After MLHS band director Tony Mazzone departed on a leave of absence at the end of December, that meant a new band director would start the new year.
That baton was passed to Jordan Swiontek, a recent college graduate from Osceola, Wisconsin.
Swiontek and his wife, Erin, moved to Buffalo the day after Christmas in preparation for Jordan's new job at MLHS.
Swiontek is a graduate of Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall, with a degree in Music Education and an emphasis on instrumental music. After graduation, he obtained positions as a long-term substitute for band programs in Taylors Falls and in Frederic, WI.
"I'm really excited to be here," he said. "This is a great group of kids, their attitudes are great and their playing ability is awesome. The staff is great too, easy to talk to and very helpful."
Swiontek, whose main instrument is the saxophone, said his taste in music leans toward Jazz.
In light of anticipated cuts in funding from the state as the legislature copes with a multi-billion-dollar revenue shortfall, the Maple Lake City Council conducted a workshop on Jan. 15 to discuss potential cuts in its own budget.
And drawing the most discussion was a proposal to hire a city administrator in an effort to save on consultants' fees.
Mayor Mike O'Loughlin began the meeting by noting that the state cut $40,000 out of its December check to the city and the reduction in aid for this year will likely be much larger. He framed the discussion on hiring a city administrator as a cost-saving measure by noting that the city paid about $90,000 last year for the services of City Economic Developer John Meyer and City Attorney Rhonda Pagel. His suggestion was to hire a law school graduate at a cost of about $35,000 to $40,000 and provide them with on-the-job training to function as a city attorney/administrator.
Earlier this month, the Wright County Board of Commissioners added its first new member in six years when Commissioner Rose Thelen was seated - replacing Commissioner Karla Heeter, who chose not to run for re-election after taking a job with Buffalo Hospital.
Two weeks into her first term as a county commissioner, Thelen said she is undergoing a sense of information overload.
"It's wild," Thelen said of the inundation of information. "It's a steep learning curve. There is a lot of information coming at me. Every time I go to a meeting, I come out with another three-ring binder of information. It's a lot to absorb."
A mother and daughter from Maple Lake spent most of their journey through life together and last week, they left together.
LaVonne J. Paumen, 69, died on Tuesday, Jan. 13, at the Annandale Care Center after years of illness. Her mother, Minna E. Ullman, 93, followed her a few days later when she died on Friday, Jan. 16, also at the Annandale Care Center.
Glenna Borell of Maple Lake said her sister, LaVonne, had lived at the Annandale Care Center for the past six years and her mother had been there for the past year and a half.
Glenna was there for the passing of both her sister and mother, but that happened only by chance. She arrived on Tuesday morning for a family visit, only to find that an ambulance had been called for her sister. On Friday, she and another sister, Lorna Weinkauf of New Effington, SD, went to visit their mother on the day before their sister's funeral and found her unresponsive.
This new year means more change than most for the City of Maple Lake.
At its meeting on Jan. 6, new mayor Mike O'Loughlin and council member Lynn Kissock were sworn in with incumbent council member John Northenscold as the first item of city business for the new year.
Also on the agenda for the new administration were the 2009 appointments for consultants and committees. At the request of O'Loughlin, consultants were scheduled for a four-month appointment rather than the entire year. O'Loughlin said the city will be reevaluating contractors while seeking other proposals and ideas. City contractors are Young, Brown and Pagel, which provides the city attorney; Bonestroo, Rosene, Anderlik: city engineer; Resource Strategies Inc., city planner; and John Meyer, city economic developer.
Family and friends are coming together to host a benefit for Sharon Corcoran on January 24 at the Maple Lake VFW.
Sharon was first diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 1989. After many years of battling this disease, she has been recently diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
Sharon, 72, and her husband, Tom, 75, have been married for 53 years and have lived in Maple Lake for the past 20 years in the little yellow house south of the stoplight on Highway 55. The Corcorans bought the house when they were looking for a place to retire and rented it out for several years until they were ready to make the move to Maple Lake.
Dan Corcoran, the son of Sharon and Tom, said his mother grew up in Minneapolis and later lived in Farmington and Burnsville. She worked for Minnesota Rubber for 15 years and managed apartments for four or five years. "But her full-time job was being a mother to six kids, two boys and four girls," Dan said.
Working to preserve the environment and good health not only makes good sense, it can make a little money too.
Last summer, the StarTribune featured the farm of Adam and Sarah Goelz of Maple Lake in a story about dairy farmers making the transition to organic farming in the hopes of making a steady income. Sarah's brothers, Dan and Luke Elsenpeter, are also on that road after having started the transition in 2006 to move toward an organic dairy operation.
"We had heard about it, kicked it around a little bit and decided we'd try it," Dan said. The brothers farm the Elsenpeter homestead east of Maple Lake and additional land for a total of about 450 acres.
Filings for area township offices opened on Tuesday, Dec. 30, in preparation for annual meetings and elections which will take place on Tuesday, March 10. Filing will close on Tuesday, January 13 at 5 p.m. There is also a $2 filing fee. Candidates who file for the March election have until 5 p.m. on January 15 to withdraw from filing. Offices up for election are:
One supervisor for a three-year term and one treasurer for a two-year term.
Filings will be received at Clerk Debbie Uecker's home at 2235 County Road 6 NW, Annandale.
One supervisor for a three-year term and one treasurer for a two-year term. Candidates may file by contacting the office of Clerk Francis Munsterteiger at 763-682-6151.
One supervisor for a three-year term. Candidates may file at Clerk Vi Novotne's home at 9214 Kilbury Ave. NW, Annandale.