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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

Close to six inches of rain falls in Wright County

This holding pond near 3rd Ave. NE and 14th St. NE in Buffalo filled up quickly when a train of storm clouds poured rain on Wright County all night last Monday, Oct. 2 and into Tuesday morning.  In many places, the rain gauges showed close to six inches of rain had fallen.  Steve Berg, Wright County emergency management director, said there were no immediate reports Tuesday of any flooding problems.  He was watching the river gauges on the South Fork and North Fork of the Crow River.  At Delano, the prediction was for the river to rise seven to eight feet by Saturday.  That would not create any problems for the city, he said.  "We will continue to monitor the gauges and reports," he added.  The National Weather Service is predicting more rain for Thursday night through Friday night.  "Hopefully, we will get a break from the rain so river levels can drop and fields can dry out for the harvest," Berg concluded.  (Photo by Ed DuBois)


Bidding process for Wright County's new courts facility could begin soon

By Ed DuBois

Action on a bidding process for a new $50 million courts facility could take place at a late-October or early-November Wright County Board meeting.

At the board meeting last Tuesday, Oct. 3, the county commissioners scheduled an Oct. 12 Owners Committee Courts Facility meeting from 10 a.m. to noon in Room C118 at the County Government Center.  The agenda for the meeting includes a review of a design development level cost estimate and a virtual tour of the building.

The Board also scheduled an Oct. 17 Owners Committee of the Whole Court Facility meeting at 11 a.m. in the County Board Room.  The agenda includ-es a review of a design development level cost estimate, plus an update on the remaining design phase schedule and a virtual tour of the building.

The Board has been working with judges for several months on plans for a new courts facility to be constructed near the Law Enforcement Center.  The Board has also been working on planning for changes at the County Government Center after the courts move to the new courts facility.

In other business:



A small triangular-shaped land parcel near the McDonald's restaurant in Buffalo was somehow missed in the property tax process, and McDonald's was never notified about paying taxes on the parcel.  Chief Deputy County Attorney Brian Asleson came to the Board for a solution to the problem.

He explained that another nearby property owner paid taxes on the triangular parcel until 2012.  No taxes were paid on the parcel since 2012.

Since McDonald's was not notified, Asleson proposed a property tax abatement for 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and half of 2017.  McDonald's has reportedly agreed to begin paying taxes on the parcel in the second half of 2017.  The Board voted in favor of this plan.  Meanwhile, county officials plan to work on combining the triangular parcel with an adjacent parcel to eliminate the separate triangular parcel.

Nick Knese Construction


In other actions, the Board:

• discussed the idea of setting up a meeting in January with local legislators to discuss issues related to Wright County;

• authorized Commissioners Darek Vetsch and Mike Potter to meet with Trailblazer Transit on Wednesday, Oct. 4 to discuss bus service in Wright County and the Wright County Area Transportation (WCAT) alliance of cities in Wright County;

• scheduled a Nov. 14 public hearing at 9:30 a.m. to discuss amendments to sale of tobacco regulations;

• approved a committee recommendation to hire a portfolio analyst in IT (Information Technology) at above 12 percent more than the beginning salary range because the top candidate already earns more than the county was offering;

• approved a committee recommendation to have the Sentence to Serve program scrape and repaint the former Marysville Township Hall (built in 1892), remove the front access ramp and fasten plywood material around the base of the building.  (Discussions about possibly preserving the building have been taking place.  The topic will likely be revisited next spring.)

• approved retaining Kevin Casserly and Dwight Dahlen to perform appraisals on a land parcel near I-94 and CSAH (County State Aid Highway) 19 in Albertville for tax court purposes;

• scheduled a Nov. 14 public hearing at 11 a.m. to discuss Joint Ditch 15 in the Cokato area and a viewer's report on a redetermination of benefits process;

• approved filling a corrections officer position and a sheriff's deputy position;

• authorized attendance at the Transportation Alliance 124th Annual Member Meeting in St. Cloud on Nov. 8; and

• authorized attendance at the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) District 5 Meeting on Oct. 23 in Center City, Minn.


Re-painting project underway on watertower in Buffalo

A brave painter was working on the side of the watertower near Northwinds Elementary School in Buffalo this week.  The project is expected to be completed later this month.  Maguire Iron was hired by the City of Buffalo for the job, according to the city's website.  (Photo by Ed DuBois)

















City receives American Legion donations

By Rob LaPlante

Scott Edwards, commander of Buffalo American Legion Post 270, along with Legion Vice-President Alan Gulden, presented three donations for city needs at the Monday, Oct. 2 Buffalo City Council meeting.

Donations included $1,000 toward upgraded equipment for the Buffalo Fire Department, $600 toward Downtown Buffalo's Deck the Halls event and an undisclosed amount for a new drop box at the Buffalo Police Department.

The Buffalo Community Center received a Rotary grant in the amount of $4,000 for the Toy Shop.

A total of $100 was received from Deborah Hendricks in memory of John Hendricks for the City of Buffalo's tree reforestation program.  Hendricks was born and raised in Buffalo.  His daughter has written a book of memories on her father's early days in Buffalo and has donated this memory book to the Wright County Historical Society.



Michael Anderson appli-ed and was appointed to a position on the Housing & Redevelopment Authority Board.  He will take over a remaining term that was vacant and runs through April 2, 2019.  One additional term ending April 2, 2018 still needs to be filled and is currently being advertised.

The Council also ap-proved the termination of downtown liquor store employee Barb Vetsch.


Local option sales tax went into effect on Oct. 1

By Ed DuBois

As of Oct. 1, the sales tax being paid in Wright County went up half a cent from 6.875 percent to 7.375 percent.

On June 13, 2017, the Wright County Board of Commissioners adopted Resolution 17-30, implementing a special one-half-percent, countywide sales tax to fund transportation, according to the county website.  Revenue generated from the sales tax is dedicated to fund transportation-related projects identified in the Sales Tax Implementation Plan.  Resolution 17-30 limits the collection of the sales tax to the period of Oct. 1, 2017 through Dec. 31, 2022, or until revenues are raised.

Back in June, the County Board expressed disappointment when the State Legislature did not provide more state aid for transportation needs.  Commissioner Mike Potter described the Legislature's action on transportation funding as "baby steps."  Potter, a strong proponent for the local option sales tax, said the new sales tax would not be needed if the state and federal governments devoted more funds to maintaining the highways.

"This (tax) can go away if the state and the federal government do what they are supposed to do," he said last June.

Meanwhile, the local option sales tax is a "tool" offered by the state to help complete local highway projects, and many counties have been using that tool.  Now, Wright County is one of them.

Virgil Hawkins, the county highway engineer, said he plans to "do as much as we can" in the next five years with the local options sales tax revenue.  He has a prepared list of high-priority highway projects, to which the special sales tax money will be devoted.


Suicide prevention speaker Oct. 19 in Buffalo

All are invited to come and hear Dr. Dan Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), on Thursday evening, Oct. 19 at Zion Lutheran Church in Buffalo.  He is a world-renown suicide prevention expert.

He will be speaking about the importance of mental health, mental wellness and suicide prevention in our lives.

The event is free and open to the public, and it is designed to give you knowledge, understanding and answers you and your family need.

A free dinner is planned from 5-5:45 p.m., and the program is from 6-7:30.  A SAVE event at Sturges Park in Buffalo a while ago raised enough funds to offer the program and dinner at no cost to attendees, according to SAVE volunteer Gale Raisanen.  The dinner is being catered by Elegant Entrees.

If you have any questions about this event, contact Linda Mars at or call 952-946-7998.

Survivor provides encouragement

Badly burned at a year old, Kenny Pecarina earned Eagle Scout Award while giving 'Comfort Bags' to children in a burn unit

By Ed DuBois

At a very young age, Kenny Pecarina and his brother, Willie, were badly burned inside a vehicle.  Both boys spent six weeks recovering from their injuries while being treated at the Hennepin County Medical Center's burn unit in Minneapolis.  As a way to give back to the burn community, Kenny recently worked on an Eagle Scout project that provided 145 "Comfort Bags" for children being treated for burns.

As a survivor, Kenny said the experience of growing up with scars from his burns helped him develop character.

He was burned on 33 percent of his body and had first, second, third, and fourth-degree burns.  He was only a year old.

"All these experiences have taught me not to be afraid of trying new things, to go out there and do things," he wrote in a letter about his Eagle Scout project.  "Don't just sit home and hide in your room.  Experience life.  Show others and yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to.  I am so glad my parents (Al and Jenny Pecarina) supported me and my brother and didn't just let us be at home.  They took us everywhere with them just like regular kids.  My advice to you is to step out of your boundaries and try new things.  Don't be afraid to try something new ... you might end up liking it!"


People stared

He mentioned his mom told him people stared when the family would go somewhere after the boys were released from the hospital.

"I was so young, I don't remember that," Kenny stated.

He became a Cub Scout at seven years old and took part in activities, such as Pinewood Derby races and camping.  Later as a Boy Scout, there were greater adventures, including a trip to the National Sea Base site in the Florida Keys and the World Jamboree in Japan.  As a People to People ambassador, he went on a trip to Ireland, England and Wales.  Other activities included youth sports participation in soccer, basketball and football.  He earned a black belt at Dojo Karate, and in high school, he took part in choir and joined the bowling team.


Connection to Regions

With the help of Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Kenny attended a Family Burn Camp in Ely, Minn. several summers since he was four years old.  He was also given an opportunity to attend a summer camp for kids in a Cheley Colorado Camp, plus a winter camp in Steamboat Springs, Colo.  As an older teen, he took on some leadership training for the Cheley Camp.  He has also attended several World Burn Congress events.

"All of these opportunities helped me learn about being a survivor," he said.

Someone he met at the Family Burn Camp in Ely, Mikki Rothbauer, helped him with an idea for his Eagle Scout project.  Rothbauer was the camp director and had connections with the Regions Hospital Burn Center.

"Christmas was coming.  I thought, I would like to give back to the hospital.  I asked Mikki about it," Kenny recalled.


Inspirational messages

The Comfort Bags have many designs, and his mom, Jenny, helped get them at a discount.  The bags have inspirational messages embroidered on them, and Kenny filled them with all kinds of things, such as: stuffed animals, coloring books, crayons, toys, water bottles, and lip balm.  Many of the items were intended to help children pass the time while in the hospital.  Also included was a card with Kenny's burn survivor story and his photo, which he hoped would provide encouragement for children who received the bags.

He had searched online for the inspirational messages.  Some of the messages on the bags include, "Believe in yourself," "You are awesome" and "Imagine. Believe. Achieve."

Shopping trips to area Dollar Tree stores were made to buy items for the bags.

"At one of the stores, we filled up three or four shopping carts that were strapped together," Kenny recalled.

He found sponsors for the bags.  Presentations about his project were conducted at several locations.  Flyers were distributed.  Boy Scout troop members assisted.  Jenny mentioned that Kenny put some of his own money into the project.


Goal was 100 bags

The bags were assembled at Scoutmaster Jim Cooper's business one day.

The goal was to provide 100 bags.  Actually, 145 were completed, and they all went to the Regions Hospital Burn Center.  The delivery date was Dec. 27, 2016, and the event attracted coverage by Twin Cities TV stations.

At Kenny's Court of Honor on Sunday, Sept. 24, when he was officially honored and recognized as an Eagle Scout, a Minnesota House resolution from State Rep. Marion O'Neill (R-Maple Lake) was read for everyone attending.  The document tells about the fire and the Eagle Scout project, and it congratulates Kenny for earning the Eagle Scout Award.

He had not only survived terrible burns, he had thrived as a Boy Scout.  He used what he learned and passed it along to children who are now starting along the long road to recovery.

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