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Reaching EVERYbody!

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Newsleader Sartell

Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 Volume 17, Issue 48 Est. 1995

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Cold Spring officer’s murder stuns area by Dennis Dalman

Town Crier

Market Place to raise funds for malaria nets

The fourth annual Firefleyes Holiday Market Place will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 in the Boy Scout Building, 1191 Scout Drive, Sartell. There will be 40+ vendors, a silent auction and door prizes. Free admission. A child dies of malaria every 30 seconds. This year’s proceeds will provide malaria nets to save lives. For more information, visit and see our ad inside.

The St. Cloud Area Fun Singers to preform

The St. Cloud Area Fun Singers will offer a delightful afternoon of holiday music and humorous anecdotes at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13 in the Celebration Lutheran Church Gathering Place. Everyone is invited to attend and bring a friend. Refreshments will be served. The event is sponsored by the Sartell Senior Connection. Call 320-253-4036 for more information.

Wacosa recycles holiday lights

Don’t throw those old holiday light sets in the garbage. Recycle them instead. WACOSA, in collaboration with the Recycling Association of Minnesota, is collecting unwanted light strings, electrical, telephone and appliance cords this holiday season. WACOSA workers will remove the bulbs from the holiday light strings and then all bulbs and donated cords will be recycled. Several area businesses have collection boxes for these items that can be brought in during their regular business hours. These locations include the following: Ace Hardware in Little Falls, Brenny Transportation in St. Joseph, Denny and Kathy’s Ace Hardware in St. Cloud, Mimbach Fleet Supply in Sauk Rapids, MinnWest Bank in St. Cloud, Sentry Bank in St. Cloud and St. Joseph. Tri-County Solid Waste in Waite Park, WACOSA’s DocuShred Storefront in Waite Park and Whitney Senior Center, St. Cloud. For more information about the holiday light recycling program or if you would like collection bins for your business location, please call Beth at WACOSA 320-257-5182.



photos by Janelle Von Pinnon

Several police squad cars from Sartell participated in the funeral procession Dec. 5 for slain Cold Spring-Richmond Police Officer Thomas Decker, who was killed in the line of duty Nov. 29. More than 2,300 vehicles from agencies throughout Minnesota and even from neighboring states participated in the procession to show solidarity and support. The vehicles traveled side-by-side in the procession, which lasted 30 minutes.

Local members of chorale to perform ‘A Child’s Christmas’ Dec. 15, 16 by Cori Hilsgen

“A Child’s Christmas,” a holiday concert recalling the innocence and wonder of Christmas as seen through a child’s eyes and ears, will be performed Dec. 15 and 16 by the Great River Chorale and its musical guests at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Cloud. The concert will include traditional Christmas carols, new music and familiar songs for audiences of all ages to sing along to. The performance is centered around a musical fable featuring Brother Heinrich, a 14th century monk, and Sigismund, a donkey that ‘sings’ in the abbey choir.

The Chorale’s musical guests include the Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota’s Mixed Chorale and the Concert Choir of the St. Cloud State University Cantabile Girls’ Choir Program. A total of 152 people are performing in the concert, including two guest instrumentalists, a narrator, three accompanists and three ensembles. The ensembles include 42 GRC, 68 YCCM and 36 Cantabile performers. Among the many performers of the GRC are Sartell residents Joe Hill, Maureen Fox-Meyer, Lori Satterness and Holli Zieske. Also performing are St. Joseph residents Nina Lasceski, Courtney Kroska and Ethan Wittrock. Sartell resident Joe Hill said

he feels privileged to be singing with GRC. “It has been a rekindled joy to be able to sing with a wonderfully talented community of musicians,” Hill said. “My children have been involved in YCCM, Cantabile and the choral program at Sartell High School. They nudged me to try out for GRC after being away from music performance for many years. “The Christmas concert is a remarkable event as it showcases the voices of choirs representing multiple generations celebrating the amazing story of Christmas. I was inspired after attending the GRC Christmas concert in 2010 and (am) greatly privileged to now be a Choir • page 4

Memorialized as a “brother, uncle and friend to many,” Cold SpringRichmond police officer Thomas Decker Decker was buried with full police honors Wednesday after a funeral at St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville. Decker, 31, is the father of four children: Kelly, 8; Jade, 7; Justin, 6; and Devon, 5. Decker was murdered at 11 p.m. Nov. 29 in Cold Spring while attempting to check on the well-being of a man who was reported to be suicidal. While getting out of his squad car in a parking lot behind Winner’s bar, Decker was struck by at least one bullet fired from a second-story window above the bar. The alleged shooter lived in an apartment above the bar. Decker was pronounced dead at the scene. The alleged shooter, Ryan Michael Larson, 34, was apprehended after a search in the heart of the city. He remains in Stearns County Jail and is expected to be charged with at least one count of murder. Larson had been a student at St. Cloud Technical College. Officer Decker’s tragic death shook the Cold Spring community and sent shock waves throughout Minnesota. Flags were flown at half-mast, and Gov. Mark Dayton issued a statement: “On behalf of the people of Minnesota,” Dayton said, “I extend my deepest sympathies to his family and to the Cold Spring Police Department for their tragic loss of an outstanding officer, father and friend.” Decker • page 3

Senior Connection moves into new ‘home’

by Dennis Dalman

The Sartell Senior Connection will soon be able to celebrate its fifth birthday party in its new “home.” Last week, that new “home” opened officially in the east wing of the Sartell-St. Stephen School District Office Building. On Dec. 3, the Sartell Senior Connection Board held its first

meeting in the room, which used to be the school library many years ago. In a pleasant serendipity, the room is still a library. Two of its walls are lined with bookshelves holding the thousands of books of the Senior Connection’s lending library, which is open to anybody of any age in the Sartell area. Those book shelves are, in fact, the same shelves that

lined those walls for years in that library room. But now they shine with a fresh coat of white paint. Members of the Senior Connection decided to paint the shelves, which had been a dark varnished wood. The shelves were removed from the walls and hauled to the garage of Ann Doyscher-Domres, coordinator for the Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education program. About 10 Senior Connec-

tion members and DoyscherDomres spent many long hours sanding the old shelves and painting them so they now look spanking-new. Throughout the past summer, Connection members were in a kind of limbo. A massive reconstruction project throughout the school system, especially at the Office Building, caused many rearrangements, and the Connection temporarily lost its

Sartell Newsleader •


Suspect in Decker slaying released Just the day before the funeral of slain police officer Thomas Decker, the man who had been arrested in connection with his murder was released from the Stearns County Jail. The news stunned everyone, including many supporters of Decker’s who were gathered outside the jail to find out if Ryan Michael Larson, 34, would remain in custody or be released. On Monday, Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall had asked and received permission from a judge to hold Larson in jail another day beyond the time limit. That limit passed Tuesday, and Larson was released at about noon. According to the county attorney, there was not enough evidence to continue a jail hold on Larson. Although he was released, that does not mean Larson is no longer a suspect. The investigation by many agencies is continuing. A shotgun allegedly used in the slaying has yet to be located, and police have requested all Cold Spring residents to keep an eye out for such a weapon. Larson has maintained since his arrest that he is innocent of the crime.

Photo contest promotes safe winter practices Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management wants to make sure Minnesotans are prepared for both outdoor and indoor hazards. HSEM sponsors an annual photo contest. Amateur photographers, adult and youth, are encouraged to take goodquality digital photos of winter nature scenes, holiday gatherings, outdoor sports and kids enjoying winter. The contest runs from now to March 1. Prizes will be given away in each category at the end of the contest. Minnesotans must remember to

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assemble a winter-weather-survival kit. It should include: a blanket, hat, boots, gloves, flashlight with good batteries, snacks, matches, a tin cup to melt snow for drinking water and a bright ribbon to tie on the vehicle’s antenna to alert authorities help is needed. “We are all busy, but it’s very important to take the time to prepare for winter,” Eide said. “We hope the What’s Your Winter? photo contest encourages families to prepare for and safely enjoy winter.” Visit for more information.

Call the Newsleader at 363-7741

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Scarlett Jane Matthews, daughter of Rochelle and Jeremy Matthews, Lakeville, Minn., was born at 7:46 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 in Woodwinds Hospital, Woodbury, Minn. She weighed 7 pounds 3 ounces and measured 20.25 If any readers have tips concerning crimes, they should call the Sartell Police Department at 2518186 or Tri-County Crime Stoppers at 255-1301 or access its tip site at Crime Stoppers offers rewards up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for crimes. Nov. 21 3:10 p.m. Found property. Benton Drive. A woman’s bike was found lying by the road. It’s being held at the Sartell Police Department. 3:46 p.m. Theft. Walmart. A male and a female were witnessed attempting to leave the store with unpaid merchandise. They admitted to the theft. Both were issued citations. One was released and the other was transported to the Stearns County Jail. 4:01 p.m. No pay – gas. Twin River Court. A report was made regarding a customer driving off without paying for gas. Officers contacted the owner who stated she forgot. She returned to the store and paid. 8:41 p.m. Found property. Perimeter Drive. A bike was found in the area and is being held at the Sartell Police Department.

inches long. Grandparents are Jane and Rich Matthews, Sartell, and Jean and Scott Wensmann, Lakeville. Great-grandparents are Richard Wensmann, Bay City, Wis, and Norma and Fred Demuth, Lakeville.


Nov. 22 2:41 p.m. Suspicious person. Walmart. A report was made that two people were selling puppies from their vehicle and they were possibly leaving them in the box on the vehicle while they sat in the car. When officers arrived, the puppies were inside the car and the box was on the trunk. The two adults moved the box and sign. Nov. 23 3:49 p.m. Traffic stop. 2nd Street S. A vehicle was witnessed traveling into the center turn lane and back out several times. The driver stated she was testing the traction but was unable to provide proof of insurance. A citation was issued and she was released. 6:45 p.m. Domestic. A call was made regarding an argument between a husband and wife. The wife had begun throwing chairs and the husband attempted to restrain her. Once officers arrived the situation was resolved and no further action was needed. Nov. 24 12:15 a.m. Juvenile complaint. 7th Street N. While on patrol, officers witnessed three juvenile males snowboarding. The juveniles were sent home. 10:53 a.m. Property damage. Cheval Drive. A Direct TV cable

box was pried open on the outside of a home. 1:53 p.m. Theft. Walmart. A female was witnessed attempting to leave the store with unpaid merchandise. The female admitted to the theft. She was issued a citation and released. Nov. 25 1:10 a.m. Noise complaint. 7th Avenue S. A complaint was made regarding loud music coming from an apartment. Officer spoke with the renter who agreed to turn down the music. Nov. 26 8:25 a.m. Property damage. 1st Street N. A mailbox was hit sometime overnight. The road was icy and maintenance was sent to sand the icy area. 1:57 p.m. Traffic stop. Riverside Avenue. A vehicle was witnessed running through a stop sign. The driver admitted to being in a rush and not stopping. A citation was issued and she was released. Nov. 27 8:53 a.m. Traffic stop. Riverside Avenue. A vehicle was witnessed traveling 49 mph in a posted 30 mph zone. The driver was not aware of her speed. She was issued a citation and released.

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Published each Friday by Von Meyer Publishing Inc. Publisher/Owner Janelle Von Pinnon Editor Dennis Dalman

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Sartell Newsleader •

Friday, Dec. 7, 2012


Older building transformed into pediatric clinic by Dennis Dalman

Long-time Sartell residents who walk into the “Sartell Pediatrics” clinic in Sartell will have trouble remembering what that building looked like before. More than 30 years ago, that brick building at 111 2nd St. S. was a drive-up bank. And then, for many years, it turned into a series of bar-restaurants with varying names such as the V-Bar and The Bank. And now, thanks to the owners and Hagemeister Mack Architects of St. Cloud, the facility is a brand-new working space

Decker from front page Decker’s death brought back bad memories of two other deaths in Cold Spring – the shooting deaths of two students by a fellow student in 2003 at Rocori High School in Cold Spring. Decker graduated from that school in 2000. He had grown up on a dairy farm near St. Nicholas. Decker’s death also was a sad reminder of another police officer death – that of Brian Klinefelter, who was shot to death on Jan. 29, 1996 while making a roadside stop on Hwy. 27 in St. Joseph. His shooter was later

with stunning wall colors, lighting ambiance and areas flooded with natural light from very large windows. Even the exterior of the building has been altered, with brick-work extensions to the east and west. The owners of Sartell Pediatrics, Dr. David and Jill Smith, are very proud of their new business location in Sartell. “We’re very happy to be part of the community and to have a clinic that is convenient, close and personalized,” said Jill Smith, who serves as practice manager for the clinic. Dr. David Smith is also happy to have a Sartell location.

“”I am very excited to practice in the town we’ve grown to love and call home,” he said. Dr. Smith was formerly an employee of St. Cloud Medical Group, but last year he decided to open his own clinic. He and Jill began looking for good office space with the idea of refurbishing an existing structure for their needs. After consultations with architects and planners, they decided the building on 2nd Street would be perfect. “Hagemeister Mack Architects did wonders with this space in what was an odd-shaped building,” Jill Smith said. The Smiths and the architects

decided to save the “pluses” of the building, which included huge windows and a dance-floor area’s 30-foot high ceiling. That area is now a clinic station with examining rooms nearby. Sartell Pediatrics is a primarycare clinic with a wide range of services that include newborn check-ups, well-child checkups, sports and school physicals, vision and hearing screenings, and diagnoses and treatments for a wide variety of the more common ailments, as well as more chronic ones that can include asthma, bronchitis, the flu, fevers and factors that can cause learning disabilities such

as depression, anxiety, attentiondeficit disorder and behavioral problems. “Our focus is on excellent care close to home,” Jill Smith said. “We want to make it easier for patients and their families by being close by. Even our parking is convenient, close to the building.” Another major practice emphasis is trying to ensure each child patient keeps seeing the same primary-care giver at the clinic – Dr. David Smith. That kind of continuity, the Smiths said, is very important for the patients’ and their parents/ Clinic • page 8

shot to death by a police officer in St. Cloud when the man tried to kidnap people from a house. His two companions in the car served 13 years in prison. They had previously that night robbed a liquor store in Albany. Last year, 72 police officers were shot to death in the United States. Decker’s death was the first police officer to be slain by gunfire in 2012 in Minnesota. From 1996, when Klinefelter was killed, there have been 10 Minnesota law-enforcement officers shot to death in the line of duty. A visitation was held Dec. 5 for Decker at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Cold Spring. After the St. John’s Abbey service, he was buried in the St. Nicholas Catholic Cemetery in the town

where he was raised. Thousands of people, including law-enforcement officers from throughout the state, attended Decker’s funeral and the procession to the St. Nicholas Cemetery. Decker was born in St. Cloud to John and Rosella Decker. He studied law enforcement, including at the Alexandria Vocational College law-enforcement program, then served as a police officer in Isle, Kimball and – for the last six years – for the Cold Spring-Richmond Police Department. He loved his police work, and his colleagues said he went always above and beyond the call of duty, eager to help anybody in a crisis. He liked to collect police badges and even designed some of them himself.

His hobbies were fishing, hunting, traveling and playing games. When he was younger, he taught religion classes in St. Nicholas. During his police service years, he was a firearms instructor. As an officer, he received five letters of apprecia-

tion and a special commendation award for heroism. Survivors include his wife, Alicia; his four children; his parents, siblings Eddie, Larry, Terry, Billy, Shelly and Joey. He was preceded in death by a sister, Susie; and four grandparents.

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Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

Sophomore Dockery to star as Junie B. Jones by Dennis Dalman It’s quite a feat for a 10thgrader to act the role of a first-grader in a play and have the audience captivated and in stitches by the antics of the little school girl. But that’s what Regan Dockery of Sartell does. The Sartell High School student is utterly Silen aucti t items tooon !


ket Place Mar

convincing as Junie B. Jones, the lead character in “Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells.” What’s just as remarkable is that Dockery, when she was a wee girl, loved the Junie B. Jones series of books. Her mother used to read the books frequently to Regan and her sisters. Flash forward about 10 years, and Dockery now finds

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herself playing Jones. The play, a production of GREAT Children’s Theater will open Dec. 7 for six performances at the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater. The production is a partnership between GREAT and St. John’s University’s Fine Arts Programming. Dockery tried out for the part last fall and was elated when she heard the good news that the role was hers. “I was really, really excited,” she said. “I always loved that character of Junie B. Jones.” Dockery has performed in several school theater productions, but this is her first role for GREAT Children’s Theater. Dockery described Junie B. Jones as “a very spunky firstgrader with lots of personality and with a headstrong streak.” The play takes place just before a classroom “Secret Santa” party. As her Secret Santa gift receiver, Junie draws the name of a classmate of whom

she is not exactly fond. That classmate, named May, is a know-it-all blabbermouth. Junie ponders what to get and how much to spend on the gift. The present she eventually chooses is, to say the least, quite a surprise. Dockery admits she had some trouble memorizing her lines for the play, mainly because Junie speaks a kind of slang that’s far from proper English. English happens to be Dockery’s favorite subject at school, which is instantly obvious to anyone who hears Dockery speak in an articulate, precise manner. The costumes and scenery in the play are visually stunning like those in bright, colorful cartoons, Dockery noted. “They are very visual so young children can enjoy the show, too,” she said. Dockery is the daughter of Mark and Robin Dockery. She has two sisters – Tyler, 18; and

Jordan, 13. Those sisters, too, enjoy theater. All will be in the audience the night of the debut performance.


The Cantabile Choir is in its 16th year and has 36 members. Fourth- through sixth-grade girls perform in the Choristers Choir and sixth- through ninth-grade girls perform in the Concert Choir. The season runs from September to May. Choristers have about four local and regional performances each year and the Concert Choir has about eight annual local, regional and national performances. Grace Jorud, a member of Cantabile, is an eighth-grade Sartell resident who is in her third year of singing with the Concert Choir. “Throughout the years of Cantabile, this particular concert has just gotten better year by year,” Jorud said. “Singing with the GRC brings energy and excitement. (It) makes me feel Christmas is getting closer and closer. The songs we sing in this concert get me even more in the Christmas spirit. The concert has become an important part – my favorite part – of my Cantabile experience. I’m really excited to see how this concert turns out.” YCCM’s director Garrett Lathe is also the choir director at Sartell High School. Lathe has been teaching in Sartell for 12 years

and estimates more than 100 students from Sartell and St. Stephen have sung in YCCM, with about 20 students performing each year. In the early years, Sartell High School singers served as the core of the group. Lathe said YCCM has been practicing since Oct. 28 and will capture the imagination of the audience with a rousing Noel processional from Africa. “This is always a highlight of the YCCM Mixed Chorale’s season,” Lathe said. “Every year I’m struck by the beauty of this concert. This is something truly amazing that happens when you put 150-plus voices together spanning such a wide age range. I don’t think it’s possible to attend this concert and not be deeply affected by it.” “A Child’s Christmas” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16. Tickets range in price from $5 for students to $15 for adults, with a $40 total price for a family of four, and can be obtained by emailing or calling (320) 515-4472. To read the article in its entirety, visit

from front page part of the experience.” Holli Zieske, another Sartell resident, is in her second year of singing with the GRC. “Upon moving to Sartell from out of state, I was thrilled to find and then be a part of such a fine chorale group right in my own community,” Zieske said. “During the Christmas season, I’m especially excited about singing with the GRC because in my opinion, music brings the season of Christmas to life. I have no doubt members of this community will be blessed by experiencing “A Child’s Christmas” as I am in being able to sing in this concert.” Founded in 2000, the GRC holds annual auditions which draw members from as far away as the Twin Cities. Members are selected based on the outcome of their individual auditions. The GRC is a community choir with the purpose of enriching the community and enhancing the cultural life of people of all ages in central Minnesota and beyond.

contributed photo

Regan Dockery of Sartell plays the role of Junie B. Jones in a play that opens Dec. 7 on the St. John’s University campus.

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Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

Sartell Newsleader •


tion Center is open weekdays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. to anybody of any age, as is its library.

from front page

Background Jan Sorell, chair of the Connection Board, has been with it since its inception five years ago. She reminisced about its successes during an interview with the Sartell Newsleader. Thanks to the Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education program, city staff and a core group of seniors, the Connection got off to a rousing start in late 2007 and early 2008 with lots of ideas and energies. Since then it has grown to the point where it has its own newsletter, online and print version, that is sent to about 600 people. The core group of members, who meet most regularly for one or more events, consists of from 50 to 100. “It’s so good for seniors to be with other seniors, other people,” Sorell said. “It’s so exciting for all of us to form the organization the way we want it to be. There is so much creativity, so much variety. We’re always willing to try something new. It’s an amazing group to be a part of.” What has always impressed Sorell, she said, is at least half of the Connection members are relative newcomers to the Sartell area. Five years ago, before the Connection was founded, they did not even know one another. And now, after five years, they’ve become very good friends and mutually enriching acquaintances. “Because most of us did not know one another, that makes our group so special because when someone joins us, that person doesn’t feel

headquarters. For several years, seniors had met and held activities in a large room in the west end of the building, which was many decades ago and up until the late 1960s the Sartell School, grades K-8. During the summer hiatus, the furniture and other items in the old Connection room had to be stored, including all of the books in its lending library. College-student interns working with the communityeducation program were kind enough to do a lot of the heavy lifting, including recently when all of the stored books had to be hefted down the stairs from their second-floor storage area. The school district’s reconstruction project, fortunately, had always included new quarters for the Connection – a large room right across from the old cafeteria and near the gymnasium. A small at-hometype kitchen connected to the cafeteria can now be used by Connection members. Someday, the Connection might have a home in a Sartell Community Center, when and if one is built. For years, that outcome has been a goal of not just senior citizens but of city officials, too. But in the meantime, seniors are relieved and happy to have a central meeting place once again. They are also happy the reconstructed building now has two multi-purpose rooms that can be reserved for Connection events. The Sartell Senior Connec-

Sartell’s Farmers’ Market Saturday

Dec. 8

10 a.m.-1 p.m. Mark your calendars! Jan. 5, Feb. 2 & March 2

WHAT YOU WILL FIND: • seasonal vegetables • meat (pork, chicken, beef) • eggs • dried herbs • fudge and Christmas cookies • canned goods • sunflower oil • coffee beans and ice coffee concentrate • tea • jams and jellys • lefse’ • bread and bars • pottery • wood crafts • recycled products • popcorn h • scones muc and re! o • candies m

Sartell City Hall 125 Pinecone Road N.


photo by Dennis Dalman

At right: In their new quarters, members of the Sartell Senior Connection Board hold their Dec. 3 meeting. From left tor right are Jan Sorell, chair of the board; Myron Umerski, JoAnn Olson, treasurer, and Judy Morgan. Sitting at the left of the table, out of view, are Gerri Boser, Lint Edgerly, Mike Gilbert, Ron Hurd, Pat McNeal, Al Meier and Jim Wasdyke. Nonvoting citizen members of the board are Sandra Cordie, Sartell City Council member; Ann Doyscher-Domres, coordinator of the Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education program; Therese Haffner, a member of the Sartell City Staff and secretary for the Sartell Senior Connection Board; and Gail Rucks, activities coordinator for Country Manor Apartments. like this is some kind of established clique,” she said. “I only knew one other person when we started this. And now I have a huge circle of friends because of the Connection. It’s our mission to keep aging adults active, interested, curious, learning and healthy.” And that mission comes naturally because members of the Connection, with their lifetime of diverse experiences, always bring new ideas and new activities, making the group always fresh and dynamic, Sorell noted. The Connection also is a big asset to the Sartell area, Sorell believes, because by staying active, healthy and involved with the entire Sartell community, there is less need for resources Home • page 7

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Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

Opinion Our View

Decker’s murder should remind us to be grateful for law enforcement The tragic, disturbing murder of Cold SpringRichmond police officer Tom Decker is yet another reminder of how dangerous are the jobs of law-enforcement personnel. In Minnesota, 124 officers have been killed by gunfire since 1881, according to the “Officer Down Memorial” webpage. The cold-blooded killing of Decker was, for those who remember, a traumatic flashback to the murder of officer Brian Klinefelter, who was shot to death by a suspect he stopped on Hwy. 75 in St. Joseph. That murder occurred on Jan. 29, 1996. Since then, 10 lawenforcement officers have been killed by gunfire in Minnesota, including a woman – Melissa Jayne Schmidt, a Minneapolis officer shot to death on Aug. 1, 2002. Throughout the nation, 72 officers were shot and killed in 2011. These awful murders should remind us to appreciate and to thank the law-enforcement servants who protect us. It’s often said law enforcement is the “thin blue line” that separates public safety and security from chaos and danger. These good people truly do serve on that thin blue line. They are constantly putting themselves in danger, and that danger can come from the most unexpected places, such as an officer checking on the wellbeing of someone threatening suicide, as happened in the case of Decker’s murder. What a tragic irony it was – a police officer killed in the attempt to do a good deed, a possible intervention to get the man the help he needed. And, lest we forget, it’s not just ambush murders that happen to officers. It’s every conceivable kind of death that can happen in zones of crises and emergency situations – the very places where law officers tend to be. Law-enforcement personnel have been killed in accidents, by being struck while directing traffic, crushed in structural collapses, in accidental electrocutions and in falls from high heights. The very nature of their jobs subjects law officers to those ever-present dangers. Serious injuries and deaths, including murders, as we know all too well, can happen anywhere – big cities and small towns and in the most remote rural areas. Every day, our police and sheriff’s officers put their lives on the line. Imagine the stress their families endure, knowing every day when daddies or mommies leave for their law-enforcement jobs, they may never see them again. And imagine the family’s horror and grief when that “knock on the door” arrives, as it did for the loved ones of Tom Decker, the 31-year-old father of four young children. We want to help honor the memory of Decker for his 10 years of service in Isle, Kimball, Richmond and Cold Spring. The kudos keep coming in about what a great officer Decker was. He always went the extra mile to help somebody in need. We also want to extend our sympathies to Decker’s family and to his many friends who will miss him so much. Decker is a good example of why we should be constantly grateful for those who put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us. They are true heroes. Let’s never forget them.

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.

Teens’ murders raise many questions Our heartfelt condolences and sympathy go out to the families and friends of Haile Kifer and Nicholas Brady. The two teens were killed by a 64-yearold male suspect during what police are calling a break-in on Thanksgiving Day near Little Falls. I realize circumstances of this case are unfolding and will continue to unfold daily, and because the rest of us don’t know and may never know what actually occurred during the crime, it’s never wise to jump to conclusions or condemn a suspect until all evidence is gathered and the trial has concluded. After all, all suspects must be presumed innnocent until proven guilty. The man should not be tried in the media. Still, the most recent facts are these: Byron David Smith has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder, bail has been set at $2 million and authorities are saying Smith used unnecessary and excessive force. Morrison County Attorney Brian Middendorf described the killings as “cold-blooded” and the circumstances of the murders “appalling.” No, the teens were not perfect angels as more news of connections with prior crimes started coming out. But still kids make mistakes. That’s how they learn.

Janelle Von Pinnon Publisher As a mother of an 18-year-old daughter myself, I’m sure Haile’s (and Nicholas’s) parents are replaying this nightmare second by second, minute by minute, day by day and asking over and over, “Why?” Why were the teens near that man’s house in the first place? Why Thanksgiving Day? Why would the two youth break a window to enter his home? Why was the man ready and waiting with loaded guns? Why did the suspect so brutally and repeatedly shoot each teen and then, instead of calling 911 for an ambulance and police, reload his weapons and continue the rampage after each was disabled by the first shot well after he realized both were unarmed? Why did he drag the bodies into a basement room and not leave the evidence intact? Why did it take more than 24 hours to report the crime? Why would the girl “laugh,” as the suspect claims, when his gun jammed after she’d already been shot once? Why did the sus-

pect feel compelled to fire several more bullets and then “a good clean finishing shot” to put her out of her misery, yet was “thoughtful” enough not to disturb the authorities on a holiday? When all we have is the suspect’s version of the incident, how will we ever know what truly happened? How will the teens have a voice? So many unanswered questions. Hopefully forensics will help shed some light. Still, as a parent, my heart aches for anyone who hears that awful news their precious child is dead. And when the parents lay these two to rest last Saturday, so did they also lay to rest their dreams and hopes for their futures: no plans for celebrating graduation from high school or beyond, no excitement over their first “real” jobs, no meeting their significant others with the hopes of wedding bells, no pattering of little feet – of a new generation that would remind them of their children when they were little. Such tragic losses. Such utter despair, not only for the families, but for the community and the world at large.

Probable cause requires specific reasons I have often been asked, both when I was a practicing attorney and since being appointed to the bench, what facts justify an officer pulling over a motorist in Minnesota. There are many cases that have addressed this issue, and as you would expect, those cases are very fact-specific. In general, the law in Minnesota is an officer must have “reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity based on a totality of the circumstances.” That means the officer must identify a specific reason or circumstance that justifies the stop. The stop cannot be based on mere speculation, curiosity or a hunch. In Minnesota, an officer may stop a vehicle for virtually any violation of traffic or driving laws, even “minor” offenses, which include driving conduct such as speeding, failing to stop for a stop sign or semaphore, failing to signal a lane change, operating a vehicle at night without the proper lighting, turning without a proper signal or an improper lane change. Motor-vehicle equipment violations can also be a legitimate reason for police to conduct a traffic stop. A broken taillight, excessive window tinting, expired license-plate tabs, a license plate with any characters of the plate covered by any material such as snow or dirt or a cracked windshield (whether or not the crack actually obstructs the driver’s vision) all provide law enforcement with a valid reason to conduct a stop. Many people drive with air fresheners,

William Cashman Stearns County Judge dream catchers, handicap-parking permits or other objects hanging from the rear-view mirror. Minn. Stat. § 169.71 prohibits anything from being suspended between the driver and the windshield other than a sun visor and the rear-view mirror. There are two exceptions the statute allows – a safety-monitoring system or a global positioning system. Minnesota appellate courts have concluded that objects hanging from the rear-view mirror provide the police with a legitimate basis to stop a vehicle. If an officer has knowledge the registered owner of the vehicle does not have a valid driver’s license, the officer may conduct a traffic stop, as long as the officer does not have any information that the driver is someone other than the owner. For that reason, if a female driver is pulled over, but the registered owner with the invalid license was male, that stop, without any other facts to support the stop, would be subject to challenge in court. If an officer witnesses evasive conduct by a driver, that too may provide a valid basis to conduct a traffic stop. In determining whether the driver’s actions are

deemed to be evasive conduct, a judge will determine if the officer can sufficiently describe why he or she believed that particular driver was attempting to evade the officer in light of all circumstances. The Minnesota Supreme Court has determined the use of temporary roadblocks to stop vehicles with the hope of catching impaired drivers violates the Minnesota Constitution. Whether a stop can be justified by information provided to the police as a result of a citizen complaint is dependent upon various factors, such as what information did the citizen report that establishes the vehicle’s driver is committing a crime, what is the basis of the citizen’s knowledge and whether the citizen identifies themself. With the holiday season quickly approaching, law enforcement will likely increase patrol officers to crack down on drunk drivers. If you plan to drink alcohol this holiday season, please make arrangements for a sober driver. Avoiding a possible DUI and injury to yourself and others by not drinking and driving is much preferable to having to challenge the validity of a traffic stop after the fact. I wish a happy and safe holiday season to all. William Cashman is a district-court judge who presides over cases in Stearns County.

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Sartell Newsleader •

Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

Home from page 5 to be used on aging people who do not keep up their health and who thus become more dependent. Members of the Connection spurn the term “old age.” Many times, when guest speakers visit the group, the speakers say comments such as, “I thought I was going to talk to a bunch of old people today.” The speakers are always impressed by the comments, questions and young attitudes of the group members. “They seem amazed at how we don’t act old,” Sorell said. Join the fun The members of the Sartell Senior Connection are forever emphasizing their organization is for anybody of any age, Sartell residents or not. The group’s annual “Laughter and Lemonade” event is one example of its wide-open welcoming attitude. For the past three years, the entertainment event (music and comedy) has attracted almost 300 people of all ages to St. Francis Xavier Church’s Meeting Place, where the event takes place. Other Connection events, almost all of which are free, include the following: “Coffee and Conversation”

at 9 a.m. every Thursday at Country Manor Apartments cafeteria. Local and non-local speakers meet with the group for coffee and rolls and share their stories, followed by question-and-answer sessions. The “Second Tuesday” meeting meets at 2 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Connection Center. This event also features interesting speakers who often bring along slide shows, artifacts and other visual-audio items to share. The “Connection Crafters” meet at 8 a.m. every Wednesday morning in the cafeteria across the hallway from the Connection Center. People work on their wide variety of craft items, have fun and share insights about arts and crafts. Poker players meet at 1 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. A “Recycled Cards” gathering takes place at 1 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Seniors create imaginative greeting cards, using old ones that have been donated. The cards can be purchased (via voluntary donations) at the Connection Center. Another popular event is “Trivia Night,” which used to take place on the first Friday of every month. As of January 2013, it will take place on the second Friday of every month (Jan. 11) at the Connection Center. The cost of participating



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and refreshments is $5. Connection members host a singalong at 2 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month at the Good Shepherd Home in Sauk Rapids. They also do singalongs at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at Celebration Lutheran Church in Sartell. Also at 6 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month, they perform singalongs at “Legends” at Heritage Place in Sartell. Connection members and anyone else can enjoy lunch and games of Farkle at noon every Tuesday at Country Manor Apartments, although reservations are required. The cost is $5. To reserve a place, call 258-8974. Special Connection activities include occasional bus trips for sightseeing, education and fun times in other cities, such as dinner theater in the Twin Cities or – recently – a tour of some of the old mansions in Little Falls. For more about the Sartell Senior Connection, visit its website at

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CROSS Center seeks donations The CROSS Center of Benton County is in need of the following donations: new toys, diapers, food-shelf donations and sponsors for family holiday gifts. Contact Carole, CROSS Center of Benton County, at (320) 9687012.

Community Calendar

Friday, Dec. 7 “Everyday Moving and Lifting: the Powerful Way,” for seniors 55 or better, 10-11 a.m., Whitney Senior Center, St. Cloud.

Saturday, Dec. 8 Cookie Walk, 10 a.m., First United Methodist Church, 302 5th Ave. S., St. Cloud. 320-251-0804. Firefleyes Holiday Market Place, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Boy Scout Building, 1191 Scout Drive, Sartell. There will be 40+ vendors. Sartell Farmers’ Market Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Sartell City Hall, 125 Pinecone Road N. Monday, Dec. 10 Sartell City Council, 7 p.m., City Hall. 253-2171.

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St. Cloud Municipal Band performs traditional favorites as well as new pieces, 7 p.m., Whitney Senior Center, St. Cloud. Tuesday, Dec. 11 Sartell Chamber of Commerce, 11:45 a.m., City Hall. 2532171. Holistic Moms Network, 7-8:30 p.m., Good Earth Co-op, St. Cloud. 320-252-2489. Thursday, Dec. 13 Coffee and Conversation, a senior discussion group, 9 a.m., Country Manor, Sartell. Sunday, Dec. 16 Living Nativity, 5-7:30 p.m., Messiah Lutheran Church, 320 4th Ave. N., Sartell.

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Sartell Newsleader • photos by Dennis Dalman

Clinic from page 3 guardians’ comfort levels and to make sure there is a continuity and proper follow-ups to all care. While Jill Smith is a native Minnesotan, born and raised in White Bear Lake, Dr. David Smith, the son of a doctor, was raised in Ohio. He and Jill met there. They decided to move to Minnesota eight years ago,

At left: The streamlined look of “Sartell Pediatrics” was fashioned from the refurbished building on the site that used to be a bank and then a series of bar-restaurants throughout the years. It’s located at 111 2nd St. S. At right: The staff at the recently opened Sartell Pediatrics check their computers. From left to right are Jill Smith, co-owner and practice manager for the clinic; nurse Kristi Athmann; nurse Lois Fritz; Dr. David Smith, partly to be closer to Jill’s famco-owner and the clinic’s docily. They have lived in Sartell tor; and receptionist Amanda since 2005. Amundson. Beside the Smiths, there are four other staff members at Sartell Pediatrics: two nurses, Kristi Athmann and Lois Fritz; receptionist Amanda Amundson; and a part-time office assistant, Hilary Burns. Office hours are from 8 a.m.5 p.m. Monday-Friday. The office telephone number is 320281-3339. Its website is www.

Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

Sartell V17 I48  

Sartell Newsleader Dec. 7, 2012

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