The biggest national news story of 2005 was the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. And despite the hardships caused by the August storm, one former Maple Lake resident who lived through it is facing the new year with a renewed sense of hope and optimism.
Joni Rachel Dube, daughter of the late Eleanor and Bill Rachel of Maple Lake and a 1973 graduate of Maple Lake High School, rode out the storm with her family and has been working since then to get her home and her life back on track.
Joni and her husband, Brian, are residents of Slidell, Louisiana, which is about 30 miles from New Orleans and on a path that sent the eye of Katrina over the town. They were only able to evacuate to a friend’s cabin about 60 miles away, but that was far enough.
Denise Kirchoff has been blessed with overwhelming support from the Maple Lake community as she continues her battle with kidney disease and awaits an organ donor.
Five years ago, Kirchoff was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), and in early April of this year, she was placed on a national donor list.
After community members heard about Kirchoff’s need, many stepped forward to help. Four interested donors were a blood-type match and underwent further testing though none were suitable donors. Now, even as Kirchoff awaits a kidney, she remains optimistic.
“I am incredibly impressed with the outpouring of concern that people in the community have shown,” said Kirchoff. “I feel touched to have had so much support from the community.”
State Senator Amy Koch (R-Buffalo) took the oath of office last week at a Capitol ceremony in St. Paul, officially beginning her first term in the Minnesota Senate. Koch represents Senate District 19, which includes the cities of Albertville, Buffalo, Clearwater, Delano, Maple Lake, Monticello, Montrose, Rockford, St. Michael, and Waverly.
“It’s exciting to be here and to be part of the legislative process,” said Senator Koch. “It is a great honor and privilege to be entrusted by the people of Senate District 19 to represent them in the Minnesota Senate, and I intend to get to work immediately on the issues important to our district.”
Committee assignments will not be determined until the beginning of the next legislative session in March. In her campaign, however, Koch expressed interest in the areas of taxes, education, transportation, pro-life issues, and gun and property rights.
Monica Thomsen did more than just serve up fantastic pies and great food to her customers in Maple Lake. The extras included stories, advice and a whole lotta love.A life-long resident, Moni died at the age of 74 on December 27 at the St. Cloud Hospital.
Starting in the food service industry at the age of 11, Moni served as a local caterer and purchased the Maple Lake Cafe in 1986 with her daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Don Super.
“It wasn’t just a job for her,” Mary said. “It was her life.”
And she was satisfied with nothing less than the best.
“Mom was a perfectionist,” Mary said. “No one could say how many of her dishes went into the trash because they didn’t meet her expectations.”
That good food and the lively conversation from the cook made Moni friends all over the area.
Ginger O’Loughlin likes to practice what she preaches. “I believe that to generate good volunteers you have to be one,” she said. “My favorite part [of volunteering] is getting my hands dirty with [other volunteers]. That is where it’s at.”
O’Loughlin, a resident of Maple Lake, has been getting her hands “dirty” for many years now with countless volunteer projects. In recognition of her ongoing efforts, O’Loughlin has been named this year’s Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association (W-H) Touchstone Energy Community Service award winner.
A visit by the President of the United States is no small affair, but the Rivers family of Maple Lake managed to get a few moments of President George Bush’s time for a photo and a few words of conversation during the presidential visit to Minnesota on December 9.
John Rivers, the retired CEO and former owner of Product Technologies, Inc., in Maple Lake, has served as a volunteer for the Senate campaign of Congressman Mark Kennedy and was invited to meet President Bush.
“It was a real honor to be able to attend this event, meet the president and be able to make a few comments to him,” Rivers said.