Fire Department responds to electrical fire in Verdi

May 11, 2012

The Lake Benton Fire Department responded to an electrical fire in Verdi last week, according to Fire Chief Al Trigg. The building was Clippers Store for years and became KIT’s Corner with a grocery store, gas station and café. The building was a total loss.

“Our Story” series comes to Lake Benton

May 3, 2012

By Dan Kuss

The City of Lake Benton has gone viral, sort of. “Our Story” is a local television show that focuses on news and events hap­pening in small towns in Minne­sota and surrounding states and Lake Benton just happens to be one of them.

Based out ofFairmont, Our Story Productions spotlights over 120 towns with produc­tions that tell about the interest­ing facts and events that those towns hold dear.

“Our mission is to get the word out about small-town living,” said Founder and Executive Di­rector and Producer Jeff Rouse. “There are movers and shakers in each of these towns trying to make things happen. The biggest thing we’re all missing is airtime on TV and shows on the Inter­net.”

In 1997 Rouse took matters into his own hands and founded Our Story Productions.

He set up a studio to record 60-minute programs that air on cable TV stations and the Internet which now reach 1.4M households in 43 counties in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and South Dakota.

One way Rouse passes the word about activities in towns is to produce talk shows in which his cast of characters interview people of stature or business sponsors within the communi­ties.

“People come to our studio to shoot these talk shows,” said Rouse. “We never make fun of a town, a guest or an event, but we definitely draw attention to things.”

What he means is, “Our Story” has a cast of charac­ters and has built a follow­ing by using down-home country and at times corny humor.

The talent are volun­teers from the Fairmont community and surround­ing area and part of the ambiance is to not appear totally professional, kind of like the 1969 to 1993 TV show “Hee Haw.”

“We know we are using mediocre talent and we ad lib a lot off the script but we let people know that we are in on the joke,” said Rouse. “The talk shows al­ways start the same way as do the soap opera “As The Corn Grows,” the “Cockle­bur Morning Show” and “Split Hoof Tonight,” which is a take-off on Johnny Car­son.”

The shows center around Sweet Swine County in which nothing happens, so they talk about the neigh­boring counties that sur­round them.

The town names in Sweet Swine County are the likes of New Pork, Split Hoof and High Horse.

There is a show called “Cooking with Betty” and though Betty doesn’t cook on the show, she knows the best places to go eat.

“It’s a cross between Garrison Keillor and Andy of Mayberry,” said Rouse. “We do all this with four staff members and 52 vol­unteers.”

Lake Benton Executive Director Heather Ulrich- Glynn represented Lake Benton on the talk show to highlight activities such as Saddle Horse Holiday and the Benton-Fremont Te Tonka Ha Festival.

Ulrich-Glynn was in­terviewed live by two of the characters in a studio audience setting with no people in the crowd.

While watching the show it is obvious to view­ers that the studio is using a laugh track and a clap track to add flavor to the show.

“We run ‘Sweet Swine County’ every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9:30 a.m. on our cable ac­cess channel,” said Ulrich- Glynn. “People should tune in to watch it because it’s hilarious.”

You can also find the programming at www.

“Every town has their own page,” said Rouse. “Just in Lake Benton we’ve had the Benton House Bed and Breakfast and Kjer­gaard Sports sponsor a show and we look forward to doing more.”

Sweet Swine County’s Clarice Plow tours places of interest such as the Ben­ton House.

“There are back stories to every character and place in Sweet Swine County,” said Rouse. “Elmer Plow is Clarice’s brother and Lawyer Ed had a running-with-scissors accident as a child and wears one dark lens on his glasses.”

“He just can’t remember which eye, so if you look closely, you will notice that the dark lens switches from eye to eye.”

There are many other shows on Sweet Swine County such as “Earl Steps Out” and “The Women of Sweet Swine County,” which is a take-off on “The View” at Our Story.

Over 800 video shows are posted to You Tube, Facebook and Pinterest for viewing pleasure.

“Once it hit the Inter­net, it really took off,” said Rouse. “We invite every­one to join in the fun.”

Lake Benton Elementary presents Spring Concert

May 3, 2012


Lake Benton kindergarteners through fourth graders performed a medley called “Go Fish” at the Elementary Spring Concert on Thursday night in the school auditorium.

By Dan Kuss

Lake Benton Elementary School presented its spring mu­sic concert directed byMarijane Borresenon Thursday, April 26 at 7 p.m. in the evening.

The show opened with third grade students playing “Tea Bag Tango” followed by fourth graders playing “Ode to Joy” on recorders. The third and fourth grade students then combined to play “Mary’s Mixmaster.”

The sixth grade band opened with “Breckenridge Overture” and “Into The West” before the fifth grade band members joined them for “March Ahead” and “Let’s Go Band” at the end of which the entire band enthusi­astically shouted “Let’s go band” in perfect unison.

The preschool children were up next, performing “Once an Austrian Went Yodeling,” “Moth­er Gooney Bird” and “Cool Bear Hunt” while acting out the parts with almost perfect, if not hu­morous choreography.

Gifted young vocalist Jonathon Murray soloed on “We Are the World” accompanied in part by a talented kindergarten through fourth grade choir who followed with a fine presentation of “Go Fish” while dressed in costume.

“Go Fish” was a medley of “Oceans of Fun,” “We’re Sharks,” “Commotion in the Ocean,” “Roundup Under the Sea” and “The Colors of the Sea” with fun and interesting choreogra­phy and student actors playing many speaking parts from sharks to various fish in the ocean.

There was an octopus with seven legs, a tuna who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, a zebra fish with spots instead of stripes, a star fish who hadn’t had a lead role in some time and a clown fish who was a joke in addition to many other varieties of fish who told a story.

As it turned out, the great white shark said each of the fish were unique in their own way with musi­cal attributes to keep the audience amused.

The fifth and sixth grad­ers performed “Smile” and not to be outdone, broke out with their own dance moves to “Dance Evolu­tion” which was a medley of hit dance tunes from the 1960s to the present day.

The show closed with the fourth grade girls per­forming a dance routine called “Breaking Dishes” choreographed by Dani Bjork.

Treats were served in the cafeteria after the per­formance for the students and their audience of par­ents, grandparents, sib­lings and friends.

Lake Benton Sportsmen’s Club cleans up lake shore

May 3, 2012


Ila Mae, Tommy and Jenae Christensen and Lonnie Willert are pictured cleaning up the lakeshore at the Creamery Park pier on Wednesday. The Lake Benton Sportsmen’s Club held their annual lakeshore cleanup before the fishing opener.

By Dan Kuss

The Lake Benton Sportsmen’s Club met atCreameryParkon a mild Wednesday evening to perform the annual lakeshore cleanup.

Sportsmen began scouring the rocky coastline at 6 p.m. to remove any foreign debris and obstacles that washed up and might get in the way of fisher­men and others enjoying the shoreline.

“It was pretty clean this year,” said Eldy Nordmeyer. “We had a mess a few years ago when we had that weed problem and hauled away truckloads of rot­ting weeds and other junk.”

On hand to assist the Sports­men were Daryl Schlapkohl of Lincoln County Parks with a track loader and Troy Nordmey­er with the city dump truck.

Sportsmen young and old made short work of the cleanup by gathering debris into a pile to be picked up by the loader and placed in the truck.

Carter Bressler and Jacob Mill­er rode their bikes down to help pitch in and Janae Christensen came along with her dad Tommy to help out.

Club President Lonnie Wil­lert and Secretary Eileen Chris­tensen were also on hand to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.

When the work was done, the crew met at the shelter for a pic­nic of burgers, brats and brat burgers cooked on the grill by Treasurer Scott Christensen in addition to chips left over from the recent Wild Game Feed and other goodies such as brownies and Rhubarb Delight prepared by Ila Christensen, Wanda Nord­meyer and others.

“We could use a little more water in the lake this year,” said Nordmeyer. “My grandfather homesteaded that area across the lake and I haven’t seen it this low since about 1976.”

“Back in the 1930s the lake dried up completely.”

This is the last Sportsmen’s Club event before the fishing opener and their year-end pic­nic in May.

School board discusses changes in GED requirements

April 27, 2012

By Dan Kuss

The Lake Benton School Board discussed requirement changes in General Education Develop­ment (GED) testing which will take place in 2014.

GED tests are a group of five subject tests which, when passed, certify that the taker has American or Canadian high school-level academic skills. The five subject areas are math, lan­guage arts, reading and writing, social studies and science.

“We just want the public to be aware of changes coming to the GED tests, especially for those working on them now,” said Su­perintendent/Principal Ryan Nielsen. “The cost of the testing is going up to $80 and the tests will be given entirely on-line.”

“There are two writing essays and all five competencies will need to be passed by January 2014 or participants will have to start all over from the be­ginning.”

The school board as­signed committee posi­tions for the 2012-2013 school year.

Representing the school board on various commit­tees will be: Janell DeVries, Community Education; La­Don Prosch, Title 1; Tony Schwing, Staff Develop­ment; Roger Rudebusch, Building and Grounds; Darrell Busselman, Well­ness and Mike Smith, Pub­lic Relations.

The school board as­signed Superintendent Ryan Nielsen to the Meet and Confer committee.

The board will assign two members plus an alternative to the nego­tiations committee in the near future.

The board had its first reading of the Health and Safety Policy, which is available at the school. Nielsen met with Police Chief Guy Harding and Gary Serie of the First Re­sponders to gain insight for the policy.

The board spent con­siderable time reviewing, discussing and comparing the differences in theLakeBentonand Elkton 2012-2013 school calendars.

Nielsen tried to match the schedules as close as possible and said six days won’t match up time-wise next year, requiring Lake Benton to send a bus back out to pick up the high school kids.

Lake Benton won’t take prime learning time from kids and will adjust accord­ingly, probably eliminating recess on those days.

The board will address concerns at the joint advi­sory meeting between Elk­ton and Lake Benton and may approve the schedule at a special meeting in two weeks.

The board opened bids for seal-coating the park­ing lot and playground hard top. The board ac­cepted the bid from Da­kota Seal out of Sioux Falls for $7,671.62, which was about $5,000 less than the bid from R & H of Russell.

Nielsen produced a handout for board mem­bers to track possible proj­ects for next year.

Roof replacement will take place in the future and the bids for sealing the parking lot, driveway and basketball court were opened at this meeting.

There is a sink hole in the blacktop at the play­ground and Steve Bennett will look into it before the seal-coating happens.

Nielsen would also like to put in a light at the play­ground, which can be set with a timer to go off at a certain time to save on electricity.

There are a few minor repairs that need to take place by order of the Fire Marshall and a few areas around the school building that need touchup paint­ing.

Nielsen said the music curriculum from 1991 needs to be replaced at $10,000 to $13,000 as the school cannot find work­books for the old books which coincide with the lessons.

Nielsen would like to im­plement 20 Apple iPads to keep Lake Benton kids up on the latest technology so they don’t fall behind. Nielsen said he would like two in each classroom at about $9,800.

He is attempting to se­cure granting funds from the Lake Benton Area Foundation to help offset the cost.

Nielsen said updating the front desk is more ex­pensive than he thought at around $5,000 to $6,000 and the school is trying to obtain quotes for less money.

Nielsen recommended that the school board “watch our pennies” for the next few years as stim­ulus money and tax rev­enues decrease.

“The geothermal system and tower will be paid off in a few years,” said Niels­en. “If we can weather the storm we should be okay.”

The next meeting of the Lake Benton School Board is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 16.

A tour of Lake Benton

April 27, 2012

Executive Director Heather Ulrich-Glynn presents Lake Benton as the original Wind Power Capitol of the Midwest and explained renewable energy in the vicinity in addition to the history of the town to a bus tour group at the Heritage Center.

By Dan Kuss

The City of Lake Benton hosted an afternoon bus tour for Bank Club members of First Bank and Trust of Milbank and Brookings, S.D.on Thursday, April 19.

Executive Director Heather Ul­rich-Glynn gave guests a person­alized tour of many Lake Benton attractions.

The bus arrived at 1 p.m. and visitors browsed the Heritage Center before Ulrich-Glynn gave her presentation on the history of Lake Benton.

The group re-boarded the bus for a tour of a local wind tower prior to visiting the historic Lake Benton Opera House and were treated to a concert by Lonny Carpenter from 3:30-4:20 p.m.

Carpenter kept the audience entertained with original and cover songs in the old venue and told stories of growing up on a farm outside of Lake Benton playing Elvis songs on his four-string guitar and playing the Op­era House stage with his aunt.

From the Opera House the group went to a nice dinner set up for them at the Country House Supper Club before hitting the road back to South Dakota.

Many members of the tour said Lake Benton is a lovely little town.

The Heritage Center is open for all citizens to visit and learn more about the history of Lake Benton.

Lincoln County seniors hold annual Spring Fling

April 27, 2012


Leona Christianson, age 93 of Hendricks, is pictured dancing with Lilas Widmark at the Lincoln County Senior Citizens Club Spring Fling on Thursday evening, April 19 at the Lake Benton American Legion. About 120 participants enjoyed bingo, chicken dinner catered by the Country House, drawings for door prizes and dancing to the band Dakota Country.

By Dan Kuss

The Lincoln County Senior Citizens Club held their annual Spring Fling on Thursday eve­ning at the Lake Benton Ameri­can Legion.

The evening began with bingo at 5 p.m. for seniors from Arco, Hendricks, Ivanhoe, Lake Benton and Tyler followed by a chicken dinner with all the fixings ca­tered by the Country House Sup­per Club.

“We can’t win at bingo so we have to give it to them,” said 91-year-old Lorraine Krog of Lake Benton. “I guess Clara (DeZeeuw) won but we haven’t had much luck.”

Vernard Van Erdewyk likes to watch baseball with his grand­children and is in the process of getting them prepared to go hunting.

“I like having a good time with people,” said Van Erdewyk of Hendricks. “We’re celebrating our 50th anniversary in Decem­ber and have been here for the past eight or nine years.”

“We do the Spring Fling here and the Fall Fling in Ivanhoe. “After-dinner entertainment was provided by Dakota Coun­try, who played country, old-time and 50s and 60s favorites music.

The band was started by Joyce Ruesink as the Jolly Neighbors in the 1970s and they play a lot of se­niors dances.

Leona Christianson, age 93 of Hendricks, was on the dance floor with danc­ing partner Elaine Stinske.

“I was a bit bruised last year after I attacked a snake with a fork at Syt­tende Mai and missed and fell,” said Christianson. “I love to dance and I drag Elaine to Brookings when­ever I can.”

Drawings were held throughout the evening and many participants went home with fabulous prizes.

“Who won the trip to New Ulm?” asked Senior Club President August Hamer of Hendricks, who will be 85 on April 29. “We usually have 130 or so people so we’re a little short tonight, but it’s okay, we’re having fun.”

Krog was one of the originators of this event and started the bus line around 1974.

“I’m here with the Man­or ladies Vivian Paulson, Bette Ramert and Dorothy Rourk and we had a good meal,” said Krog. “I en­joy this but I wish I had a dance partner.”

Hamer said he’s getting a little tired and wishes someone from the young­er generation would take over.

In all, many seniors said they had a great time and next year plan to keep track of who is the oldest and who was the youngest at the event.

The evening closed around 9 p.m. with a final round of drawings.

HoPE 4 Hayden benefit May 5

April 19, 2012


Hayden Yockey

By Dan Kuss

A HoPE 4 Hayden silent auc­tion, raffle, bake sale and pool tournament benefit will be held at the Lake Benton American Legion on Saturday, May 5 from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. for Hayden Yockey, son of Brittany Chris­tensen and Mike Yockey.

Hayden Yockey was born with Semi lobar Holoprosencephaly (HPE) and diagnosed with Cere­bral Palsy at the age of one. He has undergone many surgeries in the past four years.

“Hayden was real sick for a long time and spent 73 days in the hospital last year,” said Brittany Christensen, Hayden’s mother. “He is doing so much better spending zero days in the hospital this year and just start­ed school last week.”

“He used to get therapy at home, but now gets it all at school. He goes to preschool as part of the regular class at Madi­son Elementary on Mondays and Wednesdays.”

Yockey will be five years old on May 18 and takes about eight different types of medication for his condition and takes no food by mouth as he has a Mickey Button and is tube fed.

He has two brothers, three-year-old Dyllen and 10-month-old Lane, and likes to go outside and play, have books read to him, loves to swing and is otherwise a normal little boy with more challenges.

HPE occurs when an unborn baby’s brain does not grow forward and di­vide properly during early pregnancy. Normally, the brain splits into two halves called hemispheres during development.

The hemispheres com­municate to each other through a band of 200-250 million nerve fibers, called the corpus callosum. With HPE, the hemispheres are not separated properly.

“Hayden loves movies and his favorite TV show is Sponge Bob,” said Chris­tensen. “In addition to his therapy, he just started using a switch, which he presses with his cheek to communicate via an iPad.”

“They love him at school and he loves being there.”

Family and friends of Hayden Yockey will hold the benefit and pool tour­nament to help pay for things not covered by in­surance such as occupa­tional therapy toys and tools, travel and lodging toSioux Falls,S.D.and Twin Cities doctor appoint­ments, a new wheelchair as Hayden has outgrown the one he is in and pos­sibly a handicapped acces­sible van.

“We really need a new wheelchair and handicap accessible van,” said Chris­tensen. “Right now it takes me two hours just to pack the car and, though I am completely organized, I can barely fit it all in with myself and two kids.”

The pool tournaments, one for men and one for women, will start at 9 a.m. and run the length of the event. There are still open­ings for men and women to participate. Participants are urged to contact Bill Vollmer at (507) 828-2489 or Misty Kolbreck at (507) 227-1204.

Pork sandwiches, hot dogs and other food items will be served for lunch during the church bake sale, silent auction, raffle and pool tournament, all of which will be held at the Lake Benton American Le­gion.

Anyone wishing to do­nate silent auction or bake sale items for the HoPE 4 Hayden benefit may do so by contacting Diane Borre­sen at (507) 247-5232.

Thrivent Financial will also be donating sup­porting funds to benefit Hayden. Proceeds from the benefit will go toward specialized equipment needed to aid in Hayden’s care.

“Hayden loves it when people talk and interact with him,” said Christens­en. “He likes to watch Dyl­len play and giggles and laughs when he jumps on the couch.”

“You learn to let go of the light stuff and learn to know what and who is true when you have a kid like Hayden.”

Lake Benton holds severe weather planning seminar

April 19, 2012

Guy Harding, Garrett Peterson and Chuck Debates, pictured above, represented the Police Department, Fire Department and First Responders, respectively, at the severe weather planning meeting this past Thursday at the Lake Benton American Legion.

By Steven Hurd

Valley Journal Intern

A severe weather planning meeting was held this past Thursday evening at the Ameri­can Legion in Lake Benton.

Mayor Mike Carpenter began the meeting with an explana­tion of the purpose of the event and introduced the speakers throughout the meeting as well.

To begin the meeting, a short informative video provided by the National Weather Service of Sioux Falls entitled “Ready, Set, Go” was played.

Lincoln County’s Emergency Management Director Jeanna Sommers was the first speaker of the evening. Sommers pro­vided a detailed explanation of exactly what happens during severe weather occurrences in Lincoln County.

She also provided informa­tion regarding the acquisition of a new severe weather siren for Lake Benton. Lake Benton is cur­rently the only city in the county with a severe weather siren that is not linked to the central hub in Ivanhoe. Sommers is waiting for the results of a hazard and mitigation grant application that was submitted in February, which would help cover the cost of a new severe weather siren.

Sommers also mentioned that next week is Minnesota Severe Weather Awareness Week. State­wide tornado drills will be held on Thursday, April 19 at 1:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m. in order to provide a severe weather prac­tice experience for residents.

Next up was First Responder Mona Chistensen. Christensen explained proper pet safety dur­ing severe weather. She stressed treating your pets just as you would your children during a storm situation. Christensen also emphasized having your pets vaccinated, dewormed and mi­crochipped to ensure their safety in the aftermath of a severe weather outbreak.

First Responder Chuck Debates spoke next. He described the process that the EMS rescue team goes through both during and after storms.

Next, Volunteer Fire­fighter Garrett Peterson explained what occurs for the Fire Department dur­ing severe weather.

Then Chief of Police Guy Harding offered his ad­vice on how to react dur­ing a storm situation. He stressed being prepared and knowing what to do during a storm.

All three department representatives empha­sized that during the after­math of a storm, it is best to worry about yourself and your neighbors, but stay out of the way of the First Responders, Fire De­partment and Police De­partment. They want you to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Lastly, First Responder Gary Serie spoke. Serie talked about the impor­tance of communication during severe weather. He stressed how important it is to have a good source of information about incom­ing severe weather, wheth­er it’s from a television or a weather radio.

The Lake Benton First Responders are selling weather radios at a cost of $50.

The Lake Benton City Council has agreed to cover half the cost of the weather radios for residents of Lake Benton. Residents can ob­tain a weather radio from Lake Benton Hardware.

“Sylvia” opens at Opera House

April 19, 2012


The cast of “Sylvia,” pictured above from left to right, includes Lori Jacobson of Volga, S.D., Alan Riedel of Brookings, S.D., Kathy Wilmes and Sandy Hanson, both of Tyler, Beth Reems and John Williams, both of Brookings, S.D.

By Dan Kuss

“Sylvia,” a comedy in two acts by A.R. Gurney, originally pro­duced by Manhattan Theatre Club in May of 1995, opened on Friday, April 13 at the Lake Ben­ton Opera House.

“Sylvia” is a story about emp­ty-nesters Greg and Kate set in aNew York Cityapartment. Greg is played by Alan Riedel and Kate is played by Lori Jacobson, who is making her Opera House debut.

Greg brings home Sylvia, a Labrador-Poodle mix brilliantly played by Beth Reams, much to the chagrin of his wife, who has no time for a dog at this stage in their lives.

Sylvia immediately takes to Greg, who talks Kate into a trial period although the dog is al­ready causing trouble by pid­dling on the floor, drinking from the toilet and jumping onto the furniture.

Greg meets Tom, played by John Williams, at the dog park and Sylvia meets Tom’s dog Bowser.

Tom tries to help Greg by giv­ing him advice on how to handle the situation as Sylvia eventually mates with Bowser, leading to her being spayed.

Greg’s love grows for man’s best friend and Kate becomes jealous of Sylvia.

Things get worse at home, which is not helped by Kate’s best friend Phyllis, played by Kathy Wilmes, who is disgusted at the dog hair on the couch and also thinks that Sylvia should go.

Dog humor and innuendos run rampant throughout the play as Reams playfully acts out dog be­haviors using “Hey, hey; hey, hey, hey” as her bark.

Things eventually come to a head and the couple visits Leslie, played by Sandy Hanson, a mar­riage counselor whose gender can be determined as either man or woman, leaving it to Greg and the audience to decide, and rec­ommends divorce for the hap­less couple.

The play is directed by Mark Wilmes who is enjoying 20 years at the Opera House directing his 30th play.

“It’s a fun show to do,” said Kathy Wilmes. “We saw it in the Cities and thought it would be cute to do it here at the Opera House.”

Refreshments are served at in­termission in the Kimball Build­ing next door with free-will do­nations going to help fight cancer through Relay For Life.

Many members of the audi­ence shared their own dog sto­ries over lemonade, bars and cookies.

“Sylvia” runs for three more performances on Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 22 at 2 p.m.

Everyone is welcome to attend the remaining shows to find out the fate of Sylvia.