BCT's youngest performers will soon present 'Winnie the Pooh, Kids!'

Buffalo Community Theater's cast in Disney's "Winnie the Pooh, Kids!" are celebrating National Winnie the Pooh Day with some favorite Pooh momentos.  Pictured are: (front row, from left) Payton Jessen, Josie Halderson, Kadin Anderson, Maurisa Wojciak, Avery Russek, Isabelle Anderson, Sam Bryant, Kaylee Anderson, Madelyn Benzer, Abby Urich, Sophia Schmutzer; (middle row) Sophia Zupan, Tyler Harris, Christopher Tornell, Seth Berner, Evy Mattson, Kena Dalchow, Kiley Herbst, Corrine Farniok, Jeff Kuhn, Madelyn McCarthy, Zanaib Akram; (top row) Zoe Ellwoods, Elizabeth Schuette, Josie Niemec, Ingrid Carlson, Bailey Meyer, Sophie Dovornay, Kumail Akram, and Dylan Mart.  Not pictured, Alex Gibbs.  (Photo courtesy of BCT)


For nearly 30 years, Buffalo Community Theater (BCT) has staged exciting and magical opportunities for people to experience live, local theatre, a spokes-person said.  From family-filled musicals to serious dramas and laugh-out-loud comedies, BCT has showcased the best and the brightest from Buffalo and the surrounding communities.

This year, BCT is launching its first ever all-children's show, Disney's "Winnie the Pooh, Kids!"  Based on the beloved books by A.A. Milne, and the Disney animated films, "Winnie the Pooh" is filled with music, laughter and fun.  The show is also providing an exciting opportunity for young actors to experience the challenge and excitement of putting a theatre production together.

"When the BCT board was planning their 2015-2016 season, they decided to create an opportunity for kids in our community to experience being part of a full theater production," states BCT Director Zanna Joyce.  "What's extra special about this production is that the cast is all kids, ages 7 - 12, which is unlike anything we've done in our 30-year history."

Rehearsals are progressing daily, kids are learning their lines, and the set is starting to take shape.  Minda Squadroni, a retired music teacher from Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Schools, is partnered with Joyce as the music director.  She is excited to be lending her skills and experience to her first BCT production.

"It's just so much fun to see the kids come to rehearsal every night and give their best," she says. "It's going to be a delightful show."

"Winnie the Pooh" opens on Friday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Discovery Center Auditorium, Buffalo.  It runs for two weekends, Feb. 12 - 14 and 19 - 21.  The Sunday performances are matinees and start at 2 p.m.  Each performance will open with a magic show geared toward young audiences, followed by an intermission, and then concluding with the "Winnie the Pooh" production.  The entire length runs just over an hour and is perfect for the entire family, a spokesperson said.

All seats are reserved, and tickets may be purchased from the BCT website,  Kids, age three and younger, can see the show for free if they are seated on a lap.  BCT recommends purchasing tickets early to ensure the best seats and viewing, especially for the little ones.  Remaining seats will be sold at the door.  The cost is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors (over 60) and $8 for students.

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


Nightmare for Burt family

Ryan, Zachary and Nicholas Burt in 1995. The youngest two brothers died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their Kimball home in 1996.  (Photo courtesy of Tri-County News)


Twenty years have not faded memories of carbon monoxide tragedy

(Editor's note: With permission of the Tri-County News of the Kimball, Minn. area, we are reprinting the tragic story of the Burt family and the dangers of carbon monoxide, an odor-less, color-less gas that can be produced by appliances that burn fuel, such as a furnace or a hot water heater.  We hope the story serves as a reminder to be sure you have up-to-date carbon monoxide detector alarms in your home.  The story was in the Jan. 21, 2016 issue of the Tri-County News.)


By Jean Doran Matua,

Tri-County News Editor

"Kimball is my favorite town," was the first thing Cheryl Burt said in a telephone interview Monday afternoon. This may surprise you, if you know her story. "I think fondly of the people, especially the kindness there."


That fateful day:

Jan. 5, 1996

It was a bitterly cold January morning in Kimball, much like Monday this week. No one could have dreamed the horrors of that day, but none involved has forgotten them, even now 20 years later.

Cheryl and Todd Burt had moved into their home on School Section Lake, northeast of Kimball, in mid-September 1995. All five family members went to bed that night, Jan. 4, but the youngest two would not survive the night.

Being so cold, they had the furnace, fireplace, and a kitchen wood stove all running to keep the house warm. They had no way of knowing then, but they'd been living with a faulty furnace, and had suffered carbon monoxide poisoning for two months already. This night, with the house shut up tight, and a backdraft that helped to suck oxygen from the house, the carbon monoxide levels were lethal.

That morning Todd didn't come to work and his boss made the call that saved their lives.

Steve Gohman was one of the first-responders that morning. He couldn't recall if Todd's boss called the house and reached a disoriented Todd, and then called for someone to check on him, or if he called directly for help. He does feel it was that call that saved them.

They found Todd, quite disoriented. Cheryl had collapsed on the bathroom floor upstairs, unable to move. She had gone up to check on her boys. Gohman thinks it was he and Tom Ehlinger who found first the 16-month-old Nicholas and then 4-year-old Zachary, long dead in their beds. The older brother Ryan was clinging to life just a few feet away.

Cheryl, who now lives in Rochester, was severely poisoned that night but still remembers each of the 27 faces she figures was in her home that day to help them. She doesn't remember many of the names, but remembers the faces.

"I can see their faces, etched in deep sadness," she said of her rescuers. "But they didn't let it get to them, at least that I could tell."

She remembers laying on the floor, unable to help with anything. She saw people coming and going, each with a specific role. Even through the fog of carbon monoxide poisoning and all the activity spinning around her, she recalls seeing a familiar face come in.

"Oh, Ryan, your bus driver is here. We're going to be okay."

Cheryl thought she was speaking those words clearly to her son, but it came out as mumbled gibberish. Her eldest son Ryan was in kindergarten and his bus driver was, you guessed it, Steve Gohman. He was someone she had trusted with her son, so of course he would help them now. As sick as she was, she knew they were in good hands.

She recalls seeing two men with brown windbreakers over their winter coats. They had something like "CORNER" printed on the back. She remembers wondering what "corner" had to do with anything. She watched, helplessly, as one turned left into the baby's room, and the other turned right into the other boys' room. She remembers waiting for them to come out and bring her babies to her; they would revive them and bring them to her, she was sure.

When they again met in the hallway, both were shaking their heads and crying. That was Cheryl's first inkling that things were bad. She remembers these men's faces too.

The three surviving family members were taken by two ambulances to St. Cloud Hospital, where it was decided they needed a hyperbaric chamber. They could have been airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center, but the helicopter couldn't fit all three. She recalls hearing, "We have to keep this family together," repeated several times.  All three were put in an ambulance and driven into Minneapolis.

"It was really thoughtful of them," Cheryl said.

The Burt children had been ill, suffering from low-level carbon monoxide poisoning for at least two months before that fatal night.  But no one knew, or suspected.  Every time Cheryl would bundle them up and take them to the doctor, the fresh air had revived them enough to be energetic and running around.  Cheryl was sick too; she had headaches, "hole-in-your-head headaches" that nothing seemed to make better.  She knew something was wrong.  But the doctor's office labeled Cheryl a hypochondriac, and her husband complained about the doctor bills she was racking up.


The responders

Cheryl remembers Steve and those others who came to her aid, and all those who cared and helped afterward.  She comes to Kimball whenever she's in the area. She truly loves Kimball.

"Nine times out of 10, it's someone you know," said Gohman of calls in a small community like ours. It could be someone from work, a neighbor, someone at the bank or another business you frequent, someone from school. For Gohman, this incident 20 years ago was one of the three worst in his many years in the Kimball Fire and Rescue Department.  The day his wife, Katie, was struck and killed while helping a motorist was one of the other two.

Most of the new guys haven't experienced something this intense, said Gohman.  And most people don't know what first-responders face.  Keep in mind, too, that they're all volunteers.

Cheryl remembers the compassion of these responders that harsh day 20 years ago, and their reassuring manner.

"It was like a band of angels descended upon us."


Klobuchar leads the fight

Our U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has been a strong advocate for carbon monoxide poison detectors and education since reading about the Burt family's nightmare.  In 2009, she and Cheryl testified before a Senate committee on this.  Each year she proposes and advocates for legislation to help.  This year she introduced a Senate resolution to make every January National Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Awareness Month, and has requested grant funding to educate people on the need for detectors.  It hasn't passed yet but, in Cheryl's words, "she's not giving up on it.  She's passionate about this, too."

It's good to have safety laws and information as to why they're needed, Cheryl said.  She acknowledges that it took many decades for smoke detectors to become universal, and only a few states (including Minnesota) now require carbon monoxide detectors in new homes.

Cheryl has shared her story thousands of times, and has frequently taught about CO poisoning and prevention.

Cheryl also has taught countless real estate agents.  She tells them to do the right thing, and to make their clients do the right thing.  Anything that's wrong with a house needs to be put on the table, up-front, and dealt with.

"When there's a fire, how do you know?" she asks her students.

They eagerly answer that they can see it, feel it, smell it, and even hear it.

"Then how do you know if there's carbon monoxide?"

You can't, because you can't see, smell, feel, or hear it.

People need detectors to sound an alarm before levels get so bad that you're too sick to do anything.

At her worst that cold day 20 years ago, Cheryl knew she was in distress, but she was so poisoned that she couldn't do a thing about it.  She couldn't help herself or her babies just a few feet away.

"Don't let this happen again," she urges.


The Burts today

Todd and Cheryl's marriage didn't survive the grief of losing their two youngest sons.  Cheryl lives in Rochester and works in the school district.  She advocates as often as possible for detectors and safety.

Ryan is now 25, and a nursing student.  He remembers some details about that horrible day 20 years ago but doesn't talk much about it.  He fondly remembers his kindergarten teacher, Steve Palm, and many of his classmates; he would have been in the KAHS class of 2009 had they stayed in Kimball.  He's doing well.


Her mission

Cheryl's message to you, dear readers: Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector, and that it's working properly.  Change the batteries twice a year, when Daylight Saving time begins and ends.

"The $25 cost of a detector is nothing compared to living the rest of your life without your loved ones."  Cheryl speaks with painful experience on that one.

Beyond that: Have that conversation with family and friends.  Ask what kind of carbon monoxide detector they have.  Encourage them to get one, now, if they don't have one.  Talk about why one is needed today as much as smoke detectors or seatbelts.


Carbon monoxide poisoning

- Carbon monoxide or "CO" (not CO2) is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill you. CO is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces. CO can build up indoors or in a vehicle and poison people and animals who breathe it.

- Symptoms of CO poisoning can be headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. These symptoms are often described as "flu-like."

- People who are asleep or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they notice any symptoms.

- Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning, but especially infants and the elderly, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems.

- More than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning a year (not related to building fires); more than 20,000 will visit the emergency room with symptoms, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized each year with CO poisoning.

- There are several things you can do to protect yourself and your family from CO poisoning:

- Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home; replace the battery twice a year (Daylight Saving time is a good reminder). Replace your CO detector according to manufacturer directions, or about every five years. (Bring a portable CO detector into your ice fishing house too.)

- Have all your fuel-burning (gas, oil, coal, propane) appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.

- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.

- Make sure to buy gas equipment that has a national testing agency (like Underwriters' Laboratories) official seal.

- Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly; ask a professional if you're not sure.

- If you have a chimney, have it checked or cleaned every year.  Debris build-up in the chimney can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.

- Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or anything. Call a professional.

- Never use a gas range or oven to heat a room; this can cause CO build-up.

- Never burn charcoal or use a portable gas camp stove indoors; charcoal gives off CO, and a camp stove can cause CO build-up.

- Never use a generator inside your home, basement, or garage, or less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent.

- Have a mechanic check the exhaust system of your car or truck every year. A small leak can cause a CO build-up inside your vehicle.

- Never run your car or truck inside an attached garage, even with the door open; make sure a door is open for ventilation if you run your vehicle in a detached garage.

- Driving a vehicle with the tailgate down can cause CO from the exhaust to be pulled into the vehicle; open vents or windows to move air through.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



First significant snowfall of 2016

As a precaution, school was out early last Tuesday, Feb. 2.  Wind-blown snow was in the forecast.  Snow started falling around noon, and around 2 p.m., local schools, such as Parkside Elementary (above), looked very quiet while the snow was flying.  About 4-5 inches of snow covered the ground Wednesday morning.  (Photo by Ed DuBois)


Experience resilience at Feb. 13 Bounce Back Project Event

Have you ever wondered why some people bounce back in the face of adversity and misfortune while others fall apart?  Have you ever wished you could be one of those who rise above the stress of daily life?  Do you feel that you are sometimes overwhelmed with all the demands of your day?  Do you need something amazing to look forward to and be part of?

This is your chance!  You are invited to join others for a first-ever resilience event on Saturday, Feb. 13, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Classic Hall in Annandale.  This day will provide you with a chance to connect to others seeking similar insights, listen to powerful and inspiring speakers and learn about tools to help you to deal with stress and thrive in the face of life's challenges.

The cost is $75 and includes a full day of speakers, event materials, continental breakfast, and lunch.

For more information and to register, please visit or call 763-684-7100.

The Bounce Back Project is a partnership of Allina Medical Clinic-Buffalo, CentraCare-Monticello Hospital, Buffalo Hospital, Buffalo Clinic, and Monticello Clinic to help individuals in our community improve their health through happiness.



Two injured in crash on Highway 55

Two area residents were injured in a crash on Highway 55 a few miles east of Maple Lake last Tuesday, Feb. 2.

The State Patrol reports a westbound vehicle crossed the center line and collided head-on with another vehicle.  The driver of the first vehicle, Darrin J. Christensen, 28, of Buffalo, was seriously injured.  The other driver, Andrew J. Fobbe, 23, of Annandale, sustained non-life threatening injuries.

The crash occurred around 10:50 a.m. at Highway 55 and Crofoot Ave. NW.

Christensen was flown to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where he was in critical condition as of Tuesday evening.  Fobbe was treated at Buffalo Hospital.



Shorewood man injured in I-94 crash

A crash involving a plow truck and a van on I-94 near Monticello resulted in serous injuries last Monday, Feb. 1.

The State Patrol reports a Shorewood man, Paul Boynton, 55, was seriously injured around 8:10 a.m. when his westbound van struck the rear of a Mn/DOT plow truck at I-94 and CSAH 39.  The plow truck's warning lights were activated as it was treating the roadway.

The driver of the plow truck, Brad Vance, 47, of Buffalo, was not injured.

Boynton was transferred from the hospital in Monticello to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.



Possible future bridge and Highway 25 Coalition discussed by County Board

By Ed DuBois

A possible future bridge project in the vicinity of the Monticello nuclear plant was discussed by the Wright County Board last Tuesday, Feb. 2.

The commissioners are considering approval of a Highway 25 Corridor Coalition Joint Powers Agreement with Sherburne County, the Cities of Monticello and Big Lake, and Big Lake Township.  The focus of the group will be on relieving congestion on Highway 25 between I-94 and Highway 10.

Commissioner Mike Potter said regional discussions have been getting underway about a possible new bridge in the future.  The possible site could be in the vicinity of the nuclear plant in Monticello.  The bridge could connect I-94 and Highway 10, and the project would be aimed at relieving growing congestion on the Highway 25 bridge in Monticello.

Potter told the Journal-Press the project would probably not get underway until after 2020, if it is approved.

The estimated cost for Wright County to join the Highway 25 Coalition is in the $8,000 to $10,000 range.  Wright County would probably pay about the same as Sherburne County, and the cities and the township would probably pay smaller amounts.

On a motion by Commissioner Mark Daleiden, the Board voted 4-1 to table the Highway 25 Coalition matter to gather more information.

In other business:



In other actions, the Board:

* approved a Personnel Committee recommendation in favor of a Sheriff's Office reorganization plan that would change a sergeant position to a captain position and allow the Patrol and Criminal Divisions to be divided due to growth of the divisions  (The estimated budget impact is from $5,000 to $8,000 annually.);

* scheduled a Feb. 23, 1:30 p.m. five-year highway construction plan meeting;

* approved an annual resolution regarding spring load restrictions on county roadways;

* accepted a Planning Commission recommendation to approve a zoning request from Rachel Properties LLC to change the zoning of property in Corinna Township from agricultural use and S-2 residential recreational shorelands use to agricultural-residential use, plus establishment of a rural planned unit development district for a maximum of 20 lots;

* accepted a Planning Commission recommendation to approve a zoning request from Rachel Properties LLC to change the zoning of the riparian portion of Sugar Lake property from agricultural and S-2 residential-recreational shorelands use to R-1 urban-rural transitional and S-2 use;

* approved two Highway Department bid opening dates, March 4 (seasonal requirements) and April 8 (CSAH 35 flood control at Wolff Swamp and CSAH 39 intersection improvements);

* approved filling an accounting clerk position in Health & Human Services;

* authorized attendance at an Association of Minnesota Counties Legislative Conference March 10-11 in St. Paul; and

* approved $288,358 in claims involving 313 transactions with 144 vendors.

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feature photos

UBRA Horse of the Year

Powerful, muscular Ty thrives in barrel racing while trained by Jodi Lee of rural Annandale

By Ed DuBois

Tiger One, a powerful horse known as "Ty" in the riding arenas, was named the 2015 United Barrel Racing Association (UBRA) Horse of the Year in the Minnesota.  His owner and trainer, Jodi Lee of rural Annandale, who has been around horses her whole life, said Ty is super fast, and because he is a great athlete, he can make a mistake and still win.

On the UBRA website, Jodi says Ty "has rocked the barrel racing industry."

"We have owned Ty for 10 years," Jodi continued.  "Prior to the Lee family owning Ty, he was kicked out of two arenas for uncontrollable behavior.  It took me several years to get Ty to behave and work a pattern correctly.  However, time, patience and persistence have paid off more than expected.  He is a horse that can make mistakes and still clock.  Ty is an amazing animal that has allowed me to push myself to entering races and to travel to places and events that I would have never thought possible!  However, one of Ty's best attributes for the last few years is that our seven-year-old daughter rides him all over the place at home and has competed on him!"



Jodi was asked to describe some of her training goals with Ty, an impressively muscular quarter horse.  She began by telling about "getting him on his hind end," which gives him power in turns and allows him to "get in and around quickly."  She taught him to "break at the pole," which means he "collects up" and brings his head down so he can "get his spring loaded" for explosiveness.  She also worked on "bending and flexing," which helps produce more power and speed by "arcing sideways" and "counter arcing."

Jodi said she could go on and on about the intricacies of barrel racing horse training, but she had a lesson coming up at the Arrowhead Arena north of Maple Lake, and it was time to take some photos for this story.


Grew up riding horses

"My mom and dad (Ted and Sandy Woyke) always had plenty of horses to ride," she commented.  "I grew up riding horses and even took a horse to college."

She graduated from Annandale High School and spent her college years at Augsburg College and then Mankato State University.  Before raising children, she worked as a school counselor six years in the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District and was a probation officer five years in Houston County (far southeastern corner of Minnesota).


Stay home with the kids

She returned to her passion for horses so she could "stay home with the kids."

Jodi and her husband, JP, have been married 16 years and have two children, Jaiden, 7, and Jacie, 5.

Jodi's horse training and riding lessons business is run out of their home, and Jodi also works evenings at the Buffalo Bar and Grill.

On weekends, she likes to compete in barrel racing events.  She has competed at the rodeos in Buffalo and Clearwater, and she mentioned she entered her first pro rodeo event when she was only about eight years old.

"Now, I go to the events with the highest money payouts," Jodi said.  "I go to barrel races every other weekend from May to October."

She could soon compete in a winter rodeo at Verndale, Minn. Feb. 5-6.  (Located near Wadena in North-Central Minnesota.)

She has traveled as far as Montana, Ohio and Oklahoma to compete in barrel racing events.


Wants to win $100,000

The money she can win varies from about $1,000 to $5,000 per weekend, but she has her sights set on a big prize at the National Barrel Racing Tour Finals in Oklahoma, where the winner takes home $100,000.  Riding Ty, she feels she has a shot at first place.

Before Jodi bought Ty, he was in quarter horse racing, and she said he won at Canterbury Park in Shakopee.

Quarter horses are considered sprinters in the horseracing world.  Ty's speed, athleticism and competitiveness have made him an excellent barrel racing horse.

He became the Horse of the Year through a nomination process, Jodi said.  UBRA members vote on the annual honor.



Some of Ty's accomplishments include: 2012 NBHA Reserve 1D Champion, 2012 Western Wishes Fastest Time Champion, 2013 UBRA World Champion, 2014 UBRA Reserve World Champion, 2013 Strait to the Finish Open 1D Reserve Champion, 2014 Triple Crown Slot Race Champion, 2014 Reserve Pro Elite 1D Cash Race winner, 2014 Reserve 1D CWT Slot Race, 2014 All American Qualifier (11th place took top 10 to Run for $1 million), 2015 1D CWT Slot Race Champion, 2015 1D Reserve Slot Race SC Productions in Winona, 2015 Bulls and Barrels Champion in St. Paul, and 2015 Pro Elite Off the Track Champion.

"Over the years, Ty has won 2 saddles, 12 buckles, magnetic blankets and wraps, halters, and a ton of other prizes," Jodi said.


Great support system

"Ty and I have an unbelievable support system behind us to help us accomplish our goals," she said on the UBRA website.

She is grateful to her family, friends and sponsors for their help making Ty's success possible.


Looking ahead

Jodi continues to train Ty and work on his power and speed.

"I want that $100,000," she said.

She then mentioned a huge American Rodeo in Texas that could offer a $1 million prize.

The way Ty has been running, he might qualify to go after that huge prize, too.