BHM School Board considering $32.69 million bond issue vote

Improvements could include new sites at high school for football, lacrosse, soccer, softball, and track and field

By Ed DuBois

            Improvements that have been considered for many years in the Buffalo Hanover Montrose School District could be on the ballot this November in the form of a bond issue referendum.

            Among the proposed projects the School Board looked at last Monday evening, July 14 are new play fields and facilities at the high school for football, soccer, lacrosse, track and field, and softball.

            At the middle school, a new lobby entrance for the swimming pool is also among the projects being considered.

            The cost for the various projects, which include renovations and added classrooms in several school buildings, is currently estimated to be $32.69 million.

            The School Board could make a decision during a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 11.  The Board could vote on a resolution calling for a November referendum.  Review and comments documents for the projects being considered are expected to be complete by the end of July.  If the School Board decides to go ahead with the bond issue referendum, the review and comment documents will be sent to the Minnesota Department of Education.

            Gary Kawlewski, finance and operations director, presented information and rough drawings to the School Board last Monday.

            He began with a proposed project for Hanover Elementary School, where a new office area could be added to the front of the building.  The project would feature a new canopy over the school entrance.  The former school office area would be converted into a kindergarten classroom.

            At the Discovery Center, which includes Discovery Elementary School and the school district offices, a new main entrance could be established on the north side of the building, where the boardroom is located.  The project would also involve construction of a new main office area for Discovery Elementary School next to the new main entrance.

            At Tatanka Elementary School, a new main office area could be added to the front of the building next to the present entrance, and a new gymnasium could be added to the north side of the building, along with four new kindergarten classrooms.  A new classroom could be established in the area of the old main office area.

            The existing pool area entrance at the middle school would continue to be the entry area, but it would be moved out and made larger, and a lobby area would lead to a door to the pool on its west side.  This project would include a new family locker area, and it would also include a much needed filtration improvement for the pool.

            Besides play fields at the high school, proposed additions include a 90-by-30-foot expansion on the back of the Performing Arts Center.  This addition would provide instructional and rehearsal space for drama, music and dance, and it would also allow stage sets to be wheeled on and off the stage for quicker transitions from one event to another.  For example, sets could be wheeled off for a concert, and then they could be wheeled back for the next rehearsal or play performance.  The PAC could be more fully utilized, the Board was told.

            At the same time, space under the Bison Room could be re-purposed.

            Proposals for the high school also include the addition of a new gymnasium for gymnastics, which would be located on the north side of the main gymnasium.  Besides providing space for gymnastics, the addition would help Community Education offer its many activities, and all of the gym space would be used during the school day for physical education, plus after school activities.

            One of the play fields would be surrounded by a track and field facility and would have natural grass for football, soccer, etc.  Next to this play field, would be another one with a synthetic surface.  The Board was told the synthetic surface would be good for lacrosse, which is very hard on nature grass.  Both of these play fields, which would be located north of the high school's north parking lot and just west of Bison Blvd., would have lighting and bleachers.

            A few times during the board meeting, the two play fields were referred to as two new stadiums.

            Space for up to three practice fields would be located north of the two play field venues.

            Three new softball fields would be added just west of the Bison Activity Center and south of the tennis courts.  There would also be space for a batting cage and equipment.

            Kawlewski referred to the various proposed projects as works in progress, which means details could change before it is time for the School Board to decide whether or not to go ahead with the bond issue referendum.

            In other business:



            The Board approved handbooks for the high school, early childhood special education, the PRIDE Transitions program, and school volunteers.  The high school handbook includes a GPA change from 3.5 to 3.67 to qualify for the Presidential Academic Excellence Award, as well as for honor graduate status and the National Honor Society.



            The Board is proud of BHS Assistant Principal Kris Thompson, who was named the Central Division Assistant Principal of the Year by the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals.



            The Board accepted the following donations: $469 from Box Tops for Education to Montrose Elementary School, $1,998 from Hanover PTO to Hanover Elementary School computers and $1,000 from the Montrose Lions to Montrose Elementary School playground equipment.  A grant of $5,405 was received from Allina Health (healthy activity grant) for Tatanka Elementary School.



            Upcoming meetings and events include: Minnesota School Board Association Summer Seminar on Monday, Aug. 4 in Brooklyn Park; Special Board Meeting on Monday, Aug. 11, 4:30 p.m., in the boardroom at the Discovery Center; School Board workshop on Monday, Aug. 11, 4:50 p.m., in the boardroom; and a regular board meeting on Monday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m., in the boardroom.



Make some music as you walk along the lakeshore


            Following the July 9 Music Trail dedication in Sturges Park, Buffalo Rotary member Ann Dirks (left) invites people to try out one of the eleven musical instruments.  A new sign in the park lists those who contributed to the project, which features instruments you can play from the playground near the Bandshell to the Downtown Commons.  As you walk along the beautiful lakeside, you can stop here and there and make music.  (See more photos inside this week's issue of the Journal-Press)



Flood relief funds on the way here  

            State and federal flood relief funds are on the way to Wright County to help cover the costs of holding back the high water resulting from too much rain in June.

            Steve Berg, Wright County's emergency management coordinator, said a preliminary damage assessment was turned in last week, and the total amount of funds needed here was estimated to be $673,782.  The total could be even higher after a final assessment.

            The funds are to be spread out to affected communities and entities, which include the Cities of Delano and Rockford, the Wright County Highway Department, and several townships.  Some of the townships named by Berg include: Franklin (near Delano), Marysville (just north of Waverly and Montrose), Monticello Township, Silver Creek Township, and Cokato Township.

            FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) representatives and state Homeland Security Emergency Management officials are meeting with local officials of each entity to help piece together a final assessment.  Berg said they are working their way up from the southwestern corner of the county.

            He mentioned it was fortunate the land was quite dry going into last winter, and the water levels were not as high as they sometimes get during the snowmelt this spring.  The excessive rain in June was more than enough all by itself to cause flooding problems.



Pulaski not pumping yet

            Buffalo Lake is beginning to flow toward the Crow River, but the water level needs to drop a bit before the pump system at Lake Pulaski can be turned on.  Water from the Pulaski pump system flows into Buffalo Lake.

            As of Thursday, July 10, Buffalo Lake's water level was measured at 917.30 feet above sea level, reports Theresa Sweeney of the Lake Pulaski Lake Improvement District.

            "We cannot pump if the lake (Buffalo Lake) is over 915.5.  Buffalo Lake is currently in outflow mode to the Crow River, so that is good news.  Once Buffalo hits 915.5, we can turn the pumps on and continue to pump until Pulaski is down to 966."

            As of Saturday, July 12, Lake Pulaski's water level was measured at 967.23.

            "We still have the 600-foot no wake restriction in place," Sweeney said.



Monticello resident dies due to crash

            A 70-year-old man from Monticello died as a result of a two-vehicle crash last Monday morning, July 14 at Highway 241 near I-94 in St. Michael.

            The State Patrol responded at 6:27 a.m.  A pickup truck had been northbound on Highway 241, and a car was southbound on 241 and was turning left onto O'Day Ave.  The pickup struck the car broadside in the intersection, the State Patrol reported.

            A passenger in the car, David F. Larson, 70, of Monticello, died.  The driver of the car, Vincent Villavicencio, 54, of Monticello, sustained non-life threatening injuries.  The driver of the pickup truck, Bruce G. Plante, 54, of Buffalo, was not injured.

            Morning commuter traffic was backed up following the crash.

            Funeral arrangements for David Larson are pending at Peterson-Grimsmo Funeral Chapel in Monticello.



Royal ambassadors taking part in Queen of the Lakes program

Miss Buffalo
Maddi Yates

Miss Hanover
Amanda Jendro

Montrose Ambassador
Miranda Krause


            Among local royalty taking part in the Queen of the Lakes program at the Minneapolis Aquatennial are 2013-14 Miss Buffalo Maddi Yates, 2012-13 Miss Hanover Amanda Jendro and Montrose Ambassador Miranda Krause.

            Candidates will arrive at the Mariott City Center on Monday, July 21 for a Welcome Reception and will participate in a week full of Aquatennial events and interviews.  Public events include Meet the Candidates and the Torchlight Parade on Wednesday, July 23.

            Coronation of the 2015 Queen of the Lakes Ambassadors will take place on Friday, July 25.

            Maddi Yates is the daughter of Elgin and Sue Yates of Buffalo.  A 2013 Buffalo High School graduate, Maddi is entering her second year at North Dakota State University this fall.

            Well wishes can be sent to: Minneapolis Marriott City Center, Attn: candidate name and community, Aquatennial Hospitality Room, 30 South 7th St., Minneapolis, MN 55402.

            Miss Hanover Amanda Jendro is the daughter of Pete and Holly Jendro of Corcoran.  A 2012 Buffalo High School graduate, Amanda is currently in her junior year at the College of St. Benedict pursuing a double major in physics and mathematics.

            Montrose Ambassador Miranda Krause, daughter of Jeff and Barb Krause, attends Southwest Minnesota State University with a major in Early Childhood and Elementary Education.



Outstanding entertainment lined up for new stage at Wright County Fair

            The Wright County Fair Board has released their Entertainment Lineup for the 2014 Wright County Fair (July 30 to Aug. 3), along with an announcement of new staging in the Entertainment Tent and for the Talent Show.

            A new tent with more headroom will surround a new stage and truss system made possible by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.  A second stage will also be erected in the large hoop barn that will serve as the new home of the Talent Show.

            Ward Westphal, president of the Fair Board and chairman of the Entertainment Committee, commented, "The fair has been fortunate over the past few years in securing funds for improving our performing arts programs.  The new staging will be a welcome addition to the sound and lighting equipment we have been able to purchase with previous grants."

            The new stage and new look for the Entertainment Tent will be kicked off on Wednesday night, July 30 by the band, Arena, a very popular high energy band playing classic and current rock and pop.

            Earlier on Wednesday, local ukulele performers will be heard and will be providing lessons to the public on the new stage while utilizing the sound system.

            Thursday, July 31 will continue the tradition of classic rock with the Rock Through the Ages Show.

            "We had a great time over the last three years providing the unbelievable Hairball show for our guests," said Westphal.  "This year after careful consideration of where our numbers were at and where Hairball is heading to larger venues, we decided to continue the tradition we have begun by bringing in four great tribute bands playing some of the hottest hits from the last 40 years."

            The evening will begin at 6:00 with A Hard Days Night, a tribute to the Beatles celebrating 50 years this year.  This is the Beatles tribute band that recently entertained the crowd at Treasure Island for the KQRS Morning Show Halfway to Vegas Party.  The band is easily one of the finest Beatles tribute bands touring the U.S., according to Westphal.

            Madd Company, a tribute to the rock powerhouse band featuring Paul Rogers and Badd Company, will be playing all of the band's biggest hits.  By the time they arrive at the Fair, they will have played many large festivals, including the Moondance Jam in Walker, Minn.

            If you like the music of Chicago, you will love Transit Authority.  This band features a full horn section, just as Chicago did when they were charting hit after hit in the 1970s.  Transit Authority tours across the Midwest playing large venues and festivals.  The Wright County Fair is honored to have them make a stop here for the Rock Through the Ages Show, Westphal said.

            The final band of the evening will be playing their final show at the Wright County Fair.  The Bad Animals, a tribute to the mega superstar band Heart, is well known as one of the best tribute bands in this area.  With a limited schedule including one last show at Moondance Jam, where they have been received by enthusiastic crowds, this is a show you will not want to miss.  The powerful voice of Ann Wilson and the unique sound of Heart is recreated perfectly by this group.

            "The Rock Through the Ages Show will have something for everyone who loves classic rock music.  Together these four bands have some of the most recognizable hits from the '60s through the early '90s," Westphal stated.  "Hairball was fantastic, but we believe that for $10 you will get a great show with the music you love recreated with the same amount of perfection by four different bands."

            This show will be presented in the Grandstand area, beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday night, July 31 at the fair.  All of the bands have websites and Facebook sites. The Fair Board thanks Ten13 Entertainment for assembling this powerful show on the same stage and same location as the Thursday evening shows from the last three years.

            For those not attending the show in the Grandstand, there will be a live DJ in the Entertainment Tent.

            Friday is traditionally the busiest night in the Entertainment Tent; this year (Friday, Aug. 1) will be no exception with the local band, Red Dot Garage, taking the stage.  The group is known as one of the area's best dance and party bands playing classic and current rock and mixing in a little country rock makes for a night of fun.  Be sure to come for a great time.

            Shalo Lee, a regional country music favorite, will headline Saturday night, Aug. 2.  Shalo Lee is a high Energy Country Rock band fronted by the very talented Shalo Lee and also features a lady fiddle player.  This band has received many local awards and recognition from the Minnesota country community and is touring in support of their latest CD.  If you love country music, you will really love Shalo Lee, Westphal said.

            Sunday, Aug. 3 at noon will mark the return of the Fiddle Contest on the new stage in the Entertainment Tent.

            Beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday, the one and only Detroit Don King Blues Band will be performing live in the Entertainment tent.  Detroit Don is a truly great Minnesota treasure when it comes to blues music.

            Westphal commented, "I saw Don the first time in at Norm's in Buffalo, with his amazing voice and skilled guitar playing, and I said to myself this guy needs to play at the Fair."  Don enthusiastically agreed, and there will be no better way to close the Wright County Fair than with Detroit Don King, according to Westphal.

            The Talent Show will be held on Thursday, July 31 inside the Hoop Barn on a brand new stage.

            "The Hoop Barn has always been a rain backup location for the Talent Show, and by placing a professional stage inside we can be assured that we can have the best conditions for our performers possible," Westphal explained.

            "We are really pumped about this year's Wright County Fair," Westphal remarked.  "Aside from our outstanding musical lineup, we have the always exciting demo derbies, tractor pulls, a new mud run event that will span both Saturday and Sunday this year, along with a bike thrill show, Lumberjacks, animal exhibits, carnival rides ... everything a great family event like our fair should have."

            Come out and experience all the Wright County Fair has to offer July 30 through Aug. 3.

            The Wright County Fairgrounds are located just north of Highway 12 on County Road 6 in Howard Lake.

            See for more information.

click to see

feature photos

Swiss-American link reestablished

Wright County family had lost connection with home country, but Swiss relative reached out from across the ocean

By Ed DuBois

            After 88 years of annual family reunions, the tradition is taking on a new dimension.  This year, a relative from Switzerland joined the gathering in Wright County and reestablished a connection that had been lost since before the reunions started.

            Family members in the Rockford area and family members in Switzerland are all descendants of Leonhard and Elise Hauser, who came from Europe to the USA and settled just east of Rockford in 1882.

            A letter written by Leonhard had been saved by his relatives in Switzerland and later served as the only link with an immigrant family in America.

            "My father had always told me there were U.S. Hausers," said Andreas Hauser, who came to Rockford this month for a three-week stay and met relatives he didn't even know he had until just a few years ago.


Intrigued by USA connection

            A family tree he saw at a family reunion in Switzerland was very intriguing, Andreas said.  He starting doing some genealogical research, and he found the endeavor was quite easy in America.  Many genealogy-related websites are available.

            The research has been a hobby, but, "It's like an addiction," Andreas commented.  One genealogical clue led to another, and he enjoyed the discoveries of new information so much, he ended up putting together an extensive family tree to share with relatives both in Switzerland and in America.  One half of the family tree shows generations of descendants in Switzerland, and the other half shows generations of descendants in America.

            Some of the most interesting information he uncovered included the fact that Leonhard and Elise had a very large family.

            "Altogether, the family had 20 children," Andreas said.  "Some of them died early.  One of them died soon after the journey to Minnesota."

            He has counted close to 350 descendants to current times.


Close family ties

            The family was hit by the Spanish flu in 1918, and three family members died.

            "Being the only Swiss family to settle in Rockford, they kept close family ties," Andreas said, and that helps explain why after 88 years the annual family reunion continues to this day in Wright County.

            Ironically, Andreas found that almost no one at the reunion carries the Hauser name.  Due to marriages, almost everyone has a different surname now, but they can all trace their ancestry back to Leonhard and Elise.


Ancestry train

            "The immigrant family (of Leonhard and Elise) maintained connection with their home country until approximately the 1920s, when the first generation immigrants died, and then this connection was lost," Andreas wrote in a recent email message to the Journal-Press.  "As a result of this research, the connection has been reestablished.  Amazingly, I encountered some descendants of this immigrant family who do share my passion for research, and some of them have joined the 'ancestry train.'  Hundreds of letters and email messages have been exchanged.  Meanwhile, new family ties have been established."

            Two of the key people he connected with in America are Glen Hohenstein, who grew up in the Rockford area and now lives in Plymouth, and Sue Christensen of Yucaipa, Calif.

            Sue said she and Andreas, who she calls Andy, have the same great-great-great-grandfather.


Facebook connection

            Back when Andreas was sending out feelers (letters and messages to relatives in America, as well as to Rockford area churches and organizations), Sue was one of the first to respond.

            Andreas explained that many of his letters and messages were ignored, which is understandable.  People probably wondered, "Who is this guy?" he said.  Some of them might have thought he was part of some kind of scam.

            Sue was contacted with a message through Facebook, and she was interested enough to respond.

            Long ago, Glen lived in California for a while, and he remembers meeting Sue's mother.

            After Glen was contacted by Andreas, Glen's daughter, Heidi, sent an email message to Sue.  The process of reestablishing family ties between Switzerland and America was getting underway.

            "The first time I received an email from Andy, I could not sleep that night," Glen recalled.

            That was in May 2013, and afterward, planning began for the next family reunion.  People were getting excited about introducing Andreas to his many relatives in America.


Already knew everyone

            "Andy's family tree was so complete, he knew everyone before he actually met them," Sue commented.

            The big event was on Sunday, July 6.  Originally, the plan was to gather at the community park in downtown Rockford.  However, due to extreme amounts of rain in June, the Crow River swelled to flood levels, and the community park was not available.

            "We could not get the Lions' building because there are plans to tear it down," Glen said.  "Besides, the parking lot would have been underwater."

            Plans were changed, and the 2014 reunion took place at an RV campground park in Clearwater.

            Around 56 people attended, which is above average, Glen and Sue said.  Andreas brought his longtime girlfriend, Lilly.

            Andreas said the event was relaxing.  After all the research and all the effort to connect with American relatives, it all came together, and he was feeling fine.


Greenwood census

            Various research documents and photos were shown at the reunion.  One of the documents is the first Greenfield census that included the Hausers.  Leonhard and Elise's son Henry was the first member of the family to be born in America.  Interestingly, the census document indicates Greenfield was once known as Greenwood.

            Another very important document is a letter Leonhard had written to his brother in Switzerland, trying to convince him to come to America.  This letter was passed from generation to generation in Switzerland and was a key factor in sparking Andreas' curiosity.

            Among some of Andreas' other activities during his visit in America was seeing the site of Leonhard and Elise's home, which was located at the corner of Rebecca Trail (Co. Rd. 50) and Vernon Ave.  The house is no longer there, but Andreas saw some very old farm structures that might have been part of the original homestead.  The property is no longer owned by a Hauser descendant, but the owners were friendly and willing to let Andreas and family look around.



            Some cemetery visits took place, and the grave of Adolph Hauser's wife was found.  Adolph was Glen's uncle.  Adolph's wife, Mattie, died in a fire.

            In a small Golden Valley cemetery, the grave of Edward Hauser was found.  Edward was a child who died soon after Leonhard and Elise arrived in Rockford.  Edward was seasick throughout the trip from Switzerland.  Sue said he likely died due to dehydration.

            "That might have been one reason my great-great-grandfather (Leonhard's brother) did not come here.  His wife was pregnant at the time," Andreas suggested.

            His visit in America has sparked much interest in Switzerland among his American relatives.  Sue said her family has been trying Swiss meals at home, and she showed a picture of a Swiss flag her family received from Andreas.


Reunions at farms

            Glen mentioned that for a long time, the annual family reunions took place at various farms in the Rockford area.  The event always coincides with the Fourth of July, and for a while during the early years, the reunions took place at the Fourth of July celebration in Delano.  Glen said a suggestion to host the reunions at family farms was quite popular, and it became a long-running tradition.

            However, no one in the family is farming anymore.

            Part of Andreas' time here has included visits at the Wright County Heritage Center and the Minnesota History Center.  He has also done some sightseeing, including Minnehaha Falls and the Fourth of July fireworks in Minneapolis.  He was planning to see the Mall of America before his return home.


A step further

            He says there are still some genealogical mysteries to solve.  Therefore, his research will likely continue.

            Someone else might have been content to remain in Switzerland and gather information at home.  But Andreas took it a step further - actually visiting his relatives in America.

            "I wanted to verify my research," he said.

            "I found a new family for me," he also said.

            He and Glen and Sue said they definitely plan to stay in touch.  They are talking about possible trips to Switzerland and possible return trips to America by Andreas and perhaps some of his relatives in Switzerland.

            Yes after 88 years, the annual family reunions are taking on a new, exciting dimension.  A connection with Switzerland had been lost, but a new one has been found.