~ 2019: a look back ~
By Jean Doran Matua, Editor
Perhaps the biggest story of 2019 is also the most recent: the Dec. 5 crash in Marty (Pearl Lake) of a Minnesota National Guard Blackhawk helicopter, killing all three of the crew aboard. There still are no answers as to what caused the helicopter to suddenly fall from the sky. The crew was able to issue a mayday call shortly after takeoff, but it took first responders nearly two hours to locate the crash site, along the edge of a wooded area just to the south of Holy Cross School along County Road 48.
All three crew members have since been buried, leaving their families and National Guard family to mourn their loss. The investigation into the crash continues, and it may be some time before any more information is known. We do know that their mission that day was a routine maintenance flight. Following the crash, all Blackhawks in Minnesota were grounded until cleared for flight again.
Even as emergency responders scrambled to find the wreck – in hopes of rescuing crash victims – the community jumped into action. Several neighbors gathered at Holy Cross School with Christmas cookies and bars and other treats for first-responders working out in the cold, cold field. Rudy of Pearl Lake Lodge sent over vats of hot coffee and hot cocoa, and he later sent pizzas out to the responders at the crash site. And the Krippner family across the road from the site erected a flagpole as a temporary memorial to the three men who lost their lives, with a more permanent monument to be installed in the spring.
This is what we do: we care, we respond, we remember.
2019 marked the beginning of an apprenticeship program at Kimball Area High School with several local businesses participating.
The City of Kimball received a state library construction grant in the amount of $439,511. This, combined with nearly $437,000 in donations and pledges, was a big step toward starting the new library building. Unfortunately, perhaps, bidding on the construction work did not start until late in the season, and the library committee opted to reject all bids, hoping for lower bids in the spring of 2020. Funds are still needed to complete the project, and donations are always gratefully accepted.
Mike Brower of Kimball earned his first-degree black belt with Rising Dragons Martial Arts School, formerly Kimball Taekwondo.
The City of Kimball started 2019 minus three employees: police chief Jason Mehr, public works worker Matt Serbus, and police officer Jenna Abel.
Ashley Schindele shot her 1,000th point Jan. 3 during the Cubs’ home game against Paynesville. Ashley signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Waldorf University in Iowa in January. Ashley also was the CMC Athlete of the Week for Jan. 1-5.
Kimball’s Drew Gustafson scored his 1,000th varsity career point Jan. 4 at Maple Lake.
EV-W’s Luke Jansen was the CMC male Athlete of the Week for Jan. 1-5.
District 13A Representative Lisa Demuth took her oath of office at the Minnesota Capitol Jan. 8. State Rep. Dean Urdahl (District 18A) took his ninth oath of office. And newly elected Senator Jeff Howe took his place in the state Senate.
Kimball sophomore wrestler Zack Holtz earned his 50th win Jan. 11.
EV-W Halle Jansen became the third Lady Eagle this season to achieve 1,000 career points, hers was at the Holdingford game Jan. 11. She was named CMC female Athlete of the Week the next week.
Kimball Area High School played host to the annual VEX Robotics tournament Jan. 12 with 120 teams and nearly 1,000 student competitors expected.
Jayme Closs, the Wisconsin 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped by the same man who had just killed her parents, escaped after 88 days in captivity and was found in mid-January. The case made national news. Her captor was arrested later that day and he is now serving two life sentences in prison for the two murders, plus 40 years for the kidnapping; he will be in prison for life, without parole.
The Kimball District Spelling Bee was held Jan. 15; the winner was eighth-grader Katheryn Donnay.
Kimball fourth-grade girls took first place in a basketball tournament in Upsala Jan. 19.
Brother and sister Andrew and Jacqueline Pollard of Utah, grandchildren of Mariella Arnold of Kimball, competed in the Freeride Skiing World Tour that began Jan. 19.
The Red Cross Bloodmobile came to Eden Valley-Watkins High School on Jan. 23. A total of 78 units were collected.
“Monster” Mike Schultz was at Aspen, Colo., Jan. 24-27 for his 17th XGames in his fourth sport: Adaptive Snowbike. He earned his ninth XGames gold medal! (See photo at left.) Schultz and teammate Christopher Purdue won bronze at the XGames in the Special Olympics Unified Snowboarding. At the World Cup in Big White (Canada), Schultz earned a bronze the first day, then a gold the second day of competition among the top para snowboard cross athletes of the world.
Maine Prairie Ducks Unlimited held their indoor fishing contest Jan. 26 at the Kimball Legion Club.
In a qualifying meet Jan. 26, Kimball’s ninth-grade-and-under boys wrestled and took third place overall from among 17 teams; they were the highest scoring team in Class A. Lucas Jurek, Ashton Hanan, and Carter Holtz earned spots in the state tournament that day. At state, Jurek placed third, Hanan was state runner-up, and Holtz had four pins on his way to a state championship. The Cubs finished fifth in the state, from among 82 teams, and they finished the highest of any team in Class A.
Fourth-grade Lady Cubs basketballers placed first in a tournament held at Eden Valley-Watkins Jan. 26. They defeated Albany, St. Cloud, then EV-W.
Kimball’s sixth-grade boys also took first place in a tournament in Upsala. They beat Upsala, Pierz and then Holdingford.
River of Life Church in Cold Spring held their annual Wild Game Feed Jan. 26 with guest speaker Walleye Dan.
Postal rate increases went into effect Jan. 27: first-class stamps increased a nickel to 55 cents, but postcard stamps stayed at 35 cents.
Sno Daze at Eden Valley-Watkins High School began
Jan. 28. (Kimball’s was held in December.) The week was an odd one, as cold weather caused a 2-hour late start Monday, and school cancellations Tuesday and Wednesday. The coronation ceremony and variety show did take place Monday, and Olivia Kuechle and Jack Evens (below) were crowned 2019 EV-W Sno Daze princess and prince.
Kimball’s National Honor Society held a spaghetti dinner fundraiser Jan. 29.
The Kimball Fire & Rescue Department sponsored the American Red Cross Bloodmobile Jan. 30 at St. Anne’s Church in Kimball.
Jan. 30 was the District 20 AAA banquet in St. Cloud, recognizing student AAA winners. For EV-W, the winners were Mitchell Utecht and Kennedy Kleist.
Visitor restrictions were imposed toward the end of January at local hospitals because of respiratory syncticial virus (RSV) and influenza.
Kimball’s ExCEL (Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership) winners were juniors Bailee Schiefelbein and Brian Binsfeld.
Sonja Moseley was appointed district administrator for the Clearwater River Watershed District in January.
At the end of January, temperatures were cold enough to threaten freezing city water lines and Kimball residents were advised to keep water running to prevent it.
It was so cold in our area the last week of January that postal delivery was canceled one day (the day the Tri-County News was scheduled to be delivered, of course). Water and sewer pipes were freezing (and sometimes bursting, as they did at St. Anne’s Church in Kimball). Several sporting events were postponed or canceled as well.
At the 2019 Minnesota Newspaper Association annual convention, the Tri-County News took home a pair of photography awards: one an Express baseball photo, and the other of an active shooter drill at KAHS. Jean Doran Matua was the photographer of both.
As January ended, the EV-W girls’ basketball team was still undefeated on the season (see below).
Jan. 7, Donald Becker, 91, of Kimball
Jan. 9, Alvina (Brinkman) Mies, 83, of Watkins
Jan. 12, Dorothy (Peterson) Larson, 90, of rural South Haven
Jan. 17, John “Jack” Werner, 92, of Watkins
Jan. 28, Janice (Lubinski) Flatten, 69, of Annandale
Jan. 30, Mavis (Abbott) Miller, 76, of Sauk Rapids
Both Lucille Asfeld and Eldred Froehling celebrated their 90th birthdays in January 2019.
Beginning Feb. 1 the Great River Regional Library system would have 20 new telescopes available for checkout. Anyone with a GRRL library card can check out a telescope for free.
There was a send-off at KAHS for the Kimball Robotics team (#739C) Feb. 1 as they headed to the state competition.
The Feb. 1 EV-W boys’ basketball game against Kimball was “Hooping 4 a Cure.” Fans were encouraged to wear purple, the signature color for cancer awareness. During halftime of the varsity game, it was the annual 76-second challenge asking for donations to help fight cancer. A grand total of $937.55 was raised: $397.30 during the 76-second challenge, and $540.25 from EV-W students during the day. EV-W defeated Kimball that night, 60-45.
All three EV-W Knowledge Bowl teams finished with medals in the Feb. 1 meet at Kimball.
The EV-W Music Department held their annual chili supper Feb. 1. Kingston Apostolic Lutheran Church held its 11th annual Spaghetti Supper that same evening.
In the early morning Feb. 2,
a barn at the farm of Steven and Jamie Ries burned and was a complete loss. The barn was empty as they were expecting a delivery of turkeys that morning.
The 31st annual Kingston Lions Fishing Contest was Feb. 2 on Lake Francis.
The 18th annual Kimball Alumni Basketball Tournament was held Feb. 2 with teams from the ’80s/’90s through 2016-18. The 2019 championship team was Team 2006-2007. Matt Dingmann won the three-point shooting contest, defeating Brooks Marquardt in the final round.
The Holy Cross School chili/soup cook-off was held
Feb. 2 with prizes in several categories. There was also a quilt raffle. The winners were …
Great Blue Heron (Judge’s choice chili, 1st place), Kimball Fire Department (People’s choice chili, 1st place), Great Blue Heron (Judge’s choice soup, 1st place), and Sharon Posch (People’s choice soup, 1st place).
The Stearns County Cancer Ride (snowmobiles) was held Feb. 2-3.
The EV-W Eagle Booster Club held their annual meeting Feb. 8, rescheduled from Jan. 29 during the “polar vortex.”
Ladies from the Kimball American Legion Auxiliary attended the Sixth District mid-winter conference Feb. 9 in Waite Park.
Kimball sixth-grade boys’ basketball placed first at the Litchfield tournament Feb. 9.
The EV-W JV Knowledge Bowl team placed first at the Zimmerman Invitational meet Feb. 9.
The Church of St. Anthony in Watkins hosted Black & Whyte Dueling Pianos for dinner and a show Feb. 9 in the parish social hall.
The 9th annual Watercade Ice Fishing Contest was held Feb. 9 on Lake Ripley in Litchfield.
The EV-W fourth-grade girls took first place in the Sauk Rapids tournament Feb. 10. They defeated Sauk Rapids, Eagan, and St. Cloud for the championship.
During the Feb. 11 girls’ basketball game, Kimball senior Erin O’Brien scored her 1,000th career point. She scored 20 points in that game, toward a 59-49 win over Pierz. The next week, O’Brien was named CMC Athlete of the Week.
At halftime during the Feb. 14 varsity girls’ basketball game, the K-1 Junior Cubs went on the court to demonstrate skills they learned during their Saturday morning basketball program.
EV-W junior Emma Ruegemer was selected to participate in the American Choir Director’s Association choir, from among 1,054 auditions from around the state. They performed in mid-February at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.
As Rusty and Tamra Staten and their two oldest children enjoyed a Valentine’s Day dinner out on Feb. 14, their house caught fire. The babysitter was able to get the youngest child out safely, but their two dogs perished in the fire. The house, and all their belongings, was a total loss. And the family had renter’s insurance, but they hadn’t paid attention to the reminder notice so they weren’t covered at the time of the fire. Friends, neighbors, and complete strangers came to the rescue with clothes, toiletries, toys, school supplies, and so much more since they all lost everything but what was on their backs. Days after the fire, they were allowed into the building only to learn that everything was indeed lost. Tamra’s wedding dress – the one thing she continued to hope was okay – had melted in the closet. Birthday toys from the week before were destroyed. Artwork on the walls was damaged beyond repair. The Red Cross put them up in a hotel, but only for a few days. The family lived in the apartment above Stein’s Thriftway Foods for several months. Through it all, they remained grateful for all the help they received from so many, and thankful that all in the family (except the “fur babies”) had come through it unscathed. A benefit was held for the family at Dino’s Eden Lakeside Club in Eden Valley March 30.
The Kimball wrestling team took second at the Section 4A tournament Feb. 15 in Howard Lake. Zack Holtz both earned his 100th win during the tournament.
At the Feb. 15 boys’ basketball game, Penny Blanchard of Kimball was awarded the Kimball Booster Club “Golden Cub” award for “most outstanding Kimball fan.” She was acknowledged during the game, and received a Cubs fan sweatshirt. At halftime during that game, the Junior Cubs (grades 2-6) players demonstrated their basketball skills learned during the Saturday morning program.
The Kimball fourth-grade girls again took first place, this time at a Feb. 16 tournament in Holdingford. They defeated Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, Eden Valley-Watkins, and Pierz for the championship. Their record as of this date was 17-1.
Feb. 18-22 was School Board Recognition Week.
The Great Northern Theatre Company opened “The Spitfire Grill” Feb. 22 at the Great Blue Heron Supper Club in Cold Spring.
Kimball Area High School hosted the Section 4A Individual Wrestling Tournament Feb. 23.
Five Kimball wrestlers placed first or second and would advance to State: Carter Holtz, Ashton Hanan, Alex Nelson, Lucas Jurek, and Zack Holtz. Ten EV-W wrestlers placed in the tournament, but none high enough to go to State. Of the five KAHS wrestlers who went to State, only Zack Holtz medaled, taking fourth place at 152#. Neither Kimball nor the EV-W made it to State as a team.
The Meeker County Pheasant Unlimited banquet was Feb. 23.
Feb. 24 marked the end of a six-week fundraising period for Holy Cross School. Amazingly, they raised $10,000 during this time, through a program sponsored by Catholic United Financial.
A Kimball school bus ended up in the ditch along County Road 44 after being involved in an accident with a car on the morning of Feb. 28. All students were delivered to school on another bus, and there were no injuries.
Kimball author, and former Stearns County Deputy, Bob Kunkel spoke Feb. 28 at the Sauk Centre Public Library about his book “Walking Point,” his memoir of his time in Vietnam.
Tommy Lochen of Marty deployed to the Middle East as part of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, Headquarters Company, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry. He served a nine-month deployment as part of Task Force Spartan.
As February drew to a close, the EV-W girls’ basketball team was still undefeated on the season.
Because of the bitter cold weather and several school day cancellations, school make-up days were already being scheduled for March, April and May. There were so many snow days across the state that the Governor finally intervened and reduced the number of make-up days required of school districts.
Feb. 9, Gerald “Jerry” Robinson, 83, of Kimball
Feb. 10, Lloyd Rosha, 77, of St. Augusta
Feb. 17, Deborah “Debbie” (Gabrelcik) Landwehr, 60, of Watkins
Feb. 21, Donald Salmela, 63
Feb. 23, Olga (Potthoff) Schneider, 97, of Watkins
Carlene (Christensen) Kirkpatrick, 76, of Kimball
Betty (Theisen) Zwilling celebrated her 80th birthday in February.
Robert “Bobby” Peters also celebrated his 80th birthday in February.