FRIDAY - JULY 3,  2015


Back in June 2014, the University of Minnesota donated its share of the Pennsylvania State University’s forfeited 2013-14 football bowl revenue to 18 youth-oriented charitable organizations across the state.
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler provided an equal share of the $229,368 to each of the University’s five campuses.
Dr. Fred Wood, chancellor of the Crookston campus, supported Kaler’s decision to split the money among the five statewide campuses of the U of M system. “We are happy to direct this donation to the United Way of Crookston, with whom we have partnered for many years.”
The United Way of Crookston’s UMC Impact Grant Committee consisted of nine volunteers, who had the tough task of reviewing the applications and selecting the agencies that met the specific requirements for this grant.
“Thanks to these funds the United Way of Crookston was able to collaborate with Tri-Valley Opportunity Council- Transportation Department and Crookston Public Schools for the Eat United Food Program,” said Katya Zepeda, Executive Director of United Way of Crookston. “The United Way of Crookston not only provided funds, but has helped with volunteer recruitment and advertising.”
“Both Anna Ogaard (CPS) and Marion Henry (TVOC) have been delightful to work with. Communication is key for any program to be successful and both of them have been great at letting us know what it is they need from our office,” said Zepeda. “In fact, the whole community has been very supportive of this program. We have filled all the volunteer slots for June and are currently recruiting volunteers for July.”
The other agencies that received funding were the Crookston Public School’s United 4 Learning Program, Fisher Public School’s Summer School Program, Polk County Public Health’s Kids at Castle – Nature Based Play, and the Villa St. Vincent Students 4 Seniors Program.
We are truly grateful for the opportunity Chancellor Wood and the University of Minnesota has created through their donation.
To learn more about these programs or ways to volunteer, find them on Facebook, United Way of Crookston, or fill out their volunteer request form on their website at  

UMC Chancellor Fred Wood, and the Crookston United Way's Katya Zepeda, and Nell Deboer with some of the kids from the programs receiving the grant



RiverView Health is again sponsoring classes for expecting parents. The course includes four two-hour classes offered on four consecutive Tuesdays. The sessions will be held July 7, 14, 21 and 28. The first and second classes will focus on the stages of labor, breathing and relaxation techniques during labor and delivery, coaching instructions and a tour of hospital rooms. The later classes will focus on baby care, breastfeeding and CPR. All area physicians encourage their obstetrics patients to attend all four classes, with a support coach, to better understand what to expect during pregnancy and childbirth; and to help ease the fear of the unknown and make for a more enjoyable childbirth experience.
The course instructors for all sessions will be labor/delivery nurses at RiverView Health. The sessions each start at 7:00 PM and last until 9:00 PM and will be held in Meeting Room 4 of RiverView. Twenty-five dollars is the fee if you are not delivering at RiverView. For more information or to pre-register, call the obstetrics department at RiverView at 218-281-9300 or 1-800-743-6551, extension 300 or register on-line under the “events’’ category at




The Minnesota Department of Transportation urges motorists to use extra caution while driving through highway work zones during the July Fourth holiday.  “While we shut down many projects over the Fourth of July holiday, there are still many work zones around the state that will affect travel,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “We ask drivers to pay attention in work zones, plan ahead and perhaps consider alternate routes. Check to get advance information about road construction and detours.”
Highway projects that may affect weekend travel July 3-5 include:

Northern Minnesota   
· Highway 2 between Cass Lake and Ball Club – lane shifts, flagging activities, some delays
· Highway 10 in Detroit Lakes – single-lane traffic in both directions, expect delays
· Highway 2 (Bong Bridge) between Duluth and Superior – eastbound lanes closed, detour
· Highway 23 between Duluth and Duquette – single-lane, detour
· Highway 70 east of I-35 – detour
· Highway 61 south of Grand Marais – single-lane bypass

Twin Cities area
· Interstate 494 in Plymouth – multiple lane and ramp closures
· I-35E in St. Paul and Little Canada – lane and ramp closures
· Highway 5 between St. Paul and Highway 55 – lane and ramp closures
· Highway 5 between Waconia and Victoria – road closed, detour
· Highway 100 in St. Louis Park – ramp closures and lane shift
· Highway 169 in Jordan – single-lane traffic in both directions, County Road 9 access closed, detour

Central Minnesota 
· I-94 between Rogers and St. Michael – lane shift, narrow lanes and reduced speeds, expect delays
· Highway 169 along south shore of Lake Mille Lacs – bypass lanes, traffic delays
· Highway 10 between St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids – all lanes of traffic will be open for the weekend

West Central Minnesota 
· Highway 12 between Atwater and Litchfield – detoured
· Highway 12 between Kerkhoven and Pennock – detoured

Southern Minnesota    
· I-35 Owatonna to Albert Lea – single-lane traffic in both directions, slow traffic
· Highway 63 south of Spring Valley to Iowa border – closed, detour
· I-90 between St. Charles and Eyota – single-lane traffic in both directions, slow traffic
· I-90 near Alden, Jackson and between Adrian and Rushmore – two-way, two lane traffic with crossovers, ramp closures, reduced speeds
· Highway 59 in Marshall – short detour

For a complete list of projects, including construction dates and traffic impacts, visit Motorists may also sign up to receive email updates for major projects at MnDOT urges motorists to always be attentive, drive with caution, slow down in work zones and never enter a road blocked with barriers or cones.          






The County Line
By Warren Strandell
Polk County Commissioner, Dist. 2

Without them, it is not likely that it would have happened.

That’s how Polk County Environmental Services Director Jon Steiner describes the work of District 1 State Sen. Leroy Stumpf, D-Plummer, and District 1-B State Rep. Deb Kiel, R-Crookston in providing $8 million of funding in the state Bonding Bill for the first phase of a $25 million Regional Solid Waste Expansion Project.
As chair of the Senate Capital Investment Committee, Sen. Stumpf was the chief author of the bill in the Senate. Rep. Kiel authored the bill in the House. Both legislators worked extensively behind the scenes to make funding become a reality.

About the project: 
The project involves the expansion and improvement of the solid waste infrastructure in the region, much of it in Polk County. Of the total investment, the State of Minnesota is to provide $8 million for the first phase of work and another $7 million in 2016 for the second phase. Each County will be required to provide the required matching funds for the portion of the project in their county, referred to as the local share. Polk County will bond for the local share of its portion of the Phase I project, with that debt to be paid off by tipping fees collected from the six partner counties and from the sale of items that are separated out from the waste stream for recycling.

Partner project
The regional partners are Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Mahnomen, Norman and Polk counties. The project will include:
Expansion of the tip floor at the Resource Recovery Facility (incinerator) in Fosston;
New equipment to process recyclables and remove more recyclables from the waste stream at the Fosston facility;
-A new natural gas auxiliary boiler at the Fosston facility;
-A compost pad at the Polk County Landfill at Gentilly;
-Waste and compost processing equipment at the landfill;
-A new transfer station at Park Rapids;
-A new transfer station at Bemidji;
-Modifications to the transfer station at Crookston.

About the work of Sen. Stumpf:
Steiner says, “Leroy and his staff walked us through the process from the start. He always made sure that we were aware of what was going on and kept us in the loop in each step of the way. When we weren’t successful in the bonding bill a year ago and things were looking questionable this year, he asked us if we could the break the project into two phases. That, he said, that would make it a little easier for him to get some funding in the bill this year with the rest of the funding to come in 2016.
He was very knowledgeable about our project and was able to address all concerns that were brought up by other legislators. His support continued right on into the special session when he answered questions right on the floor. It was extremely helpful to have someone speaking for you who was involved in the crafting the bonding bill.”

About the involvement of Rep. Kiel:
Deb was the author of our bill in the House in 2014 and again in 2015. In the session this year she was able to arrange for us to have a hearing in front of the House Capital Investment Committee. That was key. Not many informational hearings on capital investment projects were allowed in the house, which didn’t put forward a bonding bill until the very end of the regular session. That was well after the deadline for new bills and too late for any testimony. Without that hearing, there would have been no opportunity for us to provide the testimony that would give our project a presence or any visibility to what we were attempting to accomplish.
During the informational hearing arranged by Deb, legislators were able to ask questions of us. Both Polk and Beltrami counties were able to testify on behalf of the group. I think our message was well received by the committee and certainly by the chair of the House Capital Investment Committee (Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska).
You really need the support of the committee chair because of the questions and concerns that pop up. Had Rep. Torkelson not allowed Deb to have our project heard in that informational meeting, I don’t know that he would have been able to answer the questions that came up when they were doing the bonding bill during the special session. Deb spearheaded that effort for us and saw it through.
All area legislators were supportive of the project, Steiner notes. To that end we would like to acknowledge and thank Sen. Stumpf; Rep. Kiel; Rep. Torkelson; Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley; Sen. Rod Skoe, D-Clearbrook; Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau; Rep. Steve Green, R-Fosston; Rep. Dave Hancock, R-Bemidji; Rep. Paul Marquart, D-Dilworth, Rep. John Persell, D-Bemidji; Sen. Tom Saxhaug, D-Grand Rapids.
The neat thing about this list of legislators is that support for the project was bipartisan. There was support by all area legislators for a regional project that makes a lot of sense for the handling of solid waste going forward for many years.

Note: While he is quick to credit others for the support and work that made the funding piece of the pie happen, there never would have been a project without Steiner’s insightful vision, planning and extensive work with state agencies over several years that put everything together for legislative action. Very well done, Jon!

Thoughts for the day:
Life is not about how fast you run or about how high you climb, but about how well you bounce.  Wisdom from the Seat of an Old Tractor
The shadows will always be behind you if you walk into the light.  Royce
 Thoughts expressed in this column are those of the author and are not necessarily a reflection of the opinions of the other members of the Polk County Board of Commissioners



THURSDAY - JULY 2,  2015


The Crookston School District will recommend that Cody Brekken (a Crookston High School and University of Minnesota Crookston graduate) be hired as the new Crookston Community Pool manager at the next school board meeting. “Cody did interview for us a year ago; and has a strong background in sport and recreation (at UMC),” said Crookston Schools Superintendent Chris Bates. “Cody will be working to gain the pool specific qualifications he needs to supplement his degree and will start work on Monday August 3rd.”
The pool will be closed until August 3. His starting salary will be $41,000 for school year 15-16 (prorated at 11/12ths) and $43,000 for school year 16-17.  Cody will be getting married to Anna Ogaard, who is the Crookston School District Food Services Director, and they have a young daughter Freya. “We are excited to welcome Cody to the District and see where his vision can take the pool,” added Bates.




Kids at Castle Park will have an event on Monday, July 13 for families to participate and learn about natures and bugs, according to Leah Winjum, Kids at Castle Park Coordinator. “We are excited to have another event at Castle Park for kids and families on the second Monday of each month,” said Winjum. “The theme is Buggin’ Out. We will have experts, nets, magnifying glasses to see bugs in the grass and under the rocks and in the forest. We hope to get up close and personal with the bugs with games and hunts, we encourage all families to come and enjoy the free event for everyone of all ages.”
Activities start at 6:00 on Monday evening and conclude by 7:30. Come prepared to have fun while learning about bugs.




Terri Heggie has been named as the new program coordinator for the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). She assists with the day to day operation of RSVP programs, such as Bone Builders, Groceries to Go, Handyman, Wellness Way, etc. As the new program coordinator she also is responsible for volunteer enrollments, trainings, and community presentations, as well as regular office administration.
Tammy Frohlich, who served as the program coordinator for one and half years, is pleased to welcome Hegge to her new role. "Terri's former experience with volunteers, community engagement, and seniors makes her a perfect fit for RSVP,” Frohlich says. “She has adapted perfectly and brings fresh ideas to enhance the programming."
The RSVP program covers the counties of Polk, Red Lake, Kittson, Pennington, Norman, Marshall and Roseau counties in Minnesota. RSVP is housed in Owen Hall 251 at UMC.
The program strives to address critical community needs through innovative volunteer opportunities for persons ages 55 and over that enrich the lives of the volunteers and the communities they live in.





The Crookston School district will have a new math curriculum this fall when school starts, after a committee of teachers had been studying the curriculum for the past year and made a selection for all grades. Washington School Principal Denice Oliver said the committee studied several curriculums and picked the one that would fit best. “We first determined to see if we needed a new curriculum and the teachers said yes, so we looked at the different curriculums and chose three to make presentations,” said Oliver. “We made a choice to have Pearson in the elementary and will have EveryDay Math which is being used in Grand Forks, Moorhead, Fargo and are having success. We are looking at an online supplement so we have a three year subscription that covers all the math standards in Minnesota so students have other programs they can work with.” The cost of the curriculum was $131,000.

Summer programs sponsored by Community Education have had good attendance. “We had our summer camp at the high school with different activities like crocheting, scrapbooking, theater, music, science, math, and physical activities,” said Oliver. “It was fun to see the kids learning things that will stay with them for life, we did a survey and parents are asking for more science and math so we will be adding more and extend it to older students in seventh and eighth grade who have asked for the classes, and it is the purpose of community education.”




With the Independence Day holiday coming this weekend, KROX and the Crookston Police Department wanted to remind citizens that some fireworks are legal, and some are illegal to light off in town.  The City of Crookston has adopted Minnesota State statutes 624.20 – 624.25 which regulate fireworks. Examples of fireworks that are legal to sell, possess, and use by the public within the City of Crookston and/or state of Minnesota:
·       Wood, flitter, and wire sparklers

·       Cylindrical and cone fountains (produce a shower of colored sparks and colors)
·       Ground spinners
·       Illuminated torch
·       Wheel (Devise attached to a post that revolves and produces a shower of colors)
·       Flash/Strobe
·       Novelty items such as:
o   Snakes
o   Glow worms
o   Smoke devices
o   Party and string poppers
o   Snappers and drop pops

Examples of fireworks that are illegal to sell, possess, and use by the public within the City of Crookston and/or state of Minnesota:

Any fireworks that are explosive

Any fireworks that are aerial

·       Firecrackers (any size)
·       Ladyfingers
·       Sky rockets
·       Bottle Rockets
·       Missile type rockets
·       Helicopters, aerial spinners, planes, UFO’s
·       Roman Candles
·    Mines or shells  (reports of stars or balls that are propelled into the air)
·       Chasers
·       Parachutes
·       Aerial shells
·       Theatrical pyrotechnics

 It is a misdemeanor to use, possess, store, or sell prohibited fireworks.  Illegal fireworks may be confiscated and destroyed.



This Fourth of July, many people will be traveling, firing up the backyard grill or enjoying fireworks, and the American Red Cross offers a series of steps everyone can follow to safely enjoy the holiday weekend.  “Everyone looks forward to having fun over the Fourth of July, and the Red Cross wants to make sure people know how to stay safe while enjoying the holiday,” said Regional Communications Officer, Brian Shawn.

Millions of people will be on the highways over the Fourth of July weekend. The Red Cross offers these five things everyone should do to stay safe while traveling:
Buckle seat belts, observe speed limits.
-Do not drink and drive.
-Pay full attention to the road – don’t use a cell phone to call or text.
-Use caution in work zones.
Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night. Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.

FIREWORKS SAFETY The best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Here are five safety steps for people setting fireworks off at home:
Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
-Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
-Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
-Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."
Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.

GRILLING SAFETY Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:
Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
- Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
- Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire. 
- Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

EMERGENCY APP People can download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive severe weather watches and warnings in their local area, at travel destinations and where loved ones live. “Family Safe” is a unique feature that allows app users to notify family and friends who are in an area affected by an emergency or disaster. First Aid steps for situations such as heart attacks, heat-related emergencies and water safety information are also included. The content is available in English and Spanish. The app can be downloaded from app stores by searching for “American Red Cross” or by going to





Corn syrup makers are challenging sugar refiners after the Corn Refiners Association, a trade group made up of four giant agribusinesses including Minnetonka-based Cargill, has hired lobbyists to gut a part of the U.S. sugar program that lets sugar makers pay back government loans with sugar instead of cash. Minnesota’s nation-leading sugar beet growers consider the program’s controversial but long-standing combination of price supports, loan guarantees and import quotas crucial to their survival.
KROX talked with United State Representative Collin Peterson, a 25-year House member and one-time chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and he wasn’t sure why one ag industry is attacking another.  “It is the first time I can remember that we have one ag group so blatantly attacking another and hiring lobbyists and so forth, it is not a good situation,” said Peterson. “Some people say it is because of the lawsuit over corn sugar to try to put pressure on the sugar industry over that, I am not sure if it is true or not.  Clearly it isn’t a helpful situation.”  The corn refiners make fructose and they wanted to label their product corn sugar, which it is not.  “The corn refiners make fructose and they wanted to call it corn sugar and it is not sugar, it’s fructose and sugar is sucrose and because fructose has gotten a bad claim that it is causing obesity and so forth that they came up with a campaign to try to name it corn sugar and the corn sugar took offense to that because it is not sugar. So there is a lawsuit going on and some people are saying that is why they are doing this, but I am not sure.”
Peterson said the corn refiners have teamed up with people that have tried to destroy other agricultural areas. “They have partnered up with some really bad people, the Club for Growth, and Heritage Action Foundation,” said Peterson. “These people for years have tried to get rid of farm programs, they want to get rid of crop insurance, they want to get rid of the sugar program, the dairy program, so these ag folks have partnered up with people that have been our enemies and for me to explain why they are doing it, I can’t do that.  I think it is misguided and we are going to fight them and I think we will prevail, but it will be another fight we have to make.”

The sugar program lets sugar refiners borrow money from the government and put their product up as collateral. In 2013, oversupplies of sugar drove down prices and led some refiners to forfeit sugar rather than pay cash for loans. The sugar program does not allow the government to sell forfeited sugar for food in the U.S. So the government was forced to sell at very low prices in the world market or to U.S. ethanol makers.
“All we can do is play it straight and tell the public that we don’t spend tax payer money and we have had loans we used, but paid them back and we have a sugar program that helps us compete with all the other countries in the world,” said Peterson.  “If we didn’t have to compete with other countries that have their government supporting the industry we wouldn’t need a sugar program in the United States.”

The National Corn Growers Association and Minnesota Corn Growers have nothing to do with this issue as it is the Corn Refiners that are causing the problem.  “As soon as we heard about this we contacted the National Corn Growers and their national lobbyists hadn’t heard anything about it and assured us that the National Corn Growers have nothing to do with it and are not behind it, not supporting it,” said Peterson. “Also, the Minnesota Corn Growers also assured us that they are not involved so the corn farmers are not involved in this.  It is the corn refiners that are owned by big companies like Cargill and others.  This is those big ag companies and not farmers.”





The Crookston Fire Department has a new 30 foot fire truck and they have finished outfitting the $259,000 truck. “It was quite a process to pick out a fire truck. It took about a year looking at trucks and plans to see what would fill the needs of Crookston,” said Crookston Firefighter Dan Crane. The new truck carries 1,000 gallons of water, seats three firefighters, carries 800 feet of large diameter hose, about 1,000 feet of other hose, 25 gallons of foam is built in for structure fires, and the ladders are stored inside the truck body away from the weather. “It has more storage capacity about 25 percent more than the previous truck so we added a lot of things to maximize the space and make it a economical truck,” added Crane who said the truck came from Wyoming, Minnesota. “Every truck that was built at the Rosenbauer plant has engineers dedicated to making the trucks work for each department, making everything fit into small spaces, corners and angles,” said Crane. “The truck it replaced is 15 years old and was moved back to our fourth truck.” The department saves money every year to fund a truck replacement.”
The Crookston Firefighters Association, which is made up of volunteers own a couple of fire trucks to complete the fleet for Crookston and the 13 surrounding townships that contract with the department.

             The new fire truck parked at the Crookston Fire Department




Work on the parking lots at the Crookston High School and Highland School were delayed because of weather this week, but should get work started on July 6. “Work will be done at Highland School to rework the holes and repave them after damage from age and the harm done last summer during the renovations,” according to Rick Niemela, Crookston School District Transportation and Maintenance Supervisor. “The funds will come from the maintenance fund which is dedicated for that work. The tennis courts at the high school has had wear and peeling with some low spots so we want to get it up to par so it will stay in shape.”
The work on the tennis courts will be done by Pro Track and Tennis for $32,600.
The work on the parking lot at Highland will be done by MnDak for $88,000.



Three outstanding alumni from the Northwest School of Agriculture were honored during the annual alumni reunion recently held at the University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC). Some 170 alumni and guests were on hand on Saturday, June 27, for the day’s activities and to reconnect with classmates and friends.
The Top Aggie award recognizes alumni who have displayed outstanding commitment and service to community, church, education, family, or in their occupational field. The 2015 Top Aggies included LeRoy Sondrol 1955, William “Buzz” Baldwin 1965, and Larry Wilkens 1965. They were honored during a luncheon held at noon on Saturday. UMC Chancellor Fred Wood brought greetings from the campus and Director of Development & Alumni Relations Corby Kemmer presented the recipients with their Top Aggie awards.
During the day, alumni took advantage of bus tours of campus, class meetings and photographs, the Top Aggie luncheon, and a dinner, social, and dance in the evening that included music from the era.

                       LeRoy Sondrol; William “Buzz” Baldwin; Larry Wilkens.

Top Aggie Biographies

LeRoy Sondrol
LeRoy began working for the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks, N.D., in 1956 as a grounds person, became head of the Plant Services department in 1973, and later, became assistant vice president for operations. In times of great stress, his leadership was invaluable. He gave direction to UND as it recovered from the historic 1997 flood and led efforts to bring the campus back to full operation within six months.
From 1959-1965, he served in the U.S. military with the 311th Medical Core and was honorably discharged with the rank of staff sergeant.
Sondrol was awarded the National Energy Conservation Award by the Secretary of Energy and was a member of the Association of Physical Plant Administration (APPA) board for two years and a member for 23 years.  He also served as president of the Central States Regional APPA for a year during his 24 years on their board. In 1998, he was awarded the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service.
He has given generously of his time to his community and church holding leadership positions in a number of organizations. Sondrol is currently serving for a second time as a member of the alumni board for the Northwest School of Agriculture and was on the board for the Northlands Rescue Mission for seven years. He was part of the National Science Award Granting Panel in Washington, D.C.
Memories of the Northwest School are special for Sondrol. He credits classmates and friends, along with the encouragement of faculty members, with helping him stay the course to graduation. He has particular fondness for his wrestling coach Mr. Kruta and a highlight for him was serving as one of the co-captains of the successful wrestling team and becoming the state champ in his weight class.

Buzz Baldwin
Agriculture has been a way of life for William “Buzz” Baldwin 1965 and raising wheat, edible beans, soybeans, and sugarbeets continues to be the focus of this farmer from St. Thomas, N.D.  
He has also given of his time and talents to his community as a member of the St. Thomas American Legion Post #41, a member of the St. Thomas Booster Club, and the rural fire department. Baldwin served three terms as president of the St. Thomas Public School Board.
In 1980, he was selected as North Dakota Outstanding Young Farmer. He helped organize the North Dakota Dry Edible Bean Council, served on the Drayton Factory District Sugarbeet Board for twelve years, and on the Advisory Board for the Bank of North Dakota. 
He was appointed by President George Bush as a Farm Service Agency director, a position he held for eight years.
A lifelong agriculture advocate, Baldwin has spent many hours on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., lobbying legislators for farm and sugar policies.  He was a member of the board of directors for American Crystal Sugar for four terms.
His time at the Northwest School of Agriculture gave him many friendships that continue today. Along with friendships, the expertise of the faculty members at the school influenced his life in everything from horticulture to politics.

Larry Wilkens
Service and education are hallmarks in the life of Larry Wilkens 1965. After graduation, he started at the University of Minnesota but his education was interrupted when he returned to the family farm to help. He resumed work on his education at the University of Minnesota and also become a police officer for the City of Minneapolis.
Wilkens joined the United States Army serving at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and in Vietnam. After the military, he returned to the Minneapolis Police Department and eventually to the University of Minnesota to earn his degree in agricultural business administration. Working in law enforcement, Wilkens was able to take advantage of numerous opportunities for training and education as well as attending Mankato State University to complete the course work on a master’s in business administration.
His military service continued as a member of the Army Reserve serving as a personnel specialist. He was involved in the activation of a number of military units for deployment to Operation Desert Storm. Wilkens feels fortunate to have been able to serve his country and fellow soldiers during duty and in retirement.
He also has been active in the community with Boy Scouts of America and through fund raising activities for St. Albert the Great Catholic Church and School as well as his membership on their board of education. He played a role in his town home association in Apple Valley, Minn., and later in Mesa, Ariz., as part of their community association.
Campus living gave Wilkens tools that he has used unknowingly throughout his life. These were valuable lessons in learning to be responsible but he recalls how everyone learned to depend on one another and that teachers and staff were there to help and guide.

Background of the Northwest School of Agriculture
The NWSA alumni reunion, first held in 1918, brings back alumni from the Northwest School of Agriculture, a residential high school located on what is now the University of Minnesota, Crookston campus. The NWSA opened its doors in 1906 and graduated its first class of 8 students in 1909. The first Top Aggie award was given to Herschel Lysaker, a member of the staff at the Northwest School, in 1970 and it has been awarded annually since that time.



If you’ve been to Castle Park recently, you may have noticed a new addition. From a distance, it looks like a birdhouse; however, as you get closer, this quaint home is not for birds - It’s for BOOKS! This new approach to a free-standing library was coordinated and funded by the Early Childhood Initiative (ECI). The ECI wants to extend a heartfelt thank you to Loren (Punky) Johnson who donated his time and talents in the creation of our first Little Library.  The launching of this “take a book/leave a book” library was at the Celebrate the Young Child event at Castle Park in May. Attendees received a book AND were given a big task to vote on the name, based on four pre-determined possibilities. The winning name was “Little House of Books.”
The ECI committee wants to encourage the entire community to take a journey down to Castle Park to check out the Little House of Books Library. Visitors are welcome to TAKE any book/s home, with no obligation to return! On the other hand, in order to sustain our library and our efforts, we hope some visitors also stop by to LEAVE a gently-used book or two as well! Please keep in mind, our Little House of Books has a limited amount of space for a large amount of books. You are encouraged to call Leah Winjum, who represents Polk County Public Health on the ECI committee, at 218-281-3385 if you have books to donate that do not fit in the provided space.
The ECI is hopeful that this initiative will result in more books to enter more homes in our community. Other positive outcomes of the Little House of Books Library will be opportunities for children to read independently or with their caregivers in the unique setting of Castle Park, resulting in MORE children reaping the benefits of reading or being read to! The Little House of Books Library is one more incentive to check out Crookston’s Castle Park Natural Play Space – a collaborative initiative lead by the City of Crookston, Polk County Public Health/SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Program), University of Minnesota Crookston, and of course the citizens of Crookston.
Nature and Reading – What could be better?
If you have any questions regarding the Little House of Books Library or have books you would like to donate, please contact Leah Winjum at or by phone at 218-281-3385.





The Crookston Lions met on Monday and inducted seven new members to the group. Paul Dubuque and Pastor Jo Gast were sponsored by Allen Chesley, Tim Denney was sponsored by Shauna Reitmeier, Jessen Alexander was sponsored by Wayne Swanson, Rani Bhattacharyya was sponsored by Tom Jorgens. Amanda Lien was sponsored by Shannon Stassen and Bruce Arvidson was sponsored by Betty Arvidson.
The Lions had installation of new officers also. Father Roger Grundhaus is the new president taking the gavel from Tom Jorgens. Vice Presidents are Ken Gray, Shauna Reitmeier and Angel Weasner. Secretary is Jeannine Windels and Betty Arvidson is the treasurer. Sandy Desrosier is chairman of the membership committee. Directors are Curt Hamre, Tim Froeber, John Miekle and Steve Krueger. Lion Tamers are Duane Anderson and Dale Knotek, Tail Twister is Brent Thorson and Denny Jacobs is the publicity chair while Eric Morgan is the webmaster.

Paul Dubuque, Tim Denney, Pr. Jo Gast, Jessen Alexander, Rani Bhattacharyya and Amanda Lien.  Not pictured-Bruce Arvidson. 

Standing- Tim Denney, Membership; John Mielke, Director; Tim Froeber, Director; Dale Knotek, Asst Lion Tamer; Curtis Hamre, Director; Steve Krueger, Director; Ken Gray, 1st VP; Denny Jacobs, Publicity Chair. 
Seated - Angel Weasner, 3rd VP; Duane Anderson, Lion Tamer; PDG Jeannine Windels, Installing Officer and Secretary; Fr. Roger Grundhaus, President; Tom Jorgens, Immediate Past President; Betty Arvidson, Treasurer; Shauna Reitmeier, 2nd VP.



TUESDAY - JUNE 30,  2015


The Minnesota Court of Appeals issued a ruling on Monday, June 29 that Crookston Police Officer Don Rasicot could be held liable for leaving his patrol car unlocked and running when a suspect Ricardo Mello stole the car and killed Eddie Briggs in a crash on September 3, 2011.
A suit was in Polk County District Court in 2013 for damages suing Officer Rasicot and the city of Crookston For negligence, wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional stress by the plaintiff Patricia Briggs who was in the vehicle driven by her husband when Mello crashed into them killing her husband, Eddie Briggs. A Crookston city ordinance says it is illegal to leave a motor vehicle unattended with the engine running unless the doors are locked.

Officers had been called to a Crooks Club and Bottle Shop in downtown Crookston where Mello had been accused of damaging a vehicle and they used a stun gun on him, but that did not work. They tried spraying mace which blinded them temporarily and Mello fled getting into Rasicot’s patrol car, which was running and unlocked. The officers tried to get the keys, but Mello put the car in gear and took off and collided with the Briggs vehicle by the Crookston Fire Hall. Mello plead guilty to second degree murder and criminal vehicular homicide in Polk County District Court and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Patricia Briggs filed a civil lawsuit against Rasicot and the City of Crookston while the defendants made a motion for summary judgment asking the district court to make a judgment in their favor without going to trial. They argued that Rasicot was protected by an immunity clause for public officials. The opinion was that Rasicot could not be held liable for his actions as long as they were not done willfully or maliciously. The district court dismissed the defendant’s arguments and ruled that Rasicot and the city could be held liable. The defendants appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals and they ruled that Rasicot did have a ministerial duty to lock his patrol car when leaving it unattended.
Judges Natalie Hudson, Michael Kirk and John Smith agreed that they expect the police officer to know the laws that he is to enforce. They also found that Rasicot was not responding to an emergency. The defendant’s lawyers could choose to further appeal the decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court. If they do not appeal the decision, the case could move on to a trial to determine whether Rasicot’s actions were negligent and whether they caused Eddie Brigg’s death.




The Crookston School Board approved a lease agreement with the city of Crookston for ice time at the Crookston Sports Center for the school years 2015-2016 and 2017-2018. The cost for the first year is $108,716.00 and $110,376.00 for the second year. “We have an arrangement with the city which goes way back to the old arena down by the river,” said Superintendent Chris Bates. “We pay for ice time and the board agreed to pay a two percent increase for the first and second year at the Crookston Sports Center.”

The board approved the employment of Kaia Bubna as a kindergarten teacher and Ray Shafer as the groundskeeper and maintenance. Ray Shafer, a custodian, was transferred to the position held by the retiring Frank Lindgren.

The board accepted resignation letters from Andrew Barnum as assistant football coach and assistant girls track coach, Spencer Frie as the orchestra instructor, Marley Melbye as the pool manager and Ashley Stopa as the chemistry teacher and ALC Instructor. The retirement letter from Frank Lindgren was accepted as the district groundskeeper and maintenance.
The district still has some positions to fill. “We still have the position for pool manager and will interview a person on Wednesday,” said Bates. “We still have orchestra to fill with three applicants, and we still need applicants for chemistry.”

A new math curriculum was approved at a cost of $131,000.




The Crookston School Board approved the budget for 2015-2016 at their meeting on Monday, but not without some concerns from board members and staff about the unknown directives from the state. Crookston School District Finance Director Laura Lyczewski discussed the budget, which is in the $12 million range. “In this budget we have money for technology, for buses and vans as we have to think ahead for larger purchases,” said Lyczewski. “We have the state saying they will give us a two percent increase for the year, but we have not received the spread sheets that we can download so we have to do estimates as the state requires school boards to approve budgets by June 30, so we do what we can.”

Board Member Dave Davidson opposed the budget due to the change in the literacy policy. “I was concerned as I received information today that the literacy program might be harmed by a decision we made on a staffing position in the budget,” said Davidson. “I did not speak out against it last week at the budget meeting as I did not know. My vote was only to be on record of my concern as I knew the budget would pass. As long as I am on the board, teaching kids to learn is my number one priority.”

Board member Tim Dufault expressed concerns for deficit spending. “There are a lot of reasons as we have to keep up with buses due to safety for the kids, curriculum needs to be bought, so we need things, more than our budget so we may have to dip it to reserves,” said Dufault. “Hopefully it is a one year thing so we can get better. The state is still writing the rules so we have to wait for more details.”

Highland Teacher Sara Geist is concerned about students being short changed with lack of literacy policy staff. “One of the budget adjustments made was cutting the literacy specialist who was moved to teaching second grade which means that those children that were serviced with reading interventions will not receive the interventions this year,” said Geist. “I understand the budget and the work of the board so I am hopeful that they can work it out to have what is best for kids.”

The board approved the Reading Well by Third Grade literacy plan. Membership in the Minnesota Rural Education Association was approved and bids for milk and bread were called for from vendors. Hot lunch prices were increased five cents throughout the district due to USDA regulations.

Two United Way grants of $6,000 each were accepted for the summer food service program and the United For Learning Program. A committee of board members reviewed the district policies and made changes in 26 items recommended by the School Board association.




MONDAY - JUNE 29,  2015


The Crookston Police Department was called to a stabbing at 110 Sargent Street in Crookston on Friday afternoon.  Upon arrival officers found 68 year old Gary Andersen in the main office of the apartment building conscious and alert with a knife impaled in his chest.  With the help of witnesses a suspect was immediately identified and apprehended on the property.  Brian Christopher Mitre, 52 of Crookston, was taken into custody without incident and transported to the Northwest Regional Correction Center.  Anderson was transported to RiverView Health in Crookston and later airlifted to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, where he is in stable condition.
At this time a motive for the assault is unclear.  Detectives continue to work this active investigation, no further details are available.  There is no other public safety concern regarding this investigation.




On Friday, June 26 at approximately 10:00 a.m. the Polk County Sheriff's Office along with the Polk County EMS and Beltrami Fire Department, responded to a one-vehicle rollover a half mile west of Polk County Road 14 on Polk County Road 1.  The vehicle, which was an Aggregate Industries readymix truck, was east bound on Polk County Road 1, lost control and landed on its side in the middle of the road.  The driver and sole occupant, Shane Bruggeman, 43 of Moorhead, was taken by Air-Med to Sanford Hospital in Fargo. 
The case is still under investigation by the Polk County Sheriff's Office and no further information will be released at this time.  Other agencies assisting include the Fertile-Fire Department and the Minnesota State Patrol.  The Crookston Fire Department was called, but cancelled en route.



Smoke from fires in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan are filtering the sunshine in Crookston, the Red River Falls and most of far northwestern Minnesota today. The jet stream is bringing the haze and that is the cause for the ominous feeling we have around the area today.  Temperatures will be held down into the upper 70s to near 80 for most areas and there will also be a few showers and storms mainly east of the Red River Valley in Minnesota this afternoon.  (The picture above is from the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.)




The Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA) urges safety above all else when handling any type of fireworks this 4th of July and summer season.  According to Dr. Steve Gander, Opticare, East Grand Forks and Crookston, Minnesota, and Past President of the,  “Effects of eye injuries as a result of improperly handling fireworks can last a lifetime or even cause blindness. Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees and are often handled by kids, and lead to a number of eye-related injuries.”
In fact, in 2013, children under the age of 5 experienced a higher estimated per capita injury rate than any other age group.
According to a study released in 2014 by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 11,400 fireworks-related injuries in 2013 and eight deaths compared to 8,700 injuries in 2012. Burns were the most common injury to all parts of the body, except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eyes occurred more frequently. The Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division states that hospitals reported 70 fireworks injuries between June 22 through July 15, 2014.
The State of Minnesota permits some consumer fireworks, including sparklers, novelty items such as snakes and party poppers but not explosive items sold in Wisconsin such as firecrackers and aerial fireworks.

The Minnesota Optometric Association offers these tips to avoid eye and other injuries from fireworks:
· Discuss fireworks safety with children and teens and never allow children unsupervised near fireworks.
· Wear protective eyewear when lighting or handling fireworks of any kind. Store fireworks, matches and lighters in secure places where children won’t find them.
· Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
· Don’t carry fireworks in a pocket or light them in a metal or glass container.
· If you are an onlooker at a fireworks display, keep a safe distance.
· Never place your body directly over a fireworks device while lighting it.
· Keep a bucket of water handy and a hose and douse fireworks when spent.
· Don’t try to relight a device that hasn’t fully ignited.
· Make sure that the fireworks are legal in the state where you are in during the holidays. For example, if you buy explosive fireworks in Wisconsin, you can’t use them in Minnesota.



FRIDAY -  JUNE 26, 2015


The Crookston School Board held a working session on Thursday to discuss the budget for the 2015-2016 school year. The budget, which will be voted on by the board at its regular meeting on Monday, is in the $12 million area and could have a deficit of $240,000. “In a perfect world we would like to balance the budget but we are hoping some things will bounce back like enrollment where the kids make a huge difference. We are being responsible and getting pretty close and keeping the fund balance at 10 to 12 percent so we have a cushion against emergencies," said Superintendent Chris Bates. "It is still a preliminary budget as some state items are still up in the air. We expect two percent from the state, while early childhood and deferred maintenance are just too up in the air and those monies can only be spent on those categories. We hope we get a little extra which will help.”
A local levy that has ended had brought in $250,000 a year. “This was passed before I came and the promise was that it would disappear," said Bates. "It was for operating and this is about the amount we are short, so the budget is balanced on that amount."

A swimming pool manager is still needed for the Crookston Community Pool. “My job is always about variety and we are still taking applicants for pool manager. We have two applicants and hope to get someone hired by September,“ said Bates. “I have talked to Shannon (Stassen) at City Hall about the possibility of having one of their employees possibly running the pool until then, so we will see what happens.” Staff is still needed at the high school, but they have a couple applicants for the Orchestra position and no current applicants for the chemistry job.

According to Rick Niemela the Crookston Schools Buildings and Grounds Superintendent work should start on the parking lots at the high school on Monday with the west side being done first and the project should be done by the first of August. The school district also received a bid for redoing the damage that was done to the Highland School parking lot during the renovations last summer and will be presented for approval at the board meeting on Monday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is requiring the school district to increase full pay student lunches so the high school and elementary schools lunch will increase by five cents. The ala carte price will raise by approximately five percent. Free and reduced price meals will remain free for those who qualify and apply. Kindergarten breakfast will remain free and the elementary breakfast will be $1.30 and the high school breakfast will remain $1.55 according to the Crookston Schools Food Service Director Anna Ogaard.


The Crookston School Board meets on Monday, June 29 at 5:00 p.m. at the Crookston High School in the Choir/Orchestra room.
The main agenda includes approving the 2015-16 school year budget, approval of a new math curriculum, a literacy plan for reading well by third grade.
The school board will call for bids for milk and bread, and approve several changes in district policies.
Quotes for repairs on the high school tennis courts and Highland School parking lot repair will be discussed.
Approval of the hot lunch price increases will be on the agenda as well as a new lease payment agreement with the city of Crookston for the Crookston Sports Center for the years 2015-2016 and 2017-2018. Two United Way grants of $6,000 each for the summer food service program and the United Four Learning Program from United Way will be accepted.
Personnel items on the agenda include resignations from Andrew Barnum as assistant football coach and assistant girls track coach, Spencer Frie as the orchestra Instructor, Marley Melbye as the pool manager and Ashley Stopa a Chemistry and ALC instructor. The board will be asked to approve a retirement letter from Frank Lindgren as groundskeeper and maintenance effective at the end of June.
A resolution relating to the termination and nonrenewal of the teaching contract of Maria Argueta, a probationary teacher will be considered. Employment agreements for approval of Kaia Bubna as a kindergarten teacher at Washington School and Ray Shafer as the district groundskeeper and maintenance to replace Lindgren.
The meeting is open to the public.



Five Crookston High School students that will be seniors next year were selected to attend Minnesota Boys State. Patrick Deng, was one of those five and said his experience was eye opening. “It was a fun experience to see how the government works and how the American Legion supports the veterans. I did not know what to expect," said Deng. "I got a job on city council and we worked on little stuff like a shower schedule and working out in the morning. I made a lot of friends in my city with some days being hectic but it was well worth my time.” Patrick is the son of Wei Hong and Maggie. Other seniors attending boys state were Guthrie Dingmann, Charles Brantner, Eric Sullivan and Bobby Tiedemann.

Hayley Roed attended Minnesota Girls State at St. Thomas College and was pleased with the experience. “I thought it was interesting to see how the county, city and state governments worked. We did simulations so we could experience everything," said Roed. "I was a city councilwoman and got to pick the type of city we wanted and made rules for the city with the five council women and brought our ideas together. It gives you a feel for politics and we had lots of speakers, a panel of five different law officials, a judge, state trooper, police commander, FBI agent and attorney general so we could ask questions and it will help in the classroom."  Hayley is the daughter of Eric and Nicole Roed.  Alyssa Fee also attended girls state.

The boys and girls state program is sponsored by area American Legion Clubs.

             Patrick Deng                         Hayley Roed

THURSDAY - JUNE 25,  2015


Minnesota Girls and Boys state was held recently with seven students that will be seniors at Crookston High School attending the events. KROX talked with the participants and will have there comments over the next week. Alyssa Fee was at Girls State and had a great experience.  “We were split up into different cities and ran for different offices, it was a good experience because we got to see how much effort goes into campaigning and got to see what Americanism really is," said Fee.  "I ran for county board and won the position and then we held meetings to vote on candidates and discussed issues. One speaker was Betty who was 98 years old and had been the first pilot in the Air Force. She was very energetic and exciting to talk about her life and career, I learned a lot I did not know before.  Alyssa is the daughter of Tiffany and Chris Fee. She was sponsored by the Crookston American Legion.


Five young men from Crookston attended Boys State sponsored by the American Legion posts in Crookston, Fisher, Red Lake Falls and Detroit Lakes. The event was held on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall. Guthrie Dingmann attended and enjoyed the experience.  "It is definitely a good learning experience, it is packed with learning from the time you get their until you leave. You learn about government, parliamentary procedure, become a better speaker in front of people, lots to learn away from the classroom but helps you in life," said Dingmann.  "I ran for the House of Representative and represented the city on the state level and worked on hot button issues like legalizing marijuana and gay marriage so it was heated conversations. We split up and made many new friends among the 350 that were there."  Guthrie is the son of Melissa and Brian Dingmann.



The Young Adult Alcohol Survey (YAAS) was conducted by the Polk County Wellness Coalition (PCWC) and Wilder Research (St. Paul, MN) from January- March of 2015.  As an incentive to complete the Young Adult Alcohol Survey, the 183 respondents could select 1 of 3 Polk County non-profit organizations to receive a monetary donation on their behalf.

The PCWC is pleased to announce that donations from the YAAS were given to The Polk County Humane Society, The East Grand Forks Food Shelf and the United Way of Crookston.

Polk County:
The Young Adult Alcohol Survey is designed to collect information about alcohol-related behaviors, attitudes and perceptions of young adults ages 18-25. The YAAS is designed to collect information about alcohol-related behaviors, attitudes and perceptions of young adults ages 18-25. The PCWC will use this data to identify strategies and make decisions regarding young adult alcohol prevention in Polk County. Funding for this project was provided by the MN Department of Human Services – Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant.

If you have any questions regarding the YAAS or any other prevention efforts in Polk County, please contact Sue Thompson at or Leah Winjum at or by phone at 218-281-3385.

Kyra Midderigh from Polk County Humane Society, Renee Stephens from Polk County Humane Society and Sue Thompson, representing Polk County Wellness Coalition and Polk County Public Health




The Polk County Fair in Fertile will be holding the sixth annual Polk County Fair BBQ Rib Cook-off on Saturday, July 11.  First prize will be $500, second place is $300, third place is $150 and fourth place is $50.  There will also be an anything but ribs side contest with the winner getting $100.  Registration for the contest begins at 8:00 a.m. on July 11 and rib turn in will be at 5:00 p.m., judging will be from 5:00 to 6:00 with the award ceremony at 6:00 p.m. on the Hanson Free Stage. 
The rib cook-off is sponsored by Woodmaster, Erickson Smokehouse, Christian Motors, Ryan Strem ReMax Realty, Premier Signs and B & E Meats.  If you have any questions or want more information call Ty Fuglseth at 218-289-5745 or email



The Crookston High School has announced all the students on the second semester honor roll.  To see a list of the names click here.



A moose was spotted north of Crookston on Wednesday evening.  Craig Schmitz snapped the picture of the moose crossing the road.




The Crookston Chamber of Commerce would like to thank these additional people who contributed to the Adopt a Basket Program this year: Stephanie and Cory Harbott, Tim and Brenda Froeber, and Tim and Marlene Dufault, Bruce G. Reichert in memory of Garfield G and Juanne C. Reichert, Phyllis Hagen in memory of Brooke Fisher, Shirley Iverson in memory of Dick and Dorothy Seddon, Florence Heykes in memory of her Sheffloe Family parents and siblings. 






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