The Crookston School Board met on Monday night, and heard a presentation from Chris Fee, Crookston Music Trip Parent's Organization (CMT/PO) President, who was seeking approval from the School Board to proceed with plans for a Florida Music Trip in late March-early April 2021. He said that although there were some unfortunate snags in the trip last spring, Disney had refunded the room costs, and the issues had been resolved. By and large, the trip was enjoyed by all of the students and chaperones. Crookston Public School and the City of Crookston has also received a great deal of positive publicity from the marching band’s appearance at Disneyworld, as the video on the KROX Facebook page received over 28,000 views. Board Chairman, Frank Fee, said, “You have the Board’s blessing (to proceed with planning the trip) – we can approve it (by resolution) at the next meeting.”

The Board also heard a short presentation from Pat Thomas and Pearl Maygra, on use of the swimming pool. Thomas stated that she has spoken at length with Superintendent Chris Bates, as well as with City Administrator, Shannon Stassen and the City Councilmen, at a Ways & Means Committee meeting. She urged the School Board members to begin working out the details for a takeover of the pool within the next five years, stating that, “Now is a good time to move, with the flood referendum coming off peoples’ taxes.”
Chairman Fee agreed, saying, “We’re hoping to have more meetings with the City’s pool committee.”
Superintendent Bates said, “I’ve known Pat Thomas for years. She came and asked me some questions about the pool, and I think the Board really just assured her that discussions are not over – that if ever there comes an opportunity for us to talk again about a transfer of the pool to the City, the School Board is very willing to discuss it, and certainly our doors are always open. It will be something that the next School Board or the next Superintendent will have to figure out once the referendum is completed, which is about five years from now.”

In other business, the Board accepted a resignation letter from Zach Cymbaluk, Assistant Boy’s Basketball Coach, and approved the renewal of employment agreements with Josh Hardy, Dean of Students/DAPE/Health Instructor; Ray Lutovsky, High School Guidance Counselor; and Greg Garmen, Activities Director/Dean of Students at Highland School. New employment agreements with Carol Picard as English Learner Aide at Crookston High School; DeeAnn Schmidt as Kitchen Helper at Crookston High School; Barbara Sondreal as Title Aide at Highland School; Lori Wagner as Special Education Paraprofessional at Highland School; and Maria Fernanda Castilla Mantilla as Kindergarten Special Education Paraprofessional at Washington School were also approved.

The School Board also approved the proposed Property Tax Abatement by the City of Crookston for the Housing Incentive Program; and Student Fundraising requests for 2017-2018. They accepted a grant of $1,000 from the Northwest Minnesota Foundation for Early Childhood Initiative, and approved a reduction in the Preliminary Tax Levy of -4.7%. Business Manager, Laura Lyczewski explained that the reduction in the tax levy was primarily due to debt service, and clarified that farmers in the Crookston School District will see the tax credit on their 2018 tax statement. This is still a preliminary figure; the final tax levy figure will be approved in December.

Superintendent Bates shared a bit of good news with the Board, saying that a call from Moody's Investors Service, a leading provider of credit ratings, research, and risk analysis, resulted in an increase in the Crookston School District’s credit rating. He explained, “Moody’s is a financial analysis company, who basically assign you a rating, so that investors know who are the best schools or financial institutions to work with. In the event that the school needs a referendum, or borrows money, your higher rating means that you can borrow money at a little bit lower interest rate. For the first time since I’ve been here, our rating went up. Our enrollment is kind of steady, our fund balances continue to be strong and level, so they upgraded us to a Triple A rating, which actually makes about .25 of a percent difference, so if we were borrowing money today, we could borrow it for a little less. That’s significant, and it puts the district in a position where people feel confident investing in us. I really thought that was good news.”

A working session followed the regular Board Meeting, as the School Board prepares to initiate the process of hiring a new Superintendent for the 2018-2019 school year, replacing Chris Bates, who plans to retire in the spring.

  Chris Fee presented plans for the 2021 Florida Music Trip       Pat Thomas and Pearl Maygra addressed the Board on issues regarding the swimming pool





The Crookston City Council met on Monday night and heard a presentation from Public Works Director, Pat Kelly, on Updates to the Wellhead Protection Plan. Kelly said that the plan is due for renewal in 2019, but the State has urged Cities to submit their plans as soon as possible, due to their backlog. He said the plan assesses vulnerabilities in the City’s groundwater, wells and drinking water through the use of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. “A high-quality water supply is important, obviously, for our community, but is also important for economic development,” said Kelly.
The Councilmen passed resolutions to approve City of Crookston bills and disbursements in the amount of $308,767.53; to approve purchasing steel siding from Northern Lumber, Inc. to be installed on the City Street Shop; to donate 1977 Sutphen Ladder Truck to Northland Community and Technical College; to accept a Hazardous Building Report and set a public hearing; to accept bid and award contract for 2017 Water Meter Equipment to Dakota Supply Group, DSG Waterworks - Fargo, ND; and to accept a $2,500 donation from and on behalf of Crookston Pickleball Association to Crookston Park and Recreation.

Mayor Wayne Melbye reminded the Councilmen of the bus tour scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 27.  “Wednesday night we’re going to hop on a Tri-Valley bus (thank you, Tri-Valley for the use of the bus), we’ll have all the Councilmen who can make it, administrators, myself, media, and so forth, and we’re going to take a tour of as much of the City as we can get in, while it’s still daylight," said Mayor Melbye. "We want to take a look at housing projects and next steps, sidewalks, lots available for building, vacating a street off Robert Street, where street projects for 2018 are planned. We just plan to drive around and view where upcoming projects will be at, so we can understand the scope, and picture them in our minds, as well as view some of the hazardous and nuisance locations to see if there is anything we can do to move forward in dealing with blighted and dilapidated areas. The tour kind of entails a whole lot that night.”

Public Works Director, Pat Kelly, updates the Council on the City's Wellhead Protection Plan, as Councilman Bobby Baird looks on





The Crookston Ways & Means Committee met after the City Council meeting on Monday night, and discussed a variety of items related to housing incentives, fire codes, restrictive building covenants, and blighted neighborhoods.
The Councilmen were unwilling to recommend a change to the City Fire Code regarding the use of grills on decks and patios in rental properties, preferring instead to leave the issue up to the individual landlord or property owner. “This seems like overregulation to me,” explained Ward 2 Councilman, Steve Erickson. Restrictive covenants for Pirate Drive, and new residential housing construction incentives were also discussed. “We have eight lots out on Pirate Drive, by the CSC (Crookston Sports Center), and three lots on Hoven Lane," said Mayor Wayne Melbye.  "What we’re trying to do is make sure that the new homes that will be built “fit” the area. We have an idea of the type of homes we’d like to see at these sites, and potential builders also have their ideas of what they’d like to see in a home, as well as what the neighbors might envision. Covenants such as the size of the houses, the construction, garages, hard surface driveways, are just set so that the homes built look like a neighborhood. We hashed over a lot tonight, and in two weeks, we’ll hopefully have the final options to choose from for housing incentives, and building covenants. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll have a whole lot more sewed up, so that’ll give people time to use them, or figure them out and see what they want to do over the winter, and get ready for the spring building season.”
The Committee also heard a request from Andy and Shanon Caillier to waive assessments on tax forfeited property parcel #82.000734.00 on South Ash Street, which they are considering purchasing. After considerable discussion, the Councilmen recommended waiving the water and mowing charges of $662.16, but keeping in place the sidewalk and flood fee of $600.00; essentially waiving half of the assessments, and keeping half of them.





The Chamber Beautification Committee would like to thank all of the winners for their continued efforts in making Crookston a beautiful place for residents and visitors. The Final Round was conducted last week and the Beautification Award Winners have been determined in its three main categories as well as special mention of additional efforts in the Crookston community. We are proud to honor the following awards:


PRESENTATION OF STOREFRONT: LeBlanc Realty and Wonderful Life Foods

PRESENTATION OF PUBLIC INSTITUTION OR CHURCH: Crookston Fire Department – Lifetime Achievement Award and Evangelical Covenant Church – Lifetime Achievement Award

ONE VEGETABLE ONE COMMUNITY TRAVELLING TROPHY:  Wonderful Life Foods for their participation and work at Main Street Courtyard and Ed & Patty Amiot for their work and commitment at Groveland Park

SPECIAL RECOGNITION OF BUILDING RESTORATION OR NEW BUILDING: Casey’s General Store, Eickhof Columbaria, and Polk County Public Health

SPECIAL RECOGNITION OF DOWNTOWN PROJECTS: For the work the DCDP & volunteers have done through arts and beatification over the summer months. Those that have played an active role and were instrumental in making these changes happen for the whole community include: Jess Bengston, Allan Dragseth, Jerry Schultz, Courtney Olson, Jess Bengston, Trey Everett, Maddie Everett, Lynn Willhite, Andrew Svec, Kristina Gray, Marcia Meine, Lance Lessard, City of Crookston Crews, Crookston Paint & Glass, Shirley Iverson & Colleen McRae with the Downtown Crookston Partnership Design Committee, and additional DCDP Board Members & their families.

Lastly, a thank you to the Lifetime Award Winners and their ongoing commitment to beautify & enhance Crookston through the years:
Montague’s Flower Shop 2011
University of Minnesota Crookston 2012
Cathedral of Immaculate Conception 2014
Shear Sisters 2015
Willow & Ivy 2016

        The Crookston Fire Department receives their award                     American Crystal Sugar Company receives their award

                                  Ed Amiot receives his award                                                 Wonderful Life Foods receive their awards

          Evangelical Covenant Church                                            LeBlanc Realty receives their award










The winner of the KROX Crookston High School Pick the Score contest was Bruce Meyer. He picked Crookston to beat Breckenridge by a score of 26-22.  The final score was Crookston 26 and Breckenridge 21.
Bruce received $10 gift certificates from local businesses including Advanced Tire and Auto, All Seasons Lube Center and Car Wash, B & E Meats, Bridge Street Candle Company, Crookston Eagles #873, Crookston Dairy Queen, Erickson Embroidery and Design, Happy Joe’s Pizza, Minakwa Golf Course, Ness Café, and the University of Minnesota Crookston Bookstore. Plus a $20 gift certificate from Crookston Hardware Hank, Crookston Inn and Convention Center, Eagle Thrifty White Pharmacy, Hugo’s, Irishman’s Shanty, and R.B.J.’s Restaurant. Plus a pair of jeans from Fleet Supply, a large one item pizza from Mugoo’s Pizza, and KROX added $69 as a bonus, a dollar for each year KROX has been in business. Be listening this week for your chance to win in the UMC You Pick the Score contest.

     Bruce Meyer receives his prize from KROX's Steve Krueger





Homecoming festivities will be held at the University of Minnesota Crookston the weekend of September 29-30, 2017, and this year’s activities feature something for everyone. The theme chosen by the student body for Homecoming 2017 is “Bleed Maroon, Finish Gold.”
Recognition of the Outstanding Alumni, recipient of the Abbey Award, and induction ceremony for the Athletic Hall of Fame will be held during the annual Alumni Awards Celebration on Friday, September 29. The social begins at 6 p.m. with dinner at 6:30 followed by the program in the Sargeant Student Center Bede Ballroom. Contact Rose Ulseth at 218-281-8439 ( to make a reservation.
The 2017 honorees include Brittani (Boehlke) Fiecke 2006, the recipient of the Abbey Award, which recognizes outstanding young alumni and this year’s Outstanding Alumni Award recipients: Jeff Stauffenecker 1990 and Carl Wittenburg 1985. Inductees into the Athletic Hall of Fame are Scott Oliver, coach, 1987-2002; Joe Hasz 2006, men’s basketball; and the 2002 Men’s Golf Team.  Following the Alumni Awards Celebration, an alumni social will be held at Draft’s Sports Bar & Grill, 925 Fisher Ave, Crookston.

UMC senior, Megan Schultz, an Animal Science/Pre-Vet major from Stillwater, MN, highlighted some of the activities planned for this week. “Homecoming is our big week – we try to get the community and all our students involved. We’ll kick off the week on September 25th with our Ice Cream Kickoff. A couple of student organizations will be serving ice cream to our students. Our clubs can get involved in our Spirit Banner Contest, where they decorate a spirit banner relating to our theme, ‘Bleed Maroon, Finish Gold.’ They’ll submit their banners to be judged, and winners can get cash prizes or a pizza party," said Schultz. "Our big events start on Thursday with Powder Puff football on the mall. Our upperclassmen women will compete against the underclassmen women in a flag football event, with our Cheer Club out there cheering them on, and other student participation. Our Spirit Rally and Coronation will be Thursday evening, and everyone is welcome to come on out. That’ll start at 7:00 p.m. in Lysacker Gymnasium. Saturday we have a big, new event we’re calling ‘Run Maroon, Finish Gold’ it’s a one-mile color run/walk. Participants can run or walk it, and we’ll have colored powder we’ll throw at people. There is no cost to register, and it starts at 9am at the soccer practice field. Registration is on-site. If you want to come, wear white, and if you don’t want to get colored powder on you, just stay near the edges – it’s up to you how colorful you want to get.”

On Saturday, activities include the following:
9:30 a.m. - “Run Maroon, Finish Gold” 1-mile Color Run/Walk. The run is free for all participants young and old. Registration begins at 9 a.m. in order for participants to complete the waiver form. Wearing a white t-shirt is recommended. Starting line begins near Parking Lot E
10:30 a.m. - Tailgating, catered by Erickson Smokehouse with music by Four Wheel Drive. No cash bar available. Bring your own canned beverage.
1 p.m. - Golden Eagle Football vs. Bemidji State University, Ed Widseth Field
4 p.m. - Post-game Social, I. C. Muggs, 1500 University Ave, Crookston

Visit for an entire schedule of homecoming activities.




The Crookston School Board will meet on Monday, September 25 at 5:00 p.m. in the Choir/Orchestra room at Crookston High School.  Chris Fee, Crookston Music Trip Parent's Organization (CMT/PO) President will present a feature program on the 2021 Florida Music Trip.
The board will be asked to accept a resignation letter from Zach Cymbaluk, Assistant Boy’s Basketball Coach, and approve employment agreements with Josh Hardy, Dean of Students/DAPE/Health Instructor; Ray Lutovsky, High School Guidance Counselor; Greg Garmen, Activities Director/Dean of Students at Highland School; Carol Picard as English Learner Aide at Crookston High School; DeeAnn Schmidt as Kitchen Helper at Crookston High School; Barbara Sondreal as Title Aide at Highland School; and Lori Wagner as Special Education Paraprofessional at Highland School.
Items on the main agenda include approval of Property Tax Abatement by the City of Crookston for Housing Incentive Program, and approval of Student Fundraising requests for 2017-2018. The Board will also be asked to accept a $1,000 grant from the Northwest Minnesota Foundation for Early Childhood Initiative. A working session will immediately follow the regular board meeting in the District Office at the High School.





The Crookston City Council will meet on Monday, September 25th at 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The Council will hear a Presentation from Public Works Director, Pat Kelly, on Wellhead Protection Plan Update. Items on the Consent Agenda include approval of bills in the amount of $308,767.53; and approval of the purchase of steel siding from Northern Lumber for the City Street Shop. Additional agenda items include approving resolutions to donate the 1977 Sutphen Ladder Truck to Northland Community and Technical College; to accept a Hazardous Building Report and set a public hearing date; to accept bid and award contract for 2017 Water Meter Equipment to Dakota Supply Group, DSG Waterworks, of Fargo, ND; and to accept, on behalf of Crookston Park & Recreation, a $2,500 donation from the Crookston Pickleball Association.
City Council meetings are open to the public.





The Crookston Ways & Means Committee will meet on Monday, September 25, immediately following the Council Meeting at 7:00 p.m., in the City Hall Conference Room. Agenda items include a change to the City Fire Code regarding the use of grills on decks and patios in rental properties; vacating Robert Street from W. Loring Street to 75 feet west of Maple Street; restrictive covenants for Pirate Drive; new residential housing construction incentives; and a request from Andy and Shanon Caillier to waive assessments on tax forfeited property parcel #82.000734.00 on South Ash Street.





The Crookston Housing and Economic Development Association (CHEDA) Board of Directors followed up their Board Meeting on Thursday morning this week with a tour of the American Crystal Sugar factory in Crookston. Ryan Wall, Factory Manager, led the group that included CHEDA employees and Board members, city employees and several Councilmen through the manufacturing process from sugar beet truck unloading all the way to the crystallization process, resulting in the granulated sugar product, which is stored in huge silos, to be shipped by train in bulk railcars to manufacturers.  “We so appreciate that business, and we wanted to focus on them today, so the CHEDA Board, along with some Council Members, and staff members, made the journey out to the factory, and the Factory Manager, Ryan Wall, was willing to give us a presentation of the company and a tour through the factory, so we had an opportunity to see the processing first-hand, and it made an exciting tour, with tons of information," said CHEDA CEO and Director, Craig Hoiseth. "The factory is running really well, and we are just really appreciative of American Crystal Sugar here in Crookston."

Ward 2 Councilman and CHEDA Board Member, Steve Erickson, who participated in the tour, enjoyed the tour, “I thought it was a great tour. It’s just an amazing facility, with all they do, and all that goes into the process of making sugar. I was very impressed – it’s something I’ve never had an opportunity to see before. We may tend to take that company for granted here in Crookston, but after going through it, I thought it was very impressive. We’ve also been able to tour the New Flyer plant, and I thought that was amazing, how they make the buses from start to finish right here in town. You’ve also got Dee, SunOpta and Eickhof Columbarium, who would be interesting to tour. I think it’s a must that we should do – when these businesses approach the City for various things, it’s important that we know what’s going on at that facility," he said.

American Crystal Sugar has a total of about 2,800 shareholders and 1,800 employees. 160 employees work year-round at the Crookston factory, with an additional 100 employees added for the campaign, which begins in August and usually runs through May. The Crookston factory was built in 1954, and produces an average of 18,000 hundredweight (2,016,000 pounds) of sugar per day in the campaign.

Ryan Wall, Factory Manager at American Crystal Sugar, instructs Councilmen Bobby Baird, Jake Fee, and Tom Vedbraaten, along with Craig Hoiseth, Shannon Stassen and Kurt Heldstab, CHEDA Board Chairman, on plant protocols prior to beginning the tour





The Crookston Fire Department made a visit to the 1st - 6th grade classrooms at Cathedral school in preparation for National Fire Safety Week.  Firefighter, Kent Ellingson is showing his gear to the 1st Grade class.  The Kindergarten will make a trip to the fire hall for a tour.





Homecoming Week at Climax-Shelly School is Monday, September 25 -Saturday, September 30.
Monday is Class Color Day, with Climax Homecoming Coronation at 2:30 p.m; and Powder Puff Football Game 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday is Old vs. Young –dress like someone older or younger than you, with a Lip Sync Competition during third hour.
Wednesday is Athletes vs. Mathletes– dress like your favorite athlete or mathelete. A 7th hour-Mathletes vs. Athletes competition will be held in the gym. Fisher Coronation and Bonfire is in Fisher at 8:00 p.m.
Thursday is Student/Teacher Swap—dress like your favorite teacher/student.
Friday is Spirit Day-wear your colors black/purple/silver/white, with a Pep Fest Wagon Parade and games from 1:00-2:30.Winners of the wagon parade will get root beer floats during 8th hour. Homecoming Court will be announced at half time of the 7:00 p.m. football game at East Grand Forks.
The Saturday Homecoming Dance is from 9:00-12:00 at the Climax School, with the Undertakers as DJ. Cost is $10 per person.






Philip Jason Hartwig, an East Grand Forks assistant boys hockey coach and president of East Grand Forks Hockey, has been arrested and faces charges of gross sexual imposition.  He was arrested on Friday at a business in Grand Forks.  Hartwig remained in Grand Forks County jail Friday evening.

       Philip Hatrwig




A small plane has crashed outside Thief River Falls this morning, killing all three people on board.  The Pennington County Sheriff's office has released the names of the victims and they are 69-year-old Moy Wing, 27-year-old Brian Duke and 26-year-old Zach Ostertag all of Rawlins, Wyoming.  The plane was reported to be a Cessna aircraft.  The FAA and National Safety Administration will investigate the cause of the crash.




RiverView Health welcomes Kyoung Ho Lee, MD., to its Emergency Department staff

Dr. Lee is a board-certified family physician with extensive experience in emergency medicine. He is certified in Pediatric Advanced Life support, Advanced Life Support Obstetrics and Advanced Trauma Life Support.  A graduate of Kosin Medical College, Busan, South Korea, Dr. Lee previously worked as an emergency room physician for a rural community hospital in New Mexico. He was also volunteer faculty for the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and director of rural rotations for a family medicine residency program in New Mexico.

It is no coincidence that Dr. Lee is the second physician with New Mexico ties to join RiverView Health in the past year. Dr. Lee was actually recruited by RiverView General Surgeon Lorant Divald, MD, through RiverView’s Community Physician Recruiter Incentive Program. Drs. Lee and Divald worked together in New Mexico. The Community Recruiter Program was launched to engage the community in the effort to connect with and successfully recruit physicians to RiverView’s great community and hospital for a rewarding career in medicine. In return, anyone responsible for igniting the spark that eventually brings a qualified physician to full-time employment at RiverView will be justly rewarded financially. “The success of the Community Recruiter Program has had an overwhelming impact on RiverView Health and the communities we serve,’’ shared Carrie Michalski, RiverView Health president and CEO. “Not only are we recruiting physicians for critical roles on our care delivery team, but we are recruiting the highest caliber physicians to our team.  This recruitment of Dr. Lee, by Dr. Divald is a perfect example.’’

Dr. Divald joined RiverView Health the same time General Surgeon Brett Vibeto, MD, came on board. Dr. Vibeto was the first physician recruited through the Community Recruiter Program after Crookston resident Dallas Aune introduced the idea of joining RiverView to Dr. Vibeto, who Aune knew through mutual friends. The rest, as they say, is history and a big boost for RiverView and its patients. Michalski credits Divald and Vibeto with transforming the scope of RiverView’s general surgery program since their arrival in February. “Over twice the number of patients can now remain here in Crookston for their general surgery needs and patients have been thrilled with the expansion of services,’’ she reported. “Dr. Divald is equally thrilled with his decision to practice medicine in Crookston, so it was a natural progression for him to invite a former colleague, Dr. Lee, to consider practicing in Crookston too. “We look forward to the community and our patients getting to know Dr. Lee. He is a skilled and experienced rural medicine physician who cares deeply about our hospital and our patients.’’

The Community Recruiter Program is an effort to get out ahead of the forecasted physician shortage. Studies show that there will be a shortage of about 90,000 physicians in the year 2020 and an even greater gap of about 130,000 in 2025. With the community’s help, RiverView is looking to keep that shortage at bay. Community recruiters assist the hospital by sharing physician opportunities with family, friends, classmates, colleagues and others. When a physician or physician-in-training expresses a desire to learn more, community recruiters complete a form (by paper or online at to alert RiverView of the potential candidate. Follow-up communication will be conducted based on candidate preference. Upon physician commencement of full-time employment with a minimum commitment of three years of service, the recruiter will be paid $10,000, as well as per year payments of $2,000 for the first five years the physician serves at RiverView Health.

The list of current physician opportunities at RiverView is always posted on the RiverView Health website at Currently RiverView’s recruitment priorities are Family Practice, with OB and Urology. For more information on the physician recruiter program, contact Stacey Bruggeman at 218-281-9440.

Dr. Lee, General Surgeon Lorant Divald, and Carrie Michalski, RiverView Health president and CEO




The City of Crookston is well positioned financially due to careful and thoughtful planning by City Council members and City Staff working together.  Well positioned does not mean flush with cash however.  It is good practice to have operating cash on hand to cover 6-8 months of expenses.  According to this recommendation by the State of Minnesota Auditors office, Crookston is in good shape.  The City has also paid nearly all of its debt over the past couple of years. These two factors contribute to The City of Crookston receiving an AAA Bond rating which will reduce interest rates for any future borrowing needs. The City of Crookston is well positioned.
Finance Director, Angel Weasner was asked to report on the financial status of the City of Crookston at the beginning of the budgeting process. This is vital information for the Council members as they review and approve recommendations from City staff on the upcoming years’ expenditures.
A couple items from that meeting need to be clarified as they were called into question recently:
1.      The City cannot extend the Special Service District Flood Control Fee beyond its 20 year term. No one from City Staff or City Council proposed extending that fee; it is not legal to do so.
2.      Borrowing funds from the Flood Control Fund was never proposed. These funds are restricted and cannot and will not be accessed for anything other than qualifying Flood Control related expenses.
3.      Enterprise Funds (Water and Sewer) are accessible for other uses by the City.  They have in fact been used in the past for a variety of expenses deemed important to the City of Crookston.  These funds should however, be used with the intent of replenishing the funds. It is an acceptable practice to borrow from Enterprise Funds but caution should be used to assure that adequate balances exist for large infrastructure expenses.
4.      Other funds exist such as Municipal Land and Building, Burlington Northern which can be accessed to provide funding to ourselves or outside entities for the greater good of Crookston.

Having said this, it is important to note that Crookston relies heavily on Local Government Aid (LGA) to provide services to the community. Approximately 66% of the City’s expenditures are derived from LGA.  Public Safety, Police and Fire protection are funded nearly exclusively by LGA.  We realize that it would be impossible to fund these essential services without LGA and therefore we are careful to spend it wisely and make sure The City of Crookston is fiscally responsible in other areas as well.

The City is also very diligent in planning for future needs by using a five year Capital Improvement Plan to guide decisions for equipment and facility needs.  Department Heads carefully track the age and condition of our physical assets and prioritize replacement and upgrades.  Over the past 4 years The City has reconditioned both water towers and repainted one, replaced our Aerial Firetruck, begun replacing water meters, replaced several vehicles and many other critical needs.  It is safe to say that the City of Crookston gets full use out of equipment because of proper maintenance and willingness to use decades’ old equipment when it is still feasible.

Through this conservative and responsible approach, we are able to keep City fees and taxes in check.  For instance, a 2016 survey of Water/ Waste water fees shows that the City of Crookston has one of the lowest rates in Minnesota as well as the entire Midwest survey area.  Savings per year to each household compared with our comparable, neighboring cities shows that Crookston residents save hundreds of dollars annually in comparison to other regional cities.

The City of Crookston has also been active in supporting economic development by investing in additional infrastructure and providing loans, land and other incentives. Well over $1 million has been invested in the past 4 years to grow our tax base and provide housing opportunities. Additionally, the City provides $130,000 stipend annually to Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority to support its operations.

The City of Crookston has actively sought grants and been very successful over the past 4 years.  Over $1.3 million in grant funding has been secured by City Staff or on behalf of the City by partner agencies and local advocacy groups.  Crookston is truly amazing in the way the residents rally around a project they care about.  The result has been grant funding for Downtown improvements through the Small Cities Development Grant Program, the Fairfax Trail, Childcare incentive, GreenStep City, two new electric zamboni’s, Rotary benches, improvements at Castle Park and others.  Citizen Fundraising and grants bought the city a new sports floor, Splash Pad, Lions Mobile Event Stage to name a few. Other large grant opportunities are currently pending. The City has also partnered with the Crookston Firefighters Association to establish a North Fire Station to reduce response times and improve safety.

City Council Members are very cautious about tax increases.  Over a four year period from 2013 through 2016 City portion of taxes on most homes actually were reduced in spite of cost of living increases and needed investments.

The Crookston community has consistently shared its wishes for improved community amenities through survey’s, community forums and individual conversations.  A few items continually rise to the top in these surveys:
1.      Downtown Redevelopment
2.      Outdoor Swimming Pool
3.      Increased walking and biking trails
4.      Bowling Alley
5.      Increased River Activities

By being positioned well financially, the City Council has an opportunity to invest in Community Assets that will retain and attract people and businesses.  Crookston is a great place to live already.  Continuing to add important amenities creates an environment that supports economic prosperity.

Several mechanisms exist for funding these types of projects. We can borrow externally, we can borrow from qualifying internal funds or we can pay cash from reserves without a payback.  The most responsible way seems to include a plan to payback internal reserves.  We do not know what future needs may arise and today’s fund balance will not be adequate to cover expenses decades in the future because of inflation.  So, in order to payback these investments over time, we must plan to raise the City levy responsibly and cover our debt payments.  This can be done with minimal impact felt over a long period of time and allow Crookston to improve by offering amenities that people crave.
The City of Crookston welcomes feedback and works to be responsive to the needs and wants of our residents, visitors and businesses.  Please feel free to contact Mayor Melbye, your Council representative or City Administrator to share your thoughts.

Mayor Wayne Melbye
City Administrator Shannon Stassen



Climax Public Library Invites Families to “Dream of Owls” with Puppet Show

This fall, Lake Agassiz Regional Library is bringing a series of authors, musicians and entertainers to libraries across northwest Minnesota, as part of its Arts and Cultural Heritage Series.  Climax-area families will love Dream of Owls, a fascinating puppet show featuring the In the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre! Little Theo is drifting off to sleep when he is frightened by a hooting sound. His father shows him how to overcome his fear by naming it. Join Theo as he drifts off to sleep and discovers more about owls. Children and adults alike will be thrilled by this puppet show, held Thursday, October 5 at 1:30 p.m. at the Climax Public Library (104 W Broadway). Admission to this event is free, thanks to funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Series.  A full list of events across northwest Minnesota is available at    
The Climax library hosts a weekly Storytime for children and their caregivers, who can enjoy songs and stories each Friday at 10:30 a.m. The library’s book club will discuss Cell by Stephen King on Monday, October 2 at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome to join this informal book discussion.
Community members are also invited to attend events from the library’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Series in Crookston. First, food enthusiasts are invited to discover real food - the indigenous American fruits and vegetables, the wild and foraged ingredients, game, and fish familiar to Native Americans in our area. Sean Sherman, the Oglala Lakota chef and founder of the Sioux Chef, will visit the Crookston Public Library (110 N Ash St) on Wednesday, October 11 at 1:30 p.m., to describe wild foods, how they’re processed, and how they’re used by the indigenous community. On Friday, October 20 at 11:00 a.m., the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet will play, and on Wednesday, November 1, Invisible Asians author Kim Park Nelson will visit the library to share the stories of more than 60 Korean-American adoptees at 6:30 p.m. These events are brought to Crookston free of charge through funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Admission is free.






The Crookston Housing and Economic Development Association (CHEDA) Board met this morning, and approved expanding the housing study update approved at the August Board Meeting to include the cities of Warren, East Grand Forks and Red Lake Falls, in addition to the Crookston area, essentially making the study more regional. “At the last board meeting, the board approved updating the housing study from 2014 appropriating about $9,000 to that,” said Craig Hoiseth, Executive Director of CHEDA.  “Since then, we have had discussions with Minnesota Housing and those partnerships and also with the cities of Red Lake Falls, Warren and East Grand Forks and maybe trying to take a more regional approach.  We feel we can provide leverage to the Minnesota Housing groups and if we are able to do so we will incorporate all four communities into the study, which will give us a better comprehensive view.”

In other business, the CHEDA board approved a change to the current revolving loan held by E&C Realty, owners of the Erickson Embroidery and 2nd Street Boutique building. “They had a loan with us last year for $10,000 and came forward and said they would gladly pay the interest and principal back, but they wanted the money available to them for one more year,” said Hoiseth. “They are looking to use the money to leverage a small cities development grant as they look to do work on the outside of the building, so the board said pay your interest and we will let the principal go for one more calendar year.”

The Board also approved another six month extension of the current loan arrangement with Cofe’, for whom they approved in April to suspend interest and principal payments on their loan, in order to help create more cash flow as the business worked to become more stable. Hoiseth said that the owners of Cofe’, Dawn and Harold Bjorgo, asked for another six month extension of the same terms, which the board approved, but with the added stipulation that CHEDA arrange for a business management and marketing consultant to assist the owners as they try to move their business forward. “The suspension of interest and principal payment has certainly helped their cash flow and Dawn reiterated the appreciation that has really helped her,” said Hoiseth. “So we went for another six months with no principal and no interest and maybe provide some sort of consulting help to allow her to navigate a little more and hopefully we can see that her primary lender gets paid down and we keep the business thriving.”





Crookston’s Paul Bittner played in the Columbus Blue Jackets exhibition game against the St. Louis Blues Wednesday night.  St. Louis won the game 3-2 in overtime, but Paul played over 15 minutes (15:14), took one shot on goal, had a hit, he also had two take-aways and won 33 percent of his face off’s.
Columbus is 0-1-1 in exhibition play after a 5-2 loss to Chicago on Tuesday. 
Paul is trying to make the Blue Jackets after playing for their AHL affiliate, Cleveland Monsters last season where he was hampered by injuries.

Paul Bittner at the NHL Draft after being drafted by Columbus




Landowners asked to help keep snow off local roads this winter

As farmers prepare to harvest their crops this fall, they should consider leaving a few rows of standing corn to help control blowing and drifting snow, as well as improve visibility, on Minnesota roads this winter, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
MnDOT pays farmers to leave standing corn rows, hay bales or silage bags to protect selected state roads. Farmers are compensated per acre for leaving standing corn rows and per lineal foot for strategically stacked bales or silage bags. A typical standing corn row treatment is about a ¼ mile long and one acre in size, with 12 rows of corn left standing. Average compensation to the landowner is about $1,000 per acre.
This “living snow fence” can be designed and constructed to fit into individual land use and farming operations.  Ears of corn are allowed to be harvested by families, clubs, organizations and church groups. “Standing corn rows provide a unique opportunity to use a resource already being grown adjacent to our highways to provide blowing snow control,” said Dan Gullickson, MnDOT’s snow control program coordinator. “They help MnDOT quickly deliver snow control treatments while reducing the state’s snow and ice removal costs.” 
It takes less than two weeks to have a signed agreement between the farmer and the local MnDOT district office.
In a recent survey, conducted by the University of Minnesota Extension, farmers who participated in MnDOT’s standing corn row program were asked why they took part in the program. In many cases participants recognized that blowing snow was a problem on their roads in the winter and saw the benefits of the program.  Respondents often mentioned that they felt good about doing something that helped their community by providing a “safe zone” on the highways along their fields. 
One respondent to the survey said, “We get a lot of compliments from people. Businessmen, nurses and teachers all use that road to get across town. They appreciate the clearer driving. They are especially grateful if there is a big storm.”

“The standing corn row program provides opportunities for leadership in, and service to, the community by helping keep local roads open to traffic during snow events,” said Gullickson. “This program is a great example of the rural community coming together and making a difference during the winter driving season.”

Last winter MnDOT’s Twin Cities Metro District successfully recruited farmers along the Highway 169 corridor near Belle Plaine to leave 4.34 miles of standing corn rows. “This is the first time that a corridor approach to managing blowing snow along this plow route was achieved,” said Tony Johnson, Shakopee Truck Station supervisor, who led the Highway 169 recruitment efforts. “We’re glad to see that it will be matched again for the 2017-2018 winter.” 
Farmers and landowners who want more information about the standing corn row program can contact their local MnDOT district office. Local contact information can be found at Additional information about the program is at or contact Gullickson directly at or 651-366-3610.




Local 4-H STUDENTS Attend MN State Fair

The Climax-Fisher Fliers 4-H Club had five participants at the MN State Fair. The participants, projects, and results were (from left to right), Anna Morken, Quilting, Blue Ribbon; Performing Arts, Blue Ribbon; Allie Morken, Needle Arts, Blue Ribbon; Performing Arts, Blue Ribbon; Adelle Erickson, Quilting, Blue Ribbon; Trinity Erickson, Clothing Fashion Review; Court of Honor Courtney Vatnsdal, Demonstration Speech, Blue Ribbon.






Crookston and the area was hit by several storm systems that passed through the area Tuesday evening.  Crookston opened the storm shelter with a tornado warning for South Central Polk County.  There was no storm damage in Crookston, although lightning was seen from 5:00 p.m. past midnight.  There was storm damage to the south and east of Crookston with power lines reported down in Winger and trees down in the Beltrami area.  Power was out in the Turtle Lake and Cormorant Lake area last night and Wild Rice Electric was working hard to restore power. 
KROX received several rain totals from the area and they are below-

4 inches - Union Lake
3.8 - Nielsville
3.3 - Four miles east of Gentilly
2.7 - at mile marker 14 on Highway 102
2.25 - Huot
2.08 - 2 miles south of Gentilly
1.8 - Woods Addition in Crookston
1.75 - By Highland School in Crookston
1.71 - On the east end of Euclid Ave on the south end of Crookston
1.70 - Sampson's Addition in Crookston
1.5 - 5 miles east Crookston
1.30 - KROX Studios



The Polk County Commissioners met on Tuesday and after a 30-minute discussion on the proposed local option sales tax of .25 (one-quarter) percent and a $20 excise tax on each motor vehicle to be sold by the dealers they approved the sales tax ONLY as the motion to approve the sales tax and the excise tax died for lack of a second.  
Jerry Jacobson, of Fertile, moved to approve the sales tax which was seconded by Warren Strandell of East Grand Forks.   The vote was three in favor and two opposed.  The two opposing were Gary Willhite of Crookston and Joan Lee of McIntosh, Jacobson, Strandell and Chairman Diedrich voted in favor.  The tax will go into effect on January 1, 2018.   “The legislature gave the counties the option to approve this option for 2018 to collect a tax for transportation, this will bring in $500,000 to 600,000 a year to use on county projects,” said Rich Sanders, Polk County Engineer.  “This will help us, but our needs are more than that a year.  An increase in property tax for the highway department would not be warranted.”  Commissioner Warren Strandell said, “Federal, state, or county, all of us need money as costs are going up faster than revenues,” said Strandell.  Former Commissioner Warren Affeldt of Fosston wondered if farmers would be affected. “I researched and found out that farmers would not pay on seed, fertilizer and agriculture materials,” said Strandell.  “It would not be paid on farm machinery, repair or replacement or labor on repair.  I think it is a minor imposition as it amounts to $1 on a $400 lawn mower, twelve and a half cents on $50 at the restaurant, no one likes a tax, but we need money to keep the roads up.”





After 40 years in Minnesota Extension services, Northwest Minnesota District Director, Deb Zak, is calling it a career ….. maybe. “I started in Pennington County as an Assistant Extension Educator. I was in that role for several years, then I went into Community Economics and Family Development, and then became County Extension Director. After 20 years, after having had all the roles I could think of in Pennington County, I applied for the District Director job for Northwest Minnesota, and was hired for that job. I started here in February of 1997. So I’ve had my two 20-year careers, and decided I should probably think of something else to do for the next twenty years! This is the first time in 40 years that I really haven’t had every month planned out. It’s exciting to just have some free time to think about what I might want to do next,” Zak said.
She commented on the  many changes she has observed in Extension services throughout her career, and the impact, saying, “One of our biggest changes in Extension was going from a county-based system to a regional system. In 2004 we opened regional offices throughout the state, and had regional educators and regional directors in those offices. One thing I was really pleased about is that all of our county partners maintained local county extension offices, which really help us to know what the local needs are. We have county extension committees in every county in Minnesota, all 87 counties, and we really work closely with our county commissioner partners, because they are the ones who set the local extension budgets.”
Because her retirement isn’t official until the end of September, Zak will actually be going to work again this morning, traveling to the White Earth Reservation to review their summer programming with partners. While we wish her the best of luck on her retirement, we also have a sneaking suspicion that she’ll find a way to ensure that both Northwest Minnesota and Minnesota Extension Service continue to benefit from her talents and involvement.





University of Minnesota Regent, Tom Anderson, hosted an interesting evening of discovery at the University of Minnesota Crookston last night, in an event called Minnesota Sparks. Three university educators and researchers presented some background information and findings of their latest research projects, as part of the University’s three-pronged mission of education, research and outreach. The events give leading U of M researchers the opportunity to connect with Minnesotans on topics that are relevant and specific to those communities.
Tony Schroeder, an assistant professor at UMC, spoke on freshwater sponges, (which surprisingly, live in our Minnesota lakes and rivers,) and how UMC’s new comprehensive study will lead to a better understanding of Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and streams. Dr. John Loegering, a Certified Wildlife Biologist and professor at UMC, as well as a wildlife Extension specialist with the University of Minnesota, explained his role of extending knowledge gained through research and practice, to everyday citizens through the U of M Extension’s master gardener, master naturalist, master woodland owner, citizen science, local learning circles and pesticide safety programs. And Neil Linscheid, an educator in the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality related how important, positive trends in the rural landscape, occurring under the radar, compels us to rewrite the story of rural community change. He explained that by examining specific demographics and trends, the correct conclusion is that rural America is changing, not dying.
UMC Chancellor, Mary Holz-Clause related how important outreach events, like Minnesota Sparks presentation, are to land grant universities, saying, “The reason it is important is because our land grant is made up of people. All of us carry our passions into our research and try to make that research impactful and relevant. It doesn’t do any good if something is locked up in a test tube if it’s not helping people, if it’s not making a difference in people’s lives. Here at the University of Minnesota, we’re really communicating with our constituents about the impact that the University of Minnesota’s researchers have on your daily life. We actually just did a video that follows the day of a life of a person in Minnesota: she gets into her car, where she puts her seatbelt on (developed by the University of Minnesota), drives along using her GPS (some of that technology developed by the U of M), over her head is an airplane (using aerospace technology developed by U of M researchers), and so forth. That’s really what a land grant university is. It brings to bear every day real people’s problems, real issues, and helps to find solutions and ideas, and extending that through Extension, and bringing that research into our classrooms, so that students are aware of what cutting edge opportunities there are for researchers. That’s what a land grant university should do, and that’s what we’re trying to do here at the University of Minnesota.”
Minnesota Sparks began in March 2016, as an effort bring University of Minnesota  researchers, who are tackling the state’s most critical issues, into conversation with communities across Greater Minnesota. The events explore topics like invasive species, medical device innovation, the effects of lead poisoning, climate change, Minnesota history, mining innovations and more, and highlight the University’s economic and cultural impact that spans all 87 counties of Minnesota, and engage communities across Greater Minnesota with this research.




Chamber Leadership Program Kicks Off October 4th 

Sign up now for the 2017/18 Leadership Crookston program presented by the Crookston Area Chamber of Commerce Growth and Development committee. This year’s theme for the educational 8-week program will build off the community wide marketing campaign, ‘Belong in Crookston'. 
The program aims to develop individuals in their leadership skills and also enhance awareness of Crookston while creating stronger advocates for business community. These goals are accomplished through engaging activities in group development sessions such as StrengthsFinder training, team service projects, presentations from community leaders, as well as community health, agricultural, manufacturing, judicial, and historical tours. Sessions are held every other Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m
In the end, the 2017 Leadership class will have built a stronger network within the business community, built everlasting relationships, and leave will a better understanding and appreciation of what Crookston delivers and truly has to offer. Registrations are limited. More alumni testimonials, further information, and application forms can be acquired through the Chamber office at 107 W 2nd Street or by email at Registrations are open and online at and click on Calendar. 




Be LOUD and think BIG! That’s the advice RiverView Rehab Service therapists Erin Jore, MS, CCC-SLP, Lori Hefta, MPT, and Madeline Graff, MOTR/L, are giving some of their patients these days. All three therapists are now certified in the LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment) LOUD and LSVT BIG programs designed to help individuals with Parkinson Disease (PD) and other neurological conditions. As a speech-pathologist, Jore works with the LSVT LOUD program to help patients improve vocal loudness by stimulating the muscles of the voice box (larynx) and speech mechanism through a variety of exercises. Focused on a single goal “speak LOUD!” – the treatment improves respiratory, laryngeal and articulatory function to maximize speech intelligibility. Jore reports that the patients she has worked with have not only increased their vocal loudness, but have also increased their intonation and expressiveness. “A person’s voice is a part of their identity. It is amazing to give that back to them,’’ she shared. “This program helps restore confidence and a desire to interact with others that they thought was lost.’’

LSVT LOUD, named for Mrs. Lee Silverman, was developed in 1987 and has been scientifically studied for nearly 20 years with funding support from the National Institute for Deafness and other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health. Published research documents improvements maintained up to two years after treatment. Recent research studies have also documented the effectiveness of this therapy in improving the common problems of disordered articulation, diminished facial expression and impaired swallowing. Additionally, two brain imaging studies have documented evidence of positive changes in the brain following administration of the therapy.

Physical Therapist Lori Hefta and Occupational Therapist Madeline Graff are certified in the LSVT BIG® treatment approach. LSVT BIG training is driven by exercises of high intensity, amplitude and calibration. The goal of LSVT BIG is to increase the amplitude of limb and body movement in people with PD and other conditions; therefore, decreasing the amount of tremors and shuffling and improving trunk rotation and gait. The program has also been generalized to improve speed, balance, and quality of life. In addition, people are able to maintain these improvements when challenged with a dual task. LSVT BIG is credited with bringing better movement into everyday life. There has been documentation of both long term and short term improvements when utilizing the LSVT BIG approach.

LSVT LOUD® and LSVT BIG are often completed as a program by the Rehab Team to provide the patient with a more holistic approach. “It really is an amazing program,’’ Jore reported. “The earlier an individual is seen for treatment the better.’’ Jore shared that referrals often come from family members because individuals may not realize their voice or gait has changed. If you or someone you know would benefit from LSVT, contact Rehab Services at 218-281-9463.

RiverView Rehab Service therapists Lori Hefta, Madeline Graff and Erin Jore




MnDOT gathering public input on regional bicycle routes in northwest Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is hosting open houses in counties across northwest Minnesota in order to gather input on regional bicycle routes that can be included in a Statewide Bicycle Network. Area stakeholders are invited to help identify bicycle friendly routes that make meaningful connections in the region. The routes may include existing trails and roadways, and may cross the jurisdictions of the township, city, county and state.
The Polk County meeting will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 20 at the Crookston City Hall.

Other area meetings include:
Beltrami County – Sept. 13, 10 a.m., MnDOT District 2 Office, 3920 Highway 2 West, Bemidji
Kittson County – Sept. 14, 1 p.m., Kittson County Courthouse, 410 Fifth Street, Hallock
Norman County – Sept. 19, 1 p.m., Dekko Community Center, 107 Fourth Avenue East, Ada
Pennington County – Sept. 20, 6:30 p.m., Ralph Engelstad Arena, 525 Brooks Avenue, Thief River Falls

District 2 comprises over 1,800 miles of state highways across 14 counties and employs approximately 220 people to handle snow and ice control, roadway construction, traffic, land acquisition, business operations, planning, design and other transportation-related duties. You can learn more about MnDOT District 2, at to







Back row - Mason Wang, Ben Trostad, King Keaton Lindgren, Colton Weiland, and Tim Parr
Front row - Katelyn Wagner, Amy Follette, Queen Karlie Brekken, Kate MacGregor, Aleece Durbin

Crookston High School crowned Keaton Lindgren and Karlie Brekken the 2017 Crookston High School Homecoming King and Queen at coronation this morning in front of a packed Crookston High School auditorium.
The other king candidates were Ben Trostad, Colton Weiland, Mason Wang, and Tim Parr.  The other queen candidates were - Katelyn Wagner, Kate McGregor, Aleece Durbin, and Amy Follette.
Homecoming activities continue the rest of the week with
the following days of the week -
Wednesday Pajama Day
Thursday – Color War (Seniors – black, Juniors – white, Sophomores – blue, Freshman – red, Eighth graders – yellow, Seventh graders – brown and Staff – orange.
Friday – Pirate Pride (Blue and Yellow)

Homecoming Activities for the week are listed below-
Wednesday – Powder puff football games (9-12 graders) at UMC at 7:15 p.m.
Thursday – Bad Boyz Volleyball games and Tug of War (9-12 graders) during Prime Time
Friday – Bad Boyz Volleyball championship game during Prime Time
                Free tailgate at the football field from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. sponsored by KROX, B & E Meats, and Christian Brothers Ford.
                Football game vs Breckenridge at 6:00 PM               
                Homecoming dance – 9 p.m. to Midnight (9-12 graders).   Cost $10

          Click on the video above to see the crowning of the king and queen




The Crookston Park Board met on Monday afternoon and received good news in regard to participation numbers in this year’s summer rec program.  Numbers were pretty much the same this summer, compared to last year.  This summer there was 401 participants while 2016 had 407.  "We had growth in numbers in our golf program and our tennis program. We changed some things in how we did our golf program; the kids were on the golf course a lot more, and there were more instructors out there with them, so I think that was a big factor in the growth of that program," said Crookston Park and Rec Supervisor, Scott Butt.  "We had seven more kids participate in tennis, and one of the factors that helps in our tennis program is seeing how successful the high school tennis program was last year. Those two programs really showed increases over last year. In T-ball, we were also up 10 kids, but I think some of the fluctuation in numbers can also be related to class sizes. All in all, we’re in the same number range as last year, but we definitely want to grow those numbers next summer, if we can. We’ll continue to see what we can do to make things better, and continue to keep our summer numbers growing.”
Butt said that a cooperative arrangement in 10U and 12U baseball forming a league with East Grand Forks worked out nicely this summer, and ensured that the kids had a chance to play against a variety of teams. “Our 10U and 12U baseball teams combined to form a league with East Grand Forks, whose numbers of participants in baseball were down this year. We rotated our games between East Side and Crookston. This way, we were able to form one league with 8-10 teams, instead of having a league here in town that only had four teams, so the kids didn’t have to play the same teams over and over all summer. We’re looking to grow that league; hopefully get three or four more teams into it next year.”

Summer Numbers-

Activity 2017 2016
Club Kid 41 61
Softball 53 55
In House Baseball 30 73
12U 30 21
10U 21 11
Tennis 62 55
Golf 66 46
T-Ball 80 70
Babe Ruth 18 15

In other business, the board discussed traffic safety issues on Fisher Avenue, both near the High School and by the Crookston Sports Center.  Crookston Park Board member, Chris Fee, said they need to do something to make the crossing on Fisher Avenue safer by the school after he and his son were almost hit again on Sunday.  Fee said at least once a week somebody is almost hit and it isn't a matter of if, it is when somebody will get hit at that crossing.  He also said they need to get a safe crossing on Fisher Avenue by the arena to the new housing additions by the arena.  Crookston City Administrator Shannon Stassen said they have talked with the state and they have been talking with them for years.  Mayor Wayne Melbye asked if a four way stop would work.  Everybody seemed to be in agreement that something needs to be done, but no action was suggested.  The board heard from Park and Rec Director, Scott Riopelle, that both the Wojo’s Rodeo and the Juniors Hockey games held over this past weekend were successful, well-attended events.   Making ice was a challenge with the record temps last week and they had to shut down making ice in the blue arena to make sure they had ice in the event arena.  With the Park and Rec staff working 24 hours a day for a couple days they were able to get it done and the ice was good enough to play.  With the rodeo and the hockey games and hockey tournament, Mayor Wayne Melbye asked if there is something to be said about having to many events at once and Riopelle said they had separate crews working on each event so that wasn't an issue.  It was more of a weather issue with the record high temp earlier in the week.  Riopelle said his crew did a great job with both events and said they worked extremely hard to make sure both events were a success, even with Mother Nature causing some problems.






Do you ever wonder what makes Crookston unique? Well, for one thing, a group of seven independent retailers who combined their impressive marketing skills, and began “Uniquely Crookston.” This marketing effort is part scavenger hunt, park adventure and all fun, as shoppers explore Crookston’s independent retailers, including Montague’s Flower Shop, Wonderful Life Foods, 2nd Street Boutique, This is Sew Broadway, Willow & Ivy, Wish Upon A Star, and Simply Boutique.
Shoppers are invited to take a ticket, available at any of the retailers, to each of the retailers to get it marked. Once you have visited all seven of them, you simply present your completed card to any of the participating retailers and receive a free reusable shopping bag.
“Uniquely Crookston is just an idea I came up with. Crookston has a lot of neat, little shops, but it’s just so easy when you’re in your routine to drive past and overlook them. I know there are shops in town that have been in business for over a year that I haven’t been to yet. The Uniquely Crookston, Explore Crookston campaign is just a way to encourage people to walk in the door to all these neat, little things we have going on. We are all retailers and business owners, so we’re all busy. We just get together when we have a chance to, and share ideas," said Erin Brule, co-owner of Wonderful Life Foods. "Stephanie Paverud (Montague's Flower Shop) and Steve Erickson (Erickson Embroidery and 2nd Street Boutique) were really instrumental in getting this thing going. We launched the cards during Ox Cart Days, and saw lots of new faces coming in the door. We saw lots of people just taking the day to visit all seven spots and get their free shopping bag. It doesn’t matter where you start, or where you end up, everybody on the card has the bags. We have a few ideas for promotions in the future, so hopefully this idea will just continue to grow, and get bigger, and evolve.”
If you don’t have your ticket yet, stop in at any of the seven participating retailers, and find out what makes them “Uniquely Crookston.”






The Crookston Chamber released their short list of  2017 Beautification Award finalists and winners, and the list includes the following businesses and institutions/churches:

Presentation of a Landscaped Business finalists- American Crystal Sugar Company, AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Cobblestone Hotel & Suites

Presentation of a Store Front Business finalists-WSN & Crookston Eye Clinic (entrance), Biermaier Chiropractic Clinic, Wonderful Life Foods and LeBlanc Realty 

Presentation of a Public Institution or Church finalists-Crookston Fire Department, Evangelical Covenant Church, Villa St Vincent/Cathedral, and the Care & Share

The Beautification Award winners are-

Presentation of a Landscaped Business: American Crystal Sugar Company
Presentation of a Store Front Business Tie: Wonderful Life Foods & LeBlanc Realty
Presentation of a Public Institution or Church Tie: Crookston Fire Department & Evangelical Church *both receiving Lifetime Achievement Awards*
Awards will be presented to each of the businesses on Wednesday, September 20. Following the awards, the committee will do their annual Fall Decorating at Main Street Courtyard.







Crookston High School is celebrating Homecoming week with a lot of activities planned, including the Pirate Football game against the Breckenridge Cowboys at 6:00 p.m. on Friday. 
The five homecoming king candidates are Keaton Lindgren, Ben Trostad, Colton Weiland, Mason Wang, and Tim Parr.  The five homecoming queen candidates are - Katelyn Wagner, Kate McGregor, Karlie Brekken, Aleece Durbin, and Amy Follette.  Coronation will be Tuesday, September 19 at 10:00 a.m. in the Crookston High School auditorium during primetime.
The student council has selected different days of the week and they are listed below-
Monday – Mix and Match Day
Tuesday – Crazy Socks and Crocs (Sandals are accepted)
Wednesday – Pajama Day
Thursday – Color War (Seniors – black, Juniors – white, Sophomores – blue, Freshman – red, Eighth graders – yellow, Seventh graders – brown and Staff – orange.
Friday – Pirate Pride (Blue and Yellow)

Homecoming Activities for the week are listed below-
Tuesday – Homecoming Coronation during Prime Time
Wednesday – Powder puff football games (9-12 graders) at UMC at 7:15 p.m.
Thursday – Bad Boyz Volleyball games and Tug of War (9-12 graders) during Prime Time
Friday – Bad Boyz Volleyball championship game during Prime Time
                Free tailgate at the football field from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. sponsored by KROX, B & E Meats, and Christian Brothers Ford.
                Football game vs Breckenridge at 6:00 PM               
                Homecoming dance – 9 p.m. to Midnight (9-12 graders).   Cost $10





Highland Elementary School will also celebrate Crookston High School's homecoming week.  The days of the week at Highland School are as follows-
Monday - Crazy Sock Day (Wear your craziest socks pulled up high)
Tuesday - Jersey Day (Wear your favorite sports jersey)
Wednesday - Wacky Wednesday (Wear your clothes backwards)
Thursday - Super Hero T-shirt day
Friday - Pirate Pride (Wear blue and gold)
Participation is voluntary for each classroom.





Make plans this weekend to take in Woofstock 2017 at the Town Square in Grand Forks. Woofstock is a family-friendly music festival benefiting the Polk County Humane Society, Circle of Friends in Grand Forks, and the Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue. The idea for Woofstock came in 2014 with an idea of putting together some sort of festival with bands, vendors and booths, along with some sort of show, with the proceeds going toward a charitable cause.  "When I was younger, my family had gotten a couple of dogs from the humane society in Crookston. I want the event to be fun and family-friendly. Back in 2014, someone from the Circle of Friends in Grand Forks suggested the name Woofstock, and that name has really started to spread nation-wide. Different places have different emphases, but ours is focused on vendors and music," said Kevin Fugelseth, an event coordinator. "This event is for all kinds of animals – humans, dogs, cats, gerbils, whatever pets people might have – they’re welcome to bring them.” 
The event will be held on Sunday, September 24 at Town Square in Grand Forks, from 3:00-6:00 p.m.  Several bands will play, including Dank, featuring Crookston's Anthony Diaz. "Dank is a fairly new collaboration, but I hear their music is high-energy, funky, dancing-type music," said Fugelseth. "Mudbucket has a couple of guys who have been playing in the area for decades; they play kind of folksy, acoustic, bluesy music.  So from ages 4-94, come out and bring your dancing shoes for a good cause. We’ll also have Face Painting by Jolin, a silent auction, a groovy pet contest judged by the Girl Scouts, outta sight pet tricks, and animals available for adoption.”
Sponsors of the event include Up North Pizza Pub, Treat Play Love, and Bully Brew Coffee.





The Crookston Kiwanis expressed their appreciation to Carly Brown for her leadership in school programs. Carly, previously a Kiwanis Terrific Kid, is now in 7th grade at the high school and she anxious to join the Kiwanis Builders Club. She enjoyed a breakfast with club members, and was presented a certificate along with two movie passes for the Grand Theater  

Kiwanian Nikk Caputo, Carly Brown & Susan Sylvester 





The Polk County Sheriff's Office received a call from a boater on the Red River on June 10 about human remains being spotted on the east bank of the river in Section 29 of Higdem Township.  The remains were transported to the Medical Examiners office in Grand Forks.
Throughout the investigation by the Polk County Sheriff's Office numerous calls were received from concerned family members that had missing relatives.  With the assistance of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension the the University of North Dakota Medical Examiner's Office, the remains were identified as Shirley Ann Whetter (Date of birth - 1/14/1936) after DNA from Shirley's family members were compared to DNA from the remains. 
Shirley Ann Whetter went missing in April of 1984 from Grand Forks.  Shirley was last seen by the Eagles Club in East Grand Forks.  In checking the area by the Eagles Club, East Grand Forks officers located footprints going into the river with no return footprints.  A search of the river was conducted in 1984 with nothing found. 
No foul play is suspected in the case.





Altru Clinic in Crookston held a “hard hat tour” and community breakfast this morning, to give the community a chance to see the newly-renovated care areas, and tour the areas still under construction. The clinic expansion and renovation will offer patients expanded specialty care options, expanded radiology services like CT, mammography and ultrasound, same day procedures, an operating room and renovated patient care rooms, infusion, laboratory and physical, occupational and speech therapy spaces.
Dr. Andres Makerem, Internal Medicine Specialist at Altru, led one of the facility tours. He emphasized that the changes to the clinic layout are designed to decrease patient wait times, and optimize their time with healthcare providers. “Altru as a system has really sat down and decided that every decision from now on is going to be focused on patient safety and patient well-being first, and what doctors like, second. I think that has been a very difficult change in general, because doctors tend not to like that too much. It’s nice to make things work well for the providers, because ultimately the provider needs to feel comfortable being able to provide care to patients, but ultimately we are 100% about patient safety, patient experience, and patient well-being," said Makerem. "Now, over the last 3-4 years, we now take a hard look at every decision we make, to make sure that everything is always having the patient as the first thing, and then everything else around it. Patient privacy is very important to people, especially in small communities where everybody knows everybody. It just takes one sticker with a name out there for someone else to see, that we are no longer okay with. Even though we understand that mistakes happen, we are now creating a system and putting all these things in place, so that mistakes cannot happen. We no longer accept that mistakes happen. A lot of these changes are relating to putting things in place so that we really do not allow for human error to cause patient harm.”
Altru Clinic patients will be issued badges that track where they are within the clinic, and provide important data on the care given.  “As patients come into the clinic, they will be given one badge with a GPS tracking system in it. As they are being handed the badge, the GPS tracking system now puts that patient into our system. As the person goes over to the room, people who are not currently looking at the rooms actively, will know that the patient is ready for the nurse, and we now can tell where the patient is at in the clinic, and when they are ready for a particular service," said Makerem. "The goal of that is to make sure that we are decreasing the wait times for patients. As a patient myself, I would want to come in when I am ready to come in, I don’t want to have to wait for anybody to see me, because I have things to do, and I want my visit to be meaningful, but not necessarily terribly long, because I’m waiting for things to happen. The other really nice thing that the badge does for us, is that it provides data. Whenever the day is done, we can actually look at when that particular badge was in a location on its own, and when there were other badges (meaning a nurse or provider) with it. So we can actually determine out of the hour that the patient was here, they were actually accompanied and doing something for, say, 45 minutes. Now we know that 15 minutes was time wasted for that patient, because it was spent waiting, and we’ll look at quality improvement processes to decrease that 15 minutes for a patient, so they don’t have any wasted time.”
Completion of the project is expected in Spring of 2018.

Dr. Andres Makerem led one of the tour groups through the newly-renovated clinic and new construction "hard hat" area





This is National Assisted Living Week, and The Summit has spent the week celebrating that fact.  “Assisted Living Week is a national celebration of assisted living facilities, and we celebrate it every year. It was started in 1995, to recognize the role that of assisted living facilities, and the staff who care for these people who live in them," said Cassie Aamoth, Director of Housing at the Summit. "A topic is chosen each year, and this year’s is “Family is Forever,” inspired by a quote from poet Maya Angelou: ‘Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs, the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who would love you no matter what.’”

Aamoth explained that family is a year-round focus at the Summit. “When moving a loved one into an assisted living community, you want the peace of mind of knowing that they will receive the utmost care by professionals who will treat them like their own family. At The Summit, we could not take this responsibility more seriously," said Aamoth. "This year’s theme, “Family is Forever” is so fitting, because we are one big family here. We consider the tenants here and the staff our family. If you spend a little time here at The Summit, you’ll see how close we are. It’s a very special thing."

And she remarked that this week's celebration activities have revolved around providing fun activities for all of the tenants. “We have had some special activities going on this week that gave us a chance to spend a little more time with the tenants doing fun things, and celebrate everyone here at The Summit," said Aamoth. "We’ll close out our week on Friday with made-to-order omelets for our tenants, staff and family members. We did this last year, and it was such a hit. People were talking about how great the omelets were, and we had all kinds of ingredients to choose from. We’ve had guest speakers, some music, some fun food, and yesterday there was even a wine tasting. We try to do different activities that are fun, and we can really involve everyone.”





The Fairfax Trail is officially open. Representatives from  the City of Crookston, and Polk County Public Health, along with Crookston runners, bikers and walkers showed up in the rain on Thursday afternoon to celebrate a ribbon cutting for the new trail, which connects the south end of Crookston with the downtown. A grant from MnDOT largely funded the project, which was completed about a month ago.
Mayor Wayne Melbye, Kirsten Fagerlund, from Polk County Heath, and Councilman Dale Stainbrook  welcomed the crowd of about 30 onlookers, and shared their excitement about the recreational opportunities the trail will provide. Melbye commented, “I’ve seen in the last little bit since we completed it, that the trail will keep people off Fairfax Avenue, which is an awfully busy street. They did a nice job on the trail – it’s even wide enough that people can walk down it while holding hands. It’ll be a real plus for the community, I’ve heard folks talking about it, saying it’s long enough for a good walk, and it’s put together pretty well. With that, we hope that someday Dale (Stainbrook) will get his wish for going all the way out to Ampride with the trail, but for now, we’ll just make do with what we’ve got and be thankful for it, and thank MnDOT and those that worked so hard to get it done. It’s a real asset for the community.”

Mayor Wayne Melbye and Kirsten Fagerlund welcomed the crowd to the ribbon-cutting




UMC RANKED IN A TIE FOR THE TOP U.S. News Midwest Top Public Regional Colleges for 2018

The University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) tops the list in the latest rankings from U.S. News released in early September. In the category Midwest Top Public Regional Colleges for 2018, UMC moves into first up from its third place ranking in 2017. The campus has ranked in the top three consecutively for 21 years including a number of times in the top slot.
The Top Public Baccalaureate Colleges category is comprised of institutions focused on undergraduate education and offering a range of degree programs but granting fewer than 50 percent of their degrees in the liberal arts.  
UMC shares the top spot with Valley City State University, N.D., and is followed by the University of Wisconsin Superior at number 3 and Lake Superior State University, Mich., and Mayville State University, N.D., both tied at number 4. To view the list, visit
The exclusive rankings will be published in the new "Best Colleges 2018" guidebook available on newsstands October 10 – as well as on  





The Regional Corrections Board met this week, and learned of one of their long-time corrections staff members receiving a State honor. “We were very fortunate this year – one of our Correctional Sergeants, Michelle Olson, was nominated for Corrections Supervisor of the Year through the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association, and was selected for that award. It’s a well-deserved award for Michelle. She’s been here for 33 years, and has worked in a supervisory capacity for close to 15 years. She has really done a fantastic job for us – she’s really someone who demonstrates work ethic, and compassion for the inmate population. She’s a tremendously hard worker, and the award is well-deserved, and it’s a way for somebody like her to be acknowledged for their many years of experience and dedication to our agency. She’ll get a formal receipt of that award at the upcoming Jail Administrator’s Conference this week,” said Executive Director, Andy Larson. “It’s hard to replace someone who’s been here for 33 years; you just can’t possibly replace that type of experience. It’s interesting to note that our average daily population during Michelle’s first couple of years was about 45, and our average daily population last year was 180. That’s about a 450% increase in population in 33 years. Despite that, I don’t know that she has changed the way that she goes about the job. She still spends time working with the inmates, trying to help them work through their difficulties that they might be experiencing, she really leads the way for her staff, and sets the bar high in the standards that she holds for herself and her staff. With Oscar (Meyer) retiring this year, and Michelle talking about retiring next year, it’ll be really tough to replace these two people who have devoted so much of their life to what can be very challenging populations.”

The Board also had the opportunity to meet Kyle Allen, who has recently been hired as the Juvenile Program Director. Allen will replace Oscar Meyer, who is retiring next month. Larson explained, “Kyle is the new Juvenile Program Director, and has already started training with Oscar. We’ll do that through the month of September. I’m really excited about what Kyle will bring to the table. It’s always a huge challenge to replace someone with Oscar’s experience, who has meant so much not only to the Juvenile Facility and the families and kids he has worked with, but also to the agency as a whole. But Kyle will really bring some fresh ideas, and will really be able to make technology work for us, which is something that we, as an agency, have made a concerted effort to move in that direction. Kyle has really hit the ground running, he’s out meeting people from different agencies around the area, and Oscar has really been very helpful in getting him out and introducing him to those people he’ll be working closely with over the next hopefully, many years.”




Global business professional and entrepreneur Danny Briere to speak at UMC

Global business professional and entrepreneur Danny Briere will be a featured guest speaker on Tuesday, September 19, at noon in the Peterson Classroom, Heritage Hall, at the University of Minnesota Crookston. The event is free and open to the public. Parking in Lot G near the Kiehle Building is encouraged and no parking permits are required.
Briere, a serial entrepreneur, started his own firms and has been involved in advising over 200 organizations in the telecommunications and Internet space. His focus is on leading edge technologies and trends, with a special interest in alternative energy, social networking, social enterprise, education, and kids.
He has also been involved in helping drive entrepreneurship across universities, towns, regions, and states. Briere is CEO of the STEMIE Coalition, a national umbrella organization over dozens of invention and entrepreneurship education programs, and chairman of the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo Organizing Committee. These celebrate youth inventor and entrepreneurs across the U.S. and push invention and entrepreneurship programs into more K-12 schools in America.
Briere has lived and worked globally in more than three dozen countries, including long range stints in Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. he worked with Steve Case (Founder, AOL) and Scott Case (Founder, Priceline) under Obama’s Startup America Partnership to lead job growth and startup initiatives in Connecticut as the head of Startup Connecticut, and worked with the State of Connecticut and University of Connecticut on entrepreneurship and innovation programming, working with a number of non-profits, and helping advise and launch new companies in the mobile, social networking, and education spaces.






Crookston High School will hold homecoming next week and the homecoming court was announced Wednesday afternoon.
The five homecoming king candidates are Keaton Lindgren, Ben Trostad, Colton Weiland, Mason Wang, and Tim Parr.
The five homecoming queen candidates are - Katelyn Wagner, Kate McGregor, Karlie Brekken, Aleece Durbin, and Amy Follette.
Coronation will be Tuesday, September 19 at 10:00 a.m. in the Crookston High School auditorium during primetime.





If you’re a landlord or property owner in Crookston, you probably noted an extra charge for lead testing on your city water bill this month. “This is a fee that is put on the water bills, and is mandated by the State of Minnesota," said Michelle Brekken, from the Crookston Water Department. "It is a one-time-a-year annual fee for $7.00. The fee is charged to the property owner or landlord only; renters do not have to pay it."
According to the State’s Consumer Confidence Report for 2016, which is a summary of the water monitoring done from January 1 to December 31, 2016, no contaminants were detected in the Crookston water at levels that violated federal drinking water standards. Lead does show up in the water supply, but only at 6.8 parts per billion (ppb). At concentration levels exceeding 15 ppb, the City is required to treat the water system. The trace amounts of lead occurring in the samples are normally attributed to corrosion of household plumbing systems, and erosion of natural deposits.
Elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. While the City cannot control the variety of materials that were used in plumbing components in the past, concerned citizens can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing the tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using water for drinking or cooking.





Crookston will host exhibition Junior Hockey games on Friday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. each night at the Crookston Sports Center.  The Thief River Falls Norskies will play the Minnesota Iron Rangers (Hoyt Lakes).  The Iron Rangers are coached by 1988 Crookston High School graduate and former Pirate hockey player, Todd Kreibich.  Todd is the head coach and general manager of the team that plays in the Superior International Junior Hockey League of the Canadian Juniors.  “Right now, one of our downfalls of our league is there is only six members in our league right now, which means that we play the other five teams 10 times a year,” said Kreibich.  “It is a real high brand of hockey, but we are seeing the same teams over and over so we have been looking at getting some expansion teams and building our league in the future and Crookston has shown some interest in hosting a junior hockey team in the past.  We are looking at giving fans in Crookston an opportunity to see the style of play we play in the SIJHL.”
People that attend the game will see an exciting brand of hockey.  “We have a real good mix and balance of skilled hockey players, you will see some fast-paced movement of the puck and some real good hockey players,” said Kreibich. “We will be up and down the ice, but also a balance of some physical play as well, which makes for an exciting brand of hockey to watch.”
The kids that will be playing for both teams will be 18 to 20-year old’s, with a couple 17-year old’s. “They will be kids coming out of high school and they are looking to make the move from high school to junior hockey, then make a move to play collegiate hockey, whether it be NCAA Division 1 or 3 hockey,” said Kreibich. “Typically, the kids are 18 to 20 years old, this year we have a couple 17-year olds on our squad that are going to play with us.  Our main goal for the 20-year-old kids that play for us is to put them with an NCAA Division III hockey team next year.”  One of the 20-year olds on the Minnesota Iron Rangers team in Crookston High School graduate, Harrison Bjorgo. “We are real excited to have him on the roster and he scored a big goal for us in our exhibition game against Fort Frances,” said Kreibich. “We are looking to get him on a Division III hockey team next year.”
Kreibich is looking forward to coaching in Crookston, but he is looking forward to all the familiar faces of friends and family. “I am looking forward to coming home and seeing some old faces,” said Kreibich. “I have been talking with some old classmates of mine that I played tennis with or graduated with,” said Kreibich. “Hopefully we will be able to fill the stands and have fun and see some old friends and have a good time this weekend.”
The games will be Friday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at the Crookston Sports Center.





Christine Erdman and her daughter Elizabeth, who is a member of the Crookston High School swim team, and also works at the Crookston Pool as an instructor, took exception to comments made by Pat Thomas and Pearl Maygra about the pool at the Crookston Ways and Means Committee meeting on Monday.  “I get pretty passionate when it comes to the pool," Christine explained. "My daughter has swum competitively since she was eight years old, and I was a swim coach for many years for USA Swimming. I just know how much a pool means to a small town like ours, and I feel like we have someone right now who has stepped up to the plate, and has allowed us to keep our doors open, while the current manager of the pool has been deployed. I applaud him for going in 100% head-on and taking on new initiatives like he has. My daughter and I are certified lifeguards. We took the same classes in Grand Forks. They do teach you in that program how to save someone with a head injury, or other types of injuries. With my daughter being employed at the pool, the fact that Joe takes time out of his own day to show up at the pool and hold mandatory training for the deep dive tank and diving boards. He truly makes sure that the lifeguards know what to look for, and know different ways to save someone with a head injury versus if they are drowning. He makes sure the lifeguards are comfortable in emergency situations and helps to make sure the patrons feel safe – and that’s huge. And that’s just one small example of what he has brought on.”

Thomas and Maygra raised the issue of WSI certified instructors at the Monday night meeting. Erdman said it is important to clarify the certification, saying, "Swimming instructors are not required to be WSI certified, if you are not the person running the program. The lifeguards are lifeguard certified."

The Erdmans also contested Thomas' and Maygra's allegation that the pool hours were erratic. "This summer, Joe (Wodarek, the current pool manager) arranged for a full-time supervisor. He knew that he wasn’t going to be at the pool from 8-5 Monday through Friday. He was hired for a full-time job he went to college for, and works a forty hour week in that job. The School Board was well-aware of this, and approved it. The hours actually expanded this summer for open swimming to 1-4:00 afternoons, and 6-9:00 evenings. In past years, open swimming has only been available only in the afternoons, or only in the evenings, not both. He also brought in more swimming lessons, and we are now Red Cross certified, so we can do Red Cross swimming lessons. That is a well-recognized program, with Red Cross training manuals, and there has also been a huge increase in private lessons. In order to accommodate the private lessons, you might have 2-3 kids taking lessons at the same time as Aqua Swim. I feel that the pool is big enough to accommodate 8 or 9 people, I don’t think that if there are 6 to 8 people at Aqua Swim, that’s the only people who can be in the pool. Let’s make the most of the extra space. Most of the private lessons are with very young children who can barely swim – it’s not like they are making laps up and down the pool. They aren’t kicking and splashing and making lots of noise, or getting in the way of the Aqua Swimmers. They’re five-year-olds – they really can’t do much harm."

The Crookston Pool is actually owned and operated by the Crookston School District. The City of Crookston pays a yearly stipend to the School District, ensuring that a portion of time is kept open for the public to use and enjoy the pool, in addition to the school’s use of it for competitive swimming.

Below is the letter Christine Erdman sent to the Crookston City Council Members, following the news stories of the allegations made by Thomas and Maygra at the Ways & Means Committee meeting:

Dear Respected Councilmen,

If any of you are aware of me, you know that my entire family are huge supporters of the Crookston Pool.  I know full well the value it brings to a small town like Crookston.  I also know that swim programs can have life long effects on children's confidence in our land of 10,000 lakes.
With that being said, I am emailing you today regarding the news article that cited "inconsistent hours and lack of oversight of pool staff."  While there is currently a part time employee running the pool, this is due to the fact that the person who was hired to run the pool was DEPLOYED.  I find it ironic that this was brought up on September 11th of all days.  While I am not against a decision to have the pool run by the city, if that is what is best for everyone, the reasons listed are just wrong.
The current "part time employee" running the pool has a full time career.  To my knowledge, there was no one else who stepped up to the plate to run the pool in Cody's absence.  We are SO fortunate to have a member of the community that is so passionate about our pool that he is putting his family time aside to make sure our pool stays open.
While I understand you may have heard some negative remarks yesterday, let me point out some of the extremely positive things that this man has brought to our pool.
#1  He has gotten us "Red Cross Certified".  This is a nationally recognized program and I believe that comments regarding swim lessons have been positive as of late.
#2  Private lessons are up substantially.  This shows people have faith in our program.  
#3  Not only has the revenue of the pool gone up, on most days he has 3 life guards on duty.  This from the days where there was only one person.  So, more revenue AND more staff.  To me, that's an all around positive.  
#4  Despite the fact that we have 3 life guards on duty, our "part time person" who "lacks oversight" holds mandatory lifeguard training.  This is above and beyond an employee being "lifeguard certified." He wants to know for a fact that if there were ever issues where someone was struggling, the pool employees would know exactly what to do.  I know this because my daughter is a lifeguard.  They actually hold mock drownings where they need to assess the possibility of head injury, etc. and react accordingly.  As a person who was a swim coach and is lifeguard certified, let me tell you that saving a person from the bottom of the dive tank with a possible head injury would not be an easy task.  We are fortunate to have someone who cares that much about the patrons of the pool and the comfort of his employees in an emergency situation that much..
#5  The pool hours did actually EXPAND this summer.  He hired a full time supervisor to manage the pool from 8-4.
#6  He has brought initiatives to the pool that we have never seen before.  Movie nights for UMC students, water polo, etc.  I personally thought the reduced fee over the summer was a genius move.  Getting people in the doors is the goal anyway, isn't it?
#7  As an overwhelming neat freak (just ask my husband), I feel the pool is cleaner than it has been in previous years, and I am at the pool several times a week.  The locker rooms do not smell.  The equipment (kickboards, fins, etc) are always put away.  The garbage is not full and does not smell bad.  These are all things that I have personally noticed in previous years and I feel our patrons would notice the most.
#8  Whenever there is a staff coverage issue, I do believe he covers that shortage himself.

I could probably list 792 things that I feel are going well at the pool right now, but I will spare you the time.  My feeling on "inconsistent hours" are this:
The person running the pool has brought many new initiatives.  That is what you have to do if you are trying to grow revenue and attendance.  Hours on some things have been changed.  It can't always be "this is the way it was always run" if you want to attempt to grow something.  Honestly, gone are the days of 6 people getting to be in the pool by themselves to do aqua swim because some of that time has been filled with private lessons as well.  I think anyone with a business mind would not consider that to be a bad thing.  Our pool is large enough to accommodate more than 6 people.  I also know that the swim team swam in the mornings as did I this summer.  I would listen to the people gripe about how "rude" the younger girls were and how much of a mess they made.  The entire team and I swam in two lanes while the other people would have the rest of the pool.  To me, that is not being rude.  We would swim 4-5-6 people in a lane to give the others their space.  Besides, how many teenagers get up at 6:00am on their own free will to go work out?  (I would much rather my daughter be at the pool at 6:00 a.m. than trying to be out late getting in to trouble)  I did hear Joe defend the girls though, which may not have made him very popular with the ones who feel they should not have to share the pool.  As for the mess, they know they can not leave a mess.  I would get after them myself if they did.  There was often WATER on the floor in the locker room when they were done though, but considering it is a pool, I figured that was to be expected.
Thank you for your time.  I simply wanted to give you another perspective on the pool.  Personally, I think we should be thanking Joe for his service and initiatives instead of bashing him in the news.  The school board did agree to his part time position and personally I feel like this job has been many more hours than he thought it was going to be.  However, he has not quit on us and continues to bring thoughts and ideas.  In this day and age, that type of person is rare and I applaud him.

Christine Erdman





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