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HEADLINES FOR APRIL 24, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highway 25, Caribou Coffee, Taco Bell addressed by City Council

The above graphic from the City of Buffalo shows part of the Highway 25 project that the City Council discussed this week.  It shows the Highways 25 and 55 intersection and a roundabout planned at Highway 25 and 8th St.

 

By Doug Voerding

The Buffalo City Council on Monday night, April 20 not only approved final plans for the reconstruction of the Highways 25 and 55 intersection, but also approved zoning issues that allow construction of two new businesses, Caribou Coffee and Taco Bell.

While the work on Highways 25 and 55 will not begin until spring 2016, the city reviewed the plans as presented by MnDOT Project Engineer Claudia Dumont.

The project will expand the intersection to include two left turn lanes in all directions, as well as two forward lanes in each direction. There will be crosswalks on all four sides of the intersection.

Highway 25 will also be reconstructed north to just beyond the Walmart intersection.

For that part of the project, the median at 12th St. NE will be closed, disallowing the crossing of Highway 25 from Kjellberg's to Arby's.  However, a stoplight and crosswalks will be installed at 14th St. NE for traffic to cross Highway 25 from Dunn Bros. to the Hallmark store.

The stoplight at Walmart will be replaced.

The median at the Wright Technical Center entrance will be closed, but right turns in and out of Wright Technical will be allowed.

MnDOT is managing the project and is expecting to open bids in November.  The city's portion of the $5 million project is $275,000.

 

CARIBOU COFFEE

A Caribou Coffee is expected to be built soon on the southwest corner of Highway 25 and 3rd Ave. N. now that the council approved the vacating of a platted alley.

That corner was never developed according to the old plat maps, but the city retained easements and dedications of land for a possible alley running north and south across the property. The vacating of the alley now gives the landowner clear title to the property, allowing the construction of a building.

 

TACO BELL

Taco Bell may be open by the end of the summer.

On the recommendation of the Planning Commission, the council approved a conditional use permit that allows the Marohn Family, owners of Cub Foods, to split a portion of their property on Orr St.  The conditional use permit allows for the construction of a Taco Bell with drive-through facilities.

The restaurant will be built on land north of the Cub parking lot and east, or behind, Country Suites.

Once construction begins, the restaurant could open in about 100 days.

 

ANNEXATIONS

Following the orderly annexation policy, the council approved the annexation of three separate properties in three separate motions.  All three came as petitions to annex from the three property owners.

The 23-acre site of the future Wright County Public Works building to the west of the Wright County Heritage Center was the first annexation.

The council approved the request of Howard and Mary Bremmer to annex their property, just north of the Wright County Heritage Center, into the city.

The last annexation approved was actually annexing city land into the city.  The land is at the north end of the airport runway.  The city bought the land as required for a clear zone easement when the runway was expanded in 2007.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL MOMENT

Councilmember Paul Olson reminded city residents they should know what they want to accomplish with lawn fertilizers.

"Different kinds of fertilizers have different purposes and different rates of application," said Olson. "And be careful not to scatter fertilizer on streets and driveways.  After a rain, that can end up in our streams and lakes."

Olson also said the compost facility is now open for residential use.

 

FLORA DONATIONS

The council accepted with thanks three donations for the Flora of Buffalo program. Those donations were from Gale Holmquist, $300; John Lundsten, $250, and the Women's Club of Buffalo, $65.

Thus far, $8,575 has been raised, approaching the goal of $10,000.

Donations can continue to be made at city hall.

 

ZONING PERMITS

With a change in the state building code, state building permits are no longer needed for sheds that are less than 200 square feet or for fences less than six feet in height.

However, the city will continue to require building permits for sheds between 120 and 200 square feet. The permit fee for a shed of that size will be $75.

Also, permanent fences between two feet and six feet high will require a city building permit with a fee of $15.  For such fences, there will be a preparation fee of $30, if applicable, and a recording fee of $46, if applicable.

 

OTHER ACTION

In other action, the council:

- approved the rezoning of land owned by Wright Lumber from I-1 Industrial to B-4 General Business.  Councilmember Scoot Enter abstained on the vote.

- approved the extension of a conditional use permit for Kerry Kramp, who is replacing a house on Pulaski Road with a new house.  The council is giving Kramp until May 2016 to complete the new house construction.

- approved a temporary liquor license for the Rockford Lions and the Buffalo Tractor Pull at the rodeo grounds on May 16.

- approved Brunton Architects of North Mankato to design the Trailblazer facility and Vos Construction of Green Isle as the construction manager of the project.

- approved vacating land that is part of the parking lot next to the BankWest building.

- announced that the spring clean-up days will be Friday, May 1 and Saturday, May 2. Details are available on the city website.

- announced that with the upcoming road construction projects, drivers should slow down to avoid accidents.

 

Masons grateful for support of food shelf drive in area communities

By Ed DuBois

The members of Buffalo's Masonic Lodge, Nelson Lodge No. 135, are very grateful for wonderful support during their Fourth Annual Food Shelf Funding Drive last winter.

The donations have been totaled, and now the local Masons are waiting anxiously to see the extent of the match being provided by Minnesota Masonic Charities, which could match the contributions up to $25,000, or the match could be even higher.

Contributions from 62 donors supporting the Buffalo Food Shelf added up to $27,376, and contributions from 92 donors supporting the Annandale/ Maple Lake Food Shelf totaled $32,354.

Former Mayor Fred Naaktgeboren of the Buffalo Food Shelf said one in seven people are food insecure in America, and that is true in the Buffalo area, as well.  The economy has been improving, but the level of need remains close to what it was during the recession, he added.  Wages have not been improving, and many people of the lower wage tier are teetering on the edge of whether or not they are able to provide enough food for their families.

"We continue to see people who are food insecure," Naaktgeboren said.

That's why the Masons' food shelf drive is appreciated so much.

Naaktgeboren, as well as Mike Hilgert of the Masons, mentioned the United Way provided $10,000 to both the Buffalo Food Shelf and the Annandale/ Maple Lake Food Shelf.

They also said the Masons' matching funds help inspire people to contribute.  Some people give more because of the match and others give when they might not otherwise have given.

Naaktgeboren commented that cash donations help much more than food donations.  With cash, a food shelf can purchase food through the Second Harvest organization at a rate of about one dollar to five dollars.  In other words, a dollar has as much buying power as five dollars when buying through Second Harvest.

The cash from the Masons' food shelf drive arrives at a good time.  March is FoodShare Month, which is when donations are especially welcome and needed.

Back in December, the annual Holiday Train event generated food shelf donations.  About 5,000 pounds of food donations were received, Naaktgeboren said.

He also commented on much appreciated food rescue efforts at grocery stores, where items that cannot be sold but have not yet expired can be given to the food shelf.

The Masons' food drive helps raise awareness about their organization and helps promote membership.  Hilgert said the Nelson Lodge is among the leaders in the state in regard to food drive success.  Because of the success here, Minnesota Masonic Charities might match more than $25,000 here.

He expected to find out the size of the match at the end of April.

 

 

Mr. Wood Duck arrives

The arrival of birds this spring has brought color and cheerful sounds to the drab surroundings lately.  Thanks, Shelby Bainey of Annandale, for sharing this photo of a wood duck.  "Mr. and Mrs. Wood Duck were scampering around the trees off our deck Saturday morning, April 18, desperately looking for a new home to raise their family," Bainey said.

 

 

Construction Job Fair in Buffalo this Saturday

American Workshop Career Education is hosting a Construction Job Fair on Saturday, April 25 at Cub Foods in Buffalo as part of a Construction Careers Initiative for Wright and McLeod Counties, in collaboration with local employers, high schools and Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services.

The initiative includes job fairs and career training for immediate jobs in the construction and building trades.  RAM Buildings, Inc. of Winsted has taken the lead in kicking off a scholarship fund to offer paid training for qualified candidates.

To learn more about participating in the jobs fairs or the scholarship fund, contact Christy Morrell-Stinson at 612-321-8390.

The initiative also includes media production in collaboration with KLKR Media Club from Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School, and live presentations by American Workshop Career Education.  Examples include a presentation at Delano High School's SciTech Event on April 9 through Principal Dr. Steve Heil, and a recent presentation at Lester Prairie High School in March.

Principal Jeremy Schmidt had this to say, "This is a great opportunity for our students, and it is interesting that you pointed out the business owners all coming from our local area and being very successful.  We have the opportunity here to keep students in the area, have them be successful and to improve our programs, as well.  We have a wonderful thing going on here, and I believe continued collaboration will be vital for schools, businesses and students.  Thank you for your support, and let me know how I can assist this great collaborative transition."

Industrial Arts teacher Joe Scoblic is part of a media production video that helps tell the story of local contractors who took his shop class, got hired out of high school for entry-level construction jobs, went on to become successful professionals in construction, and from there, to build successful construction companies of their own.  The plan is to create a community television show that features immediate job openings, information on construction careers and information on construction career and technical training (CTE) options for youth and adults.

Do you like to work with your hands?  Do you like the idea of building things that last?  Do you like to be outdoors?  Do you enjoy a variety of work and new challenges over repetitive work?  A career in the construction and building trades might be right for you.

Come and see for yourself at the Construction Job Fair on Saturday, April 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cub Foods in Buffalo.

(Registration Link, www.AmericanWorkshop.com/gctc.)

Also, check out the Delano Construction Job Fair on May 14 from 3-7 p.m.  (Site to be determined.)  Jobs are open for ages 17 and up, including high school seniors.

American Workshop is collaborating with Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services to connect prospective students with relevant funding programs for which they may qualify.

These Job Fairs will connect people with specific job openings in Wright and McLeod Counties, while offering free registration for the career training summer course to be held at Lester Prairie High School.  The class will start June 8 and will run four days a week for eighteen days, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The career training summer course includes green construction practices and a practical, hands-on introduction to the construction and building trades.  The core curriculum consists of 128 hours.  This special summer program will include 15 hours of specific hands-on training in post-frame construction techniques, in partnership with RAM Buildings, Inc.

 

 

Woman from Buffalo dies in crash on Highway 25

Lorraine Kurtz

 

An 87-year-old woman from Buffalo died due to a crash on Highway 25 in Buffalo around 4:40 p.m. Wednesday, April 15.

The State Patrol reported a car was struck broadside by a semi at Highway 25 and Anderson Ave. near the Buffalo Clinic.  The truck was northbound on Highway 25, and the car was on Anderson Ave.  The State Patrol said it is believed the driver of the car, Lorraine Kurtz, 87, of Buffalo, was attempting to turn left onto Highway 25 and head south.  She died at the scene.  The driver of the truck, Korey Fritz, 32, of Ottertail, Minn., was not injured.  The two drivers were the lone occupants of their vehicles.

Mrs. Kurtz was married to the late Rev. Delburn Kurtz, who served at Buffalo United Methodist Church before he passed away in 2011.  Among her activities, Mrs. Kurtz served as national president of the Evangelical United Brethren Women in 1968, the year of the merger to the United Methodist Church, and was one of few women elected to serve on the National General Board of Global Missions.  She was passionate about the Emma Norton Residence, serving as former president of the Emma Norton Services Board.

A visitation will be held at the Buffalo United Methodist Church on Sunday, April 26, beginning at 1:00 p.m., followed by the funeral service at 3:00 p.m.  Interment is scheduled for Monday April 27, 11 a.m., at the Olivia Cemetery, Olivia, Minn.  The Peterson Chapel of Buffalo is handling arrangements.

Mrs. Kurtz had requested that all donations be given to the Emma Norton Residence and the Buffalo United Methodist Church.

 

 

Human resources director welcomed by County Board

By Ed DuBois

Wright County's new human resources director was introduced to the County Board during the commissioners' meeting last Tuesday, April 21.

Five days into her new job, Sunny Hesse comes from previously working for the Great River Regional Library (GRRL) system.  Commissioner Pat Sawatzke, who served many years as the county's representative on the GRRL Board, said he worked with Hesse nine years and is certain she will perform well with the county.

 

In other business:

BOND ADVISORS

The Board accepted quotes from firms interested in serving as the bond advisor for the county's public works project, as well as for the possible refinancing of bonds for the county.  The quotes will be studied, and more discussion on the matter is planned to take place at a May 12 Building Committee of the Whole meeting.

 

BOY AND GIRL COUNTY

The annual Boy and Girl County event took place last Tuesday.  The Board was visited by students from a group of local high schools.

The commissioners introduced themselves and told about the committees on which they serve.  Later, they had lunch with the students.

The event is organized each year by the American Legion and Auxiliary to give students a chance to visit county departments and learn about county government.

 

ANNEXATION

The Board reviewed the minutes from an April 14 Committee of the Whole meeting, during which the possible annexation of the sheriff's impound lot and a gravel pit into the City of Buffalo was discussed.  The city will not pursue the parcels without a petition from the county, and the county has indicated little interest in the possible annexation.  Without it, the city's fiber optic Internet access would not be available, but the county will likely be able to obtain Internet service for the impound lot facility from another source.

 

MISC.

In other actions, the Board:

* approved a service contract for the county to provide planning and zoning services for the City of South Haven;

* approved a property tax abatement for a couple who were forced from their home due to a fire;

* approved filling two positions, office tech I in the Auditor-Treasurer's Office and sheriff's deputy; and

* approved $343,975 in claims involving 262 transactions with 174 vendors.

 

 

Buffalo Spring Clean- Up Days May 1, 2

"It is time again to clean out those things you just do not know what to do with," says the City of Buffalo, which will conduct the annual Spring Clean-Up Days to help.

This event is for city residents only, so bring a copy of your current utility bill showing your address or another proof of residence.  City staff will be on hand checking identification.

The Clean-Up event is taking place on Friday and Saturday, May 1 and 2 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Buffalo Civic Center, 1306 County Road 134.

What can I bring?  Household appliances, personal electronics, tires, batteries, florescent bulbs, scrap metal, demolition materials, and other garbage.

Fees will be charged to dispose of these items.  For more information about prices, and for more information about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to bring to this event, please see details at www.ci.buffalo.mn.us.

 

 

City of Montrose Annual Clean-Up Day May 2

The City of Montrose Annual Clean-up Day is scheduled for Saturday, May 2.  The Clean-up Day collection site will be the Montrose City Hall parking lot at 311 Buffalo Ave. S. and will be open from 8 a.m. to noon.

Please enter the collection site at City Hall from the 3rd St. S., and exit the collection site onto Buffalo Ave. S. once you have dropped off your items.

The eligibility requirements are that you are a City of Montrose utility billing customer and reside within the City of Montrose.

Tires, appliances, miscellaneous items, fluorescent bulbs, and automotive batteries are just a few examples of the items that can be disposed of at the collection site.  Fees vary for the items.  For a detailed list of accepted items and pricing, you can stop by Montrose City Hall, or check the City of Montrose website at www.montrose-mn.com and click on the Quarterly Newsletter, or for further assistance you can also call 763-575-7422.

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Carlson's big wave returns

Appreciation and support from others have helped make the display of patriotism worth the expense

By Ed DuBois

At close to $500 each time Ward Carlson replaces the 20-by-30-foot U.S. flag he flies at his place just southwest of Buffalo, his patriotism is costly.  But the appreciation that people have expressed has persuaded him to continue displaying the flag.  It flies about 150 feet above the ground at the top of a makeshift flagpole held up by a crane.

"You can see the flag all the way from downtown Buffalo," Ward, a local demolition and salvage contractor, commented.  "I like what it (the flag) stands for, and so many people have said they appreciate it."

 

'On the fence'

After a storm blew the flag into power lines on Sept. 3, 2014, he was "on the fence" in regard to whether or not he would put the flag back up.  But people came forward and provided some money to support his efforts.

"The flag has become a landmark.  People use it when they give directions," Ward said.

As for the donations he has received, he added, "At first it felt awkward when someone handed me a $20 bill.  And then I felt I should put the flag back up.  I felt like it was a responsibility."

 

Storm heading for home

Back in early September, he was working near the Untiedt farm of Waverly when a thunderstorm dropped a huge amount of hail.  Apples that were almost ready to be harvested were ruined.  Ward said the hail was literally drifting on the road.

The storm was heading toward his home, so he called a friend and asked him to lower the flag.  However, the wind caught the flag during the lowering process and spun it and its boom around.  The boom tipped over.  The flag was undamaged, but the boom was busted, Ward said.

It wasn't the first time the flag was taken down accidentally.  Altogether, the flag has come down three times over the past fifteen years or so.  Wind was the cause the first time.  A cable broke the second time.  Wind was again the culprit last fall.

Lowering the flag during periods of high winds has become a habit for Ward.

For a new flagpole, Ward used one of the light poles he salvaged from a ballpark in Maple Lake.  The new flagpole is held high by an old RT (rough terrain) 630 crane.

 

Enhancements, improvements

Some special features were added to enhance and improve the display of the flag.  A heavy-duty bearing and axel now allow the flagpole to turn with the wind.  Ward created a weather vane, and he added lights, which extend outward on either side of the weather vane.

With the flag and the weather vane always pointing in the same direction, the lights always illuminate both sides of the flag.

The power source wires for the lights pass through the center of the axle so they don't get twisted and tangled around the flagpole.

 

Military service

Ward's patriotism is at least partly related to the military service of his sister and two brothers.  Both brothers, Chester and Ronnie, served with the Army, and Ronnie served during the Korean War.

Ward's sister, Diane, was a military nurse in Vietnam.  Many years after the war, she served as a consultant for a TV show, "China Beach."  She was also much involved with establishing a military nurse memorial in Washington, D.C.  Diane met President Bill Clinton during the dedication of the memorial, Ward recalled.

He was in Washington, D.C. on his Harley during a Rolling Thunder event that involved about 500,000 motorcycles.

 

'Fair junkies'

Ward and his 13-year significant other, Tammy, enjoy getting out for some "ridin'" during fair time each summer.  Ward described the couple as "fair junkies."

"For about two months, we ride to every fair in a 60-mile radius," Ward said.

He mentioned they enjoy the Minnesota State Fair because of the great fair food, the people watching and all the attractions.

Meanwhile, the flag back home continues to flap in the wind.

All that flapping wears out each flag in a few months, and Ward replaces the flag 4-5 times a year.  He purchases each new flag from a Minneapolis company called All Flags.  The price for a 20-by-30 flag is $425, plus tax and fees.

Ward has considered a 30-by-60 flag, but that costs close to $1,500.  He mentioned that a 40-by-70 flag costs almost $4,500.

His 20-by-30 flag is the same size as the flag at the Perkins restaurant in Buffalo.

 

Worth the cost

Ward's flag is big enough to be seen from Sturges Park, and it stands out at various places all along CSAH 12 as you drive south out of Buffalo.

Replacing the flag is expensive, but Ward feels it is worth the cost.

Judging from the appreciation that has been expressed, and the support that has been given, many people agree with him.