Delano community expressing support following hate crime

Close to 500-600 people gathered in downtown Delano for a "Delano United" candlelight vigil to show support for a local black family after a hate crime took place at their home.  Mayor Dale Graunke said the racial slurs left at the house were not representative of Delano.  (Photo courtesy of Rachel Depa)

By Ed DuBois

Close to 500-600 people gathered for a candlelight vigil in downtown Delano last Sunday evening, March 19 as a show of support for a black family that is planning to leave town following a hate crime on March 12.

The Wright County Sheriff's Office is investigating a burglary and vandalism case after the family of Latanza Douglas came home and found racial slurs and swastikas on walls, as well as a message to "Get out" and a threat that "next time it's going to be fire," according to Twin Cities media reports.

The Sheriff's Office issued a call to respect the homeowners' request for privacy.

"Due to recent social media posts and news articles regarding the burglary that occurred in the 200 block of 2nd St. SW in the City of Delano, the Wright County Sheriff's Office and the homeowner are requesting that the media and citizens respect the homeowner's request for privacy," Sheriff's Office stated.  "In consultation with the homeowner, the Sheriff's Office can now confirm that the vandalism did contain racial slurs and symbols.  The burglary is believed to have occurred between the hours of 6 and 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 12.  This is an ongoing investigation.  Anyone with information pertaining to the burglary and vandalism should contact the Sheriff's Office tip line at 763-682-7733."

The crime included the theft of several electronic gaming systems from the home.

The Douglas family had reportedly considered their place a dream home.  But now they are looking to move to another community.

Delano Mayor Dale Graunke visited the family and encouraged them to stay, according to the Minnerapolis Star Tribune.  He said the hate crime is not representative of Delano.

State Rep. Joe McDonald (R-Delano) issued a statement saying, "Despicable acts such as this have no place in our society, much less in our very own back yard.  It saddens me that bigoted vandalism is causing heartache and upheaval for the Douglas family; they are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.  We cannot allow hateful conduct committed by extreme outliers to taint Delano's reputation as the warm, welcoming community we know and love.  I have been in town for nearly 30 years and have never seen anything like this.  While it will not erase the pain that is felt today, we should use this opportunity to come together as a community and show love and kindness to one another."

State Senator Bruce An-derson (R-Buffalo) issued a similar statement.

"I was shocked and saddened to read about the despicable crime committed recently in Delano," Anderson said.  "Delano is a small, friendly community whose residents are by-and-large welcoming to anyone and everyone seeking their own American Dream, just like the Douglas were.  It is our responsibility to condemn these hateful acts and show Minnesota that this is not who we are; this is not what we stand for.  I sincerely hope the Douglas family will reconsider, but I certainly will not blame them for their decision to move.  We should keep them in our prayers and work to make sure everyone knows the hate perpetrated upon them is not accepted in our communities."

During the candlelight vigil, Mayor Graunke called for unity and for all who are against discrimination to say there is help available here and this is a safe place, according to the Star Tribune.  Delano School Supt. Matt Schoen said he spoke to the Latanza Douglas, and he spoke to the State Education Commissioner about finding re-sources to address racism with students in the schools.

Gov. Mark Dayton reportedly met privately with the Douglas family last Saturday, March 18 to apologize on behalf of all Minnesotans.

The candlelight vigil has become a springboard for a "Delano United" campaign.

The Douglas family had reportedly moved into their home in Delano last Dec-ember.  The company that built the home, Advanced Homes, is reportedly willing to buy back the home, and a GoFundMe account has been started to help the Douglas family with moving costs.

The web page for the family indicates $34,163 has been raised, and the goal was $25,000.



County could soon refund bonds to save $6.8 million

By Ed DuBois

Bonds for constructing the Wright County Law Enforcement Center could be refinanced in the near future.  The process of "refunding" the bonds could save the county about $6.8 million.

Refunding bonds is similar to refinancing a mortgage.

The Wright County Board discussed the matter last Tuesday, March 21 while reviewing a recent committee of the whole meeting with Bruce Kimmel of the Ehlers financial consulting firm.  The bond amount that could be refunded is about $39 million.

The committee also talked about the possibility of combining the refunding process with buying bonds for the new courts facility, which is to be located near the Law Enforcement Cen-ter.  However, the County Board might not want to wait for courts facility design plans to be finalized.  They might act on the refunding process soon to lock in a low rate before rates increase.

The Board approved a committee recommendation to receive updated information from Ehlers on the refunding bond, the courts facility bond and a possible combined refunding and courts facility bond issue option at the March 28 county board meeting.  The committee favors going ahead with the bond refunding for the Law Enforcement Center.  The Board could act on the refunding next week.

Meanwhile, the Board passed a motion to enter into a bond advisers contract to Ehlers.

In other business:



Several seasonal highway bids were under budget.

The Board approved all three bids for plant-mixed bituminous mixture, and all three bids for equipment rentals.

Pearson Bros. of Hanover won the sealcoating contract with a low bid of $648,306.

The micro-surfacing contract goes to low bidder Astech Corp. of St. Cloud at $426,850.

Traffic Marking Service of Maple Lake gets the pavement-marking contract with a low bid of $359,090.

The overlays contract was won by Knife River Corp. of Sauk Rapids with a low bid of $5.38 million, which is well under the engineer's estimate of $5.97 million.

Midwest Contracting, LLC offered the low bid, $1.41 million, on a CSAH (County State Aid Highway) 3 reconstruction from Highway 55 to CSAH 2.  The engineer's estimate was $1.85 million.

Knife River Corp. offered the low bid, $60,160, on a CSAH 39 left turn lane project at Nashua Ave. N. in Otsego.



In other actions, the Board:

- authorized hardwood seeding in Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park at a cost of $20,000;

- approved procurement card transactions for the period ending Feb. 28 with a total of $31,307;

- approved fleet card transactions for the period ending Feb. 28 with a total of $15,729;

- approved $546,171 in claims involving 216 transactions with 143 vendors.



Council approves Sunday liquor sales amendment

By Rob LaPlante

With a certain amount of uneasiness, a unanimous vote at the Monday, March 20 Buffalo City Council meeting landed in favor of amending the city ordinance to allow Sunday on-sale and off-sale liquor sales to run concurrent with the times allowed by the state statute.

The state recently passed a bill giving the thumbs up for businesses across the state to have the option of participating in Sunday off-sale liquor sales.  Store operations can begin selling July 2 with start times no earlier than 11 a.m. and no later than 6 p.m.

Previous discussions with Buffalo Wine and Spirits manager Jason Swanson resulted in talks of having the Highway 55 store open, but the downtown store closed.  If a major holiday were to land on a Sunday, the store would remain closed.

Council members and Mayor Teri Lachermeier hesitantly voted in favor of both on-sale and off-sale liquor sales on Sunday.  Lachermeier also brought up some positives.

"I have my value and morale systems as well, and personally I follow it.  But I can't tell people how to decide those things," Lachermeier said. "Our liquor store funds 100-percent of our parks, so the one thing you don't want to lose is the business.  If those people decided to go to another town to purchase on Sunday, we lose those sales, and now we have a whole new problem to address."

Effective this Sunday, March 26, licensed establishments open for Sunday breakfast will now have the option for on-sale liquor sales taking place no sooner than 8 a.m. and no later than 2 a.m.

Some of the local businesses effected by the amendment include: Mill Creek Inn, Bison Creek, Bunkers of Course, Tavern at Wild Marsh, and Thirsty Buffalo.  Previous on-sale weekend sales within the city ran from 10 a.m. to 8 a.m.

During the public hearing, John Radford, manager of Mill Creek Inn, stated that up until now, Sunday breakfast customers wanting to buy liquor before 10 a.m. were being turned down due to a city ordinance.

"We're trying to accommodate for the customer needs," Radford said. "On Sundays, people are usually waiting to come in until we open at 10 a.m."

"I'm inclined to let you (Radford) run your business, but I don't like it," said council member Steve Downer.

Radford replied, "I'm not asking to stay open later, just open earlier."



Housing values in Buffalo are on the rise, according to the most recent Minnesota Department of Revenue Sales Ratio Study, which was presented by Jim Barrett, a Wright County assessor.

Barrett says that ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage) sales are up from 208 transactions two years ago to 262 this year.  Among those transactions, only 44 were through closure or short sales.  A total of 32 were single-family homes, and 10 townhouses.

The average median sale price in Buffalo jumped from $173,300 in 2016 to $209,550 this year.

The study shows people are paying 11 percent more than the actual market price value.  The downfall of that, according to Barrett, is the city is lacking affordable starter homes.

Buffalo ranks third in Wright County in average median sale price.  Albert-ville tops the list, followed by St. Michael.  Monticello is fourth.

For people who feel their evaluation is higher than it should be, Barrett says this is the first year the city will hold an appeals process.  People are encouraged to call Barrett at 763-682-7370.  Otherwise, people can attend a meeting on April 6 at the Wright County Assessor's Office.  Barrett suggests people should call before the date to ensure a timely reaction.



The Council approved a request by Wild Marsh Golf Course of a $500 sale of a 1994 Toro 2016 reel mower, and a $250 sale of a Mantiowoc model ice machine.

Flyers landing at Buffalo Airport will now have access to a courtesy car for transportation within the city.



On behalf of the Buffalo Community Center, the Council accepted a $20 donation in memory of Harriet Mooney from Randy and Kathy Dillon.  A $25 donation was made from Merrill and Maurean Fellger to the Buffalo Toy Shop.

Bison Fishing Forever was the beneficiary of four donations in the amount of $1,750.  Donors included: BankWest of Rockford ($1,000), anonymous donor ($500), Cindy Ackerman ($200), and Chad George ($50).

Flora of Buffalo received six donations totaling $1,700.  Donors included: Buffalo Rotary ($750), Nancy Schroeppel ($500), Beverly Jacobson ($175), Metro West Inspections ($130), Andrew and Sherilyn Burgdorf ($65), and Mary Redlin ($50).



Wright County Dairy Princesses ready to promote industry

The annual Wright County Dairy Princess event took place at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School last Saturday, March 18.  The three young ladies in the photo on the left will attend a leadership event in May and compete to be among twelve Princess Kay finalists.  They will also be involved with a number of local events promoting dairy farming and dairy products.  The Baby Animal Fair in Buffalo on April 30 will be one of the first big events.  The 2017 Wright County Dairy Princesses are (from left) Maggie Socha of Buffalo (daughter of Mike and Donna Socha), Shelby Campbell of Maple Lake (daughter of Donna Decker and LeRoy Campbell) and Bethany Kozitka of Howard Lake (daughter of Wayne and Lorrie Kozitka).  Morgan Krause (right photo), 2016 Wright County Dairy Princess and Princess Kay finalist, gave her retiring address.  (Photos courtesy of Charles Krause)



Care showing for family after loss of young mother

Allison Moline

Support from the Rock-ford community and be-yond is helping a family who tragically lost 34-year-old Allison Moline.

A YouCaring page has been set up for her family, and as of Friday, March 17, a fundraising goal of $100,000 had been exceeded.

She is described on the YouCaring page as a devoted and intentional mother to her five children: Isaac, 9, Carter, 7, Graham, 5, Clara, 3, and Sheppard, 3 months.

Allison's husband, Brandon, told KMSP-TV, "I don't have the words.  It's so comforting to know other people are praying and caring for my family."

He said his wife, who was known as Allie, underwent surgery to remove kidney stones earlier this month.  She suffered a complication and passed away within a couple of days after the operation.  According to InForum of Fargo, she died due to a blood infection.

Her sisters told KMSP they will never forget the smiles, laughter and joy Allie inspired.

A visitation and funeral for Allie were scheduled last weekend in Fargo, where she grew up.

After high school, she served with the North Dakota Air National Guard.  She later met Brandon at the University of North Dakota.  They were married in 2005.



Camera click gets attention

Buffalo resident Joan Stangohr was up north of Walker, Minn. last fall when she saw this barred owl.  Four-wheeling in the woods with her husband, Mark, the bird flew up in a tree.  It was hiding in the leaves, and then Joan moved around for some straight-on shots.  The owl  looked directly at Joan when it heard the clicking of the camera.  It also kept an eye on Mark, "wondering what he was up to."  Joan found a "fun fact" provided by the DNR.  A barred owl's right ear is higher than its left ear.  Hearing from two different angles helps it pinpoint the location of prey.  Thanks for sharing the photo, Joan.


Knowledge Bowl team going to state event

Varsity Team One, the top Knowledge Bowl squad at Buffalo High School, qualified for the 2017 state tournament after a second-place finish last Monday, March 20 in the Central Minnesota region tournament in Sartell.

Tyler Dirks, Sophie Lefebvre, Max Nagel, Travis Wolden, and Jayde Hoppe represent Team One, which is led by first-year coach Hanna Mahan.

The state meet will take place April 6-7 in Brainerd.  See School News Page 4C for more information.


click to see

feature photos

Played a little, built twenty

After playing a guitar a little bit over the past 50 years, local retiree has been getting good at building guitars

By Ed DuBois

Over the past 50 years, Dave Trelstad has played his guitar a little bit.  The idea of building a guitar might have occurred to him now and then, but he never actually attempted it until about two years ago after seeing a video on the Internet.  He decided to give it a try.

Trelstad, 78, has remodeled homes, and he has made furniture.  But building a guitar involves a whole new set of skills.  It also involves a delicate touch and plenty of patience because you have to complete several steps over an extended period of time while working with very thin pieces of wood.

"I went ahead and started building a guitar.  When I finished, by gosh, it sounded pretty good!" he exclaimed.

"But I could do better," he added.

His first few guitars were crude compared to his more recent creations.  He gave away some of the guitars.  Most of his grandchildren each have one.

Trelstad has sold about seven guitars.  He asks for around $500.  He figures about $300 worth of materials go into each guitar project.  When he was asked about the time he puts into each project, he smiled and said he makes about 25 cents an hour.


'Got better as I went along'

"I enjoy listening to good players play them," he said.

At Christmastime in 2015, five grandsons gathered with the guitars they had been given and played a song for him.

"I cried like a baby," Trelstad said.

He recalled buying his first guitar for $80 in Willmar.  It was a Gibson LGO, and he still has it.  He said it is a smaller guitar, size double "O."

"That's the size I gave my grandchildren," he said.

The second guitar he made sounded "thicker" than the first.  It was a grand auditorium size, which "has a narrower upper belt" than the double "O."  The body of a guitar has an hourglass figure, and the upper belt refers to top of the body.  The bottom of the body is the lower belt.

"I got better as I went along," Trelstad said.

He has made 20 guitars so far.


Improvements in tone

Each new project takes about four to six weeks to complete.  A luthier (someone who makes and repairs string instruments for a living) has told him he has made improvements in tone.

"He said he can tell there is a big difference (between his newest guitar and a previous model)," Trelstad said.

He shrugged and added, "I can't tell.  I just build them.  It's just really fun to do."

His wife, Judy, who serves as his quality control specialist, engraves "Trelstad" at the top on the head of each new guitar.

"She's a perfectionist.  She can see things I miss," Dave said.


Met in Willmar

Dave and Judy met in Willmar when she was in school to become a nurse.  Dave had grown up in the Fertile-Beltrami community, where his dad was a preacher.  They moved to Appleton when Dave was 14.  He graduated from Madison (Minn.) High School in 1956.

Dave and Judy have been married 55 years.  They raised four children.

Dave worked mostly in sales.  He said he was in furniture and carpet sales 25 years, working in Redwood Falls, Benson and Morris.  He sold life insurance before retiring.

Judy went back to school in 1990 to become a registered nurse.  She and Dave moved to Buffalo later that year.  Judy worked at a nursing home in Winsted, and then she worked at the Park View Care Center in Buffalo.  They owned a house near Sturges Park about 14 years, and in 2006, they moved to a house near Lake Martha in Rockford Township.  Their four children live in the Twin Cities metro area.


Good sound

Dave's workshop is in the garage.  He said finishing is the hardest part of each guitar project.  You have to spray lacquer, sand, spray, sand, spray, sand, and then buff it out to make it smooth and shiny.

He uses local walnut, maple or cherry wood for the back and sides.  For the twentieth guitar, he used Indian rosewood.

"Guitar makers like to use Indian rosewood because it is hard and vibrates well.  It has good sound," Trelstad said.

The top of a guitar is made with Sitka spruce wood.  Two pieces are glued together.

Trelstad mentioned that if a guitar dries out, the top could crack.

"That's the only thing I won't guarantee," he said.

He recommends a humidifier to make sure your guitar won't get too dry in the wintertime.


Cut and sanded thin

The neck of the guitar is made with mahogany, walnut or maple.  Trelstad likes mahogany the best because it is easier to work with than walnut and maple.

The back, sides and top are cut and sanded down to less than one-sixteenth of an inch thick.  When sanding the top pieces, Trelstad goes "as thin as I dare without imploding."

He built his own clamping system to hold the bracing pieces in place after they are attached to the top.  A special mechanism is used to precisely cut the sound hole in the top.

Trelstad cuts his own purfling material for the top, inner edge of the sides, where the top is attached to the sides.

The curvature of the sides is formed with a combination of moisture and heat.  The wood is soaked, and then it is slowly bent on a hot pipe.


Glad he gave it a try

Some final steps include adding frets to the neck and a bridge below the sound hole.

"You have to do everything in sequence.  You have to avoid doing anything out of order to stay out of trouble," Trelstad said.

"Once I start, it's hard to quit," he added.  "I get into 'the zone,' and if I quit, I have to rethink everything."

He learned how to make guitars on the Internet, and apparently his experience with home remodeling and furniture making has been very helpful.

For someone who played a guitar a little bit over the years, he has been producing some very fine-looking (and fine-sounding) guitars.

He is glad he decided to give it a try.