On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, it was business as usual at the Wright County Courthouse. Employees were arriving for work, department heads were preparing for agenda items to be heard at that day's county board meeting and Sheriff Gary Miller was pulling into his parking spot.
Like others in his department, Miller had heard breaking news reports about a plane that had crashed into the World Trade Center. He, like most others, thought it was a tragic accident. As he and other employees watched on an office television, they learned the "accident" was anything but unintentional.
"It was a wild day," Miller said. "We watched the second plane hit the other tower. It was clear immediately that this was no mistake. Then the Pentagon gets hit within another few minutes and then we hear about the plane going down over Pennsylvania. It was something we had never seen before."
Nicole Nelsen took a long and interesting road to get to Maple Lake.
Nelsen swam for the Golden Gophers, traveled to Rome to say goodbye to Pope John Paul and hello to Pope Benedict, and is now the new youth minister for St. Timothy's Catholic Church.
A native of Alexandria, Nelsen left western Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota and swim for the Gophers. But she discovered her passion for swimming was gone.
"At that point in my life, I wanted to pursue the faith," she said. "I fell in love with Jesus Christ and His church and wanted to study theology. I was burned out on swimming. I just felt like God was changing the priorities in my life."
Nelsen did coach swimming in Duluth after her father convinced her to study art. She obtained a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and taught art for two years in the Bloomington school system before changing the direction of her life once again.
Students at St. Timothy's School found a brighter and more colorful building awaiting them on the first day of school this week. Thanks to funds raised at the April Dinner/Auction for St. Tim's, remodeling of the school over the summer continued this year. The projects included new floor covering in the hallways and four rooms, upgraded lighting in the hallways, new switches and switchplates, refinishing of terrazzo floors, upgrading of restrooms, new shelving in the main office and stage area, a door door at the top of the bleachers and four sets of new exterior doors.
"All of this is due to the generosity of the parents and this community," said Principal Frank Mazzuca, who also noted the efforts of St. Timothy's pastor, Father Mark Huberty. "Not every priest is a school priest, but he is."
It was a walk to remember for breast cancer survivor Jan Bakeberg and her daughter, Tammy Saphir, after the two participated in the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk.
From the rousing opening ceremonies at dawn on August 18 to its poignant conclusion at the state capitol on August 20, the Walk was 60 miles of good weather, friendly faces and stories of survival matched only by a shared commitment to find a cure for breast cancer.About 3,000 walkers started from the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley and took off on a route that wound its way through Apple Valley, Eagan, Bloomington, Minneapolis and St. Paul.
And it wasn't a walk in the park.
"I trained much better when I did the MS Walk a few years ago," Jan laughed, noting that her husband, Bruce, had his doubts about her ability to walk 60 miles in three days. "Before this, six miles is the most that I did and Bruce was afraid I wasn't going to make it."
The annual Fly-In at the Maple Lake Municipal Airport will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Sept. 10 with a display of planes from across Minnesota and one based in Maple Lake that will spark considerable interest.
In July, Wright Aero of Maple Lake purchased a plane that could turn more people into pilots. A Sport Star SC, made by Evektor in the Czech Republic, is a step between ultralights and other traditional small aircraft. The good news for area residents is that obtaining a sport pilot's license takes half the training and consequently, half the cost, of a private pilot's license.
Greg Mavencamp, Maple Lake Airport maintenance director, said that the new sports pilots license is a new entry-level category that was a long time in coming. "It was probably the first time in history that the FAA deregulated instead of regulated," he said. "They actually gave up some control."
This winter, when Maple Lake freezes over, there will be no one to record that date. And in the spring when the ice melts, no one will be calling the Messenger to declare the date of ice-out.
Keeping track of Maple Lake was something Ron Lauer liked to do and he did it well. The same could be said for his 26 years of service to the city as its treasurer, his 26 years on the Maple Lake Fire Department, and his 41 years as an employee of Maple Lake Lumber.Lauer served as a Maple Lake firefighter from 1967 to 1988 and was named the Fireman of the Year in 1976.
Maple Lake Fire Chief Todd Borell said he could remember watching as a kid when the firefighters would ride on the outside of the trucks and Lauer was always one of the guys hanging on in back. "He was still very active when I joined the fire department," Borell said. "He was going to fires and would always pull his own weight."
Flight assistance from professional pilot, Bill Mavencamp Jr., helped make two memorable trips for World War II veteran, Ken Dahlberg, a reality.
Dahlberg, a WWII triple ace fighter pilot, planned a flight in his CJ2 through Europe and over Omaha Beach 60 years after D-Day. This summer, Dahlberg, his family and friends, and Mavencamp made that same trip, sharing memories and reliving moments in history. Mavencamp, President of Wright Aero, Inc. and professional pilot, assists Dahlberg on many domestic flights throughout the year and was invited to accompany him on the memorable trip as his co-pilot back in 2004.
The trip began in Minneapolis at Flying Cloud Municipal Airport. Dahlberg, Mavencamp and a few others took to the sky on their way to Goose Bay, the first stop on the trip.
For more information on Mavencamp's trip check out the August 30 issue of the Messenger.
A tribute to Maple Lake firefighters was installed on August 18 on Oak Avenue next to the Maple Lake Fire Hall.
Fire Chief Todd Borell said the monument was initiated as a result of donations from the families of the late Russ Baker and Clarence Jude, along with a donation made in the name of the late father of Maple Lake firefighter John Erger.
The monument consists of a large granite stone featuring the Maple Lake Fire Department emblem and the words "In honor of past, present and future fighters." Borell said the stone was acquired with the assistance of Mike Messina and Dingmann Funeral Care. The statue of a firefighter that stands next to the stone was purchased separately from a business in Motley and painted with the colors of the Maple Lake Fire Department.
Borell said that eventually, landscaping will be done around the monument by fire department volunteers.