The Caledonia Argus http://hometownargus.com The Caledonia Argus covers community news, sports, current events and provides advertising and information for the cities of Caledonia, Eitzen, and Brownsville; Independent School District 299 and Houston County, Minnesota. Wed, 29 Oct 2014 16:17:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Halloween still a go http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/halloween-still-a-go/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/halloween-still-a-go/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 16:17:38 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35529 At the regular city council meeting on Monday night, the Caledonia city council members discussed having gotten several calls regarding Halloween and its possible post-ponement or reschedule. Several council members had received requests from high school football fans to reschedule Halloween, as it conflicted with the regional championship football game. After some discussion, which included the fact that the Caledonia volleyball team was also participating in post season action on Thursday, October 30, and if they win again on Saturday, November 1, the council determined no change was possible. The council took no action, as Halloween is not a city-sponsored event.

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CUP A.B.L.E. http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/cup-a-b-l-e/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/cup-a-b-l-e/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:24:44 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35527 CITY OF CALEDONIA
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT
The City Council, acting as the Board of Appeals, of the City Of Caledonia, will hold a public hearing at 6:15 p.m. Monday, November 10, 2014, in the Council Room, City Hall, 231 East Main Street, to consider a Conditional Use Permit submitted by A.B.L.E., Inc., proposing to construct a new commercial building to be used for office space, teaching facilities and recreational activities. The proposed building will be located on Loeffler Avenue.
The legal descriptions for these parcels are as follows:
That part of the Northwest Quarter of the Southwest Quarter of Section 13, Township 102 North of Range 6 West of the Fifth Principal Meridian, described as follows: Commencing at the Southwest corner of said Northwest Quarter of the Southwest Quarter; running thence North 89 degrees 17 minutes 36 seconds East a distance of 473.21 feet to the Southwest corner of the Plat of West Main First Subdivision; thence along the Westerly line of said Plat on the following courses: North 00 degrees 01 minutes 20 seconds West 335.25 feet; North 77 degrees 53 minutes 41 seconds East 197.65 feet; North 36 degrees 58 minutes 42 seconds East, 410.92 feet; North 20 degrees 53 minutes 46 seconds East, 76.88 feet; North 04 degrees 48 minutes 13 seconds East, 210.52 feet; North 44 degrees 18 minutes 27 seconds East, 60.86 feet; North 89 degrees 17 minutes 28 seconds East, 9.72 feet, North 00 degrees 01 minutes 18 seconds West, 295.18 feet to a point on the North line of said Northwest Quarter of the Southwest Quarter, which point is the Northwest corner of Lot 1 of Block 5 of said Plat; thence West along said North line to the Northwest corner of said Northwest Quarter of the Southwest Quarter; thence South along the West line of said Northwest Quarter of the Southwest Quarter to the point of beginning, containing 23.59 acres.
This proposal requires consideration of the following variance:
1. A variance to allow a new facility on less than 5 acres in an Agricultural District (A-1).
Interested persons may testify in person at the Public Hearing, by written notice, by agent, or by attorney, and may present evidence in favor of, or in opposition to, the above listed items. Written comments should be addressed to the City Of Caledonia, Clerks Office, 231 East Main Street, P.O. Box 232, Caledonia, MN 55921.
For the Board of Appeals
Michael F. Gerardy
Zoning Administrator
City Of Caledonia, MN
Published in the
The Caledonia Argus
October 29, 2014
302662

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PH Amend Ordinance No. http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/ph-amend-ordinance-no/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/ph-amend-ordinance-no/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:24:34 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35525 CITY OF CALEDONIA
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING: Amendment of Ordinance 153
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the City Council of the City of Caledonia, Minnesota, will hold a public hearing on Monday, November 10, 2014 at approximately 6:15 p.m., at the Caledonia City Hall in the City of Caledonia, Minnesota, Below is the section of the proposed change(s).
ORDINANCE NO. 153.060
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING THE CODE OF ORDINANCES OF THE CITY OF CALEDONIA, MINNESOTA BY AMENDING PROVISIONS PERTAINING TO LAND USAGE, SPECIFICALLY AGRICULTURAL DISTRICTS
BE IT ORDAINED by the City Council of the City of Caledonia, Minnesota, that Chapter 153.060 AG, Agricultural District, is hereby amended by making the following modifications to section 153.063 Conditional Uses:
Zoning 153.063 CONDITIONAL USES.
The following uses are conditional in the AG district:
(A) Home occupations;
(B) Cemeteries;
(C) Agricultural products and live stock processing plants;
(D) Hobby farms and stables;
(E) Mobile home parks;
(F) Resort campgrounds;
(G) Nursery and garden supplies;
(H) Mining, sand and gravel operations;
(I) Nursing homes, hospitals and sanitariums; and
(J) Non-Profit Tax Exempt residential care offices and recreational training facilities
(Ord. 164, passed 9 14 1982)
Copies of the Ordinance as proposed to be adopted will be on file and available for public inspection at the office of the City Administrator at Caledonia City Hall.
All interested persons may appear at the hearings and present their view orally or in writing.
Dated: October 21, 2014
BY ORDER OF THE CITY COUNCIL
/s/ Ted Schoonover
City Administrator
Published in the
The Caledonia Argus
October 29, 2014
300479

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September 15 & 29 http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/september-15-29/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/september-15-29/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:24:12 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35523 INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 299
Abbreviated Board Meeting Minutes
September 15, 2014
The Board of Education of Independent School District No. 299, Caledonia, Minnesota, met in a regular school board meeting in the Middle/High School Media Center. The meeting was called to order by Chair Michelle Werner at 6:00 p.m. The Pledge of Allegiance was said. The school board members present were Jared Barnes, Amanda King, Melissa Marschall, Kelley McGraw, Jean Meyer, Michelle Werner, and Spencer Yohe. Also present were Superintendent Ben Barton, Principals Paul DeMorett and Gina Meinertz, Nancy Runningen, Barb Meyer, Karen Schiltz, Dan McGonigle, Janelle Field Rohrer, Jean Klinski, Deb Cody and Carol Nelson.
Moved by Jean Meyer, seconded by Melissa Marschall to approve the agenda as amended to include going into closed session for negotiation strategy. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jared Barnes, seconded by Melissa Marschall to approve the minutes of the August 18, 2014, regular school board meeting. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Spencer Yohe, seconded by Melissa Marschall to approve the electronic transfers and bills due and payable amounting to $234,349.78 including check numbers 57502 through 57547. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jean Meyer, seconded by Spencer Yohe to accept the resignation of Mitch Mullins as the junior high girls basketball coach effective immediately with thanks for his ten years of service to the school district in this position. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jared Barnes, seconded by Jean Meyer to accept the maternity leave request from Angela TenKley beginning on October 31, 2014, through January 22, 2015, given there are no complications. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jean Meyer, seconded by Melissa Marschall to ratify the contract for Heidi Myhre as the part-time elementary music teacher beginning the 2014-2015 school year at BA/0 years at $17,744.50 ($35,489 @ 0.50 FTE). Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Spencer Yohe, seconded by Jared Barnes to ratify the contract of Stacie Meyer as a part-time elementary Title I teacher at BA/0 years at 0.50 FTE at $17,744.50 ($35,489 @ 0.50 FTE) for the 2014-2015 school year. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Amanda King, seconded by Jean Meyer to ratify the contract for Stacey Meyer as the yearbook advisor beginning the 2014-2015 school year at VI/0 years at $3,001.52. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jared Barnes, seconded by Melissa Marschall to ratify the contract for Keri Eglinton as the Surround Care Assistant beginning the 2014-2015 school year at III/P years at $10.72 per hour. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jean Meyer, seconded by Jared Barnes to ratify the hiring of Cassidy Bauer as a casual student assistant in the SAC Program beginning the 2014-2015 school year at $7.25 per hour. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jared Barnes, seconded by Amanda King to ratify the hiring of Emily Hoscheit as a casual student assistant in the SAC Program beginning the 2014-2015 school year at $7.25 per hour. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jean Meyer, seconded by Melissa Marschall to ratify the contract of Josh Meier as a part-time special ed para at III/P years at $10.72 per hour for the 2014-2015 school year. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Spencer Yohe, seconded by Melissa Marschall to ratify the part-time, long-term teacher substitute contract for Jon Lilliquist beginning approximately on October 31, 2014, through January 22, 2015, at a daily rate of pay of $132.39 ($35,489/184 days @ 0.6864 FTE). Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jared Barnes, seconded by Melissa Marschall to ratify the contract for Bethany (Meiners) Zellmer as the junior class advisor beginning the 2014-2015 school year at V/2 years at $2,092.75. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Spencer Yohe, seconded by Kelley McGraw to ratify the part-time teaching contract for Ms. Jessie Emerson as a 0.6006 FTE at BA+15/5 at $25,769.94 ($42,907 at 0.6006 FTE) beginning the 2014-2015 school year. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jean Meyer, seconded by Amanda King to adopt the Fund Balances Policy #714 as presented. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Melissa Marschall, seconded by Jared Barnes to adopt the Vending Machines Policy #720 as presented. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Kelley McGraw, seconded by Jean Meyer to adopt the Equal Access to School Facilities Policy #801 as presented. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jean Meyer, seconded by Kelley McGraw to adopt the Disposition of Obsolete Equipment and Material Policy #802 as presented. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jared Barnes, seconded by Amanda King to adopt the Waste Reduction and Recycling Policy #805 as presented. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Amanda King, seconded by Melissa Marschall to hold a special school board meeting on Monday, September 29, 2014, at 6:00 p.m. in the Middle/High School Media Center to certify the proposed levy. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Spencer Yohe, seconded by Jean Meyer to close the meeting at 6:55 p.m. to discuss negotiations strategy. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jean Meyer, seconded by Spencer Yohe to convene the regular school board meeting at 7:35 p.m. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Spencer Yohe, seconded by Jean Meyer to adjourn the meeting at 7:35 p.m. Motion carried by a unanimous vote.
These minutes are only a summary and complete minutes are available at the school district office or on the school district website at www.cps.k12.mn.us
Abbreviated Board Meeting Minutes
September 29, 2014
The Board of Education of Independent School District No. 299, Caledonia, Minnesota, met in a special school board meeting in the Middle/High School Media Center. The meeting was called to order by Chair Michelle Werner at 6:00 p.m. The Pledge of Allegiance was said. The school board members present were Amanda King, Melissa Marschall, Kelley McGraw, Jean Meyer, Michelle Werner, and Spencer Yohe. Also present were Barb Meyer and Karen Schiltz. Absent were Director Jared Barnes, Superintendent Ben Barton, Nancy Runningen, and Principals Paul DeMorett and Gina Meinertz.
Moved by Jean Meyer, seconded by Amanda King to approve the agenda as presented. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Spencer Yohe, seconded by Melissa Marschall to approve the electronic transfers and bills due and payable amounting to $367,898.87 including check numbers 57548 through 57657 along with electronic transfers from MSDLAF to Merchants Bank in the amount of $500,000.00. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jean Meyer, seconded by Kelley McGraw to certify the maximum proposed Levy Limitation Certification for taxes payable in 2015. Motion carried by a unanimous vote. Moved by Jean Meyer, seconded by Amanda King to adjourn the meeting at 6:05 p.m. Motion carried by a unanimous vote.
These minutes are only a summary and complete minutes are available at the school district office or on the school district website at www.cps.k12.mn.us
Published in the
The Caledonia Argus
October 29, 2014
300277

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Board http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/board-2/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/board-2/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:24:09 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35521 MAYVILLE TOWNSHIP
NOTICE OF MEETING
Mayville Township Board will be meeting at Elsies at 1pm on the 3rd Tuesday of the month until further notice.
Published in the
The Caledonia Argus
October 29, November 5, 2014
302097

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General Election http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/general-election/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/general-election/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:24:07 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35519 BROWNSVILLE TOWNSHIP
NOTICE OF GENERAL ELECTION
To the voters of Township of Brownsville:
Notice is hereby given that a General Election will be held at the Brownsville Community Center, 104 North 6th Street, Brownsville, MN, Tuesday, November 4th, 2014.
Polls will be open from 10:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M.
By: /s/ Doris Mitchell, Clerk
Brownsville Township
Published in the
The Caledonia Argus
October 29, 2014
300295

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City http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/city/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/city/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:24:02 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35517 CITY OF CALEDONIA
ELECTION BALLOT
CITY OFFICES
MAYOR
CITY OF CALEDONIA
VOTE FOR ONE

JOSHUA GRAN
write-in, if any

COUNCIL MEMBER
CITY OF CALEDONIA
VOTE FOR UP TO TWO

ROBERT LEMKE
write-in, if any
write-in, if any

SPECIAL ELECTION FOR COUNCIL MEMBER
CITY OF CALEDONIA
To fill vacancy in term expiring
January 2, 2017
VOTE FOR ONE

PAUL FISCH
write-in, if any
Published in the
Caledonia Argus
October 29, 2014
285725

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October 14 http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/october-14/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/october-14/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:24:00 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35515 HOUSTON COUNTY
PROCEEDINGS OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 9:00 a.m.
Place: Commissioners Room, Courthouse, Caledonia, MN
Members Present: Judy Storlie, Justin Zmyewski, Steve Schuldt, Teresa Walter and Dana Kjome
Presiding: Teresa Walter, Chairperson
Call to order.
Motion was made by Commissioner Schuldt, seconded by Commissioner Zmyewski and unanimously carried to approve the agenda with amendments as discussed
Motion was made by Commissioner Kjome, seconded by Commissioner Storlie and unanimously carried to approve the minutes of the October 7, 2014 meeting.
Motion was made by Commissioner Zmyewski, seconded by Commissioner Kjome and unanimously carried to approve payment of the license center and Human Services disbursements and the following claims:
County Revenue Fund $116,999.40
Road & Bridge Fund 123,238.73
—————
Total $240,238.13
=========
On the recommendation of HR Director Arrick-Kruger and Engineer Pogodzinski, motion was made by Commissioner Schuldt, seconded by Commissioner Storlie and unanimously carried to hire Jordan Goeden as a Maintenance Specialist at step 1 of the appropriate comparable worth band effective October 27, 2014.
Motion was made by Commissioner Storlie, seconded by Commissioner Schuldt and unanimously carried to approve the change of status of Malika Eisberner from probationary to regular effective October 21, 2014.
HR Director Arrick-Kruger reported that a competitive internal/external search has been conducted for the Administrative Assistant position in the Corrections Department. Motion was made by Commissioner Schuldt, seconded by Commissioner Zmyewski and unanimously carried to approve the assignment of Carol Sherburne to the position.
Motion was made by Commissioner Schuldt, seconded by Commissioner Zmyewski and unanimously carried to approve the posting of the vacancy and authorize a search to fill the deputy auditor position recently vacated by Carol Sherburne.
Pursuant to M.S. 13D.03, motion was made by Commissioner Schuldt, seconded by Commissioner Zmyewski and unanimously carried to recess the meeting and convene in closed session to discuss labor negotiations.
The time being 9:41 a.m., motion was made by Commissioner Zmyewski, seconded by Commissioner Kjome and unanimously carried to end the closed session.
Motion was made by Commissioner Kjome, seconded by Commissioner Schuldt and unanimously carried to reconvene in open session.
HR Director Arrick-Kruger stated that pursuant to M.S. 13D.03 a closed session was held in order to discuss labor negotiations/strategies.
Motion was made by Commissioner Zmyewski, seconded by Commissioner Storlie and unanimously carried to adopt the following:
RESOLUTION NO. 14-53
Proposed new Waters of the United States Definition
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Houston County requests the proposed new WOUS not to be implemented and the EPA work with local and State Governments to develop a map showing WOUS and/or clear and concise regional definitions.
On the recommendation of the Sheriffs Office, motion was made by Commissioner Storlie, seconded by Commissioner Schuldt and unanimously carried to deny the issuance of a Peddlers License requested by Thomas Costello.
Motion was made by Commissioner Storlie, seconded by Commissioner Schuldt and unanimously carried to adopt the following:
RESOLUTION NO. 14-54
BE IT RESOLVED THAT Parcel #21.0328.000 of tax-forfeited land be classified as non-conservation land; that the basic sale price be set at $10,000.00, and that authorization for a public sale of this land be granted, pursuant to M.S. 282.01; that the sale will be held at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 12, 2014, by the Houston County Auditor in the Commissioners Room at the Houston County Courthouse, for not less than the basic sale price; and that full payment of the purchase price and the additional costs shall be due at the time of sale.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the property be sold as is and that the successful purchaser is responsible for the cleanup of the house and garage located on the property.
There being no further business and the time being 10:32 a.m., motion was made by Commissioner Schuldt, seconded by Commissioner Zmyewski and unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting, the next advertised meeting being Tuesday, October 21, 2014.
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
HOUSTON COUNTY, MINNESOTA By: /s/ Teresa Walter, Chairperson
Attest: Charlene Meiners, County Auditor
THE ABOVE PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSTON COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS IS ONLY A SUMMARY. THE FULL TEXT IS AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC INSPECTION AT THE HOUSTON COUNTY AUDITORS OFFICE AS WELL AS ON THE HOUSTON COUNTY WEBSITE LOCATED AT THE FOLLOWING WEB ADDRESS: http://www.co.houston.mn.us/
Published in the
The Caledonia Argus
October 29, 2014
300463

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Voting http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/voting/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/voting/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:23:57 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35513 HOUSTON COUNTY
VOTING LOCATIONS AND HOURS
2014 Elections
Precinct Location Voting Hours
———————————————————————————————————————————————————–
Caledonia Township Caledonia City Auditorium – 219 E. Main St.; Caledonia, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
Mayville Township Caledonia City Auditorium – 219 E. Main St.; Caledonia, MN 10:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
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Crooked Creek Township Crooked Creek Community Center; 16295 Pleasant Valley Rd; Caledonia, MN 10:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
Jefferson Township Crooked Creek Community Center; 16295 Pleasant Valley Rd; Caledonia, MN 10:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
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La Crescent Township La Crescent Town Hall; 830 Town Hall Road; La Crescent, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
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Brownsville City Brownsville Community Center; 104 North 6th St.; Brownsville, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
Brownsville Township Brownsville Community Center, 104 North 6th St.; Brownsville, MN 10:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
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Caledonia City Precinct #1 Caledonia City Auditorium – North; 219 E. Main St.; Caledonia, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
Caledonia City Precinct #2 Caledonia City Auditorium – South; 219 E. Main St.; Caledonia, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
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Eitzen City Eitzen Community Center Basement; 207 E. Main St; Eitzen, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
Wilmington Township Eitzen Community Center Basement; 207 E. Main St; Eitzen, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
Winnebago Township Eitzen Community Center Basement; 207 E. Main St; Eitzen, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————–
Hokah City Hokah Fire Station; 9 Mill Street; Hokah, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
Hokah Township Hokah Fire Station; 9 Mill Street; Hokah, MN 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Union Township Hokah Fire Station; 9 Mill Street; Hokah, MN 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————–
Houston City Community Center; 109 W Maple St; Houston, MN 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Mound Prairie Township Community Center; 109 W Maple St; Houston, MN 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
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Money Creek Township Fire Station; 110 Westgate Drive; Houston, MN 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Sheldon Township Fire Station; 110 Westgate Drive; Houston, MN 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Houston Township Fire Station; 110 Westgate Drive; Houston, MN 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Yucatan Township Fire Station; 110 Westgate Drive; Houston, MN 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————–
La Crescent City Precinct #1 Community Building; 336 First Street S.; La Crescent, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————–
La Crescent City Precinct #2 Ice Arena; 520 South 14th Street; La Crescent, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
La Crescent City Precinct #3 Ice Arena; 520 South 14th Street; La Crescent, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————–
Spring Grove City Fest Building; 110 North Division Ave; Spring Grove, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
Black Hammer Township Fest Building, 110 North Division Ave; Spring Grove, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.
Spring Grove Township Fest Building; 110 North Division Ave; Spring Grove, MN 7:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.

Published in the Caldeonia Argus October 29, 2014 285693

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Mortgage Foreclosure http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/mortgage-foreclosure-18/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/29/mortgage-foreclosure-18/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:23:29 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35511 NOTICE OF MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE SALE
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that default has occurred in the conditions of the following described mortgage:
DATE OF MORTGAGE:
December 08, 2003
ORIGINAL PRINCIPAL AMOUNT OF MORTGAGE: $98,500.00
MORTGAGOR(S):
Thomas J Walcker, a single man
MORTGAGEE:
Home Federal Savings Bank
DATE AND PLACE OF RECORDING:
Recorded: December 15, 2003 Houston County Recorder
Document Number: 229524
Transaction Agent: Not Applicable
Transaction Agent Mortgage Identification Number: Not Applicable
Lender or Broker:
Home Federal Savings Bank
Residential Mortgage Servicer:
Home Federal Savings Bank
Mortgage Originator: Not Applicable
COUNTY IN WHICH PROPERTY IS LOCATED: Houston
Property Address: 133 Main St, Hokah, MN 55941-6501
Tax Parcel ID Number: 230073000
LEGAL DESCRIPTION OF PROPERTY: Lot 19 in Block G and that certain piece of land situate lying and being contigious to said Lot 19 in Block G in the Village of Hokah on the South side thereof and between said lot and Thompsons Mill pond and of no greater width than said lot
AMOUNT DUE AND CLAIMED TO BE DUE AS OF DATE OF NOTICE: $82,225.90
THAT all pre-foreclosure requirements have been complied with; that no action or proceeding has been instituted at law or otherwise to recover the debt secured by said mortgage, or any part thereof;
PURSUANT to the power of sale contained in said mortgage, the above-described property will be sold by the Sheriff of said county as follows:
DATE AND TIME OF SALE:
December 17, 2014 at 10:00 AM
PLACE OF SALE: Sheriffs Main Office, Courthouse, 306 South Marshall Street, Suite 1100, Caledonia, Minnesota
to pay the debt secured by said mortgage and taxes, if any, on said premises and the costs and disbursements, including attorney fees allowed by law, subject to redemption within six (6) months from the date of said sale by the mortgagor(s), their personal representatives or assigns.
If the Mortgage is not reinstated under Minn. Stat. 580.30 or the property is not redeemed under Minn. Stat. 580.23, the Mortgagor must vacate the property on or before 11:59 p.m. on June 17, 2015, or the next business day if June 17, 2015 falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday.
Mortgagor(s) released from financial obligation: NONE
THIS COMMUNICATION IS FROM A DEBT COLLECTOR ATTEMPTING TO COLLECT A DEBT. ANY INFORMATION OBTAINED WILL BE USED FOR THAT PURPOSE.
THE RIGHT TO VERIFICATION OF THE DEBT AND IDENTITY OF THE ORIGINAL CREDITOR WITHIN THE TIME PROVIDED BY LAW IS NOT AFFECTED BY THIS ACTION.
THE TIME ALLOWED BY LAW FOR REDEMPTION BY THE MORTGAGOR, THE MORTGAGORS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES OR ASSIGNS, MAY BE REDUCED TO FIVE WEEKS IF A JUDICIAL ORDER IS ENTERED UNDER MINNESOTA STATUTES, SECTION 582.032, DETERMINING, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THAT THE MORTGAGED PREMISES ARE IMPROVED WITH A RESIDENTIAL DWELLING OF LESS THAN FIVE UNITS, ARE NOT PROPERTY USED IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION, AND ARE ABANDONED.
DATED: October 29, 2014
MORTGAGEE: Home Federal Savings Bank
Wilford, Geske & Cook P.A.
Attorneys for Mortgagee
7616 Currell Blvd, Suite 200
Woodbury, MN 55125-4393
(651) 209-3300
File Number: 032113F01
Published in the
The Caledonia Argus
October 29, November 5, 12, 19, 26, December 3, 2014
302109

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Voters’ Guide 2014 http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/voters-guide-2014/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/voters-guide-2014/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:47:24 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35488 Houston County Sheriff

Doug Ely

Doug Ely

 

Doug Ely

Houston County Sheriff

Q1-Name/family/political experience/background/qualifications

My name is Doug Ely and I am your Sheriff.  I have been married to my wife Lisa for 24 years and I have two children, Jennifer and Symon.  I have lived in Caledonia my entire life.  I have been a member of the Caledonia Fire Department for 22 years and am currently the President of the Caledonia Fire Department Relief Association.  I have been your Sheriff for nearly eight years I sat on the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association Board for two years. Prior to me being elected I worked for eight years as a manager of a large business in La Crosse and I was also a Houston County Deputy for eight years.  I graduated from Alexandria Technical College with a degree in Law Enforcement.  I volunteered as a baseball coach for Caledonia for six years. I also volunteer at the Caledonia ice skating rink in the winter months and I voluntarily coach for the High School and drive kids to sporting events.  I am proud to be your Sheriff of Houston County.

Q2-Candidate for which race and why are you running? What is your party (if applicable).

I am running for re-election for Sheriff. I believe that I have made Houston County a better place to live during the last eight years.  With experience comes reliability and I feel I have the qualifications to continue to lead Houston County into the future.  Houston County has experienced many trying situations in the recent past.  2007, 2008, 2010, and 2013 all saw Federally Declared disasters. 2008 we also had a trail derailment and in 2011 a tornado touched down in Valley High area and Hokah.  2011 also saw the completion of the Criminal Justice Center which included a new Sheriff’s Office and Jail and the transition to a new communication system for all radio users.  The new radio system was a $2.1 million dollar project and we were able to secure $1.7 million in grants to reduce the tax burden on you.  My prior experience, at serving the community as your Sheriff for the past two terms, makes me the best candidate to lead the Sheriff’s Office going forward.

Q3-What issue do you believe is most important to the voters of Houston County/Caledonia and why (as it applies to your specific race)?

Houston County residents want a safe place to live and raise a family.  The single biggest problem facing Houston County is drug abuse.  Not only the obvious affects that drugs have on the user and their families, but the crimes related to drugs such as theft, burglary, and assault.  In 2008, I hired the first full-time drug investigator for Houston County to fight back against drugs.  This Investigator works cooperatively with all police departments in the County, regionally and with bordering States.  We are also an active member of the Southeast Minnesota Gang and Drug Task Force which allows us access to resources and additional personnel from across Southeastern Minnesota.  The number of drug arrest in Houston County has dramatically increased and we are seeing more arrests for drugs other than marijuana including meth, cocaine, LSD, and heroin. I also believe that senior citizens scams are very important and need to be carefully monitored.

Q4-In what ways do you see the sheriff’s office making a difference in the community?

Under my leadership at the Sheriff’s Office my door is always open to any problem no matter how big or small. All of the personnel are approachable and work hard to find solutions to the problems presented.  I also started the first K-9 team for the Sheriff’s Office.  That team has not only helped Houston County but surrounding Counties in searching and apprehension of suspects.   We are better trained and equipped to find new solutions for the same problems.  Many of these solutions are not just solving crimes or writing tickets, but finding the source of the problem and trying to find a way to change the behavior of the offender or offensive conduct. Since I’ve become Sheriff, our office has been involved in each community’s yearly celebrations helping out wherever needed.

Q5-What is your experience in working with technology as it relates to working in law enforcement?

When I started as Sheriff in 2007, our deputies were using point and shoot 35mm cameras to take pictures of evidence and we still recorded video to a VHS tape.  We have updated to digital cameras for taking photos and all squad cars are equipped with in-car video systems.  We have issued each deputy a TASER as a less-lethal use of force option.  We now record all statements with digital technology, rather than mini cassette recorders. We are also in the process of upgrading to a new records management system, that will be accessed and used by all law enforcement agencies in the county.   This system will make our deputies and all police departments more efficient and give them the ability to share information in real-time.  We will also be deploying in-car computers, a first for our County.  All of these projects were completed without going over budget and we saved money by working cooperatively with every Police Department in the County.

Q6-How can the Houston County Sheriff’s office lead into the future? 

The Sheriff’s Office is the largest law enforcement agency in the County and we should be used as a resource for all agencies and Police Departments.  We assist our local, county and state agencies on a daily basis as situations arise.  We can no longer draw an imaginary border and say “not my problem” because it happened on one side of the line or the other.  We are all part of the same team regardless of the color of our uniform and we all have to work together.  Our resources are limited and we need to make the best use of them that we can.  The future is unknown, but with team work and updated training we will be prepared.

Q7-How would you like to see the old or “historic” jail used? This can include demo if that is what you believe is the best course of action.

It is a beautiful and historic building, and I will not be part of that decision. The interior of the building is gutted and the unique features that it once held are gone and that is extremely unfortunate.  I know that it would be difficult to sell to a private party with the proximity to the new CJC and lack of parking, and it may be cost prohibitive to remodel for County use.  If the County decides to demolish the building, I would encourage them to first take bids for its sale and removal rather than just paying someone to tear it down.

Q8-What are some things you believe the sheriff’s office is doing well at the moment?

First and foremost we are staying within our budget, and working with the commissioners to see where we can save even more. I am stretching our budget to get the most of our limited resources. We are working cooperatively with all local police departments better than we have ever in the past. I started a cooperative training for all officers/deputies in the County, which allows us to spend less money, but receive more training, while still covering our mandated yearly training. I brought in trainers from the FBI, the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association, and others to offer free training to all agencies in the County and Tri-State area.  I offered training to other government staff (city/schools) on topics including active shooter.  I also made my staff available numerous times to other agencies for training or presentations.  The Houston County Sheriff’s Office has become a resource and leader to others.  The Sheriff’s Office is in a better position now, than when I started.

Q9-What qualities do you believe a successful sheriff must poses?

A Sheriff must be a leader.  A Sheriff must have the answers and the confidence to know the answers he gives are correct.  A Sheriff must have knowledge of his statutory responsibilities which include properly running the jail, dispatch center, processing all orders of the court (civil process), and maintaining peace in the County.  A Sheriff must have the respect of those that he commands.  A Sheriff must take all these responsibilities and shape them into an appropriate response to the community.  I believe that I have demonstrated all these qualities.  I am the only candidate that has experience supervising an Office this size. I am the only candidate with experience running a Sheriff’s Office, Dispatch center and Jail.  I am the candidate that has the best knowledge and experience of the duties and qualities needed to be a successful Sheriff.

Q10-What are your priorities for the next five years and how would you rank those priorities? Which one would you take on first and how?

First is to continue supporting changes that have already been made, for example,  the drug investigator, the K-9 team and improvements in technology, all while working within a budget.  These have been successful and need to be continued.  Technology changes on a daily and sometimes hourly basis and criminals are using it to their advantage.  I will continue training for deputies and officers that is relevant to changing technology.  I will continue to pursue grant funding for all areas of the office.  I will continue to improve our response to citizen requests.  I will start an on-line inmate locator with information on inmates in the jail and their charges.  I will continue to pursue other forms of media involvement, like our Facebook page, to connect with and inform the public.  I will continue to improve our relationship with our partners in the county, surrounding counties, regionally, statewide and the tri-state area.

Q11-What is our county’s biggest asset?

Houston County’s biggest asset is its citizens.  My motto has been and continues to be “Our Family Protecting Yours.”  We are a family at the Sheriff’s Office, but we also belong to a much bigger family as part of each and every community in Houston County.  When you’re upset, so are we.  We want to work cooperatively with all citizens to make Houston County a better and safer place to live, work, and visit. Every person in the county needs to keep their eyes open, if something doesn’t seem right than it should be reported call the Sheriff’s Office.  Under my leadership, the Sheriff’s Office has made great strides in improving many areas.  As a result, citizens of Houston County are better off and safer than they were seven years ago.  I have proven that I can work under budget, while at the same time improving our technology, training, and equipment.  I ask for your support to continue as your Sheriff and I thank you for your support these past seven years.

 

Mark Inglett

Mark Inglett

 

Mark Inglett

Houston County Sheriff

Q1:  Name/ Family/political experience/ background/ qualifications:

My name is Mark Inglett. I have lived in La Crescent with my wife Lisa (Nelson) for the past 18 years and we have been married for more than 25 years.  We have three boys, ages 23, 20, and 16.  Our oldest son is married and we are very proud grandparents of a one year old granddaughter. Lisa and I both grew up in Caledonia and for the most part, we have lived in Houston County all of our lives.  It is a great area to raise a family. My experience and qualifications entail 25 years in law enforcement. I am currently the Station Sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol for the Winona Patrol Station. I have had extensive training and experience in many areas of law enforcement. In addition, my sergeant duties encompass administrative tasks and I have experience with employee related issues as assistant delegate for the Troopers Association.

Q2:  Candidate for which race and why are you running? 

I am running for Houston County Sheriff.  I am seeking the office because I feel that based on my own observations as well as the opinions expressed to me by many citizens, the Houston County Sheriff’s Office is in need of new leadership.  If elected, I will be your full time working sheriff and I will bring leadership, integrity and accountability. I believe a fresh new perspective is needed to bring the agency forward in a pro-active, common sense, trustworthy way.  Unfortunately, space limitations prevent me from speaking in greater detail in this forum. I am always available for questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me by phone or email.  Both are available on my website at www.inglettforsheriff.com.

Q3: What issue do you believe is most important to the voters of Houston County/Caledonia and why?

As it relates to the Sheriff’s race, I believe that accountability and trust is VERY important to all of the taxpayers of Houston County.   As I have visited with many of you over the past several months, you have expressed concerns relating to trust.   If elected I will change this.  Public trust in law enforcement is hard to gain and easy to lose.  I am committed to this and will work diligently toward restoring the public trust.  With leadership and accountability in the forefront we will gain the trust back and begin to work toward the betterment of all the communities.

Q4: In what way do you see the Sheriff’s Office making a difference in the community?

By providing commitment to our communities. Narcotics are another area of concern expressed to me. Our current administration has said they are doing something about drugs because arrests are up.  We know we are not arresting 100 percent of the drug violations, so to say we are curbing the drug problem because arrests are up is looking at a small piece of the picture.  It actually indicates the problem is getting worse. That is why we have to combine enforcement with education to raise awareness of the affects.  I am committed to developing a program to educate our kids, teachers and parents. The term Community Policing gets used a lot, but we can be much more proactive with our communities by establishing trust and making positive contacts every chance we get. As Sheriff, I will make a commitment to our citizens by building positive relationships and provide public safety services in the best interest of our communities.

Q5: What is your experience in working with technology as it relates to law enforcement?

I have had the benefit of working for a law enforcement agency that is on the cutting edge of technology.  For 10 years or more I have been using some of the technology that the Sheriff’s Office is just now looking at implementing.  Some of the technology used in the crash reconstruction field also applies to crime scene investigation. I have been using this type of technology for 10 years as well.  We have to stay up to date in the area of technology while balancing what is affordable to the tax payers. By combining technology with common sense solutions I will provide for better services and a more efficient Sheriff’s Office.  I have the experience to do this.

Q6: How can the Houston County Sheriff’s Office lead into the future?

We can begin by restoring public trust and being attentive to the needs of the communities. We will lead into the future by staying up to date with technology and improved services. I believe this can be accomplished by continually re-evaluating the process to reduce the duplication of services and job duties.  By consistent evaluation, we may find services no longer needed or services that we should be performing.  I believe this is one of the more important jobs of the sheriff, to constantly be evaluating how the job is being performed and looking for new ways of doing things.   This requires engaged leadership with dedicated employees.

Q7:  How would you like to see the old “historic” jail used? 

I am a history fan and believe our history is important. With that said, I am also a taxpayer living  within limited means and an understanding of a budget. The water damage catastrophe at the “historic” jail in my opinion was 100 percent preventable and I would hate to see it become yet another tax burden to the citizens.  Unfortunately, the real question is not how we should use the old jail but rather is there enough historic value to justify the expense. If we are going to restore the historic jail, then we need to spend time seeking other sources of funds or volunteer services.  I think the better way to have handled this dilemma would have been to inform the people of the whole problem, the associated costs and placed this item on the ballot for the upcoming election. The voters should make this decision.

Q8:  What are some things you believe the Sheriff’s Office is doing well at the moment?

The Sheriff’s Office has some long term dedicated personnel working there.   With committed, engaged leadership, many areas can be improved. The technological advancements with the records management system they are in the process of just now  implementing is an impressive one but long overdue.  The delay has put us behind greatly.  This system, quite frankly, should have been budgeted for over a period of time rather than filtering unbudgeted funds from other sources that likely will now come up short.  This is a lengthy, costly system to implement when it is not budgeted, and my concern is that by funding it in this fashion, it could become underfunded with a significant delay implementing all of the needed components.

Q9: What qualities do you believe a successful sheriff must possess?

A successful sheriff must possess strong leadership skills.  Leadership is so much more than a position.  True leaders have boundaries from which they operate both professionally and personally.   To be truly effective, the sheriff must understand the integrity needed to do the job in a responsible, legal manner.  The state patrol has an internal affairs division that investigates allegations of misconduct.  I am proud to say in a 25 year career, I have never been the subject of an internal affairs investigation.   A sheriff must be a professional with experience in law enforcement and trained in the latest technologies.  A sheriff must be a person the citizens can trust.  A sheriff respects and recognizes that preserving the peace is a team effort between law enforcement and the citizens.  A successful sheriff possesses these qualities and leads in a way that those under him will develop and follow these qualities as well.

Q10: What are your priorities for the next five years and how would you rank those priorities? Which one would you take on first and how ?

From day one, I will work on my commitment to perception management of the Sheriff’s Office.  I will develop an educational program to be implemented in our schools through partnerships with school officials and local law enforcement agencies.   I will enhance training for the dedicated employees to build on their professionalism and preparedness.  There are inherent risks in law enforcement and training is an effective risk management tool.  Build positive relationships with our communities through positive contacts and transparency to the people.  I  will strive to develop a capital expenditure budget to guide long term budget decisions.  The structure of the agency needs to be evaluated.  For example, there are 13 deputies including the sheriff.  Of these, there is the sheriff, chief deputy, 1 captain and 2 lieutenants.  If there is rank within the agency then there needs to be meaning and purpose behind that rank.

Q11: What is our county’s biggest asset?

I firmly believe our county’s biggest asset is our people.  We have a county that consists of, for the most part, good, honest, hardworking people.  We are blessed with a relatively low violent crime rate here in Houston County and I attribute that primarily to the people.   We have people that come together when the need arises and look out for each other.  As I have been out visiting with many of you, I have heard many times over that you want a Sheriff’s Office that you can trust and one that is fair.  You don’t want to feel like the law doesn’t apply to your law enforcement officials.  I don’t think that is too much to ask and that is what I will provide.  I commit to you that my agenda will be community driven.  What fits Houston County is that we must be peace officers first and law enforcement officers second.

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Commissioner, District 4

Teresa Walters

Teresa Walters

 

Teresa Walter

Houston County 

Commissioner Race, District 4

Q1-Name/family/political experience/background

My name is Teresa Walter and my husband is Richard Walter.  We have three children and five grandchildren.

My experience includes serving as La Crescent Township Clerk for 8 years, La Crescent Township Supervisor for 10 years, and as Houston County Commissioner for 4 years.  I have also served on the SELCO Board of Directors, the La Crescent Hockey Board, Parish Council, and the Community Ed Board.  I was also instrumental in bringing library services to the La Crescent area.

Q2-Candidate for which race and why are you running? What is your party (if applicable).

Houston County Commissioner, District 4 which includes the cities of Brownsville and Hokah, La Crescent City Precinct #3, as well as Brownsville, Hokah and La Crescent Townships.  The reason I am running for this office is that I care about Houston County and its future.  I believe in listening to all sides of each issue and making decisions based on what is best for the county as a whole.   I also believe in being fiscally efficient and responsible.

Q3-What issue do you believe is most important to the voters of Houston County/Caledonia and why?

Updating the Zoning Ordinance to address mining practices in order to protect Houston County’s environment and residents.

Q4-In the commissioners’ race, where do you stand on frac sand mining and the regulation thereof?

I personally do not support industrial frac sand mining in Houston County.  We have a moratorium in place and there are currently no frac sand mines in our county. During the moratorium we are working hard to draft an ordinance which will strongly regulate all mining in order to protect our environment and our citizens.   I understand that many people would like to totally ban frac sand mining.  As much as I would like to implement a ban, we have been advised by legal counsel that this is very risky and could potentially be challenged at the county’s expense.  If overturned, we would have no regulations in place leaving the county totally at risk.  We need to allow mining of sand on a limited basis for road projects and for farmers who use sand for bedding purposes; and we have been advised that we cannot single out one form of mining to ban.  Therefore, it is our intent to draft a very strict ordinance which limits mining to a minimum with iron clad regulations which will protect our environment and our people.

Q5-How do you view your role as county commissioner as it relates to the public comment period?

I support public comment, and I invite and encourage residents to provide input.   I simply ask that public comment be given in a respectful manner and that our policy be followed.

Q6-Where do you stand on the need for, and or building of a new county highway facility?

There is definitely a need for a new county highway building. This has been discussed for over 20 years.  We are currently working to determine what exactly is needed, our options, and the costs involved in order to provide a simple facility which meets our basic needs, provides a decent and efficient working environment, and meets OSHA requirements.

Q7-What alternatives do you view as possible options for a new highway department shop?

We are still in the process of reviewing options, two of which are to expand at the existing site or utilize the land purchased on the north side of Caledonia by a previous county board.

Q8-How would you like to see the old or “historic” jail used? This can include demo if that is what you believe is the best course of action.

I would prefer to preserve this historic building; however, I do not support using local tax dollars to do so.   We are currently researching the possibility of obtaining grant funding for this purpose.

Q9-What are some things you believe the county is doing well at the moment?

We have a very active Public Health Department that provides the services required to allow many of our elderly citizens to remain in their homes, which is much more cost-effective than nursing home care.   We also have an excellent Veteran Services Department which provides much needed services for our veterans.  We are fortunate to have dedicated department heads and employees,  and we receive many compliments on the excellent customer service they provide.

Q10-What are areas of need that you feel the county needs to address?

The highway department shop needs to be addressed.  Previous boards made the decision not to spend taxpayer money on the existing building, as they felt a new facility was needed.  We need to continue working on this in order to get all our options and costs on the table so that we can make an informed decision and move forward.

Q11-How can the county do a better job of bringing in new business to the area?

We have a very proactive EDA Board which has been working very hard to not only promote new businesses, but to assist our current businesses so that they can continue to operate and in many cases to expand.

Q12-What is our county’s biggest asset?

The wonderful people and the beautiful bluffs, rivers and streams make Houston County a good place to live, work and raise our families.

Ken Tschumper

Ken Tschumper

 

Ken Tschumper

Houston County

Commissioner Race, District 4

Q1-Name/family/political experience/background

Ken Tschumper;  I’m a life-long resident of La Crescent Township. My ancestors were the original homesteaders on Tschumper Ridge in 1867.  I recently sold my dairy cows after 37 years of dairying. My wife Robin has taught college, consulted for nursing homes and most recently was the executive director of Bluff Country Family Resources.

I have served on the Town Board and had the privilege of representing Houston County in the Minnesota Legislature in 2007-2008. We passed several important pieces of legislation that were extremely valuable to our area, including a $6.6 billion Transportation Funding bill. The tremendous improvement we have seen in the roads in Houston County the last six years are a direct result of that legislation.

I was the chief House author of the Disaster Assistance bill for the August 2007 Flood, the largest disaster assistance package in the history of the State to that date.

Q2-Candidate for which race and why are you running? What is your party (if applicable).

Houston County Board, District 4;  My main reason in running for the County Board is my concern over the threat that Frac Sand Mining poses to the residents of Houston County. Stopping Frac Sand Mining is my number one priority. My opponent favors allowing this destructive activity.

I never planned to run for the County Board. In fact, I voted for the incumbent four years ago. However, her ideas about Frac Sand Mining are wrong for Houston County. I was encouraged to run by many people when it became obvious a few months ago that three Commissioners were going to approve Frac Sand Mining in Houston County.

I’m glad this is a non-partisan position because I think there are people of all political persuasions who understand the need to protect our County from the devastation of Frac Sand Mining. I want to work with everyone to accomplish this.

Q3-What issue do you believe is most important to the voters of Houston County/Caledonia and why?

Stopping Frac Sand Mining should be the number one priority for voters this fall. The truth is that Frac Sand Mining will negatively affect every person in Houston County for the next 50 years. It will harm other businesses. It will harm tourism. It will result in higher property taxes. Some residents near these mines will see the value of their property drop dramatically. In fact very, very few people will benefit from Frac Sand Mining.

Frac Sand Mining is a terrible, destructive dead end both economically and environmentally. We will end up with nothing more than many holes in the ground.

Across the River in Wisconsin, we have seen a real life experiment with Frac Sand Mining playing itself out over the last five years and it has been devastating. We need to learn from their experience.

Q4-In the commissioners’ race, where do you stand on frac sand mining and the regulation thereof?

I am strongly opposed to Frac Sand Mining and was one of a group of people who brought this issue to the County Board’s attention nearly three years ago.

If elected I will do everything I can to have the Board adopt an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance prohibiting Frac Sand Mining. Minnesota law allows counties to prohibit activities like this that are incompatible with surrounding land uses. If done properly, adopting an ordinance to prohibit Frac Sand Mining will withstand any legal challenge.

A few months ago my opponent said she opposed Frac Sand Mining, but since then she has changed her mind. She and others falsely believe that you can allow Frac Sand Mining with restrictive regulations. That is just a fantasy. If Frac Sand Mining gets a foothold here there will be tremendous pressure by the mining companies to ease regulations and setbacks, or not enforce them.

Q5-How do you view your role as county commissioner as it relates to the public comment period?

The public comment period is a poor idea. It is not a workable solution for hearing from and engaging the public on issues before the County Board. Most of the time County Board members aren’t even paying attention to the speakers. If you are a speaker, you feel like you are talking to the wall because Board members don’t respond to your comments.

The public comment period was started a couple years ago. At the beginning of this year I proposed to the Board that they drop the public comment period and go back to having the public have a discussion with the Board on agenda items of interest to them. Obviously the Board did not take my suggestion. That is the way it was for decades and I think it was a process that worked very well.

I favor going back to that.

Q6-Where do you stand on the need for, and or building of a new county highway facility? 

I think we all agree that it is time for an upgrade to our County’s highway building. The old facility is clearly outdated. I feel that spending $6.2 million dollars on a new shop that some of the commissioners are talking about doing, is too large of an amount. I will support spending no more than $1 million–$1.5 million. Then we can pay for the building without raising taxes or doing any new borrowing.

Our property taxes are too high now because about ten years ago the County Board made a decision to build the Criminal Justice Center and Jail that is twice as big as we needed and that cost twice as much as it should have. We don’t need to make that mistake again.

Q7-What alternatives do you view as possible options for a new highway department shop?

It is important for Board members to be open-minded enough to look at several options for the new highway building. Most importantly I think the Board should first set a dollar amount that they plan on spending for the entire project as well as what they want included and then hire an architect to draw up some designs to meet their requirements within that budget. I think it is important to not let any one person overly influence the choice of the new highway building. It’s important to have input from highway department employees as well as the public at-large.

Q8-How would you like to see the old or “historic” jail used? This can include demo if that is what you believe is the best course of action.

I really appreciate the great work that members of the Houston County Historical Society have done over many years to preserve our County’s history and heritage. Having said that, the truth is we can’t afford to save everything from the past.

I think the County Board needs to be very careful about what is done with the Old Jail. It could end up being a sinkhole for tax dollars that never produces much in return. It doesn’t seem to me that it will ever be much of a tourism attraction and I doubt if it will ever lend itself very well to other uses.

One thing the Board might consider would be to sell the property at a discount to a non-profit group that might have a plan for it. That way no tax payer money would be involved.

Q9-What are some things you believe the county is doing well at the moment?

I want to commend the County Public Health Department for their recent initiative to include E-cigarettes under the Clean Indoor Air Act, also known as the Freedom to Breathe Act. Thousands of Minnesotans will not get cancer because of this Act and it certainly makes sense to extend it to E-cigarettes. It was the most important piece of legislation I voted for when I was in the Legislature.

I think it would make sense for our Public Health Department to also be leading the effort to ban Frac Sand (silica sand) Mining just like they did with E-cigarettes. There is ten times more research on the dangers of silica sand to human health than E-cigarettes. Children and adults with breathing problems are very susceptible to silicosis caused by silica sand.

Q10-What are areas of need that you feel the county needs to address?

My wife and I are very strong supporters of public education and of libraries. Robin is currently president of the Board of Southeast Libraries Cooperating (SELCO). Our County needs to increase its contribution to the SELCO library system. We are currently below the average for all counties in the SELCO region. In the next budget I would support increasing the county’s financial contribution to at least the average of other counties.

Our County Board needs to be more transparent. It needs to release the report recently completed dealing with allegations of inappropriate activity by several County employees and a County elected official. The Board needs to confirm to the residents of this County that this investigation has indeed taken place and what the allegations are.

There is the on-going, well-documented problem of poor or non-enforcement of our Zoning Ordinance. We need some big changes in the Zoning Department.

Q11-How can the county do a better job of bringing in new business to the area?

The most immediate action we can take to help existing local businesses is to prohibit Frac Sand Mining. It will harm tourism and other businesses. It will interfere with nearby farming. It will damage our roads and raise property taxes.

Choosing a different road than Frac Sand Mining can lead to a more Sustainable Economy. We can create far more jobs and economic activity for local people by focusing on renewable energy, energy efficiency and value-added agricultural products. These can be good paying jobs. County government, through its economic development activities can help do this if we have the right leadership on the County Board. That is where the future is.

Also, as more Baby Boomers retire, there are going to be opportunities to develop businesses to deliver the full range of housing and care services for an aging population. These can also be good paying jobs.

Q12-What is our county’s biggest asset?

Our County has many great assets; good roads; good schools; many good small businesses; many energetic people; good agriculture; scenic beauty.  These are the assets that we should focus on for job creation and economic development in the future. All over this country, there is a movement by grassroots community groups and local governments to create more sustainable economies that focus on addressing climate change and renewable energy development. Houston County can and should be a part of this effort to reduce our use of fossil fuels and to develop solar energy.

We need to break out of the old ruts that shape so much of how we think about economic development in Houston County. That’s one of the problems with Frac Sand Mining. It’s a road to the past not the future.  We need people who will provide the leadership to take us to the future, not the past.

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Commissioner District 2

Justin Zmyewski

Justin Zmyewski

 

Justin Zmyewski

Houston County Commissioner

District 2

Q1-Name/family/political experience/background

Justin Zmyewski, Wife – Robyn Son – Wyatt Political Experience: County Commissioner, Board Chair (2013) Background: Farmer (corn, beans and buffalo) Enterprise – JUSTIN  DESIGNS (Mechanical Designer) Education: Minnesota State College Southeast Technical, Degree – FAA Certified Aviation Mechanic, Certificate Education: Licensed Aircraft Pilot Karate – Black Belt

Q2-Candidate for which race and why are you running? What is your party (if applicable).

Candidate for Commissioner District #2

Why am I running for Commissioner?

I would like to think that I am not running for commissioner merely applying for the job of commissioner for district #2. The job description includes but is not limited to being a “watch dog” over tax dollars, promoting accountability and transparency within the county and protecting property rights for the common good of all.

Q3: What issue do you believe is most important to the voters of Houston County?

There is not one issue of great importance, there are three:

1.) The issue of frac sand mining in Houston County and the decisions that are made in regard to frac sand mining will have an historic impact on our way of life as we know it.

2.) The county budget is an issue as taxes have been increased by 4.1 million dollars in the last 10 years not counting the Wheelage Tax, equating to $196,000 of additional annual tax dollars. If the county board continues its current spending trend, the tax levy will double in the next 10 years.

3.) The proposed Highway shop is an issue that could turn out to be a grave decision for Houston County tax payers if the board decides to use new tax revenues to fund a new facility.

Q4: In the commissioner’s race, where do you stand on frac sand mining and the regulation of?

While it’s true that many of us are fortunate enough to own land, some with frac sand, we all share the air, water, roads and the environment in which we live. In order to protect and preserve “the quality of life” for ALL citizens while maintaining the beauty of our home (Houston County) and the economic value of our agricultural resources it becomes necessary to establish regulations or a ban regarding industrial frac sand mining that would protect and assure every person’s right to clean air, pure water, the environment in which we live, the roads we travel on, the value of our property and the beauty of this land. Those that promote frac sand mining will often hide behind property rights leaving out the fact that property rights is for the common good of all. Regulating or banning industrial frac sand mining is not intended in any way to affect the business of construction sand, construction gravel or the dairy sand business.

Q5: How do you view your role as county commissioner as it relates to the public comment period?

In 2013 when I served as chairman of the board it was my idea to bring a public comment period to the beginning of each regularly scheduled Houston County Board meeting. The intent behind my idea was to provide an opportunity for the commissioners to hear directly from the constituents, a key component in good governing.

Q6: Where do you stand on the need for, and or building of a new county highway facility? 

For the last four years I have been the #1 advocate for a facility to be built without going to the taxpayers for new tax dollars. If the county board were to go to the tax payers to fund a new county highway facility taxes would rise 1% over the next 10 years for every $1 million spent. The proposal the highway department has presented to the commissioners comes with a price tag of over $6 million dollars. The proposal is for a county highway complex on county owned property behind Caledonia High School with a plan for excavation and site preparation that costs 1 million dollars. The complex comes complete with an office building, repair shop, large vehicle heated storage, cold storage and salt and gravel storage.

One proposal brought to the board by a bonding company at the request of a board member was to bond for the entire project with a sum of $2.8 million in interest, bringing the potential total cost of this project to $8.8 million. This would mean a tax increase of 8.8% over the next ten years.

A county highway maintenance / storage facility of quality can be built without new tax dollars it just can’t be built at the grand scale in which it is being proposed. It all comes down to the question “is it a want or a need?” The need does not cost anywhere near $6-$8.8 million dollars.

Q7: What alternatives do you view as possible options for a new highway department shop?

A maintenance / storage facility of quality can be built on the current site. This facility can be built with dollars that we do have. There is $600,000 in reserve for this project and if the reserve ($600,000) is coupled with 2 years of income from the wheelage tax ($196,000 x 2 = $392,000) you come up with a grand total of $992,000 not counting other potential monetary sources such as our annual insurance dividends or the sale of the county owned 22 acres behind Caledonia High School, etc..  At any rate, $992,000 can build a maintenance / storage facility of quality and efficiency. There also lies the possibility that this facility could be shared with the Houston County Fair during fair time. I did present this proposal to the board complete with a 3-D computer model of what this maintenance / storage facility would look like and how it would be placed on the current site. I have also promoted the idea that this project could be phased in over a period of years.  I have also lobbied for and motioned to my fellow commissioners to have a public hearing regarding the county highway shop so that the constituency could be heard from. The motion I made failed 3 -2.

Q8: How would you like to see the old or “historic” jail used? 

In addressing the issue of the future of the old or “historic” jail the board needs to follow these 3 steps:

1. Collect data that would outline all scenarios for the future of the “old jail” including costs involved with each scenario.

2. Analyze the data.

3. Following steps 1 and 2 the board finds the best scenario for the future of the “old jail”.

Recent water damage to the “old jail” has left the county with several hundred thousand dollars as a result of a paid insurance claim. Alternative uses of these insurance dollars have been proposed, but not so fast, no matter what future is found for the “old jail” it will require money, whether it be to remodel and maintain or for tear down and removal.

It should also be noted that the Houston County EDA conducted a survey at the Houston County Fair asking citizens of the county what the future of the “old jail” should be. The preliminary results presented to the board showed a strong majority voting to keep the structure for alternative uses. (Website results were yet to be calculated)

Q9: What are some things you believe the county is doing well at the moment?

1. Number 1 has to be those county employees who show up with a positive attitude day after day helping to create a great public service atmosphere for the citizens of Houston County.

2. Department Heads who are looking to streamline their department to become more efficient with what they have, making the best of tax payer dollars while looking for alternative ways to improve including combining services with other counties.

Q10: What are areas of need that you feel the county needs to address?

1. Money management! Over the last 10 years the county board has overspent the annual budget by an average of over $400,000 a year.

 

Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson

 

Eric Johnson

Houston County Commissioner District 2

Q1-Name/family/political experience/background

Eric Johnson, Wife Sheri, Children Kate and Matt, Houston High School graduate, third generation farmer, 18 year member of the Houston Town Board, Houston County Feed Lot Committee member, past board member of Houston-Money Creek Coop Board and former 4-H leader

Q2-Candidate for which race and why are you running? What is your party (if applicable).

County Commissioner District 2: I was encouraged to run for County Commissioner by family, friends, and neighbors.  I decided to run for County Commissioner because I want to change the course of our county government. I have some strong concerns about issues the County is currently facing and the direction taken. The County Board needs to work together and reject the national style of politics of personal destruction that has been creeping into our county board meetings. County boards have traditionally been non-partisan and should continue to remain so. I pledge to work fairly with the other County Board members and to keep open communication with county employees and constituents as well.

Q3-What issue do you believe is most important to the voters of Houston County/Caledonia and why?

Ever increasing taxes is the concern I hear about the most.  This affects everyone in the county, but those most impacted have a fixed or limited income.  Continual tax increases can make owning property unsustainable. As commissioner, I will work with the other 4 commissioners and all department heads to find ways to trim costs where possible and to promote efficiencies as well.  As a county board, we need to lobby the state to stop passing unfunded mandates which put pressure on our budgets along with cuts in our state aid. All this is easy to say, but I am willing to put the time and effort in to make a difference for Houston County.

Q4-In the commissioners’ race, where do you stand on frac sand mining and the regulation thereof?

Industrial sand mining (frac sand mining as those who wish to put fear into your minds call it)– has been happening in Houston County for years. Sand is a very important resource for the construction and agriculture industries within the county. A lot of the county’s dairies use sand to ensure the comfort of their cattle. Sand is used in cement and asphalt to make our roads better and the county even uses sand to help with winter driving conditions.  Some people say that they are against just “frac” sand mining.  The bottom line is it is the same sand that is used in construction and agriculture when it is removed from the ground. There is silica in sand and limestone in our current quarries and sand pits.  The movement out there is to shut down these mines too!  If this occurs, it will mean a greater cost to all the residents of Houston County.  All of the sand and gravel would have to be trucked in from neighboring counties or states.  Does that really make sense? I am supporting these landowners from the perspective that they have worked hard for land ownership and I can guarantee there have been some years life has not been so great for them.  Now they have an opportunity to make a little extra money to pay their taxes on that land and they are being told NO!  As to regulation of sand mining, I agree that we need to have regulations.  However, the regulations need to be developed with common sense in mind.  We need to make sure that our regulations do not drive our current operators out of business or make it impossible for new businesses to develop should they choose to. Our regulations do need to provide for maintenance of the roads used.

Q5-How do you view your role as county commissioner as it relates to the public comment period?

I believe the public comment period can be effective if it is used in a positive and constructive way. I feel the commissioners’ role is to allow the public to comment on issues coming before the County Board.  If the comments become attacking or slanderous, the person commenting needs to be stopped. I am not in favor of what has happened in the last two years. It has been nothing but character attacks on county employees, county departments, and even some of the commissioners.  The comment period was discontinued after a meeting at which a Houston County deputy who is hired to protect the lives of Houston County residents, was accused of a murder plot with no facts or proof of this charge (Aug 5, 2014 County Board Meeting).  There are better avenues to deal with personnel issues than the public comment period.

Q6-Where do you stand on the need for, and or building of a new county highway facility? 

I see the need for a new Highway Shop as the old one is in need of major repairs.  However, I feel we need to move forward on this in a conservative manner.  Questions need to be asked to determine what is really needed in the new shop.  I would work with all the Commissioners and Highway Department staff and be open to their input on the building.

Q7-What alternatives do you view as possible options for a new highway department shop?

My personal thought on this is that it should be built with money that has been saved or designated for the Highway Department.  I am not in favor of raising taxes or borrowing to build a new Highway Shop.  Here is one possible solution that could be considered.   Currently Houston County has $600,000.00 set aside for a highway building and should receive approximately $190,000.00 from the Wheelage tax.  The land purchased to house the new highway building located by the high school could be sold.  Given what land values are the County should at least get their money back and return the land to the tax base as well.  This sale could result in around $338,000.00.  The County also recently received a check in the amount of $723,210.64 from the insurance claim on the old jail.  This money is available for the county to use as they wish.  Adding all of these funding sources together the county would have roughly $ 1.9 million dollars available to spend on a new highway building that could be built at the existing site.

Q8-How would you like to see the old or “historic” jail used? This can include demo if that is what you believe is the best course of action.

As person who appreciates history, I concede the historical value of the old jail.  As a taxpayer, I do not feel it would be practical to spend money on renovating or repairing a building the County no longer has use for.  I am also not in favor of spending Taxpayer money on renovating the building for a new use.

Q9-What are some things you believe the county is doing well at the moment?

From my personal experience in dealing with the County on Township business or my own personal business the various departments have very knowledgeable staff.  The staff is very helpful and courteous.  They return calls timely and are very helpful to answer questions I have had.  Not all Counties or Government bodies can say that.

Q10-What are areas of need that you feel the county needs to address?

The County Board will be approving a new comprehensive water management plan in the year 2017.  As a farmer, this is an important issue for me because it will affect my business and all of those engaged in agriculture.  We have seen what has been in the news about the EPA overreach on the water regulations when it comes to land use authority.  As a County, we need to be diligent that what we propose will be practical and not a burden on our agri-businesses in the County.  We need to understand that farmers they cannot pass on the cost of over regulation. The regulations set need to allow them to continue to be profitable and to sustain their operations into the future.

Q11-How can the county do a better job of bringing in new business to the area?

The County needs to adopt a positive pro-business attitude.  We need to develop more infrastructure to make it more welcoming for businesses to move to our area.  All the talk of bans and regulation above and beyond state and federal regulation does not make it seem very welcoming to prospective businesses, especially when our neighboring counties are less restrictive.  Given the option where would you move or expand your business?  We have a strong agricultural economy in Houston County, but we need to be careful that our future regulations do not create undue burden on these operations.  We need to encourage expansion of current businesses and welcome new businesses into the County as we need the jobs they provide and also help grow our local economy.

Q12-What is our county’s biggest asset?

Houston County’s biggest asset is its people.  As a young boy growing up, I would see neighbors help each other when someone in the family was sick or if something tragic had happened to the family.  Neighbors would all get together to help with spring planting or fall harvest.  This had a lasting impression on me.  Just a few years ago, I was the neighbor who needed help after having a farm accident.  I will be forever thankful to my neighbors, family, and many friends who came forward and helped me and my family to get the harvest in that fall.  I am proud to live in a small community of Houston County.  A place where we can talk and keep a respectful, open dialogue with our neighbors.  If we all work together, we can achieve great things.

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Mayor-Caledonia

Joshua Gran

Joshua Gran

 

Joshua Gran

Mayor, Caledonia

Question?

Q1-Name/family/political experience/background/qualifications

Joshua Gran, son of Mike and Karen Gran, Brother Zach, Sister Courtney.

Born and raised in Caledonia, attended Caledonia High School graduating in 2011.  I am a senior attend the University of Wisconsin La-Crosse majoring in Finance and Economics with a minor in Accounting.  Managed the Caledonia pool last summer as well as assisted with the summer rec baseball program the past two summers.

Q2-Candidate for which race and why are you running? What is your party (if applicable)

Mayor of Caledonia.  I am running for Mayor to ensure our city doesn’t move in the direction our country has been moving over the last few years.  Thankfully, we have had great people in the city for many years that have done a great job keeping our community on track.  The encouragement of two of those individuals (Randi Vick and Mayor Bob Burns) really helped me in making my decision to run.

Q3-What issues do you believe are most important to the city of Caledonia and why?

1. Property taxes- Property taxes are always an issue for any city. They put added financial pressure on families and businesses.  I believe keeping property taxes low is a big priority for the citizens of Caledonia.

2. New city pool- I 100% support private citizens coming together to improve the community through fundraising and gathering private donations. I do not support raising taxes to build a new pool.  I understand new pools aren’t cheap, but I don’t want to see taxes go up for the building of a new pool or the greater operating loss created by a new pool.

3. City budgets- Keeping city spending in check to ensure we are not wasting taxpayer money.

Q4-What are some strategies around economic development that you believe can benefit the community?

I believe the best route for economic development is to allow private sector businesses to be free from government interference and red tape, whether that’s federal, state, or local.  When businesses are given the environment to prosper it will benefit the whole community through better wages and more jobs which results in a better community.  Some strategies on a local level include:

1. Keeping business taxes low, high taxes can put excess strain on a business that is trying to expand and hire more workers.

2. Examining and auditing our city ordinances and regulations to ensure they are compatible with our goal of economic development.

Q5-What strengths do you think our city has and how would you highlight those strengths?

Having been raised in Caledonia, I feel one of our cities biggest strengths is its people.  I have worked with many of the individuals within the city and know they are real assets both to our city and the community as a whole.  In my experience they were always looking for ways to help out.  I think the best way to utilize the strengths of our people is to listen to them.  In a book I read by Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, talking about leadership, he said to never be the smartest person in the room.  Signifying, you need to look for people who are experts in their field to help you make great decisions.

Q6-What are some areas you think the city needs to do a better job in? 

I think the city of Caledonia and the elected representatives have done a good job over the last few years.  Saying that, I do feel that on a few occasions the city has not spent taxpayer money very wisely.  It is always easier to spend other people’s money than your own, which is why I feel it is important for the council to think twice every time they are spending taxpayer money.  Another area I think the city could be better in is expanding recreational opportunities for all ages.

Q7-What are the top five goals the district should set over the coming five years and how would you prioritize those goals?

1. Keeping taxes and fees low

2. Eliminate wasteful spending and inefficiency

3. Creating a business friendly environment to attract new businesses

4. Examining city ordinances for unnecessary regulation

5. Accountability of elected officials and employees

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Caledonia School Board

Rande Gustafson

Rande Gustafson

 

Rande Gustafson

Caledonia School Board

Q1-Name/family/political experience/background/qualifications

My name is Rande Gustafson.  My spouse is Barb Scottston.  We live on a farm in the Winnebago Valley, purchased in 2003.  I retired as a school administrator a couple of years ago and currently drive school bus for Schmitz Bus Company along with helping manage our farm. With 32 years of public school employment I have extensive knowledge of, and experience with:  school finance, human resources, staff negotiations, curriculum development, referendums, marketing/publicity, legislation, facility planning & management, parent involvement, business partnerships, school law, and human relations.  I have served on over 40 boards, committees, councils and tasks forces. These included state-wide education associations, the United Way, and appointed legislative committees. I currently serve on the Eitzen Lions Board and am a member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.

Q2-Candidate for which race and why are you running? What is your party (if applicable).

I am a candidate for ISD 299 School Board. I am running because of my passion for public education and the learning process. Although Caledonia Public Schools have some great strengths, there are areas for potential improvement including:  enhanced transparency, better communication, and a higher level of accountability to taxpayers, parents, and staff. With my knowledge and experience, I can help make sound decisions based on research, data, and demographics.   I have a history of being accountable to taxpayers and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, all while helping schools to expand quality programs and services. Building new revenue sources is an important component. I am not afraid to ask the tough questions and make the informed decisions required to move the district forward.

Q3-What issues do you believe are most important to the Caledonia school district and why?

1. Resources (Human, Fiscal & Physical) – With finite resources and changing demographics it is imperative Caledonia Schools be proactive in creating short and long term plans for staffing, balancing budgets, and for the utilization of school facilities.

2. Accountability — There is a need to hold decision-makers accountable – accountable for open communication, upholding school policies, and equitable treatment of all students and stakeholders.  There also needs to be enhanced accountability to local taxpayers.

3. Technology – Every career (and everyday life) in the future will require knowledge of technology, with the ability to stay current with ever-changing technological advances.

Q4-How do you see technology as a resource for teaching our students and is there more that can be done on that front to help teachers/students? If so, how?

It is imperative to provide teachers and students with as much current technology as possible.  Teachers need the technological resources to enhance student learning in both face-to-face and online classes.   Technology provides numerous tools that teachers can use both in and out of the classroom including: smart boards, tablets, podcasts, collaboration tools, and online projects.  Several areas the district could further embrace include:  converting more classes to online, offering expanded online courses and lessons, expanding flipping the classroom, robotics, better utilizing social media to promote programs & services, and developing corporate/business partner/mentorships (in the current use of technology as it pertains to various career fields).

Q5-What strengths do you think our district has and how would you highlight those strengths?

1. Staff – Caledonia is fortunate to have teachers and support staff who go” above and beyond” every day.  These staff members need to be recognized internally by the district, and externally through media sources.

2. The district has begun to explore opportunities to work with other school districts in sharing resources. This good start needs to be expanded and include rationale for why it will enhance student learning, and needs to be communicated with parents and community members.

3. The district has a good foundation in enhancing and utilizing technology — this

foundation can be highlighted and built upon by suggestions listed above.

Q6-What are some areas you think the district needs to do a better job in? 

Accountability, communications and marketing, long range planning, policy governance decision-making based on reliable data and demographics, transparency, inclusion, and a more balanced focus on extracurricular activities.

Q7-What are the top five goals the district should set over the coming five years and how would you prioritize those goals?

1. Design of a business/finance plan which includes a fund reserve policy, projected revenues, and both short and long term projected expenses.

2. Create a long range facility plan utilizing the most current data and demographics to identify future facility needs, such as: maintenance of current facilities, consolidation of facilities, and any new or redesigned facilities.

3. Work with local businesses, community organizations, and other identified stakeholders to create specific, effective marking strategies which positively promote Caledonia Public Schools.

4. Examine ways to collaborate with other school districts including, but not limited to, shared classes, curriculum, staff development, purchasing, staffing, and even consolidation when it would be fiscally responsible and enhance student learning.

5. Expand student volunteer opportunities – both formally (through service learning and citizenship curriculum), and informally (through community volunteer opportunities).

All goals need to be written so they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound.

Q8-How can the district better serve its minority populations?

According to the National Center for Education, autumn 2014 was the first time in the United States where students of color outnumber Caucasian students in public education.  Our schools are preparing young people to work in a global society with individuals from all walks of life.  Teaching students tolerance and understanding does not have to — nor should it — threaten their own values or the values of their families.  Caledonia Public Schools can achieve this, in part, by:

•Putting support systems in place for all minority populations, not just some.

•Providing ongoing information, training, and resources for staff.

•Educating all K12 students about minority populations.

•Offering learning opportunities for parents and community members through Community Education in cooperation with businesses, churches and civic organizations.

•Holding each person accountable for insuring that all students feel welcome, and safe while appropriately addressing negative incidents.

Q9-What are some things you believe the district is doing well at the moment?

•Providing teachers time to work together to align curriculum across subjects and grade levels through Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).

•Exploring opportunities to work with other school districts to offer collaborative programs and services.

•Enhanced use of technology.

Q10-What is our district’s biggest asset?

Humans are the greatest assets!  Quality teachers and support staff – office personnel, paraprofessionals, food service, custodians, etc.  Hiring, training, retaining, and supporting quality staff is a school district’s biggest asset and should be a top priority.

 

Blaine Moe

Blaine Moe

 

Blaine Moe

Caledonia School Board

Q1. Name/family/political experience/background/qualifications

My name is Blaine Moe I have been married to my wife for over 26 years, we have three daughters and they are all graduated from college.

Q2. Candidate for which race and why are you running?

I have no political background, however, I feel Godly men and women need to step forward and voice a moral and ethical view that the world is lacking . I don’t back any political party but I am very conservative on many issues.

I am running to be on the School Board for Caledonia Public Schools because I worked for the district for nearly 2 years as the Facilities Director and feel I have much to offer.

Q3. What issues do you believe are most important to the Caledonia school district and why?

I believe technology is a great tool and the district should do everything it can to give teachers and students the tools to stay current in the world, however there is no replacement in reading with your kids!

The families of this district is it’s strength and we need to preserve the family values. I have no hidden agenda no personal goals to accomplish I just desire to serve the people of district 299 in a logical, fair and Godly manner.

Editor’s Note: This is all the candidate submitted.

 

Jimmy Westland

Jimmy Westland

 

Jimmy Westland

Caledonia School Board

Q1. Name/family/political experience/background/qualifications

Jimmy Westland    Wife:  Janet     Daughters:  Jaycie 4  Jenna 2.

18 years  in School Districts- 6 at Caledonia ( 1 year Special Ed at Elementary and High School-  6 years Coaching  football, basketball, track)

Q2. Candidate for which race and why are you running? 

(School Board) I Want to do what is best for all of the youth of our School District

Q3. What issues do you believe are most important to the Caledonia school district and why?

We need to strive to keep God first in everything that we do to help to improve the morality of our youth,  We need to be financially responsible in the decisions that we make to ensure that everything is in the best interest of our students. We need to teach Respect to our youth as we strive to have youth who become great adults.

Q4. How do you see technology as a resource for teaching our students and is there more that can be done on that front to help teachers/students?  If so, how?

I believe that our School District is improving immensely in the area of technology. Technology is an important resource for teachers in the classroom. We need to continue to improve in this area as we prepare our youth for adulthood.

Q5. What strengths do you think our district has and how would you highlight those strengths?

I believe that our School District has great staff and students. There is a long history of loyalty among staff. We have many great staff that try to teach life skills to our youth in their specialized area whether it be a classroom or extra curricular activity.

Q6. What are some areas you think the district needs to do a better job in?

I believe that the staff at the high school/middle school level do not feel supported by the Administration and this is not good for the morale of our school. It encourages a lack of respect by our students because of the tension between the Administration and Staff. There needs to be Collaboration between Staff and Administration.

Q7. What are the top five goals the district should set over the coming five years and how would you prioritize those goals?

1. Honor God in all that we do (encouraging good morals)

2. continually improve to ensure the safety of our youth

3. teach discipline and respect to our youth and support our staff as they strive to encourage our students in this area

4. Be financially responsible beginning with Administration and moving to all areas

5. continue to improve in the area of technology

 Q8. How can the district better serve its minority populations?

The District can better serve minorities by teaching them about the History of America and helping them to learn about our culture.

Q9. What are some things you believe the district is doing well at the moment?

The District is doing a good job of improving in the area of technology. The District has many great staff who are teaching life skills to our youth in academics, athletics, and other extracurriculars like our FFA program.

Q10. What is our district’s biggest asset?

We have many families who have been born and raised here that have a great amount of pride in our School District. We live in a very close knit community. The School District is very accepting of newcomers if they share the pride in our youth and School District in general.

 

Michelle Werner

Michelle Werner

 

Michelle Werner

Caledonia School Board

Q1. Name/family/political experience/background/qualifications

Michelle Werner, I am married to Mike Werner and we have three children.  Luke is in his sophomore year at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.  Brenna is a senior and Austin is a sophomore here in Caledonia.  I work at a law office in town and have been on the school board for eight years.

Q2. Candidate for which race and why are you running? 

I am seeking another term as a school board member.

Q3. What issues do you believe are most important to the Caledonia school district and why?

Curriculum is a very important issue in the Caledonia school district.  The board, administration and staff need to continually ask if we are meeting the education needs of our students.  This can be difficult because every student is different.  For some students, a four year college degree is the direction they are taking after high school.  For others it may be technical school training or heading directly into the work force.  We need to continually ask if we are teaching everyone what they need to succeed when they leave this school district.

Maintaining our facilities is another issue for the Caledonia school district.  Through the hard work and support of the community, we have a newer high school and remodeled elementary school.  But like everyone knows, keeping a house maintained can be difficult.  Keeping a school maintained is even more difficult.  The building and grounds committee is doing a good job at assessing what needs to be done and providing a long range plan for upkeep.

Q4. How do you see technology as a resource for teaching our students and is there more that can be done on that front to help teachers/students?  If so, how?

I see technology as a key area for any school district.  Students are expected to know how to use computers and the resources they offer in any direction they take after high school.  Unfortunately, technology is also changing every day.  The school district needs to continually update computers, ipads and such to stay current.  We also need to provide continual training and learning opportunities for our staff so they know what is out there for our students benefit.

Q5. What strengths do you think our district has and how would you highlight those strengths?

The district has a great staff who wants to give our students a great education.  I have had one child graduate from high school and two that are still in the district.  They have had some pretty wonderful teachers, staff and coaches in their lives.

Q6. What are some areas you think the district needs to do a better job in?

Every business and every person has things they can improve upon.  We’ve improved our technology; started Professional Learning Communities for staff to collaborate in their area of learning; started Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports to help students learn good behavior, social and academic skills; started a new teacher evaluation program and several more new ways of doing things.  Now, we need to give these new ideas time to work.

Q7. What are the top five goals the district should set over the coming five years and how would you prioritize those goals?

The board has developed three goals to keep in mind when we make our decisions.  The first is high student achievement. The second is to create an optimal teaching and learning environment.  The third is to have efficient and effective operations.

For me the ultimate goal is to have students graduate with a desire to continue to learn.  No matter what we do in life, there will always be changes and new things to learn.  I hope this district instills in students the desire to ask, “what can I learn today”.

 Q8. How can the district better serve its minority populations?

The district should always ask how can we better serve every student.  Each student brings a unique life experience.  Again the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports is a good way to better serve every student.  The district is adding more differentiated learning for our students to better engage all learners.

Q9. What are some things you believe the district is doing well at the moment?

The district is doing a good job of looking at what needs improvement and is putting new ideas in place to make those improvements happen.

Q10. What is our district’s biggest asset?

Community support is the district’s biggest asset.  The community has supported the One-Day Bond proposals which has allowed our district to get back on track in curriculum, technology and facilities maintenance.  We have wonderful parents who get involved in their children’s education by helping in the classroom, participating in P.A.C.E, being a leader with the Junior Lego Team or helping out with the various sports boosters.

 

Amanda King

Amanda King

 

Amanda King

Caledonia School Board

Q1 – Name/family/political experience/background/qualifications

Amanda King; Husband: Nick King, Children: Isaac (5), Jordan (2)

Political Experience: School Board Member – 2 Years

Background:

Graduated from Caledonia High School in 2003.  I graduated in 2007 from the University of Minnesota with a BA in Elementary Education.  I went back to college in 2008 at Winona State for accounting and graduated from there in 2010 with a BS in Accounting.  I have since worked in multiple accounting related job functions.  My son, Isaac, is in Kindergarten this year at Caledonia Elementary School.

Qualifications:

Bachelor of Arts – Foundations of Elementary Education, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Bachelor of Science – Accounting, Winona State University

Certified Public Accountant – State of Minnesota

Budget Planner – University of Wisconsin – La Crosse

Q2 – Candidate for which race and why are you running?

I am running for re-election in the District #299 School Board race.  I became a member of the School Board two years ago and I am looking forward to continuing to serve in this capacity.  I initially wanted to be part of the School Board in order to be more involved in the community and more specifically the School District.  After serving on the School Board I want to stay on the Board for those same reasons and several additional reasons.  Over the last two years I believe there have been many very exciting and positive changes that have taken place.  We have really made huge progress towards becoming a very strong School District and I want to work on continuing this progress towards making our Schools the very best learning environment they can be for our children.

Q3 – What issues do you believe are most important to the Caledonia School District and why?

I feel that it is extremely important for the District to be continuously evaluating itself in order to change and adapt as quickly as the environment around us.  We want our students to leave our Schools being as prepared as they can be for the next chapter of their life.  Also, with my background in Accounting being financially responsible and stable is extremely important to me.  With limited resources we need to evaluate all expenditures to understand the long-term effects and not just the resulting gains in the present time period.

Q4 – How do you see technology as a resource for teaching our students and is there more that can be done on that front to help teachers/students?  If so, how?

I feel that technology is a vital part of teaching our students as a majority of the professions that our students will go into will require them to have some level of technological knowledge.  I feel that the Caledonia School District has made many very significant advances in this area and will continue to do so with the expansion of the one-to-one computing.  The difficultly with keeping up with rapidly changing technology is that it is expensive to do so; therefore, we will need to evaluate whether the benefits outweigh the costs.

Q5 – What strengths do you think our district has and how would you highlight those strengths?

I feel that our District has done a great job at getting all aspects of the operation as current as possible during a time of rapid change.  Some areas that improvements have been made to be more in line with current standards are the implementation of one-to-one computing, re-evaluation and implementation of a new math curriculum and the addition of secure entrances in both buildings.  As the environment we live in changes I am confident that our District will continue to adapt.

Q6 – What are some areas you think the district needs to do a better job in?

The District has been doing so many great things to improve the learning environment in our schools.  One thing that we could do better would be to promote all of the positive activities that are taking place every day in our Schools.

Q7 – What are the top five goals the district should set over the coming five years and how would you prioritize those goals?

1-Evaluate all curriculum areas to ensure they are all in line with current standards and that there are not any gaps in knowledge that occur from one grade to another.

2-Expand the one-to-one computing to the rest of the High School grades.

3-Begin to market ourselves more in order to increase enrollment.

4-Continue to expand the opportunities available to our students as new and innovative options become available.

5-Maintain a healthy fund balance, so program cuts are not necessary during times of declining enrollment.

Q8 – How can the district better serve its minority populations?

I think that it is important to start teaching children at a young age to be accepting of all people versus teaching this when students are in middle/high school as it may be too late by then.  In order to serve all students it is also important to adapt instruction to different learning styles and ability levels.

Q9 – What are some things you believe the district is doing well at the moment?

I feel that the district is doing a great job at getting up-to-date with current educational best practices and adapting to a rapidly changing environment.  There have been significant legislative changes that have affected the District over the last few years that the District Administrators have done a great job adapting to in a short time period.  There have been so many changes over the last two years it is hard to touch on all of them, but the staff, the Administration and the community have done a great job at embracing the changes and understanding how they will best work for our District.

Q10 – What is our districts biggest asset?

Our Districts biggest asset is all of the very dedicated staff that go above and beyond to help our students succeed.  Whether it be someone researching the newest technologies that schools are using, the teacher that always stays after school hours helping students or preparing for the next day, an Administrator that is researching the newest best practices that we should adhere to or the office staff that always seem to be able to answer your question.  The list could go on and on as there are countless examples of people going above and beyond to help our students succeed.

 

Melissa Marschall

Melissa Marschall

 

Melissa Marschall

Caledonia School Board

Q1-Name/family/political experience/background/qualifications

My name is Melissa Marschall.  My husband, Jay, and I have lived in Caledonia for the past 10 years.  We have five boys, Aaron (19), Alex (18), Andrew (16), Alijah (8) and Ayden (5). I was elected to the Caledonia School Board four years ago and have served as the Board Treasurer the past 2 years.  I grew up in Northeast Iowa and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Management from Upper Iowa University.  I have worked for Gundersen Health Systems for the past 14 years.

Q2-Candidate which race and why are you running? What is your party (if applicable).

I was elected to the Caledonia School Board four years ago as a write in candidate.  The district has made some very positive changes recently and I would love to be able to continue on the board as we move forward achieving the goals we have set.

Q3-What issues do you believe are most important to the Caledonia school district and why?

I believe that the most important issue for the Caledonia School District is determining the best way to provide a diverse education that fits the needs of all learners while maintaining a balanced budget.  Our district has experienced several years of declining enrollment, decreased revenue and budget cuts. The past few years the board, administrators and business manager have been committed to looking for ways of obtaining new revenue streams, reducing costs and developing partnerships with other districts.      We need to continue to be diligent about controlling our costs and searching for new revenue possibilities for our district along with marketing our district to attract new students.

Q4-How do you see technology as a resource for teaching our students and is there more that can be done on that front to help teachers/students? If so, how?

Technology is a wonderful tool that teachers and students can benefit from in the classroom, but I don’t believe it should be the only tool.  Our classrooms need to provide a variety of approaches to engage all learners, including hands on learning.  I am impressed with the work that our district’s technology committee has done and continues to do.  Every decision that has been made was after extensive and thoughtful research had been performed.  We have not just thrown I-pads in the classroom for the sake of having technology.  There is a purpose for that technology and there is support for our teachers as well as opportunities for collaboration to discuss ways to best use these tools in the classroom.

Q5-What strengths do you think our district has and how would you highlight those strengths?

Our experienced, dedicated teachers and staff.

Our driven, goal-oriented administration that is passionate about providing our students the best education opportunities available and desire our district to be one that other schools look to emulate.

The districts commitment to being fiscally responsible for every dollar that is spent.

Our commitment to offer a wide range of learning and extra-curricular activities to our students.

Q6-What are some areas you think the district needs to do a better job in? 

I believe our district has made tremendous strides in the last few years.  I would like to continue to look for ways collaborate with our students, parents and community members to ensure that we are providing the programming and education that our students, parents and community expect and desire.

Q7-What are the top five goals the district should set over the coming five years and how would you prioritize those goals?

1.  To continue to stay within our budget while increasing our fund balance.

2.  Maintain and expand our course offerings so that every student that graduates from our district has the skills necessary to achieve their goals, whether college or career bound.

3.  To maintain our facilities and continue to update our technology as appropriate.

4.  Continue to build partnerships with other districts, organizations and with our community.

5.  Marketing of the District with the goal of increasing our enrollment.

Q8-How can the district better serve its minority populations?

I believe the key to better serving our minority populations is communication.  We need to be asking, ‘Are we providing the support that you need?’  If we are lacking in some area we need to be committed to make the necessary corrections.

Q9-What are some things you believe the district is doing well at the moment?

Improved technology in the classroom.

Wide variety of online course offerings through our partnership with the Houston school district as well as our college in the classroom courses.

Our commitment to offering a diverse education including a fine arts program.  I am excited that we have been able to bring art back to the elementary this fall and expand our music staff as these programs were previously cut due to budget shortages.

Q10-What is our district’s biggest asset?

The Caledonia School District’s biggest assets are the committed teachers, engaged students and the amazingly supportive parents and community.  Without all of the wonderful people in this district, we would not be where we are today.

 

Kelley McGraw

Kelley McGraw

 

Kelley McGraw

Caledonia School Board

Q1-Name/family/political experience/background/qualifications

Kelley McGraw, together with my wife Carol we have four sons: Matt (married to Trisha, parents of Aubrey). Andy (married to Megan), Nick, and Zach.

I have a BA in Criminology from the University of Northern Iowa. I’ve been the resident State Trooper for over 20 years; when we researched schools and communities – we chose to live here.  For several years my wife (Carol) and I coordinated the St Mary’s FISH (Senior High) and FROG (Middle School) youth groups, I also served on the St Mary’s Parish Council. I am currently a member of the Caledonia Ambulance Service, and I work part-time for the Caledonia Police Department, and Houston County Sheriff’s Office.

I am finishing my first full term on your School Board and my second year as Vice Chairman.

Q2-Candidate for which race and why are you running? What is your party (if applicable).

I am seeking the honor to serve a second term on your School Board.   I joined the Board during some incredibly tough economic times for the District.   We were forced to cut our budget and make some very difficult decisions to sustain our schools.

Why am I running again? It has been a privilege to serve you these last four years as  and I believe we are headed in a very sustainable future while building partnerships with our neighboring Districts. I’ve enjoyed working with parents, staff, and administrators to resolve issues, find answers to your concerns, and create a healthy learning environment for all our children. I feel there is still work to do and with your support, I will continue.

Q3-What issues do you believe are most important to the Caledonia school district and why?

We must continue to develop partnerships with our neighboring Districts.  As class sizes continue to drop (for all of us) we can either cut programming and staff, or we can find mutually beneficial ways to help each other.

An example we are currently sharing our Ag teacher with the Houston District in return they are allowing us to use their open online classes. This is mutually beneficial by reintroducing AG classes for them and by saving us the fees for online classes. I ask doesn’t it just make sense we continue to support these relationships?

Q4-How do you see technology as a resource for teaching our students and is there more that can be done on that front to help teachers/students? If so, how?

Our District has taken a very aggressive approach with our one-to-one computer program placing a take home iPad computer in every 4th through 9th grade student’s hands to help them prepare for life after they leave our halls.   We continually strive to provide our staff with the latest technology available along with training opportunities to better understand how to use the equipment.

Q5-What strengths do you think our district has and how would you highlight those strengths?

If you ask someone from outside our District what they know about us it usually centers on sports achievements.   We need to take that same work ethic all of our sports teams have used to succeed and apply it to a marketing program sharing all the other great things happening in our District.

Q6-What are some areas you think the district needs to do a better job in?

I wish we had a stronger commitment to the arts in our schools.   Many wish we had a  healthier music program (band and choir).   You may have read that we’ve hired a part-time music teacher and an elementary art teacher; we are committed to developing the whole child.    While these are great strides I realize there is more we should consider doing.

We experience bullying in our buildings.   We need to do more to empower the silent majority to speak up, and defend those who are being bullied.   We should not be satisfied until every child feels safe and secure in our District.

Q7-What are the top five goals the district should set over the coming five years and how would you prioritize those goals?

1. Maintained financial stability, responsible stewardship of the tax dollars provided us to run our District.

2. Continue partnerships with Houston and Spring Grove (which extends the sustainability of all three Districts).  Not just academic but other sporting cooperatives and maybe a Tri-District musical could be options to explore.

3. Better marketing of what our District has to offer – we must retain more of our in District students who opt for online schooling or open enrollment to a neighboring District.

4. Maintain our facilities so they are useful for the next 50 plus years.

5. Staff development, we’re off to a good start with the PLC’s but I hope we find ways to offer our staff more opportunities to explore new theories then bring them back to the group so all will benefit.

Q8-How can the district better serve its minority populations?

We have (when the need presented) had staff employed to teach English as a second language, we try to help new students (and families) become acclimated to rural  Minnesota.   Every student regardless of need or talent is a gift, it is our responsibility as a District to challenge them to achieve all they can while they are here and prepare them for their next steps.

Q9-What are some things you believe the district is doing well at the moment?

1. We stabilized budget, we continually look for opportunities to maximize our efficiency.

2. We have entered into a partnership with the Houston School District to expand the class offerings each District has available to our children.

3. We continue to expand our one-to-one iPad computer program; today all students in grades 4th through 9th have an iPad assigned to them they can use for the year.  We are planning for our entire school to participate in this program.   We are the ONLY District in the area to offer this opportunity.

4. We are leasing used space in our Elementary to HVED for an alternative grade school.

5. We have smart boards / projectors in all our class rooms.

6. Professional Learning Communities; working with our Teachers we’ve started offering group sessions where they can learn, discuss, and develop best practices to apply in their classrooms to receive maximum student achievement.

7. We have a vibrant community education program offering many interesting classes, seminars, and opportunities.

8. We finally have a full time Superintendent; for years we survived on interim Superintendents – having a full time Superintendent offers stability to our Staff, accountability, and long term investment in our future.

9. We placed security cameras in the high school and have secured entrances to our buildings.

10. We are finally addressing the preventive maintenance items that had been put off during the extremely tight budget years.

11. We have a real strategic plan of where we want to be in the next five years and how we intend to get there (check our School web site for details).

Q10-What is our district’s biggest asset?

We are fortunate to be in a community that cares about our students, we have many excellent teachers, support staff, coaches, administrators, and a current School Board that are committed to your child.   With your support we are preparing all our children for life outside the classroom, success in college, and life in general.

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US Rep. Minnesota 1st District

Tim Walz

Tim Walz

Tim Walz

DFL-Candidate US Representative, Minnesota 1st District

Q1-Name/family/political experience/background/qualifications

Name: Tim Walz, Family: Wife, Gwen; two children, Political Experience: U.S. Representative, Minnesota 1st District 2007-present, 24 years in the National Guard (retired as a Command Sergeant Major), 20 years teaching high school social studies

Q2-Candidate for which race and why are you running? What is your party (if applicable).

Office: U.S. Representative in Minnesota’s 1st District. Party: DFL

Q3-What issue do you believe is most important to the voters of Houston County/Caledonia and your district and why (as it applies to your specific race)? 

I’m focused on continuing to grow southern Minnesota’s economy by working with local officials and residents on important issues like education, infrastructure, agriculture and Farm Bill implementation and rail safety.

Q4-Where do you stand on legalization of marijuana?

I believe we need to make decisions based facts, rather than ideology and, in this case making any decision should be with the input of citizens, law enforcement, and the medical community.

Q5-What are your views on silica sand mining?

I reject the false choice that we have to choose between protecting our environment and energy independence. We send over $1 billion a day overseas for energy. I support using American ingenuity and investing that money here in the United States in renewable energy. I have fought for and proposed legislation to take royalties from drilling in the U.S. to make the types of investments in American energy that will create jobs and make us more energy independent. And if additional energy expansion includes things like silica sand mining, we need to make sure it is done in close consolation with local officials and communities and done in an environmentally sound way.

Q6-How should our nation handle the threat of ISIS?

I support taking targeted military action like we have done in concert with our allies. But any escalation of military action by the administration should be in consolation with Congress.

Q7-What more can be done to spur economic development in your district?

Instead of moving from financial crisis to financial crisis and approving things like expiring tax credits at the last minute, we need to look at the long-term and work strategically to make investments in things like education and infrastructure now to spur economic growth.

Q8-What are some things you believe the legislature is doing well at the moment?

I believe there is an avenue for bipartisan cooperation on issues like agriculture, energy and infrastructure. I am committed to working with Republicans and Democrats on these issues

Q9-What qualities do you believe a successful legislator must poses?

Especially as a legislator, it’s important to realize that you rarely are going to get your way. Government works best when elected officials come together with good intentions and in the spirit of compromise to get something done for our citizens. Being willing to work with those you disagree with is not a weakness of our democracy, it is our strength and we need to work harder to advance our common agenda.

Q10-What are your priorities for the next five years and how would you rank those priorities? Which one would you take on first and how?

Veterans, agriculture and energy.  With the recent reports of serious problems at the VA here in Minnesota and across the country, now more than ever we need serious problem-solvers willing to work in a bipartisan manner to get something done for veterans. We owe the men and women who wore the uniform nothing less. I will continue to work with VA officials, veteran service organizations and with veterans across southern Minnesota to improve care and services across the VA.

Q12-What is our region’s biggest asset? And how can that asset be better marketed in the future for our region?

The people of southern Minnesota are our biggest asset because we know how to come together and get things done. We do it everyday in our communities. And the strength of our economy, our agriculture industry, our public schools and our health care systems are a testament to what we can achieve together.

Q13-What more needs to be done to help our area farmers/ag producers?

We should start by recognizing how hard our producers work and that the more they can plan ahead and have certainty in the market, the more productive they will be. In that spirit, it’s not right that it took 2 additional years to pass a Farm Bill because of political games and extreme ideology. Our producers and consumers deserve better and need better if they are going to continue to feed, fuel and clothe the world.

Jim Hagedorn

Jim Hagedorn

Jim Hagedorn

Rep-Candidate  US Representative, Minnesota 1st District

The Caledonia Argus reached out to the Hagedorn campaign and Mr. Hagedorn numerous times in an effort to publish his responses to our questions.

Despite those efforts, we did not receive his responses to our Voter’s Guide Questions.

 

 

 

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MN State rep. district 28b

Greg Davids

Greg Davids

 

Greg Davids

R-MN State Rep. 

District 28B 

1. Name/family/political experience/background/qualifications:

My name is Greg Davids and I have served as state representative for 11 terms. Prior to my service at the State Capitol, I served as mayor in the city of Preston. I have lived in southeastern Minnesota nearly all of my life, am married am blessed with three daughters and own and operate an insurance agency in Preston.

2. Candidate for which race and why are you running? What is your party (if applicable).

I am running once again to serve as your State Representative in District 28B, which includes Fillmore and Houston Counties and I received the endorsement of area republicans. Under one party rule in state government, there has been little balance offered at the State Capitol. I am running to help restore that balance and to continue fighting for the needs of southeastern Minnesota.

My top goals are to secure fair funding for our rural schools and nursing homes, ease your state income and property tax burdens, improve our local roads and bridges and ensure that your tax dollars are not wastefully spent on unnecessary government programs.

3. What issue do you believe is most important to the voters of Houston County/Caledonia and your district and why (as it applies to your specific race)?

Rather than narrowing it to one – because everyone has a different opinion – I’ll give you a few issues I hear most often from Houston County residents and local officials. Equitable funding for our schools and nursing homes is a top issue. Why should a Minneapolis student or nursing home be worth more than a child or facility from Caledonia? This unfair process needs to end.

I often hear about tax relief, especially over the past two years where our Democratic leadership increased taxes and fees by more than $2 billion. Our residents want to keep more of what they earn, and they should.

Finally, our farmers and small business owners just want a competitive business climate. Their collective success is not only critical to the economic well-being of our region but our state as well.

4. In what ways do you see your office making a difference in the community?

As state representative, I am able to bring the concerns and needs of the people of Houston and Fillmore counties to the State Capitol and fight for them. From a veterans cemetery in Fillmore County to funding for the Chatfield Center for the Arts to my new goal of a veterans home in southeastern Minnesota, I have been able to take many proposals from the wish lists of our communities and help make them reality at the state level.

Education is another area effective representation can benefit our area. There are few things more important than ensuring our students receive a world class education, so I was proud to support a K-12 bill that provides record new funding for our schools and will help give our teachers the resources they need to succeed.

5. What are your views on silica sand mining?

I believe this is the textbook definition of a local issue. We elect officials at the local level in order to address issues that are being debated in our communities and I have complete confidence that the decisions that are ultimately made by councilors, commissioners and township officers will prove to be the best decisions for our region.

6. How can your office lead into the future?

By continuing to prioritize the people of this district, working with members on both sides of the political aisle and getting things done for southeastern Minnesota. When we had devastating storm damage in our area, I worked with all sides and secured disaster relief for our area. When income tax reciprocity was dropped between Minnesota and Wisconsin, I authored a law that ordered the Governor’s Office to negotiate with the Badger State and come up with a new agreement. When farmers complained after being leveled with numerous tax increases approved by Governor Dayton and our Minneapolis-led DFL majority, I worked with these folks and helped convince them to work on repealing some of those laws.

Being open and accessible to constituents and building relationships between Republicans and Democrats has certainly helped me lead in the past and I believe these traits will lead to more accomplishments in the future.

7. What more can be done to spur economic development in your district?

We have to improve Minnesota’s tax climate in order to become more competitive with Iowa and Wisconsin. We can start by reining in excessive government spending, lowering tax rates and providing incentives to small businesses to stay and expand in Minnesota.

8. What are some things you believe the Minnesota House is doing well at the moment?

The Minneapolis delegation that controls the Minnesota House is doing a great job of wastefully spending your tax dollars and telling rural Minnesotans how they feel we should be living our lives. These folks raised taxes and fees on people from every tax bracket in order to create new light rail lines – which will cost Minnesotans tens of billions of dollars in perpetuity – which few in Caledonia will ever use. $400 million was blown on an Obamacare bailout, $160 million on a failing MNsure website and $90 million on a Minnesota Senate office building. They’ve approved new laws that make it more difficult for farmers and small businesses to operate. We could have funded core priorities, like education and transportation with prioritized spending. Instead, they raised your taxes and fees and found new and unique ways to wastefully spend your forced contribution to state government.

9. What qualities do you believe a successful legislator must possess?

The ability to listen, the ability to build relationships and the ability to work in bipartisan fashion at the State Capitol. I believe I possess these qualities and it’s why I’ve received dozens of endorsements – Education Minnesota, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Police Officers Alliance of Minnesota, etc. – throughout the years. But the most important endorsement I can receive is yours. This is why I try to be accessible throughout the year so you can share your concerns with me; we can discuss our options and then I can do my best to help you.

10. What are your priorities for the next five years and how would you rank those priorities? Which one would you take on first and how?

My top goals are to secure fair funding for our rural schools and nursing homes, ease your state income and property tax burdens, improve our local roads and bridges and ensure that your tax dollars are not wastefully spent on unnecessary government programs.

Taxing and spending would be tops on the list. Governor Dayton and our Minneapolis-led Democratic legislature raise taxes and fees on ALL hardworking Minnesotans – not just the rich – and wastefully increased all funds spending by $9.4 BILLION in two years. Common sense tells us this type of spending growth is simply unsustainable and will inevitably return us to another era of budget deficits. If the legislature doesn’t show some fiscal restraint next year, hold on to your wallets because you are going to pay mightily for government spending that is spiraling out of control.

11. What is our region’s biggest asset and how can that asset be better marketed in the future for our region?

In my opinion, southeastern Minnesota remains the best place in this state to live and raise a family. This is due to the people who live in Caledonia and our neighboring communities. The people in this area are our greatest asset and we need to find ways to keep our children and grandchildren here. More and better employment opportunities. Schools that continue to excel. Doing this will not only benefit our residents but it will entice others to relocate here, expand their business and help strengthen our towns and improve the economic health of our region.

It is an honor to serve as your state representative. I’ve fought hard for your priorities over the years and will continue to do so if you choose to send me back to St. Paul. I humbly ask for your vote on November 4.

Jon Pieper

Jon Pieper

 

Jon Pieper

DFL-MN State Rep. 

District 28B 

1. Name/family/political experience/background/qualifications:

Jon Pieper.

Residence: 200 Zenith Street Lanesboro, MN 55949 Political party: DFL: Family: Wife Sarah (Poston) for 25 years.  Children; Claire 14, Sophie 12 and Tate 10.

Parents: Bernie and Wanda Pieper Education: B.A. Mathematics and Computer Science Gustavus Adolphus College; M.S. Computer Science University of Oregon

Occupation: Owner Old Village Hall Restaurant in Lanesboro

Political experience; None.

Community involvement: Member Lanesboro Planning and Zoning. Past President Lanesboro Art Council. Past President Lanesboro Tourism Association. Website: PieperforHouse28B.com. My parents took over the family farm in Mayville Township outside of Caledonia when my grandparents, Milton and Lorena Pieper), retired. My brother currently farms the family century farm with his children as the fourth and fifth generations. My wife and I bought the Kenney Farm in Jefferson Township in 1989, continuing our family’s commitment to Southeastern Minnesota.

2. Candidate for which race and why are you running? What is your party (if applicable).

Minnesota House 28B

3. What issue do you believe is most important to the voters of Houston County/Caledonia and your district and why (as it applies to your specific race)?

I am a small business owner.

Main Street Fillmore and Houston Counties is hurting because of some of the highest property taxes in the country. Property tax reductions must be made to ensure the vitality of rural towns.

I am a land owner.

Rising property taxes are changing or rural landscape. Farmers are selling non tillable land, carving up the landscape.

I am a homeowner.

I have met older citizens who are struggling to pay their taxes.

4. In what ways do you see your office making a difference in the community?

I would work hard to restore Local Government Aid (LGA) and County Aid for Southeastern Minnesota cities and counties. For example, since 2002, Lanesboro’s LGA has been cut 40% in real dollars. This has resulted in high property taxes that are hurting our residents and local businesses.

5. What are your views on silica sand mining?

We have to protect our community’s health and safety. The State of Minnesota has set basic environmental laws for silica mining. I support having each county decide their way forward. Fillmore County has extensively researched silica sand mining and has developed a zoning ordinance. Houston County is in the process of creating their silica sand mining zoning ordinance

6. How can your office lead into the future?

Given the opportunity, I will work to improve the quality of life of the people of Fillmore and Houston Counties. I will lead as a small business owner, father and husband and landowner. I will stand up for fairness and equality in government funding of our rural schools, cities and counties.

7. What more can be done to spur economic development in your district?

Southeastern Minnesota is an agricultural jewel. But, some these agricultural commodities are shipped out of the region. We need to look at developing value added agricultural products and funding business incubators.

8. What are some things you believe the Minnesota House is doing well at the moment?

Education:

Every child should have the opportunity to decide their future. This means a high quality education for everybody. Public education must start early. The DFL House funded quality early-education programs and all day kindergarten. Early education programs are the best economic investment the public can make, they yield double-digit returns for every dollar put in. The DFL House also paid back the last of the education dollars taken by the Republican House in 2011.

HEALTH CARE

Health care must available for all. Health care must affordable for all.

MNsure is an insurance exchange of the The Affordable Care Act (ACA);

The ACA allows children to stay on their parent’s health care plan until they are 26 years old.

The ACA bans insurance companies from placing lifetime limits of medical care.

The ACA prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

The ACA prohibits insurance companies from discriminatory premium rates based on health status or gender.

The ACA prohibits insurance companies from dropping people from coverage when they get sick.

The MNsure exchange is now up and running with over 350,000 people enrolled.

MNsure is extremely important to Southeastern Minnesota. The ACA removed asset limitations for individuals. This means our farmers and small business owners can receive insurance through MNsure. When agricultural prices drop, farmers have a safety net with MNsure.

9. What qualities do you believe a successful legislator must possess?

Being a father and husband, a small business owner and a land owner, I understand the priorities of Southeastern Minnesota. As a parent of school aged children, I can listen to parent’s concerns about education. As a small business owner, I can relate to the hardships of rural Main Street. Being the fourth generation from Houston County, I can understand the challenges of being stewards of the land.

10. What are your priorities for the next five years and how would you rank those priorities? Which one would you take on first and how?

Reducing The Property Tax Burden

Providing High Quality Affordable Education

Job Creation

We need to makes sure The State of Minnesota continues to have a healthy and well-educated workforce and an infrastructure that promotes business opportunities. Minnesota can’t afford to step backwards with large budget cuts to education and healthcare. We also need to make sure the tax code and state regulations are fair to both employers and employees.

11. What is our region’s biggest asset and how can that asset be better marketed in the future for our region?

Our region’s biggest asset is the people who are committed to make Fillmore and Houston Counties a better place to live. We must do everything to preserve our rural way or life.

I could have lived almost anywhere. I chose a quality life. I came home. I wanted my children to have the same opportunities as I did, to live in a healthy and safe community. There is no more important responsibility than

to preserve the quality of life for our children and grandchildren.

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Over 20 pounds of marijuana siezed in Hokah, man charged http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/over-20-pounds-of-marijuana-siezed-in-hokah-man-charged/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/over-20-pounds-of-marijuana-siezed-in-hokah-man-charged/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:19:55 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35484 By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

Joseph Edward Walcker of Hokah has been charged with felony controlled substance in the third degree.

Walcker faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

On October 3, Walcker was found to have, on more than one occasion, and within a 90-day period, sold a total of five kilograms of marijuana.

On October 2, the Houston County Sheriff’s office received information about a possible marijuana grow in the county.

The informant indicated that they had seen approximately 12 marijuana plants that were eight to 10 feet tall on state land near Walcker’s residence.

On October 3, officer Dan Coogan walked out to the alleged location and saw marijuana plants on a berm near the edge of the state-owned land, approximately 200 yards from Walcker’s residence. It appeared six plants had been harvested since the informant had seen them.

Coogan, however, observed five plants still standing at the location.

The plants were approximately 10 feet tall. Coogan also noticed a heavily used trail in the woods that led towards the defendants house.

The trail was worn to the dirt, according to the complaint, and was approximately two feet wide.

After serving a warrant, officers found a large amount of freshly harvested and drying marijuana in the master bedroom, a large amount of dried and packaged marijuana in the southwest bedroom as well as more marijuana in the kitchen and laundry room.

The combined weight of the pot was 6.85 pounds.

Also collected were numerous items of paraphernalia, a large digital scale, a book titled “Cultivators Handbook of Marijuana,” two scissors with residue and a green duffle bag containing string, twist ties, bug spray and a saw.

On October 16, Coogan, along with captain Luke Sass went to a cold storage area where the seized plants were being held. After stripping the plants of the consumable portions, a total weight of 14.47 pounds was obtained.

The total weight of the seized marijuana was 21.32 pounds.

Walcker will appear in court to face the charges on November 17 at 11 a.m.

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An amount agreed upon for bid on replacement county highway shop…but it wasn’t enough http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/an-amount-agreed-upon-for-bid-on-replacement-county-highway-shop-but-it-wasnt-enough/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/an-amount-agreed-upon-for-bid-on-replacement-county-highway-shop-but-it-wasnt-enough/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:19:16 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35481 By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

“If we can get the building for in that $550,000 range, I think we’d be stupid not to try,” Houston County commissioner Justin Zmyewski said.

On Friday, October 24 an auction was held in Spring Grove of the building and 10 acres of land at the old Roverud Construction building.

The building, which features 11,000 square feet of office space, three overhead doors with hoists and pullies already installed and plenty of room to park the large vehicles it would require, was discussed by the county commissioners as a possible  option for a new county highway shop.

“Nobody denies that there is a need for a new highway department building and this is a way we could do that for far cheaper than the proposed $6 million,” Zmyewski said. “We have $600,000 ready to go for this project right now. If we could get it for $550,000 and even if it needs another $250,000 put into it to bring it up to OSHA standards, I think we can make that work.”

The building also features a secondary building that has cold storage.

It was built in 1984 and had some expansions added onto it in 1994.

“It is in good shape,” owner Curt Roverud said.

Roverud and county officials have discussed the property in the past. However, they were unable to agree upon an acceptable amount for both parties.

Roverud held the auction on Friday, October 24 and acutioned off much of the equipment, some personal vehicles, office and other equipment on Saturday, October 25.

The commissioners voted to authorize Steve Schuldt to bid on the property up to the amount of $475,000.

That is the amount that the county says it has appraised for, though Roverud would argue that he’s been given a considerably higher appraised value.

The Roverud property is located in Spring Grove right next to county highway shop property.

Other news

• During the regular county board meeting the commissioners, HR Director Tess Kruger and the county attorney Jamie Hammell went into closed session to discuss a personnel matter involving Bob Scanlan of the Planning and Zoning office.

• Commissioner Schuldt was named the MCIT voting delegate to represent the Houston County Board of Commissioners. Zymewski was named the alternate.

Update: The building was purchased by Joe Walsh for an amount greater than what the county agreed to pay for it. 

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One day bond meeting held to bring public up to speed http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/one-day-bond-meeting-held-to-bring-public-up-to-speed/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/one-day-bond-meeting-held-to-bring-public-up-to-speed/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:18:10 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35479 By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

An informational meeting was held regarding the upcoming One Day Bond which voters of ISD No. 299 will be asked to approve or decline.

A few concerned citizens turned out to learn more about the ballot question which reads: Shall the Board of Independent School District No. 299 (Caledonia Area Public Schools) be authorized to issue its general obligation school building bonds in an amount not to exceed $495,000 to provide funds for a phased program of acquisition and betterment of school sites, facilities and equipment with said bonds to be repaid from funds on hand and available in the debt redemption fund of the school district?

The “yes” or “no” question on the ballot gives voters the chance to choose between money that will stay in the district and can only be spent on transportation, vehicles, curriculum, materials/textbooks, technology or facility improvement.

A “no” vote means that after paying our required building debt, the excess is sent back to the state where the governor and legislators will decide how to spend it.

“I have a problem with that language,” Chuck Schulte said. “Of course when our tax dollars go up to the state they decide how to spend it. You could just as well strike that from your materials.”

Schulte wanted to emphasise that the One Day Bond isn’t as easy as it sounds.

The original intent of such a ballot measure was meant for property poor districts. As land values increased in Caledonia, the One Day Bond has been used to help offset several of the operational expenses as every effort has been made by the board to get the fund balance to a healthy state.

The capital loan program has been a means for “property poor” school districts to use a combination of local tax effort (levy) along with State of Minnesota Financial assistance (in the form of a loan) to construct public education facilities.

Caledonia is one of under 10 districts across the state that is a Capital Loan District.

About

“Yearly taxes to the public will not increase,” superintendent Ben Barton said. “The passing of each one day bond will extend the life of the capital loan. We are only doing this because of the current financial need of the district.”

In 2001, the district bonded for a portion of the new school. In addition, they borrowed $14,134,000 to complete the building of the new school and retrofit the former high school to be used as elementary space.

What Schulte said he’d like to see done is to convert the borrowed money into a bond.

“That would mean that if 10 homes were built in the district, the overall tax burden to the district as a whole would go down,” he said.

As it stands, because the district  received a capital loan from the state, the state requires tax payers to be taxed at a maximum effort.

Maximum effort is based on 29.39 percent of Adjusted Net Tax Capacity.

“This is a number that fluctuates each year based on property values,” Barton said.

The Adjusted Net Tax Capacity for 2015 is $5,833,799.

Therefore, $1,714,584.09 is estimated to be collected in property taxes in 2015 for payment of the local bond and capital loan.

If the district were to continue to pay the maximum effort, “we will pay off our 50 year loan ahead of time,” Barton said.

The approximate payoff year would be 2032.

For each $495,000 one day bond that voters approve, the impact is about an estimated six month extension of the pay off date.

Schulte was concerned because the current balance of the loan is higher than the original amount borrowed.

“That is something that concerns me,” he said.

In fact, as of June of 2013, the original $14,134,000 is at $14,487,084.91.

Factoring in, however, to the pay off of the loan is the fact that the bond, which payments have to be made regardless of the status or shape of the district, is expected to be paid off in February of 2021.

At that time the fully collected taxes will be put towards the loan accelerating the term.

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Caledonia school board hears reports on site goals http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/caledonia-school-board-hears-reports-on-site-goals/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/caledonia-school-board-hears-reports-on-site-goals/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:17:33 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35477 By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

The Caledonia school board heard reports from the administration team regarding their site goals.

Based on the performance of the students currently in grades 6 to 8, 53.7 percent met or exceeded proficiency on the 2014 MCA III reading test.

During the 2014-15 school year, the number of students will increase to 55.7 percent, according to the middle school goal.

The high school’s site goal is for students at CHS to raise their scores on the critical thinking exam by three percent from the spring of 2014 assessment to the spring of 2015 assessment.

The Caledonia Area Elementary site goals are for the percentage of 3rd to 5th graders at CAE school to increase student proficiency on the MCA-III math test by showing a three percent growth on the proficiency scale as measured in spring of 2015.

Additionally, the percentage of 3-5th graders at CAE school will increase student proficiency on the MCA-III reading test by showing three percent growth in meeting the standard as measured in spring of 2015.

Staff at CAE will increase time spent on differentiated/small group instruction within Tier 1 as measured by pre and post staff surveys.

Other news

• The board thanked Caledonia Rotary for sponsoring the Courage Retreat for the 8th grade students.

• The board thanked Merchants bank for their donation in the amount of $809 from the car window washing fundraiser to support Caledonia academics, fine arts and athletics.

• The board thanked PACE for sponsoring the Kindness Retreat for the 4th grade students.

• Mitch Mullins, head girls golf coach, Dustin Gavin, full-time janitor, Nancy Ranzenberger, part-time nutrition assistant, Kody Moore, part-time special ed para were all new hires approved at the October school board meeting.

• Coaching contracts were offered to Daniel Goergen, wrestling; Josh Diersen, boys basketball; Kevin Klug, girls basketball; Jackie Johnson, gymnastics.

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Balloon ride winner hopes its not a once in a lifetime experience http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/balloon-ride-winner-hopes-its-not-a-once-in-a-lifetime-experience/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/balloon-ride-winner-hopes-its-not-a-once-in-a-lifetime-experience/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:16:38 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35475 By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

It was a young daughter doing something so proudly for the mother she loves and looks up to.

It was a husband, a father, watching his wife and daughter take flight and soar, proudly looking on as he held the hands of the younger siblings down below.

It was a highly skilled pilot calming the nerves of the first time fliers.

It was the perfect day for a flight… it was “The Magical Decision.”

On Saturday, October 18 in an afternoon flight, Heather Myhre and her daughter, Grace, were given a ride in a hot air balloon during the Caledonia Balloon Rally.

Said Heather of the experience “it was really neat, magical,” making reference to the winning essay her daughter had penned which won her the balloon ride.

On a perfect afternoon, the Myhres lifted off and flew across Caledonia and off to the south deeper into Houston County.

“The ride was about an hour but it seemed to go so fast, there was so much to look at,” Heather said. “It was awesome, I’d definately do it again.”

A little apprehensive, mother put on a strong front for her daughter.

“I don’t know who was more nervous,” she said.

Experienced and award winning pilot Ed Chapman kept the pair at ease.

“He was very good, very calming. We were in very good hands,” said Heather.

As predicted in Grace’s essay, the fall colors stood out to Heather.

“There was so much to see, so beautiful,” she said. “A very different perspective.”

Grace, who perhaps at the envy of her younger siblings got to go along with Mom while the younger pair watched from below, said “it was awesome!”

She also said it was awesome that she’d get extra credit in school for her winning essay.

“I don’t know which she was more excited about,” joked Mom, “the balloon ride or the extra credit.”

Either way, the Myhre’s hope to once again soar above the skies of Caledonia sometime in the future, and maybe this time it can be Dad and little brother’s and sister’s turns.

Grace’s winning essay begins “Heather Myhre has never ridden in a hot air balloon.” She has now, and she loved every moment of it!

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All three elevators in county buildings under one maintenance agreement http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/all-three-elevators-in-county-buildings-under-one-maintenance-agreement/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/all-three-elevators-in-county-buildings-under-one-maintenance-agreement/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:15:53 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35473 By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

Houston county has partnerred with Schumacher Elevator Company out of Denver, Iowa to provide preventative maintenance on the county’s elevators every other month.

The company will service two hydraulic passenger elevators in the Houston County Justice Center and another elevator in the Houston County Courthouse.

The company stated they will systematically examine, adjust, lubricate as required, and  if, in our judgment, conditions warrant, repair or replace many of the working items on an elevator.

The agreement also means the company will conduct any required tests by the state of Minnesota.

The work will be preformed during regular working hours, excluding elevator trade holidays.

When asked for quotes, Schumacher had the more competitive quote and the company will provide a one hour response time if called.

This puts all three elevators under the same agreement,” said human resources director Tess Kruger. “Presently the historical courthouse is serviced by Thyssen-Krupp and the justice center is serviced by Schumacher.”

Schumacher installed the justice center elevators and provided the modernization of the mechanicals to the historical courthouse elevator.

“We have always received very good service from them,” Kruger said.

Kruger negotiated to limiting annual increases to a potential three percent.

County attorney Jamie Hammell reviewed the agreement between the two parties and told the county that she would’ve liked to have seen a 30-day, no fault termination notice.

However, Kruger noted “that did not fly in negotiations. This is a fair agreement to both parties and an absolute necessity for the county.”

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453 signatures presented to county board on petition to ban frac sand mining in the county http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/453-signatures-presented-to-county-board-on-petition-to-ban-frac-sand-mining-in-the-county/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/453-signatures-presented-to-county-board-on-petition-to-ban-frac-sand-mining-in-the-county/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:15:19 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35486 By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

Bruce Kuehmichel from Caledonia presented the Houston County board with a petition that had 453 signatures of Houston County residents calling on the board of commissioners to ban frac sand mining in Houston County.

“These signatures were collected by a few of us last summer in a short period of time mostly by going door to door,” Kuehmichel said. “Between 60 to 70 percent of the people we talked to signed this petition, most with little or no encouragement.”

Kuehmichel argues that the “high percentage of people who want you to act responsibly as elected officials to protect our county from the destruction of frac sand mining parallels the results of a poll done by an independent polling firm last year that found over 60 percent of the residents of southeast Minnesota want frac sand mining banned from our area.”

“You, commissioners, are out of step with what most people in Houston county want,” Kuehmichel said.

As the frac sand committee study is now completed and has been sent up to the county’s attorney for review, and with the  March of 2015 lifting of the moratorium nearing, those who do not want to see frac sand mining come to Houston County feel now is the time to act.

“Is it too late to talk about a ban?” commissioner Dana Kjome asked. “If that is going to happen, now is the time.”

Kjome was assured that, while not official, the language that the frac sand committee settled on will make it prohibitive for a full-scale expansion of the process of mining silica sand within the county.

When the document comes back as approved from the attorney, there will also be public hearings and other opportunities to weigh in, including possible discussion of banning.

Sue Van Gorp a resident of the county said that Houston County should learn from their neighbors experiences in western Wisconsin.

“The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,” she said. “The only way to ensure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes is to ban frac sand mining in Houston County.”

“We will take it under consideration,” noted commissioner Teresa Walters noted.

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Ebola Virus http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/ebola-virus/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/ebola-virus/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:15:12 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35471 School Talk

By Ben Barton, Superintendent

Given the recent news about Ebola cases in Texas and the ongoing outbreak in West Africa, we understand staff, parents and students may have questions and concerns about Ebola, particularly if you have staff or students who have recently traveled to West Africa. The risk of Ebola disease being spread in Minnesota is still extremely low.

Caledonia Area Public Schools takes direction from both the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Department of Education (MDE) to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.  Our Commissioner of Education, Brenda Cassellius, provided the information in this article to our district. Since the start of the outbreak, MDH has sent several health alerts to Minnesota health care providers advising them to be aware of and on the lookout for anyone presenting symptoms of Ebola and other diseases of concern with a recent travel history to these regions and to report those cases immediately to us.

Ebola background

• At this time, there is no need to exclude or avoid anyone because they have recently traveled to a country where Ebola is occurring.

• The risk of Ebola disease being spread in Minnesota continues to be extremely low.

• Ebola is transmitted when a person has had direct contact with the blood or body fluids (e.g., saliva, urine, vomit, feces) of an Ebola-infected person or with objects contaminated with that person’s blood or body fluids.

• People returning from the affected areas who do not have symptoms are not infectious. There should be no restrictions on their attendance or activities.

• Fever in people who traveled to the affected areas is most likely due to more common infectious diseases in West Africa (e.g., malaria), but should still be checked by a doctor urgently.

Reassuring children

Understandably, there is heavy coverage in the media about the spread of Ebola. It is a good idea to limit young children’s exposure to news stories about it. This way, parents can decide what information they want to share based on their child’s level of understanding. Here are some things to remind children if they are concerned:

• They are safe.

• Our health care system is among the best in the world for taking care of sick people.

• Ebola is rare and does not exist everywhere. When cases are found, the person with the infection is taken to a safe place to be cared for so that they can get better and not make anyone else sick.

• Doctors and scientists who know a lot about Ebola are working hard to find ways to prevent or cure this illness.

Pay attention to children and youth because they are paying attention to the news. Some things to consider:

• Media coverage of Ebola can worry or frighten children and adolescents (and adults).

• The news media tend to emphasize the most frightening aspects of an outbreak.

• Ebola does not have to be in your community for media coverage to affect your child.

• You can help young children by restricting their exposure to media coverage.

• With all children and adolescents, active mediation (monitoring and explaining) can help them cope with media coverage of Ebola.

• The most important thing you can do is to talk about Ebola media coverage with your child.

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Houston Elementary earns top honor http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/houston-elementary-earns-top-honor/ http://hometownargus.com/2014/10/28/houston-elementary-earns-top-honor/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:14:03 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=35469 By Kelley Stanage

The Caledonia Argus

For the fourth year in a row, Houston Elementary School has once again earned the highest performance status available from the Minnesota Department of Education, the “reward” school designation. Schools achieving reward status represent the top 15 percent of Minnesota’s Title I schools, as measured by the Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR). Twenty schools in Minnesota have achieved this designation for all of the four years it has existed.

In 2012, Minnesota released their MMR system as the state’s alternative to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) rating system, called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Along with most states in the nation, Minnesota has chosen to develop their own accountability system to replace NCLB’s AYP system. AYP is generally viewed as an incomplete and inaccurate measure of student and school performance. MMR, according to Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner, Brenda Casselius, “takes into account school performance in four categories; proficiency, growth, progress in closing achievement gaps and graduation rate.”

Both Principal Richard Bartz and Superintendent Krin Abraham attribute much of the success of their students to the district’s long-term focus on early learning. According to Bartz, “We’re reaping the benefits of the efforts that we’re putting towards our youngest learners.” Houston’s preschool works closely with the elementary school teachers, and they’ve offered all day every day kindergarten since 2006.

The focus on early learning laid a good foundation for student success. But, staff knew that alone was not enough, Abraham said, “We have the support services for the students that are struggling, multiple-tiered support services. And, we also have the gifted and talented services for those children who need the extra challenge so they’re not bored. We really have looked at providing each student with the developmental instruction that he or she needs to achieve at the highest level.”

Providing individualized instruction requires a commitment by teachers and staff to work closely together. “Our staff is just amazing. They get along. They care about the students. We’re a small enough school that we look at the needs of each individual child,” said Bartz.

Abraham believes the school provides a family atmosphere.  She said the one quote everyone remembered from the beginning of the year workshop was “Every student is somebody’s baby.” “Watching what the adults in that school do, and how they care, and how they are working toward constant and continual improvement, it really makes me proud to say I’m in this district. We’ve got great teachers, great kids, great parents,” she said.

The district plans to acknowledge everyone who helped make the achievement possible when they unveil their fourth reward school banner during a community celebration, including elementary and high school students, staff, families, community members and businesses. When plans are finalized, the celebration will be announced on their website at www.houston.k12.mn.us.

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