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BACK ISSUES: December 29 | January 5 | January 12 | January 19 | January 26 | February 2 | February 9
Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. Wright County Journal-Press & The Drummer

Ice fishing swims into Buffalo

There was quite an impressive display of fishhouses and vehicles on Buffalo Lake during the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 9. This "community" of houses is camped near Sturgis Park, near the government center. (Photo by Miriam Orr)





Wright County wishes 29-year veteran best in retirement

By Miriam Orr

By the Board's own admission, there was not much on the agenda Tuesday morning, Jan. 9. What was on the agenda, however, was Wright County's Social Services Manager and Social Services Supervisor's recognition of Bob Holverson, who will be officially retiring from Health and Human Services on Jan.  25, 2018.

Holverson joined Social Services in Nov. of 1988, stated Michelle Miller, the county's Social Services Manager. He started as a case manager working for the county, in the times when case notes were "handwritten," and blackouts were a regular part of the day's work. Holverson stayed on to see the integration of computers in the early 1990's, and Miller proudly announced that she started work with Holverson in Dec. of 1994, and has been working with him ever since.

During his service, Holverson has seen that individuals within the county have received housing, opportunities for employment, and has provided persons with disabilities a myriad of services that has, in times passed, not been as extensive. What's more, Holverson has helped countless individuals transfer into the community from unfavorable situations, and has been a resource for citizens in the county during his dutiful and driven service.

Holverson was recognized with a standing ovation from the Board during the presentation of his award, and announced that in his retirement, he planned on spending time with his family, and enjoying all the things he "never had time to do before."


Consent Agenda

For the Board's consent agenda, the following was approved:

• An abatement for Curtis and Cassandra Larson

• The approval MCIT 2018 property, casualty, and workers compensation insurance renewel for the total of $1,141,193.

•Warrants issued be-tween Dec. 26, 2017 to Jan. 6, 2018.

• The replacement of a corrections officer.


Timed Agenda

First on the Board's timed agenda was Virgil Hawkins, Highway Engineer, who asked for the Board's approval on a memo between the cities of Albertville, Cokato, and Waverly regarding the storage and purchase of salt for the 2017-2018 snow/ice control season. Buffalo has been purchasing and storing salt in agreement with the aforementioned cities for a number of years, and hopes to continue to do so in coming times.

Hawkins also requested the Board to approve the filling of two Highway Engineering Technician positions, and discussed for some time the benefit of changing the position qualifications to allow for more advanced applicants. Also approved was MnDOT agency agreement, which would allow MnDOT to distribute federal funds to Wright County.

The Board tabled a discussion regarding an amendment to Section 155.48 of the land usage of Wright County code of ordinances, which would allow for schools with 150 students or less to participate in conditional use of the general agriculture district. Commissioner Darek Vetsch suggested perhaps scheduling a Committee of the Whole or a public hearing to gain further insight from the public about the proposal, and ultimately motioned for a table until Commissioner Charlie Borrell was present. It is scheduled for discussion on Jan. 23, at 9:00 a.m.

A subcommittee was for Jan. 24, at 8:30 a.m., to discuss an open issue regarding communication timing and responses regarding Ditch 33 and the extenuating projects thereof.


Committee of the Whole meetings:

•A COTW scheduled to discuss streamlining Wright County's branding guide and review, and the matter will be addressed at the COTW meeting Tuesday, Jan. 23, at 10:00 a.m.

•A COTW will meet on Thursday, Jan. 25, at 10:00 a.m., regarding the discussion on the proposal of a space utilization study in the government center. 

Nick Knese Construction


Montrose FD seeks funds for community service

By Doug Voerding

Montrose residents recently received a calendar from the Montrose Fire Department. With the calendar, the fire department asked for contributions to help protect property and guard lives.

Donations collected through the calendar project "will be used to enhance our fire prevention and education programs, support new equipment and maintenance to provide the best possible service to the communities we serve."

Contributions can be made at any time. Checks should be made out to "Montrose Fire Relief Association" and can be mailed to Montrose Fire Department, 260 – 2nd Street South, Box 25, Montrose, MN 55363 or dropped off at city hall. Donations of any amount are always welcome.

In addition to the calendars, the fire department will be hosting its annual fundraising dinner on Saturday, February 3, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Montrose Community Center. Tickets for a prime rib or shrimp dinner will be $15. A kid's corn dog meal will be $5. Tickets are available at city hall.

The department is also looking for silent auction items for the dinner. If you have something to donate for the silent auction, please go online and email or call 763-575-7422.


Water rates increased; wellhouse underway for Montrose

By Doug Voerding

Water usage rates in Montrose will be going up after the Montrose City Council on Monday, Jan. 8, decided the rate increase is needed to fund improvements to the system.

The council had tabled the matter in Dec., asking for more information about the need for the increase.

The proposed tiered water usage charges will be:

• Tier One usage of 0 to 6000 gallons from $5.10 to $5.35 for every 1000 gallons;

• Tier Two usage of 6,001 to 11,999 gallons from $5.61 to $5.89 for every 1000 gallons;

• and Tier Three usage of more than 12,000 gallons from $6.17 to $6.48 for every 1000 gallons.

A new well and Wellhouse has been on the city's capital improvement list for at least eleven years.

The city has the opportunity to bond for the project with the state Public Facilities Authority (PFA) at a favorable rate of 1.5 percent. The project is now the eleventh out of 79 new projects on the PFA list. In order to access the low-cost bond, the city must show the income to make the bond payments over the next 20 years.

A 2007 water main extension bond will be paid off next year. The payments from that bond will be transferred to payments for a new bond to cover the well projects. However, that money income will fall short of the needed income for the new bond. The water rate increase will generate an estimated $17,500 each year, which will cover the remaining portion of the bond payments for the new well and well house.

The council also, with Councilmember Lloyd Johnson opposed, decided to move forward with plans for Well No. 6 and Wellhouse No. 3, as well as the abandonment of Wellhouse No.1, Well No. 2, and Well No. 3. The entire project is within the fundable range of the PFA.

The council called for plans and specs for the entire project and for a test well on city property west of County Road 110 (Clementa Avenue) and south of U.S. Highway 12.

The PFA deadline for funding this year is March 29. The application to the PFA requires the plans and specs, as well as the test well information.

Traut Companies of Waite Park well will do the test at a cost of $21,665. Bolten and Menk, the city's engineering company, will prepare the plans and specs. That preliminary work will be $50,000 to $60,000. When the project is funded, both of those costs will be part of the PFA bond.



Fire Chief Kevin Triplett told the council that, for 2017, the Montrose Fire Department received 176 calls for service, a decline of 47 from the 2016 total of 223.

Triplett also announced, and the council accepted, the resignation of Tom Kortisses from the fire department. Kortisses is moving out of the city.

Triplett acknowledged all firefighters for their work and dedication throughout 2017, Kortisses for his nearly five-and-a-half years of service to the department, and Councilmember Ben Kuehl for his attending the fire department meetings as council representative.



Resident Abigail Myers asked the council to consider raising the speed limit on Clementa Avenue on the west side of the city.

"This is not an urban district," said Myers. "Thirty miles an hour is very slow. I think it should be raised to 45 miles per hour."

Kannas said that Clementa is a rural residential road and could be changed to 35 miles per hour without notifying the state. Or, the council could ask for a speed study by resolution.

If the council asks for a speed study, the speed allowed on the road would then be what the state determines.

"They could," said Kannas, "require it to be posted at 55 miles per hour, and the city could do nothing about that."

Councilmember Ben Kuehl, who uses the street frequently, said he was not in favor of increasing the speed.

Said Kuehl, "With all of the new development in White Tail Run and Forest Creek, it will be more of an issue than it is now. I see raising the speed limit more of a hazard."

Councilmember Jill Menard, who also uses the street frequently, said, "I don't know if I am in favor of this either. With more people moving into that area, there will be more cars. Families will be using the trails, and there are bikes lanes all along that road."

The council took no action on the request.

Resident Pat Ploog spoke to the council about the work of the Army Corps of Engineers on the regional park last summer.

Ploog said, "I am appalled at the bills received from Bolten and Menk (the city engineers) for the project. I was told by the army workers that the engineers were not on site at all times and that they had to wait for the engineer before continuing work."

Ploog also said that he felt that an "employee complaint was not handled properly."

"A statement was made," said Ploog, "about the army crew being inexperienced. That was not justified at all. They deserve a public apology from that person."

The council took no action on Ploog's comments.



The council made the following appointments for 2018:

• Acting Mayor: Lloyd Johnson.

• Chamber of Commerce representative: Dale Powers and alternate Lloyd Johnson.

•District 877 Community Education representative: Michelle Otto.

•Economic Development Authority: all city council members and Tracy Gurneau.

• Fire Department/Emergency Management: director Fire Chief Kevin Triplett, assistant directors Assistant Fire Chief Matt Menard and fire department captains, fire department council liaison Ben Kuehl and alternate Jill Menard.

• Highway 12 Development Committee: Chair Graham Sones, Sylvia Henry, Ellen Sones, and Jon Varner, staff coordinator Dale Powers, and technical coordinators City Engineer Justin Kannas, City Planner Mark Kaltsas, and Public Works Director Sean Diercks.

• Management Coordinating Committee Mayor Michelle Otto, Councilmember Jill Menard, Public Works Director Sean Diercks, City Clerk/Treasurer Dale Powers, and Fire Chief Kevin Triplett.

• Park and Recreation: Chair Bru Ploog, Kurt Andersen, Christina Bentfield, Abby Myers, and Matt Russell; council liaison Michelle Otto; alternate liaison Lloyd Johnson; and staff coordinator Sean Diercks.

• Planning and Zoning:  Chair Chuck Smallwood, Kurt Andersen, Tracy Gurneau, Sylvia Henry, Bru Ploog, and Barry Rhineberger; council liaison Lloyd Johnson; alternate liaison Melissa Gudvangen; city planner Mark Kaltsas of Terra-Form; and staff coordinator Dale Powers.

• Finance Committee: Ben Kuehl, Melissa Gudvangen, Wendy Manson, and alternate Dale Powers.

• Utility Emergency Board: Michelle Otto and Sean Diercks.

• Montrose Days Committee: council liaison Jill Menard and alternate Melissa Gudvangen.

• Wright County Area Transportation: Wendy Manson and alternate Lloyd Johnson.

• Official Depositories: Citizens State Bank of Waverly, Klein Bank, Wells Fargo of Buffalo, Crow River State Bank, State Bank of Delano, Elk River State Bank, LMC 4M Fund, and Northland Security.

• Official Newspaper: Wright County Journal-Press.

• City Meetings: Management Coordinating Committee at City Hall, first Monday at 3:00 p.m.; Park and Recreation at City Hall, first Monday at 5:30 p.m.; City Council at Community Center, second Monday at 7:00 p.m. and fourth Monday as needed for workshop; Economic Development Authority at Community Center, second Tuesday (bi-monthly) at 6:00 p.m.; Highway 12 Committee at City Hall third Wednesday (quarterly March, June, September, December) at 5:00 p.m.; Planning and Zoning at Community Center, third Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.; and Finance Committee at City Hall, fourth Thursday (quarterly January, April, July, and October) at 9:00 a.m.



In other action, the council:

• decided to seek request for proposals from city attorneys, city engineers, and city building inspectors. The council will continue with Abdo, Eick, and Meyers as city auditors.

• heard Mayor Michelle Otto proclaim January 21 – 27, 2018, as the City of Montrose School Choice Week.

• hired James Swartzer, Jr., as Maintenance Worker I on step one at $16.58 per hour.

• agreed to amend an interim use permit (IUP) for Terning Family Holdings and Sunshare LLC to add one year to the IUP, now ending Oct. 25, 2043, and to allow on site a shipping container for parts storage. The IUP is for the solar energy site on the east side of Highway 25 South.

• met Deputy Sheriff Jake Hermanson who said he thought he would by assigned to the city for the next year. Otto told Hermanson that community policing "is a big issue and that residents want the deputies to be more visible."

• learned that the Park and Recreation Commission Skate Day will be Jan. 20 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the rinks at Carver Park.

• appointed Bru Ploog and Barry Rhineberger to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

• will meet in workshop with the Planning and Zoning Commission to discuss a proposal to change the minimum city lot width from 80 feet to 100 feet, effectively increasing the minimum lot size from 10,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet.

• approved submitting an application to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for an Outdoor Recreation grant for a warming house and park shelter. The grant will be prepared and submitted in March by City Clerk/Treasurer Dale Powers.

• accepted donations of $1500 from the Montrose Lions and $50 from resident Bob Chantland. The money will be used "to benefit the citizens of Montrose as allowed by law."

• agreed to carryover 80 hours of vacation time for Public Works Director Sean Diercks. Staff shortages did not allow Diercks to use the vacation time before the end of the year. Diercks must use the vacation time by April 30.

• accepted $1275 from Wright County for the city's maintenance of a short segment of county road within the city limits.

• will next meet in workshop on Jan. 22 at 6:00 at the Community Center.



The council acknowledged:

• Firefighter Tom Kortisses for his years of service to the city.

• Jason Hilgers for his help on weekends and dedication to his job the last two months.

• all who attended the meeting.

• the Public Works Department and the fire department for their work on preparing the skating rinks.

• Matt and Connor Menard for their work on the skating rinks


School board reorganizes for 2018

By Miriam Orr

Each year, BHM's School Board sets time to reorganize its board and the positions thereof. Monday, Jan. 8, the Board approved its newest members, and welcomed them as they looked forward to a year of service in the interest of the area's school and community.

Elected to the Board was Chair Dave Wilson, Vice Chairman Sue Lee, Clerk Melissa Brings, Treasurer Laurie Raymond, Acting Treasurer/Clerk, Ken Ogden. While Directors of the Board are not primarily elected, Bob Sansevere and Amanda Reineck will be serving in those roles.

During the meeting, the March 12 School Board Workshop's location was changed to the Phoenix Learning Center, and the April 9 workshop will be at Buffalo High School, due to scheduling conflicts.

The board approved the final list of secondary course changes and additions for the next school year. Students will begin registering for 2018-19 school year in Jan. and Feb.

Approved classes for BHS, are as follows: CIS Careers in Education, CIS Teacher Internship, Robotics 3, Beginning Guitar, and Inclusive Physical Education.  Also approved wercourse modifications: CIS Child and Human Development, CIS Early Childhood Education, Fundamentals of Food Preparation (Level 1), Culinary Foods 1, CIS Culinary Foods 2, Acting I – The Physical Actor, Acting I – The Vocal Actor, and Advanced Acting – the Integration of Voice and Body.

Phoenix Learning Center will offer Informational Text Seminar A and B, Topics in Math, and Consumer Math as new classes. The 2018 Board of Education Committee Assignments are as follows.


Outside Agencies:

• MN State High School League: Laurie Raymond  (Ken Ogden)

• MSBA Legislative Liaison: Laurie Raymond

• NWSISD: Amanda Reineck  Bob Sansevere

• SEE: Laurie Raymond  Dave Wilson

• SouthWest Metro Intermediate District: Dave Wilson (Laurie Raymond)

• TIES: Dave Wilson (Laurie Raymond)

• United for Youth: Ken Ogden

• Wright Technical Center: Sue Lee (Bob Sansevere)


 District 877:

• Advertising: Melissa Brings, Bob Sansevere

• Alternative Pay/Qcomp/PPD: Sue Lee, Laurie Raymond

• Construction Committee: Melissa Brings, Ken Ogden (Bob Sansevere)

• Community Education Advisory Council: Bob Sansevere  (Amanda Reineck)

• District 877 Endowment Committee:  Amanda Reineck

• District Teaching & Learning Committee Bob Sansevere,Ken Ogden (Sue Lee)

• Insurance Committee: Ken Ogden 

• Safe Communities: Laurie Raymond  (Melissa Brings) 

• Safe Schools: Ken Ogden   (Bob Sansevere)

• Special Education Advisory Council: Sue Lee (Ken Ogden) 

• Technology Advisory Committee: Dave Wilson, Melissa Brings (Ken Ogden)

• Transportation Committee: Bob Sansevere, Melissa Brings


Negotiations for Odd-Year Contracts (2017):

• Custodians Union: Melissa Brings, Laurie Raymond

• Teachers Master Agreement: Sue Lee, Dave Wilson


Negotiations for Even-Year Contracts (2018):

• Clerical Unit: Sue Lee, Ken Ogden

• Food Service Association: Amanda Reineck, Melissa Brings

• Non-Affiliated Group: Bob Sansevere, Laurie Raymond

• ESPs (Teacher Aide Union): Sue Lee, Laurie Raymond

• Principals' Association: Sue Lee, Dave Wilson

As for the proposal to eliminate enriched classes at BHS and BCMS, the matter was not presented for action at this time.


Wright County goes to Supreme Court over State Auditor's issue Jan. 3

By Miriam Orr

Wednesday, Jan. 3, Wright County was presented before the Minnesota Supreme Court in a case against State Auditor Rebecca Otto. The case, reports Minnesota Lawyer writer Kevin Featherly, is not difficult to understand - should Minnesota counties be able to hire private firms to audit their finances, or should that be left up to the state auditor?

Otto challenges a long- standing separation-of-powers struggle, and asked the Supreme Court to overturn a May 30 Court of Appeals ruling, which found that privatizing audit provisions in a 2015 omnibus bill were constitutional. Her overall appeal is deeper than that, however - Otto is trying to reverse the creation of massive stacks of legislation that are rolled into huge, omnibus bills, to be passed at one time before legislature, while also fighting the privatizing of the Office of the State Auditor.

The 2015 bill which passed was, in sum, regarding the allowance for counties either to contract with Otto's office to audit their finances, or hire private firms with the State Auditor's oversight and approval. The bill determined that doing so was constitutional.

As the State Auditor, Otto has allowed approximately 20 counties to annually hire firms privately, with government oversight. Otto argues that the bill usurps the Office of the State Auditor's executive authority and a checks and balances system set in place by the state's constitution, and thus, is unconstitutional. She adds that the bill was passed last-minute, as it was compiled in a heaping giant of legislation often referred to as a "garbage bill."

Otto concludes that by bypassing the State Auditor's office in favor of private auditing firms, counties will contract for "cheap audits" performed by companies within their respected counties, and thus usurps Otto's state authority. Ultimately, Otto's representative, Joe Dixon, stated the the idea of 2015's heaping bill should not change the State Auditor's job duties, as they are set forth in the Constitution of the state.

Associate Justice Natalie Hudson suggested that it would be difficult to prove that the bill was unconstitutional, and that Otto's representing attorney had a "steep hill to climb."

Representing Wright and Becker counties was attorney Scott Anderson. He suggested that the legislation was constitutional and did not violate the clause, as all of the bills rolled into it can be described as "state government operations." While he did not dispute that the 2015 bill was a broad category, he did suggest that the individual components of the omnibus were challenged based on its relevancy to what is under consideration.

Associate Justice Margaret Chutich noted that by bypassing Otto's office and allowing counties to hire private firms, the budget of the Auditor would cut significantly, due to the fact that the fund generated from county audits would shift. Anderson stated that due to the high number of counties that Otto already contracts with, and the oversights her Office holds, he doesn't believe the fund will cut significantly enough to be burdensome.

Since, Rebecca Otto has issued a statement regarding the Supreme Court hearing, and thanked the Court for considering "the important constitutional questions."

As of now, the case is still under consideration by the Supreme Court. 


Jim McDonnell III, firner co-owner of the Wright County Journal-Press and The Drummer, passes away at age 61

Jim McDonnell III, 61 of Buffalo, worked at the Wright County Journal-Press and The Drummer for several years. He passed away peacefully on Saturday, Jan. 6, at home with his family.

James P. McDonnell III, 61 of Buffalo, passed away peacefully on Saturday, Jan. 6 at his home surrounded by his family.

He was born on November 4, 1956 in Altus, Oklahoma to James P. and Jean (Wandersee) McDonnell, Jr.

Jim graduated from Buffalo High School in 1975. He attended college at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Jim worked at the Wright County Journal-Press for several years before moving out to California to work for the Santa Barbara News-Press in advertising sales. He worked there for a few years. Jim returned home to Buffalo and worked at the Wright County Journal-Press and The Drummer as the advertising manager and co-owner.

Jim and Kristine Knese were united in marriage on February 24, 2001 in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

Jim enjoyed: hunting, fishing, grilling, motorcycling, and raising Gordon Setter dogs.

Jim is survived by: his wife of 16 years, Kris; children, Alexia (Tim) Dahlke of Plymouth, Philip Knese of Barnum, and Nicholas (Amber) Knese of Buffalo; five grandchildren, Gabriel Knese, Alivia Knese, Addie Dahlke, Blake Dahlke, and Vincent Knese; mother, Jean McDonnell, of Buffalo; sister, Cathy (Frank) Schiefelbein III, of Kimball; and brother, Tom (Char) McDonnell, of Buffalo; brothers and sisters in law, Lynn (John) Dinsmore, of Maple Lake, Missy (Rob) Walton, of Pequot Lakes, and Michael (Kim) Pierson, of Brainerd; aunt, Marilyn Legacy, of Surprise, Ariz.; several nieces, nephews, and cousins. 

Jim was preceded in death by his father, James McDonnell, Jr.

A private inurnment will take place with his family.


Minnesota cold, what you need to know to stay warm, safe, and ready

By Miriam Orr

The start of the New Year has been a reasonably cold one, as Minnesota January's usually are. In a study by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, temperature ranges from 2010 to present state that eight years ago, temperatures ranged from –16 to 32 degrees throughout the first month of the year. This week eight years ago, the coldest was –14, with the bright and sunny temperature of 8 rounding out as the "heat wave."

For Jan. this year, however, temps have been unusually cold – International Falls managed a –37 degrees overnight on Jan. 4, with Buffalo sporting a –4 temp. That is quite a difference between 2010 and present day Jan. 2018 – a difference that puts us on ice, so to speak.

Considering the cold temperatures, it seemed wise to consult Wright County's Emergency Management Director, Steve Berg. Preparing to face the frigid temperatures, Berg is a wealth of information, and provided some great consulting resources.

Winter storms, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s definition, occur when there is significant precipitation and the temperature is low enough that it forms as sleet or snow. Storms can range from freezing rain and ice, to moderate snowfall over a few hours, or even blizzards over the course of days.


The before

As you plan for winter happenings and the goings-on of the season, it is important to consider weather conditions and stay informed – not only as individuals, but as members of a family.

NOAA advises making a Family Communicaitons Plan – you may not be with your loved ones when storms happen, so it is crucial to know how to stay in contact and locate one another. Familiarize yourself with routes, workplaces, schedules, contact information, and how you will get back together in case of emergencies.

Consider also an emergency kit before storms happen. NOAA recommends preparing for three days of self-sufficiency.

As for your home, make sure it is properly inspected and insulated, and that you know where emergency shut-offs for water lines are located, and if your roof is sturdy enough to take on added weight that snow and water accumulation may add. With you at all times at home should be a heat source that is sufficient in case the power goes out, whether that be blankets, sleeping bags, winter coats, etc.

Your car should be regularly maintenanced for winter weather – fluids should be checked frequently, and windshield wipers replaced and inspected. Keep in mind that brakes, tires, heaters, and defrost systems are all subject to cold weather malfunctions as well. Also, emergency kits should be self-sufficient for three days, and include portable cell chargers, ice scrapers, blankets, sand (for traction), and jumper cables.


In the course of events

It is inevitable that storms happen at least once every season; so being ready and properly prepared is essential. However, how one handles the course of events should not be taken lightly, and it is important to be aware of your individual situation, and that of your community.

For the duration of a winter storm, it is important to pay attention to weather conditions. Driving, or going out during a winter storm is especially dangerous, as driving and weathering conditions are treacherous.

NOAA recommends letting people know your usual route of travel, having mobile communication with you at all times, and being extra careful to avoid overexertion. Exertion is one of the leading medical conditions in the winter, as it can cause heart attacks.

Wet clothing should be changed frequently, as they lose all of their insulating value, and transmit heat rapidly. Clothing should be layered with loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing versus one layer of thick, heavy attire. If possible, outer garments should be water repellent.


Cold-related illness

Frostbite is something Minnesotans learn about early on in life. It is a condition that is serious, and is caused by exposure to extremely cold temperatures.

In temperatures as low as –2, frostbite can occur within ten minutes. Signs and symptoms of occurring frostbite are:

• White, or grayish-yellow skin color in the effected area,

• Skin that feels waxy, or oddly firm

• and, numbness

If you suspect frostbite, seek medical care immediately.

Hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, can occur when the body drops two to four degrees. This condition is caused by exposure to cold temperatures over a period of time. Wind is especially dangerous in regards to hypothermia, as it speeds up heat loss by taking away the warmth from our skin, and penetrating insulating layers.

In adults, signs of hypothermia are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, loss of memory, unusually slurred speech, and drowsiness. In infants, the body will turn bright red, their skin will feel cold to the touch, and they will be unusually tired and exhibit low energy levels.

In the event you are exposed to the elements, and are in need of shelter, you can text SHELTER, plus your ZIP code, to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area. Whether one should go out, or stay in, is vitally important when considering the elements. Venture out only if the distance you are traveling is easily accessible, there is visibility and outside conditions are safe, you have appropriate clothing, and you are properly equipped to call for help if necessary.

Following these emergency measures are vital to keeping you, and your loved ones, safe during cold weather emergencies.

Keeping you informed to keep you safe, Wright County. Stay warm out there.


New column seeking photos

We want to know what's on your line, Wright County!

With seasonal recreation taking off this start of 2018, the Wright County Journal-Press is looking to expand our paper with a new column, "Fur, Fish, and Feathers."

The column will highlight game catches - whether of the fish, fur, or feather nature - and feature them in the week's paper.

Keeping that in mind, we want to know what game you've been after.

To send in submissions, please go online and email photos with names and locations to the press at this address: Please include contact information, should we have questions regarding your photos.


St. Olaf Choir at BHS Arts Center

For more than a century, the globally recognized St. Olaf Choir has set a gold standard for choral singing, and this winter's national tour will take the ensemble's 72 singers and world-renouned conductor Anton Armstrong.

The St. Olaf Choir's 2018 National Winter Tour includes a concert at Buffalo High School Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, 7:00 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

General admission tickets, priced at $20 for adults and $10 for students, are available for you online at, or by calling 800-363-5487 ($5.00 transaction fee will be added to all phone orders).


Dassel-Cokato hunts up talent

The Dassel-Cokato Arts Association is thrilled to announce the arrival of the Hunts, a Chesapeake, Va. band of siblings, Saturday, Jan. 20, at the DC Performing Arts Center in Cokato.

The Hunts are a seven- member, sibling band, ranging from 17 years old to 26. They have taught themselves to play instruments from a young age, and they have been creating beautiful songs that are arranged artfully, filled with graceful simplicity, and can be enjoyed by any and all ages.

There is reserved seating available for the Hunts' show. Advance tickets are $20.00 for adults, $8.00 for children. At the door, tickets are $22.00 for adults, and $10.00 for children. The event is one night only on Saturday, Jan. 20, starting promptly at 7:00 p.m. For questions, or to order tickets, visit, or call 320-286-4120.


Wright Co. winter activity updates

Winter in Minnesota is notorious for cold weather, snow. Where's there's snow, that most certainly means there is sledding. Wright County's Parks and Recreation Department maintains sledding hills at Bill Anderson Memorial Park at 1725 County Road 7 southwest, Howard Lake, Collinwood Regional Park at 17251 70th St. SW in Cokato.

Call the Wright County Parks and Recreation Department with any questions or concerns about sledding hills or other winter activities at 763-682-7894.

As for walking trails, the Wright County Parks Department will remove snow from the paved trails at Clearwater / Pleasant Regional Park, Montissippi Regional Park and Otsego Regional Park.  Trail Location, so you too can walk your way through winter and enjoy the wonderland which is Wright County!

Most of the walking trails within the county have been maintenanced as of Jan. 2.


Shoe up at Ney Park

As the old saying goes, if the shoe fits, wear it!

You too can shoe up and discover winter's wonders off the beaten path as you venture through areas accessible only by snowshoe in winter. Join local naturalist David Grack on this snowshoe trek through Ney Park.

The event takes place Sunday, Jan. 21 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., for $5.00 per person (Limit of 20 participants)

 Everyone and anyone are welcome, so come and leave your mark!

For questions regarding upcoming winter events, don't hesitate to email:, or call 763-682-7894.


Down, but not out

Christmas memories continue to live on despite holiday vandalism

By Miriam Orr

A midst the sparkling lights, soft Christmas music, and crunching white snow on Viking Drive sits a glowing "Zach love you" sign, illuminated in blue and green lights with a bright scarlet heart. Above the garage is Santa in his sleigh, with a long troop of trusty reindeer seeming to take off into the night sky above the trees. Beside the front door, dutiful elves climb a ladder leading to the roof, perhaps in hopes of assisting their friend, Mr. Claus.

Within all of this resides not only what are now a few deflated decorations, but also the memory of a little boy - Zachary Nelson.


The Nelsons

Terry and Carla Nelson, Buffalo residents, have welcomed winter with open arms every year since 1989 with their family. Terry currently works for the City of Buffalo, in the Electric Department, and has been doing so for 31 years.

Carla, too, works for Buffalo, in the Wright County Auditor's office, and has done so for 28 years.

After the loss of their son, Christopher, at three months old from sudden infant death syndrome, the family decided to band together and decorate their home in a way that would let their lost son know that they were still here, despite the fact that he was no longer with them.

Then in 2000, another Nelson son, Zachary, died of a viral heart infection at eight-years-old.

 "Zach had Down Syndrome," Carla says, "and he loved being outside looking at Christmas lights and watching people walk by."

Carla remembers how Zachary used to stand outside in the cold, watching Christmas lights and people walking by. One of his favorite activities of the season was going out and watching lights, and frequenting his favorite displays around Buffalo.

"We decided to really decorate in 1989, after we lost Christopher," Carla explains. "After that, Zachary had just loved lights, and he loved putting them up."


The Lights

The display itself takes the Nelsons approximately three weeks to put up at their home on Viking Drive. It spans the entirety of their front yard, up the side of their home, and on top of the garage. A string of lights canopy over the driveway, and a massive blow-up commandeers the corner of the yard - or, it used to.

Currently, many of the Nelson's decorations lay slumped over, evidence of recent vandalism that swept through Buffalo communities on Dec. 23, 2017. What was once a huge blow-up in the corner of their yard is now a deflated sheet, hanging over its supporting ties.

Quite a few of the decorations, Terry states, are outdated and now, quite expensive to replace. Many of the assortments have been wintering Christmases since 1989, and are now obsolete, and unable to be replaced by their originals. What means more to the Nelsons is not the price-tag, or reparability - it is the memories they have with their son, Zachary, and the way the inflatable decorations and lights themselves brought him so much joy in his eight years of life.

Those memories are not as replicable. The design of the decorations may have to change, but they are no longer the same decorations the Nelsons put up with their son in honor of their family and the tragedy they have endured.


Vandalism on Viking Drive

Terry and Carla were home Dec. 23, around 8:00 p.m., when four unnamed strangers came to their yard and destroyed their elaborate, commemorative display. Had it not been for observant neighbors, the Nelsons would have never known their home was vandalized until they'd seen it for themselves the next morning.

Carla is thankful no one was hurt during the carelessness. "They are not afraid of consequences," said Carla regarding the vandals. "I don't think they understand what this can turn into, and I don't know if families are communicating or even aware what is happening. We need communication with our kids so these types of tragedies don't keep happening."


Buffalo's reaction

Losing two sons affected the Nelsons greatly, but they were determined to overcome the grief in their lives. Carla states that she lost her brother early on in life, and that she did not want to experience the entrapment of grief like her family had.

She insists that there is worse in the world happening to others than what happened to her family regarding the death of her children.

"Death is a part of life - others go through a lot too. You have to decide to become victims, or fighters. Your world does bottom out, but eventually, it becomes a new normal; a different normal." She explained.

The story of Zach has touched lives in the Buffalo community, even to the present day. Schoolmates have recalled to Carla and Terry throughout the years, about how Zachary was an amazing young boy, a great student, and is still a dearly missed member of the Buffalo community.

"He made a lasting effect, even though he wasn't here for long," Terry comments.

Some of those lasting effects have reached the Nelsons well after the passing of their son. For instance, some of Zachary's teachers have approached Carla and Terry to reminisce about their "special son" who was a cherished student and determined in his efforts and kindness, and how he set an example they still recall in their teaching careers today.

Carla also recalled that while Zachary touched many lives, their son Christopher had also played a lasting part, despite dying at three months old. Giving back, especially in a time of grief, was how Carla processed the loss of an infant.

"Christopher's heart went to an infant girl who lived to be four years old," Carla says, "that in and of itself helps me a lot; knowing that someone else could live, even if for a short amount of time, when my son died."

In regards to the vandalism outside their home, Buffalo and surrounding communities have rallied around the Nelsons as they begin to pick up the pieces and rebuild the memory of their sons. Small collections have been taken up outside their home, and others have brought replacement decorations to the Nelson's lot. Home Depot heard about the tragedy and decided to pay it forward to the Nelsons and help them restart their display.

Terry states that the vandalism won't stop them from their annual decorating, which he now does with his son, Kenneth.

"I won't let this stop me, even though it is terrible." He commented.

Of Buffalo's reaction to their plight, Carla states, "We are so genuinely thankful, and proud, of the Buffalo community. The generosity and helpfulness is so strong. We are so grateful and awestruck; this is such an awesome community."

So far, funds collected for the Nelsons are approximately $800.00, but are continually growing. The Nelsons have payed it forward, and are working to support other families that have seen vandalism to their own displays, and hope the Wright County community will continue to support one other.


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