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Buffalo graduate Kerstin Kealy interviews President Obama

Buffalo High School graduate Kerstin Kealy (left) has been working as a TV news anchor in Fargo and experienced a career high point when she interviewed President Obama (right) at the White House last week.  (Photo courtesy of Kealy and the White House)

 

By Ed DuBois

Living her dream of working as a TV news anchor, 1993 Buffalo High School graduate Kerstin Kealy has enjoyed many fine moments during her career in Fargo, but interviewing President Obama at the White House last week ranks right up there among the best moments.

The way the opportunity to visit the President came about was both "strange and quick," Kealy said during a recent phone interview.

She received an email message from someone with a White House email address.  The message asked her to call back.  Getting ready for a news broadcast at WDAY in Fargo, she decided to leave the message for later.  She then received a voice message from someone named Keith, who said he was a regional communication director for the President.

Thinking someone was playing a joke on her, Kealy said, "I half giggled when I spoke to Keith on the phone."

Her boss thought it was a joke, too.  However, the details Keith provided over the phone eventually helped Kealy determine, "This was no joke."  She was being invited to interview President Obama at the White House.

Her company chartered an aircraft, and two news crews headed to Washington, D.C. the next day, which was Wednesday, Feb. 25.  Two days later, they returned to Fargo, following a whirlwind of adrenaline-fueled activity.

Kealy was part of one news crew that went to the White House while the other news crew interviewed a senator and congressmen from North Dakota for various stories.

"We didn't have much time.  We dropped off our bags at the hotel and began getting video of monuments and the White House for live shots at 5 and 6," Kealy recalled.

Keith called to make sure Kealy and the others arrived and were well.  Kealy told him they were right outside the White House getting video footage, and then Keith came out to see them.  They were all invited inside the fence to get shots on the White House grounds.  Soon, Kealy was in the White House media area and the press briefing room.  Reporters were busy doing their usual work.

"We were wide-eyed the whole time," Kealy said.

She was then invited to see the Marine 1 helicopter land outside as the President returned from Florida.

"Seeing the Marines, the President and everything, you suddenly realize the heaviness and the magnitude of his position," Kealy commented.

After she was briefed on the rules of the pressroom, Kealy entered an area for her one-on-one interview with President Obama.  She found him very friendly, warm and welcoming.  They joked about the weather.  Snow flurries had canceled school in the Washington, D.C. area, and Kealy said it takes a lot more than that to call off school in North Dakota.  She also chatted with the President about basketball and the fact that she coaches her daughter's sixth grade basketball team.

Kealy had only four minutes for her interview.  She said there were about 20 people in the room, and three other reporters (from Kansas City, Seattle and Portland) were also conducting interviews.

Kealy's interview touched on the Keystone pipe-line veto, railroad safety, trade agreements, and the President's legacy.  In regard to the Keystone pipe-line veto, President Obama said the pipeline would be used for Canadian oil, and he said he wants to focus on America's infrastructure and creating American jobs.  He added that railroad safety is a good example of an infrastructure need.

As for his legacy, he said his biggest success has been saving the economy.  The country has enjoyed 59 straight months of job growth, he pointed out.  He hopes everyone will be able to share in the growth and prosperity.

Kealy said trade agreements were among the topics because North Dakota has much oil, machinery and agriculture products available for trade.

During her interview, she stood on a box, which was provided, because she is not as tall as the President.

After the interview, "the work really started," Kealy said.

She worked on putting stories together, and she took part in ten live shots for broadcasts throughout the day from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Fargo time).

"We were running an adrenaline," she said.

Back in Fargo, WDAY was promoting the interview with the President as a first in North Dakota broadcast history.  Kealy was the first North Dakota TV anchor to interview the President one-on-one at the White House.

Back in 1992, Kealy was interviewed by the Journal-Press for a story about serving as the president of the Minnesota Association of Honor Societies.  She was the senior class president at Buffalo High School and was preparing a speech for the National Honor Society induction ceremony.  In her speech, she talked about thinking big.  She told the Journal-Press that someday she wanted to be a TV news anchor like Pat Miles on WCCO.

Well, her dream came true, and there isn't anything much bigger for a TV news anchor than interviewing the President of the United States at the White House.

A Moorhead State University graduate, Kealy has worked at WDAY since April 1997.  She is the news anchor at 6 and 10.

Her mother and sister now live in Monticello, and Kealy comes and visits often, she said.

 

 

Township elections are taking place next Tuesday, March 10

Elections of officials in most of Wright County's townships are taking place next Tuesday, March 10.

Fifteen of the townships in the county are conducting elections.

Check with your local township clerk for polling times.

Clearwater, Silver Creek and Southside Townships have been conducting their elections in November.

The list of the March 10 candidates (as recorded in the Wright County Auditor-Treasurer's Office) follows:

 

ALBION TOWNSHIP

Supervisor, John Uecker and Jake Bruns.

Treasurer, Douglas Triplett.

 

BUFFALO TOWNSHIP

Supervisor, Joe Coolen.

 

CHATHAM TOWNSHIP

Supervisor, Tom Schuveiller.

Treasurer, Joan Baert-Demarais.

 

COKATO TOWNSHIP

Supervisor, Dean Mahlstedt.

Treasurer, Nancy Dahlman.

 

CORINNA TOWNSHIP

Supervisor, John Dearing.

 

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP

Supervisor, John R. Czanstkowski, Sr. and Darin Orr.

 

FRENCH LAKE TOWNSHIP

Supervisor, Patrick Lantto.

Treasurer, Lucille Ekholm.

 

MAPLE LAKE TOWNSHIP

Supervisor, Tom Neumann.

 

MARYSVILLE TOWNSHIP

Supervisor (one-year term), Jane Hurley.

Supervisor (three-year term), Augie Riebel.

 

MIDDLEVILLE TOWNSHIP

Supervisor, James Jacobson.

Treasurer, Judy Forst.

 

MONTICELLO TOWNSHIP

Supervisor position A (three-year term), Peter Stupar.

Supervisor position B (two-year term), no one filed.

Treasurer, Marlois Weinand.

 

ROCKFORD TOWNSHIP

Supervisor Seat D, Karen McDougall.

Supervisor Seat E, John Deitering.

 

STOCKHOLM TOWNSHIP

Supervisor (three-year term), Keith Evenski.

Supervisor (three-year term), Dave Jorgensen.

Treasurer (two-year term), Cecilie Sangren.

 

VICTOR TOWNSHIP

Supervisor, Ryan G. Bakeberg and David Glessing.

Treasurer, Sean Groos.

 

WOODLAND TOWNSHIP

Supervisor, Dan Domjahn.

Treasurer, Paula La-Vigne.

 

 

Owner of Hoglund Bus Company dies in I-94 crash

A 44-year-old Maple Grove woman, Holly Hoglund Klein, owner of the Hoglund Bus Company in Monticello, died in a multiple-crash incident on I-94 last Tuesday, March 3.

Both directions of I-94 between Highway 24 in Clearwater and Wright County Road 8 in Hasty were closed for a long period of time due to the crashes.  Traffic was detoured along Highway 24, County Road 75 and County Road 8, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) reported.

Multiple crashes and spinouts were also reported along much of I-94 between Alexandria and the Twin Cities.

Blowing snow caused ice and black ice to form on roads, ramps and bridges along I-94 and on other Central Minnesota roads.

In such conditions, MnDOT says motorists should slow down, turn off the cruise control and be aware that ice can form quickly, especially in open areas where light snow is blowing across the roadway.

The State Patrol reported crashes occurred around 9 a.m. west of Hasty on the freeway.  A towing company was reportedly assisting a stalled driver on eastbound I-94 when a semi driver lost control and struck the stalled vehicle, and other vehicles, while heading into the ditch.  Multiple secondary crashes occurred.  Altogether, about seven vehicles were involved.  The freeway was closed until after 1 p.m.

The person who died was Holly E. Hoglund Klein.  Two other people sustained non-life threatening injuries.  The semi driver, Lyle Geiselhart, 56, of Fargo, was not injured.

According to MnDOT, driving conditions on roads in Central Minnesota varied greatly.  On I-94 between St. Cloud and St. Michael, conditions were improving Tuesday afternoon, but motorists needed to remain cautious because of scattered slippery spots.

Blowing snow continued to cause ice, black ice and drifting on I-94 between St. Cloud and Alexandria, as well as on Highway 169 between Zimmerman and Onamia, and on most other roads throughout Central Minnesota.

 

 

Council hires golf pro, sets Wild Marsh rates

By Doug Voerding

While there may now be fresh snow on the ground, spring was in the air as the Buffalo City Council on Monday, March 2 hired a golf professional/golf shop manager and established the green fees for Wild Marsh Golf Course.  The council also agreed with the Golf Advisory Board and eliminated resident only green fees.

With the reorganization of the Wild Marsh staff, the council first approved a job description for the golf professional/golf shop manager.  The position will be full-time with a salary of $40,000 per year.  The golf pro will be able to sell and repair clubs and offer lessons on the side for added income.  The city will retain the profits from the sale of clothing, gloves and golf balls sold in the pro shop.

The position will be evaluated in November at the end of the golf season.

In agreeing with the need for the position, Mayor Brad Nauman said, "We need a golf pro to be the face of the course."

Councilmember Paul Olson, who sits on the Golf Advisory Board, said, "The pro shop sets the tone of the operation."

The council then hired Jerry Krock for the position.  Krock has already been working part-time at Wild Marsh to help with the start of the season.

After researching the rates of the local competition and other similar courses in the metro area, the Golf Advisory Committee recommended $42 for 18 holes and $24 for nine holes.  Carts would be an additional $18 for 18 holes and $9 for nine holes.  All rates include sales tax.

Twilight rates will start at 3:00 p.m.  The twilight ride rate for unlimited golf will be $45, and the twilight walk rate for unlimited golf will be $33.  Twilight nine-hole ride will be $27, and the twilight nine-hole walk will be $22.

For seniors 55 and older, anytime Monday through Friday, the rates will be 18-hole ride $35, 18-hole walk $27, nine-hole ride $27, and nine-hole walk $22.

Rates for juniors would be $20 for 18 holes and $10 for nine holes.  Times for juniors are restricted, and juniors will need to call for available times.

The Golf Advisory Board suggested eliminating the resident only rates, noting that no other city service offers discounts to residents.  Instead, the board suggested a loyalty-based discount for residents that patronize Wild Marsh.

At the direction of the council, Wild Marsh staff will work to develop a special offering for discounted golf rates for Buffalo residents and for golfers who use the course regularly.

 

OPEN FORUM

Since March is Minnesota Food Shelf Month, Fred Naaktgeboren told the council about work of the Buffalo Food Shelf this past year.

Naaktgeboren said that in the United States one in seven people are "food insecure," not knowing where their next meal will come from.

"That seems to be the same in this area," said Naaktgeboren.  "We have served 991 unique families, or 15,000 people, in the past year.  We have distributed 500,000 pounds of food, about 900 pounds per week."

The food shelf is also now delivering to Woodmere and Park Lane Apartments.

Naaktgeboren told the council the food shelf "rescues" food from all four grocery stores in town.  Food that is near expiration date, especially fruits and vegetables, are picked up by volunteers and distributed at the food shelf.

The food shelf is always accepting donations at its building on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Friday mornings.  Cash donations can be sent to Buffalo Food Shelf, Box 222, Buffalo, MN 55313.

The Buffalo Food Shelf is working on expanding its warehouse at its current site.

 

BACKYARD CHICKENS

At the request of the city council at their last meeting, city staff investigated the actions of three area cities with regard to permitting chickens in city limits.

After hearing the results, the council declined to take any action on allowing chickens in the city limits.

A staff investigation came after Nancy Loberg asked the council at its Feb. 17 meeting to consider developing an ordinance that would allow Buffalo residents to have backyard chickens.

At that meeting, Loberg said, "It's a very up and coming hobby.  Chickens are allowed in Monticello and Minneapolis.  Having an ordinance would allow but also control chickens and help keep the integrity of the community."

Also at that meeting, Councilmember Paul Olson said that Loberg had spoken at the Planning Commission meeting, and that the commission thought the council needed to decide if the Planning Commission and the city should go forward on the issue.

Before making a decision, the council directed city staff to investigate three neighboring cities.

Monticello is allowing "fowls" to be kept on property upon approval of 80 percent of the neighbors within 100 feet of the petitioner's property.

According to City Administrator Mert Auger, the Buffalo city attorneys have consistently held that the council cannot delegate this kind of authority, approval or disapproval, to surrounding property owners.

Auger also said in a memo to the council that "the exception to this is the City of Minneapolis, which has a 'fowl' ordinance on the books.  The difference, and it is a significant difference, is that Minneapolis is a City of the First Class per Minnesota Statutes.  They have a city charter which allows this delegation of authority.  The City of Minneapolis also has a significant license inspection program to make sure that all laws of Minneapolis are complied with in keeping 'fowl' on the property."

The Albertville City Council has considered the issue several times and has consistently denied requests to keep fowl or other animals within the city limits.

The City of Howard Lake is now reviewing requests to allow fowl within the city.  No action has been taken, but the matter may be reviewed by the Planning Commission.  According to Auger, the administrator for Howard Lake states the city has "strong agricultural ties" which may make it more acceptable.  They also tend to have larger lots.

Nauman said, "I am not in favor of chickens in the city limits.  It's an enforcement nightmare."

Said Olson, "I agree.  There's a reason they're called farm animals.  Chickens belong on farms."

Councilmember Scott Enter said, "We don't have the resources to go down that path."

Councilmember Eric Anderson said some people he had talked to about the issue said that they might be interested in having chickens.

"The real problem," said Anderson, "is with roosters."

 

FLORA DONATIONS

The council accepted donations for the 2015 Flora of Buffalo.  The donations were: David and Judie Rose, $65; David and Denise Casey, $65; Donna Anderson, $25; Kristi and Greg Beyer, $65; David and Michelle Robinson, $100; Tom and Nadeen Klett, $20; Warren Nelson in memory of Arlyn Nelson, $115; and the Tourism Bureau of the Buffalo Area Chamber of Commerce, $1,990.

So far this year, $6,110 has been donated to Flora of Buffalo.  This year's goal, according to Assistant City Administrator Laureen Bodin, is between $8,000 and $10,000.  Any additional contributions are used to help pay for the maintenance of the flowers.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL MOMENT

Olson reminded Buffalo residents that plastic shopping bags are not recyclable in the usual way.

Said Olson, "Those bags should not be thrown into the regular recycling bins but should be brought back to the bins at places like Cub and Target."

 

OTHER

In other action, the council:

- set a public hearing for Monday, April 6 at 7:00 p.m. to consider the vacation of an alley adjacent to 305 Lake Boulevard NW.  The alley has never been paved or used, and property owners on both sides will each acquire half of the alley property.

- decided to redeem a general obligation bond from 2000.  By paying off the remaining $30,000 from the bond fund, the city will save about $1,300.

- approved fireworks sales permits for B. J. Alan Company for indoor sales at Menard's and TNT Fireworks for outdoor sales at Walmart.

- adjourned the meeting to Wednesday, March 11 at 6:00 p.m. for a ceremony administering the oaths of office to Chief of Police Pat Budke, Lieutenant Rachel Pearson, Sergeant Josh Erickson, and Sergeant Andrew Johnson.

 

 

Two from BHS entering state swim/dive meet

Buffalo High School freshman Charlie Bean (left) will make his state tournament debut when he competes in the 200 freestyle preliminaries on Friday, March 6 in the 2015 boys' swim/dive state tournament at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis.  Sophomore Hunter Brings (right) is making his third straight state appearance competing in the 1-meter dive event.  Diving preliminaries begin Thursday, Feb. 5 and both swim/dive finals will be Saturday, March 7.  See more in Sports on Page 1C. (Photos courtesy of Tom Brophy)

 

 

Four area wrestlers state champs

St. Michael-Albertville enjoyed a big weekend, crowning three individual state champions and finishing as team runner-up at the 2015 Class 3A state wrestling tournament on Thursday-Saturday, Feb 26-28 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.  Monticello also had an individual state champion.  See the coverage in Sports on Page 1C.

 

 

St. Patrick's Day Festival March 14 in Maple Lake

The 2015 St. Patrick's Day Festival in Maple Lake is taking place on Saturday, March 14.

The Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce welcomes everyone and has provided the following schedule.

The Annual Craft Sale is taking place Saturday, March 14 from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. in the Maple Lake Elementary Gymnasium.  A selection of quality items will be offered by area crafters at the Annual Craft Sale.  For more information, contact coordinator Betty Gordon at 320-963-5351.

The Irish Scamper is hosted by the Irish track and field team and will feature a 5K, winding through the "old town" of Maple Lake.  The 5K run will begin at 11:00 a.m.  Race day registration is at 9:00 a.m. on March 14 in the Maple Lake High School Commons Area, and an awards ceremony is planned shortly after the race in the high school commons area.

More information, including registration forms, can be found at www.raceberryjam.com/scamper.html, or pick up registration forms in person at the Maple Lake High School office.

The Grande Day Parade is slated to begin at 1:30 p.m. near the community park on Division Street.  The parade lineup will begin at 12:30 p.m., and registration can be done by completing a registration form (see Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce website, http://www.maplelakechamber.com/sitepages/pid212.php) and dropped off or sent in to Roger's BP Amoco at PO Box 267, Maple Lake MN 55358, or by contacting Deb Geyen at 320-980-3144 or Irene Hudek at 612-270-8586.

The Coronation of the new Maple Lake Ambassadors will take place following the Grande Day Parade, starting at approximately 4:30 p.m. in the high school gymnasium.  Nine candidates will compete for titles as this year's community ambassadors.  Admission for the coronation is $5 (children 5 and under are free). Parade awards will also be presented during the program.

During the day, the Maple Lake Lions' Club will serve Mulligan Stew and other refreshments at the American Legion Club.

In addition, other civic organizations, restaurants and businesses will be offering St. Patrick's Day specials.

For more information about the St. Patrick's Day Festival, call Irene Hudek at 612-270-8586 or 320-963-6555 or Deb Geyen 320-980-3144.

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Buffalo 'Community' Center

With new look, more open hours and no fees, the old Legion building serves people, groups of all ages

By Ed DuBois

In the two decades the Buffalo Community Center has been open in a former American Legion building, the facility has often been referred to as the "senior center."  However, in recent years, the word "community" has become more reflective of what has been happening in the building, especially during evening and weekend hours.

Many groups, families and individuals have been gathering at the Community Center for a great variety of purposes and activities.

"Eric Nagel (the center's director from about 2005 to 2012) was trying to make it more of a 'community center.'  I have been carrying that on," said the current director, Sue Kolbinger.

One of the groups that has been meeting regularly at the center is the Local Roots Food Co-op, which conducts an activity on Thursday evenings from 4:30-6:30.  Kolbinger mentioned the center has also become the winter home of the Buffalo Farmers Market, which has been conducting its business once a month in the center when the event can be fit into the schedule.

Other happenings at the center have included business meetings, private parties (such as baby showers, birthday parties, anniversaries, graduations, etc.) and several other gatherings that appeal to people of all ages.

 

Recent blood drive

A Buffalo Community Center blood drive took place on Feb. 24.

"That was the first time the blood drive took place here.  Previously, it was a city event (for city employees)," Kolbinger said.

The whole community was invited this time.  A goal of 30 donors was exceeded by 6, and Kolbinger said another blood drive could take place in the fall.

Meanwhile, other events include a weekly Sunday church gathering conducted by the Rockford Bible Church.  Kolbinger said the church group might change the name now that Buffalo is the place for the get-togethers.

 

Daytime regulars

As for the weekdays, Kolbinger said the center is relatively quiet.

"In the daytime, we have mostly seniors here because they are the only ones home," she commented.

A science fiction group meets about twice a month.

"They have become regulars.  They meet one Saturday and one Friday each month," Kolbinger said.

A REM group (from area group homes) conducts evening gatherings on Tuesdays for those challenged by disabilities.

Kolbinger said keeping the center open beyond regular hours has helped attract more people and more groups who are making use of the center.

 

'Started picking up here'

A major change at the Buffalo Public Library a few years ago impacted the Community Center and increased its activities.  The library underwent some remodeling, which reduced its meeting room space.

"Things started picking up here," Kolbinger said.

Another factor was a decision about two years ago to eliminate a fee for meetings at the Community Center.

"There used to be a fee, but now we say donations are welcome," Kolbinger said.  "It has made a big difference (in the level of activity), and most groups are quite generous."

He added that the Buffalo Lions Club uses the facility on a regular basis and has been very generous with donations that support the center.  Kolbinger said the support is appreciated very much.

 

Some remodeling

Support for the center has helped improve its image, as well as the physical appearance of the facility.  About two or three years ago, a repainting project got underway.  The interior walls were a light to medium blue, and a switch to a neutral color (light to medium brown) received mixed reviews.  Decorations have helped accent the walls.  The decorations, which are changed now and then, have included quilts and paintings.  One of the current decorations is a display of wooden toys from the Toy Workshop, which is a program that started at the Community Center and now has its own building at Sturges Park.

Some remodeling improvements at the center have included moving a long countertop section across the main room from the north side to the south wall.  A reception desk has been set up near the east end of the building, which is where most visitors enter.  A dining check-in desk has been added, as well.

 

Dining program recovering

The senior dining program has undergone a major change.  About a year ago, senior dining throughout a large area was altered by the consolidation of cooking in central locations.

"Our cooks were moved to Maple Lake.  We are now a satellite place.  Meals are brought in now," Kolbinger said.

Senior dining participation at the Buffalo Community Center fell for a while, but now it's coming back.

There was a struggle for a time to figure out the best way to keep the meals hot between the delivery time and the dining time.  Ovens were tried, but eventually, it was discovered that keeping the meals in their insulated transport cases until serving time worked best.

Kolbinger was asked if the food or the social aspect of the program is the biggest draw.  She said the social aspect is definitely the primary reason that people attend.

"We have a core group of regulars," she commented.

 

Saw ad in newspaper

Kolbinger came to the Community Center about six years ago and has been the director three years.  She previously worked part-time in the Wright County IT (Information Technology) Department and came to the Community Center after seeing an ad in the newspaper.  Originally from Richfield and Minnetonka, she has lived in Buffalo 22 years.

Kolbinger liked working part-time, but her children are grown up now and she likes what she is now doing and the people she works with each day.  She and Susan Johnson, a part-time coworker, make a good team, Kolbinger said, and about 20-25 volunteers help out, as well.

"We couldn't do it without them," Kolbinger said.

One of the volunteers, Jack Harrold, has been much involved with getting a Buffalo Bike Club started, and between rides at locations all over the region and hiking or snowshoe outings in the wintertime, the club has been busy throughout the year.

 

Gardens coming

Kolbinger and others are looking forward to warmer weather this spring because the Local Roots Food Co-op has adopted the garden on the Central Ave. side of the Community Center.  Last year, they grew vegetables and herbs that were "free for the taking," and many people appreciated the generosity.  This year, a vertical garden is being planned on the south exterior wall.  Some of the garden produce is used in the senior dining program.

Kolbinger said the Girl Scouts are donating rain barrels for the north side of the building, and water from the rain barrels will be used in the gardens.

Besides the Girl Scouts, 4-H members meet at the Community Center.

Lately, the AARP TaxAide volunteers have been providing their services at the center.

Kolbinger serves on the Board of Directors for the local chapter of Let's Go Fishing with Seniors, and the organization meets one Friday a month at the Community Center.

 

Fun coming to work

She mentioned she is involved with a new organization that could soon be named the Crow River Food Council.  The group will be promoting healthy eating with homegrown food.  She is excited about the prospect of helping local residents improve their health.  Three meetings have taken place so far.

Kolbinger says, if you would like to meet some nice people and perhaps get involved with the community a little more, come on down to the Buffalo Community Center and hang out a while.

"We have some awesome people.  They make it fun for me to come to work," she said.