Emerald Ash Borer found in Wright County, MDA activates area quarantine
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has placed Wright County under an emergency quarantine, which went into effect Thursday, September 13, after emerald ash borer (EAB) was found along the I-94 corridor in the city of Clearwater.
Because this is the first time EAB has been identified in Wright County, the MDA is enacting an emergency quarantine to limit the movement of firewood and ash material out of the county. This will reduce the risk of further spreading the tree-killing insect. A total of 17 Minnesota counties are now under a full or partial quarantine to prevent the spread of this highly destructive tree pest.
“We are not surprised to find EAB in this area along I-94, since it’s a high traffic area for truckers and travelers alike. We can be certain that emerald ash borer was brought into Wright County by someone moving infested ash,” said Kimberly Thielen Cremers, MDA Pest Mitigation and Regulatory Response Manager. “The only way to protect Minnesota’s ash trees is to stop moving firewood and other ash products around the state.”
There are three easy steps Minnesotans can take to keep EAB from spreading:
• Don’t transport firewood. Buy firewood locally from approved vendors, and burn it where you buy it;
• Be aware of the quarantine restrictions. If you live in a quarantined county, be aware of the restrictions on movement of products such as ash trees, wood chips, and firewood; and,
• Watch your ash trees for infestation. If you think your ash tree is infested, go to www.mda.state.mn.us/eab and use the “Do I Have Emerald Ash Borer?” guide. Suspect infestations can be reported to MDA’s Arrest the Pest line at 1-888-545-6684 or email@example.com.
Emerald ash borer larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on the part of the tree that moves nutrients up and down the trunk. The invasive insect was first discovered in Minnesota in 2009 and is now found in 30 states.
Minnesota is highly susceptible to the destruction caused by EAB. The state has approximately one billion ash trees, the most of any state in the nation.
Love INC. to host 9th Annual Gla Fundraiser on October 7 in Buffalo
Don’t miss out on the 9th Annual Gala Fundraiser for Love INC-Big Woods! It will be held on Sunday, October 7, beginning at 4:30 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Buffalo.
The keynote speaker will be Brent Stromme, a local pastor, writer, speaker and entrepreneur. Cornerstone Café in Monticello will be catering the dinner, and there will be a silent auction, live auction, piano music, and a short program with a chance to find out what Love INC has been up to this past year!
Tickets are $30. Come support Love INC. This fundraiser provides necessary funds, so Love INC can continue helping our neighbors in need.
Contact the Love INC Clearinghouse for tickets or more information. Tickets can also be purchased at Buffalo Books, as well as many area churches. Call: 763-682-2550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buffalo Community Theatre announces the cast of October’s ‘Company’
Buffalo Community Theater is excited to announce the cast of their fall musical comedy: Stephen Sondheim’s “Company.”
This talented group of performers from Buffalo and other nearby communities includes: Nick Lostetter, of Buffalo, as Robert; Allesson Stensing, of St. Cloud, as Sarah; Jamie Cassidy, of Otsego, as Harry; Jessica Pavlenko, of Maple Lake, as Susan; Tyler Stanchfield, of Wayzata, as Peter; Jane Thelen, of Andover, as Jenn; Andrew Jacobsen, of St. Cloud, as David; Heather Halstead, of Dassel, as Amy; James Person, of Buffalo, as Paul; Deborah Schee, of Medicine Lake, as Joanne; Rick Wyman, of Rogers, as Larry; Jenny Robinson, of Big Lake, as April; Laura Smith, of Rockford, as Marta; and Katie Bockhaus, of Brooklyn Center, as Kathy.
On the technical side of the production, Greg Bestland is Stage and Production Manager, with Dassel resident Kari Wendroth returning to Buffalo for her directing debut with BCT. Music direction will be provided by Michael Walsh, with Set Design, Painting and Properties by Diane Paulu, Costuming by Lisa Ellwoods, Graphics by Tammy Bryant, Building by Philip Ludwig and Lighting and Sound by Tracy Paulson and Joel Strand.
From musical theatre’s most renowned composer, Company is widely regarded as a trailblazer of the dark-comedy, modern-musical genre and the winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Lyrics and Best Book.
On the night of his 35th birthday, confirmed bachelor, Robert, contemplates his unmarried state. Over the course of a series of dinners, drinks and even a wedding, his friends – “those good and crazy people [his] married friends” – explain the pros and cons of taking on a spouse. The habitually single Robert is forced to question his adamant retention of bachelorhood during a hilarious array of interactions.
Company features a brilliantly brisk and energetic score containing many of Stephen Sondheim’s best known songs including: You Could Drive a Person Crazy, The Ladies Who Lunch, and Being Alive!
Performances will take place at Discovery Auditorium in Buffalo, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 12-14 and Friday, Saturday, Sunday, October 19-21. All seating is reserved, and advanced tickets are available online from the BCT website: www.bctmn.org. Company is recommended for those 13 and above. It is recommended to buy tickets early to ensure the best seats possible. Tickets for any remaining seats may be purchased at the door, one hour before the performance starts. Adults $16, Seniors (60 years and older) $13, Children/Students $8 (Students include college-with student ID).
“This organization is made possible, in part, by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Central MN Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.”
County Commissioners discusses veteran services grant for 2018-19 season
By Miriam Orr
On Tuesday, September 18, Wright County Commissioners heard from Greg Pickard, Veterans Service Officer, regarding the coming grant season for County services.
“Service tripled this year from 2017,” Pickard explained to Commissioners, continuing on by stating the rising demand in veteran’s services in the area. “The word is getting out more and more, every day. We are exactly where we want to be in this area.”
Pickard explained that each year, Veterans Services enters into a contract agreement with the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs (MNDVA) to conduct the County Veterans Service Office Operation Enhancement Program, which is a program that grants Veterans Services with money for a period of a full year.
The grant is around $15,000, and Pickard commented that in 2017, they used every dollar of grant money, and that they planned the same for this contract year. “The funds are allotted based on population,” he shared.
With this year’s grant, which has a period of performance from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, the goal is to utilize funds for training and outreach of employees. The current internal goal, aside from continuing to assist veterans, is to continue digitizing records of service, which is currently on track for a 2020 completion date.
Pickard requested the adoption of a resolution which would then allow the department to formally enter the contract with the state, and assured Commissioners that the grants for the program are always spent with the interest of Veterans in mind and are used distinctly for the department, and do not go anywhere else in the County, as the state grant regulates.
Commissioners adopted this resolution unanimously.
Information Technology: Director Adam Tagarro introduced two new employees to the IT department, including Joshua Fox, who will be serving as the IT Senior Systems Engineer; and Jesus Castillo, the IT Senior Technical Support Specialist.
Fox comes from 17 years of experience, primarily in the financial field. Tagarro commented that his “wide depth of knowledge” was something the County looked forward to utilizing in his department, and Fox shared that he was excited to look into the programs of the County and continue working towards improvement. He and his family reside in Hanover.
Castillo has almost 20 years of various IT experience and is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. He too lives locally, and shared that he was more than excited about the program set in place with the County, and that he looked forward to growing it and optimizing it for future endeavors.
Auditor/Treasurers Office: The office requested the authorization of purchase regarding election equipment from Knowink. During the Primary Election, it was noted that the wireless internet pucks had connectivity issues in a number of locations, and the Office requested that they return the current pucks in hopes of obtaining newer and more efficient technology.
Secondly, Commissioners ratified a three-year contract, and also adopted a resolution which would authorize the sale of tax forfeited properties on auction slated for Thursday, October 25. Five properties will go to auction, some new and other that did not sell on the last auction.
Regarding starting bids, Commissioner Mark Daleiden shared his concern that the starting bid was above the appraised value. The resolution passed unanimously.
Commissioners also approved a resolution regarding the sale of an abandoned property in Otsego, along CR 38, as well as the budget report for August.
Buffalo City Council plans financing for upcoming 2018-19 projects
By Arynn Maznio
Buffalo City Council met on Monday, September 17 at 7 p.m. As the end of the year looms closer, planning is underway to address upcoming city financing and levies. Administrator Merton Auger prepared a report to advise the Council on the 2019 preliminary levies for the City and the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), which needs to be certified to the Wright County Auditor this month.
The levies, which cover city needs such as streets, parks, and the police department, amongst other amenities, total $8,027,464, which is shown as a 1.5% increase. Although there is a slight increase, the council agreed that it is still a low amount. Auger reported that four city bonds have decreased, which contributed to the lower percentage reflected in the levies. The Council agreed that it is a good thing to have the bond reductions. After reviewing the outlined City and HRA levy proposals, the Council approved the motion to accept the recommendations. It is important to note that the levies may be decreased as the budget is formally adopted, however, there may be no increase to the preliminary total.
The discussion was picked up again later during the meeting in regards to future financing for four upcoming projects in order to plan for the 2018-2019 year. The planning for the new fire department is underway. Currently the city has $1.5 million set aside for the project, which is budgeted to cost $6.1 million.
There will be an opportunity for bonding at $4.5 million, as the city will have approximately $2 million by the time the project is completed. The second plan, a bond sale of Electric Revenue Bonds, will go up to $2 million. This project is still being negotiated with Wright Hennepin. It is projected to provide service to residential areas via a fiber cable.
The third project will address the reconstruction of Douglas Drive and Phase Three of Southeast Area Improvements. The fourth and final project to refinance capital appreciation bonds refinances city debt for 2019.
Administrator Auger shared that four bonds are potentially eligible for refinancing. Each of these projects are only in the initial stages of planning, so more information will be provided to the Council as the year draws to a close.
• Mayor Teri Lachermeier expressed excitement and support for the Street Party of Hope, which took place on Thursday, September 13. It was a busy, successful event due to the expansion of the party to incorporate awareness for many forms of cancer and the decision to move the event date from October to September. Many more people stayed to listen as the tributes were announced before the lighting ceremony.
• Linda Kittock reported that the Senior Dance committee is working hard to promote dances and increase attendance. Kittock reported that the Bike Club has 35 members on the roster and has 11 scheduled rides, averaging 8 miles each this year. Also, the Bison Fishing Forever season ends at the end of the month; an end-of-the-year picnic will be held on September 20 at Griffing Park at 5 p.m.
• Captain Sean Deringer, Wright County Law Enforcement and candidate for Wright County Sheriff, addressed the Council during open forum to share his background, professional resumé, and support for the partnership between the Sheriff’s Office and the local Buffalo Police Department.
• Mayor Lachermeier adjourned the public meeting at 7:35 p.m. to a closed session. Buffalo City Council will meet next on Monday, October 1 at 7 p.m.
Hanover City Council adopts 6% increase to preliminary 2019 levy
By Doug Voerding
The Hanover City Council on Tuesday, September 18, gave preliminary approval to a six percent or $102,202 increase in the certified levy for 2019.
However, the tax rate of 44.7 percent is less than last year. The tax rate is a comparison between what the city will levy against what it could levy.
The tax rate in Hanover has continued to decline over the last nine years. The last time the tax rate was below 45 percent was back in 2010.
The levy has four categories. The revenue category for the general operations of the city is $1,019,659. Fire protection is $101,578, debt service is $282,260, and capital improvement is $243,509, for a total of $1,647,006.
That total does not include Minnesota Local Government Aid of $157,253 or other sources of income of $328,504.
City staff and the council have been working on the budget needs for the last two months.
This preliminary levy needed to be approved and submitted to the counties this month. The final levy will be approved in December. While the preliminary levy can change, it can only be lowered and not increased between now and December.
In other action, the council
• decided to continue the skid loader replacement program even though the cost of the program has increased about $1200 due to the price of steel.
• discussed police service provided by Hennepin County and Wright County Sheriff’s Departments. The city currently contracts with both departments, three hours a day from Hennepin County and four hours from Wright County. The city will continue to explore having service from one county, but the change will require a change in state law. According to the council, the two departments do not coordinate their hours. Each department is limited in the enforcement they can provide in the part of the city that is not in their jurisdiction.
• directed city staff to explore the cost to build and maintain a columbarium at one of the city cemeteries. The columbarium would be used for the permanent placement of cremated remains. C. Olson Concrete has approached the city about providing free the labor and cement a base for a columbarium.
• directed city staff to continue to look into the purchase of a used street sweeper from T & S Trucking. The owner of T & S Trucking is retiring and will not provide the city with street sweeping services next year. The Public Works Department is interested in taking on the street sweeping work which was estimated at 55 hours per year.
• learned that absentee ballots for the November election will be available at city hall beginning Friday.
• decided to re-schedule the November regular meeting to either November 8 or November 14 at 7 p.m. The change is needed due to the date of the general election.
September 4 Regular Meeting
At the September 4 meeting, the council
• approved an EDA low interest loan of $100,000 for Astro Engineering to help offset the cost of a new piece of equipment. The EDA previously approved the loan, wanting to help an existing local business bring jobs to Hanover.
• approved the purchase of the new ball field lights to allow installation yet this fall. The city will fund the purchase now, but will receive $50,000 from the Hanover Athletic Association in 2019.
• discussed the 2019 preliminary budget.
August 21 Meeting
At the August 21 work session, the council
• reviewed the 2019 preliminary budget and discussed the 15th Street NE pavement project.
• learned that the dishwasher and the water heater at city hall needs replacement. Cost estimates were $4000 for the dishwasher and $9,000 for the water heater.
• allowed the Hanover Harvest Festival royalty to park temporarily the parade float in the former Public Works garage.
A heart-felt ‘Street Party of Hope’: yet another successful evening
By Arynn Maznio
On Thursday, September 13, the streets of downtown Buffalo were alive with the sounds of laughter and music, as members of the community came together to offer support and encouragement for those fighting cancer. The 10th Anniversary Street Party of Hope, formerly the Pink Street Party, was hosted by the Buffalo Hospital Foundation. Vendors from around the area set up booths along 1st Avenue with information, merchandise, food, and beverages. The Fourth Avenue Trio, based at BJ’s Deli, shared music early in the evening, while the Crows Feet Band provided entertainment until the 8 p.m. lighting ceremony. Similar to previous years’ Pink Street Party, the community was invited to dress up with Party of Hope shirts and boas.
With a goal to “elevate cancer awareness and enhance cancer care in the community,” Buffalo Hospital Foundation made some special additions to this year’s street party, including a new 5k fun run/ -walk during which participants could complete the course in honor of a loved one who has battled cancer. Participants ran from the splash pad along Lake Boulevard to a turnaround at Gary Mattson Park, before completing the course at the library.
Additionally, colorful trees lit up around the splash pad in memory to those fighting different forms of cancer provided another party feature. As the sun set over the lake, tree lights were first turned on for people to enjoy and read tags tied to branches, which were added in honor of cancer patients and survivors. Prior to the lighting ceremony, Karla Heeter and Denise Blizil, of the Buffalo Hospital Foundation, recognized individuals, families, and friends who shared tribute gifts in honor, memory, or celebration of a loved one. A check of $25,000 was presented to the Community Cancer Care Fund, which goes to assist local cancer patients who need financial assistance with their cancer diagnosis.
The night came to a close as thousands of lights lining the lake-walk path were then illuminated following a countdown. Brilliant fireworks painted the sky for the heart-felt moment, which was significant for the community as it came together to celebrate another successful event.
Bison and Elks set state records in wild game
Buffalo running back Riley Habisch (23) rushed for 156 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns in a wild 80-70 home loss to Elk River last Friday. The 150 combined points set a new state record. See the full game story in the Sports section of this week’s edition of the Wright County Journal-Press, Page 1C. (Photo by Rob LaPlante)
BHS Homecoming Royalty candidates announced
Buffalo High School homecoming candidates were announced at a special assembly on Monday, September 17. Above are, front row from left, homecoming queen candidates Kwynn Kalamaha, Audrey Green, Amara Alvarez, Eric O’Borsky, Carly Wilfahrt, Emily Kern, Gabby Hernandez, and Sarah Burke. Homecoming king candidates, back row from left, are Austin Willey, Grayson Wubben, Tucker MacCallum, Bryce Thompson, Treyton Welch, Kolbe Kramer, Tim Siemers, and Jack Munsterteiger. Homecoming Week activities begin Monday, September 24, with the homecoming royalty coronation at 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Buffalo High School. The homecoming football game will be on Friday, September 28, against the Monticello Magic at 7:00 p.m. at the BHS stadium. (Photo by Doug Voerding)
A fight of many colors