel was inside a vehicle, and Ziegelman, who was driving, drove forward and accelerated. Harvey was dragged, and then he fell to the pavement. He died later at the Hennepin County Medical Center.
Striebel, 19, of Howard Lake is also facing charges. His next court appearance is on July 5.
Farm testing aimed at finding best amount of nitrogen
By Ed DuBois
Some testing is taking place on two Buffalo area farms to help determine the best amount of nitrogen to produce the best yields without using too much nitrogen.
A research grant is paying for the testing. The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) launched the second year of the Innovation Grant Program, investing more than $250,000 in 23 farmer-led research projects focused on conservation. Each accepted proposal focused on how to better manage nitrogen, protect water quality or compare nitrogen-modeling tools. Working with the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council, MCGA announced the Innovation Grant Program last year as part of its goal to make Minnesota corn farmers the most sustainable and environmentally responsible in the United States.
One of the grant recipients is Matt Wiebers, who owns CropCentric in Plymouth. He has been working with Buffalo-area farmers, Joe Hopkins and Dusty Zander. Their goal is to "fine tune nitrogen rates." They hope to pinpoint a rate that result in less nitrogen being washed away by the rain while producing the best possible corn yields.
Corn yields have increasing substantially over the last 20 years, said Wiebers, who worked for Cargill many years before starting his own business.
Warmer summers have helped. Corn loves warm weather, Wiebers explained. Other factors have included better genetics, better agronomics (precision in regard to weed control, farm practices and managing the details) and the market (economics).
Wiebers hopes testing in some of the fields farmed by Hopkins and Zander will help farmers find a better balance between under-applying and over-applying nitrogen. The right balance could help farmers maximize profitability without wasting nitrogen and adding too much to the environment.
The testing range is from zero nitrogen to 250 pounds per acre. Besides Hopkins and Zander, a farmer in the Glencoe area is also participating.
"We don't know what will happen. The area where we put down 250 pounds might have the same results as 200 or 150. We'll find out," Wiebers said.
The testing, which involves relatively small portions of the farmers' fields, will create data, which will be studied.
"We need studies like this to evolve," Wiebers commented.
Today's technology, such as GPS equipment, is well suited for the study he has undertaken. During the harvest, GPS data will help find the exact locations of the test sites, where the harvest results will be documented.
The results of the study could be published by the University of Minnesota, Wiebers mentioned. Such studies are used to help educate growers and increase their success. Wiebers said more studies will likely follow, and three years of results could provide some convincing data and maybe even change many farmers' practices.
The growers taking part in Wiebers' test are being paid with some of the grant funds to make up for any low yields that might result. The money also helps cover the cost of using the farmers' equipment.
Wiebers hopes to conduct more tests over the next few years or more.
Spc. Brianna Marschel serving in Cuba with unit from Monticello
Spc. Brianna Marschel
By Ed DuBois
Army National Guard Spc. Brianna Marschel, a 2015 Buffalo High School graduate, is serving in Cuba with the 257th MP Company, which is headquartered in Monticello.
The unit could be home around Christmastime.
More than 120 soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's 257th Military Police Company were on hand for a farewell ceremony in the Monticello High School auditorium on Jan. 28, 2017. They are on a mission to provide safe, legal, humane, and transparent care and custody of the detainees housed at the Joint Task Force Guantanamo detention facilities, according to the National Guard.
Spc. Marschel, daughter of Gary and Joy Marschel of Buffalo, was born in Okinawa when Gary was serving there with the U.S. Air Force.
At Buffalo High School, Brianna was involved with lacrosse, hockey and the marching band. She took part in a law enforcement Explorer program in Plymouth (as a lieutenant) and later worked as a security officer at the Mall of America. She had worked for a while at Buffalo Cinema, as well.
Bri's brother, Christian, a 2017 Buffalo High School graduate, is joining the 257th MP Company.
"Bri and Christian are very close, and they look forward to serving together with the 257th," said their mother, Joy.
She said Christian completed his National Guard basic training in the summer between his junior and senior years at Buffalo High School. He was a goalie on the BHS lacrosse team.
One Buffalo liquor to be open when Sunday sales start in July
By Ed DuBois
Sunday liquor sales plans were reported to the Buffalo City Council last Monday, June 5.
The State Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton have approved Sunday liquor sales, effective in July, and Buffalo liquor operations manager Jason Swanson reported that Buffalo's neighbors plan to sell liquor on Sunday. Swanson commented on a potential loss of customers if Buffalo does not sell liquor on Sunday. He plans to open the Highway 55 Buffalo Wine & Spirits store on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and not open the downtown store.
Swanson said some of the employees have offered to work on Sundays regularly. He expects the store could be busy during an initial "novelty period," but after that, he does not expect the store to be overly busy on Sundays. He plans to have two staff members work on Sunday.
As for whether or not the cost of opening on Sundays will be matched by revenues, Swanson said he expects more gains than loses.
In other business:
The Council decided a tax abatement request cannot be approved for a project local developer Kent Pfeifer is proposing across from the water treatment plant at 106 5th St. NE. He would like to build a multi-level building with apartments on the lowest level and commercial space on the street level, plus efficiency apartments on an upper level.
The project does not qualify for tax increment financing. Therefore, Pfeifer requested a property tax abatement to help reduce his cost for necessary construction of a large retaining wall.
City staff looked at state statutes regarding criteria for tax abatements. Staff advised there is no documentation of benefits to the public interest. Such benefits could include: increasing or preserving the tax base, providing employment opportunities, providing or helping acquire or construct public facilities, helping redevelop blighted areas, financing public infrastructure, and phasing in property tax increase unrelated to the improvements.
Council members commented that they love the project and think it's great, but the tax abatement request does not meet requirements or criteria. Scott Enter said granting the tax abatement would be "outside our toolbox" and would set a difficult precedent for the city.
Mayor Teri Lachermeier said that although the project is great, a tax abatement would benefit Pfeifer more than it would benefit the public (taxpayers).
Pfeifer pointed out that the finished project would increase property tax revenue from around $1,000 a year to roughly $20,000 a year.
Nonetheless, the Council adopted a resolution that denies the tax abatement request and also instructs city staff to draft a policy (for council consideration) establishing objectives and criteria for the use to tax abatements in the city.
In other actions, the Council:
• adopted a commercial/industrial maintenance code, which was recommended by the Planning Commission (after about two months of review) and allows the city to enforce standards regarding commercial and industrial properties;
• approved the renewal of a turf maintenance agreement with Northwinds Elementary School for soccer and lacrosse fields (five-year term);
• accepted donations for the Bison Fishing Forever program, including: $25 from Mike and Barb Demmer, $50 from Joann Kocak, $100 from Steve and Lisa Downer, and $2,500 from Wright County Area United Way, plus $350 from the Marysville United Way for the Buffalo County Center Toy Shop;
• approved a master partnership agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), which allows shared services for the city and for MnDOT; and
• called for a hearing on June 19 at 7 p.m. to certify delinquent accounts.
Council member Linda Kittock said Meals on Wheels needs volunteers. Those who are interested should call the Buffalo Community Center at 763-682-6036.
Council members announced upcoming events, including the start of the Concerts in the Park on June 29, plus several Buffalo Days activities (such as the Fly-In Breakfast and the Car Show this Sunday, June 11).
Mayor Lachermeier offered condolences to the Pfeifer family after the recent passing of Betty Pfeifer. (See her obituary elsewhere in this week's issue of the Journal-Press.)
Mayor Lachermeier reported she was recently invited to Von Ruden Manufacturing, where she toured the plant with Congressman Tom Emmer and discussed the importance of manufacturing and trades in regard to stimulating the economy and providing good jobs.
Council member Enter reported Wright County Area Transportation (WCAT) is taking positive steps forward in regard to working with Sibley and McLeod Counties to provide transit services.
Steve Downer reported the Legislature and the Governor have increased local government aid.
He also reported maintenance needs of the wastewater treatment system, and he asked the public not to flush wipes that do not dissolve or break up as easily as toilet paper. The wipes clog equipment and create costs for repairs. Put them in the trash instead, he said.
During recent heavy rain, water infiltrated and doubled the flow to the wastewater treatment facility. Old clay pipes need to be replaced, Downer said.
A little more care and comfort
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Church members provide gifts and snacks at Lakeside Oasis to help allow families to focus on their loved ones, and on each other
By Ed DuBois
Patients and their families at the Lakeside Oasis end-of-life care wing in the Lake Ridge Care Center of Buffalo are experiencing a difficult time. To help let them feel a little more care and a little less alone, members of Immanuel Lutheran Church have made an effort to provide a few comforts, such as welcome bags, blankets, gowns, and snacks.
Projects involving "action teams" have been organized at various times since last fall, and a steady flow of items for Lakeside Oasis have been arriving ever since. Kim Brehmer, associate director at Lakeside Oasis, said the care shown by the church members has been well received.
"The families have been so appreciative. They can't believe all they do," she commented.
The gowns, which are more attractive and comfortable than typical hospital gowns, are particularly popular. Patients negotiate who will receive which gown.
Connecting with families
Jenni Weese, one of the original organizers of the action teams, said she and other church members enjoy the personal connection with the patients and families. Another original organizer is Megan Peters. Besides the comforts and snacks being provided, a little joy can be shared at times. For example, a weekly sheet of jokes called the "Friday Funnies" is enjoyed at Lakeside Oasis.
Weese became involved with Lakeside Oasis after attending a scrapbooking fundraiser at Lake Ridge Care Center. She met Brehmer and was invited on a little tour at Lakeside Oasis. Weese said she felt a connection with the patients, and she wanted "to be part of it all."
Patients regularly check the kitchen cabinets because "the snacks keep coming; the cupboards are often full."
Kids involved, too
The welcome bags provided by Immanuel Lutheran (commonly called the Pelican Lake church due to its location a few miles east of Buffalo) include an assortment of handy items. Water, lotion, notepads, and information about Immanuel Lutheran are just a few of the little gifts the bags contain.
Roughly 25-30 people gathered for one of the action team projects when several fleece blankets were made. Many church members like to get involved with the community.
"We are always looking for projects, and we like to get the kids involved," Weese said. "The kids get to see how the projects affect people and families. They get to see how we are making a difference and are willing to keep it going and pay it forward."
'Staring us in the face'
Brehmer is very impressed with the positive impact of the church members from Immanuel.
"If they can do this much, what could other congregations do?" she commented.
Julie Gutknecht, who is also involved with the church projects, said participating in the projects for Lakeside Oasis was "an opportunity that was staring us in the face." She wonders how many other opportunities are waiting for the right combination of people to get involved and make it happen.
"Beautiful," Brehmer said. "In those last few weeks (of life), the gifts from Immanuel make all the difference."
Golf fundraiser in July
She is helping organize another effort to make a difference at Lakeside Oasis, a golf event in July. The 17th Annual Community Health Foundation Golf Tournament, a four-person scramble, is taking place on July 13 at Wild Marsh Golf Club in Buffalo. The event is benefiting Lakeside Oasis. Golfers can register online at www.lakesideoasis.org. For more information, you can contact Brehmer at 763-684-1477 or email email@example.com.
'Sense of home'
One of the differences made by the Immanuel Lutheran efforts is a "sense of home" at Lakeside Oasis. The welcome bags, the blankets, the gowns, and the snacks help make the place more comfortable.
One of the church members who lost her husband a while ago commented that she wished she could have brought him to Lakeside Oasis.
Gutknecht recalled one of the action team members commenting, "I am so proud our bunch."
Focus on their loved ones
When a person's condition becomes too difficult or complex to manage, Lakeside Oasis end-of-life care can help. Staff members help manage pain, nausea, breathing difficulties, anxiety, and other debilitating symptoms, letting families focus on their loved ones and each other.
Meanwhile, the few comforts offered by Immanuel Lutheran Church help Lakeside Oasis look and feel a little more like home, while helping patients and their families feel a little more care and a little less alone.