By Dan Kuss
The Lake Benton School Board discussed the need for a full-time and substitute bus drivers at the Oct. 19 regular meeting.
The school is looking for any and all good candidates to help get Lake Benton’s most precious cargo to and from school safely on a daily basis.
“Finding drivers is an issue,” said Superintendent/Principal Ryan Nielsen. “We’re searching for retired people or farmers in the community who want to keep busy and make a few bucks.”
Nielsen has had to drive a route on occasion but is needed at the school as students arrive for the day and as they leave at the end of the day.
“The pay is good and obtaining a license is inexpensive though a bit of an inconvenience,’ said Nielsen. “It’s a part-time job with a full-time commitment, but also a steady income.”
The school board looked at the possibility of using drivers from the bus service, but it is expensive and would rather keep the money in the community.
The board also looked at offering a signing bonus for new drivers which could help pay for licensing, but could also be used for anything.
On school days, the drivers start the morning route at 6:30 a.m. and are done by 8 a.m. The afternoon route is from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. There are occasional late start or early out days as well. “We have been advertising for a full-time driver and some subs,” said Nielsen. “We just haven’t had any takers yet.”
In other action, Nielsen said the school board had sent a letter to the city requesting termination of the baseball/softball complex lease. The letter serves as a 30-day notice according to the contract.
The board also adopted Administrative Procedures Policy 532, which is a mandatory policy in all schools that deals with restraining students.
The board is using a policy written by the Southwest Service Co-op and will make necessary adjustments to fit the needs of the school.
The board will approve the staff seniority list at the November meeting and that the auditor’s report should be ready by then as well.
The board approved the Special Education (SPED) transportation contract with Bennett Transportation for the year. Bennett has a new van and Nielsen signed up quickly to secure the van and lock the school in at $1,088 per month.
The service transfers SPED students from RTR and is a student safety issue. Lake Benton School is responsible for the car seats which were taken out of the Yukon. Most of the SPED transportation funds are reimbursed.
The school board approved the resignation of paraprofessional Nieema Thasing effective Oct. 14. The school will advertise for a replacement for Thasing.
The board entertained a motion to approve the date of the 2012 Fall Holiday Craft Fair.
Nielsen had prepared a document of past practices for renting out school facilities and the board discussed options for the future.
“We want to help the community out and bring people in,” said Chairman Tony Schwing. “We don’t want to charge too much so the community uses it and we don’t want to take away from those who are in the business as to profit from facility rental, but we do have to recoup our costs.”
The standard fees are $50 for the gym, $25 for the lunchroom/kitchen and $25 per hour for the janitor or kitchen staff who must be present at events that use the various facilities.
The board agreed to the date of Sept. 29 at a flat fee of $100 for the 2012 Craft Fair. Kitchen or lunchroom fees will be negotiated.
The board plans to update and revisit the facility fee menu in the near future.
The board also approved an updated contract for physical education teacher Matt Thode from 50 percent to 55 percent due to extra duties with adaptive physical education rather than pay by the hour.
In the building and grounds report Nielsen and Steve Bennett said the floor in the bus garage looks good and that the buses fit nicely.
A few of the heat pumps were acting up and Bennett will check on the warranty. The circuit boards may need replacing.
The bottom steam cooker in the kitchen needed repair. The tank and element were replaced at a cost of $2,700 as opposed to $13,000 for a new unit.
Bus No. 4 needed radiator work. The school is waiting for the bill and would rather pay for each repair rather than rack up a large bill that would have to be paid later.
Two new tires will be purchased for the Yukon.
The school will place another order for Bobcat wear in a week or so. The new shirts are in and look nice with more people wanting to order them.
Nielsen said the school sent packets home with the students for an all-school fundraiser.
“We sent the packets home today and didn’t realize there were a lot of other fundraisers going on in other schools at the same time,” said Nielsen. “We ordered the kits some time ago to raise money for field trip opportunities that arise, so our students can go.”
Nielsen said fourth grade teacher Mary Haugen has also been hoping to purchase a Lego Robotics kit for special projects, which some of the proceeds may go toward.
Nielsen said the school basketball program is in need of coaches and parent volunteers to help coordinate and schedule games. Scheduling is tough since most schools have turned their programs over to community groups and many have joined a league in Brookings, S.D.
Nielsen said the school may turn the program over to the parents but the school would still provide the uniforms.
The school recently purchased two new laptops to replace one that was broken and one for a staff member who didn’t have one due to a shortage.Filed under Community |
By Robert Wolfington
Dr. Eric Ocampo has been spending the last few weeks getting settled back into a community he called home not that long ago.
Starting on Tuesday, Nov. 1, Ocampo will be seeing patients again at the Tyler Healthcare Center for the first time since leaving in 1999.
Ocampo has spent the last few years working as a doctor in New York.
It was a matter of good timing that saw an opening for Ocampo at THC, he said.
“There was too much stress in New York,” said Ocampo. “It all sort of came together, my contract was up in October and I wasn’t sure if I was renewing. I got an e-mail from Dale (Kruger, THC administrator), pretty much out of the blue because I didn’t know him.
“We started e-mailing back and forth. I have friends here (in the Tyler area),” he said. “The last time I visited was a year and a half ago.”
Ocampo was born and raised in the Philippines. He said he went to medical school in the Philippines but did his residency, internship and fellowship in the United States.
As Ocampo was finishing his time in the United States, he said he recieved a call from a friend who was working at THC.
“I was on a J-1 Visa,” said Ocampo. “After the training you had to go back to your country of origin unless you go and work in an under-served area and, at the time, Tyler was considered an under-served area.”
He enjoyed his time in Tyler, but Ocampo said there were changes happening at THC that led to him decide to leave in 1999.
Ocampo said he has stayed in contact with friends in Tyler, returning just over a year ago to visit some of those friends.
When the opportunity to return came up, Ocampo said he decided it was the right fit for him.
“To start off, I am going to do a mixed practice, internal medicine, family practice and endocrinology,” Ocampo said. “Hopefully the endocrinology practice will pick up, because otherwise the closest would be Sioux Falls.”
Ocampo said in his spare time he enjoys playing tennis and is looking for someone to challenge him on the court.
Ocampo said the last time he was in Tyler he was starting to get into golfing as well, but admits that over the last decade he hasn’t kept up with the sport.
Over the last few weeks, Ocampo has moved back to Tyler and is settling into his new home, even getting a new puppy.
Ocampo said he has spent some time going through the hospital meeting new people and seeing old co-workers.
“There are definitely some changes (at the hospital),” said Ocampo.Filed under Community |
It is never too early to think about the Christmas Show, so come to a planning party for the 2011 Opera House Christmas Show on Oct. 29 at noon in the Kimball Building next door to the Opera House in Lake Benton.
Come join us to pick out music, discuss duets, trios, etc. with others and get a head start on learning our group numbers.
We will have a piano player on hand to help run through songs, etc.
Never participated in the show before? Come find out what it is all about. Lunch will be served. (Bring your own beverage.)
Can’t make it? You do not have to be present to participate in the show.
Likewise, you are not committed to being in the show just by coming to the planning party!
“When are the rehearsals and shows?” you ask.
Shows are Dec. 3 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Rehearsals are Nov. 26 at 12:30 p.m., Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. and Dec. 3 (morning of the show) 10 a.m. dress rehearsal.
Please RSVP to Mark if you are coming by email email@example.com or phone 507-227-3236.Filed under Community |
By Dan Kuss
The Lake Benton Area Chamber of Commerce announced the citizen of the year at the annual kickoff event on Wednesday evening, Oct. 12 at the Lake Benton American Legion.
The first Citizen of the Year is a group of individuals who have provided the community of Lake Benton and the surrounding area with their volunteer expertise for the past 23 years.
Whether it be 2 p.m. in the afternoon or 2 a.m. in the morning, these individuals rise to the challenge and provide rescue and medical assistance to persons in need.
They have provided countless citizens and visitors with help from a variety of ailments.
Each individual has spent hours training to advance their knowledge and expertise for the betterment of the squad and for the betterment of the community. Each of these individuals has gone on to further their level by becoming registered Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and they not only provide services to the Lake Benton area as First Responders, but each individual serves as an EMT on the Tyler Ambulance Squad.
The Lake Benton Chamber of Commerce would like to recognize the Lake Benton First Responders and the three of its original members from 1988 who still serve on the squad and are the cornerstones that the organization is built upon.
Congratulations to Chuck DeBates, Bev Martinson and Shirl Serie of the Lake Benton First Responders and Rescue Squad as 2011 Citizens of the Year.
Martinson thanked the chamber on behalf of the three recipients and asked the audience to look into their hearts for a call to service to become First Responders or firemen in Lake Benton.
While she spoke, Martinson’s children Jason, Elizabeth and Lisa Martinson and daughter-in-law Crystal Martinson came out of the kitchen to surprise her with hugs and kisses.
“We moved the program up so we didn’t have to keep them hidden during dinner,” said Heather Ulrich-Glynn, executive director. “This way they could enjoy dinner together.”
Martinson hadn’t seen the kids in awhile and just returned to Lake Benton from East Glenville, N.Y., where her father was a fireman in service to the community for many years and retired at the age of 84.
“It’s a passion,” said Martinson. “We’d really like to see people step up and keep the First Responders going here in Lake Benton.”
There is one other Citizen of the Year award nomination that the committee felt deserved heartfelt acknowledgement.
This person had spent his life building a business that has expanded and provided services in many communities in southwest Minnesota and east central South Dakota.
His business also provided over 20 jobs to the residents of southwest Minnesota and east-central South Dakota.
He was an active member in his congregation at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lake Benton. He served his country in the U.S. Air Force.
His family was his pride and joy. Seldom would one see him without his arm around his best friend and wife.
He remained steadfast at her side during her battle with cancer. His face would light up when asked about his family.
He dreamed of building the communities he loved as places for families to begin.
He initiated and built the business of Vision Expandable Homes in Lake Benton and Elkton, S.D. His dream produced 32 homes for low to moderate income families.
He was an advocate for many organizations in the Lake Benton area. As an avid donor, he encouraged each of his employees to volunteer and give back to the community that supported them as well.
Throughout the years he had been a member of the American Legion, Kiwanis Clubs, Rotary Clubs and Chambers of Commerce in multiple communities.
His untimely death was a shock to many communities in southwest Minnesota. His contagious smile is truly missed.
The committee presents this Citizen of the Year award posthumously to Keith Kinner.
Accepting the award for Keith Kinner was his wife Debbie and family. Debbie was escorted to the stage by her son Nathan.
Also in attendance were grandson Adam Kinner and daughters Lynae and Kelsey Kinner. Family members not present were Chris, Page and Marie Kinner of Edina and Aaron and Nicki Holmen of Eagle River, Alaska.
“We are humbled by the distinguished honor given to my late husband Keith as Citizen of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce,” said Debbie Kinner. “Keith was extremely proud to be part of the Lake Benton community and establishing an office here was the pinnacle of accomplishments for him. This acknowledgement would have made him beam. Thank you for your kindness.”
The Citizen of the Year Committee would like to thank everyone who submitted nominations for the Citizen of the Year as the committee received several commendable nominations this year.Filed under Community |
Lake Benton Volunteer Firefighters taught fire prevention and emergency safety procedures to all Lake Benton School students from preschool to sixth grade on Wednesday morning, Oct. 12.
In addition to giving a presentation in the auditorium on the importance of Stop, Drop and Roll, learning their home address and dialing 911 in an emergency situation and showing them tools used to fight fires, the Lake Benton Fire Department (LBFD) firemen reinforced individual student fire education by providing the fire safety education house to give children an actual feel for what it is like to be in a real fire through simulation.
“We originally scheduled the event for tomorrow,” said LBFD Fire Chief Al Trigg. “There was a mix up in the schedule with the Marshall Fire Department, who owns the house, but we felt it was important for each child to learn what to do and how to react immediately, so we rented it for today instead.”
The LBFD rented the Operation EDITH (Exit Drills In The Home) trailer from the Marshall Fire Department. It looks and feels like an actual house on the inside, outfitted with cameras and special equipment for the simulation.
Lake Benton Firefighters manned stations from beginning to end to instruct students and answer their questions in real time as they went through the experience.
As students entered the trailer, the first room was a kitchen. Firemen asked the students if anything looked out of place in the room and pointed out possible fire risks.
There was a pot on the stove with the handle sticking out in front which could have easily been bumped and knocked off the stove, the fireman simply turned the handle to the side and explained the danger.
There was also a potholder laying on one of the back burners, an unattended candle, paper towels hanging down over a toaster and a disabled smoke alarm hanging open from the ceiling with the battery taken out.
The firemen explained each of the potential fire risks and corrected them making sure the students were paying attention to the reality of each situation.
They then asked the students if they knew their home address. A few hands went up and one student from each group was asked to place a 911 call using a phone in the room.
One student gave his email address and was quickly reminded that an email address would be no help in a real emergency.
The phone was connected to the control room in the fire safety house manned by Daryl Trigg.
Students were a little apprehensive to dial 911 knowing there was no real fire, but were urged to do so and were surprised to hear a voice on the other end.
Calm and collected, the voice answered the phone with “911, what is your emergency?” Students explained that there was a fire.
The voice asked them what the address was, if they were safe and then said the fire department was on the way.
Safe, simulated smoke from a fog machine began to fill the room as the students got on their knees and crawled to the door.
The firemen instructed the students to touch the door to see if it was hot and when it wasn’t, opened the door and asked them to crawl down a hallway.
More firemen were waiting and pointing out that the smoke was less near the ground and it would be easier to breathe.
Finally students reached the bedroom where they were given further instructions. They then opened the window and one by one the students crawled out the window and descended a ladder, assisted by more firemen.
Once out of the smoke filled house, students were excited but were instructed to go to the designated safe place until everyone in the house was accounted for.
More firemen waiting at the safe place explained the importance of gathering in one location so parents, family members and firefighters arriving on the scene knew who was safely out of the house or who could possibly be trapped inside.
The firemen answered any questions the students had before releasing them back to the school building where each student was given a smoke alarm provided by the LBFD.
Though a few students were apprehensive about going through the experience, most who came out of the building wanted to do it again. All were wide eyed and mesmerized by what they had just gone through.
“We keep the smoke at a lower level for the younger ones,” said Chief Trigg. “We really smoke it up for the older ones to show them the pocket of air near the floor.”
“By the time they come out, you can see the panic on their faces though we try not to scare them. If we don’t teach the kids, how will they ever know until they are in a real fire?”
The rain had let up by the time the preschool through fourth graders went through the fire house so Trigg and the firemen brought the fifth andFiled under Community |
By Dan Kuss
The Lake Benton Holiday Bazaar celebrated 33 years in existence on Saturday, Oct. 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the school.
Many local vendors and those from surrounding communities set up their display booths in the gym and some offered samples of their wares.
Craft, food, beauty and other items of all shapes and sizes for several different holidays were available to the public.
Raffle and door prizes were given away every half hour with proceeds going toward enhancing the Lake Benton community and its youth.
Lunch was provided by the Junior Olympic Volleyball organization, which serves fourth through 12th graders from Lake Benton, RTR, Lynd and Elkton-Lake Benton Schools.
“We’re raising funds to support the Junior Olympic Volleyball program,” said Katelyn Christensen. “It’s a great program that serves kids from around this area.”
Christensen, Kelsey Bloom and Josh Christensen served barbecues, chips and homemade bars to hungry guests for a good cause.
Brandee Miller had her Tastefully Simple products on display and Cara Christensen had a few lit up scarecrows and snowmen left for sale.
“Jessica used to make these in Girl Scouts,” said Jody Nomeland. “Cara was their scout leader and had all kinds of fun things for them to do.”
Chandra Prosch is a Lake Benton cake decorator and had cakes for sale and offered a variety of samples to taste.
“I had chocolate, white, pumpkin and carrot cake, a little of everything,” said Prosch. “The little pumpkin cakes went really fast, but I sold nine out of 12 of my bigger cakes, so it was a good day.”
Prosch has been decorating cakes since she was 16-years-old in high school and had several 4-H blue ribbons on her display table.
“I can make your next birthday cake,” said Prosch. “I make wedding, anniversary and cakes of all kinds for any occasion.”
Across the way, Uda Grenz of Verdi displayed her handmade journals, pot holders, angels and other crafts.
“I grew up in Lake Benton and I’ve been doing crafts for 50-some years now,” said Grenz. “It’s a good passtime since I retired and it kept me busy when I was laid up with a new tendon in my knee.”
Lois Tripoda of Elkton, S.D. had a table full of handmade Scarves by Lois. “I’m originally from Minnesota and lived in Baltimore, Md. for 40 years,” said Tripoda in a southern accent. “From Baltimore I moved to South Carolina and now I’m back here.”
Sarah Barstad of Ivanhoe displayed her Mary Kay products.
“I’ve actually had six ladies purchase products,” said Barstad. “I’m happy to be here today.”
Dan Fricke was manning his wife Jeanine’s booth with the old world Santa’s and other craft items while she stepped away.
“Jeanine does all the real work,” said Fricke. “I just make the doll houses and cut the wood out for her.”
Many other booths kept patrons and vendors busy throughout the day. Plans are already in place for next year’s Lake Benton Holiday Bazaar.
Vendors and patrons are welcome to come out for a fun and creative day.Filed under Community |
By Dan Kuss
The Science Museum of Minnesota presented a course on renewable energy to Lake Benton School fourth, fifth and sixth graders on Thursday, Sept. 29.
Superintendent/Principal Ryan Nielsen applied for a grant for the program, which is only offered to so many schools, sponsored and paid for by Otter Tail Power Company.
“Renewable resources are something that you can use today and use again tomorrow,” said Kim Higgins of the Science Museum of Minnesota. “If it is used once and can’t be used again, it is non-renewable. If it is still there tomorrow, such as wind, water or the sun, it is a renewable resource.”
Higgins told students that 68 percent of our electricity today comes from burning coal, a fossil fuel, and that another 20 percent comes from nuclear reactors which break apart atoms to create an enormous amount of energy. Both are non-renewable energy sources.
Only 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydro power, which also create no pollution.
“We need to change our ways,” said Higgins. “The coal we burn today can only be used once. We also need to learn to conserve the energy we receive by using energy efficient light bulbs and turning off lights and appliances when we are not using them.”
Higgins demonstrated this by using a model of a house and a bicycle as a generator of electricity.
Students took turns riding the bike while Higgins simulated walking them through her day as she got ready for work.
The first time, Higgins left the lights on as she went from room to room in the house, making it difficult for the rider to keep the house lit with power.
Higgins then explained that energy efficient appliances and light bulbs create the same amount of energy or light using less power.
Finally, Higgins went through her morning ritual again, only this time turned off the lights as she left each room in the house, making it easier for the rider to produce a nice steady stream of current and light throughout the house.
Incandescent light bulbs use 50 or 60 watts of power, while a fluorescent bulb excites the gas and stays brightly lit using 13 watts of energy. The new LED bulbs create the same amount of light using only 1.5 watts of energy.
By the time Higgins finished her 50 minute presentation, Minnesota homes had used $246,997 worth of electricity.
Students enthusiastically shared their energy saving tips during the question and answer period at the end of the program and got a chance to hold a real chunk of coal.
“This is really fun and educational for the kids,” said Higgins. “We’ve been in touch with the Minnesota Department of Education and added the new engineering standards for technology education testing into the program.”
Higgins is in her fifth year with the program and said the Science Museum just upgraded the program this year, which is in its 10th year.
“This is a free program sponsored by Otter Tail Power,” said Higgins. “They pay for everything, including my travel expenses.”
Higgins learned firsthand about the power of the wind here in southwestern Minnesota as the wind blew her cart over, requiring a few repairs to her equipment by Steve Bennett, Lake Benton School custodian, prior to her presentation.
Lake Benton students learned about the five sources of energy used on a daily basis.Filed under Community |
For the first time ever the Lake Benton Opera House teamed up this fall to present a joint production with the Calumet Players of Pipestone.
“The Dixie Swim Club” just finished a two-weekend run at the Opera House in Lake Benton on Sunday afternoon and will now go on the road to the Pipestone Performing Arts Center, with shows Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Director Mark Wilmes of Tyler says it was an interesting experiment. “We are looking forward to moving to the PPAC this weekend,” said Wilmes. “It will be fun to share it with a new audience. Thanks to all who supported us in Lake Benton over the past couple of weeks.”Filed under Community |
By Dan Kuss
The chamber of commerce annual fall kickoff will take place at the Lake Benton American Legion on Wednesday, Oct. 12 beginning with a social hour at 5:30 p.m.
A meal catered by The Ridge restaurant will take place after the social hour.
Following dinner will be a short program honoring special guests and the Lake Benton Person of the Year will be announced.
This year’s entertainment will be provided by Scott Novotny, a Minnesota comedian working through GL Berg.
Novotny’s theme is “Comedy Is Serious Business” and he has been described as “the new Red Skelton,” “a live cartoon on stage” and “Robin Williamesque.”
Novotny has been a professional comedian for over 20 years, loves to perform and prides himself in doing comedy without profanity or vulgarity.
Novotny is a versatile performer who headlines comedy clubs throughout the United States, has acted in numerous stage productions and worked as an improvisational actor and writer.
Novotny also owned and operated The Comedy Cabaret, Minnesota’s first full-time comedy theatre, and has also written for “Saturday Night Live” and the comic strip “Strange Brew.”
Tickets are on sale now at various businesses in Lake Benton or at the Heritage Center.
Everyone is invited to come out for an evening of fun at the annual fall kickoff on Oct. 12Filed under Community |
By Dan Kuss
Elkton-Lake Benton School dedicated the new athletic complex during the Homecoming football game on Friday, Sept. 30.
In a short, emotional program at halftime, Elkton School Superintendent Brian Jandahl explained how the two-year, two-phase project became a reality.
“The efforts of many people are responsible for making this happen,” said Jandahl. “The only thing still under construction is the practice field adjacent to the complex.”
The evening began with a pork sandwich feed put on by the school FCCLA. The entire complex was decorated with 100 red, white and blue flags and banners. Brick tiles sponsored by former teams and families sold by the Elk Nation had been laid in the plaza.
In the opening ceremony prior to the game, the Elkton American Legion dedicated the flagpole, American flag and a POW/MIA flag in the corner of the complex to be used for many sporting events to come.
Football players carried a large flag spanning approximately 30 yards to the center of the field as a replica of the Statue of Liberty was rolled out on the track in front of the stands where the girls chorus, directed by Susan Sudtelgte, sang the National Anthem in perfect harmony.
As the Elkton-Lake Benton football players were announced, fireworks were set off behind them.
At halftime, after the homecoming royalty was introduced, Jandahl led the procession of dignitaries consisting of present and former coaches, supporters of the athletic program and former superintendent Tony Simons, who was at the helm when the project was started.
After Jandahl spoke, Athletic Director Ervin Gebhart introduced the present and former coaches, vital supporters of the program, and told stories of Elkton athletics from years past.
“We want to thank everyone who helped make this possible,” said Jandahl. “With the help and support of many, this became a reality.”Filed under Community |