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Polar Plunge raises $45,000 for Special Olympics Minnesota

The Tatanka Elementary STEM team celebrates their success in surviving the frigid Buffalo Lake waters last Saturday, March 11 at Sturges Park during the Polar Plunge.  The team was the top fundraiser for Special Olympics Minnesota in the K-12 group.  (Photo by Doug Voerding)

By Doug Voerding

The air temperature was 19 degrees, the wind chill was 10 degrees and the water temperature was 27 degrees as more than 200 people braved the cold and fiercely plunged into Buffalo Lake, all to raise funds for Special Olympics Minnesota.

The Buffalo Polar Plunge raised close to $45,000.  The top three individuals with the most donations were Barrett Chrisis with $3,153, Kelli Ouverson with $2,409 and Bonnie Wilts with $1,566.  The top three K-12 fundraisers were Tatanka Elementary STEM with $5,612, Buffalo High School Bison Connection with $2,775 and Buffalo Girls U12 Hockey Team with $2,375.  The top law enforcement teams were Buffalo Police Department with $5,231, and The Thin Blue Line and Beyond (Sheriff's Office) with $1,408.

Due to recent warm weather, the Polar Plunge was not a plunge but rather a run from the shore at Sturges Park into Buffalo Lake to about waist-deep and a return to the shore.  Many plungers said they had wished the event was last Saturday, when air temperatures were considerably warmer.

The shore ice did have to be cut, and that was done by Jeff Herr of Herco Underwater Services of Annandale.  In the water to assist the plungers were members of the Wright County Sheriff's Recreation Enforcement Team including Heath Gillham, Ron Smith, and Nick Eldred.

Commenting on Facebook, Chrissis, who helped organize the event, said, "My goal was to have 150 participants in our first Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Minnesota.  We had 219 and raised about $45,000 (They're still counting.)."

He said the Plunge was a "joyful event."

He thanked Buffalo Police Chief Pat Budke and Mayor Teri Lachermeier for their support.  He also thanked Lt. Rachel Pearson for her organizational skills.

"Those of you who donated, and the incredible citizens of Buffalo and surrounding community who were able and willing to give to a good cause, are total rock stars," Chrissis said.

Others who helped make the event possible include: the Buffalo Police Department, Reserve Officers, the Buffalo Fire Department, the Annandale Police Department, the Wright County Sheriff's Office Dive Rescue Team, Chopper, the World's Nuttiest DJ, the Buffalo Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, the staff at Special Olympics Minnesota, and "of course my beautiful bride and team videographer, Kristi Chrissis!"

The fundraiser is sponsored by Minnesota law enforcement as part of the year-round fundraising of Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Minnesota.  This year, there were 20 Polar Plunges across the state.  All funds raised go towards programming and events for more than 8,000 special Olympians statewide.

 

 

Vietnam veterans honored during ceremony at Buffalo Legion Club

Among close to 100 Vietnam veterans being recognized during a ceremony at the American Legion Club in Buffalo, Jerome Bradford (left, green shirt) of the Buffalo Legion Post receives a recognition pin and certificate.  The Vietnam Veterans Recognition Ceremony took place on Wednesday, March 8.  (Photo by Ed DuBois)

By Ed DuBois

For many Vietnam veterans, no one shook their hands and said thank you for serving.  Now, in conjunction with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, the St. Cloud VA Health Care System is conducting recognition ceremonies for Vietnam veterans, and one of the ceremonies included close to 100 veterans at the American Legion Club in Buffalo on Wednesday, March 8.

Barry Venable, public affairs officer with the St. Cloud VA Health Care System, served as moderator.  He said the crowds at the Vietnam Veterans Recognition Ceremonies have typically included close to 300 people, and the full-house audience at the Legion in Buffalo was certainly near or over that number.

Venable said the ceremonies have two purposes.  The first is to recognize Vietnam-era veterans, and the second is to hear their concerns and tell them about VA services.

Venable quoted President Barrack Obama when he commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War in 2012.  One of the most painful memories of the war was how the veterans were treated at home.  They were denigrated when they should have been celebrated.  Some wore civilian clothes when they came home to avoid ridicule.  The president said most of those who served in Vietnam did so honorably and admirably.

Now, with the 50th anniversary of the war, the nation has an opportunity to do what should have been done 50 years ago.

Venable told the veterans that finally, they are being extended the welcome they so richly deserve.

Every Vietnam veteran was invited to approach the podium and receive recognition pins and certificates.  They were also invited to gather for a group photo, and as they gathered, the audience applauded.

"It is wonderful to be able to be part of this," Venable said.

Along with Venable, Janet Murphy, director of the VA Midwest Health Care Network, and Mark Aberle, acting director of the St. Cloud VA Health Care System, honored the veterans.  Murphy said the VA is picking up the pace in regard to providing access to VA care.  Employees are being urged to increase accountability and help regain the trust of veterans.

Several St. Cloud VA Health Care System representatives were available in the back of the room to answer questions about VA services.

Following the ceremony, a town hall session was conducted by Venable, and several questions from veterans were addressed.  In many cases, the veterans were invited to connect with VA representatives to obtain more information and to set up future meetings regarding services and answers to more questions.

A veteran from Monticello offered a question about benefits for boots-on-the-ground veterans and those who served overseas during the war but were not in country.  He said he feels segregated and, "We should all be one."  He was told it does not matter to the VA if a veteran was in country or not.  However, the question is most appropriate for legislators, who make the rules the VA must follow.  The veteran was encouraged to speak with a VA representative for more attention on his individual case.

Another question was offered in regard to VA math.  A VA spokesperson explained the formula for benefits is not simple addition and subtraction, it often involves a percentage of a percentage of a percentage.

Questions followed about the VA Choice Program, which involves private health care providers when the VA cannot offer services quickly enough.  Veterans would like the VA to more readily accept prescriptions written by private doctors, and they were told that issue is being reviewed.  A veteran said accepting the prescriptions would save much time and frustration.

A problem with paying private doctors was mentioned, and that issue was addressed.  The veterans were told the system has improved, and the private doctors are getting paid faster by the VA.

One veteran said his VA doctor consults with his private doctor and the arrangement has worked well.

Another veteran spoke about fellow veterans who need mental health services.  Murphy encouraged veterans to keep talking to their buddies about seeking mental health care through the VA.

"Keep at it.  Sometimes it just takes a while," she said.  "Often, it is better coming from a fellow veteran."

Efforts are underway to help reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health care.  Venable said 20-21 veterans commit suicide each day, and mental health care can help reduce that number.

"Tell your buddies it's OK to get care," Venable said.

"Spread the word," the veterans were told.  "You earned benefits.  Urge your buddies to use it."

 

 

Local option sales tax for highway projects being considered

By Ed DuBois

The Wright County Board is considering the use of a local option sales tax to help fund highway projects.

The matter was discussed during the board meeting last Tuesday, March 14, and further discussion is planned during a Transportation Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, March 28, 1 p.m., in the Wright County Highway Building.

Virgil Hawkins, the county highway engineer, explained the State Legislature provided two tools about three years ago to help fund highway projects.  One is the local option sales tax, and the other is a wheelage tax.  At the time these tools were initially offered, the County Board declined to use them.

Hawkins reported that 30 percent of the counties in the state use the local option sales tax.  He said 77 percent of the counties use the local option sales tax and the wheelage tax.

For Wright County, a local option sales tax of one-half percent would provide about $5 million annually for highway projects.  Hawkins has already prepared a list of potential highway projects for which the local option sales tax could be used.  The estimated total cost of the projects on the list is $78 million.

Commissioner Mike Potter said Wright County needs to spend $12 million a year just to maintain the highways, and he added that the county is behind in keeping up with the cost.

Potter added that he has been losing faith in the Legislature to do something about keeping up with transportation needs.  However, when he brings it up at the State Capitol, he is asked, "You have tools (provided by the Legislature), why are you not using them?"

Potter further stated that many people using the highways in the county are passing through.  He said 30-50 percent of the local option sales tax revenue would come from people passing through, and they are already paying the tax.  (If the County Board decides to go ahead with the local option sales tax, the revenue would be remitted to the county by the state at least quarterly.)

The list of projects prepared by Hawkins does not include work that could follow a northeast quadrant study, Potter said.  By 2040, the traffic in that part of the county, which includes the I-94 corridor, will be much greater than it is now, he stated.

Commissioner Darek Vetsch offered a motion to further discuss the local option sales tax and the list of projects during a Transportation Committee of the Whole meeting.  He said the Board should talk it through before scheduling a public hearing.

The Board approved the motion, along with inviting representatives of the cities in the county.

In other business:

 

PAVING PROJECTS

The Board approved a recommendation from the Building Committee to complete paving projects at the compost/recycling facility and at the sheriff's support/impound lot.

The cost of the project at the compost/recycling facility is $170,595.  The Sheriff's Office plans to use the site for training activities, which have been taking place in St. Cloud.  Conducting the training activities at the local site is expected to save money.

The cost of the paving project at the sheriff's support/impound lot is $46,887.

 

TIPPING FLOOR

Various options were considered for a new structure at the compost/recycling facility, where the tipping floor roof needed to be demolished.  The cost of the new structure is about $199,000.  The county could soon seek proposals for the design and construction of the structure.

 

AUDITING

The Board approved a contract with the CliftonLarsonAllen accounting firm for audit services in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

If the State Auditor prevails in an appeal regarding a suit that included Wright County as a defendant, the county would be released from the contract.

The suit was filed to oppose a new law that allows counties to hire private accounting firms rather than have annual audits performed by the State Auditor's Office.

 

FEE SCHEDULE

A public hearing was conducted in regard to fee schedule changes.  No one from the public offered any comments during the hearing.

The fee schedule changes were approved.

Assessor Office fees for property inquiries faxed or emailed, mailed, and provided by telephone were removed, as were fees for tax estimates and assessment services.

A $50 local assessor setup fee was added, along with a $100 local assessor Citrix fee, a $50-per-hour site inspection review fee and a $50-per-hour special project assistance fee.

Parks fees being added include a $5 reservation modification fee and a $10 cancellation fee.  A firewood fee will be based on market value.  A $75-a-day fee for the Bertram Lakeside Shelter ($35 on weekdays) was added (in 2018), along with a $175-a-day fee for the Bertram Four-Season Chalet and a $75-a-day Bertram Amphitheater fee.

In Planning and Zoning, a $50 fee was added for residential construction project permits, and a $100 fee for non-commercial solar cell/cell towers/windmills was added.  A $50-an-hour fee for land use/zoning review was added, along with a $50-an-hour fee for miscellaneous services/research.

 

MISC.

In other actions, the Board:

- scheduled a closed session on Tuesday, March 21 at 8 a.m. to discuss a counteroffer on property near the Law Enforcement Center;

- scheduled a tour of the Rolling Hills Landfill on Monday, March 20 at 9 a.m. in response to a request from the landfill manager to discuss the current operation of the facility;

- approved a plat for the Deer Haven Second Addition in Silver Creek Township;

- approved filling positions for a sheriff's deputy and two case aides in Health & Human Services;

- approved a labor contract agreement with communications and corrections non-licensed essential sheriff staff; and

- approved $402,735 in claims involving 246 transactions with 158 vendors.

 

 

Hanover ball field project now back on track

By Doug Voerding

The construction of a redesigned ball field in Settlers Park in Hanover is back on track after the Hanover City Council, on Tuesday, March 7, voted unanimously to accept the $50,000 donation of the Hanover Athletic Association (HAA) for the rebuilding of the field that meets the size standards required by 16U baseball.

The redesign of the field has been met with strong resistance from some Hanover residents because five mature burr oak trees in a grove of oak trees will be removed to accommodate the larger field. The trees are estimated to be more than a hundred years old.

At the Feb. 7 meeting, the council was unable to accept the donation since a super majority vote is required for donations, and Councilmembers MaryAnn Hallstein and Ken Warpula voted against the donation.

At the March 7 meeting, Hallstein said, "I voted against the (HAA) donation for more time to understand funding and to research sites.  I found this to be the most economically-viable solution for a ball field."

Hallstein also said she had talked to the DNR and was told the oak root systems do not connect.

"I am confident in the staff's ability to remove the trees and avoid problems with stumps being open in May and June," said Hallstein.

Warpula said he had voted earlier on the trees coming down, but questioned whether the city wanted the HAA to help pay for it.

"Now, I'm voting for the donation," said Warpula.

"I have checked other locations," said Mayor Chris Kauffman. "This has not been an easy decision.  It's been a tough row to hoe for eight months."

Planning for the redesign began back in 2013, and last fall, the city council supported a grant application by the Hanover Youth Ball (HYB).  In December 2015, HYB was awarded a $17,500 grant from the Minnesota Twins.

In March, 2016, the Hanover Park Board supported the redesign, and on April 5, nearly a year ago, the city council approved the plan.  The city council approval included allowing the ball field fence to be on the property line, requiring the planting of trees beyond the outfield fence and discussing future maintenance.

The council, although it could have, has never reconsidered the redesign but was working to make sure the cost of the rebuilding would be minimal for the city.

Originally, HAA leased the field from the city and was planning to manage the reconstruction of the field, but in February of this year, HAA asked to terminate its lease, to which the council agreed.  Now, the city will be managing the rebuilding of the field.

Before the vote to accept the donation, the council considered estimated costs for the field redesign.

The total cost of the redesign was estimated at $74,800.  That includes: field preparation, fencing, dugouts, safety netting, and the replacement of trees in the outfield.

With the $50,000 donation of the HAA and $17,500 from the Minnesota Twins, the cost to the city was estimated at $7,300.  That cost did not include city staff time.

Future improvements of irrigation and lighting were $21,500 for irrigation and $175,000 for lighting.  Those improvements are not in the city council's plans.

 

OPEN FORUM

During the open forum, several Hanover residents spoke for and against the ball field redesign and the removal of the trees.

Joe Kaul questioned the actual costs of the project and said he was concerned that road improvements would "go to the back burner."

Michael Kehn, president of the Hanover Historical Society, said the ball field is not in the city's comprehensive plan and not in the capital improvement plan.

"Why wasn't this addressed by the Planning Commission?  You are destroying the dynamic of the park in the future," said Kehn.

Chad Kugler of HYB said, "This is all about the kids and their parents.  Kids come with their parents, and this (the new ball field) will make Hanover a better place."

Claudia Pingree said, "This is more than just about youth ball.  There's got to be room in this world for all of us; there's got to be room in this town for all of us.  I am proud of Hanover.  We have ordinances about tree preservation and replacement for developments.  Why not the same with our public parks?"

Said Stephanie Gleason, "This will take away a large part of our park that is currently being used by all ages and genders.  Listen to our wants and needs.  It's wrong to destroy healthy trees to support one sport that we already support."

Tom Therrien of HYB said, "My character has been challenged.  I have been called a liar, and that hurts.  I did get calls from some 'tree people' who did say that were not supporting those attacks.  We are about community.  This is a no cost option for the city.  When asked by the city council to go for the funding, we did."

Said Dan Henneke of the HYB Board, "We want to help kids play ball and get more kids playing ball.  We strive to improve.  We are using two fields for only young children to gain one field for use by all."

Former councilmember John Vajda reminded the council they had already voted on the project.

"The project will go through, but accepting the money will ease the burden on the taxpayers.  Accept the donation.  We appreciate that," he said.

Five others spoke against the project, as did the authors of three emails read by City Administrator Brian Hagen.

 

ZONING ORDINANCE AMENDMENT

Over the last two months, the Planning Commission and the city council have discussed principal uses and buildings on city lots.

After the Planning Commission consulted interested property owners and provided language, the council accepted amendments to the zoning ordinance relating to principal uses, principal buildings, and building eligibilities.

Now, residential districts will have one principal use and one principal building. Commercial and industrial districts will be allowed to have more than one principal use and more than one principal building and that those principal uses can be the same use occurring in multiple buildings.

To utilize building eligibilities, land parcels that have more than one building eligibility will be subdivided.  If more than one building eligibility exists, only one residence or principal use can be constructed on any one parcel.

 

OTHER ACTION

In other action, the council:

- will list the Deputy Clerk/Treasurer position for hire. Liz Lindrud has submitted her resignation and will leave her position in early April.

- approved the purchase of a combination grass fire rig and medical response vehicle for the fire department at a cost of $88,200. The existing grass fire rig will be sold or auctioned.

- approved a street skin patch coating for Pheasant Run at $6900. The streets in the Pheasant Run subdivision are planned to be reconstructed in 2018.

- decided to hold a goal-setting retreat on March 25. The day-long retreat will be conducted by Don Salverda and will focus on long- and short-term goals, clarification of roles, and the setting of relationships. The cost of the retreat will be $3,000.

- agreed to not waive the statutory limits on the city's liability insurance coverage, an action taken every year. The statutory limits are $500,000 per claimant and $1,500,000 per occurrence.

- designated rows 12 and 13 in the city cemetery for cremation burials, as well as for traditional burials.

- agreed to the hiring of Derek Bostron as a probationary firefighter.

- approved several budget amendments and a fund transfer for a bond payoff. The actions are in preparation for the annual audit.

 

FEBRUARY 21 WORK SESSION

- approved the Eagle Scout project of John Miller. Miller's plan is to create two "Welcome to Hanover" signs on County Road 19 when entering the city from Corcoran on the south and from St. Michael on the north. A third sign may be added on County Road 34 from the west. The council asked Miller to work with the Park Board on the design of the signs.

- discussed a possible road maintenance project in Pheasant Run.

- discussed at length with several city residents the redesign of the Settlers Park ball field.

- approved extra funding for soil correction at the site of the new public works facility. Material will need to be brought from an outside source as no suitable material was found at the site.

 

 

Rockford woman dies in Bloomington crash

A 24-year-old Rockford resident died in a crash that ended a high-speed police pursuit in Bloomington last Saturday, March 11, according to Twin Cities news reports.

A passenger in a vehicle being pursued, Sondra Heger, 24, was not wearing a seat belt, the State Patrol said.  The pursuit began around 3:20 p.m. on American Blvd.  The chase ended when  the vehicle being pursued collided with another vehicle about a mile from the Mall of America.  The driver of the other vehicle was not injured.

The driver of the pursued vehicle, Nicholas Lowers, 27, of Blaine, was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.  He could face criminal vehicular homicide, felony fleeing from police and possession of a stolen vehicle charges, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  The State Patrol said alcohol is believed to be a factor in the incident.

 

 

Residential burglary in Delano investigated

Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty has reported that on Sunday, March 12 the Sheriff's Office received a report of a burglary at a residence in the 200 block of 2nd St. SW in the City of Delano.

Upon investigation, it was found that residence had been vandalized, and several electronic gaming systems had been taken.

The Wright County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone with information about this burglary to contact the investigative tip line at 763-682-7733.

 

 

Elections conducted in fifteen Wright County townships last Tuesday

Annual elections were conducted in 15 of Wright County's 18 townships last Tuesday, March 14.

In most of the townships, candidates for supervisor and treasurer were unopposed.  But there were a few exceptions.

In Buffalo Township, Colleen Ernesti won a two-person race with 90 votes to 54 for Joe Coolen.

Three of the townships, Clearwater, Silver Creek and Southside, will conduct their annual elections in November during the general election.

The March 14 election results follow:

 

Albion Township

Ballots cast: 32.

Supervisor: Dwight Hammer 31.

Treasurer: Doug Triplett 32.

 

Buffalo Township

Ballots cast: 144.

Supervisor: Colleen Ernesti 90, Joe Coolen 54.

 

Chatham Township

Supervisor: Mark Lambert 23.

Treasurer: Joan Baert-Demarais 22.

 

Cokato Township

Ballots cast: 27.

Supervisor: Jim Danielson 21.

Treasurer: Nancy Dahlman 27.

 

Corinna Township

Ballots cast: 32.

Supervisor: Chuck Carlson 30.

 

Franklin Township

Balots cast: 168.

Supervisor: Mike Barfknecht 91 (write-in), DeWayne Bauman 77.

 

French Lake Township

Supervisor: Casey Weber 34.

Treasurer: Lucille Ekholm 34.

Referendum question (Appointment of the clerk and treasurer by the town board.) Yes 23, No 8.

 

Maple Lake Township

Supervisor: Ronnie Wolff 26.

 

Marysville Township

Ballots cast: 23.

Supervisor: Joe Hickmann 22.

 

Middleville Township

Ballots cast: 19.

Supervisor: James Jacobson 18.

Treasurer: Judy Forst 19.

 

Monticello Township

Ballots cast: 51.

Supervisor (two three-year seats): Shannon Bye 48, Bob Idziorek 51.

Treasurer: Nancy Friesen 46.

 

Rockford Township

Ballots cast: 47.

Supervisor (two three-year terms): Dennis Beise 45, Greg Eckblad 44.

 

Stockholm Township

Ballots cast 99:

Supervisor: Daniel Sangren 73, Larry DeRosier 26.

Treasurer: Cecilie Sangren 91.

 

Victor Township

Ballots cast: 17.

Supervisor: Greg "Butch" Bakeberg 17.

Treasurer: Sean Groos 16.

 

Woodland Township

Ballots cast: 23

Supervisor: Gene Janikula 22.

Treasurer: Paula LaVigne 23.

 

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feature photos

Making 'True Strides' on horses

Relatively new program at True Friends Camp Courage takes on disability challenges with therapy horses

By Ed DuBois

Little Wyatt Fieldseth of Buffalo was always walking on his toes.  Conventional physical therapy hadn't helped the five-year-old get his heels down.  But after taking up horseback riding at True Friends Camp Courage near Maple Lake, the muscles from his calves to his heels stretched and loosened.

"In about three to four months, he was walking heel to toe," said Shari Mangas, the director of True Strides Therapy Horses.

The program has helped many participants who are challenged by various disabilities.  Now in its third year, True Strides helps participants both physically and emotionally.  Mangas said riding horses strengthens core muscles and can help riders stand and sit upright better.  The "3D movement" of horse riding "lights up the brain" and helps it get more organized and developed while building motor pathways, she explained.

 

Over 60 participants

Mangas had been offering equestrian therapy through the Sharadise Therapeutic Foundation near Lake Maria State Park (just west of Monticello).  She was contacted by Camp Courage about starting an equestrian therapy program.

That was about three years ago, and since then, True Strides has steadily grown from a relative few participants to over 60 riders who come every week.

Besides Mangas, the program includes two other occupational therapists, and the barn manager, Donna Albury, is working on getting certified as a riding instructor.

The participants benefit from not only riding the horses, but also taking care of the horses while gaining a work ethic, Mangas mentioned.

"They love it, love it," said Albury.  "They don't think of it as therapy."

The program is offered at the Dudley Equine Center, which is located just a short distance beyond the Camp Courage entrance.  The facility was donated by a longtime supporter of Camp Courage, Bill Dudley.

 

Better outlook

Even before the equine center opened, Mangas had been offering camp programs involving horseback riding at Camp Courage.  She enjoys telling about the way the program helps participants.

Elli Hofmeister's story is a good example.  Juvenile Huntington's disease had affected her movement, emotions and thinking.  The 19-year-old Maple Lake resident came to True Strides in October 2016.

She was unable to raise her arms beyond 90 degrees.  Her lower back was tight, and she had trouble walking.

A program that included massage, stretching and horseback riding has helped her improve dramatically, Mangas said.  Hofmeister can now raise her arms 180 degrees, and she now walks much better.  She now volunteers to help other participants after her lesson each week.  Mangas said Hofmeister has a kind spirit and a never-ending smile, which keeps the therapists energized and in wonderful spirits.

 

Motivated by riding

Little Kadence McEwen, an Albertville five-year-old, has been challenged by an autism spectrum disorder.  She has had sensory integration issues, which made it hard for her to process visual information, Mangas said.  However, she is very sharp and, despite her disorder, she was reading at age four.

Working with the horses is a treat for McEwen.  At times when emotions would get the best of her and frustrate her, she was told, "You can do more riding if you listen, and no screaming."

Motivated by the enjoyment of riding, McEwen calmed down.

"The movement of trotting calmed her down," Mangas said.  "She was our star little girl at a recent horse show."

 

Scoop ball

McEwen has steadily improved, and she has begun to interact with other girls.  Screaming outbursts have decreased from about 90 percent of the time to 5 percent of the time, Mangas reported.  Trail riding at Camp Courage have been calming for McEwen.  Mangas added that the little girl's visual tracking is very good now.  Playing some games while riding has helped with eye-hand coordination.  One of the games, "scoop ball," involves catching a ball in a scoop while riding.

 

Hug a horse

Mangas noticed that caring for horses can lead to more caring for people.  For example, hugging horses can lead to hugging people.

Participants respond positively to learning how to care for the 11 True Strides horses.  They learn how to put on a saddle and bridle correctly.

"They love to take care of the horses, getting them ready, feeding them and giving them treats," Mangas said.

 

Stronger core, stronger legs

A girl with cerebral palsy, Daleney Teske, 16, of Buffalo, has benefited from the True Strides program.  Riding horses has increased her core strength and her leg strength.  Riding in a partially standing position with her knees bent has helped her improve her walk with better heel-toe steps.

 

Special events

The riding sessions take place throughout the year.  A few special events are scheduled.  An open house is being planned for September 2017.  A Halloween event was enjoyed last October, and for a Christmas event, Santa arrived with gifts provided by Paul's Pals (an organization in Minneapolis that enriches the lives of children with disabilities).

 

Positive effect

In numerous participants, including Wyatt Fieldseth, Elli Hofmeister, Kadence McEwen, and Daleney Teske, Mangas and the other therapists have seen both physical and emotional benefits.  On the emotional side, they have seen improved self-esteem, confidence and motivation.  They enjoy seeing the positive effect of human-animal bonding.

You can see more about True Strides on Facebook (Search for True Strides Therapy Horses.).