Returning just two weeks ago, a group of Maple Lake High School juniors and seniors arrived back in Minnesota after a two week learning experience in Spain. While overseas, the students immersed themselves into the Spanish lifestyle and culture through stays with host families as well as sightseeing.
Kim Fynboh and David Hansen, teachers at MLHS, teamed up with Wilmer, "Shorty," Engel of Tracey Area Schools for the 2007 trip. Engel is a brother of former Maple Lake Superintendent Ken Engel as well as Hansen's former French teacher.
The three teachers, along with 38 other chaperones and students, spent half a month traveling around famous cities in Spain including Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, Granada, and Sevilla.
"Seeing the students experience the Spanish culture was one of the most exciting parts of the trip," said Spanish teacher Kim Fynboh. "They really engulfed themselves into the culture."
St. Timothy's annual dinner/auction fundraiser, one of Maple Lake's most anticipated events, took place at the VFW Saturday night. Viva Las Vegas was this year's theme, and as usual it was a great success in raising funds for St. Timothy's School.
"We're really pleased with the turnout," said event chairperson Susie Borell. "The gross profit is expected to come in at about $109,000. Though it may be down slightly from last year, we are still well over our annual fundraising goals."
At the end of the auction guests pledged money to help the school complete the new parking lot and a new sidewalk, outdoor basketball hoops, lunchroom tables, and padding to wrap the I-beam in the gym and a stage pad with the school logo.
After 19 years, a Maple Lake man was reunited with an old friend, Rock music legend Eric Clapton.
Tom Clarke grew up in New York and was a close friend of Clapton's back in the '80s long before Clarke and his wife, Jody, moved to Maple Lake. And now that the Clarke's son, Thomas, has shown a strong interest in the guitar, his father thought it was time for him to meet a man who is considered one of the best guitarists in the world.
"Thomas and Jody have never met Eric," Clarke said. "Thomas takes guitar lessons with an accent on the Blues from Mark Sawyer of Monticello and plays with the St. Francis Youth Group. So I called up Eric and timed a reunion for the end of his world tour and two days after his 62nd birthday."
Clarke determined that the closest concert for the family would be in Illinois at the Quad Cities on April 2. And they were given the royal treatment.
Jody Sherwood of Maple Lake has added another award to her record-setting 2006 season when she was named as the 2006 American Barefoot Club (ABC) Female Athlete of the Year in an awards program in Florida.
Sherwood's latest honor comes on top of the six gold medals she earned at the Barefoot Water Ski World Championships in Adna, Washington last September. In an event that included more than 130 athletes from 13 countries, Sherwood wrote herself a page in the record books by winning the most gold medals at one world competition in this history of the sport.
Sherwood, who lives on Ramsey Lake with her husband, Ron, made the most of her trip to Florida.
"Receiving the award was obviously a big honor for me," she said. "Ron was not able to make the trip to Florida with me to accept the award so I went with my dad. That was really fun, too, because it's been a long time since my dad and I went on a trip together, just the two of us."
A nearly 500-mile ride on horseback from Winona to Duluth that began on Monday is not a race or an ironman competition or a sightseeing trip.
It is a journey for kids.
Funds collected and awareness raised through the trip will benefit Camp Amanda, a free grief camp for children from the ages of 6 through 18. It is a goal that Art Dingmann of Annandale and Jerry Brown of Ingomar, Montana, feel is well worth their effort.
Dingmann, a Camp Amanda board member and the owner of Dingmann Funeral Care of Annandale, Maple Lake and Kimball; and Brown, a former Camp Amanda board member; started their journey on April 9 in Winona and will keep riding until they reach the end of their 470-mile horseback ride in Duluth on May 3. The two had planned an even longer ride from Montana to Minnesota, but changed their plans to maximize state-wide exposure for Camp Amanda.
Spring open burning restrictions in most of the northern two-thirds of Minnesota went into effect on April 2, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The purpose of the fire restrictions is to reduce personal property damage resulting from wildfires caused by debris burning.
The counties affected by the April 2 fire restrictions are all counties from northern Minnesota south to Ramsey, Hennepin and Washington counties, except the counties of Koochiching, Lake, Cook, Lake of the Woods, Polk west of County Road 6, St. Louis north of County Road 16, Beltrami north of Highway 1, and Roseau east of Highway 310 south to Highway 89. Restrictions are expected to begin on April 9 or later for the remaining counties listed above.
There will be plenty to see and do at St. Timothy's "Viva Las Vegas" Dinner/Auction on Saturday, April 14, at the Maple Lake VFW. The big event will feature a Vegas-style dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. that includes carved Beef Au Jus or jumbo shrimp. The Silent Auction is set to run from 5 to 8 p.m. and the Live Auction, conducted by Frank Sullivan, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Dinner tickets are available at Security State Bank, St. Timothy's Parish office or St. Timothy's School office and tickets will also be available at the door.
This year's fund-raising goal to benefit St. Timothy's School is $78,000 and money raised above that amount goes to new projects which last year included new doors, hallway flooring and chairs for the school building.
Two local business owners, Tricia Manuel and Darrell Jensen, began an adventure months apart, but finished on the same stage in a Las Vegas casino just a few weeks ago.
Tricia Manuel, owner of The Costume Shoppe and Priscilla Mooseburger Originals, began nearly a year ago when she started planning the 2007 Mooseburger's Great Clown Adventure. As the driving force behind this annual convention, plans for next year begin at the end of the current year's event. Negotiations typically begin with the hotel, and in Las Vegas, a clown convention and Circus Circus go hand-in-hand.
"Circus Circus is one of the last family-friendly casinos in town," said Manuel. "They have the necessary stages already set up, and it's not unusual to see clowns in make-up walking through the casino."
In an effort to raise awareness and funding for Camp Amanda-Minnesota, The Minnesota Foundation for Children (MFC) will be embarking on a 450 mile tour of Minnesota - on horseback.
Foundation members, Art Dingmann and Jerry Brown, both avid horsemen, will ride horseback from Winona, MN through Rochester, Owatonna, Mankato, Glencoe, Cokato, Annandale, St. Cloud, Brainerd, Carlton, and finally finish their month-long trek in Duluth. The journey will begin April 9, and finish on approximately May 3, depending upon weather conditions.
"I'm very excited to make this journey in honor of Camp Amanda-Minnesota and the wonderful work that is done to help children move through the grief process in a safe and nurturing environment," said Art Dingmann of Dingmann Funeral Care in Annandale. "We hope that Minnesotans will be encouraged by our efforts to learn more about the work of Camp Amanda and donate generously."
Helen Doherty, current commander of the Maple Lake VFW, and Don Clapp, veteran 4-H leader and livestock coach, are the winners of this year's Minneapolis Aquatennial Association Commodore's Awards for volunteer service.
The two honorees, who count volunteer time in decades rather than days or years, were both surprised and pleased that the Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce selected them for this honor from nominations made by the Maple Lake community.
Doherty, who celebrated her 92nd birthday on Valentine's Day, has lived in Maple Lake all her life and has been involved in one volunteer effort or another for most of it.
"Volunteering is just what you do," said Doherty. "Everybody does something, right?"
More information appears in this week's issue of the Messenger.