BIG LAKE FOOD SHELF PRESIDENT Judie Zaske gave a report on the food shelf’s activities in the last year at Wednesday’s city council meeting. (Photo by Bill Morgan).

BL food shelf remains a busy place in 2013

Staff Writer
Bill Morgan
Judie Zaske, president of the Big Lake Food Shelf, attended Wednesday’s Big Lake City Council meeting to provide an update on the Big Lake Food Shelf. Zaske also provided statistical information relating to the Big Lake Food Shelf and the March food drive campaign.
Food Shelf
Zaske said most are well aware the national economy is changing and that America’s middle class is significantly decreasing. She said more than 554,000 Minnesotans — or one out of every 10 people in the state — receive federal food assistance. Jobs are limited,  she said and benefits are not readily available. Minimum wages don't support the increase in many essential services.
Zaske said she and her volunteer board do their best to bring the food shelf organization to the next level by increasing and enhancing the services they provide, by formulating and sponsoring projects that will self sustain and improve the overall well being of those who utilize the food shelf, by increasing their working relationship with community partners and by focusing on their financial substantiality so that we may continue to be there for those in need within the Big Lake community.
Zaske pointed out incoming food donations increased by 13% from 2012. The program’s purchasing of food was down 14% due to an increase in donated foods and the generosity of those involved in the food rescue program.
Zaske said the three main programs of hunger relief in Minnesota are food stamps, food shelves and subsidized school lunches, which all saw record levels of use in 2012. She also pointed out that a low income family of four lost $36 a month in payments which began last November.
During the 2013 legislative session, a group of Minnesota lawmakers challenged one another to try to eat for a week on the average SNAP budget of $1.29 per meal. Not one of them made it.
Mayor Raeanne Danielowski read aloud a document proclaiming the month of March as Minnesota Food Share Month.
Fire Benefit Request
Firefighter Ken Halvorson submitted a request to council to approve an increase to the maximum benefit amount from $3,000 to $3,400 per month. Halvorson said the approval of the request would not impact the city nor the fire department’s 2014 budget, just the fire relief association.
The benefit increase will go into effect Jan. 1 of this year.
Quinn Donation
Big Lake resident George Quinn presented Public Works Director Mike Goebel with a $100 cash donation to be used towards non-budgeted items.
Quinn said he was impressed by Goebel and his crew for all the hard work they’ve done over the winter season keeping area streets and sidewalks clear and for dealing with all the frozen pipes in the last month or so.
“During the past month or so, I’ve observed staff of the public works department performing their duties above and beyond,” said Quinn. This winter has been very challenging and difficult for all and during it all the department has been highly professional.”
Quinn said he noticed Goebel and his staff were very supportive and helpful in the restoration of water to him and other homeowners in his neighborhood when their water lines froze.
“Although it was a difficult time and other citizens were dealing with the same issue the public works department was always friendly, understanding and helpful.”
Fire Dept.
The fire department has started receiving applications for four paid, on-call positions with interviews to follow soon;
The BLFD will be conducting training March 20 and 25 for dealing with oil tankers and the hazards associated with transport and possible accidents. BNSF will be on hand to aid in the training.
Police Dept.
The BLPD had an active February in which they attended to 591 calls for service (compared to 514 last year). Three juveniles allegedly responsible for spray painting vandalism to city property and businesses were apprehended and arrested. 
Security updates are taking place at city hall in which there will be proximity locks on all exterior doors, a glass barrier at the front counter and new ID cards for staff.
Nathan Hayes of Baudette is visiting the BLPD to get experience working the streets and the office of the department before going back to Baudette to start his career.
A couple police officers have volunteered to test out a couple external vest carriers that will aid the officers and disperse the weight of all the utilities they carry in their everyday movement. Police Chief Joel Scharf said the vest are designed to provide better comfort, hold a higher volume of gear and should help alleviate some of the worker’s compensation claims due to lower back issues with a utility belt.
Other News
•Economic Development Manager Heidi Steinmetz said the lease to lock in the new micro-brewery business is close to a “done deal”. The brewery would operate at 570 Humboldt Drive;
• Steinmetz also said a new dental office — Lake Dental Care — will be opening soon in the Commons Building;
• Goebel said he and his staff serviced 63 water issues since Feb. 1 and said they have a “pretty good handle on things now. Goebel said people are “not out of the woods yet” and continued to stress homeowners keeping water running from taps until the frost goes out.
The next Big Lake City Council meeting is March 26 at 6 p.m.


Kathleen R. Huber

DANCERS FROM JENNIFER’S DANCE CENTER will be performing at Disney World in Florida in October. Pictured (front row, left to right), are Grace Esselman, Lillian St. Jean, Sophia Gerou, Kailey Buchta, Rowan Payne and Hannah Oakes. Middle row are Amelia Cameron, Brianna Anthony, Jacqie Bengtson, Gianna Mitchell, Alex Dillion, Abby Yanke and Rose Curtis. Back row are Tori Ramert, Alexis Erickson, Sophia St. Ives, Tiana Link, Rachel Royseth, Kristian Kunkel, Brooklynn Bengtson, Nicole Bengtson and Kendall Luoma. Not pictured are Haylee Oakes and Melanie Miskowic. (Submitted photo).

FIVE GIRLS FROM MARY OF THE VISITATION CHURCH’S YOUTH GROUP helped Gail Stanley (not pictured) of Big Lake pack her belongings for a move she was taking to Princeton last weekend. The girls are (from left to right): Bridget Buchholz, Jasmine Johnson, Michaela Manifold, Brittney Kostek and Josie Berger. (Photo by Bill Morgan)

CENTRACARE HEALTH MONTICELLO HOSPITAL provides top-quality health care for the community. St. Cloud Hospital, run by CentraCare Health, was recently named the third best medical facility in the state, second only to the Mayo Clinic and Abbot Northwestern. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

CHUCK MAURER, 54, of Becker was killed in a car crash Tuesday and his 10 year old daughter, Casey, was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center after his mini-van was t-boned by a pickup truck driven by four teenagers from Little Falls. (Submitted photo courtesy of the Maurer family.)
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