Tricounty News

2012: Year in Review July-Sept. 2012


Mark Messman arrived July 2 at Eden Valley-Watkins School District to fill the giant shoes of retired superintendent Larry Peterson.

Isaiah Ehlinger, a 15-year-old Kimball resident, and his younger brother Samuel built a wiffle ball field in his back yard, and he held a tournament July 7. The field boasts a press box and PA system.

The City of Eden Valley and City of Watkins received proclamations naming each a Yellow Ribbon City in Meeker County, at their July 11 and July 12 council meetings, respectively. The Meeker County project helps active military and their families as well as veterans.

The Kimball Community Playhouse performed “The Rules of Comedy” July 14-15.

The Pearl Lake Parish Festival was July 14-15.

The Kimball Kruisers were Champions in the 4-H Fashion Safari July 17. 

The American Red Cross Bloodmobile was in Watkins July 25. A total of 69 units were collected.

Stearns County Fair was held in Sauk Centre July 25-29.

An idea that began in July 2010 became a reality in 2012 when the Eden Valley Library and Event Center opened. Rachelle Wirtzfeld won the logo contest for the library. They held their first story hour July 25. 

Ground was broken July 27 for the Eden Valley Motel, to be built along Highway 55 next to Valley Liquor. The motel opened in mid-December. The project utilized local contractors, and the motel boasts an automated kiosk entry system.

The walls of the new EV-W high school gym were installed July 27. The 55,000-pound pre-fab panels were carefully hoisted and then locked in place.

South Haven Days were celebrated July 27-29 including a parade and family activities at Zion UMC on the 28th.

The EV-W Legion Baseball Team won the District 7 championship in Montevideo July 28. They headed to the state tournament for a second year. John Bautch, Kevin Kramer, Hayden Willner, and Brendan Ashton were all named to the All-Tournament Team.  

Kimball 12U Gold girls’ softball take home the state championship.

Kimball 14U girls’ softball team took second in the Class D State Tournament.

Kimball Blue Little League team took second place in the Central Minnesota Little League championship.

St. Wendelin’s Parsh Bazaar was held July 29.


July 9, Maci Marie Beck, to Mark and Michelle Beck of Kimball.

July 17, Morgan Elizabeth Bloch, to Ryan and Renee Bloch of St. Cloud


July 7, Dorothy (Leppa) Brodnax, 89, at her Memphis, Tenn., home.

July 7, Harold Winter, 68, of Watkins, at St. Cloud Hospital.

July 16, Earl Myllykangas, 92, of Snohomish, Wash.

July 22, Norbert “Nups” Ertl, 87, of Watkins, at Paynesville Hospital.

July 29, Louise (Bartlett) Eaton, 88, of Sandstone, at Essentia Health Care Center.


July 7, Kelly Schiefelbein and Lee Schulz were married at
St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud.

July 7, Buffy Schmidt and Cody Powelson were married at Zion United Methodist Church in South Haven.

July 14, Mollie Kramer and Nick Fabel were married at St. Anthony’s Church in Watkins.


The American Red Cross Bloodmobile was in Kimball Aug. 1.

In a ceremony Aug. 2, Tara Matthiesen of St. Augusta received her Gold Award pin, the Girl Scouts’ top achievement as an Ambassador Scout. Tara had just graduated from KAHS and heads off to college, no longer a girl Girl Scout.

The Meeker County Fair was held Aug. 2-5. A number of Kimball Kruisers 4-H members won ribbons. They went on to compete at the State Fair Aug. 27. 

The Watkins Kraut ’N Wurst festival was held Aug. 3-4. Allison Olson was crowned Little Miss Watkins Aug. 3; Tori Reikofski was first princess, and Olivia Langer was second princess; 16 girls vied for the crown. The parade was Saturday morning; St. Anthony Manor and Watkins Area Homes won the grand prize for their float.

A fire destroyed a barn and another farm building on the John and Louise Schutz farm near Watkins Aug. 5. Their livestock was spared the afternoon fire by passers-by who released them.

National Night Out was celebrated Aug. 7 at the Kimball Area Fire Hall and at the Watkins Fire Hall.

Fair Haven Lions held their third annual Corn in the Park community corn roast in Fair Haven Park Aug. 8.

The 33rd annual Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Festival was held at El Rancho Mañana Aug. 9-12.

An all-school reunion for Kimball High School was held Aug. 11 at KAHS; the last one was 26 years ago, in 1986. About 400 alumni and friends attended the dinner and enjoyed the gym full of exhibits. It was scheduled during Kimball Days so more people could attend and enjoy.

Kimball Days came Aug. 10-12. Madeline Hunt was crowned Little Miss Kimball Friday evening; Natalee Kunkel and Katie Decknatel were crowned princesses. Saturday’s schedule was filled with events for all ages. The parade was held Sunday with Mary Johnson and Carol Newman of the Kimball Area Historical Society as grand marshals.

Nicholas Phillipp was tragically struck and killed by a train at the Highway 22 railroad crossing in Eden Valley early in the morning Aug. 11. A benefit was held Sept. 8 for his family that included a silent auction at Valley Inn, a motorcycle ride, and a pulled-pork dinner.

The New London to New Brighton Antique Car Run passed through Kingston Aug. 11. Kingston was a lunch stop along the
120-mile route.

New evidence released by the Postal Inspector in St. Paul brought light to the May 1976 bombing of the Kimball Post Office. A replica of the tackle box in which the bomb was built was revealed to be a green  “Old Pal” tackle box. A $100,000 reward is still offered for information that can help solve this case. (651) 775-5720 or -5723. (The story was featured in the Aug. 16 issue of the Tri-County News.)

The Kimball Legion Junior Auxiliary was honored as “the Best All-Around Junior Program in Community Service” for 2012, beating out much larger programs throughout the state. Under the direction of Cindy May, the five-member club has helped at the
St. Cloud VA Hospital, hosted Halloween parties at the Legion Club, and held fundraisers.

Pastor Ken Felska became the new pastor at Kimball United Methodist Church, splitting duties with the Clearwater UMC.

Aug. 14, Darrin Gray set out to find relics of a dance hall on Lake Sylvia near South Haven, taking advantage of the low lake levels. He found a Kimball class ring from 1943 with the initials D.E. in October, Don Elliott, KHS class of 1943, was reunited with his ring at Kimball City Hall. (The story was featured in the Oct. 18 Tri-County News.)

A Men’s Softball Tournament was held Aug. 17-19 at the Watkins Softball Park.

The 29th annual Forest City Stockade Rendezvous was held Aug. 18-19 celebrating the 150th year of the stockade.

A number of locals joined about 2,000 competitors from all around the area at the Mudman event at Powder Ridge in Kimball. The 5K extreme obstacle course was well organized, and people competed as individuals, pairs, or in groups. The event will return to Powder Ridge Aug. 17, 2013.

Aug. 19 was the 35th annual Fiddlers’ Festival at Minnesota Pioneer Park in Annandale.

A very moving and historic ceremony was held at Ness Church near Litchfield Aug. 19. Representatives of the Dakota held a “Wiping of the Tears” ceremony to put behind us all the 150th anniversary of the the beginning of the U.S.-Dakota War, triggered by the killing of five settlers near where the church now stands. This ceremony is traditionally held at the end of a one-year mourning period for those who have died. This was a healing ceremony of sorts for the descendents of both natives and European settlers.

About this time of summer, the Kimball water tower was enveloped in a giant shroud as it was sandblasted and repainted. Gone is the bright blue with white letters. The tower is now “barley” (beige) with a black base and black letters.

Aug. 20 Kingston resident Bob Harms made regional press when he began a journey riding a Toro lawnmower from the Canadian border to the Iowa border to raise funds and awareness for hearing-impaired children. Traveling at a maximum speed of 7 mph, the trip took nine days.

The Red Cross Bloodmobile was in Eden Valley, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Aug. 21. A total of 69 units were collected.

Gone to Pieces Quilt Shop in downtown Kimball celebrated its 10th anniversary Aug. 22-25.

Eden Valley Senior Citizens celebrated the August birthdays of Aurelia “Rail” Christie, 102, and Liz Volz, 101.

St. Anthony Church’s annual Picnic in the Park was held Aug. 26 in Watkins.

The Kimball Rod & Gun Club gave away a total of $19,000 in cash prizes at its 2012 raffle Aug. 26.

Kimball Elementary held their open house Aug. 28.

EV-W elementary and high school both held their open houses Aug. 29.

A.M. Maus and Dodge sponsored a test-drive school fundraiser Aug. 29 at KAHS in conjunction with the high school open house.  


Aug. 10, Henry Lee Loch-Alama Jr., to Stacey Loch and Henry Alama of South Haven.

Aug. 16, Thayer John Reinert to Randy and Tabitha Reinert of Annandale.

Aug. 19, Harlow Adan Pletcher, to Torrey Hook and John Pletcher of Kimball.

Aug. 20, Ava Rae Bogatzki to Jesse and Shelly Bogatzki.

Aug. 28, Josephine Marcella Brutger to Jeff and Becky Brutger of Kimball.


Aug. 2, Leo Beste, 72, at his Kimball home.

Aug. 3, Richard “Dick” Libbesmeier, 80, of Kimball, at St. Cloud Hospital.

Aug. 6, Harold Callander, 86, formerly of Kimball, at his Waite Park home.

Aug. 7, Martin Ashfeld Sr., 97, at his Watkins home.

Aug. 11, Nicholas “Nick” Phillipp, 21, of Eden Valley.

Aug. 16, Martha (Hillstrom) Jurgens, 82, of South Haven, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Home in Sauk Rapids.

Aug. 18, Andrew “Sonny” Kerkaert, 82, at Hilltop Health Care Center in Watkins.

Aug. 22, Alvina (Lawler) Schefers, 94, of Kimball, at Quiet Oaks Hospice in St. Augusta.

Aug. 24, Irene (Theis) Gard, 73, of Benson, at St. Cloud Hospital.

Aug. 30, Shawn Laudenbach, 12, at his South Haven Home (after a 4-and-a-half-year battle with adrenocortical carcinoma).

Aug. 30, Lola Mae (Steinhaus) Schmidt, 76, of Fair Haven, in Sioux Falls.


Aug. 11, Jessica Miller and Steve Lochen were married.

Aug. 18, Katrina Ebert and Josh Kieke were married in Benson.

Aug. 25, Joanna Wessling and Andy Mackereth were married at Powder Ridge in Kimball.


Area schools started their 2012-13 school year Sept. 4.

Kimball Schools welcomed several new teachers: Sally Belgum-Blad in ECFE/School Readiness, Zach Boser in chemistry, physics and ninth-grade science, Corey Harmon third grade. Student teachers this year are Kelsey Toppson in Mrs. Bernardy’s sixth grade, Melissa Opatz in Mrs. Nusbaum’s third grade, John Nemec in Mrs. Bauerly’s sixth grade, and Melissa Sand in Mrs. Herrington’s fifth grade.

New teachers at Eden Valley-Watkins were: Jessica Jarvis first grade, Becky Hiltner second grade, Joe Puncochar first grade, Brandon Welle physical education, Mike Eveslage junior high social studies, Jeremy Munson physical education, and Amy Haag, special education/physical ed. 

The Watkins Sportsman’s Picnic was held Sept. 2 at the Sportsman’s Park on Clear Lake.

Sept. 6 marked the debut of the Eden Valley-Watkins News edition of the Tri-County News. All ads and legal notices are in both editions; most stories and photos are too. Both editions were reorganized so it’s easier to find what readers want, and to skip over what they don’t want. Just like the Tri-County News, both editions continue to evolve to meet the needs of our readers and advertisers.

The annual Judy Pauls memorial ride was held Sept. 8. About 20 motorcycles were lined up outside Bud’s Bar in Watkins that morning.

Lundeen Bros. Ford in Annandale celebrated their 92nd anniversary Sept. 10-17.

Jack’s of Watkins celebrated their grand re-opening Sept. 13.
Jack’s obtained a $3,500 BP Fueling Communities Grant for EV-W’s 21st Century Community Learning program.

An ice cream social was held Sept. 13 at the Eden Valley Civic Center to introduce the new IMPACT program coordinator Kristin Desm.

The Eden Valley-Watkins Band and Choir held a giant garage sale fundraiser Sept. 15 for their November trip to Florida.

The Wat-Kim-Valley VFW hosted a fundraiser breakfast Sept. 15 for the EV-W Girl Scouts Troop 657 at Watkins Village Hall.

The Ken Helling Golf Tournament was held Sept. 15 at the Kimball Golf Club. The annual event raises money for the Kimball-Eden Valley-Watkins boys’ and girls’ golf teams.

St. Anne’s Church in Kimball held their Fall Festival Sept. 16.

Kimball firefighter, and former fire chief, Steve Gohman retired from the Kimball Area Fire Dept. after 30 years.

KES third-grader and BMX racer Summer Zamora got a surprise visit during school from her hero, Olympian BMX racer Alise Post.

Stearns County held its third annual summer photo contest, this year themed “Celebrations.” Jonathon Green’s cover photo of Kimball Days for the Tri-County News was one of their top three photos. He won a summer celebration package with all kinds of summer fun items that were donated to the county. Sandy Clark of Pearl Lake/Kimball also won for her photo of a child and mother splashing in the lake.

Made possible by a Department of Human Services grant, Hilltop Health Care Center embarked on a program of “making dreams come true” for their residents. Gary Meierhofer visited the Bob and Judy Haag farm for May planting. A number of other such outings would follow for other residents.

There was a small gas line break in Kimball, just west of the intersection of Linden Ave. and Hwy. 15, during the summer and fall construction project season. 

The 33rd annual Northern Minnesota Draft Horse Field Day was held Sept. 22 on the Bill and Violet Pramann farm in South Haven.

The Church of Our Lady of Manannah held their annual grilled pork chop supper and raffle Sept. 23.

A mock crash demonstration was done at KAHS Sept. 24 to show the dangers of distracted driving.

Sept. 25 historian and author Bill Morgan told the “Orphan Train Story” at the Kimball Area Historical Society meeting.

At its March annual meeting, Forest Prairie Township voted to increase their annual donation to the Watkins Ambulance service. In September, the township board presented a check for $22,000 to Don Gruenes for the ambulance.

The 40th anniversary of Minnesota Pioneer Park was celebrated Sept. 29, along with the Nobel Shadduck Harvest Festival.

The Kimball Mudcats softball team placed fourth in state playoffs.

EV-W fifth-graders took a tour of the Arne and Kris Gruenes farm. There, Dr. Carl Larson of the Watkins-Kimball Vet Clinic talked to them about how to take care of cows.

Lions Clubs from Fair Haven, Kimball, Rockville, Luxemburg, St. Cloud, and Watkins worked with Home Depot employees on a Camp New Hope roofing project  Sept. 28 and 29. The project involved work and donations by a number of local individuals and companies. The combined crew stripped and re-shingled three dormitories and an octagonal building.


Sept. 3, Hunter Michael Collins to Catherine (Sterling) and Brian Collins of Camas, Wash.

Sept. 15, Kadence Rose Peters to Keith and Stephani (Donnay) Peters.

Sept. 19, Anneliese Pandora Dingmann to Brian and Dana (Stuenes) of Annandale.


Sept. 3, Patricia “Pat” (Ertl) Hartkopf, 71, at St. Cloud Hospital.

Sept. 5, Mary (Pherigo) Estes, 69, at her Watkins home.

Sept. 7, Dorothymae (Grimes) Eckhardt, 84, in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Sept. 9, Douglas Haagenson, 72, near his Manannah home.

Sept. 15, Gladys (Lawler) Spaulding, 92, at Heritage House in Kimball.

Sept. 17, Janet (Ratka) Secord, 74, at Quiet Oaks Hospice House in St. Augusta.

Sept. 23, Marie (McCain) Wylie, 87, at Ecumen Emmanuel Nursing Home in Litchfield.


Sept. 29, Jenna Stenger and Brian Prososki were married at
St. Anthony Church in Watkins.

Sept. 29, Kelsey (Schmidt) and Jacob Michaletz were married near Nisswa, Minn.; their reception was held Nov. 17 in St. Cloud.