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Paynesville Press - December 31, 2003

Paynesville 2003: The Year in Review

By Michael Jacobson

The annual award winners from the Paynesville Area Chamber of Commerce were: Morgan Martinson, Young Person of the Year; Bev Mueller, Boss of the Year; Ray, Rita, Claudette, and Steve Nietfeld, Farmers of the Year; Joyce Spaulding, Community Service Award; and Tess Thielen, Employee of the Year.

Local Army Reserve Unit called to active duty Army Reserve troops from the unit stationed in Paynesville were called to active duty. Pictured is Paynesville's Army Reserve building. The detachment, part of the 704th Chemical Company, had two days to get ready to leave. They were going to be sent overseas but were not shipped out because of Turkey's refusal to allow U.S. troops to enter Iraq from their country. The soldiers ended up spending their eight-month deployment at bases in Wisconsin and Washington state.

The city of Paynesville approved a new comprehensive plan, including a future-land use map that raised some annexation concerns from local residents since it classified land outside the city limits currently located in Paynesville Township.

Congressman Mark Kennedy and Congressman Collin Peterson announced their intention to seek special funding - in the six-year federal highway appropriations bill - for future improvements of Highway 23 in Paynesville. Kennedy and a representative from Peterson's office met with civic leaders to discuss possible federal funding for the project. The future route of Highway 23, through or around Paynesville, is being studied.

MCCL RALLY Nightline - ABC's popular late-night news show - included film footage from the annual banquet of the Paynesville chapter of the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a pro-life organization. News coverage about abortion and the anti-abortion movement marked the 30 years since the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision. A camera crew spent four days with MCCL executive director Scott Fischbach of Paynesville, who got his start in the anti-abortion movement in the local MCCL chapter. Members of the local MCCL Chapter shown at the annual pro-lifed emonstration in St. Paul in February 2003.

Robb Kannenberg, a 1983 graduate of Paynesville High School, was found dead in Willmar. His remains were found in an undeveloped lot and later identified. He had been missing from the Willmar Regional Treatment Center since July 2001.

After nine months of studying the future route of Highway 23, through or around Paynesville, MnDOT's consulting engineers announced that they had decided to limit their study to the five original routes: keep the existing alignment, improving the through-town route, the east bypass, the west bypass, and the far west bypass. An informational meeting in February drew an audience of 100 local residents to hear about the study and the route options for Highway 23.

One-act play PAHS's one-act play (pictured at right) - performed by ten students - placed second in the subsection competition and advanced to sections. PAHS students had not competed in one-act play in 20 years. Their runner-up trophy is believed to be the only drama trophy in PAHS history.

Seniors Laura Stoneburner and Pat Noonan were crowned Sweetfest Queen and King at PAHS. Seniors Mandy Mayer and Freddie Stock were named AAA award winners at PAHS, recognizing their achievements in academics, arts, and athletics.

Chester Hendrickson - who participated in five major troop landings during World War II, including the D-Day landings in June 1944 - was awarded a Jubilee of Liberty medal posthumously by the French government. Hendrickson, a Union Grove farmer, commanded a landing craft and earned a Bronze Star and European and Pacific Theater Service medals for his service in the U.S. Navy.

Renovations began at Washburne Court, a former board-and-care facility that the Paynesville Area Health Care System had switched to assisted living, starting in 2003. Renovations - costing $500,000 with half covered by a grant - would transform Washburne Court from a 46-bed nursing home to a 24-unit assisted living facility.

Mayor Jeff Thompson traveled to Washington, D.C., with a group of civic and business leaders from Willmar to lobby for federal funds to improve Highway 23 in Paynesville. Later in the month, Congressman Mark Kennedy announced that $1 million in federal funds was available to help the Highway 23 project. This money would actually be spent by MnDOT elsewhere on 23 but was expected to free money to spend on the Paynesville project.

Harry Thielen earned a spot on the Paynesville Township Board of Supervisors, defeating incumbent John Atwood by a vote of 195-146. In Roseville Township, write-in-candidate Vernon Soine defeated incumbent Foster Hudson 31-25.

Residents approved raising Paynesville Township's property tax levy by $59,000 by a vote of 28-19 at the annual meeting. Paynesville Township raised its levy from $331,000 in 2003 to $390,000 for 2004. Three other area townships raised their levies for 2004: Eden Lake ($10,000), St. Martin ($1,500), and Zion ($10,000).

Concerns raised by local residents prompted the Paynesville Community Service Center, the local foodshelf, to make some operational changes. The center always relies on donations in March to fund its year-round operation, and donors did prove generous in 2003.

New chief of police, Kent Kortlever The Paynesville City Council appointed Kent Kortlever (pictured at left), a six-year veteran of the local police department, to replace retiring police chief Tony Schmitt at the end of May 2003.

MnDOT agreed to pay for 87 percent of the construction costs for the new airport, agreeing to a higher split than usual due to the low bids for construction. For construction and engineering, the total costs were just over $600,000, with MnDOT covering over $520,000, leaving just $80,000 for the city of Paynesville. This does not include acquisition of the land needed for the airport.

Twenty-three PAHS students - 15 juniors and eight seniors - were inducted into the local chapter of the National Honor Society.

Bobby O'Fallon, a junior at PAHS, became the 19th Eagle Scout in Paynesville history, earning the top award in Boy Scouts.

Rainer Weis - who practiced law for 13 years in Paynesville and served as a county judge for 15 years - died at the age of 82.

Tying ribbons Local volunteers (shown at right tying the ribbons) showed support for U.S. troops by tying yellow ribbons in downtown Paynesville and along Highway 23 through town. Over 1,100 yards of yellow ribbon was used to tie and display 223 bows. Three PAHS students - juniors Peter Schreifels and Sami Tierney and ninth grader Courtney Colbert - advanced to state in speech. However, none placed.

Marcella Lieser of Paynesville was named the 2003 Minnesota State Outstanding Daughter by the Daughters of Isabella, who held their annual convention at St. Louis Catholic Church in Paynesville.

Juniors Adam Ingalsbe and Sami Tierney were selected to sing in the All State Mixed Choir for 2003-04. The duo were the eighth PAHS students selected to an all-state ensemble in the past six years. Ingalsbe became the first PAHS student to be selected to an all-state ensemble twice.

The parent-run, after-prom party at Paynesville Area High School marked its tenth anniversary. The all-night event at the high school, following prom, was intended to give students a safe alternative on prom night. Since its inception in 1993, PAHS students have not been involved in any serious accidents on prom night.

Paynesville Township approved a road project to upgrade Breezewood Road, Crest Ridge Road, and NW Koronis Road on the north side of Lake Koronis. The project, bid at $347,824, included a separate, eight-foot-wide pedestrian trail along these roads. Actual construction started in the late summer of 2003.

The Paynesville Area Health Care System held an open house to showcase its remodeled facility following a two-year, $8.2-million building project at the main campus. The work involved four additions, including a new ER wing, creating a new operating room and new birthing suites, and extensive renovations in the Koronis Manor, the first in the 40-year history of the nursing home.

Paynesville Police Chief Tony Schmitt retired after 28 years in law enforcement. The Paynesville native worked for Paynesville Township for 17 years and for the city, in a combined city/township department, for 11 years, including six as chief. Earlier in the month, the police department hired Chuck Buggs as a new patrolman to keep their staff at four after Schmitt's retirement.

Ninety-seven seniors graduated from Paynesville Area High School. Six teachers retired from the Paynesville Area School District after serving a combined 189 years in the local schools. Retiring were science teacher Steve Aagesen (28 years), social science teacher Gerry Meyer (34 years), elementary teacher Diane Nelson (35 years), special education teacher Kathy Olmscheid (24 years), physical education and health teacher Carol Smith (34 years), and elementary teacher Berniece Voss (34 years). Building and grounds supervisor Lew Storkamp, 25 years in the district, also retired.

Harvey Voss, a Paynesville Town-ship supervisor for 37 years, died at the age of 90.

The Rice Lake Association and the Koronis Lake Association announced a new lakeshed management plan for the two lakes, which are connected by the Crow River. The plan aims to improve water quality, through cultivated land management, feedlot management, septic system management, soil erosion prevention, stormwater management, and wetland restoration in the 311 square miles where surface water drains directly to the lakes, called its lakeshed.

Amy Roberg crowned Miss Paynesville Amy Roberg (being crowned at left) was crowned the new Miss Paynesville for Town and Country Days 2003. Rachel Sogge and Kayla Welle were chosen as her princesses.

Longtime Paynesville businessman Joe Voss, who also served two stints as mayor, was selected as grand marshal for the Town and Country Days parade, and longtime Paynesville resident Maurice Dosdall was chosen for the Ruth Aulick Award, honoring his community service.

The Paynesville City Council approved building a BMX track.

The Paynesville Area Health Care System started doing knee replacement surgeries in their new state-of-the-art operating room, which was designed to be large enough to do this popular orthopedic procedure.

Storms over the Fourth of July weekend uprooted trees and damaged several farm buildings north of Paynesville. Hail along Highway 4 south of Lake Henry also caused some crop damage.

A feasibility study for a community pool was completed and released. It recommended an aquatic park featuring a lap pool, diving board, drop slide, two water slides, and a zero-depth entry pool. The study estimated the cost of such a facility at $1.38 million, with more features available as alternatives.

Tenth graders at PAHS had the second highest reading scores among area schools on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assess-ments, and 11th graders had the highest math scores among area schools. Students took the tests in April; the results were released in August.

Nordland Lutheran Church in Irving Township and Calvary Baptist Church in Paynesville celebrated anniversaries. Nordland turned 135, and Calvary Baptist reached 50 years.

The Paynesville Area School Board gave tentative approval to allow school property to be used for an aquatic park. The board, approached by members of the ad-hoc pool committee, agreed to allow the athletic field to the north of the high school student parking lot to be used for a pool, if agreements over parking lot maintenance and replacement costs could be reached.

Three Paynesville area farms were recognized as Century Farms for 100 years of ownership by the same family. Families earning this distinction were Leander, Annette, and Jeremiah Blonigen, whose farm near St. Martin had been in the family since 1891; Leo and Mary Jo Hemmesch, whose farm north of Lake Henry had been in their family since 1901; and Steve Hislop, whose Union Grove Township farm had been in the family since 1903.

Marie and kids in the "Sound of Music" The Paynesville City Council asked MnDOT to drop the far west bypass from current consideration as a future route for Highway 23, since the route would not touch the city limits and the council had no intention to waive this requirement. The council hoped that the study of Highway 23 could be sped up by dropping this route, though not ruling out looking at this route again should circumstances warrant. After consideration, MnDOT decided to keep the far west bypass among the options in the Environmental Impact Statement.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture identified central Minnesota - which had not had significant rain since July 4 - as a moderate drought.

A community theater production of "The Sound of Music" (pictured at right) drew a total audience of 1,600 people to six performances in August.

Opening-day school enrollment at Paynesville Area High School dropped again in 2003, with 1,101 students enrolling for the 2003-04 school year, down from 1,140 in 2002-03.

Nine new teachers started work in the Paynesville Area School District.

new stop signs at hwy 23 and 55 intersection A four-way stop with flashing red lights (pictured at right) was installed at the intersection of Highways 23 and 55 on the west end of Paynesville. The four-way stop was intended to increase safety at the intersection and to improve traffic flow on Highway 23.

Melissa Andrie, a senior at PAHS, was named a semifinalist in the 2004 National Merit Scholarship Program, based on her score on the Preliminary SAT test taken in 2003. As a semifinalist, she is among the top 16,000 students from the more than 1.3 million high school juniors who took the test.

Paynesville Township and the city of Paynesville held a grand opening for a new oil recycling depot, located at the township's maintenance garage. Even before the facility officially opened, residents had deposited 400 used oil filters and 400 gallons of used oil.

Flag at high school at half mast Two young men were killed in a one-car, roll-over accident on Co. Rd. 12 near St. Martin: Andrew Schmitz, 21, and Brandon Hoppe, 19. Students, staff, and parents at Paynesville Area High School reacted to the school shooting at Rocori High School in nearby Cold Spring with concern and an increased emphasis on safety. The father of one of the victims at the Rocori shooting worked in Paynesville. (The flag at the high school flew at half mast in honor of the victims.

Seniors Amanda Glenz and Doug Mages were crowned Homecoming queen and king at PAHS.

Rice Lake residents Allan and Sharon Ihrke, who have served as foster parents to 35 children over the past 35 years, were honored as regional Foster Parents of the Year by the Minnesota Social Services Association.

Crystal Hills Assembly completed its latest remodeling project, finishing upgrades of their sanctuary, which had not been renovated since the church bought the former ski chalet and turned it into a church in the late 1970s.

The school board voted to hire elementary principal Todd Burlingame as the district's next superintendent. Burlingame will replace current superintendent Howard Caldwell, who will retire in June 2004.

Live beef prices reached a record high of $1.20 per pound for a week, the result of a case of Mad Cow disease in Canada and a three-year drought in western U.S. states.

The spirit of Homecoming was questioned and brought to the school board following some acts of vandalism during this year's school celebration.

The city of Paynesville approved allowing 2 a.m. bar closings within the city. The Minnesota Legislature had authorized this change in its 2003 session, with businesses needing to apply for a special state permit to offer extended hours.

Milk prices began to fall again after reaching $15 per hundredweight for the first time in two years.

Incumbent Gretchen O'Fallon, newcomer Bonnie Strobbe, and former board member Lowell Haagenson were elected to four-year terms on the Paynesville Area School Board. Incumbents Maurice Dosdall and Pat Flanders did not file for re-election. The new board members will assume their new positions in January

. Karen Odberg, who has taught at PAHS since 1975, was selected by her peers as the district's Teacher of the Year. Odberg likes teaching family consumer sciences because her classes deal with everyday life.

The Drug Awareness Resistance Education program at PAES marked its tenth year. Stearns County Sheriff's Deputy Tim Kantos has taught the program for all ten years.

The Paynesville Area School District ran in the black for the second straight year, its annual audit revealed. Previously, the district had operated with deficits for four straight years.

Earl Werner - who served as pastor of the Paynesville Zion Circuit from 1945-1960, who was manager at the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds from 1974-1987, and who served as chaplain at the Paynesville Area Health Care System and as visitation pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in the 1990s - died at the age of 83.

Graduation requirements were raised at Paynesville Area High School for the Class of 2008, current eighth graders. Current graduation requirements include 86 course credits (which will be used for the current high schoolers), but eighth graders and beyond will need to earn 90 course credits in high school, and they will need to earn more math and science credits due to increases in state requirements.

Tyler Wendroth became the first second generation Eagle Scout in Paynesville. Wendroth is the 30th Eagle Scout in Paynesville, joining his father Larry and uncles Loren and Lyle.

Bertha Zniewski announced her retirement as curator of the Paynesville Area Historical Museum, effective in the spring of 2004 when a replacement is found. Zniewski was elected president of the Paynesville Historical Society when it was founded in 1969 and has served as curator since the museum was formed in 1970.

The Paynesville Area Hospital switched to critical access designation, a move which will increase its Medicare funding (now done on the basis of cost rather). The switch was expected to net $3,000 to $4,000 per day in extra reimbursement for the Paynesville Area Health Care System.

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