By Eileen Evans
Bev Loven, who chaired the Red Cross Blood Drive held in LeRoy August 13 which was sponsored by the LeRoy American Legion Post 161 and its Auxiliary, was pleased with the results of the summertime blood draw when a total of 47 units of blood was collected from 48 potential donors. Four of those units were double red donations.
It was a very successful Blood Drive and represented the Legion's honoring the memory of the 9/11 attack on America. Legion members help with the greeting duties and the Legion Auxiliary members donate the food and help in the canteen. It all comes together under the guidance of Bev Loven who has been its chairman for all the years since the Legion became involved in sponsoring the Blood Drive as a memorial to the 9/11 event.
Kallie McKenzie and her mother, Kim McKenzie, came to the canteen table at the same time, both having donated blood. Ham salad and egg salad sandwiches were served along with lemonade and a variety of dessert bars and cookies, donated by the Auxiliary members.
The next blood drive in LeRoy will be Wednesday, Nov. 4 and will be sponsored by a LeRoy-Ostrander school organization at the Community Center from 1-7 p.m. that day.
This coming Saturday, August 23, at 9 a.m. there will be a meeting of the Friends of Lake Louise State Park at the park station at the entrance north of LeRoy. The Friends of Lake Louise State Park is an active group of local citizens determined to keep the State Park as beautiful as ever and have as many events out there as possible to take advantage of this wonderful gem of nature.
The most recent event was the open house at Lake Louise on Saturday, June 14 when the park was also open for visitors entering the gate on National Outdoors Day. In earlier years, the event was held the first weekend in June. Then too, in recent years the free lunch of grilled brats and hot dogs was added to the open house event. The Friends group also help with various projects at the park including keeping the restrooms clean in the set closest to the park shelter and beach area. They also plan a fall event which includes a Moon Walk when the full moon hits the earth in early October and the members line the trails with lighted bags.
Persons interested in being a member of this group need only come to the meeting on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. and become a Friend of Lake Louise State Park. You will be welcomed with open arms.
By Ginger Holm
"It's beautiful here," said Mary Steffensmeier, as she sat with friends at the home of Jerry and Pat Utz, in LeRoy. "All the little towns are friendly and welcoming and making us feel special. Now, we get to kick back and have some wine."
Steffensmeier, from Waterloo, Iowa, was in LeRoy on Aug. 15, for the Biking Around Minnesota (BAM) tour, which began in Preston on Aug. 14, and ended back in Preston on Aug 17, after going through Austin.
According to Tour Director Mary Derks, BAM is a non-profit organization, whose goal is to promote tourism in the State of Minnesota and encourage biking as a means of transportation. BAM offers bike riders a unique adventure each year by rotating the route to highlight a different area of the state for each ride.
"This is our ninth year. We started in 2006," said Mary Nelsestuen. "I was the ride director for the first five years. At that point there were two of us and we did everything!”
“[When] the ride started there was a group called the State Bicycle Advisory Committee, and they were under the umbrella of MnDOT (Minn. Dept. of Transportation) to advise MnDOT of bicycling issues in the state,” Nelsestuen explained. “At that point we started thinking we needed to have a ride in Minnesota, because there's the RAGBRAI in Iowa and different rides in different states. We really didn't have a non-fundraising one in Minnesota. So, we decided to start it."
The idea was to move the ride around the state, to promote different areas of the state. The ride is also a way to introduce different communities to bicyclists and "hopefully, help us all co-exist in a friendly manner."
There were just 30 people on that very first ride. Today they cap it at 275 because the luggage will still fit in one truck, said Nelsestuen.
"Some people have thought about growing the number, but I am still on the board, and I think 275 is a very manageable number versus a larger number," she said. "A lot of the people on the ride like the smaller group."
The biking enthusiasts came from 19 different states and Canada to participate in the 2014 BAM ride.
According to Derks, the group had experienced Amish buggy tours in Peterson, tubing down the Root River and a visit to a fish hatchery. While in LeRoy they visited Artesian Well, just east of LeRoy, Lake Louise State Park, local shops and other sites around town, but the highlight of the evening, and a great way to wrap up a long day, was winetasting at the Utzes.
Jerry Utz said he held the winetasting for the cyclists, because "it brings a lot of joy to people. Look how happy these girls are!"
The winetasting event was actually held as a fundraiser for the local food shelf, said Utz, who raise $625 for the food shelf.
"We served over 100 BAM riders," he said. "We actually got a good picture of the mayor helping serve at our house," which can be viewed on Facebook.
Utz showed visitors the grapes he raises in in his yard and explained how wine is made.
Barb Hovde, another local winemaker, was on hand to pour samples and tell guests about the various wines.
"When Jerry called me and told me the bike ride was coming through and this was a benefit for the food shelf, I thought 'what a wonderful cause,' and I love to donate my wine, so I brought in several bottles of fruit wine to go along with Jerry's grape wine," she said.
According to Hovde, the peach and blueberry wines were a hit. They also liked Jerry's dry King of the North.
"We're on our second bottle of that, and we're just starting," she said.
Supper was served by Travel Lanes Supper Club, LeRoy.
Steffensmeier said she "came on the bike ride to spend quality time with my friends, Lynor [Koch] and Patti [Meinders]."
The three friends didn't camp out at South Park with the other bikers.
"We try to avoid camping," said Steffensmeier. "We're staying at Sweet's Hotel."
Sweet's Hotel is said to be haunted, so these ladies just might have seen a few more sights than the others, by the time they headed to breakfast in the morning!
By Eileen Evans
LeRoy Library's Summer Reading program began June 11th with 49 persons in attendance and came to an end with the final program on Wednesday, August 13 when director Amy Hungerholt provided 55 Certificates of Achievements for the youngsters as well as an ice cream treat which topped off the day's celebration of having completed the program. The happy invasion of the Cardinal kids youngsters into the program which was held at the L-O Media Center, provided numbers as well as happy readers who devoured books which they obtained by walking to the LeRoy Public Library following each summer reading program.
The children had a reason to read, and recorded their accomplishments with a Paws to Read booklet where they wrote the name of the books they read, as well as recording the book numbers on a "bone" which was attached to a cute dog house at the Media Center. Each week, or each program, the youngsters filled out their Reading and Activity log.
On Wednesday afternoon, Director Hungerholt provided the leadership for the exercise session when all the children followed her movements as she quickly led the program for each child to follow. She also read them two books, My Little Sister Ate One Hare, and Practically Perfect Pig, with the youngsters providing loud accompaniment as the director read aloud the stories. Then it was time for the ice cream treat which took the entire group outside for treat time and space where no ice cream damage could occur. After that it was wash up time and the walk to the LeRoy Library where Hungerholt issued the 55 Certificates of Achievements and the children picked out a supply of books to check out and take home for more summer time reading.
I guess you could call it the week that was because once it got started it just went on and on and on. . . And I don't know if I can remember it all to tell you. As I move along in the week, I tell myself to remember this and that for the column, but since I don't usually walk around with a pen and pad in my hand, it is left for me to remember what it was for me to remember. The older I get the worse it gets, and that doesn't help things one bit. So, one of the first things I want to tell you is about the books I just finished, the first one was "The Five Greatest Spankings of All Time" by Rob Wood, which I followed with his newest book, "Let's Scare Mom" which turned out to be filled with the memories of the first book and all the spankings the three brothers got from their father. They were hellions and all the way through the book, I thanked God my 14 kids weren't so bad after all! I had some gray-haired episodes, but survived them all, even though I did a lot of threatening, "If you don't stop that I'll have to get the fly swatter" or "Hey, go get that flyswatter for me" and out the door they would go! Besides, by the time I got down the list of names to threaten the right one, somebody would remind me that I had the wrong one and I'd have to start over. Anyway, this first book was just great and I had a hard time reading it, I was laughing so hard the tears were blurring my sight. Then too, I hesitated about laughing too loud for fear my house neighbors would wonder what I had going in the corner apartment! It was a funny book. Then, I got into the Mom book and was going at a good pace when I come to the chapter of when Rob went north to Canada with some old friends. They were old both ways but had the money to really enjoy life. And they went to Kenora, Canada, by way of, you guessed it, International Falls, my hometown. I really perked up as I read this, just picturing them going through customs and across the bridge over Rainy River into Canada. It sounded so familiar. Going to Canada brought back many memories. It was where I met dear hubby at an outdoor dance pavilion, both thinking each of us to be Canadian. That was a long time ago. I finally finished the book, having to get it renewed so I could read the ending chapters. Now I'm into another good book, "Orphan Train" which is an interesting read and kept me turning pages too late last night.
Then there was Wednesday which was another full day of things to do including going to the funeral of Bill McCloud, with the Lutheran Church filled with relatives and friends. Pastor Steve Huecker of Bethany Bible led the services and provided one of the best funeral sermons I have ever heard. He had the entire congregation, and Bill's family too, laughing with him about his years on earth. Pastor Steve was so honest about it all, "I never met the man, but now, hearing about him, I wish I had known him!" It was one of those joyful life celebrations you hear about. Now Meda is back to thinking about making jams and jelly again, thankful that all of the kids got home in time to say goodbye to their dad. Nice story.
I think there was a picnic in the park too, one evening, and we all ate Walking Tacos . . . sitting down! Axel Gumbel brought his mother Sybille to the picnic, she being here for a couple of weeks from Germany. Axel's dad stayed back in Germany overseeing the construction of a new home he, and others, are building as a retirement home for him and Sybille. They have already sold the house they live in, so he has a deadline to meet.
Then of course, the BAM bicycle riders came to town, all 275 of them, and that was a class act. The South Park was absolutely filled with tents of all kinds for their overnight stay, and from all reports, the bikers really enjoyed the hospitality of this small town, eating supper at Travel Lanes and breakfast at the Community Center where Sweets had provided them with a hearty breakfast as they shoved off very early that morning leaving town by way of the LeRoy Trailhead and out across the trestle bridge on their way to Austin.
Should tell you too about my trip to McIntire Saturday afternoon. Before you start thinking I have taken up following all the tractor/truck pulls as a fan of the sport, I want you to know it was the steak sandwich I was following. I had another one and it was worth every cent: I ate the whole thing. I didn't even have room left to eat an ice cream cone, I was so full. If you haven't had one of these steaks you are missing some fine eating, I tell you. Watching those pickup trucks do their pulls scares me; I keep thinking they are going to get so loud they will explode! But I don't want to be there, even if it would make a good article for the paper!
I have no idea what there will be at Community Dinner today or next week, I gave the list to Sharon. But I do know we are having music today, a sing-along with our favorite entertainers. Then too, Colette wants me to tell you the J J Pickup Band will be back to entertain us on Sept. 16, and you all know what good music they do, playing all the old songs we like.
Now, I'm at the end of this page even though I'm sure I missed something. Maybe I'll think about it for next week . . . In the meantime, please remember to thank God for all His blessings.
By Ginger Holm
LeRoy Lutheran Church was all abuzz last week as children learned about mosquitos and malaria. Bugs of the Bible was the theme of this year's Vacation Bible School, but organizers decided to focus on mosquitoes.
"Our theme is Bugs of the Bible, but the emphasis shifted a little bit as we fine tuned our program," explained Sharon Hodgdon.
Hodgdon, a member of the Youth and Education Committee at the church, is one of the many people who help make VBS a success.
"The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) has a malaria project, and we are working to support that," Sharon continued. "Our goal for VBS is to earn enough money to [purchase] 60 mosquito nets, at $10 apiece, to send to several countries in Africa."
The Church will be teaching kids about malaria, how malaria is spread, how it is treated and how it can be prevented.
The first evening began with a visit from "Marla the Mosquito" and "Plasma" the germ that causes malaria. Marla was a big hit with the students.
An edible mosquito craft was as much fun to make as it was to eat! Jayne Schaffer set up plates with crackers, pretzels, fruit, mini M&Ms and other goodies for the kids to turn into delicious mosquito treats.
Children also sang songs and listened to Bible stories of healing, including "the story of Jesus healing Simon's mother-in-law by rebuking a fever," said Sharon.
To set a festive scene for the week's activities, Cindy and Sam Hamlin painted colorful murals and made paper mache bugs that could be seen adorning the room.
Class of 1999
Married to Ben Johnson. “I met him while I was out with a friend one night. They say when you aren't looking you truly find the best person for you. I definitely think that's true. He swept me off my feet and 10 years later he still gives me butterflies. We have 3 amazing sons Ty (13) Parker (7) and Easton (3). I never knew you could love so much and so unconditionally until I had my sons. I wouldn't be half the person I am today without them. They make me want to be a better person every day and keep me determined to do anything I put my mind to.”
JDS: You live where now?
MJ: We live by Forestville state park on an acreage, basically in the middle of nowhere, I love it. I lived in a few different cities in Wisconsin right out of high school. We bought our first house in Kasson and lived there about 6 years.
JDS: What is your favorite memory of the LeRoy-Ostrander School?
MJ: I really loved the costume parades we had for Halloween in elementary.
JDS: Where do you and Ben work and what do you both do at your job?
MJ: I work at r!ah hair studio in Rochester. I am a hairstylist. I have an amazing career where I get to meet new people all the time and I am blessed to work with the most amazing friends who have become like sisters to me. Love the social part and the creative side. I never feel like I am going to "work" and for that I am so grateful. My husband is a bricklayer. He works in the Rochester area. I am always amazed at the work he does especially on the freezing cold and really hot days not sure I could work in all of that.
JDS: If you could go back to your Senior year at LOHS, what would you do again and what would you change?
MJ: I would definitely change my attitude. I have regretted my attitude a lot over the years. I wish I would have been more kind. I wish I would have been more myself instead of trying to be cool and rebel. I think as a teen you are so concerned with fitting in you don't care who you hurt in the process sometimes.
JDS: Tell me more about your favorite memories of growing up in the L-O community.
MJ: I loved coming in to town and riding bike when I was younger, hanging out at the park, and as I got older I liked cruising (of course) and going to the dam just hanging out with friends dipping our feet in the water hanging out.
JDS: What would your former classmates of LOHS be surprised to learn about you now?
MJ: Probably most things about me. I don’t feel like I am a lot like I was the last few years of high school anyway. I think they would be surprised that I really enjoy running, well actually any form of exercise. They would also be surprised that I am so happy and content to live in a small community again and be living in the middle of nowhere and love it.
JDS: If you could add one business to Main Street or somewhere in LeRoy what would it be and why?
MJ: I think a coffee shop would be great something geared towards young teens to senior citizens just a good place to be social in a safe friendly environment and a place to catch up with people when you come home to visit.
JDS: Favorite song or band right now?
MJ: Pearl Jam they probably always will be.
JDS: Favorite teacher from your LOHS days and why?
MJ: Nick Archuletta. He was a very positive influence in my life when I struggled with self-esteem and my grades. He really believed in his students by pushing us to our full potential and by using positive reinforcement. He is a very smart man. He had a lot of diversity to his classes making it fun to learn.
JDS: You have an hour of television to watch. What do you want on?
MJ: Project Runway or Madmen
JDS: Tell me about your proudest achievement since leaving LOHS.
MJ: Building a family with my husband and boys they make me more proud every single day. I also have had a lot of great opportunities in my job most recently bringing me to New York for a week to train with bumble and bumble to be a network educator.
JDS: What are your lifelong dreams?
MJ: I would love to design my own clothing line someday. I also would like to travel more.
JDS: What do you do in your spare time?
MJ: Ride horse, paint, run, yoga, canoe, hike, camp, pretty much anything I can do outside with my kids.
JDS: What do you know now that you wish you knew back then?
MJ: I wish I would have known how truly amazing my family is. My parents were the best parents you could ask for and always had my best interest at heart. And of course I thought they were so unfair. I am so happy that I realized how amazing they are very shortly after I graduated so I could have the amazing relationship I have with them today. I am so blessed to have such a close family that has proved over and over we can get through anything together.
JDS: When your time on earth is up, how would you like to be remembered?
MJ: I would like to be remembered above all as a loving mom and wife but I also would like to be remembered as a person who would really be there for you if you need and hopefully made you laugh..Even if it was at me!
Vision - That’s a word that was used often about 20 years ago when Prairie Visions was formed and the thought of building a bike trail from LeRoy to Rose Creek––eventually reaching Austin––was first discussed.
It was really the birth of the Shooting Star Recreational Trail where individuals from LeRoy, Taopi, Adams and Rose Creek came together to form an “unusual” group that made four towns into “one.” The purpose was to give more “voice” up in St. Paul . . . and it worked!
Granted, it’s been 20 years or so, but the “vision” is now here!
The approximately 20 miles of completely paved trail leads out of LeRoy, runs through Lake Louise State Park, and continues to Taopi. It eventually takes you through Adams and then Rose Creek. The Shooting Star Trail has yet to go to Austin, but funding has been approved. All will eventually lead you to the Hormel Nature Center in Austin.
The trail passes by several additional interpretive/recreational opportunities, including Rustic Retreat Wildlife Management Area, Shooting Star Prairie Scientific and Natural Area, Taopi Prairie Interpretive Area, and Mower County Natural and Scenic Area.
When completed, the Shooting Star State Trail will connect the towns of LeRoy, Taopi, Adams, Rose Creek, Austin and Lyle. It will also link up with the Great Wapsi Trail from Riceville, allowing for another 18.5 miles of paved trail.
So what does a trail like the Shooting Star mean to a little town like LeRoy?
• It means quality of life! Because we have a trail we have what some towns are begging for and may never get. We can take walks, long bike rides and more and rarely have to worry about traffic. It makes us healthier, just as our swimming pool does, the walking trails throughout Lake Louise State Park do and the play equipment at the city parks do.
• It means tourism dollars spent in our town!
This past weekend we had 275 bikers from BAM (Bicycling Around Minnesota) camping, eating and spending money in LeRoy. They spent the night on Friday and ate supper at Travel Lanes and breakfast through Sweets.
Would this have happened had we not had the trail? Probably not! It was an exciting event that could easily turn into more tours in the future using the Shooting Star.
• It attracts people to live in our town!
Granted, we may not have a huge draw to LeRoy just because of the trail. But doesn’t it make our town more attractive to live here? Would some that currently live here actually stay here had the trail not been here?
• It makes Lake Louise State Park a more desireable park to stay!
Having a trail gets families to come to the park and stay. Lake Louise is a beautiful park, but when you take the Shooting Star through the park, you really find the true beauty offered. The old hard woods, the bridge and more. It’s just a wonderful ride or walk if you haven’t enjoyed it yet.
• It helps put LeRoy (and all the PV towns) on the map!
Because of the trail it allows all the towns of Prairie Visions a name . . . getting people from Rochester, Austin and even the Twin Cities to take notice!
All in all, the original group that started the Shooting Star had lots of vision! They saw something that gives their little towns a bright future and a name! Thank you!
By Eileen Evans
With the successful acknowledgement of the Summerfest weekend being a target for Class Reunions as well as family reunions, members of the LeRoy Commercial Club again set the third weekend in July as the dates for the Summerfest celebration in 2015, during its meeting Wednesday noon at Travel Lanes. Members did agree that the weather for this year's three day Summerfest couldn't have been better, and that might not be guaranteed for 2015. Even so, the Commercial Club allowed for happy memories of how well the celebration went this past July. It couldn't have been better was the consensus.
Patty White provided the members with a listing of revenues and disbursements for the month which included the Summerfest expenses as well as the Circus which came to town in early August. At the meeting Wednesday, White said the expectations of the Bike Around Minnesota bike ride with its 275 riders was being handled, one problem at a time, and everything looked good, she said. The bicycle riders would eat supper at Travel Lanes, breakfast at Sweets, and campout at South Park. As it turned out, all went well and as planned.
The cost for Summerfest far outweighed the income, but the basket social funds along with income from the Windsor Chop supper which the Commercial Club sponsors, as well as the tractor pull, and a percentage income from the circus tickets, as well as parade sponsors still provided a respectable balance to get the club through the rest of the year. Actually, Summerfest disbursements amounted to $7,862.24 with most of the funds staying in the community, other than that needed for parade entries, sanitation, and both big and small tractor pulls. Members also acknowledged the fact that the events of Summerfest brings people of all ages to town, and that is good for the community.
In other business, the Commercial Club will again have the City Wide Garage Sales the first weekend in October along with the Scarecrow contest for the downtown business places. Prizes will be awarded to the top winners as well as each business doing something for the Harvest theme would get a third of the club dues dismissed, for 2015. So it is an easy win-win for the businesses involved in this event.
Gwen Hamilton of L-O Community Ed talked to the members about the programs planned for this fall including the 55 Alive Class on Oct. 21 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Ag classroom; also the longer, 8 hour introduction class of eight hours, four hours each on Oct. 27 and 28. These are the classes which count when buying car insurance, and are taught by AARP volunteers. Hamilton also said she hopes to have a wine making class taught by Barb Hovde, but the dates are not set yet. She also reminded the members about the Open House at the School on Monday, Aug. 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. The Commercial Club paid for seven cookbook vouchers which were claimed by graduating seniors this past spring.
Hamilton suggested that LeRoy residents may keep up with happenings at the school by way of Community Ed which has a Facebook page. She also told the members to pick up the new school calendars so they can be aware of what's happening at the school. She hoped each business person would have a school calendar to follow.
The next meeting is Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 12 noon at Travel Lanes and anyone is welcome to sit in at the meetings and provide input about the community.
Thea Ruth Eastvold was born July 7, 2014 at10:22 a.m. Her parents are Cody and Christa Eastvold of Grand Meadow, Minn.
She weighed eight pounds, one ounce, and was 20-1/4 inches.
Her grandparents are Tim and Sandy Fenton of Grand Meadow, and Randy and Pat Eastvold of Walker, Minn.