Sheriff's Office receiving much support from citizens recently

By Ed DuBois

Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty said this week that citizens have been showing much support for law enforcement in recent days.

"We are certainly feeling the love and support from those we serve in Wright County, and we are fully aware not to take it for granted," he said.  "I am amazed at the number of calls, personal visits, treats, and just words of support we have received since the Dallas tragedy."

He mentioned a women's prayer group from Maple Lake dropped a large trove of goodies.

Hagerty wrote the following letter to staff regarding the show of support.

"In response to recent turmoil involving public safety:

"Divisions between public safety and specific groups of people is not a new phenomenon in our country.  When one group believes they are being profiled, targeted or given extra scrutiny by the peacekeepers based solely on race, socioeconomic status, or other characteristics, there is bound to be friction.  We are once again experiencing this unease and cumulatively are attempting to find solutions to this perception.  There is little doubt there are some in law enforcement who don't belong, and it is imperative agencies weed these employees out.  The damage one bad seed can cause for those of us who truly are in this profession to serve our citizens can result in deadly consequences.  I personally have not viewed the videos of the recent incidents in Louisiana or Minnesota, and people shouldn't rush to judgment on the officers' actions until the investigations are complete.  I am confident the dedicated men and women who work in the Wright County Sheriff's Office base their decisions and actions on behavior rather than race while taking into account cultural differences.

"Over many decades of providing public safety services to the citizens of Wright County, our employees have earned the respect and support we enjoy from those we serve.  We cannot take this support for granted.  Rather, we have to continue to strive to formulate partnerships with our communities and to be transparent in our successes as well as our failures.  Admitting when we perhaps didn't have our finest day goes a long way in assuring the public we are human, humble and will do better.  As I often tell people, we don't always get it right, but we certainly try.

"To maintain the level of trust and confidence we enjoy from our citizens, we need to continue to be approachable, friendly and professional, both on and off duty.  Our citizens are feeling empathy toward us due to recent events, such as the tragic killing of five Dallas Police Officers.  Random citizens have been sending emails, phone calls, flowers, letters, and children's homemade cards in crayon to our office.  People have also dropped off baked items for staff.

"Be safe, be alert and be aware of your surroundings, especially during routine activities.  Don't become complacent.  All staff, especially uniformed (Corrections, Reserves, Explorers, Mounted Patrol, Deputies) need to be extra vigilant.  The small things you do with the public truly matter.  You are appreciated. Thank you."



Hanover plan for redesigning ball field creates plenty of controversy

The five bur oak trees above, along with the berm, will be removed for a redesigned 16U ball field at Settlers Park in Hanover. The two smaller trees in the background are not on city property.  (Photo by Doug Voerding)

On April 5, the Hanover City Council approved the redesign of the two ball fields north of Settlers Park picnic shelter.  The new design would create one baseball field with outfield distances that will meet the requirements for older teams.

Following that action, several Hanover residents spoke to the council during the open forum at the May, June, and July meetings.  Citizens have also addressed the Park Board, questioning its March recommendation to the council to approve the new design.

Many residents are opposed to the design of the new ball field because it requires the removal of five mature bur oak trees, estimated by some to be more than 100-years-old.  The five trees are part of a small grove of oak trees.

The new ball field will have a 290-foot outfield, large enough for a 16U team.

To make the outfield distances work, home plate will be moved from the northeast corner to the southwest corner of the site near the Hanover Athletic Association (HAA) concession stand.  The new first base line will cause the removal of the oak trees.

Planning for the redesign began back in 2013, and last fall, the city council supported a grant application by the Hanover Youth Ball (HYB).  In December 2015, HYB was awarded a $17,000 grant from the Minnesota Twins organization. Additionally, HAA is providing $50,000 for the project.

In March, 2016, the Hanover Park Board supported the redesign, and, on April 5, the city council approved the plan.

The field is currently being leased by the City to Hanover Athletic Association, and that organization will guide the reconstruction of the field.

At the May 3 meeting, several residents spoke for and against the project.

Tom Therrien, president of HYB, said the youth ball program has grown to 320 kids.  This year, there are eight T-ball teams and four 12U teams.  That growth does not include the softball teams.

The 14U teams are able to use the two HAA fields, but the 16U team has its home field in Montrose, sixteen miles and a half-hour away.

Therrien said the redesign of the field is the only way to have 90-foot baselines.  Therrien also said there are no other possible sites in Hanover.

Former Hanover mayor Marty Waters said the field was renovated in 2009, and the trees were saved at that time.

"Saving trees is a legacy for Hanover," said Waters.

Claudia Pingree told the council, "I am passionate about this.  Hanover has a tree preservation ordinance.  Hire foresters to tell us the rest of the trees will live.  Seniors sit under those trees.  I think you should think a little further."

HYB board member Chad Kugler said the new field is "really for the kids.  HYB is building on Hanover history."

At the June 7 meeting, four residents again addressed the council, asking the council to save the trees.

Since the council had previously voted to approve the redesign, the council declined on June 7 to change that action.

The council did indicate that, while the city is not managing the project, it will monitor the removal of the trees and the efforts to not damage the remaining trees.  The city will also keep Wright County Soil and Water informed of the project.

At the July 11 meeting, several residents again asked the council to reconsider its approval of the redesign.

A petition to save the trees with more than 1,000 signatures was presented to the council.

Hanover Youth Ball, in a prepared statement, said, in part, "Hanover Youth Ball is 100 percent focused on children; their program has become better organized and better advertised, and is in need of more fields."

The council took no action on July 11, allowing the approval of the redesign of the ball field to stand.



County's Outstanding Seniors announced

Amy Lou Burg

John Peterson

Wright County's Outstanding Senior Volunteer Selection Committee, in cooperation with the Minnesota State Fair Board and the Wright County Fair Board, has made their selection of the 2016 Outstanding Senior Citizens.  They are Amy Lou Burg of Maple Lake and John Peterson of Dassel.

Amy Burg has been involved with a wide variety of volunteer activities.  Some of her volunteer activities include: working with Maple Lake Senior Connections, Maple Lake Dining Center and Maple Manor Senior Apartments, and giving her time and talents to help others.

John Peterson has been involved with many organizations while performing volunteer work.  Some of his organizations are Cokato Manor Nursing Home (providing church services and visiting residents), Cokato/Dassel Rotary and Lake Washington Lake Association.  He has served as a hospice chaplain, giving comfort and support wherever needed.

The purpose of the Outstanding Senior Citizens program is to recognize that the senior citizen population is a very valuable resource in the area communities as they continue to give back their time and talents to the residents.

The eligibility criteria for the Outstanding Seniors are that they are Minnesota residents and must attain the age of 70 by Aug 1.  Only volunteer activities after the age of 65, for which there is no compensation (except for reimbursed expenses), are considered.  The committee looks for leadership, diversity of accomplishments and the variety of services performed.



Road projects on schedule, Council told this week

By Rob LaPlante

Three major road construction projects in Buffalo continue to alter routes and slow traffic, but according to Engineer Justin Kannas, each project remains on schedule.

At the conclusion of the Monday, July 18 city council meeting at Buffalo City Center, Kannas reported that two of the three projects have reached phase two.

Reconstruction of underground utilities, street surfacing, curb and gutter, and sidewalks from 3rd St. NW to the south side of Trunk Highway 25 have reached phase two and have begun working on sidewalks.  That project is set to complete in late August.

Also in phase two is the roundabout being constructed at the intersection of 8th St. and TH 25 (next to Perkins and Holiday Gas Station).  Sand and gravel is in, and pavement is scheduled to start sometime this week.  This project is scheduled to be complete between the dates of Aug. 8-15.

The final project remains in stage one.  The construction from 3rd St. NW to Highway 55 will soon be in phase two, and Kannas said the project should also be complete sometime in late August.

In other summer events, last Friday's Relay for Life event at Sturges Park in Buffalo went on as planned despite some uncooperative weather, which forced a shutdown of other area cancer walks.  All proceeds for this fundraiser were donated to the American Cancer Society.



Council member Teri Lachermeier filled in for Mayor Brad Nauman, who missed Monday's meeting.  Nauman is recovering from a biking accident that recently hospitalized him.  (See related story elsewhere in this week's issue of the Journal-Press for more information.)

Council members approved the sale of a parcel to Ebert Construction to take over a bare lot that lies between the streets of 5th St. NE and Hwy. 55.  This will clear the way to move forward on plans of adding a NAPA Auto Parts store in the vacated area.

The Legislature has adopted legislation to require cities like Buffalo to accommodate Temporary Family Health Care Dwellings.  Cities must decide to adopt separate regulations allowing temporary accessory dwellings, or consider the opt-out provision by ordinance.  The Buffalo City Council chose to opt-out.

Assistant City Administrator Laureen Bodin and City Administrator Merton Auger explained that most cities not allowing temporary dwellings, such as Buffalo, have decided to opt out in fear of rising costs and questionable sanitary sewer and water.

The city approved the full-time hiring of Class D Water/Wastewater Operator Dylan Bode, who comes to Buffalo with limited experience and is a recent graduate this past spring at St. Cloud Technical College.  The Council and city administration officials were in favor of hiring someone young and encouraged younger people to pursue a job in this field.

The purchase of a 2016 Chevrolet 3500 HD Silverado Regular Cab ($29,329) and a 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab ($29,495) will replace two run-down Street Department vehicles.



The city recognized this year's Buffalo Royalty, who were in attendance at Monday's meeting to give a brief update on their busy summer.

Miss Buffalo Danielle Norton, and Princesses Deanna Armstrong and Jordan Thompson have taken part in 14 events so far and plan on attending 22 events in the month of July.

The Cities of Monticello and Otsego have recently inked agreements with Trailblazer Transit, the primary bus transportation service offered in most Wright County areas.

Paul Olson's environmental moment advised to water your lawns so they soak deep in water, instead of a light sprinkle.  Olson advised that, with the upcoming heat wave, lawns that people don't want to let go must be heavily watered, but do so in moderation to conserve energy.



Mayor hurt while bicycling

Buffalo Mayor Brad Nauman is recovering at a hospital after sustaining injuries in an accident while bicycling locally.

In a message relayed by the City of Buffalo, Nauman said, "On Saturday, July 16, I was bicycling north of town.  I was on (Co. Rd.) 113 and turned off on Brighton Ave., which goes down a hill and makes a 90-degree right turn, a turn that I've made dozens of times.  As I made the turn, I became aware of a car backing out of a driveway and hit my brakes going fairly fast.  My bike flipped forward and I went over the front of the handlebars."

He landed on his shoulder and his right side, which was where most of the damage occurred, he said.

"The man who was backing out stopped to ensure that I was OK.  I want to stress that this was NOT his fault; we were both just in the wrong place at the wrong time," Nauman stated.

"Two local neighborhood ladies came out quickly, brought me water, a chair, and ice packs," he continued.  "I called my daughters (both trained medical professionals), and they came and got me (with navigational assistance from the neighbors) and got me to the Buffalo ER.  After a series of x-rays and a CT scan, it was determined that I had a number of fractured ribs, a fractured sternum, a separated shoulder, and a slightly punctured lung (which ultimately necessitated a chest tube), and I was taken by ambulance to North Memorial."

He said he is making good progress.  He was extremely optimistic that he would be home on Wednesday of this week.



Wright County population was about 131,361 in 2015

By Ed DuBois

The estimated Wright County population in 2015 is 131,361, according to a Minnesota State Demographic Center document presented at the county board meeting last Tuesday, July 19.  The Board receives the information every year.

The largest cities are: St. Michael (17,081), Buffalo (16,033), Otsego (15,472), and Monticello (13,311), according to the 2015 estimates.  The largest townships are: Rockford (3,325), Monticello (3,274), Franklin (2,881), and Silver Creek (2,453).  (See list with this story for more information.)

County Auditor-Treasurer Bob Hiivala said the county's population went up 1.9 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the estimates.  The population total in 2014 was 129,946.  He added that since the 2010 census, the county's population had gone up 5.3 percent by 2015.  The 2010 total was 124,700.

In other business:



The Board voted to adopt a resolution declaring the county intends to retain CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP to perform the county's annual audit, beginning in 2017.

A 2015 law allows counties to hire private firms to perform annual audits, rather than have the State Auditor's Office perform the audits.  Wright County has been named in a lawsuit filed by the State Auditor, who is contesting the new law.

The law goes into effect Aug. 1.  The County Board needed to declare intent before that date.

Board Chair Pat Sawatzke asked Chief Deputy County Attorney Brian Asleson if the lawsuit would go away if the county decided not to hire a private firm.  Asleson said the county would probably need to present an argument in court to be dropped from the suit.

Currently, the county is waiting for a ruling by a judge regarding a request for a summary judgment to dismiss the lawsuit.

Commissioner Mike Potter asked for the resolution of intent to be hand-delivered so the State Auditor's Office cannot say it was not received.



In other actions, the Board:

* approved a $1.6 million transfer from the general fund to the capital projects fund;

* approved filling an opening for a sheriff's deputy;

* accepted a Planning Commission recommendation to approve a request from Scott T. Anderson to rezone about 57 acres in Rockford Township from agricultural use to A/R agricultural-residential use;

* accepted a Planning Commission recommendation to approve a request from James R. Bossert to rezone about 19.5 acres in Woodland Township from agricultural and S-2 residential-recreational shorelands use to R-2a suburban-residential and S-2 use; and

* approved $337,347 in claims involving 191 transactions with 140 vendors.



Wright County Fair underway next week

The 2016 Wright County Fair begins next week.  The Fair dates are July 27-31.

Come to the fairgrounds in Howard Lake for: the carnival rides, the grandstand events, livestock shows, exhibits, music, food, machinery, a coronation, and more.

Machinery Hill is highlighting the Wright County Car Club this year.  Come and see a Classic Car & Truck Show.

A Combine Demolition Derby is one of the events on the opening day.  See the action at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 27.  From 8:30-10:30 p.m., Doug Allen Nash is providing a tribute to Neil Diamond and Johnny Cash.

The County Fair Talent Show is scheduled on Thursday, July 28 in the Hoop Building at 6 p.m.  You can see bull riding at the Grandstand at 7 p.m.  Memories of Elvis with Chris Olson can be enjoyed at the Entertainment Tent from 8:30-10:30 p.m.

The annual Senior Citizens Program is taking place on Friday, July 29 at 1 p.m. on the Free Stage.  Besides the Outstanding Seniors of the Year, the Farm Family of the Year and Century Farms will be recognized.  Later from 4-8 p.m., the Wagon Wheelers will be performing on the Free Stage.  A Demolition Derby at the Grandstand is scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m.  Enjoy the music of Red Hot Garage from 8:00 to midnight.

The Classic Car & Truck Show gets underway Saturday morning, July 30.  Among many other activities, a Mutton Bustin' event starts at 1 p.m.  A Tractor & Truck Pull at the Grandstand starts at 2 p.m. and continues until all classes are completed.  The Crazy Larry Band is performing from 8:00 to midnight.

The Everett Smithson Band is performing Sunday, July 31 from 1-5 p.m.  The Fairest of the Fair Coronation is taking place at 3 p.m. on the Free Stage.  A Demolition Derby gets started by 5:30 at the Grandstand.

Wright County Fair admission is $5 for adults, $2 for students (ages 13-17) and free for children (under 13).

You can learn more at  Enjoy your Wright County Fair.


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feature photos

Classic vehicles featured

Wright County Fair Board invites car club to 'fill the field' near Machinery Hill

By Ed DuBois

The Wright County Car Club has taken part in car shows several times at the fairgrounds in Howard Lake over the years.  So when the club was invited to take the lead as the featured attraction near Machinery Hill at this year's Wright County Fair, club members did not take long to get revved up and ready to go.

Longtime club member "Bondo" Bob McMullen and club president Roger James said they "could have a full field" of 100 or more vehicles at the fair.


Fair dates July 27-31

The 2016 Wright County Fair takes place Wednesday, July 27 to Sunday, July 31.  A Classic Car & Truck Show, which is featuring Ford cars and trucks, is taking place Saturday, July 30, with registration at 8 a.m. and the show scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"The driver of each show vehicle and one passenger will be admitted free to the fair," James said.

The show is open to all classic vehicles.


Familiar with the fair

Troy Beise of the Fair Board was aware of the Car Club because club members had attended the Fair together as a group in recent years.

"We had gone to the fair several years on a weekday as a club," McMullen said.

He recalled that many years ago, the club appeared during concerts at the fairgrounds.  The events were sponsored by KRWC 1360 AM Radio, and Terri Traen was the MC.  The bands that played included Bobby V, Bob and the Beachcombers and the Cadillacs (or members of the Cadillacs).

The concert events did not take place during the county fair, and they were in the early years of the car club.


Club started in 1983

McMullen said the club formed 33 years ago in 1983.  Some of the early meetings were in Buffalo at the Mill Creek Inn and in a meeting room at the county courthouse.

Some of the first club shows involved the Wright County Historical Society and took place in the Buffalo Civic Center and in what is now the Buffalo Community Middle School parking lot  (It was the high school back then.).

Beise was impressed the car club started in 1983.

"That's the year I was born," he said.

McMullen has served as the DJ, Bondo Bob, all those years.

"There's one thing good about the good old days.  I wasn't good, and I wasn't old," he joked.


Memorial Day to Labor Day

Today, the club meetings are held at restaurants all over the county.  Evening meetings are on the third Tuesday of each month.  The most recent meeting was scheduled at the Peppermint Twist in Delano.  Breakfast meetings take place on the first Saturday each month.

Meanwhile, the club is very busy displaying classic vehicles at shows all summer long from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Activities in Wright County include the Buffalo Days Classic Car Show in early June, and the club hosts the Antique Car Run lunch stop at Buffalo High School in August.  This year's Antique Car Run is taking place on Aug. 13.

"Proceeds are donated to youth in Wright County through scholarships, the Buffalo Police Secret Santa Program and the food shelves in Buffalo and Annandale/Maple Lake, which serve families and Backpack Buddy programs in schools," James said.


Top 20 trophies

At the Wright County Fair, trophies are being awarded to the top 20 vehicles, which will be selected by votes submitted by all the drivers of the vehicles on display.


More participation

Beise, who has been on the Fair Board nine years, said highlighting a particular tractor brand or vehicle brand helps draw more people to the fair.  Each brand attracts a new set of tractor or vehicle owners, as well as a new set of spectators.

"We get more people to participate in the fair.  We like participation," Beise said.

Specific tractor brands have been featured at the fair since about 2010.  This year is the first to feature classic cars and trucks.

Featuring or highlighting tractors began when land was added to the fairgrounds near Machinery Hill.

"The featured tractors have helped keep Machinery Hill alive," Beise said.


Distinctive cars

The Fair Board is hopeful that many people will enjoy coming to the Classic Car and Truck Show.

"Older cars are more distinctive," said James.

"With newer cars, you can't tell them apart," McMullen added.

Beise said his family had a 1958 Ford Fairlane on the farm when he was younger.

"I remember it was traded for corn to get through to the next growing season," he said.

He has enjoyed showing some tractors from the farm at the fair.  Now he plans to show a car at the fair, as well.

"I feel I have to participate, too," he said.

Beise added that tractors will be displayed this year along with the classic cars and trucks.

"We will still have tractors.  They are always welcome," he said.

"We have gone through just about every brand of tractor.  Now classic vehicles represent another direction we can go," he commented.


Come and see them

The Wright County Car Club vehicles could be among 100 or more on display.

You are invited to come and see them.

"We like showing them off.  That's why we joined the club," said club member Larry Suhsen of Delano.

Bondo Bob will be providing the music.