After five years of hearings and litigation over the fate of the Annandale/Maple Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant, the two cities celebrated on Thursday, August 30 with a groundbreaking ceremony for the plant followed by a reception at the Maple Lake American Legion.
But it was a groundbreaking in name only for the new facility, with construction well underway on the plant site located at the intersection of County Roads 105 and 7 in Albion Township. A huge crater dug for the concrete-lined reed beds designed to treat biosolids was an impressive sight for those in attendance.
"It's the prettiest hole in the ground I've ever seen in my life," said Annandale Mayor Sam Harmoning at the conclusion of the groundbreaking ceremonies.
The Wright County Sheriff's Office, along with the local police departments of Annandale, Buffalo, and Howard Lake, wrote 167 motorists for speeding violations during a statewide Safe & Sober speed wave July 23-29.
The officers put in 145 hours of extra patrolling for the speed wave and wrote an additional 71 citations for various other offenses.
"Disregard for speed limits is a serious safety hazard and will not be tolerated," says Sheriff Gary Miller. "The posted speed is the speed limit."
Safe & Sober is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is designed to reduce traffic crashes through education and enforcement.
Both Ron and Jody Sherwood, Maple Lake barefoot water skiers who live and train on Ramsey Lake, have proven to shine in competition.
Ron Sherwood, a past national champion, placed fifth overall in the Men's 3 Division at the 2007 Lake Elmo Sports National Championships. This year the event was held at The Blue Moo, a man-made lake in a corn field in Alma City, WI, that one spectator likened to "A Field of Dreams" set.
Jody, who brought home six gold medals from the Barefoot Water Ski World Championships in 2006, was unable to compete in nationals this year due to injuries. But Ron did a fine job representing the family at this year's National tournament.
"I injured my lower back in July," said Jody. "I took about a month off and started skiing lightly about 10 days before Nationals to see how it felt, but it just wasn't healed enough. It was just bad timing, but a back injury is not one you can rush. Ron did ski though, and skied well."
Helping to mark the end of summer with a convenient and easy way to get and stay fit, Maple Lake's newest business, Snap Fitness, will open for business on Labor Day weekend.
"We'll open the doors for the pre-sold memberships who want to get in and start working out," said Stacy Olson, manager of the new fitness club. "Then in a couple of weeks we'll have a more formal grand opening, after we get our feet wet."
Olson recently joined Snap Fitness after a ten-year career in real estate in St. Cloud. But she comes with experience. "Before real estate I worked at a ladies-only spa and fitness facility," said Olson. "I enjoyed it alot. I learned about fitness and personal training, it was a good experience."
Well-traveled Hwy. 55 at its front door and a growing community were definitely draws to Stearns Fitness, the company behind bringing Snap Fitness to Maple Lake.
Those words became all too familiar for Maple Lake High School senior Bridget O'Loughlin who attended the U. S. Performing Arts Camp this summer in Malibu, California.
Attending the Acting for the Camera portion of the camp at Pepperdine University, O'Loughlin participated in six days of classes from July 16 to the 21.
"I learned so much and I met so many new people," said O'Loughlin.
And it truly was a learning experience.
"It was the first time I'd had ever been in California, and I flew out there by myself, which was a little scary," O'Loughlin said, "but it was the prettiest place I have ever been in my life. And, when I got there everything was so new to me. I knew almost everything about stage acting, but it is very different from acting for the camera."
The apparently random killing of Ruth Ouverson, less than 20 miles from Maple Lake, has had local residents wondering at the outcome of a burglary-turned-murder, so close to home.
It's even more frightening because it was so random," said Jean Borrell, ECFE coordinator for Maple Lake. "She was home alone, her husband was at the Sturgis bike rally, they live off a county road on gravel, but she was very independent and didn't ever say she minded being out there alone."
The killing, which is still under investigation by the Wright County Sheriff's Department and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, was the first area killing since the 2004 shooting of Juan Chacon Esquivel in Silver Creek.
Ouverson, an ECFE coordinator for the Rockford School District, was found dead in her home on August 4 by a family member checking on her when she failed to keep an appointment.
A steady rain that began at the start of the Days of Old 10K race and continued through the last song in the entertainment tent at the end of the day on Saturday was the story of this year's Days of Old celebration in Maple Lake.
In a summer marked by a severe drought, having that dry spell break all over Maple Lake's summer celebration was not ideal, but brought welcome relief to farmers and gardeners throughout the area.
And there were many good stories and lots of fun during Saturday's soggy event.
"Despite the weather, the event was considered a success in my book," said Chamber of Commerce Vice President Shannon Veches.
She said she knew on Friday night, as she watched a crew putting together the entertainment tent and scrambling to make it as weather-proof as possible, that the show would go on.
Named as the Maple Lake Lakers' Most Valuable Player of the Decades in 2002, Dale Decker will now be taking on a new role as the baseball team's manager beginning in the summer of 2008.
When Decker received the Most Valuable Player of the Decades award in the summer of 2002, Laker manager Gary Porter called him "the pillar by which the Lakers built an extremely competitive team in the '70s, '80s, and '90s," noting his team-leading efforts in almost every statistical category. Porter also mentioned that "every year, he led the team in the category of competitive spirit by being one of the fiercest ballplayers I have had the pleasure to be a teammate with."
So it couldn't be more fitting for Decker to take on this new leadership position on a team in which he is so highly respected.
Keith Jerpseth, who has been the Laker manager for the past two years in conjunction with being a player as well, was excited when the decision was made.
It was a team effort that led to the conclusion of the Medallion Hunt which served as the kick-off event for the 2007 Maple Lake Days of Old celebration.
Cassandra Birkholz, a Maple Lake seventh grader, found the medallion at about 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 8, after reading the third of four clues provided in the treasure hunt. She was searching with her 16-year-old step-brother, Greg Evans, and the duo was checking the downspout on the west wall of Maple Lake High School when they found the medallion.
The clue that pointed them in the right direction was: Provided here and treated wisely this is needed world widely. Rain could put the medallion in trouble, as it might land in a nearby puddle.
The fourth and final clue read: If your name is Moland and you run for Congress, taking the right course will teach you how to make business bucks!
Maple Lake's 4th Annual Days of Old is set for Saturday, August 18, in downtown Maple Lake.
Registrations are now being accepted for the Days of Old 10K and Fun Run. Proceeds from the races will benefit the Maple Lake High School track squads. The 10K will begin at 8 a.m. on August 18 at the Maple Lake school grounds. The route will take runners to and through Ney Park and then back to the school. The Fun Run will begin at 9:15 a.m. for two laps around the school track at Irish Country Stadium. Race registration forms can be obtained at the running website, raceberryjam.com, or at the high school office.
Other Days of Old events will start at 11 a.m. in the downtown area. The Car Show and other Magnificent Machines will once again be located on the grounds of the VFW with the Days of Old crowd invited to vote for show awards. To register cars, tractors or other vintage machines for the show, call Shannon or Cheryl at Security State Bank, 320-963-3161.