Presorted Standard U.S. Postage Paid St. Joseph Newsleader St. Joseph, MN 56374 Permit No. 21 ECRWSS Postal Customer
Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 Volume 19, Issue 2 Est. 1995
Town Crier Jan. 11 winter market celebrates heat wave
The Sartell’s Winter Market will celebrate the heat wave from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11 inside City Hall. Start your year off right by shopping locally and eating healthy. Many of your favorite summertime/Market Monday vendors will be there with a wide array of products.
Jan. 12 breaksfast to benefit Dirkes family
A benefit breakfast for the Ben Dirkes family of Sartell will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Sunday, Jan. 12 at St. Augustine Church Parish Hall, 442 2nd St. SE, St. Cloud. Dirkes is recovering from three surgeries for a brain tumor. For his story visit the Caring Bridge site: www.caringbridge. org/visit/bendirkes.
Senior Connection hosts “Visiting Cuba” Jan. 14
Jim O’Neill will present his personal experiences in Cuba at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14 at the Sartell Senior Center, 212 3rd Ave. N. Based on his recent trip to Havana in September 2013, O’Neill will offer three views of Cuba: Cuba as presented by the government, Cuba as seen by the tourist and Cuba as lived by the everyday citizen. This will be a great opportunity to hear more about our neighbors so close yet so far away. Cuban food samples and refreshments with be served. Call 320253-4036 for more information.
St. John’s Prep hosts Discovery Day
Families interested in learning about the innovative curriculum and other opportunities at St. John’s Prep are encouraged to attend the upcoming Discovery Day on Friday, Jan. 17. Students currently in grades 5-11 are welcome to attend classes, meet the teachers and students and experience what it’s like to be a part of the St. John’s Prep community. Parents are also invited to attend an information session with administrators of the school. Registration for Discovery Day is required; For more information, visit www. sjprep.net or call 320-363-3321.
Hammer-Cofell to perform at ‘Local Roots’ concert by Dennis Dalman firstname.lastname@example.org
When Adam Hammer of Sartell was challenged in a “Songwriters’ Contest” to write a song about “skinny-dipping,” he accepted the challenge. In 20 minutes, seemingly without any effort, the song just came to him, and it remains a favorite of his listeners. “Underwater Love Song” Hammer describes as a “tonguein-cheek sweet little love song.” Audiences will have a chance to hear Hammer’s skinny-dipping ditty at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, the latest “Local Roots” concert at the Paramount Theatre in St. Cloud. Hammer and his friend and musical colleague, Dave Cofell of St. Joseph, will perform a set of their all-original songs that night. Tickets may be purchased at www.paramountarts.net. Both Cofell and Hammond are songwriters who have been honored as a duo for three consecutive years (20011-13) as “Best Original Music” by the annual “Best of Central Minnesota” poll.
The duo will be backed by guest bass player Jeff Engholm of St. Joseph and by Bennett Velline, the 12-year-old grandson of rock-pop legend Bobby Vee. Also on the night’s program is “Harper’s Chord,” a bluegrass-folkcountry blues band comprising lead singer Jill Moore and seasoned musicians Roger Fink and Paul Drinkwine – all long-time performers from the St. Cloud area. Their latest CD collection is called “Natural Bridge.” Hammer and Cofell also have their own CDs, which have received warm reviews and frequent radio play. Cofell’s CD is entitled “No Substitute (For You).” Hammer’s is entitled “Broken Like You.” Raised in Henning, Hammer grew up in a family brimming with musical talent. Playing an instrument and singing were as natural, to him, as breathing. He’s played guitar since age 12. “I like to play progressive folk and blues and tend toward the more modern folk style,” he said. “Dave (Cofell) goes more for traditional folk and blues, but our two styles overlap Concert • page 5
Year in Review: Part 2
For additional criers, visit www.thenewsleaders.com and click on Criers.
Adam Hammer (left) and Dave Cofell rehearse at Rockhouse Productions in St. Joseph to prepare for their upcoming Paramount Theatre show.
Good omens for future popped up all over by Dennis Dalman email@example.com
Joe Perske, the Sartell girls’ soccer coach, retired after 10 years of coaching. The new coach is Carrie Raehsler, who was coached by Perske during his second year of coaching.
Perske has taught physical education at Sartell Middle School since 1990. He is now serving his second term as mayor of Sartell. The city council approves, on a 3-2 vote, plans for a seven-acre dog park to be installed in Pinecone Central Park. Cindy Fitzhum of Sartell pub-
lishes a novel entitled “How Do You Choose the One?” It is a “young-adult” novel about a young woman facing a crisis as she is torn between two boyfriends. The city council approves allowing some non-city residents to use the Sartell Compost Site. For a $61 annual fee, up to
200 permits will be issued to residents of LeSauk Township or other area cities to use the site. Sartell residents pay $31 to use the site. Sartell Mayor Joe Perske and 20 other mayors from cities along the Mississippi River vow to protect the quality of the Review • page 4
A monster almost killed a husband and daddy by Dennis Dalman firstname.lastname@example.org
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photo by Graham Burnett
The Ben and Kerri Dirkes family of Sartell has faced many terrifying “life-and-death moments “ in recent years. Fortunately, they have many moments now to be thankful and happy about. From left to right are father Ben, Elijah, Dakota, Zoey and mother Kerri.
For many harrowing days and nights, Ben Dirkes faced imminent death from a threatening monster, and every dreadful minute his wife, Kerri, faced that monster with him. And now, thankfully, the monster has been destroyed and Ben is still alive. There will be a benefit breakfast for the Dirkes family from 8 a.m.-noon Sunday, Jan. 12 at St. Augustine Parish Hall at 442 2nd St. SE in St. Cloud. There
will be pancakes, sausages, hash browns and fruit, as well as a silent auction and bake sale during the event.
The monster that almost killed Dirkes was a fast-growing mass of tissue in Dirkes’s brain that doctors described as a “monster tumor.” It was so large and so embedded it took a team of experts to decide just how to go about removing it. The terrifying journey began last October when Ben began Dirkes • page 2
Sartell Newsleader • www.thenewsleaders.com
Friday, Jan. 10, 2014
Dirkes from front page
Santa Jeb Willis hugs Country Manor Health Care and Rehab Center patients Arlene Rhode (left) and Rita Egger. Country contributed photo Manor employee Becky Frericks looks on. Dancers from Northcrest Activity Center (left to right) Lorelei Clouse and Lily Warnert, both of St. Cloud; Jaxon Teska of Country Manor Health Care Center celebrates Kimball and Abigail Sanborn of Sartell perform at the Country the season with a Hometown Christmas event Manor Hometown Christmas event Dec. 14. Country Manor Health Care Center and Rapid Recovery and Aquatic Center hosted its 14th annual Hometown Christmas event on Dec. 14. Hundreds of family members and friends of Country Manor residents and guests joined the Country Manor staff and volunteers in celebrating this infamous and very special tradition on campus. The true meaning of Christmas was felt by all in the spirit of faith, family, community and friendship as the warmth of the holiday season was expressed across campus. The sights and
sounds of peace and joy filled the day as residents and their loved ones gathered for a plethora of holiday activities and entertainment. The harmonious sounds of Christmas carolers and Granite City Sound Choir performing in the Chapel, the Sartell High School 7th Street singers and local musicians playing traditional Christmas songs rang throughout the Health Care and Rehab Center. While visitors listened to the delightful sounds of Christmas, they also enjoyed cookie decorating,
Christmas crafts and performances by dancers from the North Crest Activity Center, a live nativity presentation, horse-drawn trolley rides and a holiday-themed pool party. Families gathered for pictures with Santa and offered some last-minute gift ideas to the jolly Mr. Claus. Guests also enjoyed an array of decadently prepared cuisine; including five different international themed menus as well as traditional holiday hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Favorites included reuben potato skins, chicken skewers with peanut sauce, chili
cheese tarts, beef and mushroom kabobs with blue cheese sauce and turtle cheesecake. Menu was created and prepared by the Country Manor culinary department and available throughout the Health Care and Rehab Center. The Hometown Christmas is a special event that truly captures the joy of the Holiday season. To learn more about Country Manor Health Care & Rehab Center, please visit www.countrymanorcampus.org or call 320253-1920.
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suffering unexplained headaches, dizzy spells and random vomiting. After two scans, doctors notified Ben and his wife they should go to the emergency room immediately. Kerri, notified at work, quickly went home in a state of alarm and drove Ben to the St. Cloud Hospital. Both were in a state of disbelief. How could this be happening? Ben, only 37, had been a topnotch athlete during his highschool years in Sauk Centre. He was always very physically active and faced no major health problems. Both Sauk Centre residents, Ben and Kerri Dodd were good friends in high school, but it was only after their college years that their friendship deepened into love, and they married. They have three children – Zoey, 8; Dakota, 6; and Elijah, 2.
More bad news
The news of Ben’s brain tumor was also upsetting because it was yet another fear the family has had to face. For years, Kerri had battled skin cancer, but thankfully last summer she was triumphantly told she was in remission from the disease. Two years ago, both had lost their jobs because of the ongoing economic slowdown and they depleted their savings. They both found jobs again, he as a nursing assistant at Country Manor in Sartell, she as a documents official for loans and compliance at Wolters Kluwer in St. Cloud.
At the hospital, the Dirkeses didn’t have long to ponder the dreadful possibilities Ben faced. Surgery, they were told at first, would go fine. But once neurosurgeons took a closer look, they were stunned by the size of the rapidly growing tumor. There would be several risky procedures involved in removing it. One required a glue to be inserted in the biggest artery that was attached to the tumor. If that artery would rupture during surgery it could possibly cause a lethal stroke. The tumor was connected to several arteries, and it was so massive it was literally squeezing the brain and causing fluid buildup. There was a good chance Ben might not come out of it alive.
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Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 Ben and Kerri, together in the hospital room, endured a terrifying night. They both felt as if they were facing a virtual death sentence. Next morning, Ben was wheeled in for surgery, a process that took many hours. Meantime, Kerri and her family and members of Ben’s family sat waiting, nerves jangling, in the waiting room. They tried hard to be brave and hopeful, but they kept bursting into sobs, fearing the worst. After surgery, Ben was suffering intense pain, but because pain killers would not affect that part of his brain, he had to endure hours of hideous pain. What’s worse is the tumor had still not been removed. The first operation had been the one that prepared the surgical removal.
Even more bad news
Doctors told Kerri the tumor was even bigger than they’d thought. Then they told her it was connected to not just the one main artery but several others. On top of that horrifying news, Kerri heard something even worse. During the surgery the day before, the tumor had moved in the brain, causing a catheter to get wrapped around Ben’s brain stem. The lead surgeon said if they tried to remove the catheter, Ben would likely die. With such bleak options, there was no choice but to proceed and hope and pray for any
kind of “better” outcome. Before Ben was wheeled to surgery, Kerri told him to vividly remember the faces of their three children “because they need you, and I need you,” she said. She then kissed Ben and told him how much she loved him. Everyone who’d known Ben, even strangers, were praying for him and his family through the terrifying ordeal. Clergy gathered at the hospital to comfort Kerri and the others.
The complex surgery took all day long. Finally, Kerri heard from the doctor a word that almost made her swoon with relief: “Stable.” Ben had emerged from surgery in stable condition. Kerri nearly collapsed from a combination of nervous relief, fatigue and hunger. But her relief was tempered later by the news Ben might be virtually paralyzed because during surgery he had suffered four mini-strokes. In the post-surgery days, doctors and everyone else were amazed Ben was able to breathe on his own. They called it “Miracle Number 2” after “Miracle Number 1,” which was Ben’s surviving the surgery. His recovery, however, was still touchand-go. Then, later, Kerri was astonished when she noticed Ben move an arm and then a leg. Everyone, bright with smiles, began to call Ben the “Miracle Man.”
Ben’s recovery continues, with lots of ongoing therapy. He has some cognitive impairment, his right leg is much weaker than his left, his stamina has dwindled, and his brain easily becomes overwhelmed if there are too many stimuli at once. He has to take frequent rests. Meantime, Kerri and the three children are making endless adjustments, happy ones because they are so grateful a husband and father is alive. The two youngest children sometimes have trouble understanding why their daddy is not quite the same. “Dakota knows enough to the point of knowing daddy needs help sometimes and also sometimes needs rest,” Kerri said. “Elijah knows daddy has a bump on his head and can’t wrestle on the floor or play ball with him.” Kerri said she cannot find words to express how grateful the family is for the overwhelming support and prayers they’ve all received from family, friends, work colleagues and even strangers. The Dirkeses know there is another long part of their journey – Ben’s continued recovery. Kerri said they all know it will not be an easy road. It will be tough all the way. But that’s OK because they are so happy to have a husband and daddy back home again when, not too long ago, they were almost certain they would never see him again.
‘Home Stretch’ takes guesswork out of first-time home-buying by Dennis Dalman email@example.com
M a n y people thinking of buying their first home have no idea what a thicket of challenges and glitches Krebsbach the process can become.
That is why the “Home Stretch” workshop was developed – to guide first-time buyers through the exciting but challenging steps that lead to home ownership. A “Home Stretch” one-day workshop is slated from 8 a.m.5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15 at Liberty Savings Bank at 111 7th Ave. S. in downtown St. Cloud. Registration is required. To register, call Trista at 320-2580681 or register online at www.
cmhp.net. For those who want to check out an online course, similar to Home Stretch, there is a link on that site about “Framework” and how to register for it. Registration for the Home Stretch course must be done by Tuesday, Jan. 14. There is a fee for the Home Stretch workshop, but those who bring someone else will receive a discount, and the Krebsbach • page 7
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Review from front page big river. The mayors, from as far away as Mississippi, attend a three-day conference in St. Cloud. It is the second annual gathering of mayors in the ongoing “Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative.” Although only 21 mayors attended the conference, there are at least 55 mayors along the length of the Mississippi who are dedicated to protecting the river in conjunction with many groups and agencies, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The family of a boy suffering from cancer all cut their hair in tribute to his struggle and his own hair loss. Nathanial Gray of Sartell was diagnosed with Stage 3 anaplastic large-cell lym-
Sartell Newsleader • www.thenewsleaders.com phoma. His parents, Tano and Julie, and Nathaniel’s brother all cut their hair off in a spirit of solidarity. Nathaniel continues to receive treatments for the disease, and his prognosis is very good, his mother noted. Kathy Horner and Wanda Carlson are pronounced “wife and wife” during a same-sex wedding ceremony at the Spiritual Unity Center in Sartell. The Rev. Barbara Winter officiated at the ceremony, which was a landmark happening – one of the first same-sex weddings in Minnesota following the state’s legalization of same-sex marriage, which went into effect Aug. 1 throughout the state. “We are very excited, very happy,” said Carlson after the vows were exchanged. Brett Weaver of Sartell is named “Coach of the Year” by the Midwest Premier Football League. He is head coach for the Granite City Renegades, which
is owned by him and his wife, Danelle. Hundreds of families and individuals enjoy the annual “Take a Day Off on the Mississippi River” in Stearns County Mississippi River Park north of Sartell. Dozens of activities, including fishing, pontoon tours and arts activities were available for people to enjoy. Millie Moran, who suffers from memory loss, writes a memoir entitled “Socially Challenged,” which features highlights from her interesting life as a worker, wife, mother and volunteer. The Sartell-LeSauk Fire Department is honored as “Fire Department of the Year” by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The department was cited in particular for its weeklong efforts following the explosion and fire at the Verso paper mill, which killed an employee and caused the permanent shut-down of the
historic plant. After winning first place at the regionals in Hinckley, the Sartell Muskies baseball team heads for the state tournament in Delano. Anita Rasmussen, Sartell’s city planner and developer, is appointed to the Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails Commission by Gov. Mark Dayton. She is one of 13 people appointed to that commission by the governor. Rasmussen, who has served Sartell for 13 years, has vast experience with the development of Sartell’s superb parks and extensive network of hiking-biking trails. The annual “Cookout with Cops” breaks all attendance records. Hundreds of senior citizens enjoy a free lunch and guest speakers at the event in St. Francis Xavier Church’s Gathering Place. The cookout is sponsored by the Sartell Police Department.
Friday, Jan. 10, 2014
The Sartell Muskies triumph by winning the Class C Amateur Baseball Tournament in Delano. They won four games in a twoday tournament in Maple Lake’s Irish Stadium. In the final game, a real stunner, the Muskies won 10-0 over the Belle Plaine Tigers. Veteran pitcher Dave Schlangen became the third Muskie in the Muskies’ history to throw a shut-out at state competition. Gopi Ramanathan is a member of a three-person American team who won the international Geography Bee, which took place in St. Petersburg, Russia. His teammates were Neelam Sadhu of Bedford, N.H. and Asha Jain of Menocqua, Wis. Ramanathan, during his years in Sartell Middle School, excelled in many geography bees and spelling bees. Four Girl Scouts spent a lot of time and work to improve Huntington Park in Sartell. They planted trees and made other improvements to earn their “Silver Award.” The Scouts are Kali Enstad, Emily Hoppe, Ally Haas and Jessica Mergen. An extremely brutal hot spell caused Sartell residents and businesses to use a record amount of water on Aug. 28. On that day, an astonishing
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Friday, Jan. 10, 2014
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5.8-billion gallons of water was pumped at the city’s two water plants. Claire Miller of Sartell, a ninth-grader, wins five ribbons at the Minnesota State Fair for her artworks, which include paintings in oils, acrylics, watercolors, as well as pastel drawings. The Karki family of Sartell is elated to finally be able to adopt a baby from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Carrie and Allen Karki went through many trials and tribulations, disappointments, several long trips and a mountain of paperwork in an effort to adopt Talia Lee. The toddler is now a happy part of the Karki family, along with her new siblings: Chandler, Avah and Keegan. The Sartell Rotary Club raises funds for a water-well project at an orphanage in Cameroon, Africa. Rotary members were inspired by a talk from Jan Hanson of Sartell, who is a Rotary
member and director of “200 Orphanages Worldwide.” The Sartell-St. Stephen School Board approves a teaching contract, with salaries to increase by 2 percent the first year and 3 percent the next year. A St. Scholastica campus opens in Sartell after being located in St. Cloud for many years. It’s a branch of College of St. Scholastica in Duluth and is one of four outstate CCS campuses in the state. Brenda Braulick, the Sartell school system’s food-services director, is named president of the Minnesota School Nutrition Associaton. Braulick is well known for her exciting and innovative approaches to nutrition and getting students to try foods they thought they wouldn’t like. To read the final quarter of Year in Review and the story in its entirety, visit www.thenewsleaders.com.
he’s just an incredible drummer,” Hammer said. Despite his busy performing schedule, Hammer has a day job. He works at St. Cloud State University in media relations and publications. He graduated from SCSU in 2005 with a degree in mass communications. He was managing editor for the SCSU Chronicle newspaper and also wrote entertainment news for the St. Cloud Times. Cofell was raised in Collegeville, the youngest sibling of seven children. His father headed the Education Department of St. John’s University and his mother is a botanist. Cofell has played instruments almost before he could walk. As a child, he never watched television as his parents did not own one, so instead he read a lot of books and learned how to play any instrument that came his way, including banjo, recorder and marimba. He currently plays guitar, harmonica and kazoo. Cofell estimates he has written about 300 songs, so far. Many of the songs come from personal experience, but others are just imaginative lyrical riffs
from front page nicely.” At the Paramount show, the duo will play only original tunes, alternating between one by Dave and one by Adam, although both join in on most of the songs. Hammer said he and Cofell are very pleased about how the Paramount Theatre saw fit to feature so much local talent in its periodic “Local Roots” concerts, including the upcoming one. “I really love these concerts because they put the focus on local music, especially on local original music. We’ve often played small gigs here and there, but to be in a big theater like the Paramount is just incredible.” Hammer is also glad to share the stage with “Harper’s Chord,” a band he’s guest-played with many times. Hammer added he is also happy to have drummer Bennett Velline back him and Cofell. “Bennett just turned 12, and
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Soccer coach Joe Perske huddles with his players during a game. that just come to him, seemingly out of nowhere. “After I quit a job one time, I turned that experience into a train song – about trains, about leaving,” he said. “I’ve written a lot of songs with weather in them – the seasons, rain, snow, fog.” Many people are familiar with Cofell and Hammer as the hosts of Open Mic Night at The Local Blend coffee house in downtown St. Joseph. He and Hammer play about 150 gigs far and wide every year. Cofell also teaches guitar at Ham’s Music in St. Cloud and also teaches Quan Li K’an, a form of martial arts for self defense and safety. But his first true love has always been music. “I try to play more from the heart than the head,” he noted. “Things that are really important to me. My genres are just about anything – blues, folk, jazz, rhythm and blues. Adam (Hammer) and I teamed up about five years ago. We have different styles, but we complement each other well in performance. My songs tend to be more serious and melancholy than Adam’s.”
Almost anything can spark a song in Cofell’s head, including the time a friend had to leave New Orleans in a heckuva hurry when Hurricane Katrina came howling in. The friend left food in his fridge – food that quickly rotted. Right away, Cofell decided to write about the man’s
dilemma and the fate of the abandoned food by including the humorous chorus sung by rotting-food items. People will have a chance to hear that tune, “The Fridge Song” during the Jan. 11 concert at the Paramount Theatre.
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Friday, Jan. 10, 2014
Newspapers look forward to more story ideas in 2014 We hope our readers enjoyed a trip down Memory Lane last week when we published some of the many highlights in our 2013 Year in Review for both the Sartell and St. Joseph Newsleaders. The reporters who compiled those summaries were both amazed by how many good changes and how many interesting people contributed to life in those two cities, both of which showed dynamic, positive growth in virtually every way – from infrastructure development to new housing, from academic achievements to cultural innovations, from local sports triumphs to successful farmers’ markets. What is also amazing is how many people in those cities did so many interesting things in 2013. They were the subjects of so many feature stories in both Newsleaders throughout the year. And in 2014, our newspaper staff hopes to do even more interesting human-interest stories. Most of those stories come from people who tell us about them through phone calls, emails or postal mail. Most often such news sources are teachers, parents, co-workers, friends, neighbors or relatives of people they know who are particularly interesting or who have done or are about to do something noteworthy: a fascinating trip, earning an award, doing a fundraiser, helping raise awareness about an issue and virtually every other kind of human endeavor. We ask our good and loyal readers to keep those kinds of story ideas coming strong in 2014. We also ask those readers to remember the following two tips when submitting story ideas: 1. This is the most important tip: Be sure to include the telephone number of the person you would like us to interview for a story, as well as your own telephone number. It’s not enough to suggest we interview, say, Betty Jones. That is because the phone number for Betty Jones, most likely, will be impossible to find in a telephone book – first of all because Jones is probably her husband’s last name and Betty’s name won’t be listed alongside her husband’s in a phone book; and second, because as many as one in three people have cell phones, not land phones, and thus do not have their names listed in phone books. Many potentially interesting stories had to be dropped by the Newsleaders because we did not receive enough information (mainly a lack of phone numbers) to pursue the stories. 2. Tell us briefly why the person is interesting or why this story would be a good one to write for the newspaper. It’s also helpful to tell us if the person is from Sartell, St. Joseph or St. Stephen. That is because people have to be residents of one of those cities or connected in some way to them before we will do stories about them. Our readers like us to keep our local papers local, stories and people specific to each city. Always remember, if there are any questions, feel free to call the Newsleader office at 320-3637741. Or email your story idea or send questions via email to email@example.com We look forward to hearing more good story ideas from you in 2014, and our reporters are eager to begin covering another great year in our respective cities.
Fairness and ethics
Newsleader staff members have the responsibility to report news fairly and accurately and are accountable to the public. Readers who feel we’ve fallen short of these standards are urged to call the Newsleader office at 363-7741. If matters cannot be resolved locally, readers are encouraged to take complaints to the Minnesota News Council, an independent agency designed to improve relationships between the public and the media and resolve conflicts. The council office may be reached at 612-341-9357.
2014 should bring minimum-wage boosts It’s good to see what appears to be a renewed commitment to the topic of income inequality throughout this nation, including a passionate vow by newly elected Gov. Bill DeBlasio in New York City. President Barack Obama and Pope Francis also weighed in on the topic. The president said “ . . . a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility” is “the defining challenge of our time.” In a forceful emphasis, the pope said income inequality is leading to a “new tyranny” and criticized worldwide faith in “trickle-down” economics, claiming such a belief “expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.” It’s heartening to know so many leaders – president, pope and many in the U.S. Congress – are bringing the income-gap to the forefront of pressing issues that must be resolved. For a welcome change, so many seem to be on the same page. Polls of the American people also show a deep concern for inequality, with all polls indicating a majority (as many as 70 percent in some polls) favoring an immediate raise in the national minimum wage. Let us hope big advances toward closing the income-equality gap occur in this new year, 2014. Statistics glaringly indicate just how long overdue is the problem of lopsided incomes. All people should care deeply about this issue because in one way or another it affects all of us. For ex-
Dennis Dalman Editor ample, many people working hard in substandard, low-wage jobs simply do not make enough money even to cover such basic necessities as rent, food, utilities, gasoline – not to mention car-repair bills or medical emergencies. As a result, many of those people must depend upon forms of social-help programs funded by the taxpayers. It’s such good news to hear repeatedly the national economy is recovering from the abysmal recession that began in 2008. Every day we’re told the stock market has scored record highs, which is good, indeed. But it’s discouraging those gains are not realized by the overwhelming numbers of the American middle class, the working class and the working poor. Stock-market gains benefit mainly the upper 1 percent. Corporations whose profits are soaring are generally not plowing those gains into job-creation. In other words, benefits are rarely if ever “trickling down” in the form of rewarding jobs and livable wages. That is what is most crucial in solving the income-inequality gap: decent jobs and livable wages. It’s both absurd and cruel to proclaim,
as some grinches do, that someone can make it on the minimum wage in today’s world. The current federal minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is $7.25 an hour for nonexempt employees. Adjusted for inflation, that wage is equivalent to the minimum wage of the 1960s. State by state, the minimum wage varies. In Minnesota, it is $6.15 for large employers and $5.25 an hour for small employers. That’s because there are categories of exemptions from the federal minimum wage for some kinds of workers, such as workers with disabilities, full-time students and workers under age 20. Fortunately, most enlightened, progressive Minnesota employers pay a wage well above those minimum amounts. Lessening the income gap so all workers enjoy a good wage is not an easy challenge, especially when people opposed will continue to call wage-boosting efforts “class warfare,” an ironic accusation if ever there was one. However, there is hope as more and more people pressure their elected leaders to vote for an increase (at least $10) in minimum wages. That will be a good start. Such an increase is so longoverdue the unjust delay ought to be considered a national disgrace. So let’s make 2014 a truly Happy New Year for all Americans. Let’s tell our legislators to do the right thing: Vote for a substantial mininum-wage increase.
Bitter winter teaches lessons to my daughters “How cold is it?” That’s the question I’ve heard 100 times from my 12-year-old daughter, Krystene, this past week. She seems to think she is invincible and ventures out into the frigid weather without wearing a coat, hat or mittens. I keep telling her to learn from her 3-year-old sister, Kayla. She is always bundled up from head to toe. Sometimes I wonder if I overdo it. Just like the little boy in the movie “A Christmas Story,” who takes a tumble, rolls back and forth but still cannot get back up on his feet because of all the layers of clothing and that puffy snowsuit big as a giant marshmallow. If Kayla slips and falls on the ice, she’ll have extra padding, and I hope to be there always to pick her up if she falls. This past week was a perfect chance for both my children to learn how dangerous it can be to be outside in this crazy deep freeze. “How cold is it?” Krystene asked again. “It’s cold enough to freeze your skin in seconds if you’re not cov-
Tara Wiese Guest Writer ered,” I told her for the umpteenth time. I have given them the bundle-up speech, and they have heard similar bundle-up advisories on the news and from their friends. Why didn’t scientists warn us there was going to be another Ice Age so soon? Today, I felt like the snowman in the classic Campbell’s soup commercial, melting as I drank my cup of soup early this afternoon. All the windows at the office – frosted over and glistening from the reflections of the sun – give me a feeling of claustrophobia, of being trapped inside as Old Man Winter raged outside those frosted windows. When I should be working, I find my mind slipping away to daydreams of a tropical getaway: palm trees,
sunshine, warm breezes. Then reality hits like a slap in the face. Ouch! Starting the car, warming it up on my lunch break and then venturing out to the merciless Arctic cold just to do it all over again. Remember the boy who was dared by his friends to stick his tongue onto a metal pole? The little fool took the dare and – sure enough – got stuck. My hands feel that way when I’m using my keys to open my car door. Kids are cheering as school is closed due to alarming, plummeting temperatures, reaching 25- to 35-below zero and wind chill values at 40- to 60-degrees-below zero. I can relate to their whooping joy. We all need a break from this cruel cold. I need to remind myself why I live in Minnesota. I guess it’s so I can instill in my daughters my winter-weather advice. Dress in layers. Wear your coats, your hats and your mittens. And, not to forget, you naughty kittens, whatever you do, do NOT stick your tongues on cold metal poles.
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Sartell Newsleader • www.thenewsleaders.com
Friday, Jan. 10, 2014
Friday, Jan. 10 Blood drive, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., American Red Cross, 1301 W. St.. Germain St., St. Cloud. 1-800-7332767.
brary, 253 N. 5th Ave., Waite Park. 320-253-9359. Sartell City Council, 7 p.m., City Hall. 320-253-2171.
Saturday, Jan. 12 Ben Dirkes benefit breakfast, silent auction and bake sale, 8 a.m.noon, St. Augustine Church parish hall, 442 2nd St. SE, St. Cloud.
Tuesday, Jan. 14 Blood drive, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., American Red Cross, 1301 W. St.. Germain St., St. Cloud. 1-800-7332767. Basic Computer and Internet Help, 11 a.m.-noon, Al Ringsmuth Public Library, 253 N. 5th Ave., Waite Park. Advanced registration required. 320-253-9359. Sartell Chamber of Commerce, 11:45 a.m., City Hall. 320253-2171. Teen Movie Night, 6-8:30 p.m., wath the PG-13 film based on the book “The Hunger Games,” Al Ringsmuth Public Library, 253 N. 5th Ave., Waite Park. 320-2539359. Holistic Moms Network, 7-8:30 p.m., Good Earth Co-op, St. Cloud. 320-252-2489.
Monday, Jan. 13 Blood drive, noon-6 p.m., American Red Cross, 1301 W. St.. Germain St., St. Cloud. 1-800-7332767. Writers Group for adults. 6:308 p.m., Al Ringsmuth Public Li-
Wednesday, Jan. 15 First-Time Homebuyer Education, 8 a.m.-5 p.m, Home Stretch workshop, participants will receive a completion certificate. Call Trista at 320-258-0681 to register. Liberty Savings Bank, downtown St.
Saturday, Jan. 11 Sartell Farmers’ Winter Market, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Sartell City Hall, 125 Pinecone Road N. 55+ Driver Improvement program (four-hour refresher course), 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Miller Auto Plaza Community Room, 2930 2nd St. S., St. Cloud, 1-888-234-1294. Local Roots Series Concert, 7:30 p.m., Adam Hammer and Dave Cofell along with Harper’s Chord. Paramount Theatre, 913 West St. Germain St., St. Cloud, 320-2595463.
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Cloud. www.cmhp,.net Car seat clinic, 3-6 p.m, certified technicians check the safety and fit of your car seat in your car. from page 3 Free service. Gold Cross Ambulance person brought along will also garage, 2800 7th St. N., St. Cloud. receive a discount. All attend320-656-7021. ees will also be automatically registered to receive a gift card. Home Stretch is a program Thursday, Jan. 16 Coffee and Conversation, a se- that began in 1995 by the Cennior discussion group, 9 a.m., Coun- tral Minnesota Housing Partnership. The workshop prepares try Manor, Sartell. Blood drive, noon-6 p.m., Amer- people for what to expect when ican Red Cross, 1301 W. St.. Ger- buying their first home. The topics covered include the immain St., St. Cloud. 1-800-733-2767. portance of credit scores, qualiEvening Book Club for adults, fying for a mortgage, the entire 6:30-7:30 p.m., Al Ringsmuth Pub- buying process, how best to lic Library, 253 N. 5th Ave., Waite shop for a home, the closPark. Newcomers welcome. 320- ing process, government loans, 253-9359. down payments, cost-assistance programs and even the Friday, Jan. 17 basics of home maintenance. Blood drive, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., American Red Cross, 1301 W. St.. HEALTH Germain St., St. Cloud. 1-800-733- Medical Alert for 2767. Seniors – 24/7 monitoring. St. Joseph Farmers’ Market, FREE equipment. FREE shipping. 3-6 p.m., Resurrection Lutheran Nationwide service. $29.95/ month. Call Medical Guardian Church, 610 CR 2 N., St. Joseph. today. 1-888-721-6758. (MFPA)
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Those who complete the oneday workshop will receive a certificate of completion, which is a requirement for some of the home-buying programs available for first-time buyers. Jason Krebsbach is community-development director for the CMHP, which is a non-profit organization that provides affordable-housing services to central Minnesota and which also coordinates the Home Stretch program. Buying a home, Krebsbach said, is a serious process, not like going out to buy a flatscreen TV or even a car. “Buying a house is one of the biggest events in your life so it’s best to be as prepared as possible,” Krebsbach said. There are many Home Stretch workshops held throughout Krebsbach • page 8
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Angel is a 2-year-old spayed, white and cream colored Siamese mix with great big beautiful eyes. She came to the shelter because her owner no longer had enough time to care for her. Angel has done great with dogs as well as other cats. She was also very friendly with older children. Angel is described as a very affectionate and loving cat. If an affectionate and loving lap cat sounds like the perfect fit, stop by the shelter to meet Angel. “Helping one animal won’t change the world … but it will change the world for that one animal!” Dogs - 12 Puppies - 2 Guinia Pigs - 2
Cats - 28 Kittens - 22
Rabbits - 5 Gerbil - 1
Tri-County Humane Society 735 8th St. NE • PO Box 701 St. Cloud, MN 56302
Hours: Monday-Thursday Noon-6 p.m., Friday Noon-8 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. & Sunday Noon-5 p.m.
News Tips? Call the Newsleader at 363-7741
Krebsbach from page 7 central Minnesota. The typical workshop has about five to eight enrollees, although before the housing slump hit five years ago, that number was much higher, as many as two dozen or more, Krebsbach noted. However, the smaller number of enrollees is ideal because it allows for lots of personal interaction between instructors and enrollees and more time for one-on-one help. Those who cannot attend the Jan. 15 Home Stretch might consider enrolling for the twopart upcoming evening workshop, which will take place from 5-9 p.m. on two evenings, Feb. 25 and Feb. 27. For more information about that workshop, call Trista at 320-2680681. Krebsbach said even if people don’t plan to shop for their first home until a year or more from now, it’s a good thing to take a Home Stretch workshop as soon as possible. Learning the ins and outs of homebuying as early as possible is a big boost to success as it will allow people to plan more wisely and get things in order, such as credit scores, before the active process of home-buying begins. Such preparations give people the vital facts needed and help them become thoroughly knowledgeable about
Sartell Newsleader • www.thenewsleaders.com home-buying. People can learn a methodical process instead of having to learn all of it in stray bits and pieces, Krebsbach noted. Another step Krebsbach recommends is for people thinking of buying their first home to make an appointment with a CMHP home-ownership counselor to review one’s financial situation. The service is free. Krebsbach said he loves his job. “I like to help people we can
assist,” he said. “It feels good to help them realize their dreams. I helped start the Home Stretch workshop and taught it myself for a year. It was fun and interesting, and I met a lot of people from different backgrounds. They learned what they need to do in purchasing a home. And it was good, when I’d do follow-ups with them, to hear they did close on their house sale and that things were going well for them.”
Friday, Jan. 10, 2014
GRRL reading program in full swing through Feb. 22 Between the holidays and the spring thaw stretches a period of dark nights and cold days that may be the best reading time of the year. You can make it even better by taking part in Great River Regional Library’s Winter Reading Program. The program is
in full swing at all 32 library locations and ends Saturday, Feb. 22. The program is for adults and teens in sixth-grade or older. Its theme is “Make Tracks to Your Library.” For more information, visit www. thenewsleaders.com and click on Criers.