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MSAB students' culinary skills hit the internet in how-to video
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A pair of students from the Minnesota Academy for the Blind in Faribault, recently made their debut in the world of online “how to” videos as part of their Facts 101 — Learning to Cook class.

Faith Kern and Anna Wester, along with their teacher Mark Bromley, created a short video titled “Cooking with Anna and Faith” that details their creation of pizza roll-ups The video was recently posted on YouTube.

“The video is just a cumulation of trying to keep them interested in doing something fun,” Bromley said. “We’ve been cooking various things in the class and we just wanted to show off what we’ve learned.”

A 10th grader, Kern is a resident of Faribault. Wester is a resident of Prior Lake and in ninth grade. Both are day students at the Minnesota Academy for the Blind.

The class is designed to be an introduction to kitchen skills for the students and teaches them how to use things such as the stove, oven and assorted utensils. The course also includes information about healthy diets and healthy snacks.

The course is part of the curriculum at the Minnesota Academy for the Blind, which offers academic education and life education for blind and visually impaired students to age 21.

“We’ve been working on other things and I asked them what they wanted to prepare for a video and this is what they came up with,” Bromley said about the duo’s video debut.

“It was sort of a trial run, just to see how it would go and it kind of mushroomed from there. On our first take, it was going to be a trial run but it kind of blossomed on us. Everybody loved it.”

The project was aN effort between the two students and Bromley, which featured a rehearsal day on a Tuesday and the actual video shoot the following Thursday when the pair have class sessions together.

“I kind of led the way and guided them, but to make it sound natural they came up with their own wording for the script. I just guided them in the steps along the way,” Bromley said about the video creation process.

Wester said, “Mr. Bromley, Faith and I, we all came up with the idea for the video. I felt really, really happy (about doing the video) but I was a little nervous on the camera.”

Camera work for the video was done by Bromley, and one of the school’s special education program assistants, Justin Hughes, who has video editing experience, helped with the video’s special effects, audio and final production process. Minnesota Academies Executive Aide Kim Barron then added closed captioning to the final product.

“The video was a huge hit and the kids were very proud of what they did, and I am very proud of what they did,” Bromley said. “As soon as we finished the video, the kids wanted to show their families, they wanted to show their peers and they wanted to show it off to their other teachers. The video was a huge motivator, so it is going to compel us to try and dream up some more to do.

“I thought Anna and Faith were fantastic and they have asked to do more … and we are going to try and figure out how we are going to do another one.”

Kern echoed her teacher’s excitement about the video experience.

“It was fun and it was amazing,” Kern said. “We can do another one and call it cooking with Faith and Anna Part II!”

Part of the success of the video can be attributed to Kern and Wester. Their teacher said both love to sing and are interested in becoming some type of performer, along with having a strong quest for knowledge. In fact, Kern and Wester were part of a group that sang the national anthem at a Faribault Lakers baseball game this summer when Fox 9 was in town during their 2021 Town Ball Tour coverage.

“These two are incredible students and have a hunger for learning,” Bromley said. “They just want to do and try, and they are very outgoing.”

The video and Facts 101-Learning to Cook course are examples of how the Minnesota Academy for the Blind strives to promote independent living skills and self-determination for its students.

“One of the goals of the school is to promote independence for yourself and taking charge of your own situation,” Bromley said. “One of the big things is to build independence and not have other people do things for you … there is a special feeling when you accomplish it yourself.”


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Trick or Treat: Halloween fun for all ages at BA/Divine Mercy
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Bethlehem Academy and Divine Mercy Catholic School’s parking lot was transformed into a Halloween-themed paradise Sunday afternoon.

About 30 cars lined the edge of the parking lot, with each trunk decorated in a fun, unique theme.

While some stuck to traditional Halloween decorations, featuring spider webs and shades of oranges and purples, others took a bit of a different approach.

Despite the cool temperatures, seventh graders Sarah Tobin, Payton Bice, Aubrey Brown, Abby Bauer, Hayden Dillon and Aiden Conrad dug out their summer clothing and pool gear for their setup. Along with the pool noodles and floaties, the students also had a kiddie pool filled with sand and starfish.

Bethlehem Academy FFA students sported their best camouflage attire, and set a handful of duck decoys in a small kiddie pool. Their hunting theme was complete with duck calls made throughout the afternoon. Students weren’t the only ones joining in on the fun, as teachers and staff from BA and DMCS gathered together to participate in the annual event.

Divine Mercy Catholic School teachers Mary Van Thomme, Patty Skluzacek, Kayla Halvorson and Nancy Ivers decorated the trunk of a vehicle with a construction theme, a nod to the potential construction of a new school. They handed out candy in tool boxes, while dressed in fluorescent yellow vests or shirts, gloves, safety glasses, hard hats and work boots. Ladders, traffic cones and other work equipment completed their setup, along with yellow caution tape. Bethlehem Academy staff Barb Johnson, Tami Anderson and Lisa Moon also participated and dressed up as deer, with Taylor Moon in camouflage attire.

Members of the community, including local businesses, also participated in the trunk or treat event. Liz Cronin, Melayna Schindle and Becca Washa, of Fernbrook Family Center, came up with a superhero theme and dressed for the part. Among many other participants were Faribault Transportation, the Faribault Fire Department and Faribault Police Department.

Just prior to the start Sunday’s event, Kris Sauer, BA’s director of enrollment & outreach, said it looked like a great turnout. A long line of trick-or-treaters waited to get going through the parking lot, and Sauer felt they were well on track to serve 1,000 attendees.

“People are great about donating their time and money,” said Sauer. “We tell them to plan for 1,000.”

Sauer said students of both schools also help out with the event. Service a large part of the mission of both schools, and for this trunk or treat event, the schools held a ‘dress down day’ where students were encouraged to bring in money or a bag of candy in exchange for a day’s off from adhering to the school’s dress code. The money helped purchase candy for the event.

Along with the decorated car and truck trunks, trick-or-treaters could also enjoy free hot dogs.


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Bridgewater's request for rural industrial zoning gets county's OK
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Bridgewater Township supervisors say a new zoning designation approved last week by the Rice County Board of Commissioners will help it grow.

At this point, the change, which applies to the entire township, is little more than words on paper, but the possibilities they create could soon open the doors for certain businesses to find a home in the township’s southwest corner.

The area, known locally as Comus Junction, from County Road 9 on the south to 130th Street on the north, was targeted for the development of an ethanol plant in the mid 2000s. But the town board at the time instead took over planning and zoning from the county, developing regulations that nixed the plan. And while the ethanol plant never materialized, the area, where a rail line splits, is considered an ideal distribution point where goods can be brought in by train and transferred to trucks for dissemination.

The area also has “very poor agricultural land,” according to comments submitted by the Bridgewater Board of Supervisors in 2020 to the county on its Comprehensive Plan.

“We are looking to create this new industrial area in that we are looking to diversify the tax base for our township,” John Klockeman, Bridgewater Planning Commission chair, told the Rice County Planning Commission at an Oct. 7 public hearing. “The reason we want to do that is to ensure as we move forward, as costs increase for the maintenance of roads, etc. that we do not overburden our farmers and impact their farming businesses. In other words, they could be so heavily burdened with tax liability that they will not be able to be profitable.”

Glen Castore, chair of the town board, says there are no projects in the pipeline, however, there have been inquiries over the years, including a couple in the last year or so. Each time, Castore said Monday, there were hurdles that the zoning change will eliminate, adding that the new zoning ensures the township is ready when a worthy project does come forward.

The new designation — rural industrial — won’t allow anything that isn’t already permitted in Rice County, but makes it easier for businesses looking to locate in a rural area. Some of that has to do with building materials and aesthetics, said Castore, noting that current ordinances require materials and exterior finishes appropriate for a city, but which added to a project’s cost.

And while both materials and allowed uses could be addressed with a variance, that takes time, and success isn’t guaranteed.

“When developers look at a project and see they need a variance, (the site) is less desirable,” said Castore.

Several area residents spoke out against the proposal during the Oct. 7 public hearing, concerned that the change would create spot zoning and degrade the region’s rural character.

But Cindy Nash, Bridgewater’s planning and zoning administrator, also speaking Oct. 7, noted that the “limited industrial uses are low impact uses which produce little or no noise, odor, vibration, glare or other objectionable influences and which given proper controls have little or no effect adverse effects on surrounding properties. Those are the kinds of uses we are seeking to do in Bridgewater Township. That is why we are asking for this new zone district to be created, so that way we can limit and control, we believe in a better manner, than the existing industrial districts …”

Planning Commission member John McCarthy, who previously served as Dundas’ city administrator, felt the change was premature.

“I think there needs to be more clarity to what is being proposed so that the residents of the county have a better understanding of what they are getting into,” he said.

In a 2-1 vote, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the new zoning district. McCarthy was opposed. Members Preston Bauer and Michael Strieff were absent.

The next step for supervisors in Bridgewater — the county’s only township with zoning authority — is to adopt its own version of the ordinance. Castore expects it will be more restrictive than the county’s, as allowed by state law. Castore also expects the board will exclude some uses, possibly adult entertainment, and add restrictions more in keeping with a rural area, such as limiting when lights can be illuminated.

After that, Castore says the township will ask to have about 300 acres of land rezoned. The request involves five to six land owners who have given the board permission to make the request on their behalf.

The request will first go to the county Planning Commission, which will make a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners. The board will then vote to approve or deny the request.


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