Volunteers come together quickly to help victims of flooding in Texas
By Ed DuBois
A totally volunteer effort came together in just a few days before packing up and shipping about 24 pallets to Texas to help victims of flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey last Saturday, Sept. 2.
Kim Northenscold of Maple Lake said she was looking at an online garage sale site last week when she saw a comment by someone who asked, "Why are we selling these items? We should be giving them to the flood victims in Texas."
The comment set in motion an extraordinary series of actions that culminated with about 40-45 volunteers loading up a truck and sending it to Texas.
"I found a local trucking firm, and they were willing to help," Northenscold said. "The man I spoke to said, 'If you can get it together, we have a driver from Houston for you."
The truck company representative was Dennis Schaefer of D&E Transport in Clearwater, Minn., and the driver was Phillip Parker, a former U.S. Marine and a former police officer.
Parker offered a suggestion. He said Houston was already receiving plenty of help from all over the country, but the smaller communities haven't received as much attention. He contacted the police department in Port Aransas (near Corpus Christi), and they were very thankful, he said.
A church in Port Aransas and the police department began setting up a command center, and Parker obtained permits. He was planning to arrive at Port Aransas on Tuesday, Sept. 5, where the community was ready and waiting for him.
Meanwhile, Northenscold was calling churches to host the collection of supplies.
"The second one I called (Buffalo Covenant Church) said, 'Absolutely,'" Northenscold recalled.
They offered to use the church's electronic sign near Highway 25 to help attract attention.
Northenscold began promoting the collection event. Flyers were distributed. She posted online messages on garage sale sites. She called the local radio station. She also asked several area businesses to help get the word out. "Wright County Hope for Texas" information was provided on Facebook. It was too late to meet the deadlines at local newspapers, she mentioned.
Her efforts began on Tuesday night, Aug. 29, and at the time she had no idea how she would bring enough volunteers and supplies together in a short time. But by Saturday, Sept. 2, everything came together.
"Forty to forty-five volunteers have been coming and going," she said last Saturday morning. "This is totally volunteer. It is great to see."
One of the key volunteers who worked tirelessly with Northenscold was Dennis Schaefer's wife, Marlene Schaefer.
A women's ministry leader at Bridgeview Assembly of God Church of Big Lake and Monticello, Kim Northenscold, along with her husband, Steve Northenscold, were busy packing and loading with all the others.
Kim said local businesses donated pallets of water, plus breakfast and lunch for the volunteers. Shrink-wrap for the pallets on the truck was also donated, among with other items.
The supplies shipped to Port Aransas included everything from canned food to water, from cleaning supplies to tools, and from diapers to pet food and school supplies.
Schaefer recalled his initial conversation with Kim, who said she was just a mom who wanted to help other moms.
Thanks to those who responded to her call for volunteers, moms and entire families are being helped as part of a national movement to respond to Hurricane Harvey.
The truck ended up with 36,000 pounds of supplies and arrived in Port Lavaca (near Port Aransas) on Monday, Sept. 4, a day earlier than expected. Due to flooding, the truck could not go all the way to Port Aransas.
Truck for Texas flood relief also loaded in Albertville
While a truckload of supplies was being sent from Buffalo to flood victims in Texas, the same thing was happening in Albertville.
Stacey Anderson and Peggy Simenson notified the Journal-Press and expressed much thanks to Colborn's in Albertville, as well as to the communities of St. Michael and Albertville, for coming together to help.
"In four hours, we raised over $1,300 and a truckload of supplies to send directly to Houston on Saturday morning (Sept. 2)," they wrote. "It was very heartwarming. We are so lucky to live in these communities where families take care of families, and people take care of people."
The truck left on Saturday morning and headed directly to Houston, where the supplies were given to St. Angela Merici Church, a clearing station for flood victims.
Terry Marsh named 2017 Minnesota Outstanding Senior
By Ed DuBois
After receiving a Wright County Outstanding Senior Citizen honor this summer, Terry Marsh of Buffalo was named one of two Minnesota Outstanding Senior Citizens at the Minnesota State Fair last week.
Both of Wright County's Outstanding Seniors, Terry Marsh of Buffalo and Lillian Sukut of Maple Lake, attended the Senior Day gathering at the State Fair. The event took place on Thursday, Aug. 31 at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell.
Out of a pool of nominees from each county in the state, winners were chosen for their outstanding commitment to community service since reaching the age of 65. This event is sponsored by the Minnesota State Fair, the Minnesota State Fair Foundation and the Federation of County Fairs.
The 2017 state award winners were Gwenn Smith of Itasca County and Terry Marsh of Wright County.
A former airline pilot who for several years oversaw operations at the Buffalo Airport with his wife, Susan, Terry has an abundance of energy and enthusiasm. He often greets people with a big smile and always seems to be enjoying himself.
His zest for life has kept him very busy in his retirement years. You might have seen him in his role as a member of the Buffalo Police Reserve. But his involvement with the community extends far beyond helping out the Buffalo Police Department.
Asked how he felt about being selected as a Minnesota Outstanding Senior Citizen, Marsh said he felt a bit embarrassed, as well as honored.
"I kept thinking of so many others who deserve it more, including my wife," he said. "She has been a big influence on me, and a big support."
Susan has always been available to help him with his activities and be part of it, too, he explained.
"She is a co-contributor to everything I do," he said.
Terry and Susan have lived in Buffalo 47 years. Originally from Glencoe, Terry's family moved quite a bit. He graduated from Richfield High School, studied at the University of Minnesota and served two years in the U.S. Navy.
Terry's father, Spencer Marsh, was a Northwest Airlines pilot for over 30 years, and Terry's uncle, Ken Marsh, was a Northwest pilot for 30 years, as well.
Terry was a Northwest Airline pilot 41 years (and a captain from 1967 until retiring in 2005). Altogether in his aviation career, he logged 34,000 hours of flight time. During the Desert Storm and Desert Shield military operations, he flew troops, equipment and supplies to the Persian Gulf. He and the airline were decorated by the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff.
Marsh also flew into Somalia for the military.
As for volunteering in the community, he said he wants to continue as long as he can.
"I thoroughly enjoy serving with the Buffalo Police Department, and I especially like being with kids," he said.
He always hands out candy at the annual Trick or Treat event in Buffalo.
A very good friend of Marsh, Dr. Andrew Burgdorf, provided a list of the numerous volunteer activities that Marsh has happily undertaken.
He has been much involved with supporting Special Olympics and has volunteered at fundraisers, including the annual Applebee's Tip-a-Cop event for Special Olympics. He has also filled in as substitute coach for the Monticello Special Olympics team and has been a squad car leader for 5K runs.
With Shriners International, he has driven helicopter go-karts in parades from here in Buffalo to Hopkins, Northeast Minneapolis, Lakeville, Apple Valley, Dayton, Isanti, Shakopee, Le Sueur, and downtown Minneapolis. He helps collect and deliver holiday gifts to hospitalized children. He has also helped raise awareness and supported quality health care delivery to disadvantaged children in need.
As a member of the Buffalo Hospital Board of Trustees, Marsh undertook multiple duties, such as interviewing and selecting new hospital CEO's, credentialing and disciplinary actions of the medical staff and administration, meeting with and reviewing the National Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Hospitals, random and scheduled hospital audits, prioritizing emergency and non-emergency health needs for Wright County, and taking part in various health promotion community events.
His voluntary Buffalo Police Reserve activities have included: patrols at community events for civic safety (such as Buffalo Days and the Pink Street Party), setting up safety patrols, traffic control when needed (such as train emergencies and accidents), help with directing traffic (such as at the Holiday Train event), responding to criminal complaints, recognizing when to call for help, assisting at medical emergencies, serving on some overnight stakeouts, assisting with transferring prisoners to the Hennepin County Jail, assisting with prisoner interviews, elementary school evening program interaction with students and parents, taking part as a uniformed participant in the Fallen Police Officer 24-hour event at the Minnesota State Capital, and helping with safe narcotic disposal for the Wright County Sheriff's Office.
Occasionally, he was a quest speaker at local schools.
Marsh has helped out at Fare For All distributions, and he has delivered Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets. He has been a regular volunteer at the Buffalo Food Shelf.
At the Zion Lutheran Church, he has regularly been a welcoming greeter and a communion server, as well as a VBS volunteer and confirmation guide. He has served on the church board and committees, and he has mowed and cleaned up in cemeteries.
Marsh has been a local leader in the Young Eagles program, which helps get young people get interested in aviation and offers them first-time airplane rides.
He has been involved with the Aviation Hall of Fame (Minnesota division of an international organization).
With the Masons, Marsh has been a regular meeting participant and a volunteer at fundraising or community events. He has served in all chairs, including Master of the Lodge for Buffalo.
He has served with Meals on Wheels locally, as well, with his wife, Susan.
Marsh has also served with Rivers of Hope, an area domestic abuse shelter. He was a board member five years.
For the Crisis Nursery of Wright County, he has volunteered for the spring fundraiser and the Timber Dash 5K run. Crisis Nursery works to prevent child abuse in Wright County by providing emergency and non-emergency support to families in need confidentially.
Marsh has been a member of the American Legion Honor Guard, which honors deceased veterans at funerals and provides rifle salutes with "Taps" in respect and honor of the flag. He has mentored youth in the community, advocates patriotism and honor, strong national security and continued devotion to service members and veterans.
He has worked on multiple fundraising events. As a recent example, a local benefit in May 2017 at the Buffalo Community Middle School raised funds for medical expenses of a young Buffalo police officer with stage IV colon cancer. Marsh originated the idea and organized, almost single-handedly, a spaghetti dinner, plus a silent auction. He gained widespread business and individual sponsors, recruited ticket sales and event workers, and worked at the fundraiser himself through to the final cleanup. The event raised $24,000.
Dr. Burgdorf said, "Terry identifies individuals in need even if they do not fit into an organized nonprofit mission, and then he inspires and recruits others to make a difference. In this, Terry mentors other volunteers and future leaders in volunteerism and community engagement."
Margaret Socha crowned Princess Kay runner-up
Margaret Socha of Corcoran and representing Wright County was crowned a runner-up in the 64th annual Princess Kay of the Milky Way during an evening ceremony at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on Aug. 23.
Socha works at Green Waves Dairy in St. Michael. She will be attending South Dakota State University in the fall with a major in dairy science.
Emily Annexstad, a 19-year-old college student from St. Peter and representing Nicollet County, was crowned Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Joining Socha as a runner-up was Jessaca Zuidema of Blomkest, representing Kandiyohi County.
Annexstad will serve as the official goodwill ambassador for more than 3,000 Minnesota dairy farm families. She is the daughter of Rolf and Jean Annexstad and attends the University of Minnesota, where she is pursuing degrees in animal science and agricultural communications and marketing.
Twelve county dairy princesses from throughout Minnesota competed for the Princess Kay of the Milky Way title.
Quinci Scherber of Rogers, representing Hennepin County, was named Miss Congeniality.
Throughout her year-long reign as Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Annexstad will make public appearances to help connect consumers to Minnesota's dairy farm families. She will also promote the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, through which she will encourage students to get 60 minutes of physical activity each day and eat a healthy diet that includes three servings of dairy.
Princess Kay candidates are judged on their general knowledge of the dairy industry, communication skills and enthusiasm for dairy. Midwest Dairy Association sponsors the Princess Kay program, which is funded by dairy farmers through their promotion checkoff.
Annexstad's first official duty as Princess Kay was to sit in a rotating cooler in the Dairy Building for nearly six hours to have her likeness sculpted in a 90-pound block of butter on the opening day of the Minnesota State Fair, Thursday, Aug. 24. This year marks butter sculptor Linda Christensen's 46th year carving the Princess Kay of the Milky Way winner and finalists at the Minnesota State Fair.
Socha had her likeness carved on Friday, Aug. 25, and on Sunday, Sept. 3, Shelby Campbell of Maple Lake and also representing Wright County had her likeness carved.
Throughout the fair, Princess Kay and the other finalists made appearances near the Butter Sculpture Booth in the Dairy Building, at the Moo Booth in the Dairy Barn and onstage at the Miracle of Birth Center.
Frustration at license bureau reported
An appreciation of the challenges being faced at the driver's license bureau was gained by the Wright County Board last Tuesday, Sept. 5 when Becky Aanerud, license bureau supervisor, presented a report.
She said the rollout of the state's new computer system upgrade for driver and vehicle services "has been a nightmare."
A few days of adjustment were expected at the end of July, but now, over a month later, problems are continuing to anger customers and frustrate license bureau staff.
Aanerud said all she keeps hearing repeatedly from the state is, "We're working on it."
She provided the County Board with a memo that was issued by the Minnesota Deputy Registrars Association, which said citizens have been subjected to incredibly long wait times and unacceptable service delays across Minnesota. The memo also stated the Association recognized in late January the new system was not ready to be rolled out. They cited defects, along with a request that the new system be piloted first in a few offices before its full implementation. In advance of the late-July rollout, the Association again advised the state against its full implementation, according to the memo.
"Deputy registrars have had a long history of providing fast and efficient in-person service for our customers, and we are coping to the best of our ability under these trying circumstances," the memo stated. "Please understand we remain committed to being responsive in assisting our customers in the most expeditious means possible. Please be patient with our offices as we await promised system fixes from the state to serve you in the professional manner you have historically come to expect from us. Your community license bureau continuously strives to be your best local in-person resource to handle your motor vehicle, driver license and DNR-related title and licensing needs."
Aanerud told the County Board that at one time, the computer system stopped altogether. Other problems, she said, included mistakenly adding a dollar to fees and sending plates to people before it was supposed to do so.
"The system is still not at all up to par," Aanerud said.
She mentioned that tab renewals can be mailed to the license bureau to avoid long lines. She added that she has heard from many disgruntled people who mailed to the state office in St. Paul and have not received their tabs.
Aanerud expressed much thanks to bailiffs who came down to the license bureau to help out. In some instances, they helped calm people who were angry and frustrated. Aanerud said the bailiffs deserve "a big high-five."
Commissioner Mark Daleiden suggested setting up separate lines for different types of business. Aanerud said that was tried, but it ended up causing some confusion that angered customers.
In other business:
The Board accepted a committee recommendation to approve a request from the Highway Department to sponsor a five-year visa for a foreign national employee.
The employee is a highway technician I under a student visa and has been "a great employee, and is overqualified for the position." To retain the employee, the county needs to sponsor him for an H1B Visa. County Highway Engineer Virgil Hawkins said the employee is a great addition to the staff.
The top candidate for a GIS specialist position is requesting a salary that is 27 percent higher than the salary range minimum, which is $18.97 an hour. County Surveyor Steve Jobe said the top candidate was the only one who could work up to speed quickly and is performing duties with the South Dakota Department of Transportation at the level of a six or seven-year employee. The Board accepted a committee recommendation to hire the top candidate at 27 percent above the minimum.
In other actions, the Board:
• approved an order transferring property in Rockford Township to the Buffalo Hanover Montrose School District, combining two parcels into one;
• approved a plat, White Birch Acres 2nd Addition, in Franklin Township;
• approved filling a sheriff's deputy position; and
• authorized signatures on post-employment health care savings plan documents.
School back in session here and across the state
Montrose Elementary School of Innovation welcomed back the students Tuesday, Sept. 5. Pictured on the first day school are MESI students and friends outside their bus (left-right): Cameron, Alex, Tyson, and Tyler. (Photo by Rob LaPlante)
Family serving in South Sudan
Steve and Gina Wintermantel and their four children planning extended missionary stay in Africa
By Ed DuBois
The Steve and Gina Wintermantel family is willing to serve as missionaries in South Sudan for an extended period of time. Not many families are able to do that, and now several church congregations, one in Buffalo, Minn., one in Milwaukee and one in Kansas, are providing encouragement, financial support and prayers.
Steve is currently the pastor of adult discipleship at Buffalo Covenant Church, which he said has been incredibly supportive.
"We are making a four-year commitment, maybe longer. We'll see," Steve said.
"We need to think about the kids and college," Gina added.
"In the Bible, Jesus said to go and make disciples. We are willing to go," Steve commented. "Where much is given, much is expected. The Lord is calling us to go."
"It's a step of faith," he added. We don't know how we will be received, but it took 20 years for us to get to this point. Maybe we have gifts and abilities that could help."
The children, who range in age from 10-15, will be giving up a lot, Steve acknowledged. There are no sports teams and activities that are commonly available here.
"We trust they will have many other different experiences," Steve said.
Proposed in Kenya
The Wintermantels have lived in Greenfield about five years after arriving from Milwaukee.
Gina had gone on her first mission trip to South Sudan in 1999. War in Sudan created terrible hardship. Gina returned in 2001 to help with relief efforts for six months.
She said South Sudan became an independent nation in 2011.
The story about how she met Steve is almost as interesting as her African experiences. Steve was living in Kansas, and Gina was in Milwaukee. After they met, Gina suggested one day, "Come and see why I love Africa." So, Steve went along on a ten-day mission trip to South Sudan with a teaching team.
"He proposed in Kenya during a timeout from the mission work," Gina recalled.
'I have a son you should meet'
They had met through Steve's dad. Gina is a veterinarian, and she spends considerable time working for the Christian Veterinary Mission (CVM) organization. In fact, about a quarter of her time is spent working at Corcoran Pet Care, and three-quarters of her time is spent working for CVM.
Gina had crossed paths with Steve's parents when they were all serving together in Orlando, FL during a weeklong mission-training event. Steve's dad was helping transport young people from the airport. (Steve mentioned that his youngest sister and her husband are missionaries, too.)
After getting to know Gina, Steve's dad commented, "I have a son back home you should meet."
Later, Steve was attending a church-sponsored gathering at Camp Courage, which is near Maple Lake, Minn. He figured Milwaukee was not that far away, so he decided to use a pay phone and call Gina.
"My dad said we should meet," he recalled saying to Gina.
The circumstances were a bit odd, but Gina must have liked what Steve had to say. Steve ended up driving to Milwaukee to get to know Gina a little better.
Met the king
Gina had grown up in Chicago, and Steve had grown up on a Kansas farm before studying four years at a seminary in California. Apparently, their mutual interest in serving God brought them together.
Serving in South Sudan is going to be rough. The country is only slightly smaller than Texas, and you need to get around on dirt roads. Vehicles often get stuck. Steve said Toyota Land Cruisers are very popular there, and they are all equipped with snorkels to help get through flooded areas.
Gina mentioned she and Steve traveled to South Sudan in 2003, only eight months after their first child, Hazel, was born. They have a picture of Hazel sitting on the king's lap.
Hazel is 15 now, and the other children are Abraham "Abe," 13, Josiah, 11, and Cyrus, 10.
Malnutrition worse than ever
Together through prayer, the family asked, "What is God calling us to do?"
Well, they learned a while back about a new team being put together for a trip to South Sudan, and last March, the whole family served with CVM in South Sudan during a ten-day stay.
"We then asked the Lord if we should go long-term," Steve said.
During the trip last March, Steve and Gina saw malnutrition like they had never seen before. The country has no economy, and violence between factions and tribes continues.
Steve and Gina have much to offer. Steve is eager to work with youth and young adults (because they are more open to new ideas). He seeks to engage young people and help them find ways to improve conditions.
An egg a day
Gina is anxious to help get more protein in the South Sudan diet. Many children have distended bellies due to protein deficiency. Gina would like to help raise chickens and establish an egg hatchery.
"Just one egg each day (for the children) would make a huge impact," Gina said.
A major cultural difference would need to be overcome. The Sudanese would rather eat chickens than eggs.
Steve is planning to study tropical agriculture in Florida before the family departs for Africa.
He and Gina mentioned the rainy season in South Sudan lasts from April to November, and the dry season includes times when the temperature gets up to 110 degrees. Air-conditioning is not available. In fact, most of the country has no utilities. You need solar panels to get electricity.
Hazel going to school in Kenya
Steve said the plan to live four years in South Sudan has been received with varying degrees of acceptance and enthusiasm among the Wintermantel children. The boys, Abe, Josiah and Cyrus, are being home-schooled. Hazel will be attending a boarding school in Kenya, which will be about two flights away in a small aircraft.
The national language in South Sudan is English, not Arabic. That should help get ideas across and help engage the young people.
Gina has much experience working abroad. Through her work with CVM, she travels once or twice a year. She has mostly traveled to Africa and has also visited India.
Sharing at church Oct. 1
She said the family will be sharing about their upcoming move to South Sudan during a gathering on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. in the Buffalo Covenant Church. All are welcome.
What they are setting out to do is quite uncommon, and many people are getting behind them, providing encouragement, financial support and prayers.
"The Lord is calling us to go," Steve said.
Their departure is tentatively planned in July next summer or early August.
They are making a leap of faith. They are uncertain how it will turn out, but they have gifts and abilities to offer, plus a willingness to go and help.