Wright County Fair July 30 to Aug. 3

            Live bands, food, the Midway, demolition derbies, animals, tractors, and plenty more are all available for you in Howard Lake during the 2014 Wright County Fair from Wednesday, July 30 to Sunday, Aug. 3.

            The grandstand schedule includes an opening ceremony Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., followed by a Combine Demolition Derby at 7 p.m.

            Two other demo derbies are scheduled on Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 p.m.

            The annual tractor and truck pull is taking place on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

            Thursday at the Fair offers a live tribute band lineup called Rock Through the Ages.  Come and see: A Hard Days Night (Beatles Tribute) at 6 p.m., Transit Authority (Chicago Tribute) at 7:45, Madd Company (Bad Company Tribute) at 9 p.m., and Bad Animals (Heart Tribute) at 10:45.

            A Mud Spectacular is scheduled at 1 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.  Hear the engines roar as the mud flies.

            The featured tractor at the Fair this year is Oliver.  Come and see a huge display.

            The annual Talent Show will be in the Hoop Building on Thursday at 6 p.m.

            The Senior Citizen Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. Friday, followed by the Senior Citizen Program, 1 p.m., the Free Stage.

            The Fairest of the Fair Coronation is scheduled on Sunday, 3 p.m., at the Free Stage.

            Other attractions include: lumberjacks, an entertainment tent with live evening performers, a 4-H Parade of Champions on Sunday, 5 p.m., at the Dairy Show Arena, Military Day events from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, and numerous livestock shows.

            You can find out more about everything the Fair offers at



City Council cautious regarding petition for ATV/golf cart license

By Rob LaPlante

            Following the death of Buffalo resident Dr. Eric Lefebvre, who was killed last Saturday, July 19 when his motorcycle collided with a golf cart on the block of 46th St. NW in French Lake Township near Annandale, the Buffalo City Council members were cautious in approving a petition for approval of an ATV/Golf Cart license.

            "First off, on behalf of the City of Buffalo, we would like to send our condolences to the Lefebvre family," said Buffalo Mayor Brad Nauman, in front of a packed Buffalo City Center audience at the council meeting on Monday, July 21.

            Buffalo resident Reinhardt Goerke's application to operate a licensed ATV/Golf Cart for use in city limits was approved by council members, but not without a little bit of hesitation.

            Buffalo Police Chief Mitch Weinzetl said patrons who operate licensed ATV/Golf Carts must stay within the rules. Weinzetl explained that each licensed driver must pass a series of requirements in order to be legal. Golf carts must not be used on streets where speed limits reach 55 miles per hour. Each cart must possess a slow moving vehicle reflective red triangle on the rear end, as well as a qualified permit, proof of insurance and a rear view mirror.

            Steve Downer was one of the council members to approve the request, but in doing so, gave a few words of advice.

            "My fear in approving this is down the line somebody may do something not very wise," Downer said. "Let's hope that people use good sense when using these."

            Little was brought up during the open forum, but one Buffalo resident showed her concern regarding the new transportation service provider in town. Trailblazer Transit out of McLeod County recently took over for River Rider on July 1 as the city's primary transportation service.

            The concerned person argued, "The current transportation service is not being catered for pre-school aged kids, and is catered only for the elderly," she said.

            It was brought to her attention that the Trailblazer route system is still a work in progress and that River Rider is no longer an option.



            * With overwhelming support by a large group of LifeTree Church members attending Monday's meeting, the council approved their request for a preliminary Conditional Use Permit for a new location.

             LifeTree's original proposal in 2012 was turned down by council members due to location. The original plan was to try and locate near the Smoke Shop at Crossroads Campus Drive. Monday's approval was for the church to be located at the address of 430 State Highway 55 West.

            Pastor Tim Murel has been active with the church this past summer doing a pig roast at Buffalo Days and chili feeds at the Buffalo Triathlon. He said the new site would work well for them to host similar events. LifeTree currently operates out of the community middle school.

            * Buffalo Food Shelf got the approval for a conditional use permit to build a 4,200-4310 square foot building on land leased from St. Francis Xavier Church and Education Center. Their current location at 301 12th Ave. S. is 2,350 square feet, and a representative from BFS said the current spot has become a danger due to lack of space for parking. Buffalo Food Shelf distributed over 500,000 pounds of food this past year.

            * Weinzetl made it clear that the police department has no legal way to check the driving records of current city employees that require a valid driver's license. The motion was carried for the police department to partner with the state's Driver and Vehicle Service at no cost to access public records of city employees through a web-based system.

            A motion by the Buffalo P.D. was also carried to extend the towing contract for two more years with Junction Transports, Inc. The current contract is set to expire in August. The new agreement will be effective August 15, 2014.

            * Class D Operator Eric Johnson has submitted his resignation from the Wastewater Department to become a minister at his church. The council accepted his resignation and the authorization to begin search of filling his position.



            Miss Buffalo Justine Green and Princesses Cami Daniels and Marah Moy were at Monday's meeting to give an update on their busy summer schedule.



Respected local doctor dies in rural crash

Dr. Eric Lefebvre


By Ed DuBois

            A medical doctor who lived in Buffalo and served 17 years in Monticello and Buffalo died due to a motorcycle and golf cart collision last Saturday, July 19 in French Lake Township.

            Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty reported that on July 19 at approximately 3:40 p.m., Wright County Communications received a 911 call about an accident that occurred at 17205 46th St. NW.

            Wright County sheriff's deputies responded to the scene and found a motorcycle had collided with a golf cart on 46th St. NW.  The driver of the motorcycle, Dr. Eric Lefebvre, 51, of Buffalo, was pronounced dead at the scene.  Dr. Lefebvre was wearing a helmet.  He was alone on the motorcycle.

            The driver and lone occupant of the golf cart, Korie Schiel, 39, of Chaska, was treated and released at the scene for minor injuries.

            Deputies were assisted at the scene by South Haven Rescue and Allina Ambulance Service.  The accident remains under investigation by the Wright County Sheriff's Office.

            Dr. Lefebvre, an OB-GYN, came to this area from Montreal with his wife, Deborah.  They have four children: Sophie, 14, Samuel, 12, Henry, 10, and Lucy, 7.  Deb said recruiters called, and they flew out to several places.  The Buffalo and Monticello area felt right, she commented.

            The administrator and the doctors became "a wonderful family for us," she added.

            "The community has been unbelievable (since the accident).  We knew we picked a good place.  We are very lucky to have picked Buffalo," Deb stated at her home in Buffalo.

            The family liked to travel during vacations, and Eric usually rode his motorcycle while Deb and the kids rode in a van.  Just a few weeks ago, they traveled trough Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Vermont on the way to Quebec and Montreal, and then they came back through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana.  They covered 3,400 miles altogether, Deb said.

            Last weekend, Eric was excited about picking up a newly purchased motorcycle, a Ducati Monster.  He brought it to the Buffalo Books and Coffee shop, where Deb was working Saturday.  They had purchased that business recently.

            "Purchasing the book store was Eric's idea.  He said, 'What do you think?  You need to use your noodle,'" Deb recalled with a smile.

            He was very encouraging.  He saw the book store purchase as an excellent opportunity for the family, Deb explained.

            After showing the motorcycle to Deb, Eric set out on a ride west.  Deb said they have both enjoyed riding throughout the county since moving here.

            Eric checked in with Deb on her cell phone when he was on rides.  She received a message Saturday saying, "Lovely ride."  He was having a great time, Deb said.

            Eric and Deb had known each other since they were 17.  They met when they both worked on the school newspaper.  Deb was the news editor, and Eric was the entertainment editor.  He loved music and movies.

            He had a passion for music, Deb said.  He played the bass guitar and still owned a large upright bass.

            A "quiet, private guy," he was more outgoing with patients and his family, Deb said.  He enjoyed discovering new music to share and was very devoted to his family.

            "He loved to watch goofy movies with the kids," Deb commented.

            He also enjoyed playing music for them.

            The kids loved to ride with him, and he bought a motorcycle sidecar for that purpose.

            Deb made a point to say Eric always wore his helmet and protective leathers.

            "He was a stickler about that.  It was important to him," she mentioned.

            She described the circumstances of the accident last Saturday as "colossal bad luck."

            Medical clinic CEO Douglas Hanson provided a statement about Dr. Lefebvre.

            "The physicians and employees of Buffalo Clinic, Monticello Clinic and Albertville-St. Michael Clinic are deeply saddened by his death," Hanson said.  "Dr. Lefebvre always wore protective gear, including a helmet, which was the case when the accident occurred.  He was doing something that brought him great joy."

            The clinic is contacting Dr. Lefebvre's patients to coordinate their care with the other OB/GYN physicians at Buffalo and Monticello clinics.  Dr. Lefebvre joined Monticello Clinic in 1997 and has been delivering "exceptional women's health care to our communities for over 17 years."

            "He was a tremendous physician, showing great care, compassion and dedication to so many patients in our communities," continued Hanson.  "Our hearts and prayers are with the Lefebvre family."

            Todd Hoffman of the Wright County Sheriff's Office said information from the crash investigation is being forwarded to the County Attorney's Office for consideration of possible charges.  He said that process is typical.  He expects the County Attorney's Office could make a decision by the end of the week.

            According to state statute, golf carts are not allowed on highways, Hoffman said.

            Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Peterson Chapel in Buffalo.  In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred.

            A visitation is taking place this Thursday, July 24 from 6-8 p.m. at the Peterson Chapel.  A private family service will be held at a later date.

            Survivors include: wife, Deborah; children, Sophie, Samuel, Henry, and Lucy; mother, Elaine; brothers, Robin and Edgar; niece, Elizabeth (Vazim); and be-loved friends, JJ Lessard, Henry Harrison Martinez, George Heller, and George's daughter, Morgan.



Slowing the spread of zebra muscle discussed by County Board

By Ed DuBois

            A discussion about how to use state funds being provided for aquatic invasive species prevention was focused mainly on zebra muscles at the Wright County Board meeting last Tuesday, July 22.

            Wright County is receiving $108,325 in Aquatic Species Invasive (AIS) Prevention Aid from the state in 2014, plus a similar amount next year.

            Representatives of the Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) attended the board meeting and discussed the need for public education about zebra muscles and "feet on the ground" at boat landings to check boats and make sure they are not carrying and spreading the invasive clams.

            The county commissioners were receptive to the ideas being presented and asked the SWCD to manage the funds and work with lake associations and the Crow River Organization of Water (CROW) on the best ways to use the money.  The Clearwater River Regional Watershed District and sportsmen's groups could also be involved.

            Joe Jacobs of the SWCD spoke about the impact of non-native aquatic species on recreation, as well as on lake property, which provides a significant amount of tax revenue for the county.  Zebra muscles are in the Mississippi River and in several lakes, including Lake Minnetonka.  They spread fast and could be coming soon to Wright County lakes.

            Jacobs said zebra muscles probably cannot be stopped, but the goal of prevention efforts will be to slow them down and provide more time for the development of effective methods to help control them better.  Zebra muscles attach themselves to all kinds of objects, including docks and boats, and they can clog boat equipment and mechanical systems.  Their sharp shells can make it difficult to walk along shorelines without shoes.  They can also cause the collapse of a lake's food chain and impact wildlife, Jacobs said.

            Commissioner Mark Daleiden said education is a key, and pictures are worth a thousand words in regard to showing the impact of zebra muscles.  Commissioner Charlie Borrell suggested part of the education effort could involve a few billboards.

            The commissioners talk-ed about the number of boat landings in the county.  The DNR lists 59, but there are also numerous private boat landings.  The total number could be around 75.

            The AIS Prevention Aid money from the state is aimed at helping counties generate local efforts and add to what the DNR is already doing to address the problem.

            In other business:



            The Board received the state demographer's 2013 population estimates for the cities and townships in Wright County.

            The 2013 total county population estimate is 128,459.  The estimate for 2012 was 127,131.

            Some of the largest cities, according to the 2013 estimates, are: St. Michael 16,801, Buffalo 15,812, Otsego 14,457, and Monticello 12,993.

            The largest townships include: Rockford 3,274, Monticello 3,252, Franklin 2,834, Silver Creek 2,406, and Corinna 2,386.

            (See a chart with this story for more information.)



            In other actions, the Board:

            * approved the installation of up to four panic buttons in the license bureau at the County Government Center (Earlier, panic buttons were approved for the County Attorney's Office, Court Services and Veterans Services/Civil Defense.);

            * cancelled the board meetings on Sept. 5, Nov. 11 (Veterans' Day) and Dec. 9;

            * approved the low bid of Greystone Construction of Shakopee, Minn. ($109,720) for a salt storage facility at the Maple Lake road maintenance truck station;

            * approved filling two social worker positions in the Intake and Assessment Unit of Human Services;

            * approved a plat for the Shambles Addition in Southside Township; and

            * approved $1.23 million in claims involving 311 transactions with 165 vendors.



All Star Clown Show Aug. 2
            The All Star Clown Show is coming to Buffalo on Saturday, Aug. 2 in the Buffalo Civic Center.  Free face painting is planned at 6 p.m., followed by a 6:30 p.m. showtime.  Admission is free.  See 99 clowns perform classic circus routines and silly stunts, perfect for children of all ages.  Find them on Facebook.  Search for "All Star Clown Show," produced by Mooseburger Clown Camp (



Communities send cancer a message

 The Super Heroes, also known as the Breast Avengers, stopped for a few minutes as they walked the track during last Friday's Relay for Life in Monticello. Above are, from left, back row, Brent Loge, Mindy Loge, Jeff Butler, Marie Butler of Buffalo who is a cancer survivor, Nicole Pilarski, Matthew Butler, and Dustin Green, and, front row, Owen Loge and Lilly Loge. Not pictured, but part of the team are Pat Butler and Nicole Butler, who at the time of the picture were browsing the silent auction.  (Photo by Doug Voerding)


By Doug Voerding

            "So, dear cancer, if you think you're the winner around here, I'm standing here today to tell you, you are not!" said cancer survivor Patricia Mack, speaking to the large crowd of survivors and supporters at the 19th annual Relay for Life in Monticello last Friday.

            Continued Mack, "Be-cause even though you challenge us and cause us great pain, we still find a way to rise above and find beauty."

            One bit of beauty was the beautiful weather that brought 21 teams and their supporters to the track at Monticello Middle School to walk all night, from sundown to sunrise, and raise money for the American Cancer Society.

            This year's Relay for Life combined previous efforts in Albertville, Buffalo, Monticello, and St. Michael together for the newly-named Relay for Life of Northern Wright County.

            Although the final tally is not yet complete, the 161 participants on the 22 teams raised $33,250, according to the American Cancer Society website.

            Celebrating her tenth year of cancer-free, Julie Prince of Buffalo served as the honorary cancer survivor and guest speaker.

            "I had to face my cancer with courage, confidence, strength, positive attitude, and a tremendous amount of faith," said Prince. "My life was in God's hands, and I needed to believe and trust in Him completely."

            "My cancer," said Prince, "made me realize that life is not measured by what you have. It's measured by how you live."

            Following the opening speeches, the walk began with separate laps for survivors, therapy dogs, caregiver, and team recognition laps.

            During the early laps, participants helped raise additional funds with a silent auction and several food booths.

            As the sun went down, the luminaries that surrounded the entire track were lit. Each luminary was decorated in remembrance or in honor of someone who has struggled with cancer.

            The event was chaired by Kelly Smith, and co-chaired by LeeAnn Zeipelt. Assisting were Kevin Weeks, Brooke Hastig, Kathy Soland, Breonna Carlson, Crystal Hibner, Tammie Korbel, Renita Weeks, Jane Trefethen, Marlene Welter, Nick Zahler, Patricia Mack, Kay Anderson, Teresa Weise, Kyra Berggren, Alisa Korbel, Brandi Korbel, and Kate Steinbach.




Night to Unite event Aug. 5 in Buffalo

            You are invited to the City of Buffalo's 6th Annual Night to Unite event on Tuesday, Aug. 5.

            The community event will take place from 5-8 p.m. in the parking lot between the Buffalo Police Department and the City Center.

            Visit us to register your neighborhood block party and receive a party pack.



Only three more performances of BCT's musical 'The Producers'

Flamboyant Broadway director Roger DeBris (Rick Wyman, left) pouts in regard to his doubts about his costume contest entry to Leo Bloom (Jimmy Person, right), claiming "I look more like the Chrysler Building!"  (Photos courtesy of BCT)

Budding playwright of "Springtime for Hitler," Franz Leibling, (Chad Carter, front) sings of Old Bavaria with two of his pigeons (Liz Walker, left, and Jessica Johnson, right).


            This summer, Buffalo Community Theater has sparkly showgirls, outrageous comedians ... and dancing Nazis!  It's all part of the spoof salute to Broadway written by Mel Brooks, known as "The Producers," which is playing its last three performances this weekend.

            In this musical comedy, has-been producer Max Bialystock and timid accountant Leo Bloom hatch a plan to put on the worst Broadway show possible, have it close in one evening, then take the backers' money and escape to Rio.  But plans go uproariously awry when their awful show, "Springtime for Hitler," becomes a surprise hit.

            Director Erin Walsh calls the show "a complete romp through all things Broadway, where no one is spared from a good skewering - from blondes, to little old ladies, to accountants, to Nazis."

            Don't miss the fun, get your tickets online today through the BCT website at  Tickets will also be available at the door.  The production runs Thursday, July 24 through Saturday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the air-conditioned Buffalo High School Performing Arts Center.

            Walsh is both the director and choreographer for the show.  She has been much involved with the BCT since its inception 25 years ago.  A music teacher at Montrose Elementary School (and privately), she directs the Bravo youth strings program in Montrose.  Her greatest loves (besides her family) are fixing up her 1886-era home, making music with friends, kayaking, and dancing.

            The co-music directors for "The Producers" are Michael Walsh and Erik Rhode.  Michael Walsh loves musical theater.  He has served as music director for over 50 shows (both BCT and Buffalo High School).  Now in his 30th year as choir director at BHS, he is also the director of the Zion Lutheran Church Senior Choir and director and founder of the Wright County Chamber Chorus.  When he is not directing music, he likes to travel and spend time with his three grown children.

            Rhode has served as the conductor of the Buffalo Community Orchestra for the past three seasons and currently teaches at the MacPhail Center for Music and the Trinity School in the Twin Cities.  Besides conducting and teaching, he plays violin and spends free time chasing his two young sons.

            This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Central Minnesota Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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Growing better jail atmosphere

Positive results being seen during first years of Wright County Jail's new gardening program

By Ed DuBois

            Some of the inmates at the Wright County Jail get to work outside once in a while in the summertime.  Gardening programs are not common at county jails, but Wright County has the space, a good location and a program coordinator who grew up on a farm and likes gardening.

            Sheriff Joe Hagerty said a gardening program was suggested a few years ago by Wright County Commissioner Pat Sawatzke.  Some advice was obtained from a corrections official who oversees a gardening program for inmates at a state facility in Moose Lake.  Today, the Wright County Jail's gardening program is in its second year.

            Jo Carpenter, the jail's program coordinator, said a very wet spring and then hot, dry weather conditions during the summer of 2013 resulted in a meager harvest.  But she and Jail Administrator Pat O'Malley, as well as Sheriff Hagerty, understood it would take some time to get the garden program running well.  They decided to give it a good five years to get established.


Qualifying inmates

            Sentence to Service inmates did much of the garden preparation work both last year and this year.  As many inmates as possible are invited to tend to the garden throughout the summer.  However, only inmates who meet the criteria for the program are eligible.  They must be non-violent.  They must want to be in the program, and they must be responsible so they can be depended upon to work and not goof off.

            About 20 different inmates were involved with the garden program last year.  So far this year, 15 inmates have worked in the garden.  The jail population continually changes, so it is hard to say how many inmates will be involved by the end of the growing season.

            Usually only one or two inmates work in the garden at any given time.


Not worth causing trouble

            O'Malley said most of the participants tend to be work release inmates.  They have demonstrated they can be trusted.

            He added that using the garden program as a way to escape the jail is not in the participant's best interest.

            "They have more to lose than gain if they do something dumb while they are out here," O'Malley said.

            They could lose their eligibility for participating in the program, and, depending on what they do, they could even end up with a longer jail term.


Positive influence

            Carpenter remembers two particular inmates who worked out especially well last year.  The two ladies often worked together on the garden and did a very good job.

            "Both of them commented, 'When I go home, I'm going to have a garden,'" Carpenter recalled.

            Both Carpenter and O'Malley were encouraged by that statement.  The garden program is aimed at making life better for the inmates, and if it carries over to something positive after they leave the jail, the program is working even better than hoped.

            Funds for the garden program come from the jail canteen profits.  Inmates can buy certain items at the canteen.

            "It's all inmate money (that runs the garden program)," Carpenter said.


Food for the kitchen

            Besides giving inmates something positive to do at the jail, the garden provides food for the jail's kitchen.  In fact, the items grown in the garden are selected with the kitchen in mind.  Some of the items include: potatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, onions, green beans, rhubarb, and raspberries.

            The potatoes did not grow well last year, and they do not appear to be doing any better this year.

            "I'm not giving up on them," Carpenter said.

            She is looking into getting more sand in the soil where the potatoes are planted.  The existing dark soil holds moisture extremely well.

            "We began growing rhubarb when a clerk's mom was thinning out her rhubarb at home and gave some of it to us," Carpenter mentioned.

            As for the raspberries, only one plant survived last year.

            Carpenter has been in touch with the Extension Service and the Master Gardeners.  This year, Red Heritage raspberry plants were introduced to the garden.  They tend to grow well in Minnesota's climate, and so far they are looking good.


Garden boxes

            Another addition this year is container (raised box) gardens.  They provide better access to the plants, and they drain moisture better, Carpenter said.

            She was asked about growing corn, and she said it is hard to justify the space required to grow enough corn for a relative few meals.  Corn is more labor intensive than other garden plants, and it is easily lost to raccoons, which tend to pull down corn stalks.

            Without corn in the garden, evidence of raccoon visits has not been seen, but deer and rabbits have been seen out there, O'Malley said.


Better meals

            One of the newer plants in the garden is oregano, which is a perennial plant and can be used in the kitchen.

            Peppers are growing in some of the container gardens.

            "People were so happy when we added peppers to the salads for the first time," Carpenter said.

            O'Malley commented that corrections work is less stressful when the inmates are content, and the appreciation of good meals can make a difference.

            "Messing up meals too much can cause more problems than it's worth," he commented.


Getting outside

            This year's garden got off to a soggy start, but the weather conditions have improved in recent weeks, and there is optimism regarding the produce that could go to the kitchen from the garden later this summer.

            Not every county jail has the space and the right location for a garden.  Therefore, the Wright County Jail is one of just a few that has a garden program.

            Wright County also has a program coordinator who happens to enjoy growing things.  Now and then, Carpenter likes to step out of the jail and see how the garden is doing.

            Because of the garden, some of the inmates get to work outside once in a while in the summertime.  Now and then, Carpenter will join them.