Friday, February 27, 2009

Snow photos from Thursday-Friday this week will be posted today

Shots from Kensington on Thursday morning at about 8:00am, with the view coming from the north side of Main Street, facing south, and a photo of the travel from Kensington to Hoffman, and then a few shots from around Hoffman.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's about time: President Obama proposes slashing farm payments

(How can we have any credibility by saying farm subsidies are needed to save the family farm, when the majority of these payments go to the largest farms? The logic is, "bigger is better" right? So bigger farms should be more efficient, and therefore should get the least government aid.)

WASHINGTON - Big farms that receive large government subsidies would lose some of that money under President Barack Obama's budget.

His proposal would cut government subsidies to farmers, targeting large-scale operations that get the highest payments.

Obama's budget would break from the five-year farm bill that Congress enacted last year, with his support. He proposes eliminating what are known as direct payments - subsidies that are paid to farmers regardless of crop prices or crop yield - for producers with higher sales revenues.

Under Obama's request, agriculture programs would receive $26 billion, almost a 9 percent increase over the 2009 budget year. That does not include the recent economic stimulus or entitlement spending for food stamp programs.

Hoffman Tribune office closing before NOON on Thursday - Main Street Galleria also closed today (read below)

Look outside and you'll know why! I probably will be packing up at 11am, after a trip over to the Coop to buy some corn to heat my house this upcoming cold, cold weekend.

Here are some video clips from downtown Hoffman on Thursday morning.

Here is an e-mail I received from T.J. Clavens at 10:29am =

For the safety of our volunteers we have chosen to remain closed today.

As always please feel free to call TJ at 320-766-1166 and he will be happy to come to the Galleria and try to meet your needs.

Sorry for any inconveniences this may cause you.

TJ & Theresa Clavin

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Randy's Ramblings" for February 26, 2009

A very well-attended Commerce and Ag meeting took place last Thursday at Bullfrog’s in Hoffman. I counted 22 on hand when we gathered for the regular February meeting. It’s noteworthy that 12 members of the organization (which totals over 60 businesses) are farmers. This reflects how intertwined the farm economy and small town Main Street are.
HEDA director Muriel Krusemark gave a wonderful update on the business activity going on in Hoffman as of late. She highlighted too many items to give justice to in this short editor’s column. Look for an extended story about the February 19th meeting in next week’s Tribune. Also, Commerce and Ag will be running an “annual statement” of what their organization stands for and how you can become involved, whether you’re a private citizen or a business owner.
I have to say “Hats off” to the staff of Anderson’s Dew Drop Inn, who handled with ease the large turnout for the legislative Town Hall meeting last Friday. I’ll just say that we sure were “cozy” in their meeting room!
Shifting gears...Did you know that insurance giant AIG lost more money in the fourth quarter of 2008 than it had made in the previous three years? While they had their hand out for taxpayer money, 38 executives were rewarded with “retention bonuses” in 2008. Are you kidding me? Only a moron would say that makes sense! As the company was run into the ground, their leaders got bonuses. When will the madness end

Downtown Kensington on Tuesday morning, February 24

Two important items for Hoffman residents

Horizons Welcome Packets updated
The Ambassador Committee of the Hoffman Horizons is updating the Welcome Packets that will be delivered by the committee to each new family in Hoffman. The Ambassador Committee and Messiah Lutheran Church Committee are working together on this project. If you have not yet responded to Messiah’s previous request and wish to, please contact the HEDA office with your item or brochure. Box 227, Hoffman, 56339, or
New City Website
The city of Hoffman is creating a new website and we need all the info we can from the community. If you are a new business that was not included in the old list of businesses, please contact us so you can be included. The website will be able to link to each business in our community. Please contact with your information. Janee Strunk will be creating the website.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

West Central Area girls basketball team defeats Hawley 66-55 in Heart O' Lakes Conference action

The Knights girls basketball team will finish the regular season next week with games against Hancock on Monday (at home) and against Brandon-Evansville on Friday (at Brandon)...both opponents are ranked in the Top 10 in Class A. Their combined overall records is 37-3.

The Knights capped the HOL conference schedule with this nice double-digit win over the Nuggets. WCA went 16-2 in league play this year, while the Nuggets went 13-5 in the HOL and 14-9 overall. West Central Area is 19-3 going into next week's action.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A light-hearted moment when the legislators were asking about "what to cut"

...and another photo of the legislators.

Sen. Ingebrigtsen, Rep. Westrom will host town hall meetings today, Friday February 20

Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen and Representative Torrey Westrom will continue their tradition of co-hosting town hall meetings and have scheduled six events throughout District 11A on Friday, Feb. 20.
The turnout for previous town hall meetings has been great and the legislators say it’s helpful to have public input as they make their way through the current legislative session. Everyone is welcome to attend.
“A big town hall topic last year was the gas tax,” Westrom said. “There probably will be a lot of economic talk this time around as we travel the district. People likely will want to address the state’s budget deficit and offer suggestions as we work toward a solution.”
Regardless of the topic, these town meetings provide a casual setting. “We enjoy speaking face to face with local folks to get a real grass-roots feel of what’s on people’s minds,” Ingebrigtsen said. “Area citizens seem to appreciate the chance to talk about what is most important to them; it doesn’t matter how large or small the issue is.”
Rep. Westrom can be reached at the Capitol by calling 651-296-4929 or 800-711-2620, and by email at

• Town hall meeting schedule:
Friday, Feb. 20
TIME/LOCATION: 7- 8 a.m. The Cattle Club, Elbow Lake. 9 - 10 a.m. at the Federated Telephone Cooperative, Chokio. 10:30- 11:30 a.m. at Detoy’s Family Restaurant, Morris. 12:20 - 1:20 p.m. at Anderson’s Dew Drop Inn, Hoffman. 2 - 3 p.m. at Mac’s Diner, Evansville. 4:00 at City Hall in Alexandria.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Crude oil is getting cheaper - so why isn't gas?

By CHRIS KAHN and JOHN PORRETTO – February 16, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) — Crude oil prices have fallen to new lows for this year. So you'd think gas prices would sink right along with them.

Not so.

On Thursday, for example, crude oil closed just under $34 a barrel, its lowest point for 2009. But the national average price of a gallon of gas rose to $1.95 on the same day, its peak for the year. On Friday gas went a penny higher.

To drivers once again grimacing as they tank up, it sounds like a conspiracy. But it has more to do with an energy market turned upside-down that has left gas cut off from its usual economic moorings.

The price of gas is indeed tied to oil. It's just a matter of which oil.

The benchmark for crude oil prices is West Texas Intermediate, drilled exactly where you would imagine. That's the price, set at the New York Mercantile Exchange, that you see quoted on business channels and in the morning paper.

Right now, in an unusual market trend, West Texas crude is selling for much less than inferior grades of crude from other places around the world. A severe economic downturn has left U.S. storage facilities brimming with it, sending prices for the premium crude to five-year lows.

But it is the overseas crude that goes into most of the gas made in the United States. So prices at the pump will probably keep going up no matter what happens to the benchmark price of crude oil.

"We're going definitely over $2, and I bet we'll hit $2.50 before spring," said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. "This is going to be an unusual year."

On the last day of 2008, gas went for $1.62 on average, according to the auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express, a company that tracks transportation data.

The recession in America has dramatically cut demand for crude oil, and inventories are piling up. So prices for West Texas crude have fallen well below what oil costs from places like the North Sea, Saudi Arabia and South America.

That foreign oil sells in some cases for $10 more per barrel — and that doesn't even include shipping.

Brent North Sea crude, which feeds some East Coast refineries — and therefore winds up at many gas pumps around America — now costs about $7 more per barrel than the West Texas crude. Deutsche Bank analysts say the trend should continue.

Historically, West Texas International crude has cost more. So nobody bothered building the necessary pipelines to carry it beyond the nearby refineries in the Midwest, parts of Texas and a handful of other places.

Now that the premium oil is suddenly very inexpensive, refiners elsewhere can't get their hands on it.

"It's so cheap," said Lynn Westphall, the senior VP of external affairs at San Antonio-based Tesoro, which owns a half dozen refineries on the West Coast and Hawaii. "But you can't just build a pipeline to everywhere. We know we can't get it."

Tesoro's refineries in North Dakota and Utah use locally drilled oil and Canadian oil, which also has been running about $10 more per barrel than West Texas crude.

So why not build more pipelines? Because investing billions of dollars over several years makes no sense when the prices could just flip a year from now to where they were before.

"How long is WTI going to be cheaper than Venezuelan oil? Than Canadian?" asked Charles T. Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. "You just don't build a pipeline like that."

At the same time, refiners have seen the same headlines as everyone else about job losses and consumer spending. They've slashed production just to avoid taking losses on gasoline no one will buy. Result: Higher gas prices.

"Why should a refiner produce more gasoline when the stuff we produce is not being used?" Drevna said.

Of course, complex explanations of the diverging price paths of West Texas crude and gas are unlikely to placate frustrated drivers. Memories of last summer's $4-plus gas have not receded.

"Drivers are being ripped off even more now than before," said Stuart Pollok, who was filling up recently at a Chevron station in downtown Los Angeles. He pointed out Exxon Mobil Corp. reeled in billions in profits last year when oil prices neared $150.

Others see the conspiracy reaching higher.

"It got really low during the elections and now it's going back up," said Christel Sayegh, a 23-year-old graphic designer in Los Angeles. "They do that every election, though, right?"

AP Energy Writer John Porretto reported this story from Houston. Associated Press Writers Jennifer Malloy and Ryan Nakashima in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

My Hoffman City Council meeting story from the February 9th meeting is completed

The big item I will point out is the final paragraph, which is posted below.

The final item discussed by the council was stray dogs about the town. Acually, the dogs are not true strays but are owned by city residents who are not following the pet ordinance. The city will continue giving the appropriate fines to dog owners that are out of ordinance.

I've heard that the city clerk has been busy with a few residents, laying out the fines when their dogs are loose around town.

I'm working on a "big announcement" story, talking about none other than myself. Look for that in the February 19th issue as well as the City Council story that I referenced above.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Former Hoffman-Kensington Patriot three-sport athlete will provide color commentary for webcasting of UM-Morris athletic events

Details for the following post are related to the University of Minnesota-Morris webcasting of various athletic events for the Cougars sports program. The link to follow to what is talked about is

"Mary Asche joins CSN webcast team"

Posted by Mike Cihak on Monday, Jan. 5, 2009

Mary Asche, a former UMM Cougar basketball player and successful three-sport coach in volleyball, basketball and softball at Morris Area High School, has been named color analyst during web casts of University of Minnesota, Morris women’s basketball games on the Cougar Sports Network (CSN). Asche will join Paul Schwarz, play-by-play announcer for UMM Women Cougar Basketball home games webcast on CSN beginning January 6th 2009.

“Mary Asche brings with her the experience of playing and coaching the game at all levels,” says Paul Schwarz, play-by-play announcer for the Cougar Sports Network. “Like Mark {Torgerson, CSN men’s analyst] she is local talent that has not only played at a high level in high school at three sports, but has coached them as well.”

Entering her tenth year teaching physical education at Morris Area High School, Asche has coached girl’s volleyball for the past eleven years, girl’s basketball for 13 years and girl’s softball for 11 years. “Whenever I broadcast games that Mary coached, I always loved what she had to say,” says Schwarz. “She is truly one of my favorite coaches to interview. It’s exciting that she will bring that insight to Cougar's women’s basketball."

After Asche graduated from Hoffman-Kensington High School as a successful three-sport athlete, she graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 1995 and later completing a licensure in Health and Physical Education from Minnesota State University-Mankato in 1997.

At UMM, Asche was a forward for the women’s Cougar basketball team from 1993-1995. She also played softball from 1992-1995, where she played catcher.

What Asche likes in terms of basketball at the high school or collegiate level is the level of athleticism on the court and game management with the use of the shot clock. That makes perfect sense for a competitor who is also a registered basketball official, and recently completed officiating her first volleyball game this season.

The University of Minnesota, Morris Cougar Sports Network is a free, easy-to-use online portal for enjoying selected UMM athletic events on the Internet. The UMM Cougar Sports Network utilizes the latest in web technology to bring live video, audio and stats of UMM Cougar athletics events to Cougar fans around the globe.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hoffman Good Samaritan Center holds Valentine's Party on Friday afternoon

Shown seated in the photo is Dorothy Kammerer of Alexandria, who claimed that she has been playing piano for "at least" 89 years. She provided music for the crowd to enjoy at HGSC's activities room during their Valentine's Party. Howard Olson and Helen Watson were crowned the new King & Queen. Read more about the event in next week's February 19th Hoffman Tribune. More photos will be in that issue from this event as well.

Stay warm this weekend!

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar urges action to support Minnesota farmers facing dairy crisis

Senator says USDA must take steps to stem decline of milk prices

Washington, D.C. – With the price of milk and dairy products falling sharply, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today called for action to help stabilize prices and protect Minnesota’s farmers. In a recent letter to the Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Klobuchar and more than 30 other senators urged the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to immediately enact measures to address the problem of abrupt price drops.

“Farmers are especially vulnerable during these tough economic times,” said Klobuchar. “Across Minnesota, dairy farmers are struggling as a result of this economic crisis. We need to provide immediate and targeted support to stabilize prices and help dairy farmers who are hurting.”

Falling prices of dairy products, combined with unusually high costs and a drop-off in international demand due to the global economic crisis have imperiled the dairy industry. The price of cheese has dropped 40 percent in a little more than a month.

In the letter, the Senators urged the USDA to: more effectively implement the Dairy Product Price Support Program (DPPSP) to restore stability and clear oversupplies in the market; direct adequate resources toward timely and efficient inspection of dairy commodities purchased through the DPPSP; consider additional dairy purchases for distribution through the USDA commodity-based nutrition programs; examine ways to more formally utilize the Dairy Export Incentive Program.

The full text of the letter is below:
The Honorable Tom Vilsack
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

Since last summer our domestic dairy industry has been grappling with a serious imbalance which threatens the stability and future of American dairy farmers. Falling domestic prices combined with relatively high input costs have put an extraordinary strain on the entire dairy sector. The global economic crisis has further exacerbated these challenges by reducing international demand which, in turn, diminishes the price our dairy farmers receive for their milk. Cheese at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), which had been relatively stable in November and early December at just under $1.80 per pound, sunk 40% in late December to slightly less than $1.10 per pound.

Though some input costs have more recently stabilized from record highs, this modest relief is not enough to offset the persistent low prices confronting dairy producers. Across the nation, dairy farmers face the prospect of losing money every time they milk a cow. Continued low prices could devastate not just dairy farmers and the dairy industry, but thousands of rural communities where agriculture and dairy are primary economic engines.

While the USDA's Dairy Product Price Support Program (DPPSP) provides a floor for dairy product prices, we believe it could be more effectively implemented to restore stability and clear oversupplies in the market. For example, packaging standards for cheese committed under the DPPSP are somewhat different than industry norms utilized for cheese which trades through the CME. We encourage you to examine whether some harmonization can be accomplished without adversely impacting the quality of the product purchased by USDA. We also encourage you to direct adequate resources toward timely and efficient inspection of dairy commodities purchased through the DPPSP. Anecdotal evidence suggests that inspection delays are creating problems.

We also urge you to consider additional dairy purchases for distribution through the USDA commodity-based nutrition programs. Demand for these nutritious products by low income individuals, food banks and schools will undoubtedly continue to increase and dairy products like cheese are often among the most popular products available.

Feeding programs can be better served by the price support program if USDA plans for it. To that end, we are troubled by the previous administration's decision to stop purchasing value-added dairy products at a slight price premium through the DPPSP. According to the enclosed USDA document, since at least FY1996 the DPPSP has purchased fortified nonfat dry milk, packaged instant milk, butter prints and 2 or 5 lb blocks of processed cheese at prices which account for the cost of packaging. If a portion of DPPSP commodities are ultimately distributed through USDA nutrition programs, it seems logical to purchase products in forms that are more conducive to these uses.

Finally, with global dairy markets influencing the price of US dairy products, we recommend that the Department examine ways to more fully utilize the Dairy Export Incentive Program (DEIP). As you know, DEIP provides incentives to exporters of dairy products to help them compete with subsidized products from other nations. With the recent announcement by the European Union that it will increase export subsidies, DEIP is an important tool to help keep US dairy products competitive.

We look forward to working with you to meet the needs of farmers, rural communities and the food insecure during these challenging times.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Three items - first of all, the correct Phil's Valentine's Day ad! And time change for Town Hall meeting in Alexandria. And a local death notice

First of all, to Phil Corrigan I apologize for the mistake in your ad. Here is the correct version for the world wide web to take in. (Isn't it cute!?!?)

Secondly, here is a press release from the Minnesota House of Representatives. Because of the time change, I unfortunately will not be attending this event. At roughly 3:00pm on Friday (the 20th) I'll be packing up in Glenwood with my girlfriend to take a weekend road-trip/get-away/mini-vacation to Duluth. Had the time stayed the same as was originally scheduled (2:00pm), I would have had no problem being in Hoffman that morning, Alexandria at 2pm, then getting to Glenwood at 3. (I have my priorities straight, correct?)

Please note the updated information regarding the Alexandria Town Hall meeting to discuss the Governor's budget proposals. Time has been changed from 2:00PM to 4:00PM.

Note: Time Change
Friday, February 20th - 4:00 p.m.
Alexandria City Hall
704 Broadway

Last, a death notice for a local resident.

Bernice Johnson age 86 of Hoffman died on Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at the Hoffman Good Samaritan Center. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, February 14, 2009 at 11:00 AM at Oscar Lake Lutheran Church in Holmes City Township. Visitation will be for one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday.

Arrangements were with the Anderson Funeral Home.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Two fires in the Hoffman area destroy a home and granary

Read more about the fires in the February 12th issue of the Hoffman Tribune.

The home fire was near the Red Rock Golf Course, while the granary fire was near Elk Lake.

Hopefully tonight, I'll be getting a report from Hoffman Fire Chief Vern Haack about the two incidents. Early Tuesday morning I'll be getting pictures at both sites.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Knights girls basketball team improves to 16 -2 with win over sub-section rival Osakis Saturday afternoon

I just got off the phone with West Central Area Knights sports reporter Kris Beuckens, who attended today's Osakis vs. WCA girls basketball game in Barrett. He reported that the Knights were victorious after blowing out the Silverstreaks in the second half.

Osakis fell to 14-6 overall, and they are in a battle with Staples-Motley (13-5) for the #4-playoff seed and accompanying first-round home game in Sub-Section 6AA-West. They meet on February 19th in a game that most likely will determine who the #4 seed will be.

The Knights, meanwhile, are 16-2 overall, easily their best record in 18 games since 2001-2002 when they won the HOL Conference with a 13-1 record. The 2001-2002 team is tied with the inaugural WCA Knights team of 199-1994 for the most school wins since the pairing of the West Central Wildcats and the Hoffman-Kensington Patriots.

Currently, the Knights sit in 3rd place in the sub-section standings. Feel free to check out the following website, operated by Coach Anderson of the Knights girls basketball team: Knights girls basketball website. Fans can note sub-section standings, exact point totals for the eight teams, as well as a full schedule of this season's games as well as varsity, B-squad, and C-squad rosters.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Spring thaw comes early for Hoffman-Kensington area

(We all know it won't last though!)

Shown in the photo is Ken Sanstead working late on Friday afternoon to remove snow from the street between the Farmers State Bank and the Coop building.

Another photo (below) is from the Friday night skating at John Kleinsasser Gymnasium at Hoffman Square.