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Staff Writer
Ken Francis
   Five Big Lake track and field athletes represented their school well at the state meet last weekend.
   Annika Poe ended her high school career in style. She took third in the shot put with a throw 41’5.5,” breaking her own school record.
   Mya Lesnar of Alexandria took the title with a throw of 43’1.5”.
   Poe didn’t place in the discus, but had a throw of 120’2”.
   It was Poe’s third trip to the state meet.
   Nathan Clausing also had a good finish to his high school career. The senior didn’t make the finals in the 800 meters, but ran 1:58.36.
   Brennen Welle came up just short of qualifying for the finals in the 300 meter hurdles. He placed fifth in his heat in 40.56 seconds.
   The 4x400 relay team of Trever Jensen, Stephen Kacena, Welle and Clausing also came up short of the finals, taking seventh in their heat with a time of 3:29.70, not far off the school record they set this year.
   Three of those runners - Jensen, Kacena and Welle will be back next year.
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Staff Writer
Ken Francis

TAYLOR GIVING has both wins for the Yellow Jackets this season.
   The Big Lake Yellow Jackets amateur baseball team lost two of three games over the past week.
Wednesday, Big Lake rallied back from an early deficit, but couldn’t hold on and lost to the Foley Lumberjacks, 6-5.
   Foley scored two runs in the first and another in the second off Big Lake starter Taylor Giving, prompting a pitching change to reliever Mason Miller. 
   The Yellow Jackets chipped away at the lead with a run in the fourth and another in the fifth. To close the gap to 3-2.
   Miller surrendered a run in the top of the sixth.
   Big Lake came back with two in the home sixth to tie the game, then took the lead with a run in the seventh.
   But Foley came back to score two runs off reliever Dallas Miller in the ninth, Big Lake’s third pitcher of the game.
   Chance Halligan led the offense for Big Lake. He had two hits, two walks, scored a run and drove in a run.
   Tony Rathmanner had a single, a walk and scored twice.
   Dallas Miller had a single, a walk, drove in a run and scored one.
   Dustin Wilcox singled, walked and drove in a run.
   Sam Dokkebakken had a hit, a walk and a run scored.
   Dallas Miller took the loss. He pitched one inning, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits and a walk. He struck out two.
   Mason Miller allowed one earned run on six hits and a walk in 6.1 innings. He struck out seven.
   Giving allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and a walk in 1.2 innings.
   Last Sunday, Big Lake lost at home to the Monticello Polecats, 8-3.
   The Yellow Jackets scored a run in the home first on an RBI single by Sam Dokkebakken, but it was the only time they would have a lead in the game.
   The Polecats reached Big Lake starter Mason Miller for two runs in the second, two in the fifth and two more in the seventh.
   Monticello added a run in the eighth and another in the ninth of reliever Dalls Miller.
   Big Lake scored a run in the  seventh and another in the eighth on RBIs by Tanner Teige and Brandon Holthaus.
   Catcher Dustin Wilcox had two hits, a walk and scored a run. 
   Holthaus had two his and drove in a run.
   Sam Dokkebakken had a single, two walks and an RBI.
   Joe Rathmanner had two hits and scored a run.
   Dallas Miller doubled and scored a run.
   Mason Miller took the loss. He pitched in and out of trouble in seven innings of work, but errors cost him. He allowed six runs (two earned), eight hits and four walks while striking out 10.
   Dallas Miller allowed two earned runs on a hit and three walks in two innings. He struck out two.
   Last Saturday, Big Lake got its second win of the season, 7-3 over the Sartell Stone Poneys.
   The Yellow Jackets got a run in the first on an RBI groundout by Dustin Wilcox.
   They added two in the second before Wilcox hit a solo homer in the third for a 4-0 lead.
   Big Lake extended its lead to 6-0 with runs in the fifth and sixth.
   Sartell got on the board with a run off starter Taylor Giving in the seventh.
   The Yellow Jackets got their final run in the home seventh.
   Matthew Chuba came in to pitch in the eighth and was tagged for two unearned runs without a allowing a hit. But he got the final six outs to preserve the win.
   Giving got the win. He allowed four hits and one run over seven innings, striking out three. 
   Tanner Teige and  Chance Halligan each had two hits.
   Wilcox had two runs batted in. Dallas Miller, Mason Miller and Nick Harris each drove in a run.
   The Yellow Jackets are 2-3 on the season. They play at St. Joseph Wednesday, host the Becker Bandits next Saturday at 4 p.m. and visit the   Albertville Villains on Sunday.
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Staff Writer
Ken Francis

BRADY JOSEWSKI SCORES the first run of the season for the Big Lake American Legion baseball team on a single by Zeus Schlegel against Monticello last week. (Photos by Ken Francis.)

JOSH HUNT pitched three scoreless innings in Big Lake’s 2-0 win over Monticello.
   The Big lake American Legion baseball team swept two doubleheaders over the past week.
   Thursday, Big Lake pounded out 17 hits and beat Mora in the first game of a doubleheader, 19-9.
   Big Lake didn’t take long to get on the board. Samson Schlegel had a leadoff double, went to second on a passed ball and scored on a single by Brady Josewski. Will Boeckman was hit by a pitch and Preston Schlegel reached on an error, with Josewski scoring. After Boeckman scored on a passed ball, Zeus Schlegel doubled to drive in Preston Schlegel. Nate Hedstrom followed with an RBI double. He later scored on a passed ball for a 6-0 lead.
   Unfortunately for Big Lake, Mora came right back with eight runs in the home first on three singles, three walks, a hit batter and an error off starter Samson Schlegel. He was relieved by Zeus Schelgel, who got the final out in the first.
    Big Lake got the lead back in the fourth. With two outs, Josewski was hit by a pitch. He stole second and scored on a single by Will   Boeckman. Preston Schlegel singled, with both runners advancing on the throw. Boeckman scored on a passed ball and Schlegel scored on a double by Zeus Schlegel for a 9-8 lead.
   Mora tied the game in the home fourth with a run on two walks and a single.
   But Big Lake went ahead to stay with four runs in the fifth. Chad Boeckman reached on an error and sent to second on a single by Samson Schlegel. After Josh Hunt singled to load the bases, Josewski walked to drive in a run. On a passed ball, Schlegel and Hunt scored. Then Will  Boeckman doubled to drive in Josewski for a 14-9 lead.
   Big Lake got two more in the sixth. Hedstrom singled, stole second, went to third on an error and scored on a single by Mitch Spanier. Later in the inning, Chad Boeckman reached on a third strike passed ball and scored after singles by Samson Schlegel and Hunt.
   Big Lake scored four more in the seventh on a single, a hit batter, three walks and an error.
   Chad Boeckman pitched a scoreless seventh to end the game.
   Zeus Schlegel won in relief. He allowed a run on three hits and six walks in 5.1 innings. He struck out five.
   In the nightcap, Big Lake won, 4-2 in five innings.
   Big Lake opened the scoring with two runs in the first. Hunt walked with one out and scored on a triple by Josewski. He scored on a single by Will Boeckman.
   Mora got a run in the third on two singles, a fielder’s choice and a sacrifice fly off starter Nate Hedstrom.
   Big Lake got that run back in the home third on two hits and an error. They scored their fourth run in the fourth inning on two errors and an RBI single by Samson Schlegel.
   Mora got their final run in the top of the fifth on two singles, a stolen base and a sacrifice fly.
   Hedstrom got the win. He allowed two earned runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out five.
   Tuesday, Big Lake took two games from Zimmerman. 
   In the opener Josh Hunt pitched a complete game in 12-2 win shortened by the 10-run rule.
   Big Lake got three runs in the first, five in the third and four in the fifth.
   Hunt allowed a run in the first and another in the fifth.
   Big Lake had eight hits in the game and were helped by 10 walks and five Zimmerman errors that led to three unearned runs.
   Will Boeckman had two hits, scored twice and drove in a run.
   Samson Schlegel, Preston Schlegel, Zeus Schlegel and Josewski each scored two runs.
   On the mound, Hunt allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits. He struck out seven.
   In the nightcap, Big Lake led early and held on for a 7-5 win.
   Big Lake scored four runs in the second on three walks, two singles, a hit batter and a fielder’s choice.
   Zimmerman got a run in the fourth on a solo homer off starter Preston Schlegel.
   In the home fourth, after Hunt reached on an error and Preston Schlegel walked, Will Boeckman singled in a run. Zeus Schlegel followed with an RBI single for a 6-1 lead.
   Zimmerman got a run back in the fifth, then made it interesting with a rally in the sixth. The first five batters reached base, with the only out coming on a caught stealing. Samson Schlegel came in to pitch and walked a batter. Zeus Schelgel relieved him and walked his first batter before getting a strikeout. The third out came on an attempted steal of home. 
   Big Lake got an insurance run in the home sixth when Hunt reached on an error, went to second on a bunt by Preston Schlegel and scored on a single by Will Boeckman.
   Zimmerman had the tying runs on base with two outs in the seventh, but Zeus Schlegel struck out the final batter get the save.
   Preston Schlegel got the win. He allowed all five runs (three earned) on four hits and three walks. He struck out eight.
   Big Lake is 5-0 on the season. They play a doubleheader at St. Francis Thursday.
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Contributing Writer
Shelley Berthiaume

ADRIA PETTIT AND HER SON, COLTON were taking safety instructions from BLPD Officer, Todd Siebert at the Bike Rodeo being held at Liberty Elemenentary Wedneday. See more photos inside. (Photos by Shelley Berthiaume)

GRANT VOLK, 10 AND SISTER, AMELIA VOLK, 6, enjoyed their first time at the bike rodeo. “It was good and not hard for me,” said Grant. Amelia liked it too.

FIRST TIMERS, Logan and Mason Broussard were all smiles on their Spiderman and Power Ranger bikes at the rodeo.

THE BIKE COARSE, was setup with stop signs and cones to weave through. Learning the arm signals for turning was key for bike safety.

BEAUTIFUL DAY for kids and their parents to enjoy at ECFE in the Park on the Liberty Elementary playground.

PARENTS WERE SIGNING up their kids for the bike drawings and getting refreshments after running through the course. Information was also available on bike trails in the Big Lake area.
   Lots of sunshine and smiles Wednesday for the bike rodeo and clinic held at  Liberty Elementary. Kids went  through a fun obstacle course and learned about bike safety.  Bike giveways, refreshments, DQ cone coupons were available to all participants.
  BLPD Officer Todd Siebert said, “There has been a steady flow of kids coming out and it’s awesome to to see, even if some of them don’t quite comprehend, they get the basic idea of bike safety.”
   The kids were run through a course with stop signs and shown the proper way to signal for a turn using their arms. Members of the police department and staff, community education, ECFE and volunteers from the  Big Lake Bike Advisory Group and Sustainable Task Force were there to help ensure good safety practices are used. 
   The bike rodeo event was presented by the Big Lake Schools, Spud Fest, Police Dept., Minnesota Early Childhood, ECFE and the City of Big Lake. 
ECFE in the Park brought the young and young at heart out to the playground. Many took advantage of the warm weather and all the nice equipment to play on and some just relaxed in the grass. 
   A happy and successful day of fun.
 
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Editor
Gary Meyer

ABOVE, AN ARCHITECT’S SKETCH of the proposed “The Crossing Phase II,” to undergo construction later this summer. It includes two 19-unit townhome style apartments. (Submitted Photo)
  Big Lake Townhomes 3rd Addition was given formal approval for construction at Wednesday’s Big Lake Council meeting.
   The Addition, to be known as “The Crossing Phase II,” will undergo construction this fall, with completion sometime into 2020, reported J. Duffy of the developers.
   The development, to be built adjacent to their first phase town homes of 2011, will be west of Co. Rd. 43 and the NorthStar commuter depot.
   The project will consist of two buildings housing 38 units, with 86 paved parking spaces. 
   Each building will contain 19 townhome-style apartments. Handicapped units will also be provided.
   The project was set to begin in 2018, but financing issues have held it back. No longer.
   “Nice to see the action,” commented Mayor Mike Wallen.
Department Reports
   Department heads spent considerable time updating the council on their activities, most notably Police Chief Joel Scharf.
   He spoke to the rash of breakins and burglaries affecting Big Lake and a host of cities down to the Twin Cities.
   A pair of Twin Cities men were apprehended and charged with breakins in Wright County this week; they are suspected of being part of a ring of 80 who have been carrying out their illegal deeds over the past several months. (See story elsewhere in this issue.)
   Scharf was featured in a Twin Cities television report on the activity. He asked residents to stay alert, lock their doors and homes and give the police a call if there are any issues.
   He further noted the police website nextdoor.com, has grown to 1,500 users and his department has staked out 21 various districts around the city to best track activity.
   “People have guts to enter a home,” he said of the burglaries. “It could lead to an altercation.”
   He reported in May his officers had 47 arrests, of which seven were for DUI, three for narcotics, two for domestic assault and 16 for revoked licenses.
   He reminds readers of Guns and Hoses, the annual police-fire fighters softball game, which will lead off Spud Fest activities that Friday at 5 p.m. Aug. 6 is Night to Unite. And, the police are staying popular distributing M and M’s candies to kids at Music in the Park.
   Fire Chief Ken Halvorson reported 21 calls during May, of which 14 were in the city, five in the township and one to Orrock. Aug. 3 will be their annual dance; Oct. 13 will be their annual open house.
   Engineer Layne Otteson said plans are continuing for 2019 street restoration projects. He has also held two public information meetings for residents likely affected by 2020 street projects.
   Work on the McDowall Trail will be held back to July due to high water in the zone.
   Public Works Director Miek Goebel reported Sanford Select Park on the south end of the city is now open for public use. Equipment was finished being installed last week.
 
 
   
   
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Staff Writer
Ken Francis

The Sherburne County Board held its first meeting in the newly renovated board room Tuesday. The meeting could also be viewed live online on YouTube. (From left) Commissioners Barbara Burandt, Lisa Fobbe, Chair Tim Dolan and Raeanne Danielowski. Commissioner Felix Schmiesing was not in attendance.
   The Sherburne County Board held its first meeting in the newly renovated Commissioner Board Room, and they had a busy day with zoning issues.
   The board approved nine separate zoning requests, two of which involved construction of solar farms.
   The board approved a request by IPS Solar for an IUP for a one-megawatt solar farm on the Goenner property on 17.85 acres on Co. Rd. 8 at 74th Street SE in Clear Lake Twp.
   They approved another  request by IPS Solar for a one-megawatt solar farm on the Hartmann property on 27.52 acres on Co. Rd. 8 SE and 57th Street SE in Haven Twp.
   In other zoning issues, the board:
   * Approved a request by Homebridge LLC for the residential final standard plat of “Knick Knack Knoll Second Addition,” consisting of 11 lots on 31.91 acres at 180th Street NW and 226th Ave. in Big Lake Twp.;
   * Approved a request by Arvola Builders for the residential preliminary and final simple plat of “Weebs,” consisting of (one lot on 31.29 acres on Co. Rd. 5 near the junction of Co. Rd. 75 in Big Lake Twp.;
   * Approved an interim use permit (IUP) for Todd Couch for an auto repair business in an accessory building on 14.37 acres on 218th Ave. NW near 183rd Street in Big Lake Twp.;
   * Approved a request by Haus Construction for a conditional use permit (CUP) for a 30’ x 32’ personal storage structure on .4 acres on 115th Ave. SE in Palmer Twp.;
  * Approved a request by Brian Dockendorf for a 36’ x 50’ personal storage structure on 40 acres on 12th Street SE and 121st Ave. SE in Palmer Twp.;
   * Approved a request by Verizon Wireless for a CUP to construct a 175’ tall communications tower with 9’ lightning rod on 44.45 acres at 160th Street NW in Blue Hill Twp.;
   * Approved a request by Roger Nelson for the residential final standard plat of “Whispering Prairie Estates 8th Addition,” consisting of 24 lots on 65.84 acres on Co. Rd. 42 and 150th Street NW in Blue Hill Twp. 
   The board also approved an amendment to the zoning ordinance regarding the definitions of hardship and variance and increasing the membership of the board of adjustment from five to seven.
 
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Editor
Gary Meyer

CAROL ALM, opponent to the Lake Mitchell launch closure, spoke to the council Wednesday. Listening was Bettina Potter, who offered arguments for the closure of the launch. (Photos by Gary W. Meyer)

KARNA LUND, president of the Big Lake Community Improvement Association, addressed the city council Wednesday during open forum, asking for closure of the Lake Mitchell launch and routing all lake traffic through Lakeside Park, which has more thorough inspection facilities and procedures.
   The Lake Mitchell launch  - close it or keep it open?
   The issue, being studied by a taskforce of the Big Lake City Council, brought a dozen people to their Wednesday meeting, many speaking during open forum.
The Big Lake Community Improvement Association (BLCIA) has petitioned the council to close the launch to all traffic as it combats the spread of invasive plant and animal species. Most noteworthy in their concerns is the spread of Zebra mussels and Starry Stonewart, which has taken over Lake Koronis at Paynesville and has infiltrated 13 state lakes, one as close as Pleasant Lake near Annandale.
   There are no known cures for these invasives. Prompt and thorough inspection of boats and trailers - and education of their operators - has been the best antidote thus far.
   The BLCLA people are asking for closure of the Lake Mitchell launch so all boats would be required to enter and leave the lakes through the Lakeside Park launch, where more through detection equipment, and personal inspectors, are part of the program.
Karna Lundquist, BLCLA president, spoke during open forum, asking for closure of the Mitchell launch.
   That refrain was echoed by Judy Syring, BLCLA boardmember, who reminded meeting-goers the closure would only be during open water season. (The Mitchell launch is open only Monday through Thursdays.) It would be open for winter recreation.
   Two Lake Mitchell area residents spoke against the closure. Carol Alm, whose family has been in the community for 100 years, said closure of the launch would make it very inconvenient to boaters. She questioned response times from emergency providers if they had to attend to a call on Lake Mitchell and have to enter through Lakeside Park. 
   And on occasions of low water levels - how would emergency attenders to through the channel, which has been closed at times in the past.
Dallas Robinson, who reported he lives near the launch, said he questioned launch-closure proponants.
   “We’re using fear to how we rule our lives,” he said. 
“Blocking the lake off and not having access? Is that our choice?”
   Then, a final comment from a proponant of the closure. Bettina Potter, west side lake home owner, spoke to the issue at a recent meeting and repeated her concern.
“This (the lakes) is an asset now,” she said, indicating if mussels and Starry Stonewart moved in, the lake would no longer be that.
   And she expressed her fear over the tax bill if the community were resigned to fighting the invasives once they got into the lakes.
   “I won’t pay my tax dollars to invasive species control. I urge the taskforce to make the decision,” she said.
   She noted the effort to combat Starry Stonewart has already cost the Lake Koronis community a million dollars - and it’s been a losing battle.
   The issue was not on the council’s agenda, so no action was taken. A taskforce including Councilmembers Rose Johnson and Paul Knier will be studying the issue.
   Starry Stonewart is an invasive plant species that grows from the lake bottom to the water surface, choking out all other vegetation. Efforts to harvest it have failed.
   The Zebra mussells consume water at large rates and suck out nutrients that fish feed on, so they are competing with the fish population.
   The BLCLA, city and county have for 10 years been treating Eurasion water milfoil and curley leaf pondweed, with some success, but their effectiveness is dictated by the DNR and how much water surface can be treated.
Employees Recognized
   Five city employees were recognized for their service at Wednesday’s council meeting.
   Kevin Kreuger was recognized for five years with the fire department, as was Jamie Shores, with the police department. Sam Olson was recognized for 15 years with the police, and Keith Roelike was recognized for 15 years with the liquor store.
Kurt Goenner, 30-year member of the public works department, was also recognized.
 
  
   
 
   
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Staff Writer
Gloria Vande Brake

BRAD AND MELANIE BREY request to Sherburne County for a 25’ variance from the bluffs in the River District of the Mississippi. (Photo by Gloria Vande Brake)
   In their hour-long meeting Wednesday evening, Big Lake Twp.  four supervisors supported Bradley and Melanie Brey’s request to Sherburne County for a 25’ variance in setback from the bluffs in the recreational River District of Mississippi River for two decks the homeowners want to build.
   Clerk Brenda Kimberly-Maas explained that when the Breys purchased their home in 1991, surveys were not required and now the owners need a variance for almost every project they want to do.  
   Big Lake School Supt. Steve Westerberg presented an amendment to their existing Interim Use Permit (IUP).   The shelter near the athletic fields by Liberty Elementary School will be built this summer but the storage building/concession stand adjacent to the shelter will be delayed until summer 2020.  
   “We just didn’t get the donations we needed to finish this project this year,“ he concluded.  The supervisors approved their support of this amended permit and this amendment will proceed to a public hearing with the Sherburne County Planning Advisory Board.
   After Supervisor Norm Leslie reviewed the costs to retrofit the current florescent light fixtures into LED lamps at city hall as well as wiring for projector and screen in the meeting room, the four supervisors of  Chair Bruce Aubol, Larry Alfords, Bob Hofer and Norm Leslie approved the upgrade.  Bids from Wes Olson  Electric and Mechanical Energy Systems were reviewed and the work was awarded to Wes Olson Electric.
   Treasurer Ken Warneke & Supervisor Alfords reported on a crumbling 8’ pipe in Meadowbrook that needs to be re-routed.  Town Engineer Ross Abel and Warneke added their intentions to work with the snow plow operator next season to avoid the excess water on Sleepy Hollow, due to not “winging” the snow out because of adjacent yards.
   The supervisors approved the joint powers agreement between Sherburne County & Town of Big Lake for the state’s bridge fund use on the Ranch Road Bridge Project.   A larger box culvert will replace the current one to allow for more water capacity.  The road will be raised to accommodate the larger culvert.
   Kimberly-Maas asked if the supervisors wanted to increase the $200,000 bond covering both the treasurer and clerk.  The supervisors approved keeping it at its current level.
   A HAM Radio group received approval to use the soccer field and adjacent Lion’s Park grounds and spend the nights June 21-23 as they’ve done in the past.
   Supervisors and staff discussed plans to attend Sherburne County Administrator Steve Taylor’s retirement party next week. Taylor’s last day is June 22nd and the commissioners are interviewing candidates.
 
 
 
 
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Editor
Gary Meyer

JOE FOWLER of Big Lake, greeted by Minnesota Army National Guard Adjutent General John Jensen on his arrival in Kuwait. Fowler invited Jensen and his Army officials to talk about employing soldiers in the construction trades when they returned to Minnesota. (Submitted Photo)

RED TABLECLOTHS for the Red Bulls. Soldiers dined on 12-ounce Mancini’s steaks under the setting sun at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. Serving went on from 2 to 8:30 p.m. the Saturday of Memorial weekend.

SEVERAL LEADERS and dignataries from the “Serving Our Troops” delegation posed for a photo over the weekend. They included Tom McCartjy, business manager for the St. Paul Plumbers; Pat Harris, who started the project; John Mancini, owner of Mancinis Char House; Greg Chamberlain, Xcel Energy; Mike Runyon, owner of Shamrocks and the Nook. Up front, Steve Hutchinson, former player for the Vikings. Second row, Joe Fowler, Big Lake; Willie Franklin, Delta Airlines; Trinidad Uribe, Sprinkler Filters; Tom Casper, co-owner of Shamrocks and the Nook; Dan O’Gara, owner of Ogaras, also of St. Paul. Back row, John Marshall, Xcel Energy; Dan O’Gara; and far right, Clayton Ted Johnson, Timberwolves.

THE ZONE 6 serving area, where Joe Fowler worked. The photo shows the lineup of workers and Red Bull soldiers dishing up.

JOE FOWLER of Big Lake (second from left) with fellow workers, preparing steaks for the grill. (Submitted Photos)
  A quick offer - and a quick response resulted in a five-day oddesey to the other side of the world for Joe Fowler of Big Lake over the Memorial Day weekend.
   Fowler calls “Serving Our Troops” a highlight in his life - a memory of helping to serve those who are in uniform, far away, serving us.
   Fowler, 37 serves as business manager for the 10,000-member Local 563,  in St. Paul, he largest construction labor union in the country, serving members in North Dakota and Minnesota.
   He was at a fundraiser in Mancini’s steakhouse in December, in the company of Pat Harris, the originator of “Serving Our Troops.” Harris has run the service organization for several years and was talking about a coming-up trip to Kuwait in May, 2019.
   “Pat asked me if I was willing to go,” said Fowler. 
   “Hell yes!” was the Big Laker’s response.
   And so, plans were made, as Fowler joined the mission of 46 people to make the trip. The “Serving Our Troops” delegations follow Minnesota’s Red Bull National Guard batallion and have been to Iraq, Kuwait and other countries.
   Whereever the Red Bull is - they go.
   Joe flew out with a small detail May 22 by commercial air to Amsterdam, then to Kuwait.
   The biggest detail - keeping their eye on the 6,000 12-ounce Mancini Char House steaks, frozen and in cargo.
   A day later, they had landed in Kuwait and were put up in Hotel Ibis to rest, then the following day it was a 45-minute ride by military transport to Camp Arifjan.
   His delegation was greeted by the Minnesota Army National Guard Adjutant General John Jensen.
   The distinction to the Harris Serving Our Troops delegation at Camp Arifjin.
   “We were the only (civilian) group allowed in the forward area,” said Fowler.
   The following hours were spent unpacking meat - lots of meat - as plans had been made for a big sitdown of Red Bull soldiers and a goodly nuber from other fighting units at that base.
   A big lift to the entire excursion for Fowler was the wonderful people he had a chance to meet and work with.
   Besides a dozen or so restauranteurs from St. Paul, executives and notables from many Minnesota business were along. Xcel officials, the Timberwolves, Delta Airlines and others.
“Everybody worked,” said Fowler.
   Saturday was the big day for serving. Fowler was on the line at 9 a.m. setting up coals and getting things ready. They started cooking at 2 p.m. and went until 8:30 p.m. Twelve people were on the grills. 
   Who was on the cooking line next to Fowler?
   Steve Hutchinson, former Viking. “He was amazing,” said the Big Laker.
   The desert heat impacted on the Minnesotans, he said.
Temperatures at 115 degrees and no wind to cool. 
   “We had cooling towels,” he said. “We were out in the open (no tents). It was pretty still.”
   Fowler didn’t have much of an appetite due to the heat. “Ice cream slurries and mango slusheys. The slusheys saved my life,” he said.
   Fowler had good things to say about the local cuisine. 
   “Of course they had no pork,” he said. “But lots of fresh fruit and a taco bar. And a great meat loaf. And turkey.
“But it was so damned hot you couldn’t ‘pig’.”
From the Red Bulls
   Fowler was so impressed with the reaction of Minnesota’s Red Bull Guardsmen when they got into contact with the cooking crew.
Fowler remembered many of them asking if they could actually request how well done (or rare) their steak might be. 
   As you wish, was the response of the cooking crew.
   “It was sharing a meal together - the soldiers by the thousands.
   “It was an incredibly humbling experience,” Fowler said. 
“They (the troops) kept saying ‘thank you’.
   “No, thank you,” was the response of the civilians, including Joe. 
   He reports the “Serving Our Troops” expeditions have now served 100,000 steaks to Minnesota Red Bull troops - they reached that mark with their expedition to Kuwait.
Back To Home
   Fowler and fellow civilians made the trip back to Minnesota by way of London, then Minneapolis.
   He had time to sleep on the flight to London, so the evening they had free to see the sights was done for just that purpose. 
   They rented two taxis and “saw the sights.”
Memorial Day, he was back in Big Lake.
It was a considerable expenditure, traveling halfway around the world. Joe invested $2,000 to defray his traveling costs.
 
 
 
 
 
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Staff Writer
Ken Francis
   Sherburne County is taking the next step to insure the future success of the St. Cloud Regional Airport.
   Tuesday, the board signed a joint resolution to start an ad hoc committee with the goal of developing an airport authority. 
   The City of St. Cloud has owned and operated the airport for the past 50 years and has financed the operations and capital needs from a variety of sources, including federal and state grants, regional local option sales tax and property taxes.
   Administrator Steve Taylor said in February 2019, the Greater St. Cloud Development Corp. (GSDC) commissioned a comprehensive study to develop strategic initiatives to help optimize the use, growth and development of the airport. 
   “One of the key components was to analyze and increase the airport’s economic impact on the region, including St. Cloud, Stearns, Sherburne and Benton counties,” he said.
   At a county workshop April 23, the board received information on the study by Steve Baldwin and GSDC.   Recommendations from that study included developing a business mindset, reducing the deficit, enhancing marketing and forming an airport authority.
   Since that meeting, Taylor said he has been working with the administrators of St. Cloud and Stearns County to put together a resolution for the creation of an airport authority.
Tuesday’s resolution is the first step - creating an airport advisory committee. 
   “The purpose of the ad hoc committee is to create the composition of who is going to be on the airport authority and develop some broad priorities,” said Taylor.
   He said the study showed the airport currently has an overall economic impact of $44.2 million, with 289 jobs generating wages of $17.1 million and local taxes of $2.3 million. 
   But the airpost is losing about $800,000 a year.
   “Once the authority is established, the City of St. Cloud would continue to support the airport financially at its current level or less for a maximum of 10 years,” said Taylor.
   The committee will be comprised of the Sherburne Co. Administrator, the Stearns Co. Administrator, the St. Cloud City Administrator, one elected official appointed by each entity and three members appointed by mutual agreement of the parties. The board appointed Commissioner Felix Schmisesing to serve on the committee, with Commissioner Lisa Fobbe as alternate.
   “I it think it’s important that we continue to move forward with this. We’ve kind of identified it as an underperforming asset in our community,” said Commissioner Tim Dolan. “We got the money set aside to do this study to see if it was worth salvaging. The study says it’s worth going in this direction. The study shows the economic impact and it shows the  potential of future economic impact if it’s run the right way by the airport authority.”
   The same resolution will be presented to the St. Cloud City Council June 17 and the Stearns County Board June 25.
 
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