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Amy Buker helped run a multi-family garage sale as a part of Waseca’s citywide garage sale weekend from May 20-22. (Ethan Becker/southernminn.com)

Amy Buker sale


Waseca’s Addison Sampson jumps over the final hurdles to win the 300-meter hurdles at Waseca’s home meet. (Stephen McDaniel/southernminn.com)


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Waseca bike rodeo teaches kids bike safety
  • Updated

Waseca residents are getting ready for summer, and local organizations want to help ensure the youth are able to fully enjoy the warm weather months while remaining safe.

Last week, Waseca Public Schools, Waseca County Public Health, and Waseca Police Department sponsored the city’s bike rodeo.

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The Schultz siblings — Milo, 4, Messer, 6 and MilleeMae, 8 — began their day at the start and stop station at the Waseca Bike Rodeo. (Ethan Becker/southernminn.com)

“We put this bike rodeo together to teach kids how to safely teach kids to use bikes on the roads. Our first station is the start and stop track, where the kids can learn to pedal and use their brakes, then they go to a crosswalk station and obstacle course, and then to a car safety station,” said Ashley Killday, the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) health coordinator.

The event is aimed at students in kindergarten through third grade, but Killday says it’s open to anyone.

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Jack Blackman, 6, and Peyton Cheney, 6, ride through the obstacle course leading to the car safety station at the Waseca Bike Rodeo. (Ethan Becker/southernminn.com)

“Sometimes younger kids will come because their older siblings are in it and they want to paddle along, and then there are older kids who come and have no idea how to ride a bike and we’ll help them, too,” said Killday. The point really is just to teach as many kids as possible.”

Bike rodeos, just like this one, are organized around the state by Minnesota’s Walk! Bike! Fun! Program. The program was started by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and is funded with help from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. Programs like these are all a part of Minnesota’s Towards Zero Deaths program. The program aims to eliminate traffic fatalities from the state, with a more immediate goal of getting under 225 deaths by 2025.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, there 898 bicycle collisions with a vehicle in Minnesota, resulting in 882 injuries and nine deaths. In 2020, the latest data that is publicly available, those numbers fell to 471 crashes resulting in 429 injuries and 10 deaths. According to the MNDPS, the most common times for a vehicle/bicycle collision to occur are May through September, and in 2020 10% of deaths and 21 percent of injuries involved children under the age of 15.

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Peyton Cheney, 6, rides through the first station at the Waseca Bike Rodeo, which was set to teach kids how to start and stop on their bikes. (Ethan Becker/southernminn.com)

This was the first time since 2016 that Waseca was able to hold a bike rodeo, with reasons like lack of funding or interest and the COVID-19 pandemic causing the five-year absence. The event was held at the Waseca County Fairgrounds, and began with a helmet fitting station. Mayo Clinic–Waseca donated 200 helmets for students who did not have their own, and volunteers helped fit helmets safely to students’ heads. Any leftover helmets were donated to the Waseca Police Department, who plan to carry them in their cars and hand them out to bicyclists without helmets. Then, the kids would go to a bike fixing station, where volunteers would make sure that the kids fit the bikes that they brought.

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Adaney Juarez, 6, gets fitted for one of the 200 helmets provided for free by the Mayo Clinic. (Ethan Becker/southernminn.com)

Jay Dulas, a deputy with the Waseca County Sheriff’s Department, was one of the volunteers running the hand signal course.

“The goal of this event is to encourage kids to wear helmets and teach them the rules of the road, as well as to understand the other hazards on the road such as vehicles, pedestrians and other bicyclists,” Dulas said.


Waseca County Sheriff Brad Milbrath (right) presents the 2022 Employee of the Year award to Deputy Jay Dulas. (Photo courtesy of the Waseca County Sheriff’s Office)

Deputy Dulas and Sheriff Milbrath


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Waseca prepares to remember fallen veterans
  • Updated

A Waseca County tradition will have its next iteration take place on Monday.

The Waseca Memorial Day Program has happened every year since at least 1933, and will take place this year on the south side of the Waseca County Courthouse or, if it is raining, in Waseca High School. Should the event be held outside it is advised that attendees bring their own lawn chair.

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The Waseca Veterans Memorial stands on the North side of the Waseca County Courthouse, across from where the Memorial Day Program will be held. (Ethan Becker/southernminn.com)

The event is organized by the Waseca Memorial Day Association, one of the organizations dedicated to remembering and memorializing all the veterans from Waseca County.

“Prior to Memorial Day we put flags out around the county. We have memorials at cemetaries all around the county, including Alma City, Le Suer and New Richland,” Grant Whissemore, the chairman of the Waseca Memorial Day Association, said.

The event will be emceed by Dennis Paulson, the current commander of the Waseca VFW.

“Memorial Day was originally set aside after the Civil War to remember all those who fought in that terrible war, later on it was changed to remember all those who have died serving our country … [this event] brings attention to Waseca and the county as to why we dedicate Memorial Day and remember those who died in the preservation of our country.”

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Kent Schultz, left, and Grant Whissemore add 18 plaques to the Waseca County Veterans Memorial two weeks before the Memorial Day program. (Ethan Becker/southernminn.com)

Christopher Hinton, director of the Waseca County Veterans Service Office, looks at this event as a chance for people to honor those that have fallen and remember their loved ones who have passed. As for how many veterans are currently in Waseca County, he says the number is hard to gauge, but he estimates it is around 2,000.

This year, the program will begin with a parade starting at 9 a.m., unless it rains, in which case the program will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Waseca High School with no parade. Following that, there will be an opening prayer by Reverend Jillene Gallatin from Grace Lutheran Church, which will be followed by two sextets from the Waseca High School choir singing the “Star Spangled Banner,” accompanied by the Waseca High School Band.

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Grant Whissemore, left, and Kent Schultz prepare to add 18 new plaques to the Waseca Veterans Memorial. (Ethan Becker/southernminn.com)

“We are so excited after a two-year hiatus that we are able to come back and support those who have served our country. It is an incredible honor to be asked to perform in such an important event and to honor those who have and will continue to protect our country,” said band director Devon Lawrence.

After the band performs, Lindsey Kopetzki will recite Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, followed by a keynote speech from retired Lt. Col. Steve Jacobs.

Following the address, there will be a reading of names of veterans from Waseca County who have passed since May 1, 2021, and performances of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and “God Bless America” by the Waseca High School band and choir and Jerod True with Bob Stephan, respectively.

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The main plaque at the Waseca Veterans Memorial is flanked by stones holding the insignias for the six branches of the US military. The left stone displays the Army, Navy, and Coast Guard insignias. (Ethan Becker/southernminn.com)

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The main plaque at the Waseca Veterans Memorial is flanked by stones holding the insignias for the six branches of the US military. The right stone showcases the Marine Corps, Air Force, and Merchant Marine insignias. (Ethan Becker/southernminn.com)

Across from where the program will be held, on the north side of the courthouse, is the Waseca County Veterans Memorial.

“This started back a little before 2004, when [the Veterans Memorial Committee] began looking at similar monuments in Iowa. It stalled for a while, though, because of lack of interest from the county,” Whissemore said.

Thankfully, a group of volunteers took up the project again in 2015. One of those volunteers is Kent Schultz, the current chair of the Waseca Veterans Memorial Committee.

“We picked this up again in 2015, and in 2017 we began construction … We were able to set all of this up with the help of local contractors, with the exception of the concrete tablets which are done up in Vermont,” Schultz said.

The memorial displays the names of 868 Waseca County veterans, both dead and alive, with 36 added in between last year’s event and this year’s. It currently sits on land that was donated by the county, with the Minnesota State flag, POW flag and United States flag all flying above the memorial. The flags currently sit at half mast.


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