Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Jan. 15, 2001

The year 2000 in review - Winsted and Lester Prairie

By Patrice Salmon

January

The year started with controversy surrounding the old Winsted city hall building. Under consideration was whether the building should be demolished, or renovated to house the public library and city government offices.

In Lester Prairie, the flip of a coin decided that Chester Hoernemann would serve as chairman of the Lester Prairie School Board for 2000. Gene Starke lost the toss and was elected to the vice-chairman position. Nancy Krull was elected clerk, and Barry Kyllo the treasurer.

A new chairman, commissioner Grant Knutson was appointed to the McLeod County Board. Beverly Wangerin was the new vice-chairwoman.

McLeod County court administrator Joan Proehl retired after serving in the court administrator office for 28 years. She served as the administrator for 15 years.

Lester Prairie 8th grader Noah Hoag won his second consecutive 1st place title in the school's geography bee.

Newly hired police officer Scott Rehmann met the members of the Winsted City Council.

Alek Halverson, senior, and captain of the LP/HT Winsted wrestling team was named the Norwood Young America Tournament's outstanding wrestler.

Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted teachers settled a contract that brought HLWW from the bottom end of the area salary schedule to about average.

HLWW students Beth Stueven and Derek Fogarty were chosen 1999-2000 triple A winners for excellence in athletics, academics, and arts.

February

The month started out with a decision by the Winsted City Council to demolish, rather than refurbish the old city hall building.

LP Cub Scouts held their annual pinewood derby on a new track, complete with an electronic finish line. Donations of time by various individuals and generous donations of funds and materials brought it all together.

Two search and rescue dogs, trained by HLWW student John Amborn died in a Mankato accident. The dogs were trained as cadaver dogs and were scheduled to be put to work at a California crash site when the accident occurred.

The Gordon Dalbec property was the final site recommended for the new HLWW high school. The property is located on the south side of Wright County Road 30, just east of Wright County Road 6.

LP city council member Galen Hochstein resigned due to an upcoming marriage.

The LP city council received a clean bill of health for a 1999 audit.

The Winsted Civic and Commerce Association awarded its annual Jim Baird Agricultural Award to Jeff and Mary Fasching. Their Community Service Award went to Dick Genty and Tony Radtke for their efforts with the Winsted Legion Festival.

The debate surrounding the fate of the old city hall building continued. Citizens, armed with a petition with 202 signatures, requested that the council act to preserve the building.

Robert Schmidt was named the new McLeod County court administrator, to replace Joan Proehl.

Holy Trinity held its annual inventors fair for 5th and 6th grade students. Students were judged on the inventions and presentation skills.

Josh Eckstein and Halverson were named Tri-Valley Conference co-most valuable wrestlers for 1999-2000.

HLWW student Joey Borders won the Humphrey Elementary geography bee. The school's top speller was Renee Oliva.

Victor Township residents spoke out against the Dalbec property as a site for the HLWW high school. Most felt a desire to keep their township agricultural.

March

In Winsted Township, the barn of Jim Neumann was lost in a blaze which brought five fire departments to the scene.

HLWW boys basketball team boasts a perfect 12-0 conference record. The team ended the season 14-0 in the conference and 20-2 overall.

A bomb threat causes the HLWW schools in Howard Lake to be evacuated. The fire department, ambulance, and police departments responded. After a search which lasted about two hours, students returned to classes.

The Winsted City Council advertised for bids to demolish the old city hall, but action stopped when Winsted Preservation Society , Inc. lawyer Virginia Housum declared that she would serve the city an injunction. The council decided to halt all action until it became clear where the city legally stands on the matter.

LP School Board reviews possible building site. Discussion included which grades would be housed in the new site, should a new building be constructed.

Noise levels at the Dairy Farmers of America are found to exceed safety standards set by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The council agreed to work with the company to find a solution.

Members elected the Winsted Public Library Board include: Lisa Ebert, Jane White, Irene Weinbeck, and Kari Jorgenson.

Victor Township voted 3-0 against a new school being built on the Dalbec property.

Partial fish winterkill is under investigation on Winsted Lake. The lack of bluegills found when fisheries experts netted fish prompted them to take a closer look.

LP school district passed a resolution directing Dr. James Redfield, superintendent, and the administration to consider what areas could be cut from the budget.

April

Ralph and Donna Machemehl sell their bulk fuel delivery business after 28 years of service. The Cologne- based Mid-County Co-op is the new owner.

Results of a Business Retention and Expansion (BR & E) survey show a positive attitude by Winsted business owners.

The Winsted City Council accepted a bid for demolition of the old city hall building. Wickenhauser Excavating had the chosen bid of $59,780. Demolish is contingent on Environmental Assessment Worksheet, due to the listing on the National Historic Registry, and resolution of pending legal action.

The Winsted Preservation Society served the City of Winsted to stop the city hall demolition.

Arlys Hartwig retires from the United States Postal Service after 16 years as the postmaster in Lester Prairie.

LP basketball player Gregg Kohler named all-conference in the Tri-Valley conference; Cory Quast named honorable mention all-conference.

HLWW has five basketball players chose for all-conference standing in the Central Minnesota Conference: Ryan Muldoon, Adam Koch, Derek Fogarty, and Brad Wynnemer, first team; and Ross Burau, second team.

Victor Township said 'no' to a school in its rural area. HLWW task force to continue to work on finding a site for a new high school.

Spring sports underway at area schools. LP boys baseball team plays in the Metrodome, beating Watertown-Mayer 15-2.

LP schools struggle financially due primarily to declining enrollment. Cuts are likely to follow. The school board acknowledged the 100th year anniversary of the school in 2001, and expressed a willingness to work with event organizers.

Rose Halloran is sworn in as a member of the Lester Prairie City Council. She replaces Hochstein.

DFA laid off 25 employees. The plant changed its production to produce formulated products, such as cheese powders. Fewer employees are required for the new procedures.

May

Area students chosen to attend Girls State and Boys State. LP student Laura Angvall and Katie Neumann of Winsted will attend Girls State in June. Representing LP will be Tyler Wortz. The students will learn about American government and citizenship.

A low crime rate is reported by Winsted Police Chief Mike Henrich. He reported that according to police statistics, Winsted is a safe community.

Kindergarteners and sixth graders from area schools are fingerprinted as part of McLeod County Law Enforcement Center's Childprint Program.

The state reveals Basic Standard Test Scores in the subjects of math and reading. A drop in math scores has LP parents voicing their concerns.

It is determined that Howard Lake and Winsted will have to bid against each other for the new high school site.

LP School Board members and staff speak out against closing the school. Cutting curriculum, rearranging the school day schedule, staff cuts are all considered.

LP City Council considers an ordinance to allow for recreational fires.

HLWW high school sophomore Candice Berg chosen to play with the Minnesota Music Educators Association All-state Band.

Idea considered to sell the old city hall building to the Winsted Preservation Society for $1.

Parent, staff, and district residents approach LP School Board about $225,000 deficit and the$150,000 in proposed budget cuts.

Superintendent Riley Hoheisel talks with professors and legislators about University of Minnesota partnership in agriculture.

LP School Board and City Council hold joint meeting.

June

The DFA plant becomes DairiConcepts. Plant employs only eight people.

High School students graduate and Memorial Day ceremonies are held.

Winsted prepares for the seventh annual Winstock event. Headliners include: Merle Haggard, Sawyer Brown, and Diamond Rio.

LP Bulldog boys baseball team earns it first-ever trip to the state league baseball tourney. The team placed second in the tournament behind Sleepy Eye. Cullen Schultz was named Star Tribune's All-Metro team.

Jenny Birkholz of LP advanced to the state golf competition.

A committee is being formed to assess LP school situation. Five other districts will be studied to try learn of options for the LP district.

HLWW school district votes to require 17 graduation standards, has a healthy budget, and is encouraged about the possible partnership with University of Minnesota.

Winsted residents see a rise in utility bills after the reduction in activity at DariConcepts. Lower sewer rates at the former DFA plant cause resident rates to rise.

July

Sarah Behrens, Miss Winsted, will participate in the Minneapolis Aquatennial competition, for the title of Queen of the Lakes.

Mark Sobotka replaced the retiring Arlys Hartwig as LP postmaster.

The Winsted City Council considers the possibility of purchasing the old Niro-Sterner building, owned by Millerbernd, to house the city offices.

Winsted City Administrator Aaron Reeves resigns to take a position as the executive director of the Southwest Regional Development Commission, in Slayton.

The LP bandstand, is in a state of disrepair. The city council set a meeting to hear citizen comments.

Mayor Eric Angvall honored Roger Weiland of Roger's Jack and Jill. Weiland had been in business in LP for 22 years. The new grocery store owner is Robert DeMaris. Dentist Dr. John Klobe was honored for 39 years of service; Dr. Sarah Heuer, who worked with Klobe and bought his practice was recognized. Angie Ross-Litzau was acknowledged as the new owner of The Depot.

The fate of the old city hall building is still undecided. Results of a re-use study, concluded that although the building has some problem areas, they are repairable.

The LP School Board plans to raise sports and activities fee in order to offset their budget woes.

A group of Holy Trinity High School students and chaperones traveled to West Virginia to participate in a week of mission work. The youth worked hard helping repair homes, learned to help others, and gained a sense of community in the process.

August

Winsted City Council to make an offer on the Niro-Sterner building.

The owners of the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) plant are delinquent on utility bills. City Attorney Fran Eggert suggested that legal remedies be sought.

A feature article told the tales of Mary Wiemiller and her biking adventures in the annual 500-mile Klobuchar bike trip through Minnesota.

City of Lester Prairie to face budget cuts. City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk reports the budget for next year to be $118,000 in the red.

Audience consensus at the council meeting is to keep the bandstand.

The LP City Council gave high praise to police officer Robert Carlson on his three month review.

Royalty crowned at Legion Festival. Miss Congeniality was Laura Ollig; Dana Mochinski was crowned Miss Winsted; and Katie Neumann was Winsted princess.

Winsted Wildcats fall one game short of making it to the state tourney.

Purchase of the Niro-Sterner building was put on hold at the Winsted City Council meeting.

Idea of new housing development brought before the LP City Council and the LP School Board at a joint meeting. Development aimed at bringing young families to the area.

September

Three male juveniles were arrested in connection with a string of burglaries in Meeker County.

The trio confessed to breaking into numerous area schools, churches and businesses from July 27 to Aug. 16.

The HLWW Site Task Force made a final recommendation of the Gordon Dalbec property to the school board as a potential site for a new high school.

The Dalbec property is located on Wright County roads 30 and 6, within Victor Township.

Winsted hired a new city administrator, Matt Podhradsky.

Marv and Brenda Vetsch opened V's Grill in Winsted. Soft-serve ice cream and broasted chicken are some of the items on the menu.

Winsted proposed a 10 percent tax hike to replenish its reserves.

The building just north of The Pantry on Second Avenue S. was demolished.

Lester Prairie will raise its levy 19 percent to replenish city coffers.

The McLeod County employee strike was settled.

Lester Prairie crowned King Eric Mochinski and Queen Nicole Fiecke as Homecoming royalty.

HLWW crowned its royalty; King Mike Kelley and Queen Kelly Sawatzke.

October

Holy Trinity crowned its royalty during Homecoming events, King Jason Ide and Queen Stacy Bebo.

Lester Prairie woman Denise Hanes, 33, was arrested and charged with felony possession of methamphetamine.

The Winsted City Council backed off on its earlier attempt to purchase the former Niro building for city hall. There were too many complications involving the planning commission that caused delays on the city's part, the council said.

Lester Prairie continued with plans for residential development at the Betty Wroge property.

The community rallied behind Brandon Rehmann, 9, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Rehmann lives in Winsted and attends Lester Prairie Elementary as a third grader.

A new Winsted fire truck is approved by the city council.

KSTP (channel 5) Jason Davis interviewed LaVerna Greshowak of Lester Prairie for his "On the Road Again" series.

November

Ralph's Oil changed hands when owners Ralph and Donna Machemehl sold their business to Don and Kari Artmann, all of Lester Prairie. The station was renamed Big Don's Carthedral, the same name as the auto repair and body shop the Artmanns operate west of Lester Prairie.

The Winsted City Council was filled with many of the same people as the late 80s, upon the results of the general election.

The Victor Township Board voted to retain its land use policy, effectively blocking the Dalbec property from the list of choices for a future potential school site.

Lester Prairie discussed a possible regional sludge operation with a consortium of several other cities.

A crowd of more than 30 people attended the regular school board meeting to lobby for a Howard Lake location in the search for a new potential high school.

The HLWW school district recorded lower enrollment numbers, but received an "A" on its financial report card from its auditor.

December

Several hundred people attended the Winsted Winter Festival.

The Winsted Fire Department practiced its cold-water rescue techniques by saving a deer caught on Winsted Lake.

Following the elimination of the Dalbec property, the HLWW School District narrowed the choice between two properties for the potential new high school site, the Franke and Fiecke parcels.

The Ray Fiecke property is located 1/4 mile north of Winsted city limits, and the Edna Frank property is at the Howard Lake city limits, near the cemetery.

A three-man task force was appointed to find additional information about both sites.

Three stolen snowmobiles were recovered following tips from residents given to the Lester Prairie Police Department.


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