Your Polk County, Wisconsin hometown newspaper since 1883 .
For more information, please
"After all these years, still doing a great job!!" -Ron Hermanson
Luck Class of 2019 commences 32
By Lynda Berg Olds
Thirty-two seniors made up the Luck graduating Class of 2019. The weather Sunday was unseasonably unfortunate, but perhaps appropo for a year with more snow days than any other time in recent history.
Water works began for many right along with the opening strains of Pomp and Circumstance. Tis always a bittersweet affair as graduates embark on new lives, while paying homage to the last 13 years.
Most parents wondered where the time has gone.
High School Principal Brad Werner recognized the families of the graduates, and then paid special tribute to graduate Luke Johnson, who has enlisted in the US Army.
Salutatorian Katie Mattson adroitly gave the Welcome Address, mixing poignant memories with humor. The customary appreciation was expressed to all who were part of each classmate's journey. She thanked the teachers not only for educating them on the required information, but also “about life and what is ahead.”
Mattson saved the biggest thank yous for her fellow classmates, noting how much they have been through together. She closed with, “When we walk out of the gym today, it will be like our very last field trip; except the bus won't be bringing us home this time.”
Lots of wistful smiles were shared among the Class of 2019, as they sang their final song together, “You're Gonna Miss This,” by Trace Adkins.
Elizabeth Johnson was up next with the Commencement Address and she commented on how fast their high school years went by – just like their parents said they would. She talked about how the school has been their second home, with most of them having come all the way through together from the “ABC Express at Luck Lutheran...to being little Cardinals...to being full-fledged graduates. She said her class was often naughty and blamed the boys for not being able to go on quite as many field trips as other classes during middle school.
Johnson joked (sort of) about “Hurricane Peterson,” who made the kids clean their lockers – but said how she more than made up for it with the “Critter Care” program (even though her hamster died).
Once high school came along it was time to get serious about scholastics, sports or both.
“All of us can truthfully admit that we remember saying, “Wow, I can't wait until I'm a senior because then I won't have to go to school anymore. We know now that we regret ever wishing that, because now it is here...”
Johnson gave some more special thanks – to Mr. Roush for helping after school with math – to Mrs. G (Gavinski) “for opening up her kitchen in her classroom so we could always eat a decent meal before any after-school activity.”
She concluded, “All these countless hours from everyone to make sure that we will have a fighting chance in the real world. Now is our chance. Let's make the most of it.”
The time came for the Farewell Address and Valedictorian Ryley Fosberg stepped up to the podium.
“As Winnie the Pooh once said, 'How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?'...we are really saying farewell to high school...farewell to the laughs in the halls with our friends...”
Fosberg gave a special farewell with appreciation to Ms. Nelson, who is now retiring after decades of service to Luck School and its students:
“Thank you to Ms. Nelson for everything she has done for us at Luck. She has really gone above and beyond and we are thankful to be taking the best out with the best class. Farewell to high school Miss Nelson.”
Fosberg also noted her class was “not the class teachers looked forward to.” But said, “A few teachers saw our potential and have helped mold us into the graduates you see before you today. We are all ready to take on the next chapter of our lives.”
Fosberg said she and her classmates all had their own special quirks, like “Jules laugh you could hear five classrooms down,” and named a few more.
“I wanted to talk about the future, but we have no idea what is in store for us. Some of us might change our major six times before we finally figure it out – and that's okay. Some of us might run our own businesses. We may even be looking at our future doctors and lawyers in this group of graduates. With the majority of our class going into welding we could be looking at the future builders of a new and improved Titanic. There are so many possibilities and opportunities that await us and it all starts today. So as we come to an end of our high school careers, we come to a brand new beginning of our futures. So congratulations Class of 2019! We've done it!”
May 23, 2019
By Lynda Berg Olds
Luke Schultz, of CESA's facilities services, attended the most recent meeting of the Luck School Board with some food for thought referendum-wise.
“Tonight I'd like to go through with you some things to consider as we go forward. I don't think we need to go into the weeds tonight, but just think about what the next steps are. Maybe next month we will maybe have like a board retreat and really kind of dig deep – and bring the architect in as well. That way we can look at the options and sharpen our pencils a bit.”
Schultz advised that a good place to start would be with the registered voter list.
“We did purchase that and I sent it to you to show who did come out to vote – and who didn't. This is a good list to see – to have it and review it.”
Schultz said the board should also consider the timeline.
“I know you guys have had several discussions internally and it looks like we are leaning toward April of 2020, but the fall election is going to be a big one, which gets more people to the election sites, which typically, when you look at percentages of success rates of school referendums – they are more successful – so that I something to keep in mind as well as we go through.”
The scope of work naturally plays a very big role as it it determines the cost .
“We need to look at the community meetings and other events that we had, where you heard some feedback. Those are good things to start with in the communication process. For example, parking lot environmental issues, green space, the wrestling area. Some of those were the hot topic areas and where we should start in this scope.
“Other items when you are looking at the scope is looking at budget, which I will get to, budget appetite - but looking at the locker rooms – maybe we don't renovate to four locker rooms, maybe we just look at renovating the current locker room. That is just an example but maybe it is somewhere we can save dollars.”
Schultz gave the board props (and Superintendent Cory Hinkel) as they have developed their summer list of projects to get done. Even though the projects might be $10,000 projects as opposed to $100,000 or $200,000 ones, they all add up and together reduce the amount for which the school needs to go out to referendum.
“One thing to keep in mind is open enrollment numbers. I think we need to stress that...I talked a bit with Cory just to look at those numbers. You guys are doing pretty good.”
Hinkel said, “There are 120 out with 71 in – so it is not good business with $400,000 going out.”
“Exactly,” stated Schultz. “So that is something I really think we need to push – and push hard. Especially when you look at those numbers – with roughly $10,000 per student, and you look at your nearby districts. Just in the past few years...pretty much the surrounding schools are all doing something (with referendums) We are currently working with Webster, Spooner and some other ones. You've got the phrase of 'keeping up with the Jones's' and what happens if you don't.”
School Board member Rick Palmer observed, “One of those things about open enrollment though is 80 to 90 percent of those kids have never been in our building. When we did the survey, that's what it showed – like 87 percent of the kids have never been in our school building. They moved to our district, but they were already going to another district – and then they just stayed.”
Palmer referenced another survey where parents said they were simply taking their children to districts where their jobs were.
Schultz moved on to the community's budget appetite.
“One thing I think is good, is to go back to the community survey that was sent out and when you look at it we had the three different options laid out, the $4 million, the $8.5 and the $11 million. Fifty-one percent was for the option #1 and right around 42 percent for options #2 and #3. These are things to definitely keep in mind as we move forward. Those surveys do tell you a lot.”
Schultz indicated that in future meetings they would go over other district information and do some analysis.
“It is tough though, because you guys listened to your community and went bare bones to start with, so to try come back is where it gets difficult,” observed Schultz. “Other districts shoot for the moon, fail, and then come down and it gets passed. These are definitely things to think about.”
Schultz also advised that rather than community meetings, the school should do focus groups and include staff members. They live here and they are probably the first ones that people are going to reach out to. It is also good to hear their feedback. If you look at stats and referendums, if your staff is not 100 percent on board, your odds of passing are unlikely – so it is good to get your staff involved.”
Schultz noted some of the community meetings were better than others.
“The last couple of community meetings we had were the ones that were really busy, which is stuff because it is hard to change somebody's mind a week ahead of time. I think focus groups would be good if we can really target those community members who were outspoken. We invite staff and obviously the community, but we can talk and make adjustments as long as it is not the 11th hour.
“We need to re-group and the big thing is budget. The architect is still on board. We need to sit down probably in June and have that next conversation. We have the information already so it will just be tweaking some things, some renderings depending on what direction we go. And of course our marketing team can adjust and put newsletters together. We should really start ramping up by when school starts again.”
School Board President Jacob Jensen said it was unlikely the board would come back with a lesser amount as the feeling is strong there were good reasons for everything in the referendum.
“We may modify within it. But we really took a lot of time, months of work narrowing that project down. We weren't going to do what you said other districts do – come up with a grandiose plan and see what we could get and come back with a trimmed down version. We elected in the beginning to go with what our district needed. The reality is those are the things that we need to be competitive on the open enrollment side – to take the students that we currently have and educate them the best we can – with hopes of getting more. Maybe we take away a very inexpensive portion of that project, the parking lot and maybe that makes the difference. It amazes me that this small item might be the reason that caused this not to pass, but we'll flesh that out I guess as we move forward.”
Palmer had been itching to bring up the point, “We didn't do that badly. If just 15 people voted differently we would have had it. I don't think we should beat ourselves up over not doing a good job. I think we did do a good job. There isn't that much we need to tweak.”
“Schultz concluded, “We need to get back to the drawing board and we've got some time to regroup.”
He was thanked for all his hard work and efforts on Luck's behalf. Luck does not pay him by the way, CESA 11 does. Obviously with a future successful referendum, they will get an administrative percentage.
May 30, 2019
Luck Community Education is...so much more
By Lynda Berg Olds
At the most recent meeting of the Luck School Board, Community Education Director Amy Aguado updated members on the myriad of activities she is involved in, barely mentioning the 40-plus classes that were offered just this semester – the point being she does so much more. She began by noting this is the 20th year Community Education has provided scholarships.
“We try to be more inclusive than exclusive...we've grown from $100 to each student way back when it started to about $200. This year I made sure of my charting of participation in being as 'remindful' as possible, saying this was not an obligation to be involved in this fundraiser by seniors and their parents. So those who did participate received more money than those who did not. We had 23 students who participated fully and will receive $200 each. Four did some of the work and will receive $100 each and then six chose to not participate and they won't receive any community-based scholarship from here. Those amounts total $5,000, so it is going really well.
“There is an additional scholarship fund that we have that was made into a separate account many years ago. It was extra money that didn't need to be in the active account – back in the day of good interest rates. In talking with my advisory board, we had a partial balance moved from that kind of savings account into our active scholarship account. What we just moved was the interest to the tune of $2019. As of the past two years, the interest on that has been just pennies, so we moved it into our active scholarship checking account so the balance for that is now about $6,500, which left us with that savings account of $5,765. And one thing we did with that account to is changed it from a 12-month account to a three-month, which gives us a little more flexibility if things were to change – if we were to need some extra money to go towards scholarships, we'd be set for that and not have to wait 12 months.”
Aguado talked about the recent volunteer appreciation event, which was held just prior to the high school concert.
“We honored over 25 school volunteers, but we only had a handful show up. They are kind of shy about being recognized – and also busy.”
Maggie Peterson was recognized as the volunteer of the year – and she was one who couldn't attend. Aguado said the next day they took a photo in the classroom with some of the students that she has been helping throughout the year.
“Based on feedback from teachers who she has been helping, Maggie was very deserving and just couldn't be happier. She taught for 34 years here and then went straight into volunteering. She is now in her sixth year and doesn't show any signs of slowing down. We are lucky to have her.”
Aguado then briefly discussed STEP (Senior Tax Exchange Program). She said the program has changed but it still provides a nice kickback for some of the volunteers in specific areas.
“This is our third year of doing STEP and I am the one who coordinates the volunteers, takes in their paperwork and keeps them on track. We have four registered participants and they have logged over 650 hours this year in the classroom(s).”
Aguado moved on to the “Lucky to Have You” teacher recognition and said the winner will receive a $500 scholarship to use as they like. We are in our fifth year of that and it is sponsored by Luck Country Inn.”
Aguado told the board they've received an “awesome donation” to reseal the sidewalk on Seventh Street.
“It is the blacktop that starts after the cement ends and goes all the way down, around the curve, to the turn-around spot prior to the bridge. That was a project spear-headed by Community Ed 20-plus years ago - because the neighborhood saw that there were students and adults walking on the road to get from one place to another. So they really wanted to make it safer and they had a number of fundraisers to make that happen. It is getting warm now so Cory (Superintendent Hinkel) and I are working on that to see when it is best-suited for our needs. This is awesome news but I don't know the timeline.”
The next announcement Aguado was excited about is there is going to be a reprint of the (oversized) book, “A Little bit of Luck.” She said the copyright is held by Luck Community Education.
“It was put together and published by Luck Community Ed and you will probably recognize some of the contributors: Edwin Petersen, Vivian Byl, Sue Mattson, etc. etc. It is really well-written...”
School Board member Amy Dueholm wanted to buy one and Aguado told her they would be available in a 10 to 14 days (so now). “There's a lot of cool history in them,” observed Aguado, who said the price will be the same as it was originally - $14.95.
“We will also sell groups of them wholesale to library/museums so they can sell them as well. I think we will go through the 100 much faster than we did the first time.”
Aguado then commented a bit on a few of the current classes running – two yoga classes, two water aerobic classes, and a boat safety class was happening at the same time as the meeting.
“We just wrapped up with a painting class taught by a Luck grad Nikki Grey. The kids were excited and most wanted to wrap up their paintings for Mother's or Father's Day (See photos).”
Aguado advised there will be more classes to come from Ms. Grey, some for special needs students – and other for both parent and child classes.
“Just sitting in her classes a little bit – she is very patient and very positive. “We are lucky to have her.”
Another success story was the Woodland Chorale, which rehearsed at Luck these past nine years. Aguado said the 10th year will be their last unless another director were to step up as Harry Johansen is stepping down from that position. There were two performances this year with the St. Croix Valley Orchestra and with the free will donations, they were able to give five $450 checks to area schools for their music departments.
“That is all done through Luck Community Ed to make that happen. The checks were given to St. Croix Falls, Frederic, Unity, Grantsburg and Luck. It is great to see this happen and help grow these music departments.”
Aguado still had much to report. She said she is working more closely in collaboration with District Administrator Hinkel on the newsletter. She says there will be “more meat” now in the letter.
The Prairie Fire Theater is coming the third week of June with afternoon rehearsals; the Festival Theater has an art program kids will be involved in; Aguado talked about the Tyke Hike on the Ice age Trail and wrapped up noting the highly acclaimed West Denmark Fiddle School will be back for another season June 9-13,
There is clearly considerably more going on with the Aguado and her Community Education “department.”
The school board was clearly impressed and encouraged her to keep up the good work.
June 6, 2019
Hemp commerce coming to Village of Centuria
By Lynda Berg Olds
At Monday night's meeting of the Centuria Village Board, by far the most significant item on the agenda was “discussion and possible action on the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application by Dan Schiller (doing business as NJ Farms).
Village Board President Rod Peterson said, “We had a Planning Commission meeting on that and I guess what he wants to do is dry hemp. He said there are a lot of local growers and I guess it is starting to take off. He is just going to dry it for now – and eventually he is going to have a machine in there to extract the oils. He will dry it and then extract it somewhere in Minneapolis. He wants to eventually move up here. It depends on how busy he gets. We discussed everything with him about clean up, fire hazards...and Tony (Public Works Director Weinzirl) got his two cents worth. It looked good so the committee recommends that we approve his Conditional Use Permit.”
New Trustee Chuck Ellsworth queried, “What do we have for ordinances to cover someone drying hemp? I assume nothing.”
Weinzirl chimed in, “It would be treated just as any other commercial business - as far as parking or noise issues, etc. There is nothing that is directly related to the drying process, but there are fire codes and building codes...similar to other businesses in town. That is all Department of Commerce-type stuff.”
Ellsworth said, “I just looked up on the State and I probably didn't find everything that there was. Like, is he going to be required to have any kind of security there? I know it's hemp. I know the difference. But I just feel like it is going to draw some people who don't know the difference – that are too stupid...”
Trustee Stanley Swiontek concurred that was a valid question. He asked:
“Is it going to put pressure on our police force?”
Ellsworth insisted, “Someone is going to try something. Are there requirements for cameras and floodlights?”
Weinzirl stated, “That's his business. That would be like telling the bars they have to put a security camera out front so you can watch their front door to see who comes in and out. It is their business.”
Ellsworth noted that the State requires fencing for the growers.
Swiontek said he was sure Schiller had to get a license from the State.
“He already has it,” clarified Weinzirl. “He has it all and it has been approved by the State.”
Peterson noted that Schiller had offered to give trustees tours of his operations if they would like. He commented that they make animal bedding out of hemp byproducts.
Weinzirl added, “Once they remove the portions that they use for the oil, he (Schiller) said the best use is for bedding because it is so absorbent. And there are three different stages of the waste lot product he has got, the last being the absorbency, but there is also animal feed that can come out of another portion of the plant. They've got grants and the way he made it sound is they are working in conjunction with a lot of different...”
Ellsworth interrupted. “That's wrong because the animal feeding part is not legal. I was just curious because it just seems like it is going to draw the wrong attention. I do know the difference, but that doesn't mean that we're not going to have folks that don't.”
Trustee Tom Boettcher said that was his concern too.
“I think we are going to hear about this,” he cautioned.
Weinzirl again was called upon as he evidently had a “sit down” with Schiller.
“Basically, the issue is, it is a legal process. It is a legal company. It is similar to our discussion about the solar farm. Just because there is a question as to whether or not it is going to be liked doesn't mean as a governing board you can deny it because of that.”
Swiontek said he thought the operation would employ about 20 people.
“Like most ag, it is seasonal work,” noted Weinzirl. “I guess most all of the stripping is done by hand.”
Boettcher wondered if the county had any say in the matter, but Weinzirl said it was State licensing.
Swiontek said, “I guess I move to approve,” but it was noted that recommendation by the committee counts for a motion, so Swiontek seconded the motion.
Perhaps surprisingly, since there was considerable discussion that leaned toward opposition, the motion to approve the CUP was passed unanimously by voice vote.
There was no discussion at the meeting about a time table, but the Ledger spoke with Weinzirl on Tuesday and he said his impression is they want to be up and running by fall – harvest time.
Weinzirl also had the impression that this company constructs the machine to extract the oil from the hemp plants and they are constantly pursing viable options to make use of every part of the plant.
One thing is certain, everyone will be happy to see the big vacant building(s) in the Industrial Park finally being utilized, since the “High Quality Shavings” company has long since dropped the ball. Plus there will be some more employment in town, which is a definite positive for the village. For now, just one building, the biggest, will be utilized. With any amount of luck they will need the other vacant building in the not too distant future.
The Conditional Use Permit itself says the purpose is to “dry hemp related mass.” Conditions of the permit include adherence to building codes and Village Ordinances. Also, if at any time a condition is not fully complied with, the Plan Commission may revoke the CUP upon a 30-day to the applicant – and following a hearing.
In other village business, the CMAR (Compliance Maintenance Annual Report), which deals with waste water treatment in the village, was summarily approved with the comment, “We did much better than last year.”
Also all the licenses and permits for bars (liquor, beer, cigarettes, operators), the salvage yard, mobile home park, etc., were approved in one fell swoop.
June 13, 2019
Big Butternut boaters urged to dock and dine
By Lynda Berg Olds
“We're working on bumper stickers and bike racks, among other things,” reported Luck Tourism Director Sherrie Johnson at Wednesday's regular meeting of the Luck Village Board. She said the bike racks will likely be placed in front of the public buildings. She passed around an example of one bumper sticker – and everybody got a laugh...but the press was not allowed to do a spoiler alert and ruin the surprise. The bumper stickers will be on sale at the Community Club tent during Lucky Days, the third weekend in July. Johnson also noted the the next (quarterly) Tourism Commission meeting will be on July 1.
The next report came from Luck Municipal Golf Course Superintendent Kevin Clunis. Village President Dave Rasmussen was being kind and allowed these reports at the beginning of the meeting so Johnson and Clunis did not have to sit through the whole meeting if they chose not to.
“Approval of the contract is on the agenda tonight and the only major change is we reduced their rent by $100 since the kitchen is only open two days per week as opposed to five like last year,” stated Clunis. He was speaking about the agreement between the Village of Luck and the Luck Country Club.
“However, starting this week on Fridays, the Country Club will be open three days per week (Wednesdays for Ladies Day, Thursday for Men's Day – and Fridays). The rent remained adjusted from $300 last year back to $200 as it has been in Prior years.
“The upstairs is open and you can check the Country Club Facebook page for the specials. He is going to work Fridays from now until Labor Day. He (Luis Delgado, of KJs New North in Balsam Lake) is excited about it.”
[For inquiring minds and palates, this week's special is meat loaf and garlic mashed potatoes.]
In terms of number of golf rounds, Clunis said the course is down 12 percent from last year.
“It is not a big number – we are probably down about 500 rounds over last year – but the good news is, our revenues are exactly the same as last year. So there's quite a few less rounds but everyone is spending money out there, which is good. Our green fees and cart fees are exactly the same as they were a year ago. So even with fewer rounds we are getting more interest...a little bit had to do with raising prices a little bit here and there, which has offset some of the rounds that we've lost...but with this weather, hopefully, it is all going to come together now.”
Clunis continued giving a big thank you to the three benefactors that donated to the 10th Tee Project.
“More good news – it came in under budget and on time (ProLawn did the work). I will have a better breakdown at our meeting later this month. But it turned out really well. Also our donor tee signs are almost all spoken for.”
Clunis opened it up for questions and Trustee (and Golf Commission Chair) Mike Broten asked what was going on with the deck on the lake side. Clunis responded that it is still in the works and he hoped to have a bid this week so he can pick up the lumber and get ready to go.
“It is an extended stair going from the east end of the deck down to the other set of stairs that are by the extra carts.
“It is another exit to come off of the deck that we built. The fire marshal said we needed a second (emergency) exit.”
“Have we heard anything on the dock and getting it put in?” queried Broten.
“That's your dock,” Clunis responded.
Broten said it is the Lake Association's dock.
Johnson, who wears a lot of hats, spoke up and said the association is supposed to put it in. She said she would talk to Bob, the president of the Big Butternut Lake Association.
“And as long as we are talking docks and golf courses and tourism, the Butternut Association will pay for two signs. We want to put one at the end of the public landing dock, where the fishermen and boaters unload and load. And one at the end of our dock at the golf course that lets people know it is a public dock – and that the golf course is open to the public; food, drink, public restrooms – getting some of the fishermen, etc., recreational people, off the lake and into the golf course.”
Broten concurred, noting that is why they thought the deck would be nice as well, coming off the lake.
Clunis fielded another question from Trustee Mike Miller. A question that has been on the minds and tongues of many, “Are there any plans for where the old clubhouse was?”
“That is on the agenda for our next Golf Commission meeting.”
Clunis was only half joking when he said that over the course of the past eight years, that Pro Shop/Clubhouse, which was finally disposed of last winter, has generated more discourse than anything else. He said there was even a survey done once where the number one issue was the disposition of that building and the real estate it sits on. He indicated he will be glad to get that behind him.
Things are going full speed ahead at the Luck Golf Course and the big W.I.N.G.S. Tournament on Monday was a bigger success than ever.
June 20, 2019