School Board accepts audit

By Doug Voerding

"This is an unmodified opinion for the audit of the finances," said Janel Bitzan, representing the auditing firm of BerganKDV and addressing the District 877 School Board at its regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 24.  "It is a clear or the highest opinion."

Bitzan highlighted the main parts of the 2015-2016 audit for the school board.

The general fund income to the district was $1,232,404 over what was expected and that the expenses were $692,121 under budget. The income was over the budget primarily because the district is more conservative in estimating the numbers of students that will be served during the year. The savings in the expenses came from lower than expected fuel and utility costs, snow removal costs, and salary and benefit costs.

The two major sources of income for the district are state sources of $51,640,876 and local property taxes of $5,655,260. Other sources of income include: other local revenues, $2,027,453; federal government sources, $1,552,551; and sales and other conversion of assets, $42,548. The total income was $60,918,688.

Expenses for the year were $60,679,186.

One of the goals of the district is to spend at least 75 percent of the general fund expenditures on instructional costs. The audit showed that the district has reached that goal with 75.11 percent of all costs going to direct instruction. Six percent is spent on administration and district support services, 10 percent in pupil support services, and nine percent on sites and buildings.

The general fund balance now stands at $16,956,734. That fund balance is used to cover expenses before the district receives state aid and local tax money.

The separate Food Service Fund was self-supporting in 2015-2016 and increased its fund balance to $257,398.

The Community Service fund which includes community education, early childhood, school readiness, and adult basic education showed a deficit of $192,065. That fund will be reviewed for 2016-2017.

Said Gary Kawlewski, Director of Finance and Operations, "The audit is better than anticipated."

The board accepted the audit with little or no comment, but noted that the board is kept informed of finances throughout the year.



The Oct. 1, 2016, enrollment was set at 5693.53 students, an increase of nearly 26 full-time students compared to the Oct. 1, 2015, enrollment of 5667.55. The fractions indicate students that are shared with other schools and school districts.

The October enrollment by school is: Discovery, 249; Northwinds, 516; Parkside, 405; Tatanka, 528, Hanover, 435; Montrose, 345; Buffalo Community Middle School, 1352; Buffalo High School, 1831; Phoenix, 18; and Pride, 14.

Overall, the number of students in each grade is relatively stable with the lowest being kindergarten at 358 and first grade at 383. The other grades are over 400 with tenth grade being the largest at 503.

The grade-level totals are kindergarten, 358; first, 383; second, 424; third, 433; fourth, 446; fifth, 434; sixth, 464; seventh, 434; eighth, 454; ninth, 465; tenth, 503; eleventh, 427; and twelfth, 420.

Class sizes in the elementary school average between 23 and 25 students per room. At the middle school classes average 29 students, and at the high school the average class size is 30.



The school board recognized:


* the Buffalo High School Yearbook Staff. The 2016 yearbook was named Best in Show and won All State Gold at the Minnesota High School Press Association Convention.

* the BHS Hoofprint Staff. The Hoofprint was named the 3rd Best Magazine in Minnesota and also won All-State Silver at the Minnesota High School Press Association Convention.



Donations were accepted from: MN Pork Producers Association, $20 for BHS FACS; Truist, $44 for HES; DonateWell, $75 for HES; Kula Foundation (Coke Rewards), $45 for HES; Kula Foundation (Coke Rewards), $28 for NES; Car Classic by the Lake, $1000 for BHS Music Dept.; John and Wendy Williams, $83 for BHS Music Dept.; Buffalo Rotary, $200 for BHS French Club; Anonymous, $1000 for PES Angel Fund; DonorsChoose, $720 for HES; nine Wobble Chairs for K. Robinson; Donors Choose, $720 for HES; nine Wobble Chairs for J. Mueller; and Hwy 55 Trailer Sales $100, Ernst General Construction, Inc. $100, Buffalo Foot Specialists $25, and Johnson, Larson, & Peterson, PA $25, all for DES Family Fun Night.



Assessments questions answered for Board

By Ed DuBois

Some questions were answered this week in regard to Wright County Board action last week on an assessment for removing junk.

The matter involves the property of Dan Gutknecht at 3659 40th St. NE in Buffalo Township.  Greg Kryzer, assistant county attorney, spoke to Board at the Tuesday, Oct. 25 meeting and answered some of the questions.  He said there was no charge when a hauling company employee was reportedly ill and not working while on the property.  He also said there was no charge when a loader was being repaired on the property.

He was still waiting for a breakdown on the expenses regarding the removal of a barn.  Board Chair Pat Sawatzke asked Kryzer to provide the breakdown when it is received from the hauler.  Sawatzke said he would give a copy to Gutknecht.

The assessment total approved last week was $65,896.  Gutknecht had questioned some of the charges.

In other business:



In other actions, the Board:

* scheduled a Nov. 15 public hearing at 9:30 a.m. in regard to fees for services;

* scheduled a Nov. 1 Transportation Committee of the Whole meeting at 1:15 p.m.;

* welcomed new IT office technician Jennifer Rasset, who grew up in Maple Lake and now lives near Cokato;

* approved filling a technology coordinator position in Health & Human Services; and

* approved $400,180 in claims involving 348 transactions with 195 vendors.



Pleasant weather, fall colors and still water

During a weekend drive along the western side of Lake Constance, the pleasant weather, fall colors and still water demanded a stop for an autumn photo.  The colors were at their peak recently, and they are reflected on the surface of the lake.  Such scenes have been inspiring drives and walks in the outdoors before all the leaves are down and beginning to get covered by frost and snow.  (Photo by Ed DuBois)



Candidate profiles conclude this week in Journal-Press

With the Nov. 8 election coming up soon, candidate profiles are appearing in the Journal-Press this month.

In the Oct. 13 issue, profiles on the city candidates in Montrose and Hanover were included.  Last week, readers found county board candidates, state legislature candidates and City of Buffalo candidates.

This week, you can read about two more county board candidates, six state legislature candidates and six candidates for the Soil and Water Conservation District Board.

We asked all the local candidates to fill out and return questionnaires.  The candidates were asked to provide information about their backgrounds, qualifications, why they chose to seek office, and the issues that interest them and consider most important.

The candidate profiles are intended to inform the voters and help them make their election day decisions.

So, look inside the Journal-Press and "Meet the Candidates."



County seeks remodeling bids

Wright County is seeking sealed bids for interior remodeling of the Public Works Building, located at 1901 Hwy 25 N., Buffalo, MN.

Sealed Bids are due by 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14, 2016.

The remodeling project follows the recent completion of the new Wright County Highway Department Building.  The Highway Department has moved from the Public Works Building to the new facility.



License Bureau extending hours on Election Day

For voting purposes, the Wright County License Bureau will extend the normal hours on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8.

The office will be open until 8 p.m. for driver's license address purposes only.



BCO 'World Tour' Concert this Sunday

During a previous concert, Yonsoo Park (foreground) concentrates on the music.  Musicians behind her are (from left) Mary Ellen Lundsten, Emily Raymond and Belle Searcy.  (Photo courtesy of BCO)

The Buffalo Community Orchestra will take the stage in the Performing Arts Center at Buffalo High School this Sunday, Oct. 30 for their annual fall concert, "BCO: World Tour."

BCO's new conductor, Ernesto Estigarribia, will lead the orchestra in performing several songs from around the globe during the 4:00 p.m. concert.  Musicians from the orchestra will be featured in two different pieces.  Kristi Wagner, flutist, will be featured in "Chaminade's Concertino for Flute and Orchestra."  Lindsey Bordner and Aja Majkrzak, violinists, will be featured in Bach's "Double Violin Concerto."  Other musical selections will include: "Marche Slav" by Tchaikovsky, "Nabucco Overture" by Verdi and "Huapango" by Moncayo.

Conductor Ernesto Estigarribia will discuss the evening's music in a Conductor Chat at 3:00 p.m.  The Bravo Strings of Montrose will offer a pre-concert showcase at 3:30 p.m.  Children will have the opportunity to participate in a costume parade that will be held on stage following the intermission, with participants receiving treat coupons donated by Culver's of Buffalo.  Following the concert, refreshments will be served in the commons.

Tickets for the event will be available in advance at Buffalo Books & Coffee, and tickets will be sold at the door on the night of the performance.  Online tickets are also available through the BCO website.  Please visit for more information.  The 2016-2017 concert ticket prices are as follows: adults $12, seniors $10 and students $5.  Children age 5 and under are admitted without charge.  Season tickets will also be available.

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.

- See a Bravo Strings of Montrose photo continued on Page 12 in this week's issue of the Journal-Press.



Final weekend of 'The Sunshine Boys' by Neil Simon being presented by BCT

During a doctor sketch, a classic Lewis and Clark Vaudeville routine, Don Schmidt (left, as a doctor) talks to a tax collector played by Ron Hungerford (right) about a childhood illness.  (Photo courtesy of Studio 139 Photography for BCT)

Submitted by Heide Ludwig

What a show!  "The Sunshine Boys" is like watching a vaudeville production with vaudeville acts disguised as scenes, and you never know how each scene will play out.

Lewis and Clark were a great vaudeville team who split up after over forty years on the road.  Eleven years later, a simple attempt to bring them back together results in an unexpected twist.

Neil Simon brings out the best and the worst of his two lead characters in this Buffalo Community Theater (BCT) production of "The Sunshine Boys."  Although a mild mid-westerner might view their conversations as argumentative, this play presents New York banter at its best.  The cast was delightful, and the ending was not what people might have expected.

If you missed last weekend's showings, you still have an opportunity to catch the vaudeville act of Lewis and Clark as they take the stage again this Friday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 29 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. in Buffalo's Discovery Center Auditorium, 214 1st Ave. NE.  Tickets are on sale through the BCT website,, or you can purchase tickets at the door. This is a show that is not to be missed!

This project is funded, in part, 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.


click to see

feature photos

Half century of local aviation

Buffalo Airport established in 1966, and now 50 years old

By Ed DuBois

Unless you fly regularly, you might not visit the Buffalo Airport very often, and you might not have stopped to consider how long it has been serving the aviation needs of the community.  The Buffalo Airport turned 50 years old this year.

Way back in the early 1960s, local residents worked on establishing a local airport, according to a history of the airport written by Doug Roush of the Buffalo Airport Board.

Other priorities of the village council had sidetracked earlier attempts to get an airport started, but the efforts of both individuals and businesses eventually gained village council approval for an airport, and meetings with aeronautic officials of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) helped place Buffalo on a list of communities to get an airport.

Roush reports that in July 1966, the Buffalo Municipal Airport was opened after work on a grass runway had been completed.


Donations of money, materials

The city donated a flight operations building, and several local businesses and clubs donated money and materials to remodel the structure, which was an old granary building.  The Delta Aviation Flying Club, which still operates today, installed a gas tank to sell fuel at the airport.

In the 1970s, Red "Baron" Anderson started the Red Baron Flying Service.  Red was listed as the airport supervisor, and the Delta Aviation Flying Club gave their aviation fuel business to Red, as well.  He served as the airport manager until 1986.

The first six-unit T-hangar was constructed after Wright County Aviation, Inc. was formed in 1965 to raise funds.  Roush said 36 people purchased $100 shares to cover a 20-percent down payment, and MnDOT loaned the remaining 80 percent to be paid off after seven years.  When the loan was paid, the new hangar was donated to the City of Buffalo.  A second T-hangar was bought in 1979 the same way the first hangar was purchased.  The city was given the second hangar in 1990.  The T-hangars were located on the northwestern portion of the airport property, and all but one are still there.  (One was removed for a 2010 taxiway improvement.)


Runway paved in 1986

MnDOT funds were used in about 1980 to pave areas around the T-hangars.  Two paved taxiways to the north and middle entrances to the runway were also installed.

Roush said many volunteers helped with labor and donations as the runway was paved in 1986.  It measured 2,600 by 60 feet.

"The paving of the runway led to Buffalo Aviation opening their doors in the old operations building while construction of their 80-by-100-foot commercial hangar was erected," Roush reported.  This hangar is now owned by D'Shannon Aviation.

Buffalo Aviation, operated by Terry and Sue Marsh, began hosting open houses and pancake breakfasts in the late 1980s.  These events took place in conjunction with the annual Buffalo Days celebration in June.  Today, an annual Fly-In Breakfast is hosted at West Metro Aviation, and a Wright County Car Club Show takes place at the same time on the airport property.  Mike Wiskus of West Metro Aviation performs in a world-class aerobatic demonstration.


Airport Layout Plan

The Buffalo Airport Advisory Board was formed in 1985.  The Board held monthly meetings, and with the help of MnDOT Aeronautics and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), an engineering firm was hired to assist with developing an Airport Layout Plan (ALP).  This plan was needed for the airport to become eligible for federal funding of future construction at the airport, Roush explained.

"In the early 1990s, an ALP with a crosswind runway was adopted by the Advisory Board, but it never came to fruition because of opposition to a longer runway.  Many local citizens believed that the crosswind runway would be used for larger aircraft to land in Buffalo," Roush reported.


More hangars

In 1991, a third T-hangar was constructed through a MnDOT hangar loan program, and additional taxiways were paved, as well.

In 2000, the City Council accepted an Advisory Board recommendation to approve the development of a new ALP, and the Bolton & Menk engineering firm was hired to help with the project.  Improvements were primarily based on safety concerns and included extending the taxiway to the south while also extending the runway.

Also in 2000, construction began on four private hangars in a new privately owned hangar area.  Today, the airport has 21 privately owned hangars.

Ground was broken in 2001 for a fourth city-owned T-hangar.  It was the first T-hangar with individual stalls.  Roush said the new hangar was completely leased before construction began, and tenants moved in during the fall of 2002.

In the fall of 2003, an Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) was installed by MnDOT Aeronautics.  In June 2005, a new fuel tank and automated system were installed.


Operations building replaced

Discussions about replacing the old operations building with a new Arrival/Departure Building were underway in 2005.  The local portion of the funds for the project was received from the Buffalo Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), and the project was completed in 2006.  The new facility includes: a meeting space for 50 people, the airport manager's office, a 24/7 weather station, a pilots' lounge, a kitchenette, and restrooms.

Chris Fredrick, the airport manager, said the community meeting space in the building is used by many local organizations.  In fact, meetings often take place four nights a week, he mentioned.  Some of the groups conducting the meetings include: Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Buffalo Art Guild, the Buffalo Saddle Club, city advisory boards, the Delta Aviation Flying Club, the Knights of Columbus, the Local Roots Cooperative, Men of Faith, and various youth sports groups.

In March 2007, the city was notified that the new Arrival/Departure Building was receiving an Award of Excellence for design at the annual Minnesota Council of Airports symposium.  Roush narrated a presentation about the building at the event before accepting the award.  City officials, a fellow Advisory Board member and the project manager for SEH Consulting also attended.


Runway extended and widened

In December 2007, the Advisory Board started to develop another new ALP because of the speed of growth and interest at the airport.  This new plan should take the airport through 2017, Roush said.

In early 2010, the City Council approved an improvement project that extended the runway from a length of 2,600 feet to 3,200, and widened it from 60 feet to 75.  A new full-length parallel taxiway was among other improvements.  The airport was closed about four weeks for the project and was reopened on Sept. 3, 2010.

The most recent change at the airport occurred in May 2011.  The FAA changed the runway's designation from 17/35 to 18/36 due to changes in the polar magnetic shifts.  The numbers are related to compass points, 170/350 and 180/360.


Flying club started in Monticello

A spokesperson for the Delta Aviation Flying Club, Don Scherbing, said the club's history goes back to the mid-1950s, and a longtime local pilot, Ray Yoder, said the club operated in Monticello before the Buffalo Airport was opened.

The club currently has 25 members and owns two aircraft, a 172 Cessna and a 182 Cessna.  The club is a nonprofit organization that offers member pilots good, general and affordable flying.  Efforts are made to keep the cost of membership and flying as low as possible.


Community action

Yoder said some of the people who were involved with starting the Buffalo Airport included Jim McDonnell, Jr. of the Journal-Press, Harry Larson and Harold Tenney.

They and others came together and helped make an airport in Buffalo a reality, and now a half century later, the facility continues to serve the aviation needs of the community.

For those who fly locally, the airport is visited regularly, and for many others, the airport has become an annual destination for one of Buffalo's most popular events, the Buffalo Days Fly-In Breakfast and Car Show.