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BACK ISSUES: October 6 | October 13 | October 20 | October 27 | November 3 | November 10 | November 17
Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. Wright County Journal-Press & The Drummer

Meet the five candidates for the BHM School Board Election

MaryCathleen Fenske

Ken Ogden

Amanda Reineck

Bob Sansevere

Stan Vander Kooi










The Buffalo Hanover Montrose School Board Election is taking place on Tuesday, Nov. 7, and five candidates are seeking three school board positions.

The candidates include three incumbents and two challengers.  The three incumbents are Ken Ogden, Bob Sansevere and Stan Vander Kooi, and the two challengers are MaryCathleen Fenske and Amanda Reineck.

The school district has provided candidate profiles based on answers to a questionnaire.  The ** in front of the names denotes the incumbents.

The polling locations for the election are: the Buffalo Community Middle School, Montrose Elementary School of Innovation and Hanover Elementary School.  The polls will be open from 7 a.m. - 8 p.m.


2017 BHM School Board Candidates


MaryCathleen Fenske

Residence: Buffalo.

Years in the district: 3.

Family: I have a daughter who started kindergarten this fall and two children who will attend school in Buffalo once they are old enough.

Occupation: Attorney.


Why do you want to serve on the BHM School Board?

I want to serve on the BHM School Board to help shape the future of our school district, ensuring that all students have the opportunity for the best education possible.


What qualities will you bring to the school board if elected?

As an attorney, I am experienced in negotiations, applying rules and regulations to a given situation, and listening to peoples' wants and needs, and then working on a creative solution to obtain the best possible outcome.


What do you believe is the most important issue facing education today?

The most important issue facing education today is ensuring that we can offer the best education possible while staying within the given budget.  For example, offering students language classes as early as kindergarten, making sure they are receiving top nutrition in the meals at school, and that teachers have the classroom supplies they need.


**Ken Ogden

Residence: Buffalo.

Years in the district: 44.

Family: 3 children, all graduated from Buffalo.

Occupation: Retired.


Why do you want to serve on the BHM School Board?

I have always felt it is important to give back to your community.  I love the life education has given me and my family, and I would like to help others.


What qualities will you bring to the school board if elected?

Experience-I ran a successful business for 32 years, served on many boards, president of four nonprofits and church.  Empathy-my daughter is currently a teacher in St. Cloud, and my wife was an ESP (Educational Support Professional) at both Buffalo and Rockford.  I coached in the district for many years and mentored in both the middle school and high school.  Knowledge-I've served on the current school board for the past five years and have a decent understanding of school finance.


What do you believe is the most important issue facing education today?

Equitable funding of all public schools on an even footing.  Our students, our kids, deserve the same funding as property-rich schools.  At our current rate of funding by the state, we will not be able to maintain our current programs and class sizes.  Ours is a public, not private school.


Amanda Reineck

Residence: Buffalo.

Years in the district: 12.

Family: I reside in Buffalo with my husband, Erich, and two children, Camden and Cate.  My children attend school at Buffalo Community Middle School and Tatanka Elementary STEM School.

Occupation: Early Childhood Teacher.  I have taught in an early childhood classroom for 20 years.


Why do you want to serve on the BHM School Board?

BHM School District provides an outstanding education for its students.  My children are benefiting from this excellent education, and I would like to play a part in building upon its success for future BHM students.


What qualities will you bring to the school board if elected?

I am a team player who will work hard to achieve goals set in front of me.  I am a good listener, and I will use the information I'm given to complete the task at hand as well as seek out answers to questions of concern.


What do you believe is the most important issue facing education today?

Funding.  How do we use the resources allocated by the state and voted on by taxpayers to continue to provide a high standard of learning for all students attending BHM Schools?  How do we find a balance between the needs of our students and staff while being responsible recipients of taxpayer funds?  I'm ready to work with current board members to solve problems, build on our success and create a bright future for our children.  I ask for your vote Nov. 7 -


**Bob Sansevere

Residence: Buffalo.

Years in the district: 5.

Family: My wife, Mary, and I have five children - Samantha, 22, Sawyer, 20, Spencer, 15, Shane 11, and Sienna 8.  All five have either gone through or currently are enrolled in the district.

Occupation: Writer and broadcaster.


Why do you want to serve on the BHM School Board?

When I was younger, I wanted to change the world.  As I have gotten older, I have realized it is even more important to have a positive impact in my little corner of the world.  That is why I served for eight years on the Orono City Council, why I did foster care with my wife, and why I wanted to be a member of the BHM School Board.


What qualities will you bring to the school board if elected?

Above all, as an incumbent, I have an understanding of what the district does best, as well as an understanding of what still needs work.


What do you believe is the most important issue facing education today?

The overriding issue really doesn't change over time.  It is to prepare our children for the life that lies ahead of them by offering educational and social support and skill sets.


**Stan Vander Kooi

Residence: Buffalo.

Years in the district: 37.

Family: Both of my children graduated from BHM.  Both are married and live in the BHM District.  One grandchild has graduated from BHM, and the other five grandchildren are currently in the BHM School District.

Occupation: Retired Adult Farm Management Instructor.  Currently farm 250 acres.


Why do you want to serve on the BHM School Board?

I want a quality education for all students so that each student can develop their talents and abilities and succeed in the future.  We want the students to see that they can be involved in every inch of what the world offers in opportunities.


What qualities will you bring to the school board if elected?

Having been involved in the Wright County area with agricultural finances for the past 37 years, I understand the financial implications of a good education.  I have also held many leadership responsibilities in church and Wright County organizations.


What do you believe is the most important issue facing education today?

Finding areas in which each student can excel.  Thus, we are preparing students for work-related careers and postsecondary opportunities.

Nick Knese Construction


Highest October river level recorded in Delano

Due to heavy rain in the first week of October, Crow Rivers levels rose significantly and crested last Thursday and Friday, Oct. 12 and 13 in Delano and Rockford.  The above photo was taken in Delano, where the river level was the highest ever recorded in October.  River levels have been dropping this week.  No real flood-prevention actions were necessary, other than some pumping when flood gates closed, said Steve Berg, Wright County's emergency management director.  He did not foresee any flooding problems for Wright County.  (Photo by Ed DuBois)


At a peak, it appears

The sun was setting, and John Schmidt of Buffalo was mowing his lawn beneath a small forest of fall colors in his front yard.  The colors have been at a peak lately everywhere you look, it seems.  (Photo by Ed DuBois)


Drop-box for tab renewals set up at license bureau

If you need to renew your license tabs but don't want to wait in line, there's good news.  You can use a new drop-box outside the license bureau on the first floor of the Wright County Government Center in Buffalo.

Note, you can still use the drop-box at the north entrance of the Government Center on 2nd St. NW, if you prefer.  It is located on the left side of the main entrance.

Please make sure to list your vehicle insurance company name, policy number and current policy expiration date, and include a check payable to Wright County Auditor/Treasurer.  If you pay by cash, please use exact change.  Write your phone number so you may be contacted if there are any questions.  Confirm that the address on the prebill is correct.

If your tabs are going to expire within five days, please do not use the drop-box.

Your tabs will be mailed directly to you as soon as possible.

"Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.  Your filing fees keep our local office open," a spokesperson said.


Board works to reestablish ditch records

By Ed DuBois

The reestablishment of records for County Ditches 18, 36 and 38 involved a lengthy public hearing at the Wright County Board meeting last Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Findings for Ditches 18 and 36 are being considered during the Nov. 7 meeting.  As for Ditch 38, more testimony could be heard on Nov. 7.

The process of reestablishing records is used when ditch records are lost, destroyed or incomplete.

Ditch 18 is located in French Lake Township and flows from Mud Lake to the North Fork of the Crow River.  Established in 1912, the ditch underwent a redetermination of benefits process in 2014 to determine which land parcels derive benefits from the ditch.

Houston Engineering Inc. (HEI) of St. Cloud studied the ditch and performed a field survey to fill gaps in the records.  Their recommendations have been turned over to the County Board, and the commissioners passed a motion to consider findings on Nov. 7.

Ditch 36 is located in Silver Creek Township.  It flows from the Hasty area, across I-94, through Rice Lake and ends at the Mississippi River.  Established in 1918, the ditch now lacks a clear path in some areas where it meanders through much vegetation.  Long ago, Rice Lake was probably much smaller than it is today.

HEI presented its recommendations, and the County Board passed a motion to consider findings on Nov. 7.

Ditch 38, located be-tween Montrose and Waverly near Highway 12, has long needed attention due to slow drainage and a path under a mobile home park.  A redetermination of benefits was completed in 1969.  A minor realignment was completed in 1979 for the mobile home park.  HEI representative Joe Lewis said the ditch crosses Clementa Ave. several times.

The segment of the ditch in the Clementa Ave. area became a point of contention when comments from the public were requested.  Graham and Ellen Sones, who live in that area, said there is no evidence of official actions to extend the ditch beyond its original design.  They said the official ditch does not go so far north as the HEI engineers say.

Another local resident, Keith Duske, said he saw the work taking place on extending the ditch when he was 17 years old.  The Sones suggested the work might have been undertaken privately without official county approval.

County commissioners expressed a desire to work with the Sones to arrive at an agreement.  Commissioner Darek Vetsch offered a motion to request the engineers investigate further and recommend some options in regard to the delineation of the present-day ditch.  The Board voted in favor of the motion, and the hearing regarding Ditch 38 will be in recess until Nov. 7.

In other business:



The Board accepted a donation of 16.5 acres near the Albert Yeager nature area in Victor Township and authorized the Parks and Recreation Director to work with the County Surveyor and the County Attorney's Office on preparing documents for the transfer of the property.  Taking the property off the tax rolls will cost about $682 a year.  The owner reportedly does not want to see the property get developed.



Some changes are underway in regard to the custodial staff.  The Board auth-orized advertising for a facilities operations engineer.  The person hired would be educated and skilled in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system maintenance and diagnostics.


Council looks forward to quieter RR crossings

By Rob LaPlante

Buffalo residents living near the Second St. S. railroad crossing received some good news at the Monday, Oct. 16 Buffalo City Council meeting.

An approval gave the city the right to move forward this fall with improvements on the railroad crossing.  The improvements are needed to implement a quiet zone in the area to alleviate the use of train horns at the nearby pass.

City Engineer Justin Kannas says the total cost of the project for the city to resurface the street near the railroad crossing is $217,578.  A federal grant has been received in the amount of $164,422.

The estimated time be-fore a quiet zone could take place is 6-12 months after the completion of the crossing improvements.  Kannas expects a road closure to take place the week of Monday, Nov. 6 through Friday, Nov. 10.  A portion of the costs for resurfacing will be paid by the railroad company directly where the tracks cross the road.

The Council also gave approval for the city to implement a TIF (tax increment financing) District for the HRA (Housing & Redevelopment Authority) to discuss a plan to redevelop downtown Buffalo near the vacated area of the former Coborn's and NAPA buildings.

A public hearing for the TIF District is set for the city council meeting on Monday, Nov. 20.  In addition, the Council approved to apply for a grant in an amount up to $50,000 from the DEED (Department of Employment and Economic Development) for the completion of Phase I and Phase II environmental reports.

Kannas says Phase I of the grant program includes an overall inspection for contamination of the area.  Phase II goes more in depth from specific areas needing to be addressed from Phase I.

There is no immediate beneficiary from this move, but the Council agreed that moving forward with this project would be a step in the right direction to regain business in the downtown area.



A feasibility study to determine costs associated with the extension of sewer and water to the area northwest and adjacent to Trunk Highway 55 was approved by the Council.  A recent annexation of several lots surrounded by the city has no service availability for sewer and water.

The Council approved the hiring of Dayna Weber for the vacant position as the Assistant Director at the Buffalo Community Center.

Del Haag donated $100 for purchasing popcorn at the Buffalo Community Center.

New HRA Board member Mike Anderson and one of his sons were present at Monday's meeting.  It was a welcome visit to meet the council.



At the conclusion of Monday's meeting, city council members adjourned to a workshop discussing the 2018 city budget.  No action was taken at the meeting.


Monticello man dies in crash last Thursday

A 67-year-old man from Monticello died in a two-vehicle crash last Thursday, Oct. 12 in Monticello Township.

The Wright County Sheriff's Office reported the Communications Center was notified at 5:25 a.m. about a two-vehicle crash in the 7000 block of County Road 39 NE.  A driver of a semi-tractor with an attached trailer reported backing out of a residential driveway onto County Road 39 NE when the trailer was struck by an eastbound Ford F-150.  Prior to any emergency vehicles arriving on scene, the trailer was struck by a second eastbound vehicle.

The driver of the Ford F-150, Robert Olson, 67, of Monticello, was pronounced deceased at the scene.  The second vehicle that struck the trailer sustained moderate damage, and the driver was not injured.  The driver of the semi-tractor was transported to Monticello Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The crash is under investigation by the Wright County Sheriff's Office with assistance from the Minnesota State Patrol Commercial Vehicle Inspector.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Olson is taking place at St. Henry's Catholic Church, 11 a.m., on Thursday, Oct. 19.  Visitation 4-8 p.m., with Vigil Prayers at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 18 at Peterson-Grimsmo Chapel in Monticello, as well as one hour prior to Mass at the church.  As a U.S. Navy veteran, he will be laid to rest at the Minnesota State Veteran's Cemetery in Little Falls.  He lived in Monticello 38 years.  He is survived by: his wife of 44 years, Pat; sons, Brad and Dan; brother, Dick; and sisters, Elaine (John) Hovland, Diane (Ron) Pyka and Joyce Maus; as well as numerous family and friends.  He was preceded in death by: his father, Swen; mother, Edith; brother, Donald; and sisters Shirley and Deborah.

Assets alive in community

United for Youth helps put Search Institute's forty developmental assets to work in local area

By Ed DuBois

The idea that it takes a village to raise a child was widely embraced a few decades ago, and in Wright County during the 1990s, forty developmental assets compiled by the Search Institute in Minneapolis served as a catalyst toward the start of efforts to better support, guide and influence young people as they are growing up.

One of those efforts, United for Youth, was a community initiative in the Buffalo, Hanover and Montrose area during the late 1990s, and it continues working today as a Wright County Family Services Collaborative (WCFSC) partner.

The WCFSC is a partnership of 10 Wright County school districts and 6 county-wide agencies, including: a mental health center, special education cooperative, community action, corrections, public health, and social services.  They all work together to strengthen children and families throughout Wright County.


Partners in the community

During the past two decades, United for Youth has been working to strengthen children and families in many ways.  At the same time, several other organizations have served in specific areas.

For example, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon - Buffalo serves in the area of supporting military families.  You can find more information about the organization and its services on Facebook (BTYR-Buffalo), through the Buffalo Police Department or by calling Suzanne O'Dell at 763-682-4902.

MEADA (Methamphetamine Education and Drug Awareness) helps educate families, youth and citizens about the dangers of drugs and has been doing so since January 2004.  See to learn more.

Pay It Forward Academy, a MEADA empowerment program for middle school girls, was active from 2005 to 2015 and engaged seventh and eighth grade girls in discussions about topics such as: health and fitness, self worth, relationships, hygiene, goals and leadership, wardrobe, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, finances, and more.

Safe Schools of the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District meets once a month during the school year and involves a wide variety of people from the community, including: probation officers, the Sheriff's Office, the County Attorney's Office, Health & Human Services, local educators, health care professionals, mental health professionals, city officials, and nonprofit representatives.  MEADA was developed from a Safe Schools meeting in 2004.

The Partnership for Youth and Families helps serve through prevention, education and support.  There are two main focuses, free workshops and a Children's Wright County Resource Guide.  The workshops have involved many topics, such as: suicide prevention, a nurtured heart program, mindfulness, perfectionism/anxiety, raising boys, grief, and zones of regulation.

A coalition called Wright Mental Health involved volunteers, mental health professionals and criminal justice representatives in efforts to raise awareness about mental health issues and mental health resources.  The goal was to help prevent suicide.


All fits forty assets

Everything these organizations have done revolved around the Search Institute's forty developmental assets, said O'Dell, who has been leading United for Youth.

"Everything we do today fits the forty assets," she said.

You might know O'Dell better as the office manager for the Buffalo Area Chamber of Commerce.  But her involvement with the community has gone far beyond her Chamber work.  Lately, she has been preparing to turn over the leadership of United for Youth to a successor.  She said the fiscal host of United for Youth is Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Community Education.

United for Youth has promoted the Search Institute's model of asset building through mentoring, communication, education, and youth activities, according to O'Dell.

The forty developmental assets are grouped into eight asset types: support (from caring adults in the family and beyond), empowerment (through youth service to others and giving youth useful roles), boundaries and expectation (backed by adult role models and positive peer influence), time (quality time and positive activities), educational commitment (students and adults engagement in school together), values (such as caring, honesty, responsibility, and restraint), social competencies (such as resistance skills and conflict resolution), and positive identity (personal control, self-esteem, sense of purpose, and positive view of personal future).  You can find more information at


Sidekicks and Café 22

In addition to branching off into the new organizations mentioned above, United for Youth created 19 locally-distributed posters covering topics (and assets) such as: smile, think before you post, impossible to fail, family dinners, gossip, reading, respect, visiting library, capable teens, domestic abuse, depression, investing in youth, etc.

In the past, United for Youth offered a Sidekicks program that involved youth-to-youth mentoring between high school and elementary school students.  From 2002 to 2003, United for Youth operated a site called Café 22, where middle school and high school students could hang out and get involved with activities in a safe, drug-free environment.

Another program, Arts in the Park, involves collaboration with Family, Youth, Community Connections (FYCC) of St. Michael-Albertville.  The program has been bringing summer art and reading to Hanover parks.


Community service groups

O'Dell wanted to be sure to mention the Buffalo Rotary and efforts by that organization to help serve youth, families and the community.  For over 50 years, the Rotary Club has been serving through programs, grants, hands-on activities, and involvement with projects such as: Adopt-A-Family, Toys for Tots, Capable Partners, and Salvation Army bell ringing.

O'Dell put in a plug for a few other local community service groups, as well, such as: the Buffalo Food Shelf, the Buffalo Hospital Foundation, the Buffalo Lions, Timber Bay, Bison Fishing Forever, the American Legion, and Love INC.


It takes a village

When you consider the many different organizations and initiatives at work in the community, you can see how the idea that "it takes a village to raise a family" is alive and engaged locally.  Just about all forty developmental assets are active and on the job as United for Youth and all the other groups and projects work to serve youth, families and the community.

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