Two structure fire calls in three days kept Maple Lake firefighters on their toes at the end of last week.
The first call, at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 16, came after a lightning strike ignited a roof at an abandoned home at 4823 106th St. NW in Silver Creek Township.
According to the Wright County Sheriff's Department, owner, James Hennen alerted the fire department after noticing the roof fire from his current residence at 4985 106th St. NW. Hennen said his wife had mentioned she noticed the smell of smoke after the storm had passed through. "I walked outside and could see the smoke rising from the old house," Hennen said.
The home, which Hennen estimated was built before 1890, was largely empty, but he said an old wood-burning stove and an antique kitchen stove were destroyed in the fire. The two-story structure had been unoccupied for several years and the MLFD had considered using it for training.
It was a wet and wild finish on Saturday for the Fourth Annual Christopher Schneider Bass Tournament on Maple Lake. In the photo at left, Mary and Jack Kiffe of Coon Rapids had to don their rain gear to weigh their 17 lbs., 11 oz. catch of six fish, which was good enough to take the championship for the second time. The Kiffes won the first tournament four years ago with a record catch of 23 lbs., 6 oz.
The width of the residential portion of Birch Avenue has been the biggest point of controversy in the proposed reconstruction project and that issue continued at the July 15 meeting of the Maple Lake City Council.
Council member John Northenscold opened the discussion with a report of his research into issues regarding the recommendation by the city engineer to reduce the width of Birch between Second and Fourth streets from 56 to 44 feet.
Regarding the safety of the street, Northenscold, who lives on Birch Avenue, said he found that in most studies a wider street is considered safer than a narrow street with a lower chance for accidents and more room for bicyclists and pedestrians. There has also been assertions that more damage to trees will occur if the street width is not reduced during reconstruction. Northenscold said the Arbor Day Foundation told him that the width of the street would not be an issue.
Product Technologies of Maple Lake has a new owner.
Leggett & Platt Inc., which bought Product Technologies from founder John Rivers in 2000, announced on July 16 that it sold its aluminum die-casting business unit to its management and Kenner & Company, Inc., a New York-based private equity firm. The Aluminum Group will be known by its previous name, Pace Industries, Inc., and will remain headquartered in Fayetteville, Ark. Pace will have 19 manufacturing locations throughout the U.S. and Mexico, and become the largest privately owned custom non-automotive die-casting company in North America.
Times have changed and the Maple Lake School Board is wrestling with the question of how to continue a strong band program at Maple Lake High School.
Instrumental Music Director Tony Mazzone came to the board at its July 14 meeting with his concerns over the future of the band program.
"Everybody thinks about the glory days when the only options for kids were to bale hay or be in band," Mazzone said. "Marching band was huge then, but times have changed."
Mazzone said students now have jobs and more options on how they want to spend their time. He said the requirement that concert band students participate in the summer marching band program is forcing students to make tough choices that, in some situations, causes young musicans to leave the band program.
Mazzone said the board needs to consider what is best for kids.
When September rolls around, the eyes of the nation will be on St. Paul and the X-cel Energy Center, the site of the 2008 Republican National Convention. The massive undertaking required to host such an event is beyond the scope of the St. Paul Police Department and, at the July 8 meeting of the Wright County Board, the commissioners learned that the Wright County Sheriff's Department will be assisting in the security detail assigned to the convention.
Wright County is going to be part of the $50 million set aside for the security budget and Chief Deputy Joe Hagerty said Wright County has pledged to be part of the security team.
"They're going to need about 3,000 officers for the four days of the convention," Hagerty said. "St. Paul only has 500 officers of its own. The rest are going to be called in from surrounding counties. We'll have up to 20 deputies each day from Wright County assisting in the security of the convention."
The Second Annual Salsa Taste-Off withstood strong winds on Saturday to bring a welcomed burst of color to Birch Avenue in downdown Maple Lake. Although the main event was the voting for the best Salsa in town, there were dancers, turtle races and the breaking of colorful pinatas filled with treats for the kids. Winners of the Salsa contest were Paul Simonette, 1st; LuAnn Bruns, 2nd; and the team of Julia Bothun and Maria Stokman, 3rd.
More photos from the event appear in this weeks issue of the Messenger.
All eyes are on China this year as it prepares to host the 2008 Olympics Games from August 8 to 24.
And there is one Maple Lake native who knows more than most about China and its people.
Elizabeth Loch, daughter of Mark and Amy Loch of Maple Lake, graduated in May from St. Cloud State with a special education major and a plan to teach the learning disabled. But she spent her last semester student teaching in China.
"My advisor said 'If you're going to student teach, it's better to do it outside of Minnesota,'" Loch laughed. "So I said 'Okay, I might as well leave the country.'"
Loch said she took advantage of a new program offered at St. Cloud State.
"I heard a speaker talk about the program to student teach in China," Loch said. "But no one had ever applied. So I said 'You know what, this sounds like a great opportunity. I'll do it.'"
The Maple Lake Legion baseball squad hosted Rogers in a double-header on Monday, July 7th, in their first game back after the Fourth of July holiday.
Maple Lake vs. Rogers
After their long holiday break that lasted over a week, Maple Lake or Rogers couldn't manage to put a run on the board until the final inning.
Cameron Knudsen took the mound for Maple Lake to start the game, and with the help of his defense they shut Rogers down one, two, three. Then in the bottom of the first, Maple Lake jumped out right away with some big hits and Riley Decker, Jordan Kelm, and Nick Hudek loaded the bases with three straight singles. Unfortunately, two straight strikeouts would leave the bases juiced for Maple Lake.
July 10: Maple Lake Lions meeting, 7 p.m., Maple Lake American Legion Club.
July 10: Ala-Teen meeting for ages 10-18 affected by someone else's drinking, 7:30-8:30 p.m., Buffalo Evangelical Free Church, 2051 50th St. NE, County Rds. 25 & 113. Call 952-955-2819 for more information.
July 13: Chatham Climbers 4-H Club, 6:15 p.m., Dave and Julie Pribyl home. New members always welcome. For more information on meeting time and location, call 320-963-3812 or 320-963-2100.
July 14: Maple Lake School Board, 7 p.m., board room.
July 15: Maple Lake City Council, 7 p.m., city hall.
July 15: Annandale Lakers AA & Al-Anon, 8 p.m., United Methodist Church of Annandale, 250 Oak Ave. N. For more information call 320-274-3380.
July 15: Gamblers Anonymous, 7:30 p.m., Buffalo Evangelical Free Church, 2051 50th St. NE, County Rds. 25 & 113.