St. Cloud Area Fun Singers to perform

The St. Cloud Area Fun Singers will offer a delightful afternoon of holiday music and humorous anecdotes at 2 p.m. 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.

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Group sells ‘bricks,’ raises money for Uganda trip

Fifteen people, most of them members of Celebration Lutheran Church, have gone into a fundraising mode, hoping to raise enough for a two-week trip to Uganda to build a school.
Although the trip won’t take place until next August, time is of the essence as organizers have to raise funds in advance to ensure the trip can even happen.

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St. Joseph company is leader in ‘green’ building

About 20 men and women in the construction industry recently journeyed to St. Joseph to get a lesson in a growing area of environmentally friendly building practices.

Hosted by Borgert Products Inc. of St. Joseph, the two-day school offered an introduction to permeable-interlocking-concrete-pavement installation, a practice that helps reduce the amount of run-off in rivers, that can save money and provide a natural groundwater filter.
Susan Borgert, chief executive officer for Borgert, a concrete manufacturer, said the company started the “Borgert Technical School” a few years ago to certify contractors on the installation of concrete paving stones. They held their fourth class Nov. 12-13.
“We are the first company in the nation to have our own PICP class,” Borgert said. “We’ve had four classes so far. We are one of the original manufacturers of concrete paving stones in the U.S. and the first west of the Mississippi.”
Borgert offers permeable interlocking concrete pavements made from Bogert’s pavers. It’s a permeable surface and is considered a best-management practice for storm-water management. Because it is a flexible pavement system, Borgert said it has the ability to move but stays intact. It does not heave from freezing and thawing, she said.
Students in the class earlier this month watched as a fellow classmate dumped gallons of water on the interlocked pavers. It looked as if the water disappeared instantly as it seeped down through the pavers instead of standing on the ground in puddles.
Frank Gandora, one of the instructors for the class, explained the pavers require less maintenance and last longer than asphalt or concrete. He said in the long term it’s a more cost-effective option.
“It’s a 50-year design product,” Gandora said. “It’s three times as strong as concrete.”
Students in the class were using the pavers to create a parking-lot area for Borgert Products Inc. Because the business is creating a permeable surface that is not considered hard cover, Borgert said she plans to apply to the city for a reduction in their stormwater fee. Borgert has a satellite yard in Colorado. The business pays about $10,000 for the amount of hard cover it has on its property – a fee most municipalities charge businesses. Borgert said the company pays about $3,000 in storm-water fees to the City of St. Joseph.
Borgert explained the federal government regulates municipalities to take action in managing stormwater runoff. A lot of the infrastructure in larger metro areas can’t handle the amount of runoff because of all of the hard cover, like roadways and parking lots. The PICP will now be a part of Minnesota guidelines, something that took time to develop and for engineers to embrace.
“It’s a huge problem,” she said. “It (the traditional way) puts pollutants in our groundwater.”
While the PICP is an engineered system, it’s a practice that is starting to be incorporated more into building projects. George Strzala, president of Borgert, said the company is a leader in manufacturing this product that can be used for parking lots, roadways and driveways.
“It’s like a filter; it recharges the groundwater,” Strzala said. “You have to give Mother Nature something back. It’s gaining momentum.”
Borgert Products Inc. has used the paving system for businesses and schools throughout the state and beyond. Those who walk the campus of the College of St. Benedict can see some concrete pavers installed by Borgert. The pavers at CSB are different from the ones installed during the recent class.
“We have to start doing stuff like this,” Borgert said. “It’s the future. If we destroy our water sources, you can’t live without water.”
St. Joseph is regulated by a federal pollution permit. St. Joseph City Engineer Randy Sabart recently informed city council members the state is requiring a change in managing illicit discharges in the city’s storm sewer.  Sabart explained the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is looking for an ordinance that protects the storm sewer, not just the sanitary sewer. The council will consider a new ordinance Dec. 6.
“What we have in place today isn’t quite strong enough,” Sabart said. “The MPCA is requiring we strengthen that protection against pollution in the storm-sewer system.”
The revised ordinance will define what’s exempt and explain what is allowed to be discharged, Sabart told officials.

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Students gather to celebrate

The campus of the College of St. Benedict glowed with flickering lights Nov. 27 when students gathered outdoors to celebrate “Christmas at Saint Ben’s.”
Hundreds of students cheered as CSB President Mary Ann Baenninger plugged in the 20-foot-tall Christmas tree, covered with more than 3,000 white lights. Many of the students held small candles or torches to honor the CSB motto of “Sic Luciat Lux Vestra,” which is Latin for “So Let Your Light Shine.”

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Fenlasons grace pages of ‘Golf Business Magazine’

Many people who pick up the November issue of “Golf Business Magazine” will be pleasantly surprised to find a large photo of two familiar, friendly faces – Kittie and Linda Fenlason of Sartell.

The Fenlasons, who are sisters-in-law, are the owners-operators of Blackberry Ridge Golf Course in Sartell. They are the subjects of a laudatory magazine article entitled “Owning Up,” which details the successful struggles of the two women to take over operation of the golf course after the untimely deaths of both of their husbands. “Golf Business Magazine” has a worldwide circulation.
The story was written by Kyle Darbyson, a freelance writer from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Darbyson and other magazine staff members visited the Fenlasons several months ago, so the story was not a surprise for Linda and Kitty, although both were pleased and proud of how the story turned out.
Kittie said the magazine people were incredibly kind and thoughtful during their visit.
“It was a very good experience,” she said. “We liked the story very much.”
Kitty and Linda were married to the Fenlason brothers, Veryl and Donnie. They raised their families on the 560-acre Fenlason farm, part of which became the Blackberry Ridge Golf Course after a neighbor suggested the land would be perfect for a course. The brothers took awhile to consider that suggestion and then they went with it full-steam ahead. The course opened in 2001, and as the magazine story tells it, the two brothers had to turn in their farmers’ “coveralls for khakis” when they became full-time golf-course operators.
Sadly, just three years after the course opened, Donnie Fenlason, the husband of Linda, died after a lingering illness. As if that were not tragic enough, only 11 months later, Veryl (Kittie’s husband) succumbed to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Needless to say, the deaths left Kittie and Linda devastated. They considered selling the golf-course property. Neither woman knew very much about business, and they were not even that keen about the game of golf. And yet, a kind of true grit gripped the women, and they decided to try to run the business and lead it out of the debts that had accrued. There was no cash flow to speak of. First, the women finished a process their husbands had begun by refinancing the original loan that had begun to cause the business to slip into a financial danger zone. Linda became chief executive officer and Kittie was named chief financial officer. Their struggle to redeem the business and make a go of it continued. One day, their banker suggested they meet with a business consultant, Bruce Miles of St. Cloud. His specialty is strategic planning and organizational effectiveness. Miles first put the women through a “business boot camp.” Then he convened a kind of impromptu board of directors of savvy business people, put Kittie and Linda in a room with them, and the women peppered them with questions, learning valuable insights and advice from such experts.
Then Miles put the women in touch with a food vendor, who taught the women how to make money through food sales. Linda and Kittie eventually gained confidence in leaps and bounds, and then proceeded to make a series of very positive changes at the golf course.
Through superb bookkeeping, business analysis, frequent meetings with staff and other measures, the Fenlasons became very adept at accounting for the money coming in and the money going out and how to manage it all scrupulously.
The two women took control of the golf course just three years ago. Miles and others are astonished by how well the women have done and how far they have come as successful business owners and managers.
The story writer, Kyle Darbyson ends “Owning Up” with these words:
“It’s been close to three years since Linda and Kittie took over Blackberry Ridge, and the two women couldn’t be happier. ‘Sometimes I can’t believe how far we’ve come,’ says Kittie.
“Meanwhile, Linda reflects from her kitchen, just off the course’s par-3 No. 11 hole. ‘I can see the red-roofed barn that’s been here since the (19)50s. I can smell fresh-cut grass, and I can hear laughter coming from the tee box. It’s a pretty special place to be.’
“Asked what their husbands would say if they were to look down on her and Kittie, Linda doesn’t hesitate. ‘They’d say they were really proud of us.'”

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Survey to help city prioritize services

Residents have a chance to share their thoughts on city services in an effort to make them better.
The city is participating in an online survey offered by the League of Minnesota Cities. Specifically, the survey looks at city services and how they can be improved. This is the second time the city has participated. The LMC coordinated the survey for the first time earlier this year due to a new requirement for cities to receive state aid.
Some of the areas the survey looks at include rating the appearance of the city, the overall feeling of safety within the city, the condition of city streets and quality of snowplowing of streets. By design, once a participant rates those areas of the survey, he or she can also provide additional comments.
St. Joseph Mayor Rick Schultz said the survey is more of a tool for the LMC in understanding what services are working and those that are not working in cities.
“We can react to issues or concerns that come up,” Schultz said. “This survey is more for the state than it is for the city. It helps the League of Minnesota Cities provide stats when they lobby for cities. ”
In 2010, the Legislature created the Council on Local Results and Innovation and charged it with developing 10 performance measures for cities. Part of the legislation was for the state auditor to administer the Performance Measurement Program by which cities meeting the eligibility requirements would receive funding of 14 cents per capita, up to $25,000, and be exempt from levy limits if they are in effect. In order to receive the 2013 incentive payment, cities have to file a signed resolution to adopt the 10 measures with the auditor. Participating cities will also need to administer the online survey that asks 12 questions.
A link to the  survey can be found on the city’s website, The deadline to complete the survey is Dec. 10.

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GNTC to hold auditions for ‘Something’s Afoot’

by Lois Bauer-Rieffer

The Great Northern Theater Company will hold auditions for their dinner-theater production called “Something’s Afoot,” which is a reprisal of the first GNTC dinner-theater production at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, Dec. 4 and 6 in the choir room at Rocori High School. Callbacks will be Thursday Dec. 13, if necessary. Rehearsals will be Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings and the production will be presented at the Great Blue Heron in a dinner-theater production Feb. 14-17 and 22-24.
“Something’s Afoot,” featuring 10 actors, is a campy murder-mystery musical with odd occurrences happening to all the cast members throughout. Kasi Stein will direct this production again as she did the first time in 2002. There are roles for six men and four women, ranging in ages from late teens to 60+. A cockney accent would be a plus. For more information, visit the GNTC website at

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Lions to raise funds, toys for tots Dec. 2 at Blue Line Bar and Grill

A Sartell Lions meat raffle and football raffle on Sunday, Dec. 2 will raise funds for Lions’ projects, as well as toys for the “Toys for Tots” program.
It will all take place from noon until 3 or 4 p.m. at the Blue Line Bar and Grill during the Vikings-Green Bay game. Those who come to the event are requested to bring a toy for Toys for Tots. When Lions member Mike DeLuca heard the Toys for Tots program was seeking toys, he decided to combine the raffles with a toy effort. The Toys for Tots program is operated by the Marine Corps Reserve of Central Minnesota, and all toys are given to needy children in central Minnesota. Those who bring toys should, if possible, bring one worth $10 or more. Those who bring a toy will receive a free drink.
Throughout the day, starting at noon, participants can buy a meat-raffle ticket (or multiple tickets) for a dollar each. Fifteen packages of meat will be raffled off.
The other raffle is for one of two coolers filled with meat. One is a Minnesota Vikings cooler; the other is a Green Bay Packers cooler. For $3 per ticket, people can “bet” on which team is going to win the football game. A winner will be drawn from the tickets for the winning team’s cooler, which will contain about $50 worth of meats.
Proceeds from the raffles will be used by the Sartell Lions Club for needy families in Sartell or for needs of the school system.
DeLuca said anyone can just drop a toy off at the Blue Line Bar and Grill, even if they cannot stay for the game and the raffles.
The Blue Line Bar and Grill is located at 1101 2nd St. in Sartell at the intersection of Pinecone Road and 2nd Street.
For more information, call DeLuca at 320-293-1560.

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