A benefit on Sunday for Al and Pat Elsenpeter succeeded beyond anyone's best hopes.
Al Elsenpeter was injured in a May car accident, in which he lost the use of his wheelchair accessible van. Since that time, he has been recovering from a severe break in his leg while friends and family helped to modify his home for his needs. Sunday's event was designed to help obtain a new van that will give Al the mobility he lost in May.
The benefit on Sunday brought a big crowd to the Maple Lake VFW for activities that included live and silent actions, a pork chop dinner, games, music, concessions, a dunk tank, a raffle, face painting and other activities.
Sarah Riviere, who served as an event co-chair, said that about 650 people were served at the dinner, with the silent auction featuring 192 items and 62 items sold through the live auction.
A Maple Lake man's relationship with rock star Eric Clapton has led to new friendships with other musicians and more unforgettable photos for the family scrapbook.
Tom Clarke, a former New York firefighter, and his son, 13-year-old Thomas, were treated to back-stage passes at a Steve Winwood/ Tom Petty concert at the Target Center on July 23.
The Clarkes also attended the Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago on July 28, 2007, and met with Clapton's wife and children in the family's private box.
At the Target Center, the Clarkes spent time backstage with Jose Neto, Winwood's lead guitarist. Thomas brought his 660 Rickenbacker electric guitar, the same that Petty plays, and it now carries the signatures of Petty, Winwood and Neto.
Friends and family are hosting a benefit for Al and Pat Elsenpeter on August 24 at the VFW in Maple Lake. Money is being raised for a van, medical expenses and to make their home more accessible for Al after a car accident in May. There will be a pork chop dinner, kid's meal, and family fun that includes live and silent auctions, games, face painting, music, concessions, a dunk tank, a raffle and other activities.
A wide variety of items has been donated for the auctions. Live Auction items include a BMX four-wheeler 110cc, four Wild hockey tickets, 18-holes of golf for four with Father Michael Izen, a Manicotti dinner for eight and a bat or ball signed by the Maple Lake Lakers.
The dozens of Silent Auction items feature a picture of Bobby Orr, a Black Hills gold ring, a Dale Earnhart/Nascar Daytona 500 model car, jars of Ertel's Famous Butt Cream, quilts and a wide variety of baskets ranging from an Irish Basket to a Back to School Basket.
The Maple Lake Lakers' participation in the state Class B baseball tournament continued as they beat the Bemidji Mudcats, on Saturday, August 16, in their first round of the tournament.
With the Class B tournament reduced to a single-elimination affair through the first round last year, Bemidji will have no opportunity to come back through the losers' bracket to stay alive, while the Lakers will now move on to the second round when double-elimination play will begin.
Todd Fuller set down the Mudcats on four singles, working out of several jams to go the distance. He fanned eight, walked four, and gave up just four hits in his nine innings of work.
Lakers' Manager Dale Decker said Fuller had control of his pitches and was able to get ahead of the Bemidji hitters.
There were no complaints about the weather for this year's Maple Lake Days of Old, especially when remembering last year's wash-out.
A beautiful, sunny day with temperatures well into the 80s brought a big crowd to downtown Maple Lake for a wide variety of activities, food, music and fun.
It was a busy day in Maple Lake, with a large number of fans heading to Chaska for the first-round state tournament game of the Maple Lake Lakers at 11 a.m. But many of those fans headed back to the Days of Old after the game, helping to make this fifth summer festival a success.
"Everybody had a good time and we heard nothing but good things about this year's Days of Old," said Chamber of Commerce event chairperson Kathy Hennen. "There was the Lakers' game, with people back from that coming downtown and a wedding crowd coming through. The band played and people stayed downtown right through the fireworks."
The long-awaited reconstruction of Birch Avenue got underway last week and an update on the project was provided to the Maple Lake City Council at its August 5 meeting.
Justin Engelman of Bonestroo, the city's engineer firm, said he would be serving as the field representative for the project. He said the reconstruction began in the residential portion of Birch from Second to Fourth streets with removal of blacktop, curb and gutter. Utility work would be the next portion of the project and Engelman said that a temporary water hookup would be run to each home before utility work would begin.
In a project newsletter distributed to residents, utilities are to be installed in the next month, grading is estimated to begin on August 22, curb and gutter in September and paving in the period between September 2 and Oct. 10.
Engelman said work on the downtown portion of the project would begin after the Days of Old festival on August 16.
Al Elsenpeter overcame polio and with the help of family and friends, he will come back from the debilitating effects of a car accident as well.
In May, Al and his wife, Pat, were involved in a crash on Highway 55 in Maple Lake that left Al with a broken leg and the loss of his handicapped-accessible van. To help the couple recover financially from the accident, a benefit is being planned for Sunday, August 24, at the Maple Lake VFW.
Physically, Al is on the mend, but the polio that robbed him of the full use of his legs is slowing his recovery. He was 14 years old when the polio epidemic of that era put him in the St. Cloud hospital for eight months.
"I spent most of that time retraining my body and learning how to get around as a paraplegic," he said. "It's amazing how the body adapts. When I came out of the hospital, I couldn't walk on my own, but I was physically fit, with a lot of upper body strength."
The featured classic car at Saturday's Days of Old car show is a vehicle well-known to long-time Maple Lake residents.
A 1959 red Chevrolet Kingswood nine-passenger station wagon with a bubble-top revolving light on the roof was originally purchased by the Maple Lake Fire Department to transport an advance crew to the scene of fires and other emergencies. The vehicle, now owned by Roger and Mary James, will be pictured on Days of Old car show plaques and provided with a place of honor on August 16.
or the first time in over a decade the Maple Lake Lakers are taking a trip to the State Amateur Baseball Tournament.
Under the management of former Laker player and North Star League Hall of Famer, Dale Decker, the team will see its first state tourney since manager Gary Porter's heyday when the Lakers earned a place in 11 state tournaments, the last in 1995.
In fact, it was Porter's run of success that placed the Lakers in Class B, competing against much larger teams and towns.
"We are, without a doubt, the smallest town in Class B," said Lakers' manager Dale Decker. "The teams were divided up in the late '80s and early '90s when we'd had quite a run in the state tournaments and some of the placement decision was based on past performances. We could actually petition to go down to Class C so we'd be playing similar-sized teams, like Monticello and Howard Lake."
It's a crowded field of candidates running for the District 1 seat on the Wright County Board.
Six-year District 1 County Commissioner Karla Heeter of Silver Creek announced in the spring that she will not run for re-election since she accepted a position as the executive director of the Buffalo Hospital Foundation.
The candidate filing period closed on July 15 with all the local, state, and federal offices included in the deadline. Eight area residents had filed for the District 1 position, but Steven Duncan of Monticello has withdrawn from the race.
The next phase will be a state primary election on Tuesday, September 9, which will narrow the field of county commissioner candidates down to just two before the general election on Tuesday, November 4.
More information appears in this week's issue of the Messenger or subscribe to the on-line E-dition of the paper.