by John Holler
Every year, Wright County takes time out to honor the men and women of law enforcement and the citizens who help make the county a safer place by hosting a ceremony during Law Enforcement Week in Wright County (May 15-21).
At the May 16 meeting of the Wright County Board, the county honored those in law enforcement who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, as well as paying tribute to those who have went above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis.
Sheriff Joe Hagerty explained why Law Enforcement Week is so important.
“Since 1962, police have had their own week to honor those in law enforcement and public safety. May 15 was National Peace Officers Memorial Day,” Hagerty said. “There’s activity down at the Capitol. Our honor guard wasn’t there this year, but for several years we stood in honor of our fallen officers and in Wright County, we’ve seven fallen officers – the last one in 1980. Every evening, we’re thankful that it hasn’t happened since.
Hagerty honored one of the longest-serving officers to represent Wright County. Fred Reimer. He was a charter member of the Wright County Reserve Unit, established in 1965 and spent more than 50 years serving the residents of Wright County. Reimer was presented a plaque honoring his half-century of service to Wright County and, as he stepped away from law enforcement, he felt bittersweet about the honor he was receiving.
“I feel like I’m leaving my family,” Reimer said. “It’s been a long time. I’ve enjoyed this work and I’ve always heard it said that, if you love your work, you never work a day in your life. I truly believe that. This is great and very touching.”
As part of the ceremony, Sgt. Ryan Ferguson of the sheriff’s department handed out awards to officers and citizens. Three officers received recognition.
Deputy Glenn Gerads received a commendation award for arriving on an apartment fire in Montrose and saving an unconscious female inside and pulling an elderly man out through a window.
Deputy Andrew Minea received a letter of recognition for spotting smoke inside a close restaurant, forcing entry and putting out a grease fire that could have destroyed the building.
Reserve Deputy George Rowe received a letter of recognition for noticing a vehicle in a Walmart parking lot he believed match a vehicle sought in a homicide investigation. It was the vehicle and aided in producing evidence in the investigation.
Eight citizens also received honors. Four people, Alex Zhukouski, Cheyenne Tuttle, Irma Lazano and Sarah Parent – were given letters of recognition for their roles in tending to children who were struck by a driver who drove through a school bus stop arm. The children were severely injured and the four tended to them until emergency personnel arrived.
Hans Hoeg and Ryan Zylstra were honored for their roles in locating a missing 4-year old and safety returning the child to his mother. Jonathan Hudek was honored for chasing a fleeing suspect from a vehicle and detaining him until a deputy could arrive and arrest the individual.
Marlene Kittock and Holly Schrupp wre recognized for reporting a suspicious person sitting on a picnic table and casing a local business.
When deputies arrived, they found a backpack that included a stolen handgun and the individual in question was responsible for several burglaries. Michael Scharber and Peter Scharber were honored for rescuing a pair of hunters from a capsized boat in mid-October on Pelican Lake, citing that, without their help, the hunters could have drown or suffered extreme hypothermia.
Board Chairman Charlie Borrell said the annual honoring of officers and citizens is always a source of pride for the county board.
“This is always one of the most enjoyable things for the county to board to hear – about our deputies and our citizens,” Borrell said.
“(Former Commissioner) Pat Sawatzke always said we have the best citizens in Wright County, so thank you all.”
In other items on the May 16 agenda, the board:
* Announced the opening for a new human resources director. Sunny Hesse, the current Human Resources Director has accepted a job in St. Cloud and submitted her resignation effective June 6.
* Authorized signatures on a resolution that will continue the county’s participation in the Highway 55 Corridor Coalition that extends the county’s participation, which was scheduled to conclude this year, through July 26, 2020.
* Referred discussion of the sheriff department’s 2018-19 law enforcement service contracts with county cities to the ways and means committee.
* Adopted a resolution designating the week of May 21-27 as Emergency Medical Services Week.
* By a 4-1 vote approved moving forward with the parks and recreation department to look into the feasibility of purchasing land adjacent to Stanley Eddy Park and developing a master plan. Commissioner Mike Potter made a motion to deny exploring the matter any further, based on public feedback that the county has spent enough money over the last decade on parks expansion given the high cost of the Bertram Chain of Lakes project. His motion died for lack of a second and further exploration was approved by a 4-1 vote. It was clear that, barring significant outside funding or land donation, the county is unlikely to expend much money even if a purchase takes place.
* Scheduled a series of bid openings for Friday, June 23 as follows: 11 a.m. – CSAH 3 pavement preservation project; 11:10 a.m. – Co. Rd. 131 pavement preservation project; 11:20 a.m. CSAHs 35 & 6; CSAHs 35 & 8 safety project; 11:30 a.m. Briarwood Avenue, Rockford Township State Park road project.
* Approved the April revenue/expenditure guidelines.
* Announced that, as part of the scheduled county auction for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 22, the license bureau will remain open until 8 p.m. The reason for the extended hours is that the auction is going to include the sale of several vehicles and the titles will need to be transferred.
* Authorized the county to move forward with the contract development on the roof replacement of the Public Works Building. Four bids were received for the project and the bid was awarded to John A Dalsin & Son Inc.
* Approved upgrading 18 electrical sites at Schroeder County Park campground from 30 AMP to 50 AMP at a cost of $13,650.
* Referred several agenda items to the May 24 technology committee meeting, including discussion of a GIS/Assessor project, a status update on the Office 365 program, the future of the county’s voice system and the technology steering committee.
* Approved a crossing surface installation agreement with BNSF Railway for replacement of the concrete railroad crossing panels on CSAH 19 and CSAH 37 in Albertville.
Freelancer John Holler covers government and the Wright County Board of Commissioners.