Between 200-300 people gathered at West Jefferson Lake to dip their hooks in the ice Sunday, but only two young fishermen got a bite.
The German Jefferson Sportsmens Club held their annual Ice Fishing Contest on Feb. 9. The event has been an area tradition for more than 60 years, but this year may have had some of the smallest catches yet.
The day’s big winners were brothers Liam and Logan Baker. Liam took the $100 cash prize for the largest fish caught with a sunfish. Logan won $75 for the second-largest catch, also a sunfish.
While the West Jefferson Lake may not have been generous, the German Jefferson Sportsmens Club was. The club had plenty of prizes, including fish houses, duck houses, lures, bait, power tools and more that were distributed to the day’s unlucky fishermen through a raffle and donated by local organizations. Some of the major contest prizes were of $100, $200 or $300 value.
The earnings from the ice fishing contest will all be spent locally. The beneficiaries include projects like aeration at Scotch Lake, a handicap fishing area at West Jefferson Lake, a rearing pond for northern pike, docks and lighting at German-Jefferson public access, storm warning sirens and fishing piers on German Lake and West Jefferson.
Funds will also go toward the Cleveland and Le Sueur-Henderson High School trap teams and land set aside for wildlife. These projects are all to help the German Jefferson Sportsmen’s Club in its mission of conservation.
“This was started by local people back in the 40s that were into conservation not just for land, but for the wildlife in the area,” said President Brandon Stoffergen. “They tried to help out people who were trappers, fishermen, hunters, get a group together like that just to better the area.”
Stoffergen stated that the ice fishing contest has remained a tradition for so long because of people’s enjoyment of the lakes. That enjoyment showed on Sunday. The lack of fish didn’t put a dent in the merriment of sitting out on the ice with a cooler, fishing pole and some good friends.
Walking through the doors of Carriage House Senior Living will have visitors feeling like they’ve taken a trip back in time. The new assisted living community in Le Center will start housing residents in its halls filled with antiques and early 20th century decor on Feb. 17.
Carriage House is owned by Faribault couple Julie and Del Spronk who have run assisted living facilities for more than 30 years. After buying the property on 175 E. Derrynane St. in 2019, the couple transformed the building into an assisted living home with a beauty shop, common room with a wall-to-wall fireplace, a dining room and a new cement patio.
The building has space for 21 residents, along with private bathrooms, and each room will include a call light system, cable TV, air conditioning and Wi-Fi.
It even includes a barbershop and salon for residents to get some hair care.
“Our assisted living facilities are different from others in the area because they are decorated with elderly adults in mind,” said Julie Spronk. “We’ve got the antique cook stove, the old pump organ. We have a lot of antiques from days gone by which really make people feel like they’re at grandma’s house.”
The owners pride themselves in offering “progressive senior living,” a home that is equipped to take care of residents even as their health declines. The home provides physical therapy, respiratory therapy, occupational therapy, podiatry services and has a doctor service that allows a physician to come in once a month for house calls and routine checks on every one of the residents. Staff are trained to assist with medications, dressing, grooming, walking, catheters, daily injections and special diets.
“We can keep people long-term,” said Spronk. “While a resident can come in our door fairly independent and needing minimal assistance, if their condition would decline, we would just rewrite their care plan and rise to the occasion to meet their needs. Essentially they could age in place.”
Spronk added that Carriage House can provide a high standard of care with an emphasis on well-paid and well-trained staff that have passed criminal background checks and undergone classroom and hands-on training. The assisted living community will have 24 hour staffing one staff member for every six residents. The home also has a housing manager, a director of nursing, a full-time activity director, food service manager and maintenance manager.
“We pay our staff extremely well, because we believe that well paid staff is happy staff, and happy staff will go that extra mile,” said Spronk. “We have a very high expectation and very high standard of care. When you pay your employees well, they value their jobs and they’ll work harder.”
Mary Ann Braun, a long-time assisted living nurse and the nursing director for Carriage House agreed that the home provided a unique level of support for its staff.
“Julie and Del, when I first met them, they were amazing,” said Braun. “It took me a little bit to decide to come here, because I was comfortable at my other job, but they just offered a lot of things that I needed, like their support and their knowledge, their vision. The vision that they have for this place is amazing, and the fact that they can take people that need more care — instead of saying ‘Sorry, you can’t stay here any longer; we can’t meet your needs’ — we’re able to provide more demanding care.”
Minnesota will be holding its first-ever presidential primaries in 2020, but residents will still go to caucus this month for their local state candidates. Here’s where and how to vote in your party’s upcoming caucuses and primaries and who you will be able to vote for.
How a caucus works
On Feb. 25, the two major parties in Minnesota: the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) and the Republican Party will hold precinct caucuses. A caucus is not just a place for voters to back a candidate, it’s also a place where members of the same party can organize and vote for resolutions to add to the party platform. Candidates running for local office may even stop by the precinct caucus and give a speech.
Whether someone attends the DFL or Republican caucus, they must register with their respective party and affirm that they aren’t affiliated with any other parties. Once attendees are settled in, they’ll have the chance to converse with fellow party members.
“Everyone gets a chance to speak if they would like,” said Jerry Lucas, the Vice Chair of the Le Sueur County Republicans. “You’re grouped by precinct in with your neighbors. You can talk politics, you can talk candidates, you can volunteer to do things like be a precinct chairperson, you can volunteer to be a delegate at the precinct convention. It’s a good opportunity just to make good with your neighbors and like-minded people,”
At each precinct, caucus-goers will vote for delegates and alternates to represent them at future conventions. At those conventions, delegates will vote to give their party’s endorsement to candidates running for state representative and state senator.
In the event that someone who wants to become a delegate is unable to attend their party’s precinct caucus, they can still be nominated. The Le Sueur County DFL stated that absentees should send in a letter of intent to become a delegate to their precinct chair prior to the caucus. At the Republican precinct caucuses, absentees can be nominated to become a delegate by caucus attendees.
In addition to voting on delegates, caucus-goers can also write their own resolutions to be added to the party platform. If a resolution is successfully voted on by the caucus, it will have the chance to be adopted at the party county convention, state convention and even the national convention if it garners enough support.
The Republican precinct caucuses in Le Sueur County will be held in Cleveland, Le Sueur and New Prague. The Cleveland precinct caucus will be held at Cleveland Public School and represents Cleveland City and Township, Elysian City and Township, Kasota City and Township — P1 & P2, Kilkenny City and Township, Washington Township and Waterville City and Township. The precinct at Le Sueur City Hall represents Cordova Township, Le Center, the city of Le Sueur, Lexington Township, Ottawa Township, Sharon Township and Tyrone Township. The precinct caucus at New Prague Middle School serves Derrynane Township, Heidelberg City, Lanesburgh Township, Montgomery City and Township and New Prague W-1.
DFL precinct caucus sites for Senate District 20 in Le Sueur County include the Belle Plaine Community Services Office, Cleveland Fire Hall, the Le Sueur County Office in Le Center, the Le Sueur Public Library, the Montgomery Public Library and New Prague City Hall. To find specific information on your precinct caucus site, readers can go to caucus.dfl.org.
Who is running for office
Both the DFL and Republican Parties are looking to fill the offices representing Le Sueur County. Here’s a guide to who is running.
Senate District 20
The Senate seat is set to become one of the more competitive races in the county. The seat is currently held by freshman Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, who was elected to office in 2016 after defeating incumbent Sen. Kevin Dahle, DFL-Northfield. Draheim is currently the vice chair of the Minnesota Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee and was selected to chair the Senate Select Committee on Home Ownership. As the senator for District 20, Draheim represents most of Le Sueur County, northern Rice County and southern Scott County, including the cities of Cleveland, Le Center, Le Sueur, Belle Plaine, New Prague, Montgomery, Kilkenny, Lonsdale, Elko New Market, Dundas and Northfield.
While Draheim hasn’t faced any Republican challengers for his seat, three DFLers are vying for their party’s nomination to take on Draheim.
Northfield carpenter and owner of Sokup Woodworking Company Davin Sokup was the first to announce his candidacy in October on a platform emphasizing access to affordable housing and higher education.
Since then, two more candidates: Cedar Lake Township’s Jon Olson and Northfield’s Suzie Nakasian have thrown their hats in the ring. Olson is a 25-year Navy veteran who teaches national security classes at Carleton College and views funding Minnesota’s mental health infrastructure as a top priority. Nakasian is a third-term Northfield city councilor who plans to bring her experience working on economic development in the city to the capitol.
The DFL candidates will appear together at two Senate Candidate Forums. The first will be held at Le Center City Hall on Monday, Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m., a week before the precinct caucuses. Former state representative Clark Johnson will moderate the forum. After the caucuses, the candidates will appear at a second debate at the Elko New Market Library on Saturday, March 14 at 1:30 p.m. The debate will take place a month before the DFL Senate District Endorsing Convention on Friday, April 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the Montgomery American Legion.
House District 20A
At the moment, no candidates have announced a run for the Minnesota House seat representing Cleveland city and township, Le Center and Lexington Township, Le Sueur, Belle Plaine, northern New Prague and Elko New Market. House District 20A has been served by Rep. Bob Vogel, R-New Market, since 2014, but on Feb. 4 the representative announced he was retiring from the Minnesota House and would not seek re-election. Both the Le Sueur County Republicans and DFL have stated they intend to run candidates, but as of Feb. 8, no candidacies have been announced.
House District 20B
Representing House District 20B and running for re-election is Todd Lippert, DFL-Northfield. The pastor-turned-congressman is a first-term representative who took office in 2018.
As a legislator, Lippert serves as the vice chair of the House Long-Term Care Division, co-authored a bill to expand paid family leave and sponsored a much discussed sex education bill, which would require sex education to be medically accurate, inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community and cover topics like gender violence, affirmative consent and contraceptives at an age appropriate level.
Lippert has gone unchallenged for re-election by the DFL, but Republican Josh Gare is hoping to win his party’s nomination and a rematch with Lippert.
Gare is a tractor-trailer driver from Montgomery and serves on the town’s Knights of Columbus and is the vice chair of the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority. After losing his bid for the House to Lippert in 2018, Gare has launched a campaign focused on government transparency and free market-based health care reform.
The presidential primaries
Following legislation passed in 2016, 2020 marks the first year that Minnesota will hold a presidential primary instead of a caucus. Unlike caucuses, the presidential primaries for both parties are on March 3 and are voted on through a secret ballot at local polling places. Minnesota’s primary is open, meaning voters do not have to be registered with a party before voting.
In the DFL presidential primary, 15 candidates have been approved for the ballot including Sen. Michael Bennet (CO), former Vice President Joe Biden, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg (NY), Mayor Pete Buttigieg (IN), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN), former Gov. Deval Patrick (MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), businessman Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) and businessman Andrew Yang. Candidates Cory Booker, Julian Castro, John Delaney and Marianne Williamson qualified for the ballot but have dropped out of the race. The ballot also allows voters to mark themselves as uncommitted.
Minnesota has a total of 92 delegates that it will send to the Democratic National Convention. 75 of the delegates will be pledged to the candidates proportionally based on the outcome of the primary. The remaining 16 are unpledged delegates or superdelegates, who may vote in the convention if a candidate fails to secure a majority of delegates in the first round of voting.
In the Republican presidential primaries, President Donald Trump is the sole candidate who will appear on the ballot.