St. Joseph 2018 year in review: Elections, annexation, new police chief are to stories

Jan. 5 edition

The holidays can be a very stressful time for people who lose their jobs, are diagnosed with a medical illness or receive unexpected bills, but residents in St. Joseph are spreading good cheer by donating and helping others in need. Kennedy Community School Principal Laurie Putnam said she is thankful for the generosity of others at the school. Some of those good deeds included donations to help clear lunch-account balances for students whose parents are behind in paying up the accounts. Additional donations from numerous business and volunteer organizations benefited the entire community.

The new full-time pastor, Jennifer Thul, introduced herself formally to the Resurrection Lutheran Church congregation on Dec. 31. The welcoming response by the congregation was another affirmation to Thul that she had found a church that was a good fit. She said she and the church share the same belief in the church’s role in the community and the larger world. She is excited to begin her new role at Resurrection – helping people grow and develop, both young and old, and teaching a love of learning, especially with youth.

All Saints Academy students shared their acting and vocal talents as they performed the school’s annual Christmas program, Christmas on Gloria Street, Dec. 14 at the College of St. Benedict’s Escher Auditorium. Mary Schumann, All Saints Academy music specialist and director, said the students at the school are hard-working and talented children.

Jan. 12 edition

With the start of a new year, many people are making some new year’s resolutions to get and stay healthier. One of those choices could include some classes being offered in the area with the Diabetes Prevention Program. Sixty nursing students from the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University will train in January to be Lifestyle coaches for the “I CAN Prevent Diabetes” prevention program.

The St. Joseph Lions Club held its annual awards ceremony Dec. 19 at the new Millstream Park shelter. Awards were presented by Joseph Bechtold, president, assisted by Matt Killam, awards committee chairman, and Donna Hoskins, secretary. Lions highest award, the Melvin Jones Fellowship, was presented to Lion Doug Carlson.

For eight local women, Saturday mornings from mid-November to April are spent hitting the paved trails in and around Lion’s Community Park in Sartell. Now in its second year, the Polar Run Club is giving women the chance to continue developing their running stamina and endurance throughout the winter months.

Jan. 19 edition

With the temperature inside its chambers hovering at a chilly 60 degrees, the St. Joseph City Council opened its first meeting for 2018 on Jan. 16 and after holding a brief public hearing proceeded to authorize becoming involved in a Community Block Grant Program through the Department of Employment and Economic Development, the purpose of which is housing rehabilitation.

The name of another priest has been added to a list of about 40 area Catholic clergy “likely to have abused minors,” according to a recent announcement from Bishop Donald Kettler, head of the Diocese of St. Cloud. The priest the Rev. Antonio Marfori, who was ordained in 1978 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud. Marfori has had two complaints against him. The first was filed in 2015, the second in 2016.

A former mayor of St. Joseph, Richard Carlbom, is now managing the “Coleman for Governor” campaign for DFL contender Chris Coleman.

Jan. 26 edition

Community leaders are speaking out and planning action after white nationalist posters appeared on main streets in St. Joseph last week. About two dozen members of Cultural Bridges, a group formed more than a year ago to help immigrants, plans to ask the St. Joseph City Council to support a resolution affirming St. Joseph as a welcoming community.

It’s been nearly two months since the Minnesota Department of Public Safety launched the text-to-911 service statewide. But since the service has been active, law enforcement throughout Stearns County have seen limited use of the technology.

With temps around seven below zero, about 80 avid disc golfers from around the area – including a man who made the trek from Missouri – threw on some extra layers, ripped open a few packets of hand warmers and downed some piping hot coffee as they made their way around St. Joseph’s Millstream Park for the 26th annual St. Cloud Ice Bowl.

Feb. 2 edition

A special volunteer force has been suiting up to help welcome out-of-town visitors for Super Bowl LII since Jan. 26. Among the 10,000 volunteers are four individuals from St. Joseph. Dubbed Crew 52, these volunteers, primarily from Minnesota, signed up to work in various sections surrounding the Super Bowl festivities.

Members of the St. Joseph Catholic Parish, thanks to the Knights of Columbus, raised and donated nearly $3,000 to help repair a school in Puerto Rico that was devastated by Hurricane Maria last fall.

Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville), president of the Minnesota Senate, now serves as the state’s lieutenant governor following Gov. Mark Dayton’s appointment of Tina Smith to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Al Franken.

Fischbach has long represented District 13, which includes St. Joseph and Sartell in the Minnesota Senate.

Feb. 9 edition

About 75 residents and students packed the Feb. 5 St. Joseph City Council meeting to ask the council to pass a resolution declaring St. Joseph “a welcoming and inclusive community.”

A sense of belonging and having confidantes in the sometimes turbulent waters of parenthood is important for many moms and dads. That’s why Lisa Wolf of St. Joseph decided to create her own parent group, St. Joseph Parish Family Fun, when she moved to Minnesota from Wisconsin last year.

For area fishing enthusiasts, it’s time to get your jiggle sticks ready for the annual St. Joseph Rod and Gun Club fishing contest. The 25th annual ice fishing contest will be held from noon- 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17 on Kraemer Lake.

Feb. 16 edition

Students at Kennedy Community school are learning some mouse trivia such as the average mouse will breathe 163 times each minute, their tails have scales on them that help them climb, they can make their own vitamin C and more as they participate in the One District, One Book program during February.

The surest path to effective law enforcement, not to mention crime prevention, is a tightly interconnected, collaborative approach, according to Stearns County sheriff candidate Dave Bentrud.

Shoppers have a chance to check out new gift ideas at the recently “re-imagined” Whitby Gift Shop which opened Feb. 16.

Although the gift shop has usually closed for inventory during January, it was closed a few more weeks this year to get ready for the “Reimagining of the Art and Heritage Place.”

Feb. 23 edition

Taxes? Regulation? Land rights and zoning? Lifestyle changes? Benefits? Government overreach? These were just a few of the concerns and questions 60-80 St. Joseph Township citizens had for the members of the St. Joseph City Council during the Feb. 15 open meeting dealing with the Orderly Annexation Agreement. But layered underneath the questions and statements was another message and it came through loud and clear. We don’t trust government.

In the 28 years of his law-enforcement career, Lt. Robert Dickhaus, a Melrose resident, has served in so many diverse jobs he is confident he would make a good choice for Stearns County sheriff.
Dickhaus recently announced his candidacy for that position and has begun campaigning for the Nov. 6 election. Thus far, Waite Park Police Chief Dave Bentrud is also vying for the sheriff job.
Dickhaus has been with the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department for 25 years.

Assistant Fire Chief Justin Honer recently hung up his fire gear and retired from the St. Joseph Volunteer Fire Department after 21 years of service.

St. Joseph Fire Chief Jeff Taufen said it’s always hard to see someone leave the department, but Honer’s retirement is a little harder for him because they know each other so well.

March 2 edition

A memorial fundraiser dubbed Denim to Diamonds will raise money for Terebinth Refuge, an organization that is helping victims of sex trafficking in central Minnesota. The fundraiser will take place starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 10 at Grands at Mulligans’ event center in Sartell.

As tax season gets busier, cyber-criminals get busier, too, working their identity-theft scams to get people’s tax-refund money. Local law enforcement is warning people to be alert to the latest tax scam. The first sign something crooked is happening is when surprised taxpayers notice a tax-refund amount in their bank balances, usually one they didn’t even file for yet. The crooks try to file the erroneous tax filing well before their victims do. And that is why in the coming weeks, people should be on their guard.

It is a necessary, but difficult part of the job for AG Hout. As program manager and continuum of care coordinator for the Central Minnesota Housing Partnership, Hout and her team spend one day every year tracking down and compiling information on those without a home. Known as the point-in-time count, trained staff spend one day, during the last 10 days of January, tracking down and logging various characteristics about those experiencing homelessness.

March 9 edition

A scene that could have easily been lifted from the ballroom dance in Disney’s Cinderella was replicated inside the Gorecki Center on the College of St. Benedict’s on Saturday, March 3. Now in its fifth year, the Daddy Daughter Date Night celebration gathered fathers and grandfathers from around the area for a night of food, dancing and activities with girls ranging from ages 2 to 15.

The city of St. Joseph will formally ask the state of Minnesota to pay half the $3 million cost of a pedestrian underpass under CR 75, according to Mayor Rick Schultz. State bonding money would pay half the cost while the 1/2 –cent sales tax would pay the rest.

Construction will begin soon on a 17-unit residential and retail complex on College Avenue North. Developers of 24 North Lofts said Tuesday, March 6, that after four years of planning, the project will be a reality. Partners Jon Petters and Dr. Gustavo Peña announced in a press release that financing and the construction contract are settled. The project is adjacent to their existing Mill Stream Shops and Lofts.

March 16 edition

Sgt. Steve Soyka, a Stearns County Sheriff’s Department deputy, has announced his intention to seek the sheriff position in the Nov. 8 election, a decision that forces a primary election Aug. 14. The primary election will determine which two of the three candidates will face off in the Nov. 8 general election. Soyka announced his candidacy March 3. He’s the current team commander for the Stearns-Benton SWAT unit and former commander of the Central Minnesota Violent Offender Task Force. He’s also a sergeant serving in the Stearns County Sheriff Patrol Division.

A community problem that advocates say is largely hidden will soon get a highly visible solution. Pathways 4 Youth, a resource center founded by central Minnesota’s Rotary clubs, plans an open house from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20. The center, 203 Cooper Ave. N., Suite 206, St. Cloud will open for clients the week of March 26.

It was a proud family moment when Carl Shobe and his grandfather showed up together at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Carl, 12, is a student at Kennedy Community School in St. Joseph. His grandfather on his mother’s side is Gene Sandvig, 87, of Minneapolis, who was a competitor as a speed skater for the United States three times in the worldwide Winter Olympics – in 1952, 1956 and 1960. Carl and his grandfather flew to South Korea in February to see some of the competitions and to be with Carl’s parents, Dr. Joel and Susan Shobe, and also because Sandvig was invited to attend by the Korean Olympics Committee.

March 23 edition

The St. John’s Prep School Theater Department presents “Les Miserables” this weekend at the Paramount Center for the Arts, 913 St. Germain St., St. Cloud. The cast includes 42 student actors, 22 musicians and a 12-person technical crew.

St. John’s Prep students are ‘walking up’ after participating in a nationwide #NeverAgain movement walkout event to honor the victims of the Parkland school shooting in Florida. Students nationwide, including St. John’s Prep students, participated March 14 in a walkout a month after the killing of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Local breweries such as The Bad Habit Brewing Co. are enjoying some of the benefits of the passage of recent H.R. 1 Tax Cuts Jobs Act. Included with the passage of the act, which became effective Jan. 1, was the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which helps lower the federal excise tax for breweries, wineries and distilled-spirits producers. Under this bill, the federal excise tax on beer is reduced to $3.50 per barrel (from $7 per barrel) on the first 60,000 barrels for domestic brewers who produce less than 2 million barrels a year, and $16 per barrel (from $18 per barrel) on the first 6 million barrels for all other brewers and all beer importers.

March 30 edition

Jim Read of Avon was endorsed last weekend by DFL delegates to compete for the seat in Minnesota House District 13A. That seat is currently held by Rep. Jeff Howe (R-Rockville), who was first elected in 2012 and has retained that office for three consecutive terms.

Many local residents received a special Easter basket from the St. Joseph Y2K Lions Club when members filled and delivered 49 baskets to children and adults with special needs who live in the area. Twelve members of the Y2K Lions gathered March 25 at the Church of St. Joseph Heritage Hall to prepare the baskets to be delivered before Easter.

The St. John’s Preparatory School math team recently earned first-place in the Beta class at the Minnesota State High School Mathematics League tournament March 12 at South St. Paul High School.

April 6 edition

The constant thump, thump, thump of tires crossing cracks felt by drivers on CR 75 will end after a massive resurfacing project scheduled this summer. Plans call for a new road surface as well as safety and drainage improvements from just west of St. Joseph at the Interstate Highway 94 split through the city to the 15th Avenue/CR 81 intersection in Waite Park.

Mayor Rick Schultz swore in five new police reserve officers at the April 2 City Council meeting. The five join nine full-time officers including Chief Joel Klein and one part-time officer. There are nine reserve officers.

This April, St. Joseph students, teachers, merchants, readers and, of course, poets are encouraging everyone to notice poetry’s important place in our culture and our lives. National Poetry Month, founded and sponsored by the Academy of American Poets, is celebrating its 22nd year and St. Joseph is joining the world’s largest literary event. The Local Blend is inviting people to come to its open mic every Tuesday starting at 7:30 p.m. to read and listen to poetry.

April 13 edition

St. Joseph Police Chief Joel Klein urged business leaders Wednesday, April 11, to develop a plan for active threats. Klein spoke at the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce meeting a week after an attack occurred at the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, Calif.

Kate Hennessy, the youngest of Dorothy Day’s nine grandchildren, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 17 at the College of St. Benedict Gorecki Center 204 AB. Hennessy is the author of Dorothy Day: The World Will be Saved by Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother. The book is the story of her grandmother’s extraordinary life told within the context of what it meant and how it influenced her only child, Tamar Hennessy.

A total of 16 building permits were issued in St. Joseph in 2017, according to statistics compiled by the Central Minnesota Builders Association. All the permits were for single-family, detached homes.

April 20 edition

A St. Joseph woman is worried about heavy traffic and the potential for crashes on College Avenue in front of Kennedy Community School as parents rush to drop off their children every morning. Rhonda Dahlgren has first-hand knowledge of the situation. She was involved in a collison on April 5 at the intersection of College Avenue, also known as CR 121, and Jade Road.

Business and education leaders in Sartell, Sauk Rapids and St. Cloud are in the early stages of launching a program that will teach high school seniors to be entrepreneurs. Called Great River CEO, the program will welcome its first students in fall 2019. Right now, organizers are raising funds to train and market the effort and then to hire a facilitator/teacher.

More than 300 people braved the spring snowstorm April 14 for the St. Joseph Community Showcase at Kennedy Community School. About 30 businesses and organizations presented information. Food vendors offered samples and local musicians performed.

April 27 edition

The St. Joseph city attorney is investigating claims made against St. Joseph Police Chief Joel Klein after the City Council voted to keep him on paid administrative leave. The City Council met in a closed session April 23 to consider allegations made against Klein. Klein was placed on leave April 19. Sgt. Dwight Pfannentstein remains acting police chief.

Christian Gaetz, son of Rose and Rick Gaetz of St. Joseph, was recently awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Gaetz is currently pursuing a Ph.D in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. He graduated from St. John’s Prep in 2012 and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2016.

Four Kennedy Community School eighth-graders, troubled by social issues in their school and in the world at large, decided to take action. The result, a day informally named Project Kindness. While students around the country walked out of class on April 20 to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting, the Kennedy students instead pulled off a day that resembled the teach-ins of the 1960s.

May 4 edition

Several significant business and commercial plans are changing the look of downtown St. Joseph. Construction is well underway on the long-planned 24 North Lofts project on College Avenue. Across the street the old city hall could have a new owner. Aaron Rieland of Bad Habit Brewing is negotiating with the city of St. Joseph to buy the building at 25 College Ave. N. A block to the northwest, there’s a new restaurant called Grilled Cravings and Quality Ice Cream set to open in the former Cone Castle building at 118 First Ave. NW.

Two St. Joseph police officers are now trained to teach women how to defend themselves from an attacker. Officers Celeste Walz and Dan Magaard attended a three-day course to earn Basic Certification in the Rape Aggression Defense program – called RAD.

The St. Joseph City Council is accepting applications to fill a newly created vacancy. Council member Matt Killam resigned at the end of April. He is moving out of the area. The city is accepting applications until 3 p.m. Friday, May 11. The council will interview applicants and aim to swear in the new member at the June 4 meeting.

May 11 edition

Opening fishing for walleye, northern, bass and others opens Saturday, May 12, with anglers making plans to fish locally or go north to favorite destinations, while others will stay home because of obligations or to avoid the crowds altogether. One of the latest ice-out dates predicted for a number of Minnesota lakes this year had many wondering if there would be an opener until a recent stretch of warm weather freed local lakes of ice last week and left resort owners up in the far north to believe lakes will be clear at least a few days before opening. Ice went out on Watab Lake, just north of St. Joseph, at 1 p.m. May 1, according to Al Dahlgren, who lives on the lake and keeps a yearly record of the date to report to the DNR. It is the second latest ice-out date that has been recorded on the Lake.

If you think you might be in the wrong location seeing seniors participating in activities at Kennedy Community School and students participating in activities at Woodcrest of Country Manor in St. Joseph, you aren’t. Students at Kennedy  and Woodcrest are implementing a new intergenerational partnership.

The St. Joseph City Council learned they have been doing a pretty good job of keeping revenues and expenses in check at their regular May 5 meeting. With one chair on the dais sitting empty because of the recent resignation of Matt Killam, the council heard Janel Bitzan of BerganKDV auditing firm. Bitzan summarized the 134-page audit in a 15-minute presentation giving the council the highlights which included a surplus balance of unrestricted net position amounting to $2,967,863. After deducting for the governmental enterprise indebtedness, the balance still showed a positive balance of $1,150,122.

May 18 edition

The St. Joseph City Council appointed Anne Buckvold to the council’s vacant seat at a special meeting May 17. Buckvold was one of eight people who applied for the vacancy created when Matt Killam resigned at the end end of April. Buckvold was elected on a 4-0 vote. Plans call for Buckvold to be sworn in at the council’s June 4 meeting.

The Church of St. Joseph Catholic church quilters have been busy stitching for the annual July Fourth parish festival and have much to show for their hard work. For sporting enthusiasts, this year’s display of quilts will include a Minnesota Vikings football team quilt and a Minnesota Twins baseball team quilt. The array of quilts to be auctioned this year will include 21 queen-sized and 17 baby quilts.

Jennifer Thelen is looking for a few good families. Thelen of St. Joseph is a social worker with Stearns County Human Services. Although recruiting and licensing foster-care families is a year-round job, Thelen is trying to get the word out during May, Foster Care Appreciation Month, about the need for families to care for children. Currently, 68 families provide foster care for about 160 children ranging from infants to age 17.

May 25 edition

Managers for Republic Services presented St. Joseph City Council members with options for improving the twice-yearly refuse pickups after some residents created larger-than-expected piles of trash last week. Jon Snyder, general manager for Republic Services, said his crews collected 77 tons of refuse during pickups on May 17 and 18. “That’s a staggering amount for the size of the city,” he said at the May 21 council meeting. The volume translates to hundreds of pounds per home. Some of the excess refuse may be coming from people who live outside the city.

St. Joseph’s newest City Council member says she wants to help residents connect with their local government. The St. Joseph City Council appointed Anne Buckvold to the council’s vacant seat at a special meeting May 17. Buckvold was one of eight people who applied for the vacancy created when Matt Killam resigned at the end of April. Buckvold was elected on a 4-0 vote.

A St. Joseph woman’s effort to raise awareness about gun violence got another boost at the May 21 St. Joseph City Council meeting. The council voted 4-0 to recognize Friday, June 1 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day with a proclamation. Cindy Abercrombie told council members more than 20 local businesses have agreed to use orange lighting on June 1 to support the gun safety issue.

June 1 edition

Area city officials heard an update on sex trafficking investigations and then they asked law enforcement leaders what else needs to be done to combat the problem. Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall and Waite Park Police Chief Dave Bentrud spoke to mayors, city council members and city administrators during a St. Cloud Area Joint Cities meeting May 29 in Sartell. “We want our elected leaders to understand what we are seeing,” Kendall said. “There’s a misperception that this only happens in big cities.”

Michelle Fischbach’s resignation from the Minnesota Senate means there will be a special election this fall for Senate District 13. Fischbach resigned May 25 and took the oath of office for lieutenant governor, a post she’s legally held since January. Current District 13A Rep. Jeff Howe announced May 29 that he will run in the special election to fill Fischbach’s Senate seat.

American Legion Post 328 has been the proud sponsor of a Legion baseball team for 28 years, according to Pat Schneider. Rain or shine, win or lose – young men ages 15 to 19 who have a passion for the game of baseball have found an organized place to hone their skills and enjoy the camaraderie of others who love to play the game. But that sponsorship of Legion ball may come to an end soon. Mike Staller, who has been involved in the Legion ball program for four years and is the Legion liaison for the baseball team, has been having some difficulty in rounding up guys who are willing to commit to playing.

June 15 edition

Margaret Molus is not a person who enjoys being the center of attention in the middle of a large crowd but instead prefers to be volunteering where help is needed at local functions. Because of her many years of helping with local causes and serving others, Molus was recently selected to be the grand marshal for the annual Fourth of July parade, organized by the St. Joseph Lions Club.

Kennedy Community School staff and students recently dedicated memorials in remembrance of two individuals who greatly impacted students and staff at their school. On May 25, they dedicated a Rain Garden in front of the school in memory of former Kennedy Community School teacher Pat Forte. The eighth-grade class, Forte’s family and friends and the school’s parent community were invited.

It took a half hour of discussion in a closed session at the end of the June 4 regular meeting for the St. Joseph City Council to come to the decision to accept the resignation of Police Chief Joel Klein. Mayor Rick Schultz read from a prepared statement and took no questions dealing with the investigation or the council decision after the meeting citing the Minnesota Data Practices Act which protects private data.

June 29 edition

The St. Joseph City Council chose Dwight Pfannenstein as the new chief of police at its June 18 meeting after wrestling with the question of whether or not the position should be posted and more applicants solicited. The council made the offer on the condition Pfannenstein announce publicly that he’s withdrawing as a candidate for Stearns County sheriff.

Members of the St. Joseph Y2K Lions Club appreciate their senior citizens and want them to be recognized for all the wonderful service deeds they do in the area. That’s a big reason why Y2K club members recently chose Dick and Joyce Stock to be this year’s Senior Queen and King for the annual Fourth of July parade. They want them to be honored and treated like royalty.Y2K president Kay Lemke said the Stocks were chosen for their long-time service to the area and because Dick is a lifetime resident of the area.

The Stearns County Board voted June 26 to deny a conditional-use permit for a trap-shooting range in St. Joseph Township. After a June 20 public hearing, the Planning Commission recommended the county board deny the conditional-use permit. Commissioners cited a number of concerns for denying the request including the proximity of homes, environmental effects of lead shot landing in wetlands and the proposal’s incompatibility with the county’s comprehensive plan. The proposed range is in the southeast corner of St. Joseph Township between Hwy. 23 and Interstate Hwy. 94.

July 13 edition

Frustrated by lack of action on annexation, the St. Joseph City Council issued an ultimatum to St. Joseph Township at its meeting July 2: either act on previous promises or face legal action and enforcement of the entire orderly annexation agreement. Council members expressed frustration and accused the township of dragging its feet after the city’s attorney, Susan Kadlec, updated the council on her communications with township attorney Mike Couri. After meetings in April, the city and township had agreed to finalize a draft of an annexation agreement by July 1. The city still has not received the draft and outstanding zoning issues have not been resolved.

Gene Boysen is getting ready to roll…and roll and roll and roll. Boysen takes off Sunday, July 15, for the 500-mile Habitat 500 Bike Ride. The 54-year-old St. Joseph veterinarian hopes to raise as much as $2,000 through pledges for Habitat for Humanity. The nonprofit organization helps families build and improve affordable housing.

New St. Joseph Police Chief Dwight Dwight Pfannenstein takes the oath of office from Mayor Rick Schultz at the July 2 city council meeting. Pfannenstein replaces Joel Klein who resigned May 31 in the midst of an investigation of a complaint against him. Pfannenstein, who had been serving as acting chief, was offered the job June 18. He joined the police department in 2001 and was promoted to sergeant in 2007.


July 27 edition

A crowd of about 200 St. Joseph Township residents gathered in the AMI Auction Facility on July 17 for a public hearing on what was going to become of the township and how it might change and affect them. After a long, raucous meeting, the St. Joseph Township Board voted 3-0 to accept the resolution for designation of an area for immediate annexation pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 414.0325. Township Chair Mark Thompson called the meeting to order before handing it off to the township attorney Michael Couri. Couri set about the process of explaining the issues and laying out the options.

When Dwight Pfannenstein was growing up in St. Joseph, most of the town’s 2,500 residents in the 1980s knew each other.Now, as the city’s new police chief, Pfannenstein, 43, is responsible for a much larger city, with almost 7,000 residents, with more diversity and newcomers than during his childhood.

The next step in an effort to connect St. Joseph’s immigrant population with employers seeking workers takes place on Monday, Aug. 13 in Sartell. Cultural Bridges and Career Solutions are hosting a panel for employers from 2-4:30 p.m. at Resource Training and Solutions, 137 23rd St. S. As of earlier this week, five employers who are ready to employ immigrants have agreed to participate on the panel.

Aug. 10 edition

A recent run of vandalism at two city parks has cost the city of St. Joseph thousands of dollars for repairs and has led  to a cutback in services. Fixing damage to the restrooms at the Wobegon trailhead cost about $8,000 to repair. Vandals damaged the fixtures, electric heater, a hand dryer and power outlets. The vandals struck before the building was locked for the night.

The Aug. 6 meeting of the St. Joseph City Council started smoothly enough before Mayor Rick Schultz and Council member Bob Loso began questioning Public Works Director Terry Thene. At issue was the heating and cooling system in the new city office building in which they were conducting the meeting. The building, which houses council and city offices, opened for business a little more than 18 months ago. The new city hall at 75 Callaway St. E. was built according to plans of Design Tree Engineering, and according to Thene, all the work was completed to specifications. After moving in, city administration and police department personnel began to notice humidity problems in the offices, especially during the summer months. Papers in the offices were damp and sorting machines did not work properly because of the dampness in the offices.

Local races on the ballot for the Tuesday, Aug. 14, primary election include choosing a new Stearns County sheriff and electing St. Cloud school district board members. For the first time in 16 years, there’s no incumbent sheriff on the ballot. Four men have filed for the office and the primary will narrow the field to two candidates.

Aug. 24 edition

The St. Joseph City Council tackled the city budget for 2019 at the Aug. 20 meeting. This is the first in a series of budget discussions that will take place over the coming months. The budget does not have to be finalized until December. The budget discussions were wide and far-ranging and at times seemed to get stuck on small points, but it’s a necessary and important tool for the council as it allows for future planning projected out several years.

Steve Soyka and Dave Bentrud will compete for Stearns County sheriff in the Nov. 6 general election. Voters chose Soyka and Bentrud from a four-candidate field in the Aug 14 primary election. Soyka finished with 7,346 votes followed by Bentrud with 6,335 votes, Robert Dickhaus with 4,112 votes and Dwight Pfannenstein with 1,115. Although his name remained on the ballot, Pfannenstein withdrew from active campaigning after his appointment as St. Joseph police chief in June.

The St. Joseph Planning Commission will discuss and possibly adopt the latest version of the city’s comprehensive plan at a 6 p.m. meeting Monday, Aug. 27 at the Government Center. If the planning commission adopts the plan, it will move on to the City Council for approval. The plan was on the agenda for the commission’s Aug. 13 meeting but the board lacked a quorum so no action could be taken. The new plan, if approved, would replace one from 2008.


Sept. 7 edition

As students head back to school this week, teachers and administrators received their own report cards on student performance. The state Department of Education released the latest performance scores based on five indicators – achievement and progress on state reading and math tests over time, progress toward English language proficiency, graduation rates and consistent attendance.

With the start of the new school year Aug. 27, All Saints Academy School students in St. Joseph are wearing some new shirts with a new logo and name on them. “Staff and parents have commented that they like the new logo and that the name better represents the school since it is located in St. Joseph next to St. Joseph Parish,” said Principal Karl Terhaar. “I think the St. Joseph community strongly identifies with its name. We still are a small-town community.”

St. Joseph’s new comprehensive plan took one more step toward final approval with a unanimous vote of the planning commission Aug. 27. The plan replaces the 2008 document. A city’s comprehensive plan is used to guide growth and development by setting goals and identifying priorities. The plan includes historical trends, statistics and projections.

Sept. 21 edition

Two men, each with nearly three decades in law enforcement, are competing to be the first new sheriff elected in Stearns County in 16 years. Dave Bentrud, Waite Park police chief, and Steve Soyka, a Stearns County Sheriff’s Office sergeant, are on the ballot Nov. 6. One of them will replace Don Gudmundson who was appointed to fill out the term of Sheriff John Sanner after Sanner retired in 2017.

It’s always fun to uncover buried treasures, but for Andy Loso, president of the St. Joseph Historical Society, a recent discovery of a buried church mural was especially interesting. While renovating the vesting Sacristy, workers uncovered a painting that was part of the mural at the St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Despite a rough winter that threatened never to end, spring and summer were sweet, sweet seasons for Shelly Carlson and her family, who live in rural St. Joseph. In spring, the sap from their maple trees was low in water content but very high in sugar density. And in summer, during the recent Minnesota State Fair, the family members’ hard work paid off when their Wildwood Ranch Pure Maple Syrup won first-place ribbons in two categories and then one of the syrups went on to win Best of Show.

Oct. 5 edition

There are three people running for election to the St. Joseph City Council in the coming Nov. 6 election. They are Dale Wick, Brian Theise and Anne Buckvold. Wick and Buckvold are both incumbents while Theisen is running for election for the first time. Wick has served for 16 years on the council. Buckvold was appointed to the council and sworn in at the June 4 meeting. All parties have a keen interest in serving the public.

The investigation of Jacob Wetterling’s 1989 abduction and killing “went off the rails” from the beginning and the sheriff at the time, Charlie Grafft, lost control of his investigation to the FBI in the first few weeks. That’s the judgment of current Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson. Before releasing more than 47,000 documents on Thursday, Sept. 20, Gudmundson presented a summary of the documents that in his view revealed 20 clues bungled by investigators that should have led them to Danny Heinrich.

If 70 can be considered to be the new 65, then Judy Meemken, 90, could be an example of the new 85. Meemken, who turned 90 Sept. 6, continues to stay very active with various projects she is involved with. She is a Sacristan and sings in the choir at the St. Joseph Catholic Church. Meemken previously also helped serve funeral dinners for 20 years, as well as cantor.

Oct. 19 edition

What do solar panels, bees and apples have in common? It turns out quite a bit. On a few acres west of St. Joseph, a solar farm, bees, a cidery and smart entrepreneurs are collaborating to protect the environment and distill a tasty drink. This month, Milk & Honey Ciders introduced Solar Sweet Farm Cider, a cider blended with honey from the hives on the solar farm next to their orchard.

A St. Joseph man has been arrested in the death of a 7-month-old Rice infant. James Robert Wood, 29,  was arrested Tuesday by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office and he is being held in the Benton County Jail. Wood could be charged with third-degree murder.

After 42 years in St. Joseph, Dr. Jerry Wetterling has sold his practice and is retiring. He’s handed off the practice to Dr. Brian Koltes, who grew up in Albany and graduated from St. John’s University, where he was a three-sport athlete. The two doctors are hosting an open house from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 at the office, 103 College Ave. N., in St. Joseph. “I’m planning to chill out for maybe a year and not do any new things,” Wetterling said.

Nov. 2 edition

Aaron Rieland and Eric Geir of the Bad Habit Brewing Co. will soon be brewing and serving drinks at a new location at 24 College Ave. N. in St. Joseph. They are planning to move to their new location, the former St. Joseph City Hall building, in spring of next year. Rieland said a lack of space issues mainly motivated the move to the new location. They were running out of taproom space and are at brewing capacity. “We love this building and its neighbors, but needed a larger space,” he said. The new location will include more taproom space, a larger brewing space, a 2,000 square-foot outdoor patio, private-event space and a barrel-aged beer program.

After successful surgery for a non-cancerous brain tumor, Chris Stoeckel thought everything was fine. For three months. Then new symptoms appeared. His legs collapsed and his knees gave way. When he worked at his computer, he had a hard time focusing and he’d be sweating. “I couldn’t figure out why,” Stoeckel said. “Doing the dishes, I would have to sit down. I was drenched in sweat.” Doctors conducted test after test before the diagnosis of ALS on Oct. 11.

St. Joseph resident Mark Reber will again offer audiences a glimpse of his many talents on the stage as he performs his role of Max in “Lend Me A Tenor” dinner theater Nov. 9-18 at Great Blue Heron Supper Club. The play by Ken Ludwig is presented by the Great Northern Theatre Company and directed by Heather Mastromarco. Reber’s role is Max, the assistant to the 1934 Cleveland Grand Opera Company’s general manager, Mr. Saunders. When Tito Morelli, the world-famous great tenor who is to perform as Otello for one night only arrives late and is unable to perform, Saunders asks Max to dress in Tito’s costume and sing.

Nov. 16 edition

The St. Joseph 2018 Winterwalk, which will be Friday, Nov. 30, will combine old traditions with new changes this year. The St. Joseph Y2K Lions will be taking over the annual event that was started by Margy Hughes and the St. Joseph Action Group and continues to grow each year.

Incumbent St. Joseph City Council member Dale Wick lost his bid for re-election in a three-way race for two seats. Voters re-elected Anne Buckvold and elected Brian Theisen to four-terms on the City Council Buckvold received 1,555 votes, Theisen won 1,381 votes and Wick collected 1,013 votes. Buckvold was appointed to the council in May to fill a vacancy created when Matt Killam resigned. Mayor Rick Schultz ran un-opposed for another two-year term.

The St. Joseph City Council took up two budget items at its regular Nov. 5 meeting: The 2019 draft Enterprise Budget, and the proposed 2019 budget of the Park Board. Total proposed Park Board budget for 2019 is $309,460.

Nov. 30 edition

Just two days after winning election to the Minnesota House of Representatives, Lisa Demuth gathered in St. Paul with 38 other newly elected house members for orientation. “It was awesome,” Demuth said of the program. “To hear the history of the Capitol from an inside perspective was humbling. The magnitude of what I have been elected to do and sitting in the original desks and looking around. What a privilege.” The group of new representatives includes 34 Democrats and five Republicans.

“Teen Idol: The Bobby Vee Story,” a musical about the life of Bobby Vee, has returned now through Dec. 16 at the History Theatre in St. Paul.The musical, which premiered in Ocober. 2016, was written by Bob Beverage in collaboration with Vee’s sons, Jeff and Tommy Vee, and is directed by Ron Peluso. George Maurer provided musical direction and arrangements for the production.

After years of hoping and wishing, the establishment of the St. Joseph Community Center is finally taking shape. The first recreational sport laid out in the new center is two pickleball courts. Now what’s needed are people to use them. When the city took over the care and maintenance of the old Kennedy Elementary School, there were lots of things planned for the building. Part of the building is rented and used for daycare. A section of it is being used for food shelf activity. And the historical society is in the process of setting up its area. But there is lots of room for other activities.

Dec. 14 edition

The Church of St. Joseph raised $1.63 million during a capital campaign to renovate their sanctuary, the parish announced Dec. 10. The parish had set a stretch goal of $1.5 million. The church is the oldest consecrated church in Minnesota. Early settlers brought stones from their fields for the construction of the church, which has stood on this spot since 1871.

When new St. Joseph City Council member Brian Theisen is sworn in Jan. 7, he’ll bring years of problem solving and public-service experience. Theisen, 40, is a Stearns County deputy and member of the St. Joseph Fire Department. “I’ll be problem-solving for the city. That’s what I do 50 hours a week as a deputy,” Theisen said. “You listen to both sides and you make a determination of what’s best for everyone. ”Voters re-elected Anne Buckvold and elected Brian Theisen to four-terms on the City Council. Incumbent City Council member Dale Wick lost his bid for re-election in a three-way race for two seats. 

Despite missing two of its members, the remaining quorum of the St. Joseph City Council was able to wade through a short agenda that included an open hearing on Truth in Taxation and discussion of a feasibility study dealing with capital funding for the Jacob Wetterling Community and Recreation Center project.




Author: Carolyn Bertsch

Bertsch has worked for the Newsleaders since 2015. She and her husband, Matt, and their three children live in Sartell where they also own and operate Four Seasons Window, Carpet and Air Duct Cleaning. Bertsch also stewards the “Reads and Seeds and Other Needs” Little Free Library in Sartell. The “Other Needs” portion of the library functions as a collection site for donations to the Salvation Army where Bertsch serves as a board member. Her other hobbies include volunteering at the food shelf, cooking, baking, and growing a vast array of fruit in her backyard orchard. Bertsch believes that every single person can choose to make the world a better place for someone else and at the end of the day the only question that matters is, “What kind of difference did you make?”

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