photo by Dennis Dalman
Ruth Wakefield (played by Zoe Goetz) invented the Toll House chocolate-chip cookie quite by accident one day in 1930 at her inn in Massachusetts.

‘Waxwork’ inventors speak about their great inventions

by Dennis Dalman

news@thenewsleaders.com

The United States is a country of ingenious inventors and landmark inventions, a fact underscored by dozens of Pine Meadow Elementary School fourth-graders during a special event Nov. 7.

On that day, in the school’s gymnasium, the students and their teachers created what they called “The Great Inventors Wax Museum.”

All around the gymnasium, standing next to the walls, were student “wax figures” dressed up as famous inventors, mostly American ones but also some from other countries in the long march of history. Each student/inventor stood there “frozen” like waxwork figures until one or more visitors would come up and shake the hand of an inventor. That was the signal for each waxwork to become animated to tell about their lives and their inventions. After each “waxwork” would give a short summary, “it” would again lapse into immobility.

One of the waxworks was Ruth Wakefield, played by Zoe Goetz. A Massachusetts native, Wakefield invented the “Toll House” chocolate-chip cookie in 1930. She and her husband had purchased a tourist lodge, called a “toll house,” in Whitman, Mass. Wakefiield was known for the delicious foods she served to her guests at the inn. One day, she had run out of powdered baking chocolate when making cookies. So she decided to break up a bar of chocolate into little bits and add them to the dough. Instead of melting, as she thought they would, they remained in pieces in the cookies. The new kind of cookie was an instant hit with her visitors and, in short order, with cookie lovers throughout the world. To this day, Wakefield’s accidental invention is known as “Toll House,” with the famous recipe printed on the back of every bag of Nestle’s chocolate chips.

Some of the other waxwork inventors at “The Great Inventors Wax Museum” were Eli Whitney (played by Jacob Schroeder), inventor of the cotton gin; Sir Isaac Newton (played by Noah Lutsen), who explained gravity among many other discoveries; Thomas Edison (played by Alex Ehrlichman), inventor of the light bulb and a thousand other useful items; Alexander Graham Bell (played by Michael Thieschafer), inventor of the telephone; and Johannes Gutenberg (played by Quentin Sigurdson), inventor of the printing press.

photo by Dennis Dalman
Ruth Wakefield (played by Zoe Goetz) invented the Toll House chocolate-chip cookie quite by accident one day in 1930 at her inn in Massachusetts.

photo by Dennis Dalman
Johannes Gutenberg (Quentin Sigurdson) invented the movable-type printing press in Germany in the 15th Century. The invention made possible the widespread advent of literacy throughout Europe and elsewhere.

photo by Dennis Dalman
Thanks to Alexander Graham Bell (Michael Thieschafer), millions of people can now gab and do business on telephones.

Ben Franklin (Ryan Joyce) was a founding father of the United States, an ambassador to Paris, founder of the U.S. Postal Service and an inventor of many things, as well as the discoverer of electricity.

Englishman Isaac Newton (Noah Lutsch) was a mathematical genius who discovered the laws of gravity. He also had big hair.

photo by Dennis Dalman
Most people would still be spending nights with dim candelight or kersosene lamps if it weren’t for Thomas Alva Edison (Alex Ehrlichman), who invented the light bulb, among many other useful objects.

photo by Dennis Dalman
Eli Whitney (Jacob Schroeder) invented the cotton gin, a machine that quickly separated cotton seeds from cotton bolls, a labor-intensive task that had to be done by hand before Whitney’s invention, which gave a boost to “King Cotton” in the American South.

 

 

contributed photo
Kristen Bauer challenged her Kennedy fourth-grade students to expand their Native American music-and-culture unit by choosing one of nine options to show what they had learned. Shown here are fourth-grade students with a variety of projects including games, posters or Native American flutes: (front row, left to right) Aaliyah Mixteco, Taylor Wald, Grant Roob, Lindsey Zimmer, Magdalen Brands, Taylor Thoma, Alexis Waverek, Destiny Mays and Jasmine Wiener; (back row) Alex Beumer, Kaitlyn Rangel, Haley Jonas, Kiley Swenson, Garrett Munkholm, Connor Motschke, Miles Carlton, Maya Peterson, Tiegen Drontle, Ethan Wolff, Dominic Ethen, Tyler Theis, Taya Stroot-Duea and Brandon Zimmer.

Bauer challenges students’ music experience

by Cori Hilsgen

news@thenewsleaders.com

Kristen Bauer wanted to challenge Kennedy Community School fourth-grade students with an interesting experience in her music room. Instead of a more traditional test, Bauer challenged her students to show their learning.

This is Bauer’s first year teaching at Kennedy. She teaches general music to grades 1-4. She has taught at Lincoln Elementary in St. Cloud for the past eight years.

All music teachers in the St. Cloud School District work on Native American music and culture units. Bauer expanded the unit for her fourth-grade students. Students had nine options to show their learning in a Tic-Tac-Toe board. The options ranged from writing an original story to composing a rap or song, making posters, creating a Native American flute, making a television or radio advertisement and many others.

“The kids put a lot of time into their projects and were very creative,” Bauer said.

There were 42 projects. Some students chose to do a project with partners and others decided to work alone. Many students chose to create replicas of a Native American love flute; a television or radio advertisement announcing the purposes of a powwow; a poster showing what to find at a powwow; a thinking map comparing and contrasting the orchestral flute and the Native American flute; or a game about the Native American drum, flute, dance and powwows.

Many students loved the option of creating a game. They will soon be able to play all of the games they created during a stations’ day in the music room.

Bauer said she was proud of the students.

“I could not have been more proud of the time and energy these fantastic fourth-graders put into their projects,” Bauer said. “They showed much enthusiasm when coming into the classroom, and during the work time. Many students took other time during the day to come down and work, and many did independent work outside of the school day to create outstanding projects that showed their learning throughout our Native American music and culture unit.”

Principal Dr. Judy Nagel was able to visit the classroom during a part of one of the presentations.

“The students enjoyed learning more about Native Americans and Minnesota history through this unit in Mrs. Bauer’s music class,” Nagel said. “Everyone did a great job demonstrating what they’ve learned with their creative presentations and activities that engaged the entire class.”

Several students commented on their excitement of the unit.

“It was fun to express our creativity,” Zach Stang said.

“It was very fun,” Justin Funk said.

“It was challenging and fun,” Allison Moon said.

“No two projects were the same,” Lindsey Zimmer said.

“I liked doing something different and having many choices,” Taylor Wald said.

Bauer found inspiration for the projects from her graduate classes. She focused her final thesis project for her master’s-degree program on differentiation in the music classroom.

“A lot of assessing in the music room is me listening, observing and of course some writing, but I wanted students to be able to expand their horizons when choosing a way to show their learning,” Bauer said. “I also got the idea when I was taking graduate classes through St. Mary’s University, and we were focusing on differentiation in the classroom. I realized how important it was to allow students to learn and show their learning in many different ways.”

contributed photo
Kristen Bauer challenged her Kennedy fourth-grade students to expand their Native American music-and-culture unit by choosing one of nine options to show what they had learned. Shown here are fourth-grade students with a variety of projects including games, posters or Native American flutes: (front row, left to right) Aaliyah Mixteco, Taylor Wald, Grant Roob, Lindsey Zimmer, Magdalen Brands, Taylor Thoma, Alexis Waverek, Destiny Mays and Jasmine Wiener; (back row) Alex Beumer, Kaitlyn Rangel, Haley Jonas, Kiley Swenson, Garrett Munkholm, Connor Motschke, Miles Carlton, Maya Peterson, Tiegen Drontle, Ethan Wolff, Dominic Ethen, Tyler Theis, Taya Stroot-Duea and Brandon Zimmer.

photo by Dennis Dalman
Jim Wasdyke of Sartell paints a musical-themed oil painting featuring a violin, an instrument he enjoys playing. To his left is another oil painter, Sartell resident Judy Frampton. Wasdyke's wife, Shirley (right) joins the painters as she does her crosstitch. The visual artists meet every Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the Sartell Senior Connection Center in the Sartell-St. Stephen School District Services Building. Any artists, from beginners to accomplished pros, are welcome to join the Wednesday get-togethers.

Wasdyke’s paintings reflect his varied, interesting life

by Dennis Dalman

news@thenewsleaders.com

When Jim Wasdyke was a kid in math class in New Jersey during WWII, he wasn’t paying much attention to math. Instead, he would daydream and draw pictures of German war planes being shot down.

His attraction to drawing and painting never left him. Now, decades later, Wasdyke doesn’t have to contend with any math class. He can paint to his heart’s content whenever he pleases, and he enjoys painting from 9-11:30 a.m. every Wednesday at the Sartell Senior Connection Center in the School District Office Building.

Wasdyke is usually joined by three other artists: Judy Frampton, a Sartell painter; Darlene Ostendorf, a painter from Waite Park; and Jim’s wife, Shirley, who doesn’t paint but joins the others as she works on her intricate cross-stitching projects.

Throughout his long life, Wasdyke’s urges to paint would come and go. He vividly recalls the time he and Shirley lived in an apartment in Baltimore when the walls were starkly blank. Wasdyke went out and bought a print reproduction by Maurice Utrillo, a famous French painter. Then Wasdyke took out his box of oil paints he’d been given by his father and “touched up” the print, making it look more like an oil painting instead of a flat print. It was just what the blank wall had been begging for.

Wasdyke met his wife-to-be when he was in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Kansas at the Olathe Air Base. The two met at Rockers College near the air base, began dating and married in 1979. She was a medical technician at the college. They moved to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, then to Kansas City, where they lived for 25 years, raising their three children. Wasdyke was an associate professor of information technology. Kansas City was the headquarters for the Hallmark Greeting Card Co., and as a result the city was swarming with artists, many of whom gave teaching sessions at the college. Thanks to that artistic ambience, Wasdyke’s yen for art was renewed once again, especially after his grown children had left home.

After Kansas City, the Wasdykes moved to California, then “bounced around” and ended up in Idaho for 10 years, she working in a hospital, he serving as a substitute teacher. Finally, as Wasdyke puts it, the mountains out there were getting “too tall for me.” One of Jim’s sons lives in Minneapolis, so Jim and Shirley decided to check out the Upper Midwest – Wisconsin and Minnesota. They’d driven through St. Cloud once before and liked the area, so they finally settled down 13 years ago in Sartell.

Wasdyke has lived an unusual, exciting life, including working with U.S. Army computer simulations during the Vietnam War. He has flown in a Navy jet and has even ridden in the nuclear submarine the Nautilus.

Now fully retired, Wasdyke leads a pleasant, more sedentary life. And a big part of that life is his oil painting. His subject matter is as rich and varied as his interesting life in so many places: landscapes of various states, an English setter, a cottonwood tree, an old Chevy truck and a dog by a tree, donkeys on a farm, bears, mountain lions, an albatross, flowers, a sailing boat and some copies of classic paintings like Picasso’s “Girl Holding Dove.”

For quite a few years, Wasdyke painted with other seniors at the St. Cloud Whitney Center until the Sartell Senior Connection formed. He and Shirley were two of the very first founding members of the Connection.

“Oil painting is very forgiving,” he said. “If you don’t like what you’ve done, you can take a pallet knife and scrape the paint off before it dries. I get a lot of satisfaction from painting. I like to take my time and then do a lot of detail. I go slow; I take my time.”

Usually, Wasdyke makes a pencil sketch first on the white canvas, then he begins painting. He still cherishes the big paint box his father gave him so many years ago.

His latest painting is of a violin, another example of painting from his own life. Both Jim and Shirley are well known in the Sartell area for their musical talents. They often play, free, for Sartell Senior Connection members, for residents at Country Manor and for the people at Legends, an assisted-living complex in Sartell.

Shirley plays a Q-Chord, an electronic version of the autoharp. Jim plays fiddle. Both took up instruments when they lived in Idaho, at the coaxing of Jim’s brother, a fiddler.

“In Idaho you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a fiddler, there’s so many of them there,” Jim said. “Shirley plays chords, I play the melodies.”

And when they put down their instruments, there’s always their other hobbies to keep them happily occupied – Jim with his painting, Shirley with her cross-stitching.

Anyone is welcome to attend “Visual Wednesdays” at 9 a.m. at the Sartell Senior Connection Center. Even people who have never painted before can bring a box of paints, a canvas or two and have a go at it. Other visual artists are also welcome. No registration is required. Just show up and have a good time.

photo by Dennis Dalman
Jim Wasdyke of Sartell paints a musical-themed oil painting featuring a violin, an instrument he enjoys playing. To his left is another oil painter, Sartell resident Judy Frampton. Wasdyke’s wife, Shirley (right) joins the painters as she does her crosstitch. The visual artists meet every Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the Sartell Senior Connection Center in the Sartell-St. Stephen School District Services Building. Any artists, from beginners to accomplished pros, are welcome to join the Wednesday get-togethers.

photo by Dennis Dalman
Darlene Ostendorf of Waite Park enjoys coming to the Sartell Senior Connection Center every Wednesday where she paints in the company of others during “Visual Arts” morning.

 

contributed photo
St. Joseph resident Jo Schwalboski sketched this self portrait. Her paintings and sketches are on display at Cream City Tattoo, where she is the featured artist for November.

Constant changes help Schwalboski create art

by Cori Hilsgen

news@thenewsleaders.com

Local artist Jo Schwalboski’s creativity is fueled by constant change from her travels and life experiences. Much of her success has come as a result of her mixing up her media when she lost interest in one project and moved on to work on another one. Schwalboski is constantly exploring different kinds of pencils and paints, as well as different settings because much of her creativity is affected by what is going on around her.

“Constant contact and constant change is really important to me,” Schwalboski said.

Schwalboski was recently chosen by Cream City Tattoo in St. Cloud to be the featured artist for the month of November and was part of the Downtown Art Crawl. She said this was a new location for her to display her art.

The Crawl was a good experience for her. Many of the people who came to see her work had also never been in a tattoo place before and told her it was not at all what they expected.  Schwalboski said Cream City is located in downtown historic St. Cloud and is well-designed.

Owner Ryan Schepp said he wanted to do something different for the November Art Crawl. He met Schwalboski through his girlfriend and decided he wanted her to be the featured artist.

Her art on display at Cream City is a series of portraits. The portraits are of her husband, daughter and her family, son and his family and of herself.

Schwalboski has been painting since high school and is a lifelong student of the arts. Throughout the years she has realized how important art and creativity have become for her.

“If you ask anyone, they will tell you I’m always involved in something artsy,” Schwalboski said.

Throughout the years, she has tried many  art-and-craft trends. Some of them include sketching, painting, macramé, dough art, scrapbooking, quilting and others.

Schwalboski, 60, took her first art class at a Pleasanton, Kan. workshop in 2002 with an artist from Zhostovo, Russia and has been dabbling in classes ever since. She is certified as a level two instructor in the Zhostovo style, a beautiful floral style of painting usually done on metal trays in oils.

She said the Zhostovo workshop classes fueled her passion for painting, the arts and her desire to share her knowledge with other people.

Schwalboski became a certified “Traditions” painting instructor in 2008 and finds rewards in teaching students the color theory that is the basis of that type of painting. Her classes are for the beginner to intermediate artist experience.

Although she has been painting since high school, she had not previously done any drawing.

This might sound contradictory, but Schwalboski said you don’t have to have great drawing ability to be a great painter. There are other means of getting a good end result with painting.

She took her first drawing class from St. Joseph artist Anne Meyer in February. This is her first experience with drawing and she has seen a great deal of improvement in her ability.

Schwalboski is currently working with pencil-sketch portraits where she had worked with oils and acrylics in the past.

“I love doing the portraits,” she said.

Schwalboski has also started wire wrapping, which is wrapping stones in wire. She started doing that in June and has many pieces displayed at Cream City.

“I am a woman possessed with drawing and wire-wrapping, and of course any other type of art,” Schwalboski said.

Since that first workshop, she has traveled across the United States and has learned many new techniques she shares with her students. Schwalboski has painted with artists from England, Australia, Japan, Russia, Canada and many others from the states.

She is very active in organizing and attending events, seeking new and existing artists and in producing art. Schwalboski is the Avon Area Arts President and has been a member of the AAArts since its beginning in 2005. She is also a member of the Society of Decorative Painters and the Central Minnesota Watercolor Society.

Schwalboski teaches art classes at her St. Joseph studio and through various painting groups to which she belongs. Her primary art passion and stress reliever is creating on canvas, paper, wood and metal with color pencils, acrylics, water colors and oils. Currently, she is working on pencil, acrylic and oil portraits.

Schwalboski recently hosted a color-pencil class at the St. Stephen City Hall.  The instructor was from Seattle and people from throughout the United States attended.

“Fantastic weekend, fantastic fun,” Schwalboski said.

She and a group of about five meet weekly to work on art. They currently are drawing but have painted in the past.

“Art is an earned skill,” she said. “The more time you spend on it the better you become.”

Schwalboski grew up in Sartell and has lived in the area all of her life. She and  her husband, Ralph, have been St. Joseph residents for 22 years. They have a son, Eric; a daughter, Tracy; and five grandchildren.

Schwalboski says she has the most understanding husband in the world.

“He has to be ‘the best’ to put up with my painting passion and wanderlust when it comes to visiting grandchildren and attending painting workshops,” Schwalboski said.

She works for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Schwalboski nonchalantly states she has a couple of college degrees, none of which are in art-related fields. She has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and communication and an associate’s degree in mechanical drafting and design.

Schwalboski has made a conscious choice not to make art her career but rather to keep it a hobby.

“When you are forced to do something, it takes away from the fun,” Schwalboski said.

Located at 11 6th Ave. N., Cream City is open from noon-8 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays.

contributed photo
St. Joseph resident Jo Schwalboski sketched this self portrait. Her paintings and sketches are on display at Cream City Tattoo, where she is the featured artist for November.

contributed photo
Jo Schwalboski painted this oil painting of her granddaughter, “Gabriella.” It is one of her pieces on display at Cream City Tattoo.

contributed photo
John Taylor of Sartell (right) is congratulated by former St. Paul Mayor George Latimer after Taylor was honored for his contributions to renewable heating and cooling systems that are state-of-the-art environmentally friendly technologies. Latimer was one of the founders of integrated heating and cooling systems in St. Paul, which are now acclaimed far and wide.

Sartell man honored for work in renewable heating, cooling

by Dennis Dalman

news@thenewsleaders.com

A Sartell resident, John Taylor, has been honored as a leader in the nation’s largest integrated hot-water energy system that put St. Paul at the forefront of environmentally sound heating and cooling systems.

Taylor, who is currently serving as board chair for Ever-Green Energy, recently received the George Latimer Leadership Award. Latimer, a former St. Paul mayor, is credited with forming the public-private partnership that led to formation of the cutting-edge energy systems in St. Paul.

In 1982, Latimer chose Taylor to replace him as chair of District Energy St. Paul. That company, along with District Cooling, is a parent company of the for-profit Ever-Green Energy, which is now celebrating its 15th anniversary.

The St. Paul-based integrated energy systems have won international acclaim for their state-of-the-art approaches to cooling and heating systems. Basically, Energy-Green designs systems that heat a multitude of buildings (such as colleges, hospitals, office complexes) by pumping hot water from a central source through underground pipes. The water is recirculated back to the source for reheating and re-use. A similar system cools buildings in warm weather.

Born in St. Paul, Taylor is a graduate of St. John’s University, Collegeville, for which he serves as associate vice president of institutional advancement. In 1982, Mayor Latimer asked Taylor to join the just-formed District Energy board of directors. He served on the District Energy and District Cooling boards for 18 years, including several years as board chair. In 2000, Taylor began his service on the board of Ever-Green Energy and became its chair in 2006.

“We’ve had really great leaders both at District Energy and – more recently – Ever-Green Energy,” Taylor said. “Just outstanding leadership.”

Taylor and his colleagues played a huge role in developing stable cooling systems that are vital for data centers, such as at universities and some businesses.

“John (Taylor) has provided consistent, unwavering leadership, support and counsel over the last three decades and instigated major strategic accomplishments,” said William Mahlum, a key player in development of District Energy St. Paul.

Thanks to development pioneered by District Energy and District Cooling, Ever-Green Energy technologies are now being applied in places throughout North America, including integrated heating and cooling projects in Burlington and Montpelier, Vt.; Ottawa, Canada; the Honolulu, Hawaii Seawater Air Conditioning Project and, closer to home, the North Loop Project in Hennepin County and the South Loop Project in Bloomington.

Some of Ever-Green’s projects involved advanced technologies, such as solar heating, bio-mass fuels, deep-water cooling and thermal storage. The company has been recognized throughout the world for its giant strides in energy efficiency and reduction of carbon-based fuels for heating and cooling. Ever-Green has won dozens of prestigious awards, including the Environmental Initiative Award in 2005 from the Minnesota Environmental Initiative and a Presidential Citation from President George W. Bush in 2001.

contributed photo
John Taylor of Sartell (right) is congratulated by former St. Paul Mayor George Latimer after Taylor was honored for his contributions to renewable heating and cooling systems that are state-of-the-art environmentally friendly technologies. Latimer was one of the founders of integrated heating and cooling systems in St. Paul, which are now acclaimed far and wide.

Lawsuit claims priest abused boy

by Dennis Dalman

news@thenewsleaders.com

Another former St. John’s Abbey monk and priest has been charged with sexual abuse in a civil lawsuit filed in St. Paul Nov. 19.

Fr. Francis Hoefgen is accused by a plaintiff known as “Doe 27” with abusing him when he was a youth in a parish in Hastings. Hoefgen had also been accused in 1984 of sexually abusing a boy at St. Boniface in Cold Spring.

The lawsuit, which was announced Nov. 19 in St. Paul, also names as defendents – besides Hoefgen – the Order of St. Benedict, St. John’s Abbey, St. Luke Institute and the archdiocese of St. Paul/Minnesota (of which Hastings is a part).

The lawsuit, which is asking for a jury by trial, was filed on behalf of “Doe 27” by Jeff Anderson and Associates of Minneapolis, a law firm that specializes in abuse cases committed by clergy.

The suit alleges that officials named as defendants knew Hoefgen was a pedophile after the 1983 incident in Cold Spring and did nothing to stop him from doing it again.

Hoefgen served at St. Boniface from 1979 to 1984.

After the alleged abuse incident in Cold Spring, officials at St. John’s Abbey referred Hoefgen to treatment at St. Luke Institute in Maryland, where he spent several months.

Later, he was assigned to the parish in Hastings. The lawsuit alleges that is where the sexual abuse against a boy occurred between the years of 1985 to 1992, starting when the boy was 10 and ending when he was 13.

“Doe 27,” the plaintiff, is now in his 30s. The lawsuit documents do not indicate where he now lives. Hoefgen, according to court records, lives in Minneapolis.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants knew or should have known about the dangers posed by Hoefgen in his working with children. The suit requests at least $50,000 in damages to the plaintiff, who is claiming mental and emotional damage because of the abuse.

The suit is also asking St. John’s Abbey release to the public a list, with current addresses, of 17 clergy who have had “credible” child-abuse charges against them, as well as names and addresses of 33 clergy members of the archdiocese of St. Paul who have been credibly accused. The plaintiff and attorneys also want all documents relating to those charges to be made public.

There has been an increase in lawsuits against clergy in the past year because of the Child Victims’ Act in Minnesota, which did away with a statute of limitations on child-sexual-abuse cases.

contributed photo
Cheryl Thiele and her father, Floyd Hinkemeyer, bundle a tree at Hinkemeyer Tree Farm. Cheryl and her husband, Randy, purchased the 30-year-old business from Cheryl's parents and will operate it starting Sunday, Nov. 24.

Tree farm changes ownership but remains family tradition

by Dennis Dalman

news@thenewsleaders.com

A 30-year-old family business, Hinkemeyer’s Tree Farm near Rice, has been sold, but it will remain part of the family tradition because its new owner is Cheryl Thiele, one of the Hinkemeyers’ two daughters.

Cheryl and her husband, Randy Thiele, recently purchased the tree farm from Cheryl’s parents. During an interview with the Newsleader, Cheryl and her father talked about the many years of the business and some of the changes the Thieles intend to make.

Many residents throughout central Minnesota have long been familiar with Hinkemeyer’s Tree Farm, a place where customers can saw down their choice of trees. Visiting Hinkemeyer’s has become a virtual holiday tradition not just for getting a tree but for the ambience of the business – families with children pulled on sleds, the cozy toasty shop filled with colorful Christmas gifts, wreathes, mistletoe, scented candles and the nostalgic aroma of spicy punch.

The business was started three decades ago by Floyd and Janice Hinkemeyer, who recently built a house across the township road from the property. Floyd was a school counselor for many years at Pierz (Minn.) High School.

The tree farm is located on CR 2 about five miles east of Rice.

“It’s a big change,” Floyd said. “But we’re so glad it’s still going to be in the family. Cheryl bought our old house and the 40 acres with the trees.”

Even though Floyd and Janice are now retired, they will still enjoy occasional visits to the tree-farm business so they can chat with their long-time customers or lend a hand now and then to their daughter and son-in-law.

The Thieles live in Chanhassen, Minn. Cheryl is a stay-at-home mom with three young children: London, Jaden and Olivia. Randy works for a computer service that sets up computer tests for companies that allow companies to determine the strengths of applicants for jobs.

Both of the Thieles will be at their tree farm during the busy pre-Christmas selling season.

One change the Thieles made was to rename the business by taking the “s” from the Hinkemeyer name. They did so, Cheryl said, just so there would be no bookkeeping confusion from the previous ownership and the new ownership. The official name is now “Hinkemeyer Tree Farm.”

Another change is the new large glass window on the gift shop from which customers can view the vast fields of trees: balsam, Frasier and Canaan firs; Scotch and Norway pines; white and blue spruce. There are about 25,000 trees planted on the 40-acre farm, but only about 3,000 are ready for cutting down every Christmas season.

Other changes the Thieles will introduce are a lunch-vending wagon and horse-drawn rides beginning Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving. Early birds will have a chance to get their trees early during a special pre-sale opening from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24.

“It’s an honor to carry on this family tradition,” Cheryl said. “Keeping it in the family – that’s the most important thing. I grew up with it. I don’t know what Christmas would be like if I wasn’t selling trees.”

Cheryl and her older siblings, Chad and Camie, helped with tree sales ever since they were young children.

“Most people have no idea how much work and details go into this business,” Cheryl said, noting it requires year-round work, including such tasks as weeding and insect control. “There’s a lot to it and so many background details my parents are still teaching us.”

The tree-farm business can also bring surprises, like a gopher that kept “excavating” recently by the tree shed.

The Hinkemeyer Tree Farm will be open from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; and from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. It will be closed Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The tree farm employs 15 employees at peak times.

Its number is 320-393-2854. The address is 12675 22nd Ave. NE, Rice.

contributed photo
Cheryl Thiele and her father, Floyd Hinkemeyer, bundle a tree at Hinkemeyer Tree Farm. Cheryl and her husband, Randy, purchased the 30-year-old business from Cheryl’s parents and will operate it starting Sunday, Nov. 24.

contributed photo
The Thiele family recently purchased Hinkemeyer’s Tree Farm near Rice. It is now known officially as Hinkemeyer Tree Farm, without the possessive apostrophe. Randy and Cheryl Thiele, who live in Chanhassan, have three children (left to right) London, Jaden and Olivia. Cheryl is the daughter of Floyd and Janice Hinkemeyer, who have owned and operated the 40-acre tree farm for 30 years.

 

 

Parents should plan for winter school emergencies

by Dennis Dalman

news@thenewsleaders.com

Howling blizzards, arctic cold, near-zero visibility – all are factors that could cause disruptions to schools in the coming winter. That is why the Sartell-St. Stephen School District is asking all parents to be weather-aware, to plan for emergencies and to work with schools for the safety of all concerned.

The district recently announced its updated policy on weather-related closings, delays and dismissals so parents know what to expect.

Mike Spanier, interim superintendent for Sartell schools, said the district – as always – will coordinate closely with the Sauk Rapids-Rice and St. Cloud school districts, as well as all parochial schools, concerning weather-related emergencies. All districts, he said, will rely on updated weather information provided by the St. Cloud State University meteorology service. SCSU meteorologists release frequent weather forecasts and advise schools as to what is likely coming in the way of dangerous weather conditions.

A careful analysis of threatening weather conditions will result in judgment calls that can do one of three things: closings of all schools, delays in the start of the school day or early dismissals.

Spanier noted most people think of emergency weather as heavy snowfall, ice storms and extreme winds. But fog, he added, can also be dangerous for children getting to and from schools safely. Low visibility, whether through blinding snow or dense fog, is always a consideration in weather-related school safety, Spanier added.

If a weather-related decision is made through coordination of all schools in the area, the school districts will contact all local media, including social media, to broadcast the decision. Parents are advised to keep tuned in, especially to local radio reports, on days when there are winter watches or warnings of potentially hazardous weather on the way. Weather decisions will be posted also on the school district’s website, on Facebook and on Twitter.

School closings or late-school start times will, if at all possible, be announced the night before by superintendents of all three school districts in the area. However, when a weather-related decision (closing or late start) must be made in the mornings, school districts will make every effort to announce it before 6 a.m.

Spanier noted it’s important for parents and students to remember if there is a school closing, late start or early dismissal, all student activities will be cancelled for that day and evening, including Kidstop, community-education classes, early-childhood programs, adult basic education and area Learning Center classes.

“Winter weather and emergency situations are not predictable, and they may happen at any time,” states the Sartell-St. Stephen School District weather policy. “The purpose of the weather-related closing plan is to assist parents/guardians and students to be better prepared to deal with emergency situations and reduce their effects.”

Parent/guardian preparations are thus vital to the overall effort, Spanier noted.

Such preparations should include making special childcare arrangements and planning for them ahead of time, just in case.

School districts, working together, will go to great pains to make prudent weather-related school decisions, although the ultimate decision is always up to parents/guardians, the policy notes.

“Ultimately,” Spanier said, “it’s the parent/guardian who should make the final decision whether a child should attend school during severe weather.”