2021 newsmakers – July, August, September

The top stories of 2021, July – September

JULY 

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People lined Wall Street to watch the Quartziter Days parade in Jasper Saturday evening, July, 10. File photo

Contractor hired for soccer complex development

Pipestone City Council members during their June 21 meeting approved paying Reker Construction and Aggregate, LLC., of Adrian, $135,000 for dirt and storm sewer work for the JBS Soccer Complex. Reker’s proposal was the less expensive of two quotes acquired by the city.

Former Thoughtfulness Shop renovated

The Pipestone Development Company (PDC) purchased the former Thoughtfulness Shop property at 124 West Main Street from Yavets Lachkays with the intention of renovating it for future use.

PDC President Jeremy Whipple told the Pipestone City Council that the second floor of the building had three apartments, which were heated by space heaters and cooled with window air conditioners. He said the PDC planned to install electric baseboard heat and mini split air conditioning and heating units. It also planned to build a 24-foot by 34-foot, three stall garage for tenants in the parking lot behind the building, which was part of the property, and fix the stairway patio on the back of the building, which was hit by a car in 2020. There were also four windows and a door on the west side of the building that were covered by plywood and Whipple said he wanted to get some stone from Central School to fill in those areas.

We are Water exhibit comes to Pipestone

The We are Water MN exhibit came to Meinders Community Library July 15 through Sept. 13.

There was an opening ceremony for the traveling exhibit on July 15 at the library. The ceremony included a variety of local speakers talking about different ways water affects the Pipestone area.

Ruthton school toured prior to demolition

People filled the halls of the Ruthton school for the last time Saturday afternoon, July 3, to tour the building where many of them were once students. The school, built in 1923, once housed all grades of the Ruthton School District and was used as the elementary school of the Russell Tyler Ruthton (RTR) School District until this year. RTR built a new school in Tyler for preschool through grade 12 that opened in the fall.

Survey results show a desire for more ‘rigor’ in the classroom

Survey results showed that Pipestone Area Schools students weren’t being challenged by their classes as much as they could be and parents wanted to see a higher level of academic performance. The surveys were one of the outcomes of the school district’s strategic planning process that took place in 2020 and were done to assess the culture and climate of the school district. A similar survey was done with PAS staff in December 2020.

Talk of a veterans memorial reemerges

The idea of a veterans memorial in Pipestone reemerged during the July 13 Pipestone County Commissioner meeting with the same old problem — no location. Pipestone County Veterans Services Officer Renae Schuch asked the commissioners what parameters they had for a memorial, so that they could all be “on the same page” if the veterans memorial committee collaborated with the county on the project.

Pipestone residents asked to limit watering

The city of Pipestone asked residents to voluntarily limit watering of their lawns and gardens to between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. The Pipestone City Council approved the measure, which was recommended by Water/Wastewater Superintendent Joel Adelman, during an emergency meeting. Adelman made the recommendation based on the dry conditions and a forecast that showed little chance of rain in the near future.

 

AUGUST

The El Riad Shrine brought a wide variety of entries, including this train, to the Water Tower Festival parade. File photo

Drought hits the region

With temperatures nearing 100 degrees and water restriction advisories sent out by the cities of Pipestone and Edgerton, and Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water publishing a request for water restriction on their website, Pipestone County was feeling the heat rise while watching moisture levels fall.

Mike Gillispie, a Senior Service Hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls said the southeastern quarter of Pipestone County was designated as D1 drought status (moderate drought) and the rest of the county was in a D2 (severe drought) status. Gillispie said there are three main types of droughts and Pipestone County was experiencing all of them. There is the meteorological drought, which is characterized by rainfall deficits and high temperatures; agricultural drought, when there are soil moisture deficits, plant stress and reduced yields; and hydrologic drought, which includes reduced stream flow, lower lake and pond water elevations, and reduced wetlands.

Demolition bid approved for Brown and Hill

Pipestone Area Schools Board members approved with a 4-2 vote hiring DRC, Inc. to demolish Brown and Hill elementary schools for $549,000. DRC’s was the lowest bid from among five received for the work. The highest bid was $986,700 and the average of the five bids was $782,839. The school district budgeted $625,000 for the work.

DRC is the same company that demolished Central School in 2019. Pipestone County hired the company for that project.

Senior center and food shelf pursuing new building

The Pipestone Senior Center and Pipestone County Area Food Shelf revealed plans to build a new structure at the corner of Second Street NW and Second Avenue NW in Pipestone that would house those organizations as well as senior dining and meals on wheels.

Lyle Schroeder donated a 124-foot by 135-foot lot where the old Pepsi building and barbershop used to sit to the senior center in the spring. The senior center then requested that the city donate an adjacent 125-foot by 24-foot property it owns. The Pipestone City Council introduced an ordinance during its Aug. 2 meeting to sell that lot to the senior center for $1 and approved the ordinance during its Aug. 16 meeting.

Honors presented at Pipestone County Fair

Craig and Angie Raatz were the 2021 inductees to the Pipestone County 4-H Hall of Fame and the Joan and Ted Stout family of rural Pipestone was named the Farm Family of the Year for 2021. Aubrey Kerkaert, 17, of rural Pipestone won the Champion Premier Showmanship award and Alivia Fruechte, 13, of rural Verdi, took home the Reserve Champion Premier Showmanship award. The honors and awards were presented Saturday, Aug. 7 at the Pipestone County Fair.

School starts in-person with no face masks required

Pipestone Area Schools announced that the 2021-22 school year would begin Tuesday, Sept. 7 with in-school learning for all students and no face masks required. That was according to a Safe Return to School plan the school board approved during a special Aug. 10 meeting.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Minnesota Department of Health recommended face masks or shields for all students, teachers, staff and visitors in school buildings, but they were not required.

Changes made to county auditor-treasurer position

Pipestone County Auditor-Treasurer Tyler Reisch announced he was resigning his position effective Aug. 27. The Pipestone County Commissioners accepted Reisch’s resignation during their Aug. 10 meeting and decided to use the vacancy as an opportunity to make the position appointed rather than elected.

The commissioners began the process of changing the auditor-treasurer position from elected to appointed in 2019, but tabled the discussion with a 3-2 vote on Dec. 3, 2019 after County Attorney Damain Sandy interpreted state statute to mean that Reisch had to fill out his term, which would have ended at the end of 2022, before the position could become appointed. His resignation made it possible to make the change sooner.

Staff and patients express concerns about PCMC

About 20 Pipestone County Medical Center (PCMC) employees and community members attended the Aug. 24 Pipestone County Commissioner meeting to express concerns about the internal workings of the medical center. Some filled the seating area in the commissioner room and others sat in the community room next door, watching the meeting by video.

Five people spoke, including one nurse at PCMC and four community members. Their concerns covered a wide range of topics, but centered around leadership and the departure of Dr. Jodi Scott, who had been the obstetrician/gynecologist at PCMC since 2019.

 

SEPTEMBER

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The newly constructed Pipestone Area Elementary School welcomed its first students when the doors opened Sept. 7. The school houses pre-k through fifth grade. File photo

 

Students return to class Sept. 7

As of late August, 1,145 preschool through 12th grade students were expected to return to Pipestone Area Schools, for the 2021-22 school year. About half of those students, those who were preschool through 5th grade, started the new year in a brand new school that was approved by school district voters. For the new elementary school, $26,800,000 was approved and $930,000 was approved for safety improvements at the middle and high school in the spring of 2019.

  California regulations could impact national pork industry

Pork producers in Pipestone County and across the nation said proposed requirements scheduled to take effect in California on Jan. 1, 2022 could have a nationwide impact on the pork industry, including higher prices for consumers. In 2018, California voters approved Proposition 12, or the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, which established minimum space requirements for breeding pigs, calves raised for veal and egg-laying hens, in order for the products to be sold in California.

New program will help homeowners replace leaky sewer lines

The city of Pipestone planned to begin a sanitary sewer service improvement program through which it would provide loans for homeowners to replace leaking sanitary sewer lines on their property. The city was awarded a $1 million loan from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Clean Water Partnership Loan Program to make the loans to residents.

This little piggy went to TikTok

Local veterinarian Dr. Cara Haden, with Pipestone Veterinary Services, went viral on the social media app known as TikTok, with her videos highlighting the pork industry and the science of pig health and care. Haden amassed 4.2 million likes on the platform in less than a year. Her motive, Haden said, was not to get people to eat meat, but rather to educate them on what farmers do and where their food comes from.

Dr. Lastine prepared for retirement

Dr. Michael Lastine retired on Sept. 30 after 44 years as a doctor, all of which he spent in Pipestone. During his tenure he delivered 3,217 babies. Lastine reflected on his years in medicine, what led him to become a doctor and settle in the Pipestone community and his post-retirement plans.

Brown and Hill properties to be sold by auction

Board members for Pipestone Area Schools voted during their Sept. 27 meeting to hire Chuck Sutton Auctioneer and Land Broker and The Winter Group to sell the Brown and Hill elementary school properties by auction and handle the related abstract and title work. Both agencies agreed to do the work for a split 5 percent commission on the sale of the properties, in addition to the cost of expenses like advertising.

Stonewall discussion draws a crowd

On Sept. 21, about 20 people filled the Jasper City Council room during the council’s meeting to hear about and discuss the potential construction of a new building for the Stonewall Bar and Grill, and what might happen with the bar’s current building. A portion of the exterior of the Sioux Quartzite stone building collapsed in May.