Stormy weather sends flag flying

The wind and rain of stormy weather on Wednesday, Sept. 3 sent the 20-by-30-foot flag displayed by Ward Carlson flying into utility lines.  Here, Wright-Hennepin Electric addresses the problem.  Many people enjoy the sight of the big flag at Ward's place southwest of Buffalo near the corner of CSAH 12 and County Rd. 108.  He was working near the Untiedt farm of Waverly when hail came down and literally drifted along the road.  He called a friend and asked him to lower the flag, but the wind caught it during the lowering process and spun it and its boom around.  The flag was undamaged, but the flagpole was busted, Ward said.  He mentioned he replaces the flag four or five times a year at a cost of $425 for each one.  "It's kind of a lot of stress to keep it up there," he commented.  "I know people enjoy it, but now I'm on the fence about whether or not to keep it flying."  The huge flag is 150 feet off the ground, and the wind up there can get quite strong.  He is hoping Wright-Hennepin does not bill him for the recent work involved with removing the flag from the electric lines.  Asked if he would be open to a little help from the community, Ward indicated that type of support could keep the flag blowing high up there in the wind.  (Photo courtesy of Steve Wick)


'Talk about it,' says 'suicide survivor'

By Ed DuBois

The more we talk about suicide, the more we can do to help prevent it, says "suicide survivor" Karen Evans.

She calls herself a suicide survivor because she is one of the survivors following the death of her daughter, Nicole, in May 2012.

Karen, a restorative justice agent with Wright County Court Services, is involved with Wright Mental Health, a local task force that provides support and resources, as well and fundraising and awareness efforts, all aimed at preventing suicide and answering calls for help.

September is Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month, and Karen is hoping her story can help the cause.  She mentioned the recent death of Robin Williams drew attention to suicide and the impact it has on survivors.

Nicole was a beautiful 23-year-old college student who struggled with depression.  Before she ended her life while enrolled at Minnesota State University, Mankato, there had been other attempts while she was enrolled at Concordia in Moorhead.  She came home and took a year off from college.

"She was having a good year at Mankato, but then the depression returned," Karen recalled.

A mental health issue, depression is often the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, Karen explained.  Sometimes it can be difficult to find the right medication to correct or make up for the imbalance.

More research is needed to help psychiatrists find the right medication quickly and effectively, she added.

He also said that if the stigma associated with suicide can be reduced, people suffering from depression might be more willing to talk about it.

A problem with treating depression is that the patient can easily hide it.  If people who are suffering can feel freer to talk about it, maybe patients could feel more willing to tell how they are doing.

Karen confronted another problem after Nicole died.

"How to tell people she died from depression."

It was decided to acknowledge it in Nicole's obituary by asking people to donate a memorial contribution to SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education).

Karen recalled receiving positive responses.

"It is important for survivors to talk about it, share it and not act like their ashamed of it," Karen commented.

Doing this can be difficult because serious doubts and questions linger after suicide.

"What could I have done?"  "Did I do something wrong?"  "What did I do, or what didn't I do?"

"SAVE was really helpful with information on how to cope," Karen said.

He was amazed to learn how many people are impacted by suicide.  Just about everyone has a relative or friend who has been affected or at least knows of someone battling depression.

She has noticed that families are beginning to address suicide in obituaries.  She read one recent obituary that stated the loved one died losing a battle with depression.

Karen mentioned there is a myth that talking about suicide might cause others to consider it.  She suggests the opposite can happen.  Talking about it can reduce the stigma and help people address and understand it.

"More people are surviving cancer now because it was acknowledged and researched.  Let's do that with depression," Karen said.

"I wish there was an Ice Bucket Challenge for SAVE," she added, referring to the phenomenon that has been raising huge amounts of funds for ALS.

Greater access to resources, ending labels and stigmas, and increasing health insurance coverage for treating depression can all happen with more openness, Karen suggested.

"There are success stories.  Many people can manage their depression once they get the right medication," she said.

"Nicole was one of those people who cold not survive depression," Karen commented.

But she wonders what might have happened if there had been more openings for her to see a psychiatrist.

"There was a counselor available 20 miles away, but a person with depression is not motivated (to go that far)," Karen said.

She mentioned that at a hospital, a person with depression has to verbally say, "I'm going to kill myself," to get admitted for treatment.  Otherwise, if the patient is not in imminent danger of harming himself or herself, the patient is released, Karen said.

Support from her family and friends, and being able to talk about Nicole, has helped Karen, and she now feels fortunate.  It was nothing her loved ones said that helped her, just being there to listen helped.

"Nicole was really struggling, and at the time I didn't know how much," Karen commented.  "She was really good at hiding it."

She hopes those needing help will seek out the resources listed by Wright Mental Health.  More information is available through Facebook and the Wright County website.

The SAVE Suicide Hotline is 888-511-SAVE (7283).  You can also visit

Karen is involved with a Suicide Awareness Month event taking place in honor of loved ones lost due to suicide.  Wright County Court Services will be having a moment of silence on Wednesday, Sept. 17 at noon in Sturges Park, Buffalo.  After a moment of silence, balloons will be released.

Please join them as they remember and honor all those who lost their lives.

"You matter."

Karen recalled that she lost an aunt long ago due to suicide.  Nobody talked about it.

"How did they get through it?" she now wonders.  "Back then it was a taboo subject."

But suicide is a reality.  There is no denying it, and education and awareness can help, Karen said.

"We need to become more familiar with what it is," she stated.

"It's OK to talk about it.  The more we talk about it, the more we can do to prevent it," she concluded.



Descendants of cavalry soldier and Sitting Bull share stage at North Dakota battle site

Authors and descendants of combatants in the Dakota Territory 150 years ago, Kurt Bergemann (left) of Buffalo and Ernie LaPointe (right) of South Dakota were featured guest speakers during a recent 150th anniversary event in North Dakota.  (Photo courtesy of Bergemann)


By Ed DuBois

Kurt Bergemann, a great-great-grandson of a cavalry soldier who helped fight Indians led by Sitting Bull, recently met a great-grandson of Sitting Bull, Ernie LaPointe.

Bergemann and LaPointe were both featured speakers at a recent 150th anniversary event near the site of the Badlands Battle in what is now the western side of North Dakota.

"I was apprehensive about speaking with Ernie, but soon he, his wife and I were getting along like good friends," Bergemann said.

A steel leveler and cutter at Olympic Steel in Plymouth, Bergemann, who earned a business administration degree at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, lives in Buffalo and is the author of a book entitled "Brackett's Battalion, Minnesota Cavalry in the Civil War and Dakota War," which is about the unit with which his great-great-grandfather, Orin J. Swan, served.

LaPointe is the author of "Sitting Bull, His Life and Legacy."

Bergemann and LaPointe took part in book signings together while they were in North Dakota.

Bergemann said he was asked to speak in Medora, N.D. on Aug. 8 and 9, the dates of the Badlands Battle 150 years ago in 1864.  Few books have been written about the battles in the Dakotas between the Indians and the U.S. soldiers in the 1860s.  Consequently, Bergemann's book sells quite well in the Medora area, which is located in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Bergemann mentioned that most people are familiar with the Badlands of South Dakota, but he said the Badlands of North Dakota, which features rolling hills and buttes, are one of that state's best-kept secrets.

Bergemann enjoyed learning from LaPointe about Lakota customs, traditions and misinterpretations, which LaPointe enjoys talking about and has educated audiences all over the U.S. and in Europe.

Sitting Bull's actual name is Tatanka Iyotake, which means Buffalo Bull Sits Down.

"White people like short names, and that's how the famous chief became known as Sitting Bull," Bergemann said as he talked about what he learned from LaPointe.

He also learned that "Sioux" is a derogatory name.  The Dakota people mostly lived in what is now Minnesota.  The Lakota and the Nakota lived in what is now the Dakotas.  The shelters of the Indians have been called teepees by white people, but the Indians call them lodges.

Bergemann and LaPointe discussed many topics, and one of them was the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, a good 12 years after the Badlands Battle.  Various historical accounts have indicated the number of Indians taking part in the battle ranged from 11,000 to 18,000, but LaPointe says there is no way that many Indians could have possibly been available.  Their numbers had been significantly reduced in previous battles.

Bergemann says LaPointe makes a good point.  About 6,000 Indians took part in the Battle of Killdeer Mountain, which interestingly happened while the Civil War was waging in the east.  The U.S. soldiers were out-numbered, but they had superior weapons, including artillery, and superior military tactics.  The soldiers overwhelmingly won the battle.

Bergemann's book was a six-year project, with most of the research and writing taking place on weekends.  It was initially published in 1997, and then a revised and improved edition was published in 2003.

He points out that Brackett's Battalion served longer than any other Minnesota volunteer unit in the Civil War, and ranks ninth longest of all units in the Union Army.  He was inspired to write the book by his ancestry, and he mentioned with a smile that he flunked English in the seventh grade.

Asked what became of Sitting Bull, Bergemann said the great chief was murdered.  He refused to live on a reservation, and when Indian police went to arrest him, they ended up killing him.

Bergemann, who grew up in the Mankato area, served in the Air Force four years.  His new friend, LaPointe, is a Vietnam veteran.



Winsted man drowns at Dog Lake

A 53-year-old man from Winsted drowned at Dog Lake in Woodland Township last Saturday, Sept. 6.

Wright County Sheriff Hagerty reports that on Saturday at approximately 5:50 p.m., the Sheriff's Office communications center received a call about a possible drowning at the Dog Lake public access.  The drowning victim was later identified as Dennis Venske, 53, from Winsted.

The caller reported that a man in his mid-fifties had been fishing off the dock located at the public access when he apparently fell into the water.  The man appeared to be struggling, went under the water and subsequently did not surface.

Members of the Wright County Sheriff's Office Recreational Services Unit responded to assist in the search.  At approximately 7:45 p.m., the body of Venske was found in 6-10 feet of water.



Work on Settlers Parkway project in Buffalo could get underway soon

Following an approval process that took longer than expected for the Settlers Parkway project in Buffalo, work is expected to get started soon.

The Buffalo City Council could act on a contract award for the project next Monday, Sept. 15, said Assistant City Administrator Laureen Bodin.

Settlers Parkway will serve as a new connection between Highway 25 near Buffalo Heights Golf Club and Highway 55 near the Target store.

Work that is expected to start this fall includes installing underground utility pipes at the junction of Highway 25 and County Rd. 147.  Also, earth moving activity near Highway 55 is expected to happen soon.

Recently the city completed negotiations for an easement that will allow a roundabout to be constructed on the western end of the project.

The apparent low bidder for the Settlers Parkway project is Keuchle Underground of Kimball for $4,759,869.

Weather permitting, the first leg of the project will get started soon.



Hail ruins crop that was about to be harvested

A sudden downpour of hail ruined crops near Waverly on Wednesday, Sept. 3.  At Untiedt's Vegetable Farm, Jenna Untiedt, daughter of owner Jerry Untiedt, said, "At the end of the day, insurance will help somewhat, but this was Jerry's pride and joy.  This was one of the best crops of apples he had ever raised and was so proud of what was going to come out of the orchard.  Today was going to be the first day of picking SweeTangos.  Instead, we are dealing with the aftermath.  There is not one salvageable apple in the entire orchard; everything is gone."  (Photo courtesy of Untiedts family)



Search continues for missing person, Chris Rossing

Chris Rossing


The Wright County Sheriff's Office is investigating the disappearance of Christopher Michael Rossing, 25, of Albion Township in Wright County.

Christopher has not been seen or heard from by his family and friends since the evening of Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.  He was last seen frequenting several local bars in the City of Howard Lake in the early morning hours of Saturday, Aug. 23, according to the Sheriff's Office.  His vehicle, a grey/ silver Volkswagon Passat, was found parked in downtown Howard Lake.

The Sheriff's Office is requesting anyone with information about Rossing, or had contact with him during the early morning hours of Aug. 23, to contact Sgt. Albert Lutgens at 763-682-7637.

A $5,000 reward is being offered for information that helps locate Rossing.

His family reports he was born and raised in Carver Beach, Chanhassen.  His dad passed away three years ago on Aug. 20, 2011 in a tragic four-wheel accident.  His family has been very close to him and has guided him through his difficult times.  He owned his own home in rural Annandale.  He has no children and was single at the time of his disappearance.  He went to Minnetonka High School and works for a landscaping business in Maple Plain.

"Chris is a hard worker and has really good work ethics.  Chris loves the outdoors.  He loves to chop wood, hike, four-wheel, camp, swim, etc.," said his aunt, Susan Goetze.

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Many wishes come true

Children from this area with very serious health conditions enjoy some great times through Make-A-Wish

By Ed DuBois

Live characters from the very popular movie, "Frozen," were the highlight for three-year-old Kennady Roberts of Buffalo when she was invited to the Walk for Wishes in Bloomington on Saturday, Aug. 9.

Kennady is a pending Make-A-Wish recipient who was invited to be a guest of honor at the Walk for Wishes.  She had a wonderful time.  She dressed up like a princess and was surrounded by grown up princesses at one point.  She even hugged the princess who sang songs from "Frozen."

Another big moment at the event was when her wish was revealed.  Kennedy and her family will be going to Disney World in November.

A daughter of Dustin Roberts and Kristin Stevens of Buffalo, Kennady has a big sister, Madisyn Stevens, 8, who is in the third grade at Parkside Elementary School this fall.

Kennady has hypoplastic right heart syndrome, a severe congenital heart defect.  There is no cure, but three open heart surgeries have helped her get on with life while the left side of her heart does all the work of providing her body with oxygen and nutrients.  She plays hard, like other kids, but she has to rest more often than other kids.


Two others from Wright County

While enjoying the Walk for Wishes, Kennady met other Make-A-Wish recipients, including a few from her hometown area.

Avery Russek of Buffalo served as the Grand Marshal at the event.  A first grader at Northwinds Elementary School, and daughter of Pat and Jill Russek, Avery enjoyed a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World in 2010.  The highlight of the trip was a tea party with Princess Belle (of "Beauty and the Beast").

More recently, she has been active in supporting Make-A-Wish and making appearances at various events.  For example, she was part of the Season of Wishes down at the Mall of America, her mom said.  Avery was also a "mini chef" at a Delicious Wishes event.

"We have held fundraisers around Buffalo (Huikko's Bowling and Entertainment Center) and also at the Crosslake Golf Course and at the Crosslake Drug Store (in Crosslake, Minn.)," Jill said.  "She has made appearances at Warners' Stellian, the Minneapolis Convention Center and a radio bit on My Talk 107, advertising this year's Walk for Wishes."

Back when she went to Disney World, Avery was on her way to recovery from a condition called opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome (OMS), a rare neurological disorder of unknown causes that appears to be the result of a dysfunction of the autoimmune system involving the nervous system (according to  Jill happily reported Avery is now in remission.

Jill added the following comment, "Make-A-Wish is a wonderful organization that helps put a smile on a kiddo with a life threatening illness."


Driving a Bobcat

Another area resident who was at the Walk for Wishes is Connor Menard, son of Matt and Jill Menard of Montrose, and brother of four-year-old Caylee Menard.  Connor is starting kindergarten this fall in the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District.  His wish involved seeing how Bobcat tractors are made, and Make-A-Wish and the Bobcat firm went a step further.  He had fun driving Bobcat equipment via remote control at a "Bobcat Boot Camp."

The Make-A-Wish trip, which took place Aug. 16-20, included a visit at the Bobcat headquarters in Fargo, N.D. and a stop at the Bobcat manufacturing facility in Gwinner, N.D.

Connor has a rare condition called hypereosinophilic syndrome.  He has been troubled by leg and belly pain, fatigue and he is small for his age.  His health is closely watched because at any time his white blood cells could attack his organs.


Forget for a while

For at least a while, Make-A-Wish trips and events help kids with serious illnesses forget about their troubles and enjoy themselves, along with their families.

For Kennady Roberts, who would love to be as active as other kids, life could not have been better when she met the Princess from "Frozen," heard her sing and gave her a hug.

It was a wish come true.