Sheriff's awards presented during Wright County Board meeting
By Ed DuBois
Sheriff Joe Hagerty presented annual awards during the Wright County Board meeting last Tuesday, May 16. Also, the Board adopted a resolution proclaiming Law Enforcement Officers Week in Wright County, May 14-20.
The proclamation states officers safeguard the lives and property of fellow citizens, regardless of peril and hazard, while preserving freedom from fear of violence and civil disorder.
Seven Wright County officers have given the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives in the line of duty: Constable Charles Albert Washburn, Sheriff John C. Nugent Jr., Marshall Ru-dolph Maurer, Sheriff Paul Kritzeck, Sheriff James Kreitlow, Chief George Ry-ti, and Sheriff Roger Wrob-bel.
Sgt. Ryan Ferguson provided information about awards to deputies and citizens for exceptional actions over the past year. Sheriff Hagerty presented the awards.
Hagerty started by honoring a longtime reserve officer, Fred Reimer, with an award. Reimer served 52 years with the Reserves and was a charter member. His work included providing protection for Hubert H. Humphrey at his home in Waverly.
Deputy Glenn Gerads was given a Commendation Award. On Feb. 15, 2017, Deputy Gerads responded to a structure fire in Montrose. Upon arrival, he encountered an apartment building with thick and heavy gray smoke coming out of the main door and windows. After entering the building, Deputy Gerads located an unconscious woman lying outside her apartment door. Gerads picked up the woman and carried her out of the building to the nearby sidewalk, where another deputy started administering oxygen. Deputy Gerads then began checking the perimeter, knocking on windows to wake people and get them out. Gerads located an elderly man on the back side of the apartment building. The man attempted to exit through the hallway, but the smoke was too heavy. He attempted to climb out the window, but he was too out of breath due to the smoke. Deputy Gerads bearhugged the individual and lifted him out to safety.
Deputy Andrew Minea received a Letter of Recognition. On Nov. 16 while on routine patrol, Deputy Minea noticed a restaurant filling with smoke due to an active grease fire. Deputy Minea forced entry through door and extinguished the fire. After investigating, it was found that the fire suppression system had failed. Deputy Minea prevented severe damage or a complete loss of the business.
A Letter of Recognition was also presented to Reserve Deputy George Rowe. While working at Walmart, he noticed a vehicle in the parking lot that he believed matched the description of a vehicle sought in connection to a homicide in Wright County. Rowe remembered the make, model and license plate of the suspect vehicle and contacted Sgt. Johnson. Rowe's recollection of the suspect information and his discovery of this vehicle aided in the homicide investigation.
Alex Zhukouski received a Citizen Commendation Award, and fellow school bus passengers Cheyenne Tuttle, Irma Lazano and Sarah Parent received Citizen Letters of Recognition. On Jan. 19, 2017, Wright County deputies were dispatched to a motor vehicle vs. pedestrian crash in Otsego. The deputies learned that three children waiting for a bus had been struck by a vehicle that drove through the school bus stop arm. The three children were severely injured and transported to metro hospitals. Bus passengers Alex Zhukouski, Cheyenne Tuttle, Irma Lazano, and Sarah Parent got off the bus and tended to the victims before help arrived.
Hans Hoeg and Ryan Zylstra received Citizen Letters of Recognition. On Jan. 5, 2016, deputies were dispatched in response to a report about a missing four-year-old. Three agencies, along with the Wright County Sheriff's Office, were in search of the child. Hoeg and Zylstra were on their lunch break when they received information about the missing child. They were close to the search area and decided to help. About 15 minutes later, they saw a dog and a child. They yelled the missing child's name, and then the child told them he was waiting for someone to pick him up. Hoeg was able to flag down a state trooper, and the child was safely returned to his mother.
Jonathan Hudek was awarded a Citizen Letter of Recognition. On Jan. 23, 2017, Deputy Lundeen made a stop on a vehicle for minor traffic violations. After the vehicle came to a complete stop, the driver exited the vehicle and started running. After detaining the passenger, Deputy Lundeen located a male matching the description of the driver. The individual was being detained against a chain link fence by Jonathan Hudek, who stated he chased the suspect through a backyard before detaining him until the deputy was able to respond.
Marlene Kittock and Holly Schrupp were awarded Letters of Recognition. On Aug. 15, 2016, Wright County Dispatch received a call from Marlene Kittock and Holly Schrupp stating they wanted to report a suspicious person. The two had noticed an individual sitting on a picnic table watching patrons come and go from a business, possibly drinking alcohol and had been there for an extended period of time. Upon the deputy's arrival, the individual quickly entered the business, leaving his backpack behind. Kittock contacted Dispatch for the second time, letting them know the location of the individual. The deputy's investigation resulted in the arrest of the individual for several burglaries and possession of a stolen handgun.
Michael Scharber and Peter Scharber received a Citizen Commendation Award. On Oct. 12, 2016, Wright County Dispatch received a call about a capsized boat on Pelican Lake. Upon arrival, deputies learned that the two victims' boat started to take on water, making it capsize. The two victims started screaming for help, and this was heard by two other hunters, Michael and Peter Scharber. Michael grabbed binoculars to look across the bay and saw the capsized boat and the hunters in the water. They immediately responded to the scene and pulled the two cold and shivering hunters into their boat.
In other business:
The Board adopted a resolution proclaiming Emergency Medical Services Week, May 21-27.
The proclamation states 237 EMS teams in Central Minnesota are providing lifesaving care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Members include: first responders, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, emergency medical dispatchers, firefighters, police officers, educators, and emergency department personnel.
Our communities benefit daily from the knowledge and skills of these highly trained and dedicated individuals, the proclamation further states.
The Board accepted the low bid of $430,310 from John A. Dalsin & Son for roof replacement work on the county's Public Works Building. Four bids had been received.
A recommendation from the Parks Commission to explore a possible sale of land near Stanley Eddy Park Reserve touched off a discussion about spending. Board Chair Charlie Borrell mentioned recent comments from the public about spending that could take funds away from needed highway projects.
Commissioner Mike Potter offered a motion to deny the recommendation, but no one seconded the motion. Commissioner Mark Daleiden said it would not hurt to talk to the potential seller and at least find out what might be offered. Commissioner Darek Vetsch offered a motion to accept the recommendation, and it passed 4-1 with Potter opposed.
Mark Mattice, the county's parks administrator, said he would not expect to acquire property with county funds only. He would apply for regional or state funding.
In other actions, the Board:
• approved a process for the replacement of the human resources director (The current human re-sources director, Sunny Hesse, has accepted a position with another organization and has submitted her resignation, effective June 6.);
• approved upgrading 18 sites at Schroeder County Park from 30-amp to 50-amp service;
• authorized the parks administrator to enter into an agreement with SEH Consultants on the development of master planning and construction documents for Collinwood Regional Park, and approved an additional $8,500 in funding from the campground fund to offset expenses;
• approved an agreement with BNSF Railway for improvements on the crossings at CSAHs (County State Aid Highways) 19 and 37 in Albertville;
• scheduled bid openings on June 23 for work on CSAH 3, County Rd. 131, CSAHs 35 and 6, and Briarwood Ave. in Rockford Township;
• adopted a resolution to continue a Highway 55 Corridor Coalition agreement through July 26, 2020;
• authorized the signature of the County Auditor-Treasurer on a letter to the Planning Commission regarding drainage authority and a recent zoning request involving County Ditch 13;
• approved filling a financial worker position in Health & Human Services; and
• approved $331,892 in claims involving 245 transactions with 158 vendors.
'Be Safe! Buckle up!'
The Safe Communities of Wright County Board of Directors stands behind 48 traffic cones, one for every unbelted driver killed in Wright County over the last 10 years. Minnesota's Click It or Ticket campaign runs May 22 - June 4. Over 300 law enforcement agencies from across the state, including here in Wright County, will be conducting extra enforcement on the roads. "Be safe! Buckle Up!" Pictured are: (front row, from left) Steve Berg, Chris Husom, Carol Schefers, Laurie Raymond, Dan Anselment, Pat Budke, Becky Putzke; (back row) Brian Nord, Karla Heeter, Jon Young, Dan Zachman, Mike MacMillan, Joel Torkelson, Virgil Hawkins, Todd Sandin, Erik Kunkel, Jason Hoffman, and Pat Hackman. (Photo courtesy of Safe Communities of Wright County)
BHS Hall of Famers
Pictured are the 2017 Buffalo High School Hall of Fame Award winners, Rebecca Horak (left) and Mitchell Bunting (right), who were announced at the Monday night, May 15 Academic Excellence Awards Program. See more in School News on Page 6C. (Photo by Rob LaPlante)
Donations being accepted to help Eichelbergs recover from recent house fire
Elmer "Ike" and Karol Eichelberg were not harmed, but their home in St. Michael was badly damaged by fire on May 4. Donations are being accepted to help the couple recover.
Two local businesses, First American Bank and Liberty Bar and Restaurant (American Legion Post 567), are reaching out to the community for contributions, according to the North Wright County Today online news service.
Ike is a former teacher, mayor and Wright County commissioner. He and Karol will need to replace most of their belongings. Their home at 220 Main St. was reportedly one of the oldest in the community.
Fortunately, no one was injured. The firefighters were able to respond quickly because the fire station is located across the street from the Eichelberg home.
Buffalo resident dies in Benton County crash involving semi
A man from Buffalo died due to a crash on Highway 95 in Benton County last Saturday, May 13.
According to the State Patrol, a semi was westbound on Highway 95 in Glendorado Township around 10:30 a.m. A Chevrolet Trailblazer was northbound on Co. Rd. 7. The Trailblazer failed to stop for a stop sign and struck the semi in the intersection. The crash claimed the life of Robert Kuhn, 49, of Buffalo, the driver of the Trailblazer. The driver of the semi, David Heim, 80, of St. Cloud, was not injured.
Search for student from Annandale underway
A search has been underway in St. Cloud for an Annandale teen over the past few days.
According the media reports in St. Cloud, the missing teen, Annandale High School senior Aaliyah Kazimer, 17, was last seen at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, May 13 in the Riverside Park parking lot. Her family found her car Sunday night at the park. Bloodhounds followed her scent to an area south of the parking lot.
Family members, friends and others have been helping with the search. They have been looking in wooded areas and along the Mississippi River.
St. Cloud Police have been following up on any leads.
Kazimer is described as an Asian girl about 5 feet tall, 120 lbs. She was last seen wearing a black button-up shirt and dark-colored running shorts.
Anyone with information about Aaliyah's whereabouts is asked to call St. Cloud Police at 320-251-1200.
Sheriff personnel investigation underway
By Ed DuBois
Wright County has re-tained an outside investigator to look into a Sheriff's Office personnel matter.
According to Brian Asleson, chief deputy county attorney, personnel matters are confidential, so at this time, no more information can be provided.
Sheriff Joe Hagerty de-clined to comment.
According to a recent news report by KSTP-TV, Channel 5, an attorney has been hired by the Wright County Deputies Association. The attorney, Robert Fowler, reportedly told KSTP a deputy registered concerns with the county's human resources director, and a short time later, the deputy was placed on paid administrative leave.