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St. Croix board approves district support for hockey
By Paul Rignell
After hearing a request from hockey parents in January, followed by some board deliberations last month, the St. Croix Falls School Board agreed at a meeting Feb. 26 to begin funding a hockey co-op program that local students have been part of since 2011-2012.
Starting that year for a boys team, and a girls program has been added since then, St. Croix Falls students have had an option to play varsity hockey for a co-op hosted by Somerset. The boys program also involves Osceola. The girls program at Somerset involves St. Croix Falls and Osceola as well as Amery and New Richmond.
Local hockey parents, joined by some of the students, told the St. Croix Falls board members in January that the other districts had begun to support hockey financially as they did for other sports. The St. Croix Falls parents told their board that other districts and those families had asked why St. Croix Falls was not yet helping to cover coaching, officiating and road game travel costs for the Somerset co-op teams.
Among the St. Croix Falls board, Brent McCurdy and Dr. Steven Bont noted at meetings before this week that the board had never heard a request for financial support of the Somerset co-op programs until now.
Hockey parents that addressed the School Board this week included Chris Chelberg, a former teacher in the district who is currently serving on the St. Croix Falls city council.
Chelberg noted he has a son who plays hockey and is in elementary school. Chelberg said he hopes his son would have the opportunity to play varsity hockey as a St. Croix Falls student in high school.
“Hockey has been a really worthwhile activity for him. It’s something that has gotten him out of his shell,” Chelberg said.
Dan Sawicki spoke as the father of two older students in the hockey co-ops.
“Hockey is a way of life in the winter,” he said. “Sports build character, and that includes hockey.”
St. Croix Falls student shares for coaching, officiating and road game travel costs in the Somerset co-ops have otherwise been covered by hockey booster clubs that are based in that community. Those booster groups have been intended to cover summer ice time costs (through rental of the facility owned and operated by the Somerset youth hockey association). The booster clubs also subsidize some of the varsity co-ops’ winter season ice time costs, plus they have covered costs for pucks, hockey tape, skate sharpening and locker room maintenance.
Participating families have paid $750 per student to support the booster program, plus they have worked hockey fundraisers such as spaghetti dinners in the Somerset area.
The booster clubs covered $4,700 for the St. Croix Falls share of coaching, officiating and road game travel costs last year, based on five participating students. This year, eight among 42 players in the two programs are from St. Croix Falls.
Amounts that the St. Croix Falls district has paid per student in other sports for coaching, officiating and road game travel has varied due to participation numbers. The average cost covered by the district per student in the Saints football program has recently ranged between $500 and $550. Average costs covered by the district have been closer to or more than $800 for sports such as wrestling, girls basketball and girls golf.
The School Board approved support for the Somerset co-op boys program to be capped at $6,000 next year, and $3,200 for the girls program. The board set the district’s cap higher for the boys program because more boys than girls have been participating from St. Croix Falls.
The local hockey parents reported to the board Monday that participation numbers in each program are projected to jump from the low 20s this year to around 30 next year. Because costs for coaching, officiating and road game travel will remain relatively flat, more participation will reduce the average commitment needed from those districts.
Looking ahead to next season, board member McCurdy said he would love to see St. Croix Falls host one of the Somerset co-op fundraisers.
Kim Sawicki, a hockey mom and the spouse of Dan Sawicki, said she believes it would raise local spirit and support for the Somerset co-ops next year if St. Croix Falls would arrange to send student fan buses to one or two home games in Somerset. “I think that it would be very beneficial,” she said.
March 1, 2018
“The Local Grocer” settles into Centuria
By Lynda Berg Olds
Jessica Paul of the new grocery store in town was present at the regular meeting of the Centuria Village Board on Monday night with Ricardo Piedade. She was on the agenda to share information about their new store on Main Street – “The Local Grocer.”
Paul stated, “We took over the building at 400 Fourth Street and our goal is to bring a grocery store here and that is what we’ve done. We have opened informally and are waiting for Lynda to do a little of her writing in the paper – and we are waiting for the sign (which came on Tuesday). We are shooting for not this weekend but next (on March 24) for our Grand Opening.”
Paul, who noted they are bringing in produce all of the time – said they are really focused not only on providing good nutritious food at affordable prices, but also buying local produce.
“We want to connect with as many farmers as we can and then carry their produce in our store. We are also looking for a good meat supplier, so if any of you have some ideas, we would very much welcome them. We want to carry local meats and of course honey and cheese as well.
“So this is what we are doing and we would really appreciate your support – and your help if you have some ideas. We really would like to help put Centuria on the map with this grocery store. We have some ideas to bring to the board for the next meeting – or maybe the one after that. Just some fun things that we could possible do to bring more attention to the fact that something is happening in Centuria. If you could please let people know we are open for business and come and shop, that would be great.
Paul said they are working on being able to accept SNAP and EBT, but noted the paperwork process is taking a bit longer than they had hoped – but they are working on it. Paul stressed that they are open to any ideas about ways to make the store better. They want to carry items that people want. They would like to put some flower boxes outside and set up some tables – and perhaps carry beer and wine. They will work on that paperwork and bring to the village a bit later – maybe next meeting.
“We will have a formal proposal for the village once we know what the town wants – and then we will go from there,” Paul said
“ I think it’s exciting,” stated Trustee Stan Swiontek enthusiastically.
“I do too,” echoed Trustee Katie Hamm.
Indeed the board wished Jessica (and Ricardo!) all the luck in the world on their new endeavor and everybody promised to check it out.
This duo is not exactly new to this business. They have several farmers they are associated with – on both sides of the river in Wisconsin and Minnesota. They informed the Ledger Press earlier in the day that Minnesota was not quite as business-friendly as Wisconsin in terms of some of the red tape.
“One of our main goals is we want to make good food affordable,” said Paul. I think the main thing is to get our business established and get our roots in the community.”
Paul noted that they have been informally opened for a while as people have come in and out to see what is going on. She also said she was waiting on Ledger Newspapers to do a little write-up. So for the public she is offering a 10 percent discount on their grocery bill for folks who bring in the County Ledger Press – or buy one at The Local Grocer. The other exciting news is The Local Grocer will hold their grand Opening on Saturday, March 24.
In the meantime, the store is open for business seven days a week. Their hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The public should also be advised that there is a whole lot more than lovely organic produce…there are all kinds of products like natural soaps and handcrafter stone bowls, exotic spices and Kraft Mac and Cheese (for only 50 cents!). From soup to nuts, one can find what they need at really great prices – and more is coming all the time. Folks are asked to communicate what else they would like to see. They plan to be a lasting part of the fabric of the Centuria Community.
Perhaps Ricardo Piedade said it best when he remarked, “The people seem really happy there is something here.”
An undoubtedly true statement.
Centuria’s meeting was relatively brief and Trustee Hamm discussed the library’s process to replace retiring director Lynn Schauls. There was also some discussion about hiring a deputy village clerk – and to that end Clerk Karen Edgell is endeavoring to figure out just how many hours the job will entail going forward.
Also , the contract between the village and Long Lake Clean Boats Clean Water is in the process of being renegotiated. Long Lake’s Keith Campbell was present at the meeting – lamenting that it is next to impossible to get kids to come and work. The board tabled the matter to figure out where exactly the break-even point is with the village taking care of payroll.
March 15, 2108
Maple syrup season has begun in earnest
By Lynda Berg Olds
Thursday morning marked the fourth year of tapping the maple trees on Park Avenue in Luck, a joint effort of the Morley’s (of Morley’s Maple Syrup fame) and Luck students. There weren’t as many students participating this year, which High School Principal Brad Werner said was because Educator Renee Gavinski was out with the flu, so her class wasn’t present either.
John Morley Jr. was also otherwise engaged, so his father, John Morley Sr. was the head man with the plan (helped out by Kevin, Roger and Peg, et al).
The senior Morley graciously answered several questions and the photo op quickly turned into a lesson. For starters, since this was year four, before any of the trees were tapped this year – the three prior tap locations on the tree had to be located. This is because the next tap is required to be a good-sized hand span from each of the prior three taps. The whole idea is to properly preserve and protect the tree for future sap harvesting.
Next, a drill has a stopper that only allows it to go a depth of two inches – at a slightly upward angle.
Then, the tap is carefully pounded/placed in the hole. This is important and the students tapped the tappers in under the watchful eye of John St. A hammer is used and the proper technique is a tap, tap, thud. The tapper must listen carefully and once the “thud” is heard must not go any further – or the tree could be damaged at the core and split, causing the sap to run right out of the tree and not through the tap (also known as a “spile”).
Then the bag is hung and it is on to the next tree. The project goes quickly as students (and adults) dash from one tree to the next – as Luck has the benefit of surely one of the most lovely lanes on the planet. Park Avenue in the fall is a sight to behold with the large mature maples lining both sides, creating a great arch of color.
Mr. Morely wasn’t done sharing his knowledge though. He showed how the smaller trees around 12 inches in diameter must only ever be tapped one time per season. But the great mature maples may be tapped twice of they fall within the 21-inch to 27-inch range.
There are a great many other tricks of the trade. But the novice should be aware that sap begins to flow when daytime temperatures rise above freezing – and fall below freezing at night. As a general rule sap will flow for four to six weeks – but the best sap is when it first begins flowing.
Luck students also learn the business end of syrup production and this merger between the Morleys and the school is touted as win/win relationship. 
March 22, 2018
"After all these years, still doing a great job!!" -Ron Hermanson
Exalted speaker coming to Luck School
Lynda Berg Olds
Luck Middle and High School Principal Brad Werner recently related to the school board that having the renowned speaker and author Justin Patchin coming to Luck School is the most exciting and interesting thing happening.
Patchin, who is a professor of criminal justice at UW-Eau Claire describes himself as a “teacher, learner, writer, photographer, thinker, runner and seeker.’ He has spoken at the White House, the FBI Academy, has been on CNN and NPR, and covered in the New York Times.
Werner relayed that Patchin talks about bullying, cyberbullying and responsible use of social media. He will be at Luck School on April 6 and there will be a third through sixth grade presentation during the day; a seventh and eighth-grade presentation during the day – and then a nine through 12 presentation during the day – all tailored to those grade levels.
“And then there is a community-wide event,” continued Werner, “which we are working with through Community Education for parents, which specifically talks about things to look for when working with your kids. He has a part about monitoring versus privacy and really talking about how parents can be more ‘in the know’ with what is going on with their kids.”
Elementary Principal Jason Harelson and Werner have both seen Patchin speak in the past and agreed he is incredible.
“He has written lots of books, Werner said – “and is really one of the premier people and he is not that far away. Again, he will be here Friday, April 6 and we will have some hot dogs, etc. at 6:00 p.m. and then the presentation at 6:30 p.m. – and as soon as you formally approve Gretchen Frendt (the new Child Care Director) she will be working with some of our kids, so we just have a pile of high school kids waiting around for families. I know that Patchin very much wants the evening session to be an adult conversation – a true conversation with the adults in the room – and not a bunch of kids who already heard their spiel earlier in the day.”
Since 2002, Patchin says his research has explored the “intersection of teens and technology, with particular focus on cyberbullying, social networking, and sexting.”
He said he frequently travels around the United States (and abroad) training educators, counselors, law enforcement officers, parents, and youth on how to prevent the misuse of technology.
April 5, 2018
North Land Ambulance honored at Smelt Fry
By Lynda Berg Olds
Saturday’s Smelt Fry sponsored by North Land Ambulance and held at the Luck Fire Station, was an over-the-top gigantic success. This annual event (their 39th!) began at 3:30 p.m. and by about 3:45 p.m. the line stretched around the huge station – and right out the door. Raffles were going full steam ahead and folks were waving their money around, eager to get in on the action, and to support North Land Ambulance, as this is their biggest fundraiser.
Members of the Polk County Fair Society took advantage of the huge crowd gathered to share their gratitude for North Land’s continued volunteer support at the county’s premier fair (held this year July 26 through July 29) with emergency personnel and equipment.
“On behalf of the Polk County Fair,” we’d like to thank North Land Ambulance for everything they do in assisting victim’s there and helping us,” stated Fair Society President Dale Wood. “I don’t know how many people realize that if it wasn’t for the great response of North Land last year – and everybody that was there, and the equipment you guys provide us…we saved the life of a 21 year-old kid that was having a heart attack at the Fair. It was just…you had to be there…to see what a great job these people did to save this kid’s life.”
A terrific amount of applause ensued and any other words Wood spoke were lost in the deluge as Fair Society member Janis Larson presented a special plaque to North Land Ambulance Director RaeAnn Allen.
The plaque reads, “Certificate of Recognition presented to North Land Municipal Ambulance in recognition of your ongoing support, dedication and commitment over the years to the Polk County Fair Society.”
April 12, 2018
Slow start for golf season
By Lynda Berg Olds
Returning Luck Clubhouse Manager Gwen Anderson gave the first report at the Luck Golf Commission on Monday night. She said that as of April 16, there were a total of 1,251 members. Of those, 547 are new memberships, 633 are renewals from the first round and 71 are upgrades.
“There are a few that called over the weekend when we were closed so there will be a few more trickling in this week.”
Commission member Bruce Anderson clarified that the memberships to which Anderson referred are all the three-year discounted memberships. He commented that there aren’t too many “regular” members left and course Superintendent Kevin Clunis observed that Anderson et al would have got more bang for his golfing buck if the course had opened a month ago.
[Gwen] Anderson also reported that most of the tournaments are on track but that she did get a cancellation on Monday from a group of 30 golfers whose event was scheduled for April 28. On another note she was excited that the keg beer situation was finally coming to fruition, with the kegs kept in the back walk-in cooler and new lines being run to behind the counter. She said this will make more room and hopes to carry a couple of craft beers in quarter barrels in addition to three [full-size, 16 gallon] kegs.
Obviously the slow start with the weather will be of some detriment to the course’s bottom line, but Clunis said that April golf typically only amounts to about six percent of the gross revenue – or about $29,000. He remained optimistic about the season though and said, “We should have a good chance of making it up; it won’t be a complete washout.”
Naturally there was considerable discussion about money. For instance, funds that come in on the three-year memberships have, to date, been allocated by thirds to the present year, next year and 2020. It was decided to sort of adopt a “wait and see” attitude with monies for right now – at least until the course gets open, before transferring the funds into savings. Gwen said the bench ads were also coming in slowly – and there was a general feeling of unreality to be talking golf when the snowdrifts are so high.
Clunis has guesstimated when the course might open – but at this point it is anybody’s guess. He also sought clarification from the commission with regards to policy concerning free golf for staffers – and whether or not they are to pay for a cart. The upshot of the deal was that anyone who works for the village – including the golf course staff, village trustees, etc., may play golf for free – with a cart [also free]. In the past there has been some questions about this. Some employees were getting charged $5 for the cart and others were not – so from here on in – the cost is zero. It was stressed however that folks accompanying the village employee still have to pay.
There was considerable discussion about the course’s agreement with the Country Club. This topic has been bandied about since the course’s inception what with the oddball “airport license.”
At this juncture the Country Club is pretty autonomous. The have been renting the upstairs forever at the rate of $100 per month for five months. But the Club was only open for two days per week. Now, with the Clubhouse Grill open Tuesday through Saturday, the commission thought it was probably time to raise the rent.
As Bruce Anderson noted, the course provides all the utilities – like electricity, heat and air conditioning, and also water and sewer, ice, garbage service and bags, fire suppression, fire extinguishers, phone and cable, towels, even garnishes like olives and beef sticks for Bloody Marys. Clunis said that the Country Club expressed that they were fine if the rent went up. After all, they are a non-profit and their revenue, other than a $3,000 nest egg to get them going each spring, is supposed to come back to the golf course. 
Clunis said he is certainly happy to have the draw of the Country Club and is excited about the new menu. He said they don’t want to nickel and dime them. A motion was finally made to raise the rent to $300 per month, just to cover expenses.
Anderson [Bruce] had spent considerable time on going over the “the agreement” and recommended some changes, which will have to be approved by all parties including the Country Club before the new contract is valid.
There was other talk about some improvement to a couple of cart paths, how to designate donations and all kinds of other minutia, including adding some certain brands of alcohol that appeal to a younger crowd [like Fireball]. All in all, everyone is anxious to get back on the links and are chomping at the bit to get the course open.
April 19, 2018