Judges for the annual Holiday in Lights contest sponsored by the Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce had no trouble picking the home of Todd and Elizabeth Borell at 69 Rose Avenue South as the best lighting display in Maple Lake.
The annual contest provided a prize of $100 to the Borells. Taking second and a prize of $75 was the home of Brad and Kristi Hennen at 310 Maple Avenue South and in third with a prize of $50 was the home of Rachel Gagnon at 1031 Aspen Circle.
Jen Kempenich, a 2005 graduate of Maple Lake High School, was first on the scene after a hit-and-run driver fatally injured a bicyclist in Minneapolis last week.
Edward Joseph Gorecki, 51, of Minneapolis, was riding his bike on the evening of Dec. 10 near the intersection of Quincy and Broadway streets in northeast Minneapolis when he was hit by a Jeep driven by Irene Amy Graves, 41. Graves did not stop after hitting Gorecki.
"I was in the far lane going in one direction and he (the bicyclist) was in the far lane coming at me," said Kempenich, who is a student at Normandale College. "There was this Jeep speeding up behind him with no lights on. I knew it was going to happen and there was nothing I could do, it was unstoppable."
After the Jeep struck the cyclist, Kempenich pulled over, hoping to aid the injured man.
Julie Goos, a Maple Lake resident since 2006, and her friend, Jann Stein, make beautiful music together-literally.
Goos, a flutist, and Stein, a concert harpist, met at Grace Church in Roseville in 1994 and have enjoyed sharing their music ever since.
"I have a Masters Degree in flute performance, and had been thinking of playing with a symphony somewhere, " said Goos. "I worked in the Twin Cities quite a bit, hiring out with the musicians union, before we moved out here, but nothing like Jann. She plays a concert harp, the big ornate one. They're quite rare; flutists in the Twin Cities are kind of common, a dime dozen."
But there's nothing common about the combination of the two talents.
After performing together for several years, a series of events in 2003 prompted the duo to record some of their music in the form of a Christmas CD.
Living Water Inspirational Cards, Gifts, Books & Bibles has formed a unique relationship with the Friends of the Maple Lake Library for the benefit of all involved.
A monthly special event hosted by Living Water is providing the library group with opportunities to sell books for the library fund. And, in turn, the ongoing book sale to raise funds for a library in Maple Lake is bringing more visitors to Living Water.
On Saturday, Lonna Szczesny, owner of Living Water, is opening her doors at her downtown location inside The Den for a variety of family activities. The event will include showings of two Christmas moves: "Charlie Brown Christmas" at 10 a.m. and the original version of "Miracle on 34th Street" at 11 a.m. The "Happy Birthday, Jesus" party will take place from 10:30 to 11 a.m. with storytelling that includes "Silent Night," and "A Kneeling Santa." There will also be birthday cake and gifts for kids, Christmas caroling and craft projects.
"Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Clement Clarke Moore received a creative retelling by sixth graders at Maple Lake Elementary on December 6 as they presented "Twas One Crazy Night Before Christmas."
The production, directed by vocal music teacher Sue Nelson, provided a light-hearted look at Christmas in the typical American household with songs such as "Love That Martha Stewart," "Will the Real Santa Claus Stand Up?" and "Touchdown in the Kitchen."
More photos from the Christmas program appear in this weeks issue of the Messenger.
Maple Lake resident Reggie Walton will be the first to tell you that time flies when you're enjoying yourself while helping others.
"I can't believe it's been 35 years," said Walton. "I guess I just never learned to say no."
Walton was speaking of the 35 years he's spent volunteering, 26 of which with the National MS Society, Minnesota Chapter.
A volunteer among volunteers, Walton was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award and inducted into the National Multiple Sclerosis Hall of Fame.
The celebration dinner, "Denim and Diamonds" that recognized Walton for his years of service, was the culmination of the 2007 National MS Conference in Dallas, Texas.
"It was delightful," said Walton. "They flew me down and back and paid all my expenses. It was wonderful, but you don't do volunteer work for the recognition, you do it for the hugs and kisses and smiles."
The Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce will once again be sponsoring the annual Holiday in Lights contest.
Holiday in Lights honors the best residential light displays each year. Prizes are $100 for first place, $75 for second and $50 for third.
Judges will conduct a tour of homes in the City of Maple Lake on the evening of Monday, Dec. 10. However, homeowners wishing to ensure that their homes are viewed or residents within two miles of the City of Maple Lake can request that their Christmas lighting displays be judged by calling the Messenger at 963-3813 by 4 p.m. on Dec. 10.
Two local businesses were the victims of burglaries last week and it appears that the two crimes may have been committed by the same thieves.
Bonnie's Maple Lake Cafe was struck either late Wednesday evening or very early Thursday morning and Video Closet and Tanning fell victim almost exactly 24 hours later.
Rod Eastham, an owner of the cafe, alerted the Wright County Sheriff of the burglary early Thursday morning after entering the restaurant and finding the back door ajar.
"The first thing he noticed were all the spices knocked to the floor," said Bonnie Eastham, co-owner of the cafe. "When they kicked in the back door the wall vibrated and knocked everything down. He saw that the cash register was gone, along with the money from the animal shelter jar and the jar for library donations. The cops took both of the jars for fingerprints."
Soon after discovering the burglary, Rob called Bonnie who hurried in to help assess the damage.
It rained all day during Maple Lake's August Days of Old.
And as luck would have it, it snowed all day during Saturday's Christmas in Maple Lake.
But somehow, kids and families found their way to The Den in downtown Maple Lake for a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, treats, crafts, prizes and some Christmas fun sponsored by the Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce. And outside, the area took on the look of a Christmas card, courtesy of the first storm of the winter.
The Maple Lake area received from five to six inches of snow in a weather system that covered the Midwest with ice to the south and up to 12 inches of snow in other areas.
The Wright County Sheriff's Department reported 22 weather-related crashes on Saturday and Sunday, but all were minor "fender-benders."
"Do It Anyway" is a poem by Mother Teresa that was read by Kathy Leedom at the 16th Annual Leadership in Educational Excellence Awards & Recognition Ceremony (LEEA). The poem challenges people to step over obstacles and do what is right - anyway.
The LEEA event provides Central Minnesota school districts the opportunity to recognize outstanding achievements by educators and administrators. One hundred and fifty-seven from 42 districts or educational organizations represented all aspects of public and private education from the classroom teacher to specialists. Honored from Maple Lake were elementary special education teacher Becky Nies, elementary teacher Steve Fuchs, Strategies/ Academic tutor Robin Grabham and high school counselor and Life Studies teacher Judy Sloneker.
Leedom served as the keynote speaker and described what she terms "cotton candy" moments-times in life that, when remembered, bring a warm feeling and a smile to your face.