Herald Journal, Jan. 6, 2003
Howard Lake-Waverly-Montrose year in review, part 2
Flooding makes for wet, late harvest
By Lynda Jensen
Historic flooding continued to make an impact on the last half of 2002, handing farmers a wet, late harvest and contributing to the proliferation of mosquitoes, which carried the West Nile Virus.
The following represents the last six months of 2002.
Flood victims continued to sandbag, fighting rising water on area lakes.
At Big Waverly, residents went through about 35,000 sandbags, volunteer Dave DeLude said. Bottled water was a hot commodity, DeLude commented.
Damage estimates rolled into the Wright County Emergency Services Office, coordinator Genell Reese said.
Public roads alone sustained $3 million in damage, although total exact numbers are not solid yet for the disaster, she said.
In the heat and humidity, victims with flooded basements cleaned up the mess left behind by rampant rains.
Residents dragged their belongings from basements outside to dry, as damages mounted.
Lake residents worriedly watched water levels, as most lakes were filled to capacity.
The loss so far was estimated at $10 million in Wright County, although officials urged residents to call their damage in, and carefully document what damage they received before they cleaned up, if possible.
There were more than 10 agencies involved in the effort, including the Human Service Agency, which is offering shelter for people after the emergency shelter is closed, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Wright County Community Action, Catholic Charities, and other agencies.
During the meeting with Sen. Dayton, it was noted that prisoners have been brought in by the county from both Meeker and the Wright County jail to assist in cleanup efforts.
Floods ravaging Waverly did not stop many events for Waverly Daze July 12 through 14.
Some events, such as the fishing derby and boat parade, were cancelled due to the heavy flooding of the area and no-wake zones on area lakes enacted by the Wright County Sheriff's Dept. The public landings were closed.
Field officers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) arrived in the Howard Lake, Waverly and Winsted area soon after the county was declared a disaster area July 9.
Thousands of dead fish washed ashore at Lake Ann during the Fourth of July holiday.
Between 5,000 and 10,000 fish, mainly small perch, were killed from low oxygen levels, said Paul Diedrich of the Department of Natural Resources.
"It was all species all kinds," commented Tom Hammer of the Lake Ann Lake Association.
The low oxygen was likely caused by shallow flood waters that washed into outlying areas, remained standing over dying vegetation, and then washed back into the lake, Diedrich said.
Dying vegetation removes oxygen from water. This oxygen depleted water flowed back into the lake, which likely caused the fish kill when combined with the hot sultry weather, he said.
Several home owners along Fourth Avenue in Howard Lake also spoke to the council about their chronic sewer backup problems, with the super storm of June 24 and 25 delivering more sewage than ever to the homes there.
Heavy flood waters sweeping through the area June 25 caused Bob and Sandy Williams to start a private taxi service by canoe at their country home for three days.
The canoe, normally used for camping, was pressed into service after the Williams family woke up to find standing water almost completely surrounding their house, located two miles west of the Howard Lake cemetery.
Damage estimates from the storm June 25 rolled in, reported Waverly Clerk Debbie Ryks.
So far, the city is anticipating about $100,000 in immediate expenses, related to cleanup efforts and sewer system damage, Ryks said.
This includes the purchase of sand and sand bags, tree removal, sewer system damage, and extra gravel for washed out areas, as well as staff overtime, Ryks said.
In addition, the city incurred costs from the mud slide at North Shore Drive, and paying for Mini Biff portable toilets around the lake, since portions of the sewer system at the north end.
The mud slide across Wright County Road 9 was borne by the county, Ryks said.
However, this could be the tip of the financial iceberg, since many kinds of damage are yet to be calculated, Ryks said.
The city approved $300,000, which includes the immediate costs of $100,000, in low-interest funds during the meeting to cover flood damage expenses so far.
Damage to the main lift station at the sewer system alone is being estimated at $35,000, said Maintenance Supervisor John Rassat. Other kinds of damage to the city's infrastructure may not surface until the fall freeze, noted Mayor Charlie Bush.
Following 100 years of faithful service, the wooden elevator alongside the railroad tracks near the Wright County Fairgrounds is now closed for commercial use.
The landmark, built before the 1900s, was available for rent or sale by interested local farmers, said Dave Pruess, general manager of Munson Lakes Nutrition.
Corn will continue to be stored at the Howard Lake facility, but beans and oats were rerouted to the newer Cokato facility, Pruess said. A trucking service is being set up for this purpose, he said.
The move was necessary to ensure the quality of the grain, although it would still be suitable for private use, said Mark Dahlman of Munson's.
The old elevator is antiquated, and it was not feasible to modernize it, Pruess said.
Exceptions in the insurance policy purchased by the City of Howard Lake will turn out to be useless for most citizens who incurred sewer backup problems related to flooding June 25, as discussed at the city council meeting.
Council members met with insurance agent Duane Burkstrand, who reported the situation.
Several months ago, the city took out a no-fault rider on its insurance policy that would have secured loss from sewer backups. "The city bought and paid for the best policy they could get," City Administrator Kelly Bahn said.
This is the first spring season that the city had the policy enacted, Burkstrand said.
In that policy, there are three exceptions, Burkstrand said:
· if the power is out for 72 hours (which it was not, Burkstrand said).
· if the area is designated as a disaster area (which it was, Burkstrand said).
· if a 100-year flood event was determined (which it was, Burkstrand said).
The unthinkable that is, the latter two exceptions mean that the insurance will only cover damage caused from liability, or cause that can be attributed to the city's error, only, Burkstrand said.
In fact, before the area was declared a disaster and a 100-year flooding event, Burkstrand was distributing information that later turned out to be incorrect, he said. The exceptions happened a number of weeks after the flood event.
Training and purchase of one male black labrador drug dog was approved by the Howard Lake City Council for its police department.
The dog will have two handlers, officers Tim Sonnek and new officer Dan Lang. The dog may also double up as a search and rescue animal in the future.
It was able to detect marijuana, crack, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, heroin, and mushrooms, Howard Lake Police Chief Lenny Keyes said.
The drug activity encroaching on the area was noted. "We want drug dealers to keep driving through town (instead of stopping here)," he said.
A stately new colonnade-style bank complex will grace the center of Howard Lake along Highway 12 following site plans approved by the Howard Lake City Council.
The plans tentatively include a new Ridgeview Clinic housed with a new Security State Bank project, as well as a coffee shop inside of the foyer area.
Ridgeview officials expressed enthusiasm for it, saying that a final agreement with all the details between the bank and the clinic was made concrete in 30 days.
Devastated flood victims didn't have to look far for help when torrential rains overwhelmed the area June 25 and help came from the most unusual places.
Friends, neighbors, and complete strangers picked up shovels to fill sand bags in the aftermath of the storm, especially during the week following the rains.
Among the so-called strangers were minor offenders from local county jails, working in a program called "Sentence to Service," said Wright County Crew Leader Brad Thompson.
Three crews from four different counties helped both the Waverly and Howard Lake areas with sand bagging and cleanup efforts, Wright, Meeker, and McLeod-Sibley.
It was probably fitting that the Wright County crew stayed the longest out of the three working up to 15 hour days the week after the storm since Wright is where the program first got its start in 1989, Thompson said.
The Meeker and McLeod-Sibley crews helped one day each, with Meeker spending the day in Howard Lake.
Howard Lake Drug observed its 85th year of operation; something very few businesses can claim.
It has been at the same location along Highway 12 since 1925. In fact, the original tin ceiling is still intact, along with wall fixtures and the same soda fountain installed by Wes Scheer in 1947, making it one of the oldest original drug stores in the state.
The soda fountain recently gained news coverage by the Star Tribune newspaper when it listed Howard Lake Drug as an original establishment, complete with a seven-stool soda fountain and a mudball specialty (a mudball is a vanilla ice cream sundae topped with chocolate syrup and peanuts).
The Ringolds have owned the pharmacy for 24 years. The business has been only under four sets of proprietors during the 85 years it has operated.
From 1917 to 1937, Wes Scheer and R.E. Bushey operated it, from 1937 to 1948 Scheer operated it alone, from 1948 to 1978 Robert Rekedal operated it, and then the Ringolds from 1978 to the present.
An evenly numbered Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School Board deadlocked twice over what it considered to be two good candidates vying for one vacancy on the board.
The board voted 3-3 twice, before a final vote of 5-1 installed Allan Doering as a replacement for long-time board member Gene Lorentz who recently resigned for health reasons.
The board considered both Doering and Rob Merritt, both of Howard Lake, for the position.
Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted English teacher and drama director Dave Metcalf performed at the Guthrie Theater in the world premiere of "Resurrection Blues," a play written by legendary writer Arthur Miller. Miller is the writer of "Death of a Salesman."
In "Resurrection Blues," Metcalf played several characters: a cross builder, a peasant, a guitarist, and a waiter.
Richard Cook of Howard Lake offers guided tours to Cambodia. He has traveled there before, and now wants to guide others, giving them the chance to fall in love with the sights and the country, just like he has.
Howard Lake noisemakers may be subject to a fine up to $1,000, following a noise ordinance adopted by the City of Howard Lake during its regular meeting.
Loud radios and other noises that are clearly audible from 50 feet away any time of day or night may be subject to a fine, with a police officer being the judge of what is too loud, according to the ordinance.
A "quiet" time frame between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. weekdays, or between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on weekends or holidays, is expected to be observed in relation to power equipment such as lawn mowers. There is an exception for snow blowing.
Four horses in the Howard Lake and Waverly area have been reported with the West Nile Virus, according to the state department of health.
Two of them died because they had to be euthanized, said Christine Austin-Roehler of the Wright County Human Services Agency.
This makes a total of nine horses that contracted the West Nile Virus in Wright County.
"It changes all the time," Austin-Roehler said, referring to the number of reported cases. These cases are reported on a regular basis with the department of health's web site, which is www.health.state.mn.us.
The vaccination must be administered in two doses, with a required three-week lapse between them, Austin-Roehler said.
The cost for vaccination is about $40 per dose, she said.
"Wright is a big horse area," she said, indicating there was a high number of horses in Wright County compared to other surrounding counties.
Flooding in the area compounds the problem, since standing water is everywhere and contributes to mosquito breeding.
Not all mosquitoes carry the West Nile Virus, but "you'd have to have a microscope to see what kind it is," Austin-Roehler said. There are several different varieties of mosquitoes in Minnesota, with only a few carrying West Nile.
No humans have been reported with West Nile Virus in Minnesota.
Bathtubs are the specialty of Howard Lake resident Mark Trump, as part of a new Howard Lake-based business.
Trump refinishes bathtubs as part of Trump's Porcelite Bathtub Refinishing Company, which he operates out of his home at 1102 Shoreline Drive.
Years of waiting culminated in a sudden decision by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to allow Howard Lake residents to vote about adding the Twin Cities to its local calling area, for a fee.
The move took many by surprise, including citizens who were originally involved in the process and the city, since the PUC gave little notice.
Ballots were already mailed by the PUC to Howard Lake residents.
People who live in the 543 prefix was allowed to cast one vote per phone line before Oct. 2. Once the ballot is mailed, it cannot be changed, said Sprint representative Karyn Gibson.
Wright County has 21 reported cases of West Nile Virus, Carver County six, Meeker two, and Sibley has no recorded cases.
Of the infected horses in Wright County, six were known dead, and nine alive, according to the animal health board. Status of the others was unavailable.
There are a total of 147 infected horses in the state.
New Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Superintendent George Ladd jumped into the sensitive issue of the school district's future by unveiling a one-year plan for gathering public input setting a building referendum as a goal for November 2003.
The plans call for what nearly amounts to a search for public opinion in the next several months, to formulate what kind of building arrangement should be made, either new or remodeling of existing facilities which hasn't been decided yet.
To spark public interest, Ladd proposed the idea of a new kindergarten through sixth grade building in Winsted; saying that he wanted to initiate public debate. However, he emphasized that this idea is just the starting point of discussion and that absolutely no ideas are set yet.
Months of citizen feedback and the chronic presence of false rumors appeared to wear down the Howard Lake City Council, as council members hesitantly OK'd lending its tax-free status to the Ridgeview Medical Clinic at the council meeting.
Lending the tax-free bond status to non profit entities is a common practice for cities that are trying to develop, and was used by the City of Cokato in recent years to help the Cokato Charitable Trust expand its facilities.
The action does not involve taxpayer money directly or indirectly, and has no impact whatsoever on the city's credit rating, which was once again testified by attorney Stephanie Galey of the law firm Faegre and Benson.
The City of Howard Lake may lend its tax free status for projects up to $10 million, with the clinic project being valued at $6,135,600.
Of the sum, $1,135,00 was used toward the Howard Lake clinic for equipment. The rest is tagged for expansion that was already planned by Ridgeview for its Chanhassen and Delano clinics, before the Howard Lake clinic got underway.
The $10 million figure resets itself each year, and the city currently has no projects in the works that could be dedicated for this purpose, City Administrator Kelly Bahn said.
The contentious water tower issue surfaced again during the Howard Lake City Council meeting, as the council discussed making an offer to Wright County for purchase of the land under the tower.
The offer follows an exchange of correspondence and meetings related to water use at the fair grounds, tied to the county's ownership of the water tower land.
The issue is long standing, and originates from a misunderstanding between the city and county, because no signed contract was made regarding the issue.
Both entities made separate resolutions regarding water use and the water tower, but disagreed about what the resolutions meant.
The county's last proposal was to pay for water over 185,000 gallons.
The last meeting with the county was in the spring, when Council Member Shelly Reddemann and City Administrator Kelly Bahn met with commissioners over the issue.
During the summer, city council members conducted a workshop over the issue and decided to make an offer for the land. An appraisal was ordered to this end.
One of Howard Lake's new light poles was demolished when a driver on Highway 12 jumped the curb, crossed and took out the pole.
William R. Clatt, 54, of Willmar was driving a 1999 Ford Ranger eastbound into town at 5:26 a.m. when he hit the curve in front of Swanson Peterson Funeral Home, jumped the curb, and struck the light pole there.
The accident tore off one of Clatt's headlights, which was in the grass with other superficial pieces of his vehicle.
The HLWW board decided to conduct a retreat to discuss long range district goals Nov. 23.
The current list of goals, which is outdated now, is more of a directive, "not goals as I would see them," he said. Some goals may be ongoing, he added.
The existing list of goals from last year include completing programming for a new 9-12 high school, the idea of Lester Prairie school consolidation, technology goals, expanding the agricultural program, curriculum and graduation standards, and several other goals that are identified as areas of continued focus.
Other board members agreed with Ladd. Board Member Charlie Borrell suggested using something like the interview process, which was successful.
Board Member Jim Fowler suggested doing the retreat, which was well received.
A flurry of meetings by the Waverly City Council five in a one-week period from June 26 to July 3 chronicle the historic and disastrous flooding of June 24 and 25, according to the city minutes.
The first emergency meeting was called June 26 to meet with Wright County Commissioner Dick Mattson and the council.
During the meeting, it was noted that 14 to 15 inches of rain fell in a two-day period, causing the lake level to go up by three feet. The city dock floated away during the storm.
"The park is totally flooded with fish swimming on dry land," was noted in the minutes.
Mosquito control expert Ed Meehan of Howard Lake gave tips and information about mosquitoes in a Herald story.
The condition of the ballpark at Memorial Park was again a subject of conversation at the Howard Lake City Council during its meeting.
Record summer flooding decimated the grass at the field. Since then, volunteers have been struggling to get the field ready for grass seed, Council Member Shelly Reddemann said.
Setback after setback, including more rain from a record-setting rainfall season, has prevented the seed from being sown, he said.
If the field is not ready in the spring, it will directly affect the season and revenue for the Orphans, Mickey Mantle teams and traveling teams in the spring, Reddemann said.
"They can't afford the loss of income next spring," Reddemann said.
There are about 70 games played on the ballfield every year, Reddemann said. "There's a lot of usage there."
Once fans are lost, it is hard to attract them back, Council Member Don Danford noted.
Several Howard Lake residents asked questions about the possibility of adding the Twin Cities metro area to the 543 calling service for a fee during an informational meeting.
During the meeting, it was noted that Lakedale Link customers did not receive ballots. Most of the Howard Lake area is served by Sprint.
This situation was corrected, with ballots being sent to Lakedale customers this week or early next, said Administrator Kelly Bahn.
Howard Lake resident Virgil E. Smith has been charged with misappropriating about $110,000 in investor funds, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Smith is accused of fraudulently soliciting individuals to trade foreign currency futures contracts on their behalf, according to the complaint. The charge is related to his business, Maximus Capital Consultants, Inc.
Neither Smith nor Maximus are registered with the commission in any capacity, according to the complaint.
Smith is one of several plaintiffs, including Sovereign Resource Management, Inc, a Grenadian corporation, Ken Mitra, a Canadian citizen and president of Sovereign, and Anthony J. Heppner of Theilman, Minn.
Church bells and sirens sounded for 30 seconds at 7:46 a.m. in Howard Lake, Waverly and Montrose Wednesday, Sept. 11 to remember the dead, and observe the moment when the first airplane struck the World Trade Center in New York City, one year ago.
The City of Howard Lake sounded its siren at precisely that time, and plans to fly its flags at half mast. The city council also encouraged citizens to sound their own car horns or make other noises for 30 seconds at precisely 7:46 a.m.
The siren in Waverly was also activated by the Wright County Sheriff's Department, which plans to sounded all the alarms that it controls; of which Waverly is one.
Church bells also rang in Howard Lake and Montrose, since St. James and St. Paul's in Montrose both plan to toll their bells as well.
Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted students will also pause and reflect at 10 a.m., as requested from a proclamation by the governor. The students also plan to observe a red, white and blue day, High School Principal Mike Day said.
Special services were offered in both Howard Lake and Waverly, with the Church of St. Mary in Waverly offering Mass at 7 p.m. that evening, and St. James Lutheran in Howard Lake offering a special service 7 p.m., Sept. 11.
A beauty shop, video store, and more are planned for Waverly railroad land are planned for construction on railroad land being purchased.
Small cities waiting for the state's shortfall to be resolved adopted double digit preliminary levy increases nearly across the board in the area.
Record rainfalls in the Howard Lake, Waverly and Winsted areas handed several farmers a late and wet harvest this year.
Drowned crops were reported by many farmers; although the worst of it appeared to affect farmers in the immediate area, with less favorable conditions toward Howard Lake and Waverly, and better conditions going south toward Hutchinson, according to Extension Director Joe Neubauer of the McLeod/Meeker Extension Service.
Since May 1, about 40 inches of rain has been reported for the immediate area, Neubauer said.
"It depends on where you are," he said.
"People can't believe how wet it is," commented Howard Lake farmer and seed dealer Mark Diers. "It's way too much."
Curiously, heavy rainfall seemed to pick and choose certain areas drenching some places, and affecting others less.
A list of four men was trimmed down to two for the District 5 Wright County Commissioner seat as incumbent Dick Mattson and Montrose Mayor Charlie Nelson emerged victorious in's primary election.
Mattson claimed one of two spots easily, earning an average of 44 percent of the votes, with 623 cast in his favor.
Nelson garnered about 28 percent with 400 cast in his favor, edging Cokato farmer Leonard Wozniak who had 335 votes (23 percent).
Bob White, who works for the Wright County Highway Department, trailed with 5 percent, with 73 cast in his favor.
Other local races included the Republican race in State Representative District 18B, with Dean Urdahl winning the Republican spot.
For the state representative seat of District 19B, Dick Borrell claimed the Republican ticket.
Condemnation of a Howard Lake house was avoided by the Howard Lake City Council, although it was actually requested by the home owner.
Laurie Warden, who owns the house at 1012 Seventh Avenue, was present at the meeting, asking the council to condemn her flood-damaged home.
She felt this was needed to help obtain financing from either Federal Emergency Management Agency or the state; however the council and City Administrator Kelly Bahn expressed strong doubts about Warden's knowledge of what her options were, and thought the condemnation might actually impede Warden's chances for financial help.
Warden told the council she needed her home condemned in order to obtain funding from FEMA, however, it was noted that other homes going through this process did not require this.
In addition, it was noted that the costs for demolition might come back on the city, since Warden did not know who was going to pay for it.
This may occur anyway, because the house is a safety concern, but the council decided to go through all the usual steps that such a house would go through anyway, rather than borrow the burden of demolition directly.
Council members questioned Warden at length about who she contacted at FEMA and the state.
Her answers did not appear to satisfy the council, which decided to issue a letter by the city building inspector, if needed, that her house is unlivable which is what Warden had been waiting for for months, she said.
Bahn confirmed that Warden had been going through several steps to obtain the letter, waiting for the inspector to visit the house.
Author Kirk Besse agreed to write the new Howard Lake history book without compensation.
Besse, who is related to the Gilmer family in Howard Lake, is doing the book without charge to the Historical Society. He resides in Mound and has part ownership in a publishing company called Victoria Press, based out of Minneapolis.
He is about halfway through the initial draft, or about right after World War I, Besse said.
The new book will take advantage of the substantial groundwork done by the century book committee for 100 Years of the Good Life, which was printed in 1978.
There is only one member of the committee still living, Ella May Dahlberg. Others on the committee were Eldon Luhman (chair), Mildren Zech, Alvin Bakeberg, Marge Rausch, and LD "Pete" Peterson.
It is hoped that the book will be finished in time for the 100 year celebration of the Historic City Hall building, in 2004, said Don Danford of the Howard Lake Historical Association.
The race for Wright County sheriff is heating up with incumbent Gary Miller and challenger Lenny Walker steadily shifting gears.
The duo are closing in on the, Nov. 5 election.
The race started with an early jump by Walker in September, who succeeded in planting yard signs across the county in short order.
A fierce letter-writing campaign marked the race, with many different residents picking up their pens in favor of both candidates, including former deputies and other law enforcement.
Conceptual plans to remodel the Waverly municipal liquor store moved forward during the Waverly City Council meeting.
The project will likely expand the off-sale portion of the store this spring.
The story of courageous cancer survivor Kim Zabel, 40, of rural Howard Lake was printed in the Herald.
Wright County Republicans pulled their support from candidate Dick Borrell of Waverly asking him to withdraw from the race for District 19B following publication of an Oct. 5 Star Tribune article about sexual misconduct by Borrell 15 years ago.
The article details an incident in 1987, in which Borrell admitted to tricking a woman into a sexual act by trespassing into her apartment bedroom in the early morning hours following a night of heavy drinking, according to court documents.
The woman, who was in her 20s and was engaged to a relative of Borrell's, said she thought Borrell was her fiance. Borrell was 35 at the time of the incident. He is 50 now.
The woman sought counseling and filed suit in 1993. Borrell paid her $20,000 in a settlement for "negligent infliction of emotional distress."
"I have admitted to this error," Borrell said of the incident.
"I have done everything in my power to make up for this, including paying the settlement," Borrell said.
"I have learned from this experience and moved on. It is no longer part of my life," he said.
Houses may dot the previously undeveloped north end of Lake Mary, if tentative plans to develop the area move forward.
Ideas about what to do with the 72 acres, which is owned by the late Albert Geisenkoetter, were discussed at the Victor Township meeting.
Charles Paschke, an attorney for the estate of the late Albert Geisenkoetter, asked the board for its recommendation on what it would support regarding Geisenkoetter's property.
Republicans scrambled in the race for state representative District 19B, on the heels of news coverage about a sex incident 15 years ago associated with candidate Dick Borrell of Waverly.
News coverage of the incident prompted Wright County Republicans to ask Borrell to withdraw from the race, which he refused.
Since Borrell is refusing to drop out of the race, the Wright County Republican leadership was unable to endorse another candidate, said Chairman Randy Heuer.
In the meantime, a write-in campaign has been launched for Republican Darren Knight. Knight is a lawyer from Delano and graduate of the University of Minnesota. After college, he played professional baseball for the Chicago Cubs and Montreal Expos.
Few issues were settled, and more seemed to float to the surfaced, during a meeting between Wright County officials and the City of Howard Lake.
The main issue is an ongoing dispute over free water usage to the Wright County Fairgrounds and the city's water tower, located on county land.
Both sides accused the other of changing the agreement, which was passed by both the city and county in 1998, but not signed by the city at that time.
About two-thirds of Howard Lake callers voted to add the metro area into the local calling exchange, which was announced by the Public Utilities Commission.
However, the service will not be available for another year. The increase of basic phone service will not take effect until that time.
Callers will not be charged until they are actually able to place a call with the service, said Sprint representative Karyn Gibson.
Howard Lake callers approved the extended area service by 646 votes (67.1 percent) to 317 votes (32.9 percent).
A total of 58.9 percent of the customers eligible to vote returned their ballots to the PUC.
Residents reacted with shock and sadness to the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone in a plane crash the week before the election.
Norm's Highway 12 Auto opens its doors in Waverly today for the first time.
Located on the east end of Moy's Collision, the automotive repair business is owned by Norm and Kathy Jerde of Montrose.
Services include the usual maintenance essentials, such as changing oil and filters, with an emphasis on custom exhaust, struts, shocks, tires and brakes, Norm Jerde said.
With only 15 acres left to go, Bud Kiehn's combine suddenly started smoking and caught fire as he was harvesting, about five miles north of Howard Lake on rented property.
Kiehn managed to get out of the combine and call for help on his cell phone, he said. The Howard Lake Fire Department responded, controlling the blaze within minutes, although the Case IH sustained heavy damage in the process.
Expansion is in the works for the highly successful Howard Lake business, Innocast, which is located on the west end of town.
More than a foundry, Innocast designs and creates high-end sculptures and sophisticated momentos for dignitaries and corporate executives, said Phil Efron, of the company.
The business has been at its location for 21 years, he said. However some in Howard Lake may not realize what kind of clientele that Innocast draws on a regular basis.
Customers include three presidents, George Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, as well as the White House, which commissioned two life-sized sculptures in the past, Efron said.
Jeff and Shawn Mosch appeared on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rathers Nov. 1 to tell their story about being swindled out of $8,000 by a Nigerian scam.
Jeff is a former Waverly resident and graduated from Howard Lake-Waverly in 1988. The family lives in Bloomington.
The race for State Representative District 19B took another turn post election with Dick Borrell being investigated for unfair campaign practices by the Wright County Attorney.
Borrell won a three-way race among DFLer Lori Schmidt, and Republican write-in candidate Darren Knight.
The investigation stems from pamphlets and statements distributed by Borrell supporters five days before the election, claiming that Knight was being investigated by Wright County Attorney Tom Kelly.
That statement, and others made in the pamphlet, were not true, Kelly said, in a statement released.
Borrell claimed that Knight was being investigated by the attorney for false political campaign material and criminal defamation, Kelly said. No charges were filed against Knight, Kelly said.
A Howard Lake woman is dead after she attempted to cross Highway 12 Nov. 9.
Rhoda Jean Peterson-Shealy, 55, of Howard Lake, was walking southbound in the crosswalk located in front of the Old Town Gallery, when she was struck by a 1991 Chevrolet Suburban driven by Peter Todd Stevenson, 15, of Bloomington.
The youthful driver had a legal permit and was sitting beside his father, Todd Stevenson, 46, of Bloomington. They were towing a boat, according to the accident report.
Peterson-Shealy died enroute to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale.
One of the largest residential developments yet for the City of Montrose is tentatively in the works, according to minutes for the Montrose planning commission.
Rolling Meadows, to be located north of Northridge, will likely add approximately 396 units, or about 258 single family and 138 multi family homes (likely townhomes), said City Administrator Barb Swanson.
The project, if all goes according to plan, will take up 150 acres. The developer is Bridgeland Development.
The final plat has not been approved yet, Swanson said. The preliminary plat was OK'd at the city minutes during the summer.
Minutes after passing a business subsidy agreement with Ridgeview Medical Clinic, the Howard Lake City Council hastily rescinded the agreement during the council meeting after finding a non-compete clause was taken out.
The city's intent of the clause was to protect the clinic's competitor, Phenomenal Rehabilitation; preventing the clinic from performing the same function.
The agreement relates to a subsidy of $39,000, to be given to the clinic.
The council already adjourned its meeting, and was about to open its HRA meeting, when the omission was discovered by City Attorney Chuck Paschke.
A different attorney handled the last revision of the document on behalf of the city, Minneapolis attorney Bob Deike, because he is a specialist in tax increment financing (TIF), said City Clerk Gene Gilbert.
Previously, council members discussed the agreement during the meeting.
The agreement was revised again to exclude information pertaining to a law that did not apply to the clinic, since it employs fewer than 100 people. This would reduce paper work for the clinic and city, City Administrator Kelly Bahn.
A long-sought-after stoplight is still out of reach for Howard Lake, said Assistant Traffic Engineer Tom Dumont of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
In the past, the city has tried many different ways to obtain a stoplight, but has failed to meet the minimum requirements set by the state for it.
Craig and Leta Moen of Howard Lake relocated to the Arctic Circle in Alaska.
The City of Howard Lake approved a business subsidy agreement with Ridgeview, with a term of seven years if the clinic decides to opt out of the contract. The contract is actually for 10 years, but the clinic may opt out of the contract without penalty after seven years.
Buffalo Avenue, which criss crosses Highway 12 at the Montrose stoplight, is the target for major utility upgrades in the spring.
The road construction will be done over a two-mile stretch along the road, starting one block south of the intersection, running north to past 55th Street.
The work should not touch Highway 12, since this work was done a few years ago, said Del Haag of the public works department.
All the railroad lots in Waverly are sold with the exception of one, which has interested buyers lining up for it, said Jim Peterson of Lakes Area Realty.
The lots were sold to a variety of businesses during a 10-month period, he said.
They were originally purchased by the city from representatives of Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad to be resold.
Following three months of gathering opinions, the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School Board unveiled three ideas for long-term facility plans.
"This is what we think we're hearing (from the public)," said Supt. George Ladd.
The options were formulated by KKE Architects.
The ideas was discussed at public hearings planned for February and March.
A roomful of residents gathered to tell the Howard Lake City Council their thoughts Dec. 12 about utility improvements planned for the south side of town and assessments that are part of it.
The council heard unhappiness about assessments, among other comments about the project, which are meant to cure the worst of an aging sewer infrastructure.
Problems with the system were augmented by flooding last summer, Mayor Gerry Smith said.
Currently, the system handles a regular influx of surface water, which is pumped into the treatment plant, causing it to work nearly twice as hard, Smith said.
City engineer Brad DeWolf presented information about the improvements.
Phosphorus levels in many local lakes shot up following historic flooding last June.
"The water influx came from everywhere," commented Brad Wozney of the Wright County Soil and Water Conservation Department.
The higher phosphorus was recorded in nearly every lake, he said. "It just skyrocketed."
For shallow lakes, the higher phosphorus is causing more problems than deeper ones, Wozney said.
However, phosphorus does not affect the health of fish, he added.
Paul Diedrich of the DNR agreed, saying that high phosphorus does not injure local fish, with the exception of the lake kill at Lake Ann.
Fish in Howard Lake are fine, according to the Wright County Soil and Conservation Office, and the Department of Natural Resources.
Some in the area have speculated the impact of historic flooding to local fish populations especially since the City of Howard Lake was forced to pump sewer overage for two days from its overwhelmed treatment plant into Howard Lake.
The wastewater pumped into the lake was very likely storm water overflow from the sudden rain, according to testing results.
Testing done on incoming water at the treatment plant during the June flooding showed water quality to be very close to the quality that is considered clean, treated water, commented Public Works Director Tom Goepfert.
Two masked men robbed the Circle C convenience store along Highway 12 in Montrose and then ditched all the money they had stolen just before midnight.
Shortly before closing, two masked men entered the store, according to the Wright County Sheriff's Office.
One of them proceeded to kick and drag the male clerk from behind the counter, and down a shopping aisle, while the second masked man removed the cash drawer from the till.
The suspects left through the back door of the business.
Deputies searched the area, where a k-9 Unit, which was borrowed from Hennepin County, picked up a track behind the business.
Five positions were cut effective Jan. 1 at Munson Lakes Nutrition the result of the declining number of dairy farms in the area, said General Manager Dave Pruess.
Three of the five are Howard Lake-based positions, with one Cokato position being cut, and another employee in Rice retiring and not being replaced, Pruess said.
Two of the positions are sales staff, including the Rice position, with the other three being manufacturing positions for feed production, he said.
The layoffs reflect declining numbers in dairy farmers, Pruess said. Munson's is downsizing its staff to be more efficient, he said.
Clancy, only mercury dog in the United States, visited all three Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted buildings in December finding plenty of the toxin mercury.
"We recovered a total of approximately 18.5 pounds of elemental mercury at the school," commented Carol Hubbard, Clancy's dog handler, who is also a mercury specialist for the MPCA.