HEADLINES FOR OCTOBER 17, 2014
By Ed DuBois
Although Hennepin County, Anoka County and Sherburne County have experienced a greater up-tick in crimes and deaths involving heroin, the Wright County Sheriff's Office is making an effort to prevent it from happening more here, said Lt. Sean Deringer.
"We have seen about half a dozen heroin-related deaths in the last six months," he said. "There was a big jump in heroin deaths in Hennepin County.
Efforts to help keep it from happening here mainly involve education. In fact, planning is underway for a Know the Truth Symposium this winter. The Sheriff's Office, local chiefs of police and Buffalo High School's principal are a few of the people involved.
One of the troubling aspects of heroin addiction is that typically someone who was addicted to the drug gets cleaned up in jail and gets off the drug. However, all too often after being released from jail, the former inmate will go back on heroin. It is a very addictive drug, Deringer said.
"The scary thing is that heroin is so unpredictable. It can be anywhere from 30 percent pure to 90 percent pure. Someone taking the drug can suddenly get much more (potency) than expected," he explained.
The purity of heroin is fluctuating to a great degree, and a person taking the drug can "get blasted," he added.
Too many drug dealers are "steppin' on it." In other words, too many people are cutting the drug, and someone buying it has no clue about the potency.
"It can shut down your body," Deringer said. "It's all because of people chasing a greater high."
One of the most recent heroin related deaths in Wright County occurred on Sept. 13 in Delano. Nicholas Anderson, 28, was the victim. His death was reported by his father.
"He had a long history of drug abuse," Deringer said. "He was clean for a while. He died due to heroin and meth (methamphetamine) toxicity.
Deringer mentioned that much of the crime in Wright County is fueled by drug addiction. The drug dealer wants to be paid, and the addict sometimes turns to crime to get money.
He also mentioned that heroin is an opiate, and some painkillers are opiates. Sometimes when a person gets addicted to a painkiller and cannot get it anymore, heroin can seem to be the next best thing.
"It makes the body feel good," Deringer said.
But it can also kill the body.
Visitors could get a little fire extinguisher practice at the Buffalo Fire Department Open House and Pancake Breakfast last Saturday, Oct. 11. Here, firefighter Seth James (left) watches as Sarah Long of Buffalo hits the target, a frying pan fire, on her first try. The event was well attended and featured fire truck rides and an up-close look at an air ambulance helicopter, besides the breakfast and a few other attractions. (Photo by Ed DuBois)
Buffalo High School's student newspaper, The Hoofprint, and the Tatanka yearbook took home top honors at the Minnesota High School Press Association convention on Tuesday, Oct. 7 at the University of Minnesota.
See the story on the School News page in this week's issue of the Journal-Press.
The debut concert of new BCO conductor Paul McShee is taking place this Saturday, Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m., in the Buffalo High School Performing Arts Center.
The debut concert of new BCO conductor Paul McShee is taking place this Saturday, Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m., in the Buffalo High School Performing Arts Center.
The Buffalo Community Orchestra will kick off their 20th anniversary season on Saturday, Oct. 25 as they perform their annual fall concert, "Nature Takes a Bow."
The concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Buffalo High School Performing Arts Center, will offer famous music celebrating the beauty and energy of the countryside. Through a collaboration with the Buffalo Art Guild, outdoor scenes will be shown on a large screen as orchestra music accompanies images created by Wright County artists.
BCO's new conductor, Paul McShee, will discuss the evening's music in a Conductor Chat at 6:30 p.m. Following the concert, refreshments will be served in the commons.
Tickets for the event will be available in advance at Buffalo Books and Coffee and at the door on the night of the performance. The 2014-2015 concert ticket prices are as follows: Adults - $12.00, Seniors - $10.00 and Students - $5.00. Children, age 5 and under, are admitted without charge. Season tickets are also available. Please visit www.bcomn.org for more information.
Come and help celebrate 20 years of community music.
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.
By Ed DuBois
The Wright County Board acted last Tuesday, Oct. 14 on approving a contract with Hagen Christensen & McIlwain (HCM) Architects for designing the county's public works project.
Some of the design work in a proposed contract was taken out and referred to the Building Committee for further consideration. For example, $93,000 for designing an impound building, which might not cost much more than $93,000 to construct, was sent to the Building Committee.
The cost of the contract with HCM, as it now stands, is $688,850, according to Commissioner Mark Daleiden. He proposed a motion to go ahead with the schematic design work as a first phase, and he called for the County Board to be involving with schematic design process. He also called for the Board to decide when to proceed with the design development work. The other commissioners agreed and approved the motion.
The public works project involves the expansion of space for the Highway Department, the Parks Department and the Surveyor's Office. Both remodeling and some construction of new structures could be involved. Construction could possibly take place from October 2015 to September 2016.
In other business:
The Board reviewed an Oct. 8 Building Committee meeting and accepted recommendations in regard to selling equipment at the county's compost facility.
Representatives of Borchart Steel, Inc. toured the facility to assess the value of the equipment. Jim Borchart commented that the plant is in amazingly good shape.
He determined that most of the equipment is sellable. He suggested using a broker when selling to buyers in other counties.
Borchart said the trammels in the building could sell for $25,000. However, the cost to remove the trammels could be $20,000.
Borchart said the scale in the building could be sold immediately.
As for the Zuk machine, which turned the compost windrows, there does not appear to be any interest among potential buyers. It will probably be sold as scrap. However, Commissioner Mike Potter said there might be buyers interested in the Zuk's engine.
The committee recommendations are to obtain estimates on the general value of the Zuk. Borchart Steel will provide a list of equipment at the compost facility, along with estimated sales prices.
The Board approved a State Wildlife Management Area acquisition resolution for a 62.23-acre parcel in St. Michael near Pelican Lake.
Fred Bengtson, DNR area wildlife manager, reported the selection of a bidder for a Pelican Lake outlet project is happening soon. The project involves both a gravity flow outlet and a pump system.
Asked how much the lake could be lowered by the gravity flow outlet, Bengtson said four feet. That much drawdown would help area farms by draining water from their fields.
Bengtson was asked why the pump system is needed. He said the pumps will be able to drain almost all of the water from the lake for a management drawdown to kill all rough fish. After the fish kill, the lake would be allowed to fill up again. This process has been used successfully in other lakes to improve the water quality and make the lake better for wildlife.
In other actions, the Board:
* rescheduled a committee meeting to discuss elected department head salaries on Dec. 2, 11 a.m.;
* adopted a resolution for speed zone studies along County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 5 from 67th St. NW to CSAH 39 in the Annandale area, and CSAH 39 from CSAH 75 to Highway 101 in the Monticello and Otsego area;
* approved a Toward Zero Deaths enforcement grant of $51,340 and discussed the dangers of texting and talking on a phone while driving;
* approved a "divided vote" for corrections employees who will decide at the end of the year if they want to stay with the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) and Social Security or go with only PERA. (A divided vote, rather than a majority vote, allows each employee to make an individual choice.)
* voted to support the transfer of a tax forfeit parcel to the Prairie Creek Townhomes Homeowners' Association in Otsego; and
* approved $284,307 in claims involving 277 transactions with 161 vendors.
The Wright County Sheriff's Office is requesting the assistance of the public in locating Christopher Michael Rossing.
On Aug. 26 2014, Christopher Rossing, 25, of Albion Township was reported missing. Rossing was last seen frequenting several bars in the City of Howard Lake during the early morning hours of Saturday, Aug, 23. At the time of his disappearance, Christopher Rossing was wearing a white t-shirt, dark pants and dark shoes.
The Wright County Sheriff's Office has made two arrests in connection with Christopher Rossing's disappearance. Robert Nuttal, 28, of Hutchinson was arrested on kidnapping charges, and Gwen Butcher, 32, of Hutchinson was arrested on felony obstructing charges.
The Sheriff's Office is requesting farmers, hunters and the general public in the area to keep a vigilant eye out for the possible whereabouts of Christopher Rossing.
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Christopher Rossing, including the involvement of Nuttall or Butcher in that disappearance, is requested to please contact the Sheriff's Office at 763-682-7637.
High School students in Wright County are invited to enter a DVD contest offered by Wright Mental Health (WMH).
They would like to see a DVD created as a public service announcement (PSA) and related to Wright Mental Health's "Talk About It" campaign, which is aimed at helping the public understand that mental health issues need not remain hidden. The DVD can tell how chemicals sometimes play a role in mental health issues, and it can also inform the public that through discussion and dialogue, healing and prevention can occur.
Contestants need to provide their own props and all equipment involved with making a PSA. Please refrain from using copyrighted materials (songs, slogans, branded wear, etc.) without written permission.
The PSA should be no longer than 2-3 minutes.
The deadline for entering the contest is Friday, Nov. 21.
Judges will be considering performance and creativity while telling the Wright Mental Health message.
First, second and third place winners will be announced. The cash prizes are $500, $300 and $100. The winning PSAs will be sent to all high schools in Wright County and/or put on local cable channels, as well as being announced in the newspapers.
An entry form must accompany the DVD when submitted to WMH. You can obtain an entry form by contacting Chris Husom at Christine.Husom@co.wright.mn.us.
Submit your DVD and form to: Wright Mental Health, c/o Suzanne O'Dell, 301 2nd Ave. NE, Buffalo, MN 55313.
Individuals and groups may submit DVDs. They will not be returned.
Costumed kids, and their parents, are invited to visit participating businesses in Buffalo during the annual Trick or Treat event on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 2-4 p.m.
Enjoy a fun and safe way to share some Halloween fun with many other families with young children, and pick up a few treats along the way.
Part of the excitement during the annual event is seeing a great variety of colorful costumes, including some extremely imaginative creations.
Are your costumes ready?
The Journal-Press is sponsoring the event.
click to see
Ebola containment in Africa
Nurse from Buffalo Hospital helped in Liberia last spring with Teamwork Africa volunteers
By Ed DuBois
The containment practices at American hospitals are so well practiced, Mandy Duerr, a registered nurse who works at the Buffalo Hospital, has no doubt that an Ebola outbreak like the one in Western Africa would not be possible in the USA.
She has worked in Minnesota hospitals about 15 years and has provided health care in Liberia during Teamwork Africa medical outreach trips in 2013 and 2014.
"They don't have gloves to keep them safe. They have no waste management," Duerr said about health care in Liberia. "We (in American hospitals) contain all infectious material. We have strict infection control. We do things that would be impossible to do there. We don't even allow small cracks in furniture, which could harbor infectious material."
"They use mattresses with rips that cannot be cleaned adequately," she added. "But over there, just having something is better than nothing at all."
Go or not go
When Duerr and fellow Teamwork Africa volunteers were getting prepared for their 2014 trip to Liberia, they wondered whether or not they should go. They watched the rate of the spread of Ebola, and they were concerned that panic and chaos might make the trip too unsafe.
"I am surprised it (panic and chaos) hasn't happened yet," Duerr commented.
The trip got underway in April. At the time, the Liberian government thought the spread of Ebola had ended, and a declaration was issued that the country was Ebola free.
Looking back now, Duerr said it was hard for the government to track the disease. Reporting was not adequate. The Ebola free declaration was premature.
Meanwhile, the decision was made to proceed with the Teamwork Africa trip.
Met the founder
Duerr had learned about the organization when she was in college. Originally from Winona, she studied and became an RN at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, where she met the founder of Teamwork Africa, Peggy Halvorsen.
The organization has helped Africans help themselves by working with them on establishing over 100 wells to provide clean, safe water. A school has been opened, and a clinic has been established. Around 80 children are being sponsored through the organization.
When Duerr was asked to serve on the organization's board of directors, she wanted to go and see firsthand what Teamwork Africa is all about and experience what is happening in places where the organization is working. She wanted to get a better understanding.
During her two trips, medical supplies were delivered, and she toured a government hospital. Several mobile medical clinics were set up, and health care professionals saw over 500 people.
"The villages have no access to health care. They have no money. People die from relatively simple causes," Duerr said.
Community health workers
Teamwork Africa has focused on four villages, and four people from each village have received training for treating malaria, dehydration and respiratory and abdominal illnesses.
The 16 trained "community health workers" conduct mobile clinics at the villages.
Duerr was among Teamwork Africa volunteers who helped community health workers during a mobile clinic. Around 170 people were seen, and the community health workers rotated through the various types of care being provided as they gained experience.
"Now they are able to treat minor illnesses," Duerr said.
The community health workers are able to contact Teamwork Africa by telephone to get answers to questions. They can also meet with nurses and physicians at the Teamwork Africa headquarters in Monrovia.
Few doctors after war
Many years of war in Liberia caused the departure of professional people, including health care professionals. The fighting left many mothers without husbands and many children without parents. Liberia is one of the top five poorest countries, Duerr said.
"They only have about 90 physicians in the whole country," she commented.
Birth Center manager
Duerr began her health care career in St. Paul. She came to the Buffalo Hospital 13 years ago and currently serves as the Birth Center manager.
She and her husband, Jim, have five children: Caleb, 14, Miriam, 12, Isaac, 10, Sarah, 8, and Jacob, 7.
They were living in Rockford but recently moved to a hobby farm near Clearwater.
Sad news from Liberia
The trip to Liberia this year took place in a two-week span at the end of April and in the beginning of May. It was believed at the time that the spread of Ebola had ended, but after Duerr was back home a while, she learned about the reemergence of Ebola.
She and others with Teamwork Africa were very sad when they learned two of the health care workers in Liberia had died due to Ebola. One of them, Nancy, was a strong woman with a passion for caring for her people. She and her husband had shared their home with the Teamwork Africa volunteers. Nancy was an RN who recently became a physician's assistant.
A teacher and a mentor to many before he died, Khakie, was a great help with the training Teamwork Africa provided. His death left a void that will be hard to fill.
Could not look the other way
While working in Liberia last spring, Duerr could very well have been in contact with people whose Ebola symptoms were not yet apparent.
It was risky going to Liberia. When asked about that and why she was willing to accept the risk, she said she has always had a desire to help.
She had met people from Liberia and learned about their struggles.
"I feel bad that we are comfortable here and can't send more to help in Liberia," she commented.
She feels blessed to help others.
"I can't look the other way," she commented.
Duerr said she was surprised she was not put in quarantine for 21 days when she returned to the USA.
"I would have been willing to do that," she said.
She added, "It would not spread here like in Liberia, but why even let it get started?"
The reemergence of Ebola in Liberia began toward the end of July, which was well after she came home.
She likes the way Teamwork Africa provides resources and encouragement, which helps people in Liberia lead the way toward helping their country.
One of the activities during her trip to Liberia was a "Bucket Campaign," which involved providing training, buckets and chlorine for washing hands and disinfecting materials and objects.
"We learned there were no deaths (due to Ebola) in the areas where the buckets were sent," Duerr said.
Business as usual for Teamwork Africa ended due to Ebola, and now the organization is considering "where to go from here." There is hope that work can be completed on a project called the New Life Medical Clinic, which opened in March. It is part of a New Life Campus, which includes the clinic, a guesthouse, a school, and a ten-acre, self-sustaining farm. Duerr said the campus provides many jobs for people.
Duerr and Teamwork Africa are hoping for the best in Liberia. They are hoping the spread of Ebola can be stopped so they can get on with their mission.
One of the people who died due to Ebola was a child who was sponsored through Teamwork Africa.
"My friends sponsored that child," Duerr said.
Preventing more deaths will likely involve the types of containment practices that are well established and strictly required in American hospitals.
You can learn more about Teamwork Africa at teamworkafrica.org. You can also find Teamwork Africa on Facebook. You can donate through the website and designate donations for Ebola Response. Teamwork Africa is shipping a container next week with needed protective equipment, mattresses, supportive medical equipment, and food.