Birch Avenue is back in use but the fallout from shutting down the business district for the road reconstruction is continuing.
At its Nov. 18 meeting, the Maple Lake City Council project coordinator Justin Engelmann provided the council with an update on the reconstruction, which included temporary remedies for items unable to be completed because cold weather has set in.
Engelmann said he talked to Daryl Hennen of Maple Lake Lumber about filling gravel in the area next to his Birch Avenue storage building where a sidewalk will be completed next spring. He said residential property would be graded out, with mulching and proper seeding also planned for the spring. Decorative street lights are in production and Engelmann said when they arrive, they can be installed with no regard to temperature.
Behind a locked door in a dimly lit room, Wright County Auditor-Treasurer Bob Hiivala pointed to an enormous stack of boxes sitting on a conference table. Contained in them are the approximately 65,000 votes that were cast by Wright County residents in the Nov. 4 elections.
As with the other 86 counties in Minnesota, Wright County will be conducting a hand-count of all ballots cast in the U.S. Senate election between Republican incumbent Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken. While the recount in the state began Wednesday, Nov. 19, Wright County won't be conducting its recount until Wednesday, Dec. 3 - which will likely stretch into Friday, Dec. 5. Those could be critical days that draw the attention of not only the state media, but perhaps the national media as well.
When Maple Lake resident Donald Ruchti went into sudden cardiac arrest on June 22, it took a well-trained and well-equipped team of emergency responders to give him a new lease on life. That teamwork was honored in October with an awards program at the Maple Lake Fire Hall that brought together Ruchti and his family with the people who saved his life.
The awards program was the second conducted in Maple Lake since January of 2007 when the program was established by the Heart Safe Communities organization coordinated by the Buffalo Hospital Foundation and the Community Health Foundation.
Lori Ruchti said she and her husband, a 62-year-old semi-retired drywaller, were at home for the evening when he went into cardiac arrest. "I called 911 and they talked me through CPR," she said.
The Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce is coordinating several events in Maple Lake over the holiday season.
The Chamber sponsored a Thanksgiving coloring contest with prizes awarded to winners and entries now on display in store windows. Contest forms were sent home with children from the ages of preschool through sixth grade at both St. Timothy's School and Maple Lake Elementary, with 143 entries received.
Prizes of $10 and $5 were awarded in three categories:
Preschool-Kindergarten: Lindsie Carlson, K, 1st; Mary Miller, K, 2nd.
First through third grade: Katrina Gilson, third grade, 1st; Madison LeBrun, third grade, 2nd.
Unlike the Coleman-Franken senate vote recount, Maple Lake's was completed in just a few hours.
The recount was requested by council member Deb Geyen, a write-in candidate who came up short of victory in a close race for Maple Lake's mayor with former council member Mike O'Loughlin. In the original count on Nov. 4, O'Loughlin was the leading vote-getter with 340, followed by Geyen with 313 and Mayor Mike Messina with 284.
A $500,000 joint venture between Lake Region Co-op and Cenex Corporate means big changes for the Maple Lake Country Store-Lake Region facility.
Outside updates, including an already-installed canopy and new lighting and pump faces, leads the way to major inside changes, which includes updating the two side-by-side businesses.
Mike Murray, Maple Lake's Lake Region Co-op manager since April of this year, is implementing changes suggested by a Five-Star market survey he initiated.
"We needed to move forward and update the way we do business. We had to figure out a way to expand inside sales, to support gasoline sales which are not generally profitable," said Murray. "These are exciting changes for all of us."
The plan involves splitting The Country Store and the Cenex into separate businesses, remodeling both and adding nearly 3,500 square feet to the Cenex convenience store by reallocating space formerly used for offices.
A 10-day, statewide Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign resulted in 4,713 seat belt citations while another 113 motorists were cited for improper use or non-use of child restraints. The enforcement sweep ran Oct. 10-19 and included around 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies. The Safe & Sober effort was coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS).
The 329 agencies that have reported citation totals to-date also tallied 772 nighttime belt citations during the campaign's special night patrols. In Minnesota 2005-2007, 62 percent of the 296 motorists killed between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. were not wearing seat belts.
"Officers working these patrols have seen the violent results of unbelted traffic deaths too many times," says Cheri Marti, director of DPS Office of Traffic Safety. "Their efforts are helping to prevent more of these unnecessary tragedies."
The Maple Lake School Board met on Monday, Nov. 10, and heard good news about their construction "wish list."
"We have a projected interest remaining of $231,078.00. There was an $85,499 credit given from Rochon Construction as a result of lower service costs from Xcel for electric service," Job Gutierrez of Wold Architects and Engineering Co. told the board.
Superintendent Mark Redemske told the board that Principals Mary James and Kris Harlan had cut their furniture and equipment expenditures to $250,000. They also had a projected interest-remaining project dollars of $231,078. Now they had a projected balance of $764,051 to work with.
"We projected three of the alternates and they were rejected because of the scope of the projects. If we go back and scale back, we might be able to do them," Redemske told the board.
The sidewalks were in, the street was paved, but the weather didn't cooperate for the Grand Re-opening of Maple Lake's downtown business district.
After a record-tying 74 degrees on Monday, Saturday's weather stayed cold and windy, with temperatures settling in the mid-30s. Temperatures that sent the shoppers who braved the first real cold snap of the season scurrying from shop-to-shop trying to stay warm.
"It was cold, and we really appreciated the brave souls who came out," said Christine Gilson, owner of Christine & Friends. "Sales were steady, we weren't busy-busy, but that gave us time to talk to regulars we hadn't seen in a while. That was nice."
Sommer Elsenpeter, an owner of Irish Blessings Coffeehouse, agreed.
The senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman isn't the only close election that's headed for a recount.
At its Nov. 6 meeting, the Maple Lake City Council heard that council member Deb Geyen, who ran for mayor as a write-in candidate, had requested a recount. Former council member Mike O'Loughlin received the most votes in the mayoral contest with 340 to 313 for Geyen and 284 for Mayor Mike Messina. A total of 1,008 residents voted, with 59 ballots classified as undervotes (no vote for mayor recorded).
City Clerk Linda Hruby said the city will ask the county that the ballots be returned for the recount on Nov. 13, and then ship them back to the county before the senate recount begins.