Page 1

Sunday, february 26, 2012

people & demographics

average Just an family


pend an hour with Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen, his wife and two children and you can quickly see they’re much like any other family with teenagers. Between school, work, extracurricular activities, friends and other hobbies, they’re a busy family with busy schedules. On an average weekday night after school and work, they arrive home at about 5:30 or 6 p.m., eat dinner together and then head out to another activity or start on homework. On the rare occasion they don’t have something going on, the family enjoys watching sports games on television or just spending time together at their home overlooking Edgewater Bay. “When you’re busy, you just kind of relish the time to just hang out,” Vern said. Vern, a physical therapist for Mayo Clinic Health System at Health Reach, has been on the City Council for seven years. Most weekdays, for an hour or two, he goes up to City Hall after work to deal with city business.

He is also the president of the Albert Lea Port Authority, is a basketball coach for the Albert Lea Girls’ Basketball Association and enjoys golfing and hunting. He said he is a big Gopher football fan and follows Albert Lea and Minnesota sports. His wife, Marilyn, is a compliance coordinator at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin. She’s worked with health care

laws and regulations for the past 15 years. Marilyn is also the president of the Albert Lea Girls’ Basketball Association and the assistant coordinator of the Twin Lakes 4-H Club. She enjoys vegetable gardening and is a member of a book club. The couple’s oldest child, A.J., is 16 and is a junior at Albert Lea High School. In addition to typical teenage boy

Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen sits in his home with his family in January. From left, are Vern; dog, Sally; wife, Marilyn; daughter, Katie; and son, A.J. — Sarah Stultz interests such as his car and his friends, A.J. is interested in computers and runs track. He is a member of the robotics team at the high school and works part time at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club during the summer and at the Rock Gym. He is beginning to look into colleges to attend and is considering a major in computer engineering. Katie, 13, is an eighth-

grader at Albert Lea High School who plays basketball and soccer. She has gotten involved with Youth in Government, enjoys being with her friends and even raises a pig at a friend’s farm for 4-H. She said she also enjoys photography, and her favorite subject is math. As a family the Rasmussens enjoy boating in the summertime. “We’re just like any other family,” Vern said.

“We have all the same issues, all the same goals. We’re pretty average.” A.J. and Katie said not much has changed in their lives since their dad became mayor in November 2011, but they have been able to learn a lot about city government and meet many people they would not have otherwise. “The kids really haven’t known anything other than him being involved

in city government,” Marilyn added. “It’s part of our family.” “We just really are very thankful for the opportunities we have — for Vern to be involved with the city and for us to do meaningful things involving the youth.” The family recently adopted a fifth member — a dog named Sally — from the Freeborn County Humane Society. — Sarah Stultz

A day in

Gym class

Third-graders in Dyann Baumann’s physical education class at Lakeview Elementary School run around cones as a warmup exercise in December of 2011. — Danielle Boss

Students compete to make the first basket. The first to make it earns the most points.

4See more photos, Page 4

Page 2 • Albert Lea Tribune • Sunday, February 26, 2012 PROGRESS 2012

Learning a variety of vehicles Students at Riverland Community College use technology and good old-fashioned tools to learn how to fix vehicles

Jason Merritt, an instructor for 12 years, is seen here showing first-year student Jordan Dahlback how to test an alternator. Merritt is proud of the variety that is offered at Riverland all the way from technology to the certifications. — Buck Monson

Second-year student Matt Schaefer, of Goodhue, is taking his shop final in December. He is using his laptop, which is hooked up to the powertrain, to get his data. Riverland students all have laptops as part of their tools.

Three first-year students are installing and torquing a flywheel on this Chevy Cobalt. Jesse Johnson and James Elleby work on it as Jarid Wasmund looks on. Left: A professor and student go over part of the shop final that involves a hybrid car. Riverland is one of just a handful of colleges that offer hybrid training in Minnesota. It was also one of the first to be ASE certified. Right: Local students Genaro Duarte and Mark Bousman are seen here muscling the wrenches while replacing an upper ball joint. Both students are in their second year at Riverland.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012 • Albert Lea Tribune • Page 3

Ryan Friar, of Winnebago, is working on rebuilding a transmission. Laptops come in useful all around the shop. Friar is a first-year student.

A view of the nationally-recognized Riverland Community College shop. — Buck Monson

Pedro Navarrete, Scott Larson and Brian Nugent are seen here working together on replacing brake lines and wheel cylinders. First-year student Nick Carlson, of Austin, is concentrating on rebuilding this transmission.

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Page 4 • Albert Lea Tribune • Sunday, February 26, 2012 PROGRESS 2012

Continued from Page 1

Third-graders in Dyann Baumann’s physical education class at Lakeview Elementary School race to their designated basketball while playing run and gun basketball and other games. Dyann Baumann keeps score as students compete in run and gun basketball. — Danielle Boss

The early birds T

here is the lunch rush, the dinner crowd, the regulars and the breakfast crew, but it’s the early birds, the pre-breakfast gentlemen who wake up before dawn and head down to their usual café to share a good cup of coffee, a good breakfast and great conversation with others like them. They’re always seen at the counter seated at its swiveling stools discussing matters utterly enigmatic to the rest of the breakfasting customers. “We talk about everything under the sun, mostly weather,” said Larry Wangen, a regular to the breakfast bar. Wangen, along with Denny Wahlen, Coke Callahan and 72-year-old Dave Johannsen sit in the same places at the breakfast counter in the B&B Café, 321 Sibley St., almost every morning at 7 a.m. before going to

work. Identifying themselves as “the younger crowd,” elected spokesman of the group Wangen said their morning talk consisted of anything and everything that happened locally, especially sports. “We try to stay away from politics,” Wangen said. “We talk about sports, the Vikings, the Twins, how good and how bad they’re doing.” Wangen said on one morning in January they also chat about high school teams, who wins and who doesn’t, as well as certain players. He said they have lately noticed the number of high school sport-related injuries and often comment on the tenacity of young teams who hang together despite the rough going. “The local teams are improving,” Wangen said. “Especially the basketball team. The rest of them are always pretty good teams in

Sunday, February 26, 2012 • Albert Lea Tribune • Page 5


‘We talk about everything under the sun, mostly weather.’ — Larry Wangen

Albert Lea.” Johannsen said the new Vikings stadium has been a hot topic issue for the group lately, which melds their sports talk with another popular conversation topic — taxation. “We want to keep the Vikings but taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for it when the owners and players make so much from us already,” Wangen said. As a waitress passes by with a full carafe of coffee, echoes of “just a squirt” go down the line when Callahan mentions their other favorite pastime at the B&B, picking on the waitresses. Melody Wynia, 50, has

The group of breakfast fellows enjoy their coffee and conversation at the B&B Café.

Denny Wahlen and Larry Wangen slam down their flipped quarters in anticipation of who will win them all. From left at the counter: Coke Callahan, Wahlen, Wangen and Dave Johannsen. — Janet Lawler been working at the B&B since August 2011. She said several groups like Wangen’s come to share food and conversation at the B&B. “They start as early as 5 a.m., and it gets pretty crowded by 7 a.m.,” Wynia said. “They chat about news — this morning was something about a police car at Perkins — jokes, jobs, hobbies and give us a hard time.” Wynia puts up with their teasing knowing that it’s part of what keeps them coming back and adds to the feeling of community in the morning. “I think they like the atmosphere, the cooking’s good, I like to think we do a good job,” Wynia said. “They love the pancakes, love the company.” Wangen’s group could go through about 16 cups of coffee in a morning, and owner Clint Miller can test out new menu items on them. Wangen said they offered to stay and cook while Miller closed down for vacation, but their chances didn’t look good. “Come down to get a good laugh and enjoy yourself,” Wahlen said. All four agreed the highlight of the morning was to flip quarters. The quarter-flipping game’s origins are unknown, but Wangen knew it had been going on before

Miller took over the café and betted it had been a morning tradition for at least 20 years. Miller, the staff and customers will each flip their own quarter, whoever is in the majority will continue to flip the next round until one person ends up winning all the quarters. “The other day Denny won, I won, Wayne Thompson won a lot. It’s never real consistent,” Wangen said. “If you haven’t won for a while they write your name on the calendar — there’s been a lot of dry spells.” Quarter droughts aren’t all Wangen has seen. Wangen owns his own snow removal service along with Callahan, but without snow Wangen said he’s felt it most financially. “There’s a lot of spare time spent in the shop instead of out making a living,” Wangen said. Although Johannsen is retired, he still expresses concerns similar to Wangen. Johannsen and Wangen both expressed concerns about the new cell phone law for truckers. They said it was a good idea but the fine was enough to run entrepreneurs and average working men out of work. “We talk about taxes going up, fuel prices don’t seem to go down as fast as they go up,” Wangen said.

The group also came up with solutions to Albert Lea’s economic stagnancy. Wahlen said Albert Lea is mistakenly underdeveloped even though the two interstates give it the perfect opportunity to be. Instead, Wahlen said, otherwise the business goes to Owatonna. Wahlen voiced the key to revitalizing Albert Lea was keeping the younger generation. “A lot of these kids come in and sit in the back and leave and you never see them again. There’s nothing to keep them,” Wangen said. “If not for Lou-Rich and the hospital, it would be pretty slim in this town.” Despite the heaviness that sometimes pervades their morning musings, Wynia said they mostly come for fun conversations and the feeling of togetherness. “It’s really important to go meet with friends,” Wynia said. “It takes the stress out of everyday life.” Wangen said though Johannsen may be retired they feared he may not return once his wife found out where he was spending his mornings. “My wife might not let me back in,” Johannsen said. “But it’s good to get a lot of different opinions on things.” — Janet Lawler

Bilingual Mass still popular S

ince 2001, St. Theodore Catholic Church in Albert Lea has provided weekly Mass to the Spanishspeaking community in the surrounding area. According to the Rev. Timothy Reker, the church will continue to do so, despite Hispanic Chaplain Ricardo Crespo’s return to Columbia. Crespo lived in Owatonna while providing mass in Spanish to Catholic churches in the Albert Lea, Austin and Dodge Center area. Since Crespo’s absence, Reker, who is fluent is Spanish, will lead the Spanish service until a chaplain replacement arrives. “I think most people are more comfortable praying in their native language, so this gives them the opportunity to feel more at home with God and others in their country and culture,” Reker said. St. Theodore began regular Spanish services again in July of 2001, after the Diocese of Winona noticed the demand for Spanish Mass in the Albert Lea area. The Rev. Kurt Farrell, now at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, used to serve in Albert Lea. He was given orders to conduct weekly Spanish Mass during that time. According to Farrell, the Albert Lea area has a history of a strong Spanishspeaking community due to migrant workers, and since the Spanish community has strong ties to the Catholic Church, he said regular masses were necessary. “There are some communities that speak both English and Spanish, but I think that the Spanish community is more com-

fortable praying in their own language, which is Spanish,” Farrell said. “It’s difficult to pray in a language that is not your own.” In addition to leading the weekly Mass, Reker is also in the transition of

helping his congregation learn the revised translation of the new Roman Missal, or prayers used during Mass. The implementation of the prayer revisions began on Nov. 27, 2011. — By Kat Ladwig

Todovia misa bilingue popular Desde el 2001, la iglesia catolica St. Theodores en Albert Lea a proveido misa en espanol cada semana para la comunidad hispana en la area y alrededor. Segun el padre Timothy Reker, la iglesia continuara hacerlo, a pesar el regreso a Colombia de el padre Ricardo Crespo. Padre Crespo, un sacerdote de Colombia, vivia en Owatonna mientras obtenia misa en espanol para iglesias catolicas en la area de Albert Lea, Austin y Dodge Center. Desde la ausencia de el padre Crespo. El padre de St. Theodores el padre Reker, que es fluente en espanol, tendra misas en espanol hasta que un sacerdote de remplazo llegue. “Yo pienso que la mayoria de jente se siento comoda orando en su idioma natal. Asi les da mas oportunidad para sentirse en casa con dios, y en otra, su cultura y pais,” dice el padre Reker. St. Theodores comenzo otra vez misas regulares en julio del 2001, despues que la diocese de Winona tomo acuenta la exigencia de misas en espanol en la area de Albert Lea anterior ministro Kurt Farell, ahora en la iglesia catolica Borromeo de St. Charles, recibio ordenes de conducir misas es espanol cada semana mientras ese tiempo. Segun el padre Farrell. La rea de Albert Lea tiene una fuerte historia de comunidades que hablan espanol se debe a trabajadores migrantes. Y como la comunidad hispana tiene fuertes hechos asea la iglesia catolica el dijo que misas en espanol era necesario. “Hay unas cominudades que hablasn los dos, ingles y espanol, pero yo pienso que la comunidad hispana es mas comoda orando en su propio idioma, que es espanol” dijo el padre Farrell. “Es dificil orar en un idioma que no es el de uno” En addicion de conducir misas semanales, el padre Reker tambien esta en la transacion de ayudar a su congregacion a aprender la traduccion corregida de el nuevo misal romano, o oraciones usadas en misas. La puesta en practica de las oraciones corregidas comenzo en Nov. 27 del 2011 Segun el padre Reker, la transicion de la misal romana es dificil para los dos, los sacerdotes y la congregacion, pero eso no lo distraira de las misas en espanol, que se ofrecen alas 11am los domingos en la iglesia St. Theodores. — Translated by Juan Vega

Tribune file photo

The Rev. Tim Reker poses for a photo outside St. Theodore Catholic Church last July shortly after he came to the congregation.

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Photos Page 6 • Albert Lea Tribune • Sunday, February 26, 2012 PROGRESS 2012

This photo of Brooke Possehl was published Aug. 30, 2011. Possehl, 19, was featured for being the only female fighter on Team KO, a mixed martial arts team in Albert Lea.

of you Tribune staff share some of their favorite photos from 2011’s Prairie Profiles, a feature every Tuesday in the Tribune

e i r i a r P files Pro Linda Wayne was featured Feb. 15, 2011, for her work at The Children’s Center.

Albert Lea baseball player Ethan Abben was featured July 26, 2011, for his work during the district championships. Eric and Heather Hendrickson were featured Jan. 18, 2011, for recently having triplets, Eli James, Aubrey Rae and Wyatt Edward.

Rylee Petterson was featured March 29, 2011, for being the area’s youngest scuba diver.

The Rev. Mark Niethammer was featured March 3, 2011, after he joined Salem Lutheran Church.

Capt. Eric Athman was featured Nov. 15, 2011, after being named Delta Company’s new commander. Albert Lea’s Delta Company is part of the 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry Regiment within the 34th “Red Bull” Division of the Minnesota National Guard.


Sunday, February 26, 2012 • Albert Lea Tribune • Page 7 Clarks Grove Fire Chief Carl Anderson was featured Dec. 13, 2011, for retiring after 39 years with the fire department.

Shelley Gulbrandson was featured April 12, 2011, for having lost 94 pounds.

Ann Adams, wife of Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams, was featured Oct. 11, 2011.

Three founding members of the Turkey Bowl, including Jim Nielsen, Paul Wendorff and Rick Harves were featured Nov. 29, 2011, for their 45-year Thanksgiving Day tradition of playing football at Abbott Field.

Albert Lea High School swimming coach Jon Schmitz was featured Oct. 4, 2011.

Chuck Stephens was featured March 15, 2011, for his desire to learn to sing and play piano during what he called his “second childhood.”

Cousins David, left, and Anthony Stenzel were featured May 24, 2011, for being starting pitchers on the United South Central baseball team.

Corrine Tims was featured May 17, 2011, following her retirement as principal of Hawthorne Elementary School.

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Page 8 • Albert Lea Tribune • Sunday, February 26, 2012 PROGRESS 2012

Fast Facts County figures Freeborn County

Waseca County

Population: 31,255 Median age: 44.2 Households: 13,177 Housing units: 14,231 Square miles: 707.09 People per sq. mile: 44.2 County seat: Albert Lea Courthouse address: 411 S. Broadway Ave. Courthouse phone: 507-377-5299

Mower County Population: 39,163 Median age: 39.2 Households: 15,828 Housing units: 17,027 Square miles: 711.33 People per sq. mile: 55.1 County seat: Austin Courthouse address: 201 First St. Courthouse phone: 507-437-9494

Dodge County Population: 20,087 Median age: 36.4 Households: 7,460 Housing units: 7,947 Square miles: 439.28 People per sq. mile: 45.7 County seat: Mantorville Courthouse address: 22 E. 66th St. Courthouse phone: 507-635-6239

Steele County Population: 36,576 Median age: 38.5 Households: 14,330 Housing units: 15,343 Square miles: 429.65 People per sq. mile: 85.1 County seat: Owatonna Courthouse address: 111 E. Main St. Courthouse phone: 507-444-7400

Population: 19,136 Median age: 39.3 Households: 7,281 Housing units: 7,903 Square miles: 423.36 People per sq. mile: 45.2 County seat: Waseca Courthouse address: 307 N. State St. Courthouse phone: 507-835-0630

Faribault County Population: 14,553 Median age: 46 Households: 6,236 Housing units: 7,090 Square miles: 712.48 People per sq. mile: 20.4 County seat: Blue Earth Courthouse address: 415 N. Main St. Courthouse phone: 507-526-6225

Winnebago County, Iowa Population: 10,866 Median age: 43.5 Households: 4,597 Housing units: 5,194 Square miles: 400.49 People per sq. mile: 27.1 County seat: Forest City Courthouse address: 126 S. Clark St. Courthouse phone: 641-585-3412

Worth County, Iowa Population: 7,598 Median age: 44.5 Households: 3,172 Housing units: 3,548 Square miles: 400.12 People per sq. mile: 19 County seat: Northwood Courthouse address: 1000 Central Ave. Courthouse phone: 641-324-2316

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State figures Minnesota Population: 5,303,925 Median age: 37.4 Housing units: 2,347,201 Square miles: 79,626.74 People per sq. mile: 66.6 Capital: St. Paul



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Sunday, February 26, 2012 • Albert Lea Tribune • Page 9


Elementary schools have new principals



hree of Albert Lea’s four elementary schools are under fairly new leadership. After Corrine Tims retired, Karen Zwolenski took over Hawthorne Elementary School last fall. After Jean Jordan was moved to Southwest Middle School last fall, Eric Hudspith took the lead at Lakeview Elementary School. And Matt Esterby has been the principal at Halverson Elementary School since the fall of 2010 after Del Stein retired. Here they share their goals for their respective elementary schools.

tion, and it will help them feel like an important and successful part of Lakeview’s community.

Karen Zwolenski, Hawthorne Elementary With the restructuring of elementary schools, Hawthorne Elementary School has a brand new look. You will see some familiar faces, but more than 50 percent of the licensed staff is new to our building. As principal, it is my

for all of our students and will do what it takes to help them achieve. Throughout the year, our staff meets weekly in collaborative teams to focus on students. Our discussions revolve around four critical questions: What is it we want our students to learn? How will we know when each student has learned it? How will we respond when some students do not learn it? And, how can we extend and enrich learning for students who have demonstrated proficiency? My goals are to support

Quick facts Karen Zwolenski Age: 49 Family: husband, Mark, daughters Megan, 25, and Lauren, 23 Interesting fact: Zwolenski has run four marathons and hopes to do a fifth in the future.

learning environments that align with individual needs of every student. This environment takes the collective effort of everyone on staff. As our instruction continues to target student needs, our achievement levels increase. As a whole, our school community continues to take great strides at making school experi-

ences for our students extraordinary. Our goals support the social and academic development of students, supporting family involvement in education and creating a collaborative school culture where everyone’s contribution is valued. The combination of all these goals, help us to operate effectively. — Andrew Dyrdal

Eric Hudspith poses for a photo in the district’s office building in 2010. He became principal of Lakeview Elementary School last fall. goal to build upon the traditions that Hawthorne has established, while moving forward to re-create a new school community. Our staff has a terrific blend of strengths that complement each other. We are creating strong educational teams to achieve the greatest student learning. Here at Hawthorne, when we considered what the heart of our school was, we came up with the phrase, “It’s All About Learning!” This isn’t just a saying on our school entrance banner. It means we are committed to actions that support the learning of all students. If you were to stop and talk to any staff member at our school, you would quickly find out that our staff believes in success

and guide the answers to those questions and do whatever it takes to help students learn and grow to their greatest potential. That is the heart of Hawthorne.

Matt Esterby, Halverson Elementary My goals for Halverson Elementary School stem from the district’s aims of having safe, healthy and welcoming schools, increasing student opportunity and achievement and operating in the most effective and efficient manner. We are creating a safe school culture where caring and thoughtfulness is of utmost importance. Students get recognized monthly for showing outstanding citizenship


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Eric Hudspith Age: 33 Family: wife, Emily; daughter, Ella, 3; son, Cole, 1 Interesting fact: Because of his dad’s job, as a child Hudspith attended 13 different schools from kindergarten through his senior year. Matt Esterby Age: 35 Family: wife, Erika; sons Kyan and Kasen Interesting fact: He played football and basketball and ran track at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School.

Matt Esterby poses for a photo at Halverson Elementary School. He took over for Del Stein, who retired after the 2009-10 school year.

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Eric Hudspith, Lakeview Elementary School

My primary goal as principal of Lakeview Elementary School is to create an environment in which all students feel valued and understand that they can be successful. I look forward to working with teachers to help them develop a plan for each child and deliver the instruction for that plan to be successful. In education, as in many fields, working collaboratively with teachers, students and families is the best way to find the most effective plan for success, and part of my goal is to continue to foster this collaboration in the school and community. Our students will benefit from this collabora-

characteristics at school. We know feeling safe has a positive impact on the learning environment and remains a top priority for us. Our strong parental and family support is highly valued at Halverson. Sustaining this support continues to be at the top of our list. The school’s parent/teacher organization offers a tremendous support through several schoolwide events that help families feel welcomed. The staff has been charged with creating

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Karen Zwolenski poses for a photo at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year outside Hawthorne Elementary School.


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Page 10 • Albert Lea Tribune • Sunday, February 26, 2012 PROGRESS 2012

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Progress 2012 People & Demographics  
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Progress 2012 People & Demographics