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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

SAVE executive director says take talk of suicide very seriously

Dr. Dan Reidenberg

By Ed DuBois

When someone is deep in depression and talks about suicide, friends and loved one should take it as seriously as a heart attack, said Dr. Dan Reidenberg, the executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE).

He spoke at a suicide prevention and awareness gathering in Buffalo last Thursday, Oct. 19 at Zion Lutheran Church.

Dr. Reidenberg said you should be sure to let the person know he or she is being heard.  Let them know treatment is available.  Most importantly, let them know the treatments work.  It gives them a sense of hope.

"Take it seriously.  Stop everything," Dr. Reidenberg said.  "Tell them, 'I am going to get you help.'"

One way to get help is to call this hotline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  You can also text "Hello" to 741741.

The SAVE website,, offers more information, as well.

"Be available.  Make it a priority.  Be supportive," Dr. Reidenberg said.

No one can get out of deep depression alone, he said at the top of his presentation.  On the mental health continuum, those who are so deep in depression as to consider suicide are thinking about only two things.  They are thinking about unbearable emotional pain, and they are thinking death is the only way out.

Someone thinking that way needs your help.

Everyone has good days and bad days.  We cope.  We have coping skills, and most of us have people in our lives who provide support.

For those who slip into deep depression, nothing much matters.

"Everything hurts.  They have no interest in anything.  If they are not getting better, their brain says, 'I don't like living anymore,' and these thoughts give a sense of relief," Dr. Reidenberg said.  "They fight it, but more and more it seems the only way out is suicide."

At this point, friends and loved ones are afraid to say the wrong thing.  They don't know what to say, or how to say it.

Dr. Reidenberg said there is no typical person who commits suicide.  It happens at just about all ages and in all walks of life.  However, it happens more in areas with less mental health services.

There is never one reason for suicide.  There are multiple reasons for each death.  It happens due to hopelessness and despair.

The person who considers suicide does not want to die, Dr. Reidenberg noted.  But death is viewed as the only method to get rid of the pain.

The brain at that point offers no other options.  The person is only thinking about the pain and how to get out of it.  Brain activity decreases.  The person is in a biological, chemically-induced condition.

A warning sign involves not acting like themselves.  They exhibit uncharacteristic behavior.

"Get them treatment," Dr. Reidenberg said.

Both medication and therapy is best.  Medication by itself, or therapy by itself does not work as well as both.  Combined, they have an 85-percent success rate.

"Be sure to follow the doctor's orders," Dr. Reidenberg stressed.

Noncompliance is common, but if the patient is treated and is compliant, the treatment can save them.

If someone talks about suicide, looks for a way to die, seems hopeless, and feels they are a burden to others, help is needed.  The person withdraws from others.

Dr. Reidenberg explained that the brain can only take the emotional pain so long.

He added that it is OK to ask someone, "Are you thinking about suicide?"

The more you engage in conversation, the better.  But avoid preaching or coming across as judgmental, Dr. Reidenberg said.

The main thing is to let them know they are heard.  Let them know treatment is available, and most importantly, let them know treatment works.

Dr. Reidenberg called for breaking through the stigma associated with mental health.  That's what awareness events do.  Fundraising walks, runs and bike rides all help.  School programs on suicide awareness also help.

Dr. Reidenberg was asked how long a person needs to be on medications.  He said it is not forever, but it is impossible for medications to work if they are not taken.  Their purpose is to get the brain to work the way it did before the illness.

He was asked about talking to children about suicide, and he said to talk about it at all ages "at the level they can understand."

More information is available at


County, WCAT working on agreement for bus service

By Ed DuBois

The Wright County Board is getting closer to partnering with Trailblazer Transit and the local alliance of cities known as Wright County Area Transportation (WCAT).

During the board meeting last Tuesday, Oct. 24, the county commissioners voted 4-1 to accept a committee recommendation to authorize $700,000 for WCAT.  The county will likely get $600,000 back.  The money is needed by WCAT for operations until getting reimbursed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

The remaining amount, $100,000, is aimed at helping boost the level of service in Wright County with the addition of six buses.

In addition to authorizing the allocation, the County Board accepted a recommendation to have Commissioners Darek Vetsch and Mike Potter continue working with WCAT as representatives of the Wright County Board.  A final recommendation was accepted to move forward with a current draft of a Wright County Area Transportation Joint Powers Agreement, with modifications as necessary.

Earlier this month, the County Board reached out to WCAT in regard to getting involved with local bus services, which the commissioners regard as a county function.  As a show of good faith, the Board decided to turn over $225,125 from the former RiverRider bus system to WCAT.

Since then, discussions have taken place in regard to developing a joint powers agreement.  The draft agreement outlines a gradual transition as the Wright County Board gets more involved with the local bus system over the next five years.  At the same time, the agreement outlines a gradual phase-out of WCAT.

Once the joint powers agreement with WCAT is approved, the Wright County Board hopes to begin working on a joint powers agreement with Trailblazer Transit.

Commissioner Potter said this is a critical year for transit because of pending cuts in funding.  He said the transition being outlined needs to be done correctly so that both WCAT and Trailblazer are onboard to ensure that an optimum level of state funding is received.  According to Vetsch, if the county has a good service base for 2019, funding should be good for five years.

Potter said WCAT should have at least 20 buses by 2018 (up from the current fleet of 14 buses) to demonstrate to MnDOT that there will be sufficient service for riders in the future.

Board Chair Charlie Borrell was not convinced that ridership will be as high as expected.  He said he would like to know how many are paid rides.  Vetsch said he will obtain that information.

When the board voted on the committee recommendations, Borrell was opposed, but the other four commissioners were in favor.

In other business:



In other actions, the Board:

• approved a required Americans with Disabilities Act Pedestrian Facilities Transition Plan for county highways;

• scheduled a Nov. 14 committee of the whole meeting at 1:30 p.m. to discuss a study regarding the use of space in county facilities;

• scheduled a Nov. 21 committee of the whole meeting at 10:30 a.m. to discuss elected department head salaries;

• rescheduled November and December committee meetings on Nov. 15 and Dec. 13;

• approved a resolution of final acceptance for the 2016 pavement preservation contract and final payment;

• scheduled a Nov. 28 special assessment hearing at 9:30 a.m. in regard to a property in Marysville Township and a cost incurred by the county for a compliance inspection of the subsurface sewage treatment system;

• approved filling a sheriff's deputy position;

• authorized attendance at a Make It. MSP Summit on Oct. 27 in Minneapolis;

• authorized attendance at a Greater MSP Annual Meeting on Nov. 13 in St. Paul;

• authorized attendance at a Minnesota Drainage Workshop on Nov. 30 in Alexandria; and

• approved 2018 non-union benefit contributions.

Nick Knese Construction


Adapted activities change approved

By Ed DuBois

Students in Buffalo's adapted activities will be able to participate in adapted floor hockey, adapted soccer and adapted softball with students from Monticello and St. Michael-Albertville, according to a change approved by the Buffalo Hanover Montrose (BHM) School Board last Monday, Oct. 23.

The change was recommended by Tom Bauman, Buffalo High School activities director.  Fall Special Olympics Bowling and winter Special Olympics Swimming will move to being offered in the community instead of being offered by the school district.

Winter adapted floor hockey, fall adapted soccer (beginning in 2018) and spring adapted softball will be Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL)-sponsored.

Buffalo, Monticello and St. Michael-Albertville are forming an adaptive activities cooperative.  A budget of about $15,000 is being established for coaches, supplies, transportation, and fees (such as a $100 fee paid to the MSHSL).  The cost to each school district will be determined by the number of participants from each district.  Buffalo is hosting activities in the beginning.  Later, the school districts could rotate as the host.

A few matters being considered include a team mascot and a team name.  Practices are taking place two times a week.  Schedules of 10-13 games are being planned.

In other business:



The school district enrollment as of Oct. 1 was 5,672.  The enrollment projection was 5,654 for 2017-18.  The Oct. 1, 2016 enrollment (one year ago) was 5,694, and the 2016-17 school year ended at 5,581.

Besides the enrollment report, the School Board was given a class size report.  Class sizes have improved for kindergarten classes and fourth grade classes.  An increase has occurred at the middle school.

The elementary school average is 23.42 per classroom.  The middle school average is 29.32, and the high school average is 29.38.

The largest classes at the middle range from about 36 to 49.  The largest class is band with 49 students.  Phy-ed is next with 46.



Matt Mayer of the BerganKDV accounting firm presented the 2016-17 audit.  He said the school district finance office was well prepared, and that helped the audit result in a clean opinion, which is the best that can be given.

Lower than expected fuel and utility costs, along with lower than expected salary and benefits costs, helped the fund balance end up higher than expected at about $414,000.  The unassigned fund balance is better than the school district's goal.

Mayer said Food Service was struggling financially around 2013, but the department has since then been self-supporting three years in a row.  He commended the department for the positive change.

The Kid Kare Program has been struggling, and the School Board plans to address that matter soon.



In other actions, the Board:

• accepted $35,987 in donations, including $20,000 from the Tatanka Elementary School PTO for TES playground equipment;

• approved a required five-year policy review in areas such as equal education opportunity, school board rules of order, disability nondiscrimination, communicable diseases, cash, vandalism, distribution of materials, and rewards; and

• conducted the first reading of policies under review, including the school attendance boundaries policy and the legal status of the school board policy.



The Board is proud of the BHS Tatanka Yearbook and Hoofprint Newsmagazine staff.  Both publications took Best-In-Show Honors at the Minnesota High School Press Association Convention.  The yearbook was named Best Yearbook in Minnesota for the sixth consecutive year.  The Hoofprint won All State Gold, the top honor possible at the State level.

Individual awards went to: Hoofprint Staff: Carter Barton - 2nd place Newspaper One Design; Jack Oistad - 1st place Newsmagazine Story; Mason Schmidt - 4th place Newspaper Sports Story; Lauryn McAlpin - 4th place Newsmagazine Center Spread Design. Tatanka staff - Eric Braun and Jack Oistad - 1st Place Student Life Copy; Samantha Westrum and Ali Tokkesdal - 1st place Yearbook Academic Copy; Samantha Westrum - 1st place Sports Copy; Noah Buystedt - 3rd place Student Life Photo; Elijah Locke - 4th place Yearbook Spread Design; Aly Pachan - 1st place Yearbook Spread Design; Aly Pachan - 2nd place Feature Photos; Mac Loomis - 3rd place Yearbook Sports Photo; Mitch Bunting - 3rd place Yearbook Academic Copy; Calista Susa - 3rd place Academic Photo; Lily Hershley and Cece Miller -1st place Student Life Copy and Bailey Braccini - 1st place Yearbook Sports Copy.

The School Board is also proud of Leadership in Educational Excellence Award recipients: Kris Schroeder, grades 1-2 teacher at DES; Lori Olson, grade 4 teacher at NES; Mike Beilke, Tech Ed teacher at BCMS; Sarah Rodenwald, Science teacher at BHS; and Nancy Eiynck, BHM Diversity & Curriculum Integration coordinator.  They will be honored at the Resource Training and Solutions Banquet.



Upcoming meetings include:

• Special Board Meeting, Monday, Nov. 13, 4:30 p.m., at PES;

• Board Workshop, Monday, Nov. 13, 4:40 p.m., at PES; and

• Regular Monthly Board Meeting, Monday, Nov. 27, 7:00 p.m., Board Room, Discovery Center.


Buffalo resident dies in motorcycle crash near downtown Minneapolis

Bart Leuer

A 44-year-old man from Buffalo died in a motorcycle crash on Tuesday, Oct. 17 in Minneapolis.

The State Patrol reported the driver of the motorcycle, Bartholomew "Bart" Leuer, was on a ramp from Hiawatha Ave. to westbound I-94 near downtown Minneapolis when the motorcycle left the road around 11:30 p.m.  Leuer was reportedly not wearing a helmet, and alcohol was not a factor, the State Patrol's report indicated.

Leuer is survived by: loving wife, Becky; children, Austin, Ben, Jadzia, and Chloe; and a sister, Holly.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Benno and Janet.

According to his obituary from the Gearty-Delmore Plymouth Chapel, Bart was an avid Trekkie and Alien fan.  He especially loved elk hunting in Colorado.  Family was his greatest joy, and he loved them dearly, but most importantly, he lived for his children.

Memorial visitation was scheduled on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 5-8 p.m., at Gearty-Delmore Plymouth Chapel.  Memorials are preferred to the family.


Five-year-old boy dies when tree falls on him

The family of five-year-old Eddie Michalek of Big Lake Township hope some good can come from a tragic, freak accident that claimed the boy's life on Tuesday evening, Oct. 17.  They hope other families can avoid similar tragedies by not hesitating to fix a potential problem.

Eddie and other children were playing on a hammock.  One end of the hammock was tied to a dead tree, which suddenly uprooted.  It fell and hit Eddie on the head.  Efforts to revive Eddie were not successful.

His mother, Melissa Michalek, told Fox 9 News the tree had been there for years and seemed stable.

Friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with funeral expenses.


Dementia Friends invite you to 'What Am I Forgetting to Ask?'

The Buffalo Area Dementia Friends invites all community members to "What Am I Forgetting to Ask?" an educational event about common questions for healthcare providers related to dementia.

Come for a time of questions, answers, coffee, and refreshments with Dr. Dale Lawrence (Stellis Health), Dr. Andrew Burgdorf (Allina Health), and Judy Weis (Buffalo Area Dementia Friends).

The event is taking place on Sunday, Nov. 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church, 1200 Highway 25 S., in Buffalo.  RSVP appreciated by Nov. 2 to or 612-597-9472.

Cruising America's Great Loop

'Loopers' from Buffalo travel 7,000 miles by boat from Great Lakes down to the Gulf and up the East Coast

By Ed DuBois

Seeing America on a 7,000-mile voyage was great all by itself, but another wonderful aspect of a year-long adventure enjoyed by Dave and Colleen Wray of Buffalo was sharing the experience with other boaters and being welcomed by local residents just about everywhere they docked or anchored.

"The trip was very social.  There were so many others on the same trip, we often spoke with them and shared stories," Dave said.  "Everybody was on the radio, so it was easy to arrange meetings and enjoy 'dock-tails' at 5."

"We saw the same people in many places, and we would meet with them and do some catching up," Colleen recalled.

The journey they were on is called America's Great Loop.  Aboard their 40-foot cabin cruiser, Moon Shadow, they started in June 2016 at Mackinaw City, Mich.  After cruising south on Lake Michigan to Chicago, they continued on the Illinois River to St. Louis.

The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, the Tenn-Tom Waterway, and the Black Warrior River took them to Mobile, Ala. and the Gulf of Mexico.

They cruised along the Gulf Coast to the Florida Keys and then up the East Coast to New York City.

The Hudson River and the Erie Canal led to the Great Lakes, and they arrived back at Mackinaw City on Aug. 9, 2017.


They are called 'loopers'

About 100 boats complete the Great Loop every year.  They call themselves "loopers," and they enjoy camaraderie as they share the journey and meet new people everywhere they go.

"People were very friendly wherever we stopped to visit.  They invited us to their homes.  Some of them even offered to let us borrow their cars," Dave recalled.

"I was so impressed," he added.  "We saw the good side of America."

He and Colleen found it hard to believe the people they met were so trusting that they would invite strangers to their homes and let them borrow their cars.

"It's the boater way," Dave commented.

Marinas offered free courtesy cars.

"How nice people are was the most memorable part of the whole trip," Dave stated.


Cruised at 8 mph

Dave and Colleen received a BaccaLOOPerate degree from America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association.  The degree is given in recognition of completing one of the world's most unique adventures.

Along the way, the usual cruising speed was 8 mph.  Dave and Colleen made about 25 fuel stops during 14 months on the boat.

Altogether, they traveled just over 7,000 miles, and their total fuel cost was $8,113.

They mentioned they were fortunate the cost of fuel was not as high as it was a few years ago.

Dave joked that their biggest expense was "eating out."

Actually, most of the time, they tried to buy food at grocery stores and prepare their own meals.

When they arrived in Chicago, Dave needed to install a hinge for the radar mast.  It was too high to pass under a bridge in Chicago.  The new hinge allowed the mast to be lowered and laid down on the upper deck.

Later while cruising down the Mississippi River from St. Louis, the decision was made to get off the big river at Cairo, Ill.

"The Mississippi River is fast-moving and has a lot of debris in the water," Dave explained.


River barge politeness

He mentioned that river barge pilots were very considerate of smaller watercraft.

In fact, when Dave and Colleen anchored near shore for the night, they reported their position on the radio.  The barge pilots responded, noted the position and slowed down when they approached the position.

One night, Dave saw two warships coming toward the boat.  When he asked about them on the radio, he learned the warships were being pushed by a tugboat and were not moving under their own power.

Dave and Colleen planned to arrive in Mobile at the end of October 2016.

Dave explained that, due to the hurricane season, loopers are seriously advised not to cruise in the Gulf of Mexico before Nov. 1.

Dave mentioned seeing wrecked boats on the East Coast that had been damaged by Hurricane Matthew (Sept. 28 to Oct. 10, 2016).


Dolphins performed

One of the joys of cruising along the ocean shores was seeing dolphins swimming next to the boat.

"Families of dolphins were often seen doing barrel rolls in the waves," Dave said.

"They were performing for us," Colleen added.

Sometimes Dave would bang on the side of the boat when anchored, and dolphins would pop up to see what was going on.

The first voyage out to sea (beyond the point where they could see the shore) was from Apalachicola, Fla. to Tarpon Springs, Fla.

"It was 175 miles at sea with no shore in sight," Colleen said.

The reason for cutting across the Gulf was to avoid crab pots in relatively shallow water along the coast.

They spent Thanksgiving Day in Clearwater, Fla. and were at an Everglades rod and gun club for Christmas.  They mentioned seeing manatees in the Florida Keys and took pictures of them as the large animals drank from the boat's air-conditioning discharge.


Side trip to Bahamas

In January, they were in Marathon, Fla.  Next up were Miami, Fort Lauderdale and then the Bahamas.

Dave and Colleen said the sunrises and sunsets were spectacular, and the water was a turquoise color.

During the trip, they spent about 100 nights anchored roughly 100 yards from shore in about 12 feet of water.  They preferred protected bays.

Dave and Colleen mentioned they needed to pay attention to the tides when anchoring for the night.  They didn't want to be in a place where the boat would be sitting on a beach at low tide.

Getting to the Bahamas involved some careful timing.  They needed to cross the Gulf Stream, "which can be dangerous if you go at the wrong time," Dave said.  Because of the strong Gulf Stream current, he needed to point the boat southeast to arrive at a point directly east.

"The docks were a mess because of the hurricane (Matthew).  We ended up having to stay longer than planned because of poor weather conditions, but, nonetheless, it was a nice place to be marooned," Dave commented.


Submarine coming

They spent most of March in the Bahamas and then headed to Savannah, Ga., where they enjoyed seeing plantations and beautiful scenery.

Several Civil War sites were visited during the trip, first in the Tennessee area early on, and then later in South Carolina.

They encountered the modern military when they approached Norfolk, Va. in the middle of May.  The U.S. Coast Guard contacted Dave by radio and told him he was in a restricted area.  A nuclear submarine was coming into port.  Dave was able to get pictures of a gigantic Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine as it sailed by on the surface.

The Wrays also saw one of the world's largest aircraft carriers, the USS Gerald R. Ford.

They cruised up the Chesapeake Bay to Annapolis, Md., and then they traveled by bus to see the sights in Washington, D.C.


Trump encounters

Incidentally, they encountered President Donald Trump a couple of times during the trip.  Before the November 2016 election, Trump was campaigning in a Milwaukee lakeside memorial park.  The Wrays were coming ashore in their dingy when a security boat approached with its lights on, and the Wrays were told they were in a restricted area.  They returned to their cabin cruiser and went to shore later in the day.

Months went by, and then while cruising along Florida's eastern coast after Trump became president, boats were ordered to steer clear of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.  At the time, Trump was hosting a visit by the president of Japan.


Today Show

After visiting Washing-ton, D.C., the Wrays stopped at Atlantic City, and then they made their way through some rough weather to Sandy Hook, N.J., arriving on June 5.

In New York City, they watched the Today Show and were among those along the city street to be interviewed briefly.  How-ever, their interview was not aired.

They had a good time.  They were with looper friends from Detroit and Grand Rapids, Mich.

Cruising up the Hudson River was pleasant, but going through the numerous locks of the Erie Canal was hard work.  Locks they had encountered on the western half of the Great Loop were not as stressful.  In the Erie Canal, two or three boats at a time were allowed to enter each lock.  Boaters had to work to keep the boats from bumping into each other, as well as from bumping into the lock walls.

They went through the Oswego Canal to Lake Ontario, and then they made their way to Lake Huron.  It was July, and they spent some time cruising along the Canadian shore, stopping at various places.  The area reminded them of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in Northern Minnesota.

Upon arriving at Mackinaw City on Aug. 9, they sailed on to Bayfield, Wis. and then arrived in Superior, Wis. on Aug. 21.  The boat is staying there for the winter.  The Great Loop is about 6,000 miles, but altogether, the Wrays cruised just over 7,000 miles.


Trip of a lifetime

After living on a boat 14 months, there was an adjustment period during which Dave and Colleen needed to get accustomed to surfaces that do not move.

They look forward to more cruising next summer.  They will proudly fly their new Gold Burgee flag, a well-known symbol within the looping community, acknowledging their tremendous accomplishment.

According to the America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association, "approximately 100 boats complete the Great Loop each year, making it a feat more unique than swimming the English Channel or climbing Mount Everest."  Throughout their "trip of a lifetime," Dave and Colleen relied on the Association to provide them with information and assistance vital to the successful completion of their journey.

For more information on the America's Great Loop, contact America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association, 500 Oakbrook Lane, Summerville, SC 29485, 1- 877-GR8- LOOP (478-5667),, or email


Most memorable

Dave and Colleen also look forward to renewing the friendships they made while completing the Great Loop.  The sights and the sailing were great, but the friendliness of many wonderful people is what made the trip most memorable.

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