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. Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:27:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Erica Jacobson, survivor of melanoma, shares her story http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/erica-jacobson-survivor-of-melanoma-shares-her-story/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/erica-jacobson-survivor-of-melanoma-shares-her-story/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:27:22 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39844 Daniel McGonigle/The Caledonia Argus  The Jacobson family, Kevin, Erica, Ethan and Jermiah.
Daniel McGonigle/The Caledonia Argus
The Jacobson family, Kevin, Erica, Ethan and Jermiah.

By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

“It puts everything into perspective,” Erica Jacobson said.

Diagnosed with melanoma in 2006, Jacobson used to fret over things when they didn’t go as planned. After her diagnosis, she said she and her husband, Kevin, take things as they come.

“We never make any plans; we just go with the flow,” she said of now.

Jacobson, who at the time of her diagnosis was 29 years old with two young children, then four and two years old, was of the third generation in her family to be diagnosed with melanoma. “My mother was diagnosed in 2001,” she said.

So too was her grandfatther on her mother’s side. “That makes my boys very high risk,” she said.

Despite her mother’s diagnosis, and subsequent emphasis of proper use of sunscreen and avoiding over exposure to the sun, Jacobson lived her life as she saw fit.

“I didn’t listen to my mom’s advice,” she said. “And I ended up with the consequences.”

Jacobson used to tan to “look good,” and in her mother’s case the cancer was detected at only a stage one level. For Jacobson, “It had reached a level three.”

The 2006 melanoma occurrence was found on her shoulder. Finding it late meant it had reached stage three and had hit the lymph nodes and begun to spread.

In 2008, the cancer had returned as a distant spread. That melanoma diagnosis was located on the small of her back and because of the previous cancer was designated as stage four.

Jacobson and Relay for Life

This year, Jacobson and her family plan to attend Relay for Life. The event will be held on August 7 with opening ceremonies starting at 6 p.m. It will be held in Caledonia at St. John’s Lutheran Schools.

“Cancer affects so many people,” Jacobson said. “It is nice to get together and see so many people who share the same bond.”

Jacobson is happy to give back.

“It’s nice to know you have been helped,” she said. “Relay is almost like a family. There is so much support given there and so many people to talk to who share so many things in common.”

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City to hold public hearing regarding change of an ordinance on proposed county highway shop http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/city-to-hold-public-hearing-regarding-change-of-an-ordinance-on-proposed-county-highway-shop/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/city-to-hold-public-hearing-regarding-change-of-an-ordinance-on-proposed-county-highway-shop/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:25:20 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39842 By Zachary Olson

The Caledonia Argus

The city council stays proactively opposed to the addition of the new county highway shop next to Caledonia High School.

The council carried a motion, with one opposing vote from member Bob Burns, to hold a public hearing regarding whether or not they should amend specific influential ordinances. If they were to amend Ordinance 153, a zoning ordinance, they could change the lot to a CUP (conditional use permit) which would give them better footing in the fight for the land. The advice was from city attorney Tim Murphy who encouraged that the changes, if the city supports taking that stance, be enacted sooner rather than later. Or at least while the project proposed by the County Board remains in it’s infancy.

The public hearing will be August 24 at 6:10 p.m.

The council meeting also hosted Chief of Police Kurt Zehnder, who was present to discuss the hiring of another officer following the unfortunate resignation from officer Allan Johnson at the end of June. Chief Zehnder stressed his desire for hiring a full-time officer rather than part-time, to help carry the load the department has been handed following the recent resignation.

Chief Zehnder wants five full time officers, and said to the council that he strongly requests that they vote to allow the hiring of a full-time position as a way of disallowing his department to be a revolving door for young officers.

But Mayor Josh Gran was in favor of hiring the part-time officer, and stated that hiring a full-time is pricier, doesn’t necessarily ensure that the officer would stick around for the long haul and develop a commitment to the city of Caledonia.

Mayor Gran said that “sometimes life happens,” but the rest of the council disagreed, and together stated that the amenities of being a full-time officer appeals more to an individual who is looking to find a new place to live. The council then approved a motion to look to hire a full-time officer to help Chief Zehnder and the department, with an opposition from Gran.

The council meeting also held a public hearing to discuss concerns about the proposed ABLE building off of Gjere Avenue. The same concerns surfaced over problems with water runoff, and inadequate space for the runoff to be filtered in the case of an emergency.

Concerned citizens appeared before the council to protect their neighboring private property, and worried that the four holding ponds proposed by ABLE may not hold up in severe cases. They also requested that everything be up to standards, and worried about whom to contact in the case of runoff on private property: the council or ABLE?

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For the first time in a half decade, Caledonia MCA test scores above state average http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/for-the-first-time-in-a-half-decade-caledonia-mca-test-scores-above-state-average/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/for-the-first-time-in-a-half-decade-caledonia-mca-test-scores-above-state-average/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:23:46 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39839 Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 3.04.43 PM

By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

For the first time in five years, Caledonia schools have met/exceeded the state standards on the MCA III tests.

“It’s exciting,” elementary principal Gina Meinertz said. “It is nice to know that the hard work being put in by the students and staff is paying off.”

“I am so proud of the efforts of our staff and students,” said superintendent Ben Barton. “The following quote from Schmoker captures the essence of how I feel about our MCA results and data:

In some sense, all results—good or bad—are ultimately good, because they provide feedback that can guide us, telling us what to do next and how to do it better.

(Schmoker, 1999)”

Since 2011, Caledonia as a district has been below the state average on MCA tests.

However, in 2015 the district had a plan and they stuck to it.

The focus is on setting goals for the individual students and district wide, the schools were 4.8 percent better than the state average in math, 8.3 percent above state average in reading and 12.9 percent above state average in science.

Parse that data out to only include the elementary students, and in math students (last year’s grades) 3-5 were 18.9 percent above state average in math, 16.8 percent above state average in reading and 23.4 percent above state average in science.

“The teachers have been working hard to learn the new resources we have purchased to support reading and math,” Meinertz said. “A standards-based focus helps students and teachers to know the appropriate challenge and specific learning targets.”

At the high school, Caledonia enjoyed a 17.3 percent growth from 2014 to 2015 in science.

Overall, Caledonia students scored 17.6 percent higher than the state average in science. The overall percentage of proficient in science at the high school was 72.5 percent.

In math the high school students scored above state average. In reading, there was a 23.1 percent growth in the scores from 2014 to 2015, 19.3 percent above the state average.

Eighth grade students saw a 14 percent growth in math scores from 2014 to 2015 and tested at 18.7 percent above the state average.

“A true educator is never ‘pleased’ with the results,” MS/HS principal Mary Morem said. “You never want to settle and you want to keep looking for ways to improve.”

Morem said that she is pleased to see the successes but also wants to continue to look at each individual student and see how the school can help that student achieve his or her best.

Step forward

As stated, the educators aren’t going to rest on their collective laurels.

Plans are already being discussed and the key leaders of the district are meeting to review building on the successes.

When analyzing the data, the principals and superintendent have found several things that worked this past year, now they’ll look to grow or build those successes in upcoming years.

“At the elementary level, the collaboration between teachers in PLCs to analyze data and make changes in instruction really helped,” Meinertz said.

She also points to more focus on the integration, hands on learning of all subjects as key to the higher scores as well.

“Professional development days were also helpful,” Meinertz said.

You might have looked at the early out on Wednesdays if you are a parent as a burden for which you need to locate childcare.

From the schools’ perspective, however, this was a key time for educators to learn which in part led to the higher MCA scores.

“Collaboration amongst peers, according to research done nationally especially at the junior high level, experts will say is one of the best way to change results,” Morem said.

“Goal setting is another piece,” Meinertz added.

Both principals plan to engage the students to help them set and achieve goals which should only continue to build on the success of 2015.

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Garden Variety Tacos http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/garden-variety-tacos/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/garden-variety-tacos/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:22:14 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39837 By Angela Denstad Stigeler

When corn, peppers and zucchini start overflowing farmers’ markets and local produce shelves, it’s time to take advantage of all this garden variety in new and unexpected ways. That’s why I was thrilled to come across this recipe for a delicious alternative to typical tacos. With a few fun techniques—including fire-roasting—you can tastefully turn these fresh vegetables into a meat-free fiesta fit for guests. What’s more, this recipe is very forgiving. If you don’t have access to the traditional Mexican ingredients, try it anyway with what’s available—you won’t be disappointed. You may even find you like this taco filling enough to eat it as a side dish. At any rate, you’re sure to find this garden variety recipe far from ordinary.

Poblano, Corn and

Zucchini Tacos

4 medium-sized fresh poblano chilies* (about 1 pound)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound zucchini, seeds removed if large, cut into ½-inch dice

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 large white onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¾ cup Mexican crema or a combination of heavy cream and sour cream

salt to taste

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

12 corn tortillas

½ cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco, or other fresh goat cheese such as feta

Roast the chilies, either over the flame of a grill or gas burner, or under the broiler, turning frequently, until blistered and blackened all over, about 10 minutes. Remove them to a bowl, cover and let cool.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet. Add the zucchini and sauté over high heat until richly golden, about 8 minutes. Add the corn and continue to sauté until it begins to brown, another couple of minutes. Remove the vegetables to a plate and set aside.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan. Add the onion and sauté until golden, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, as the roasted chilies are cool enough to handle, remove the charred skins, stems and seeds, rinsing under cool water if necessary and cut them into ¼-inch matchsticks, or coarsely chop. When the onion is cooked, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Reduce the heat to low, sprinkle in the oregano and then add the cream. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly, about two minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon salt. Return the zucchini and corn to the skillet, stir to incorporate, and cover. Let heat through a few minutes before serving. Adjust seasoning as necessary.

To serve, place the mixture into warm corn tortillas and sprinkle with some of the cheese.

*If you don’t have access to poblano chilies, use a mixture of green bell peppers and large jalapeños, which mellow with roasting.

Recipe adapted from Rick Bayless

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4-H, fair board emphasize need for updated swine/sheep building http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/4-h-fair-board-emphasize-need-for-updated-swinesheep-building/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/4-h-fair-board-emphasize-need-for-updated-swinesheep-building/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:21:14 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39835 By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

Members of area 4-H clubs and the Houston County fair board came before the Houston County board of commissioners to gauge their level of interest in assisting in building a new combo hog/sheep barn.

The estimated cost of the building is in the range of $225,000 and could be done in phases with phase one expected to cost $175,000.

The need has arisen given the shape of the current hog barn.

“Unless you’re over five and a half feet tall, you can’t see into the pens,” Mark Jennings, who represented the 4-H in the discussion, said.

“4-H and we have been working together trying to raise funds for a new building,” fair board president Jeremy Johnson said. “I know they’ve got families and kids working hard attempting to get the money coming in.”

The group presented the board with a possible design plan.

The building would be expected to be 72×144 wide. Provisions of the proposed site would allow it to be built as large as 80 feet wide.

The former sheep building was 140 feet long and the swine barn is 170 feet long.

The proposed plans would be to include 150 pens, pens that, unlike the current pens, would allow for the better showcasing of the animals.

“Something that could maybe be taken down,” one member of the fair board said.

“Certainly something that can better display the animals,” another added.

The current wood pens, eye level to strollers, aren’t always the most conducive to showing ones animals during the fair.

Remodeling was also looked into but as those costs added up, it seemed to make more sense to those involved to rebuild.

Involvement in 4-H is on the rise. Last year there were 96 swine at the fair. This year, if everyone who was registered as of July 28 shows up, there are expected to be 149 swine.

Sheep too are up. This year 57 sheep are expected while last year had 52 animals. Goats are up to 39 from last year’s total of 27.

“All three species are up as of today,” Jennings said.

Commissioners Justin Zmyewski and Steve Schuldt said that the county board is beginning the process of reviewing the upcoming budget and that they would keep the request in mind when going through that exercise.

Poultry

A statewide moratorium on poultry was implemented back in May.

“The Minnesota Board of Animal Health banned all live poultry exhibits at public events,” Wendy Huckaby, Communications Manager with the University of Minnesota Extension office, 4-H, said.

Huckaby said this made things more challenging this year for those kids who had signed up to show their birds at their respective county fairs.

“In 4-H you sign up in the fall of the previous year,” she said. “We had to make slight modifications in what we do.”

Most visible to the public of those modifications will be the absence of birds.

However, the BOAH decision, made because of an outbreak in Minnesota of AVN flu, has really made the 4-H students step up their game as it relates to showing their animals.

“They have had to get creative,” Huckaby said.

Some, during the interview with judges portion, have held onto stuffed animals to simulate holding the birds.

An exhibit is required of the students and many of them have come up with several great displays across the state.

“We’ve had some address the AVN flu issue head on and do a display on that,” Huckaby said. “It has been disappointing for some kids not to be able to bring their animals, but it has provided a unique opportunity for creative learning to occur.”

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New laws put into effect August 1, 2015 http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/new-laws-put-into-effect-august-1-2015/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/new-laws-put-into-effect-august-1-2015/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:20:25 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39833 By Carson Coffield

Student Intern

The Caledonia Argus

On July 23, 2015, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a series of select new laws that take effect throughout the state on August 1.

Not all of these newly created laws will have much effect on everyday life for everyone, but there are a few noteworthy laws that are definitely worth mentioning.

There is a substantial increase in fines for second and repeat texting and driving convictions.

As it stands now, every time someone is caught texting and driving they are fined $50, but as of August 1, second and repeat offenders will be fined $225. It’s a large price to pay if drivers aren’t willing to put their phone away when they’re behind the wheel.

The minimum wage will also be receiving a $1 increase from $8 to $9, and will increase again to $9.50 on August 1, 2016.  This has been a long awaited law by many residents, including the thousands of Minnesotans who work for minimum wage or below every year.

Military Spouses and Family Day has been created to honor the vital support and sacrifice that the spouses and families of military personnel for the betterment and support of this country.

The new law will designate the Sunday before Labor Day as Military  Spouses and Family Day and is the second state with such a designation.

Hire a Veteran Month has been May for the last decade, but will be making the switch to July for 2016.

Change was requested because May is a busy month for people with things like school graduations, the fishing opener and Mother’s Day all happening.

For additional information on the newly passed laws, check out http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/leginfo/0815nlrelease.pdf.

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Historical Society sees many successes http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/historical-society-sees-many-successes/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/historical-society-sees-many-successes/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:19:02 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39831 By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

Sixty-five hundred volunteer hours were logged by volunteers at the Houston County Historical Society last year.

The group has several exciting exhibits that they continue to work on and we’ll preview on these pages as the Houston County Fair draws near (August 19-23).

A key display that the Historical Society continues to work on is that of “the timeline.”

Expected to encompass all of Houston County’s rich history and that of the land itself, Historical Society president Shirley Johnson continues to thank the many donors who are making the timeline dream turn into a reality.

AcenTek gave a grant to the project. Several individual donors have also made contributions.

The Historical Society received a grant for a digital microfilm device.

“We continue to try to raise money for an elevator,” noted Johnson. “We have a lot of older volunteers and it’d be nice to have so we won’t have to continue to climb so many steps.”

Johnson told the Houston County board of commissioners that the housing is in for the new museum.

Several years ago the projected cost of an elevator was $85,000.

“Now I’m sure it will be well over $100,000,” she said. “It is something we’ll have to keep working on.”

Rich Kordes, treasurer of the Historical Society said “we’re still enjoying great support,” of the groups financial situation.

Businesses have contributed, grants and memorial funds continue to push the important task of documenting Houston County’s history forward.

“The funds are all doing well, but we continue to have a need for additional funds,” he noted.  “There’s the saying ‘we’re so tight we squeak.’ We take that to a new level. We squeal.”

Historical walk

As part of Founder’s Day, the Historical Society hosted a historical walk, something that was very well received.

Deb Wray, Historical Society member and organizer of the historical walk, said she’d like to branch out and host a similar event throughout the county.

“There is a need for that community outreach,” she said.

The Historical Society are also emphasizing rural schools something Wray noted is a time consuming process.

“That encompasses over 100 schools,” she said.

Over the past year, the Houston County Historical Society marked visitors from 34 states, six foreign countries and 160 different Minnesota cities.

There were 55 visitors from Wisconsin and 35 from Iowa.

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Public Record for August 5, 2015 http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/public-record-for-august-5-2015/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/public-record-for-august-5-2015/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:18:20 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39829 The following non-confidential traffic and criminal cases were  compiled from reports released from the court administrator’s office July 2 to July 16, 2015. Ages are given at time of offense.

MINN. STATE PATROL

Scott G. Burg, 37, Onalaska, Wis., speeding, fined $115.

Ryan Eugene Harper, 65, Trempealeau, Wis., seat belt violation, fined $100.

Sheryl Lea Kubistal, 42, Houston, Minn., speeding, fined $115.

Amy Jean Shaw, 38, Alma, Wis., speeding, fined $115.

John Scott Snider, 42, Pacific, Mo., speeding, fined $115.

Cheryl Jeanene Zenke, 58, Caledonia, Minn., speeding, fined $115.

Brandon James Becker, 21, Hokah, Minn., speeding, fined $375.

HOUSTON COUNTY SHERIFF

Steven Clark Bluske, 62, La Crosse, Wis., speeding, fined $135.

Christopher Ryan Botcher, 36, Houston, Minn., terroristic threats, prison 15 mo stayed for 5 yrs; jail 180 days, 5 yrs probation.

Casey Joseph Colsch, 28, Mabel, Minn., possession/sale sm amt marijuana, fined $125; possession of drug paraphernalia, fined $50.

Joseph Michael Haverty, 18, Caledonia, Minn., speeding, fined $135.

Leslie Marie Hill, 36, Houston, Minn., escape from custody, fined $75, jail 365 days, stayed for 2 yrs, 2 yrs probation.

Kevin Andrew Jankowski, 20, La Crescent, Minn., fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, fined $85, prison 17 mo stayed for 5 yrs,  5 yrs probation.

Corum Michael May, 19, Sussex, Wis., speeding, fined $215.

Landon Michael Ranney, 25, Onalaska, Wis., speeding, fined $215.

Darrell Deshon Sibley, 49, Hokah, Minn., possession of drug paraphernalia, fined $125; possess/sale sm amt marijuana, fined $50.

Jerry Robert Stevens, 71, La Crosse, Wis., speeding, fined $135.

Mary Elizabeth Daley 71, Caledonia, Minn., permit traffic offense by another, fined $175.

Manuel Salazar Gutierrez, 39, New Albin, Iowa, driving w/o a valid license, fined $175; no proof of insurance, fined $200.

Cortney Marie Johnston, 16, Houston, Minn., failure to yield right of way, fined $125.

Ella Elizabeth Pieper, 18, Caledonia, Minn., underage alcohol consumption, fined $175.

Blake James Regan, 18, Waukon, Iowa, underage alcohol consumption, fined $175; open bottle law violation, fined $100.

Robert John Tippery, 60, La Crosse, Wis., DWI, fined $1,105, $600 stayed for 2 yrs, jail 90 days, 87 days stayed for 1 yr, 1 yr probation.

CALEDONIA POLICE DEPT.

Bridgette Rae Blumenstein, 31, La Crosse, Wis., stop sign violation, fined $125; driving after suspension, fined $200.

Kalyssa Denielle Johnson, 26, Caledonia, Minn., driving after revocation, fined $275.

Howard Robert Loveless, 53, Houston, Minn., seat belt violation, fined $100; second count seat belt violation, fined $25.

Janice Louise Meiners, 58, Harmony, Minn., issue dishonored check, fined $175, $55.01 restitution.

Edward Allen James Shukis, 23, Caledonia, Minn., disorderly conduct, fined $175, jail 30 days stayed for 1 yr, 1 yr probation.

Todd Steven Thompson, 21, Harmony, Minn., DWI, fined $1,100, $700 stayed for 2 yrs, jail 90 days stayed for 2 yrs.

Margaret Mary Vanderschaaf, 21, La Crosse, Wis., failure to drive w/due care, fined $115; use of wireless communication device while in motion or traffic, fined $50.

Andrew Craig Forrester, 26, Caledonia, Minn., disorderly conduct, fined $125, jail 2 days, 1 yr probation.

William Ray Johnson III, 28, Caledonia, Minn., disorderly conduct, fined $175, jail 30 days stayed for 1 yr, 1 yr probation.

Brent Adam Koch, Caledonia, Minn., issue dishonored check, fined $125, $410 restitution, jail 30 days stayed for 1 yr.

HOKAH POLICE DEPT.

Edward Kevin Oldenburg, 49, Hokah, Minn., license not in possession, fined $175.

LA CRESCENT POLICE DEPT.

Rondell Joseph Clark, Jr., 19, La Crosse, Wis., underage drinking and driving, fined $225, jail 30 days stayed for 1 yr, 1 yr probation; speeding, fined $50.

Samuel Frank Devries, 29, La Crosse, Wis., no proof of insurance, fined $275.

Stuart Rodney Dibley, 83, Caledonia, Minn., speeding, fined $125.

Timothy John Jambois, 59, La Crescent, Minn., parking violation fined $22.

Tyler Blake Mauss, 24, Caledonia, Minn., seat belt violation, fined $100.

Heather May McCormick, 25, Winona, Minn., driving after revocation, fined $275.

David Earl Sabo, 46, Eitzen, Minn., seat belt violation, fined $100.

Kelly Ann Tanke, 29, St. Louis Park, Minn., operate unregistered vehicle, fined $175.

Cory James Walsh, 36, Dorchester, Iowa, speeding, fined $135.

Mathew Neal Weber, 22, New Albin, Iowa, driving w/o a valid license, fined $175; speeding, fined $40.

Jamie Lynn Adams, 46, La Crosse, Wis., violate restraining order, fined $1,075, $800 stayed for 1 yr, jail 90 days stayed for 1 yr, 1 yr probation.

Dawn Marie Reining, 32, Eitzen, Minn., seat belt violation, fined $100.

SPRING GROVE POLICE DEPT.

Kyle Richard Johnson, 27, La Crescent, Minn., speeding, fined $115.

Anthony George Siminski, 49, Eugene, Ore., parking violation, fined $22.

Joel David Strike, 37, Spring Grove, Minn., violate restraining order, fined $75, 1 yr probation.

Dustin Chadwick Herhold, 21, Spring Grove, parking violation, fined $22.

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Taylor Knutson from eager child to speed demon http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/taylor-knutson-from-eager-child-to-speed-demon/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/taylor-knutson-from-eager-child-to-speed-demon/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:16:25 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39827 Submitted  Taylor Knutson has always wanted to be a dirt track racer.
Submitted
Taylor Knutson has always wanted to be a dirt track racer.

By Zachary Olson

The Caledonia Argus

Fifteen years ago, Taylor Knutson could only sit and watch from behind the fences of the race track. At 10, he had all the local racers memorized and could recite them by name, number and even their car’s characteristics. As racers zoomed past the eager child, every turn from the cars slowly ignited an interest that would bring the speed demon back to the racetrack eventually.

Three years later, at 13, Knutson started his racing career. Except he didn’t have the body of a car around him. He began racing dirt bikes, and loved the rush. He raced bikes for seven years, and ended up having quite a bit of success in 2007 where he notched a string of wins and came close to sweeping house in Caledonia, back when they hosted dirt bike races.

But, he heard waves of worried friends and family asking him about the safety of racing bikes, and the danger in not having a car body around him to brace any crashes. These persistent questions paid their toll, and he decided to continue fueling his inner competitiveness and love for adrenaline, except this time with a five-point harness and roll cage around him. He snuck into a few races at the end of the 2010 season, and said he basically “winged it” just to get his first car out on the track and gain some experience.

Comparing racing bikes to cars, Knutson said he “doesn’t get real nervous” and feels “completely safe” behind the wheel, knowing that the body of the car is there to protect him. He also said that racing cars is more difficult and labor intensive because of all the added elements that can possibly go wrong. With the bike, it’s just a bike and a man. With the car, it’s a man inside a machine that needs persistent labor to maintain safety and efficiency, things Knutson hasn’t had the best luck at lately.

At the end of the 2014 season, his engine proved to be “junk,” and it took him a little while to find an adequate engine to get on the track this year. He’s only taken it out once at Upper Iowa Speedway, and after bringing the car in and looking at it, he realized he ran the race on essentially seven cylinders, one less than what his Chevy 358 engine is capable of. However, he says the car is close to where it should be now, and hopes to notch some wins in the remaining races at Upper Iowa.

“I really need some luck and mechanical cooperation,” Knutson said, and further found the positives in the poor luck with the engine, “Through all the bad with the motor, every time I’m on the track I have grit and determination. I’m just gunning to whoop everybody down there.”

He remains humbled in his passion for racing, and persistently thanks his sponsors (Ellingson Motors, Meiners Construction), as well as the “most important” person throughout his racing career: his father, Al Knutson.

“Without him sticking by my side through the good and the bad, I would have already thrown in the towel.”

His dad has remained a helping hand with all the nagging engine troubles, which turns out to be helpful not only for getting the car on the track, but for the pocketbook as well.

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Fruechte keeps fighting! http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/fruechte-keeps-fighting/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/fruechte-keeps-fighting/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:14:47 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39820 Ryan Pitts/ The Caledonia Argus  Caledonia graduate Isaac Fruechte is fighting to make the roster of the Minnesota Vikings. Fruechte opened camp with the rest of the team on July 25.
Ryan Pitts/
The Caledonia Argus
Caledonia graduate Isaac Fruechte is fighting to make the roster of the Minnesota Vikings. Fruechte opened camp with the rest of the team on July 25.

By Ryan Pitts

The Caledonia Argus

The road for Isaac Fruechte has never been easy. As he fought many years to work his way up in the ranks at a collegiate level, Fruechte now fights for the opportunity to make the final roster as a Minnesota Viking.

Fruechte stepped onto the field Sunday, July 26 at the University of Minnesota-Mankato as someone he dreamed about being when he was just a little boy, wearing a purple #15 Minnesota Vikings jersey.  For Fruechte, this was something new. “Day one was kind of tough for me; I’ll be honest. It was a little more nerve wracking; I was a little nervous but after that first day, I feel as though I have improved a lot. I’m feeling as though I can play and can compete at this level. I’m starting to feel more comfortable. Like anything when you’re new at it and haven’t been involved with something and thrust in there, it’s definitely a new thing for you. I’m definitely starting to feel real comfortable and more relaxed and excited about my opportunity and chances here.”

Fruechte steps into a competitive group of wide receivers such as Adam Thielen, Jarius Wright, Stefon Diggs, Charles Johnson, Cordarrelle Patterson and newly signed Mike Wallace, Wallace being one of the fastest in the league. Fruechte stated that Wallace has been a big role model, a great guy and very open to helping the younger wide receivers out. “He’s trying to help us get better as well as himself and in any way that he can. All the receivers are like that; there’s not one guy withholding any information or anything of that nature. They are all great guys who want to see us succeed, so it’s an exciting time and fun to play with people who really genuinely care about you.”

While catching the ball several times in scrimmages and drills, Fruechte doesn’t always get the ball thrown to him when he is open, but still feels good about his route running and his attack. “I think that is part of this league, even if you aren’t getting the ball, as long as you’re running the right route and getting open and showing you can do it. You might not be getting the ball, but you’re still showing and still on film and hopefully those coaches see that and are paying attention to that.”

Fruechte doesn’t get wide eyed when playing next to some big time names like Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson, Mike Wallace, Kyle Rudolphe or Chad Greenway.  “These people are no different than you and I.  One thing I can’t say enough is not only are these people tremendous athletes, they are all very good people as well, not selfish and want to help everybody get better.”

The support for Isaac has been tremendous as he continues on his journey.  People have been making their way to Mankato every day to watch Isaac in a purple uniform.  From the support of the Minnesota Vikings, the Golden Gophers, down to all the Caledonians that keep up play by play with Fruechte. “I think it shows the pride that our city has for its individuals that are out trying to do their best and be a part of something and it shows the support system that we have and how close and tight knit we are as a community and I’m blessed to have that,” Fruechte said.

Keep up the support for Isaac as he continues on his journey fighting to make the final 53 men on the Minnesota Viking’s roster.

Ryan Pitts/ The Caledonia Argus  Caledonia graduate Isaac Fruechte is fighting to make the roster of the Minnesota Vikings. Fruechte opened camp with the rest of the team on July 25.
Ryan Pitts/
The Caledonia Argus
Caledonia graduate Isaac Fruechte is fighting to make the roster of the Minnesota Vikings. Fruechte opened camp with the rest of the team on July 25.
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City Council. It’s what leadership looks like…try it, you might like it http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/city-council-its-what-leadership-looks-like-try-it-you-might-like-it/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/city-council-its-what-leadership-looks-like-try-it-you-might-like-it/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:03:53 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39818 Daniel McGonigle

General Manager

This week during the regular City Council meeting, the Caledonia City Council voted to hold a public hearing on amending ordinance No. 153.

The ordinance the city intends to amend are provisions pertaining to land usage, specifically agricultural districts.

The city was forced to make the move when Houston County Commissioners refused to listen to the will of the people who elected them and simply pushed for a building (the proposed county highway shop) and  a location (a 22 acre site zoned agricultural with a special use currently) for their proposed $4.5 million shop.

The residents have been up in arms about the decision to move forward.

On a 3-2 “majority” vote, the commissioners voted to build the county highway shop in a prime location where new families/houses would be built, out near the current high school.

I am that “new family.” My wife and I moved to Caledonia and considered the location as both a possible purchase and build.

If a new highway shop is built out there, that and that alone, would have, in our case, and will, in many others moving forward, make that site unattractive as a place to build a home and raise a family.

That point has been made over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again to the three commissioners who voted to continue to move forward.

If no families have a place to build and move to town, then the city and school disctrict would have been those most heavily burdened by the choice to build a shop in that prime location.

So leadership became necessary.

That leadership has come in the form of a 21 year old mayor and his forward thinking city council.

The Houston County Commissioners could learn a lot about what it takes to be an effective leader.

They could learn that not all voices are to be discounted just because you are hardened by the narrative of previous disagreements.

They could learn that you are elected to lead, based on the will of the people who elected you, not on the wishes of a few individuals.

They could learn that allowing others voices to be heard is a key important part of a successful democracy.

If the Houston County Commissioners were to follow the lead of their city council bretheran, they could learn that sometimes compromise can be the most effective tool in ones tool box.

I commend our mayor and members of the Caledonia city council for showing our Houston County Commissioners how to lead.

I urge you, the constituent to have your voice heard at the public hearing on August 24 at 6:10 pm regarding amending the ordinance.

If the commissioners refuse to listen to the wishes of the people, then other leadership is required to make the decision that is best for the people of Caledonia, the school district and ultimately, the citizens of Houston County. Thank you mayor Gran and city council for your leadership on this issue.

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Please call your commissioners http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/please-call-your-commissioners/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/please-call-your-commissioners/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 14:58:20 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39816 To the Editor:

In 2000, the taxpayers of Houston County and the city of Caledonia voted to build and pay for a state of the art school system that cost over $23 million.

In 2003, a group of people invested their money in a 30 acre housing development trusting that this would attract future buyers of homes and thereby increase the tax base.

Our county commissioners are on a no look back course to turn the land next to the above property into an industrial park. I urge you as citizens and taxpayers to go to the fair grounds, drive over to the horse arena. Now look west to the present Houston County Highway complex. What you see there is exactly what will be placed next to our school and housing development. They say they will build a berm so we can’t see it. No berm is going to eliminate the diesel fumes and noise at 4:00 am in the winter when ice and snow demand attention.

Please call commissioners Steve Schuldt, Judy Storlie and Teresa Walters and voice your concerns.

Harly Doering

Caledonia, Minnesota

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Clarification of American Legion Riders Caledonia visit http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/clarification-of-american-legion-riders-caledonia-visit/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/clarification-of-american-legion-riders-caledonia-visit/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 14:57:22 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39814 To the Editor:

I read the article on the American Legion Riders at the Caledonia American Legion (July 15 Caledonia Argus) with great interest. I would like to clarify some of the terminology used, however. First, The American Legion Riders are not (local bikers) they are Legion Riders, which is a Post program of the American Legion. Membership criteria is you must be a member of the American Legion family, the Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, or the Sons of the American Legion.

The legacy scholarship ride they were on benefits the child/children or legally adopted child/children or a child of a spouse by a prior marriage or dependent child as defined by the United States Armed Services for active duty personnel of the United States military and National Guard, and military reservists who were federalized and die on active duty on or after September 11, 2001. Must be a high school senior or high school graduate to apply for the scholarship. The Riders raised over $11,000 just on the run, which truly shows the generosity of the people in SE Minnesota. Last year, the American Legion Riders in Minnesota raised $87,000.00 throughout the State, and this year’s goal is $100,000.

Ralph Schneekloth 

American Legion 

Department of Minnesota,

Public Relations Committee Member

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“A series of monetary decisions leave Houston County tax payers vulnerable”… http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/a-series-of-monetary-decisions-leave-houston-county-tax-payers-vulnerable/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/a-series-of-monetary-decisions-leave-houston-county-tax-payers-vulnerable/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 14:56:21 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39812 By: Justin Zmyewski, 

Commissioner District #2

*Houston County has increased taxes by over 5 million dollars in the last 10 years, most of that in what is considered the recession years.

*The county’s general fund (savings account) has been depleted by close to a million dollars since 2005. The county savings account is being used up at a rate of approximately $150,000 a year. The general fund is being used and has been used to cover budget shortfalls.

*The Wheelage tax that was implemented without my support in 2013, although not collected as a property tax, is the equivalent of nearly a 2% tax increase each year ($196,000). The Wheelage tax is now part of the Highway Department budget.

*The initial cost of the Justice Center which houses an 80 bed jail, of which only a fraction of those beds have been needed, was $18,030,000 plus $8,580,790 in interest. The total cost to tax payers is just shy of 27 million dollars. The Justice Center will not be paid off until 2031.

* The current board, without my vote, increased taxes in 2014 by 3.52% ($385,000) which was more than double the state average. In 2015 the current board increased taxes by 4% without my vote.

*If past history repeats itself it would mean a 3.73% tax increase for 2016, which would equate to a 1.13 million dollar tax increase from 2014 – 2016 under the watch of the sitting board.

*On the heels of a 27 million dollar Justice Center that won’t be paid for until 2031 Commissioners Schuldt, Storlie and Walter (3 of the 5 commissioners) are supporting a Highway Department proposal to construct a multi – million dollar Highway Department Complex, a proposal that mirrors the overbuilding of the Justice Center allowing the possibility for history to repeat itself yet again.

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Compliments and challenges for Minnesota educators http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/compliments-and-challenges-for-minnesota-educators/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/compliments-and-challenges-for-minnesota-educators/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 14:55:38 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39810 Joe Nathan

Center for School Change

One of the country’s most honored educators offered compliments and challenges at a Minnesota statewide charter school conference July 28 in Minneapolis. As we move toward a new school year, Mike Feinberg’s insights can help.

Feinberg co-founded the country’s largest and one of the most respected charter public school groups: KIPP. The letters stand for Knowledge Is Power Program. From one Houston, Texas, school, started in 1995, KIPP has grown to 183 schools in 20 states, including Minnesota and the District of Columbia. These schools serve more than 70,000 students in urban and rural areas. Virtually all “KIPPsters” are from low-income families. Minnesota has one KIPP School, in Minneapolis.

KIPP has been featured on “60 Minutes.” Feinberg has received several national awards for his work.

KIPP’s results help explain why many journalists, educators, foundations and government officials listen to Feinberg. He cited research showing that more than 80 percent of students from the most affluent American families have earned a four-year college degree, compared to 8 percent of students from the lowest income families. For Feinberg, “that’s disgraceful.”

But 51 percent of KIPP’s graduates, 96 percent of whom are from low-income families, have earned a four-year college degree. He’s not satisfied, he said: “We are hungry to get better every day. And I don’t have all the answers.”

Feinberg urges educators to be clear about the purpose of public schools, whether district or charter. For him, the central goal is: “Help students have the freedom to do what they want to do when they graduate.” I think that’s a great goal. I hope schools also help students learn how they can and should help create a better world.

One of KIPP’s goals is to help students be well-prepared for higher education. Feinberg agreed, “A four-year college or university isn’t for everyone.” But he said the skills needed for college, both academic and personal, “are right for every kid.” He stressed the importance of helping students develop persistence, responsibility and the feeling that “I can set and accomplish important goals.”

Feinberg described one of the great debates in American education and was clear where he stood. “Some people believe we won’t do much better in education until we alleviate poverty. Others think education is a game changer – the single best way to reduce poverty.”

He described himself as in the second group.

I agree that schools can have a huge positive impact. I also think we need to work on problems outside schools – helping improve health care, helping increase the number of good jobs, etc. I don’t think it’s either-or. But I strongly agree that schools can have a huge positive impact.

What happens in great schools, whether district, charter, private or parochial? Feinberg believes it comes down to two things: “Good teaching, and more of it!” That can occur when a school has a culture where learning is prized, honored and rewarded. “That’s what great leadership produces,” Feinberg said.

KIPP schools are not identical. But they share five basic principles:

–Longer school day and school year.

–Choice and commitment of students kids, families and educators.

–Power to lead: hiring a well-trained school leader who can make critical decisions.

–High expectations of all students.

–Great results that are measurable.

Feinberg said his experience convinces him, “We can make a difference!”

Feinberg presented two challenges.

First, if educators are not satisfied with teacher preparation programs, create a new one. KIPP has done this with several other groups.

Second, learn from the Dr. Seuss book “On Beyond Zebra.” For Feinberg, that means: “Don’t accept everything we’re doing now. Continue to question, challenge and create new, more effective ways to help students learn.”

Feinberg opened and closed his presentation by explaining that Maasi tribe members in Africa greet each other by asking, “And how are the children?” He pointed out that some of our children are doing well, but we can and should do better with all of them.

That seems like great advice for the coming school year.

 

Joe Nathan, formerly a Minnesota public school teacher, administrator and PTA president, directs the Center for School Change. Reactions are welcome at joe@centerforschoolchange.org.

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ECFE parenting classes could help prevent abuse http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/ecfe-parenting-classes-could-help-prevent-abuse/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/04/ecfe-parenting-classes-could-help-prevent-abuse/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 14:54:35 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39808 Don Heinzman

ECM Editorial Contributor

Reports of child abuse in Minnesota are alarming.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 69,322 referrals were made to Child Protection in Minnesota in 2013. A total of 49,006 were screened out and 20,316 were screened for follow through.

A study of 17,000 adults by the Kaiser Permanente health care organization in 1997 showed that 28 percent of the respondents had suffered from physical abuse growing up.

Is it possible that some of this abuse could have been prevented had the parents learned how better to parent, instead of spanking and abusing their children?

There is an organization in most communities called Early Childhood Family Education where parents can learn how to parent their children as they grow from birth to kindergarten.

ECFE usually is sponsored by local community education departments where parents can find information about the program: the classes, the times and the fees. Parents should watch for seasonal mailings. ECFE is funded mainly through state aid, fees and a community education tax levy. Fees are based on a sliding scale according to family income.

Here’s how the program works in Bloomington and Richfield, according to Carol Huttner, director of youth and family education and services. Parents can attend classes, with their kids, where they learn parenting and discipline strategies. Sometimes parents learn with the children present. Part of the time they are separated from their children when they meet with a licensed parent educator and discuss the problems and frustrations of raising their children. Meanwhile, the children learn and play with an early childhood teacher how to share and get along with others.

In the Bloomington system, parents in the prenatal and infant class learn how to deal with strategies to stop a baby from crying and how much of the crying is OK. They also learn how to calm the baby.

In the toddlers class for parents of 2-year-olds, parents observe and play with the children but most of the time they discuss their problems and then hear strategies to deal with them. They learn about brain development and what is normal, the number of words verbalized, the physical development and when the children should be able to crawl. They learn about nutrition and what is an appropriate weight

They also learn strategies on how to win the power struggle when the child fights going to bed. “Give the child a choice,” Huttner said. “Do they either want to walk or do they want to be carried to bed? So they choose to go to bed one way or the other.” Another strategy is to develop a routine for going to bed: Brush their teeth, go to bed, hear a story. Parents also learn that a child may get out of control because they are eating too much sugar or not getting enough sleep.

The parents learn to limit the time spent with screens and what the little ones watch on television and play on video games. These days some 3-year-olds even try to go to bed with their iPads, said Huttner.

Using the strategies discussed in ECFE classes can prevent parents from hitting or spanking the child. Huttner said: “If you start to spank a child, when do you stop? … It’s not a good long-term strategy. … Better to count to five, take a deep breath or talk with the child.”

Bloomington, like other districts, has a program for parents of children from 36 months to kindergarten where parents discuss a variety of topics with an early childhood teacher, but spend less time with their children present.

Anoka-Hennepin School District has a program similar to Bloomington, with classes based on the children’s ages.

Beth Yokom, assistant manager for community education learning programs, says Anoka has programs for children birth to 12 months where a licensed educator joins the circle of parents. There are programs for children 9-20 months, 11-24 months and 18-36 months. Anoka also has classes with the parents in mixed classes in which there are one or more children of different ages.

Yokom says they use a sliding fee scale based on family income. That fee for a 15-week class could be as low as $29 and up to $159.

You would expect parents when surveyed to say ECFE helps them parent. In a survey taken in 2013 and conducted by ECFE, 96 percent of parents agreed that participating in ECFE improved their parenting.

In all five areas – child’s communication, reading enjoyment, language skills, problem solving and age-appropriate social skills – parents agreed ECFE improved them all.

A website offers parents more answers about parenting: ParentsAware.org.

Don Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers Inc.

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The Dollar: Precarious? http://www.adviceiq.com/content/dollar-precarious http://www.adviceiq.com/content/dollar-precarious#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 14:00:49 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=9267e5622d5fcdb9ca7c75fcd2ade706 Everything in the world seems to conspire to keep the dollar’s value aloft. But will that persist forever? Of course not.

The dollar traditionally is a haven in a turbulent world. That sparked a huge rally in the greenback lately, rising 23% from mid-2014 to March. But after March, it slumped almost 6% until turning around in May.

So what happened? The rally ended because of downbeat U.S. economic news. First quarter gross domestic product, for instance, slid 0.2%, which was an upward revision from 0.7%. Still, it was negative. True, the GDP outlook for the rest of the year is better, but hardly booming. FactSet research projects a drop in Standard & Poor’s 500 second-quarter earnings of more than 4%. Lower oil prices are a factor, although the energy sector has improving a bit.

The paradox that could undermine the U.S., is the dollar’s strength, which diminishes profits earned overseas by American corporations. Our economic expansion is six years old too. Once it finally turns downward, the dollar could likely falter.

Meanwhile, the world situation is the greenback’s friend today. There are troubles with the Chinese stock market as its economy slows. Plus, low eurozone rates to combat stagnation there and ease Greece’s woes. And Federal Reserve plans to boost U.S. interest rates. These make investing in dollar-denominated securities and other items look even more attractive.

A strong dollar means that goods manufactured overseas are cheaper to buy and, when you travel, your dollar buys more.  The euro, in some assessments, remains expensive, and the economic and political problems of the region should keep the currency under pressure and force it down more. In contrast, the U.S. economic recovery is more robust and durable, acting as an important support for the dollar.

Further, with the rapid decline of a China stock market long fueled more by speculation than current fundamentals, it seems that nothing can stop the dollar’s and U.S. economy’s ascension.

Or are the global power dynamics about to shift, to the dollar’s detriment?

China’s stock market has suffered amid slowing economic growth, leading the government to support stock investors, a radical move.  That was part of the cold wind that buoyed the dollar. Still, Beijing’s moves appear to be working. The most recent GDP figures showed a 7% increase – down from its customary double-digit rate, yet still much better than people feared.

In Europe, once again, things appear to be resolved, for now. Many feared the chaos of a Grexit, or Greek exit from the eurozone. This country has more debt to more creditors than it could ever possibly pay back. Yet what happened? The creditors extended it another bailout as the Greek parliament approved more austerity measures.  

And let’s face it: Greece is not much of a force on the global scene. Greece’s GDP is a mere 0.38% of the world economy. However Spain is the 13th largest economy in the world, Italy is the ninth and both have debt issues of their own. Bet that they both will be watching closely to see what concessions are given to the Greeks.

At the same time, the European Central Bank is instigating negative interest rates to try and force banks to lend and citizens to spend in hopes of keeping Europe out of a prolonged recession. This may be working. Forecasters are raising their outlooks for the Continent.

When will the Fed finally raise rates?  While Fed Chair Janet Yellen says it will be sometime this year, will it? We have been told over and over again the U.S. Federal Reserve is on its way to raising rates short term interest rates from 0%-0.25% target to more normal level.

Will bond investors soon suffer major losses, once the Fed hikes rates? In the last few years, Bill Gross, Jim Rogers and other pundits have warned of a bond bubble. While it has yet to occur – the broad bond market yielded an annualized 4.42% from 2010 to 2014 – the threat remains.

Notice, however, that a rate raise keeps getting postponed. The prospect of higher rates has helped keep the dollar high. How long can investors remain patient?

Bank on one thing: The dollar’s supremacy is not guaranteed. Other economies, notably China’s, are growing faster than ours, and the Chinese have a much larger population.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Walid L. Petiri, AAMS, RFC, is chief strategist at Financial Management Strategies LLC in Baltimore. 

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

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Everything in the world seems to conspire to keep the dollar’s value aloft. But will that persist forever? Of course not.

The dollar traditionally is a haven in a turbulent world. That sparked a huge rally in the greenback lately, rising 23% from mid-2014 to March. But after March, it slumped almost 6% until turning around in May.

So what happened? The rally ended because of downbeat U.S. economic news. First quarter gross domestic product, for instance, slid 0.2%, which was an upward revision from 0.7%. Still, it was negative. True, the GDP outlook for the rest of the year is better, but hardly booming. FactSet research projects a drop in Standard & Poor’s 500 second-quarter earnings of more than 4%. Lower oil prices are a factor, although the energy sector has improving a bit.

The paradox that could undermine the U.S., is the dollar’s strength, which diminishes profits earned overseas by American corporations. Our economic expansion is six years old too. Once it finally turns downward, the dollar could likely falter.

Meanwhile, the world situation is the greenback’s friend today. There are troubles with the Chinese stock market as its economy slows. Plus, low eurozone rates to combat stagnation there and ease Greece’s woes. And Federal Reserve plans to boost U.S. interest rates. These make investing in dollar-denominated securities and other items look even more attractive.

A strong dollar means that goods manufactured overseas are cheaper to buy and, when you travel, your dollar buys more.  The euro, in some assessments, remains expensive, and the economic and political problems of the region should keep the currency under pressure and force it down more. In contrast, the U.S. economic recovery is more robust and durable, acting as an important support for the dollar.

Further, with the rapid decline of a China stock market long fueled more by speculation than current fundamentals, it seems that nothing can stop the dollar’s and U.S. economy’s ascension.

Or are the global power dynamics about to shift, to the dollar’s detriment?

China’s stock market has suffered amid slowing economic growth, leading the government to support stock investors, a radical move.  That was part of the cold wind that buoyed the dollar. Still, Beijing’s moves appear to be working. The most recent GDP figures showed a 7% increase – down from its customary double-digit rate, yet still much better than people feared.

In Europe, once again, things appear to be resolved, for now. Many feared the chaos of a Grexit, or Greek exit from the eurozone. This country has more debt to more creditors than it could ever possibly pay back. Yet what happened? The creditors extended it another bailout as the Greek parliament approved more austerity measures.  

And let’s face it: Greece is not much of a force on the global scene. Greece’s GDP is a mere 0.38% of the world economy. However Spain is the 13th largest economy in the world, Italy is the ninth and both have debt issues of their own. Bet that they both will be watching closely to see what concessions are given to the Greeks.

At the same time, the European Central Bank is instigating negative interest rates to try and force banks to lend and citizens to spend in hopes of keeping Europe out of a prolonged recession. This may be working. Forecasters are raising their outlooks for the Continent.

When will the Fed finally raise rates?  While Fed Chair Janet Yellen says it will be sometime this year, will it? We have been told over and over again the U.S. Federal Reserve is on its way to raising rates short term interest rates from 0%-0.25% target to more normal level.

Will bond investors soon suffer major losses, once the Fed hikes rates? In the last few years, Bill Gross, Jim Rogers and other pundits have warned of a bond bubble. While it has yet to occur – the broad bond market yielded an annualized 4.42% from 2010 to 2014 – the threat remains.

Notice, however, that a rate raise keeps getting postponed. The prospect of higher rates has helped keep the dollar high. How long can investors remain patient?

Bank on one thing: The dollar’s supremacy is not guaranteed. Other economies, notably China’s, are growing faster than ours, and the Chinese have a much larger population.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Walid L. Petiri, AAMS, RFC, is chief strategist at Financial Management Strategies LLC in Baltimore. 

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

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Eva Albee http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/03/eva-albee/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/03/eva-albee/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 20:34:07 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39801 EvaAblee_rgbEva Janette Albee, 91, of Caledonia, Minnesota, passed away Wednesday morning, July 29, 2015, in La Crosse, Wis., due to a massive stroke.
Eva was born November 9, 1923, in Houston, Minnesota, to Martha (Eliason) and Orvin Benson. She was a sister to Florence (Richard) Johnson, Leila (Allen) Carlson, Dorothy (Ronald) Greseth, and Ralph Benson. Eva married Alfred “Bud” Albee of Caledonia on March 5, 1944. The loving couple gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Naomi Dianne on September 28, 1944, who later married Arnie Wiste of Spring Grove, Minnesota.
Eva possessed a teaching certificate. She was also a member of the Caledonia United Methodist Church. Eva was a volunteer for many organizations which she thoroughly enjoyed. She was also an avid card player and most people who played with her thought she could have gone pro.
Eva is survived by her daughter, Naomi (Arnie) Wiste; grandchildren, Jacqueline “Jackie” Kock, Jim (Cindy)  Wiste, and Jerry Wiste; great-grandchildren, Tiffany (Chris) Adams, Trisha Kock, and Morgan Miller; sisters, Florence (Richard) Johnson and Dorothy (Ronald) Greseth; and nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Alfred “Bud” Albee; her parents; her sister, Leila (Allen) Carlson; and an infant brother, Ralph Benson.
A graveside memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, August 8, 2015, in Evergreen Cemetery, Caledonia. Pastor Mark Bengtson will officiate. For  more information on service arrangements please contact Jandt-Fredrickson Funeral Homes and Crematory, Caledonia Chapel, at (507) 725-3838. Online condolences may be sent at www.jandtfredrickson.com.

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Arlene Knudson http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/03/arlene-knudson/ http://hometownargus.com/2015/08/03/arlene-knudson/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 20:32:06 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?p=39797 KnudsonArlene_rgbArlene Marie (Elmburg) Knudson, 85 of Houston, Minnesota, passed away August 2, 2015 at Valley View Healthcare & Rehab in Houston.
Arlene lived a full life, staying active until the end. She was a warm and loving person with a deep faith who was proud of her family. She made a difference for her family and others through a gentle and supportive presence.  She lived 47 years in the Houston area.
She was born on December 29, 1929 at the Swedish Hospital in Minneapolis. She grew up in south Minneapolis, along with a few years in Detroit Michigan.  A graduate of Washburn High School in 1948, Arlene attended the University of Minnesota, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1952. She worked at Daytons during college to pay for her education. Other activities involved the Minneapolis Choralaires and Gamma Omicron Beta Sorority that provided a rich experience.
Arlene married Ernest on May 9, 1953 in Minneapolis at the Diamond Lake Lutheran Church. They were  married for 62 years. Her family, profession, friends and helping others always remained her focus. She worked as a Dietician at the Fairview Hospital (Minneapolis), Franklin General Hospital (Hampton, Minnesota) and Tweeten Lutheran Hospital (Spring Grove, Minnesota) – the latter for 35 years. Her family was always her priority. Various activities were important. She was involved in her church, volunteered at Valley View and served as a 4-H leader (Sheldon Spartans). She enjoyed gardening, sewing, and birdwatching, along with cheering on her favorite sports teams (Vikings and Twins).  The holidays provided a special time for her baking, homemade cookie trays, and Swedish traditions.
She is survived by her husband, Ernest and children, Kathy (Pat of St. Cloud, Minnesota), Todd (Ellen of Phoenix, Arizona), Brad (Jane of Waverly, Iowa), Brian (Barbara of Chanhassen, Minnesota), Kristine (Guy of Shorewood, Minnesota), Terry (Jane of Morristown, Indiana) and Lee (Julie of Wichita, Kansas), along with 15 grandchildren and three step-grandchildren. Education was always an emphasis for herself and her family, completing 19 undergraduate and nine graduate degrees to date.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Gladys and Roy; her brother, Richard; and her sister, Carol.
A celebration of Arlene’s life will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, August 7, 2015 at the Cross of Christ Lutheran Church, 204 South Chase Street, Houston, with the Reverend Leonard Liptack officiating. Visitation will take place from 5 to 8 p.m., Thursday, August 6, at the Hoff Funeral Home, 710 E Cedar St, Houston, as well as one hour prior to the service at the church. She will be laid to rest at Stone Church Cemetery following the service.
Memorials preferred to the Cross of Christ Lutheran Church.

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Why Not to Chase Returns http://www.adviceiq.com/content/why-not-chase-returns http://www.adviceiq.com/content/why-not-chase-returns#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 19:30:25 +0000 http://hometownargus.com/?guid=7206617bf1f0b76ee28685bd83b8b8bb You hear advisors on TV talking about how they research and pick the securities with the highest returns. That sounds good since who doesn’t want the best? Why not jump in and catch the wave? Here are three reasons why not.

1. The past is too late. Those returns did happen, but the investment isn’t already in your portfolio. Regardless of how good they were, you don’t get the past returns of the investments you weren’t in.

If you take an old investment out and put a new investment into the portfolio after you notice it had better return, you get the returns of the lower performing investment. So you see the shell game? Switching out a lower performing investment gives you an illusion that your returns improve.

2. The future is unpredictable. Past performance does not guarantee future returns. You see this in every disclosure. Yet many still have the misperception that they can look at past returns to determine the future return of that investment.

Numerous studies have found that funds that did well in the past do not consistently go on to do so. The Standard & Poor’s ongoing reports on funds performance show that managers don’t year after year outperform the indexes.

I agree with advisor Daniel Solin’s article that we need a stronger disclaimer to better remind investors of this fact. A study he cites found that a more effective disclaimer would be: “Do not expect the fund’s quoted past performance to continue in the future. Studies show that mutual funds that have outperformed their peers in the past generally do not outperform them in the future. Strong past performance is often a matter of chance.”

3. Outperforming is not your goal. The real objective of investing is achieving your life goals, such as a sustainable retirement. That has more to do with your savings and spending rates that it does with returns. And unlike the returns the markets deliver, you can control how much you save or spend.

So how should you invest? Rather than chasing returns, simply invest in broad indexes and get what the markets give you – good and bad. This approach allows you to dial in the level of risk. You don’t get the occasional outperformance, but you also don’t underperform, either. Unless there are systematic risks – when the economy tanks, like it did in 2008 – you get consistent returns that match the markets.

One can wish for good returns all the time. But that is not how the markets work. Unexpected news and all participants’ expectations and reactions to it move prices. Your part is to let the markets work over time.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Larry R. Frank Sr., CFP, is a Registered Investment Advisor (California) in Roseville, Calif. He is the author of the book, Wealth Odyssey. He has an MBA with a finance concentration and B.S. cum laude in physics with which he views the world of money dynamically. He has peer-reviewed research published in the Journal of Financial Planning. http://blog.betterfinancialeducation.com/.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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You hear advisors on TV talking about how they research and pick the securities with the highest returns. That sounds good since who doesn’t want the best? Why not jump in and catch the wave? Here are three reasons why not.

1. The past is too late. Those returns did happen, but the investment isn’t already in your portfolio. Regardless of how good they were, you don’t get the past returns of the investments you weren’t in.

If you take an old investment out and put a new investment into the portfolio after you notice it had better return, you get the returns of the lower performing investment. So you see the shell game? Switching out a lower performing investment gives you an illusion that your returns improve.

2. The future is unpredictable. Past performance does not guarantee future returns. You see this in every disclosure. Yet many still have the misperception that they can look at past returns to determine the future return of that investment.

Numerous studies have found that funds that did well in the past do not consistently go on to do so. The Standard & Poor’s ongoing reports on funds performance show that managers don’t year after year outperform the indexes.

I agree with advisor Daniel Solin’s article that we need a stronger disclaimer to better remind investors of this fact. A study he cites found that a more effective disclaimer would be: “Do not expect the fund’s quoted past performance to continue in the future. Studies show that mutual funds that have outperformed their peers in the past generally do not outperform them in the future. Strong past performance is often a matter of chance.”

3. Outperforming is not your goal. The real objective of investing is achieving your life goals, such as a sustainable retirement. That has more to do with your savings and spending rates that it does with returns. And unlike the returns the markets deliver, you can control how much you save or spend.

So how should you invest? Rather than chasing returns, simply invest in broad indexes and get what the markets give you – good and bad. This approach allows you to dial in the level of risk. You don’t get the occasional outperformance, but you also don’t underperform, either. Unless there are systematic risks – when the economy tanks, like it did in 2008 – you get consistent returns that match the markets.

One can wish for good returns all the time. But that is not how the markets work. Unexpected news and all participants’ expectations and reactions to it move prices. Your part is to let the markets work over time.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Larry R. Frank Sr., CFP, is a Registered Investment Advisor (California) in Roseville, Calif. He is the author of the book, Wealth Odyssey. He has an MBA with a finance concentration and B.S. cum laude in physics with which he views the world of money dynamically. He has peer-reviewed research published in the Journal of Financial Planning. http://blog.betterfinancialeducation.com/.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

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