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Kathy Heise helps another satisfied customer her ventured out on Highway 60 near Faribault for a taste of true Minnesota summer on Memorial Day. Heise’s Pronto Pups food stand is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Annie Granlund/People’s Press)


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JWP celebrates class of 2020 with drive-in graduation ceremony

Graduation is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of the seniors and COVID-19 couldn’t stop Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton from doing just that.

The class of 2020 will always be remembered for graduating during a global pandemic but the class of 2020 at JWP made the moment count.

JWP seniors reflected on their time at the school and their time together during the Friday, May 22 graduation ceremony. Most of the ceremony was pre-recorded with class speeches live and students and families staying in their cars for social distancing.

Bailey Grubish / By BAILEY GRUBISH bgrubish@wasecacountynews.com 

The seniors of JWP were parked in the first few rows with family and friends parked in the further back rows during commencement Friday, May 22. (Bailey Grubish/Waseca County News)

“I think right about now we are all thinking where did the time go?” senior class speaker Alyssa Scholl said.“Well, I can’t answer that but this won’t be the only time we ask ourselves this question. As years go by we will continue to ask where the time has gone but when we ask ourselves this question it will be when we are on the path following our dreams.The class of 2020 is going to have such an impact on the world. We all have such great dreams that we will achieve. I believe that everyone of my classmates will achieve so much in life. I think it is safe to say that we would not all have the strive to reach for our dreams if it wasn’t for our families and JWP.”

Last Friday, the 51 seniors at JWP lined the sidewalk of the school for family and friends to drive around to give their congratulations through signs, honking and cheers.

Bailey Grubish / By BAILEY GRUBISH bgrubish@wasecacountynews.com 

JWP seniors lined the sidewalk around the school for a reverse parade hours before the graduation ceremony. (Bailey Grubish/Waseca County News)

The reverse parade gave family, friends and teachers a chance to wave and congratulate the seniors from a distance.

Bailey Grubish / By BAILEY GRUBISH bgrubish@wasecacountynews.com 

Some of those who drove through the JWP reverse graduation parade decorated their vehicles to congratulate and celebrate the class of 2020. (Bailey Grubish/Waseca County News)

After the reverse parade the seniors got in their vehicles to drive into commencement to “Pomp and Circumstance” played virtually by the Minnesota Orchestra.

Bailey Grubish / By BAILEY GRUBISH bgrubish@wasecacountynews.com 

Seniors drove into the athletic complex while “Pomp and Circumstance” played by the Minnesota Orchestra to park for graduation. (Bailey Grubish/Waseca County News)

All of the seniors drove in, some driving, some riding in the back of a truck and others sitting with family in their cars, but they were all together as a class at graduation and that’s what mattered to them.

The ceremony began with opening remarks from Principal Grant Hanson.

Bailey Grubish / By BAILEY GRUBISH bgrubish@wasecacountynews.com 

JWP Principal Grant Hanson gave the opening remarks for JWP’s graduation. (Bailey Grubish/Waseca County News)

Hanson started off thanking all of the staff and community members that made the virtual and social distancing parts of graduation possible. He continued by sharing two pieces of advice with the graduating class.

The first piece of advice to the graduates was for them to be themselves and that their self worth shouldn’t be dependent on other people’s opinions of them. The second piece of advice for the class he shared is don’t have regrets. He quoted Ron Swanson from the TV show “Parks and Rec” “I regret nothing, the end.” He told students to not let the worries and the fears of a moment hold them back to and to learn from their mistakes.

Following his opening speech seniors were able to give their speeches live before the pre-recorded video was played where the students cross the stage and receive their diplomas. The students’ future plans were also announced in the video. After each speech car horns blared instead of clapping for the speakers.

The class of 2020 came into the world during uncertainty with 9/11 and now they are graduating during a global pandemic.

“We came into hardship for the country when the World Trade Center was taken down by two airliners and the threat of terrorism was talk of the year and now our senior year has been cut short because of another hardship on the whole world with this pandemic,” senior class speaker Michael Sheehy said. “We were looking forward to the day when we could all walk out of the building and look toward our future lives and the new adventures we are embarking on. We did not know that would be snatched away from us so quickly to realize that we were never coming back.

“Our senior year ended and we didn’t even realize it at that point. It’s hard to imagine that we won’t be able to see our friends every weekday anymore. I know it was strange for me while I was in lock down. We’ve enjoyed so many experiences with our time at JWP. No matter where our path takes us we will always remember the memories and the people we made them with. Our memories will be forever blended from our time at JWP.”

Bailey Grubish / By BAILEY GRUBISH bgrubish@wasecacountynews.com 

Michael Sheehy was chosen as one of the class speakers for the JWP graduation ceremony. He spoke on the hardships the class has endured from the pandemic as well as some of their best memories. (Bailey Grubish/Waseca County News)

Before the next speakers were up, the JWP concert choir sang “Give Us Hope” by Jim Papoulis. The choir pre-recorded the song virtually to be played at commencement.

Emily Aase-Hermel and Zoie Burton were the final two class speakers of graduation before the class would cross the stage and get their diplomas in the video.

“So JWP class of 2020, most of us have been here together since kindergarten and those who came throughout the years, it still feels like you’ve been with us since the beginning,” Aase-Hermel said. “We’ve made our own little family. We’ve shared some of our best memories and some of our worst. We came together and became stronger. We still made it here to graduation day together. We may have missed our senior prom and our senior class trip but we still made memories ... we’re still making memories right now as we’re graduating.

“... We’ve all influenced each other’s lives even though we may not see it. We’ve stuck together through thick and thin and not many classes are able to say that. We are fortunate enough to be able to form this strong of a bond, we’ve pushed each other to become better. We talked about this day for what seems like forever and now it is time for us to go our own separate ways and make new memories but we will never forget the memories we made together. No matter where we go or what we do we will always be forever bulldogs.”

All seniors were able to walk across the stage at JWP in the days prior to graduation. Each senior was able to sign up for a specific time to walk the stage with their families in the audience to keep social distancing measures in place. This was recorded and then played at commencement for all family members, friends and graduates to watch.

Bailey Grubish / By BAILEY GRUBISH bgrubish@wasecacountynews.com 

JWP graduates were able to walk across the stage with a few family members present during individual time slots. All of the video clips were compiled for one graduation video that was shown on graduation night for everyone to watch.(Bailey Grubish/Waseca County News)

The JWP class of 2020 didn’t let COVID-19 ruin the end of their high school career. Instead the class embraced it and took it as a way to grow as individuals preparing for their futures. The class was still able to make the most of their final days at JWP with prom photos, time with friends and with the drive-in graduation ceremony.

“This may not be what we were expecting but we remain together,” Burton said. “We’ve always been a class that’s close to one another. We called ourselves the best class. We’ve been through it all looking back at our lives; it’s been a wild ride. Most of us were born during the year of 9/11. We lived through 2012 when many were convinced that the world was going to end.

“We grew up with social media and technology growing all around us. We also grew up with ‘High School Musical’ and ‘Hannah Montana.’ Although this isn’t the ‘High School Musical’ scene we were expecting, to me it is just as great, just as memorable and just as special. The list could go on but there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that these events have shaped us and will go down in history.”


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Waseca seniors recognized for achievements and awarded scholarships virtually

The Waseca High School held a virtual scholarships and awards banquet for seniors due to COVID-19.

Over $150,000 in scholarships were awarded this year to the seniors of the Waseca Junior Senior High School.

This banquet is to recognize the 62 honor students in the class of 2020 as well as award scholarships to any senior who applied and was selected.

Waseca Junior Senior High School Counselor Christine Meeks started off the banquet with a few words.

“I want to take a minute to say how extremely sorry I am that I can’t look out at our honor students and their parents tonight,” Meeks said in the video. “This night is one of my favorites of the year. I love being able to see the look of joy and pride in the faces of the crowd and I wish that we could all be here and that would be the case tonight. However, as all of you have had to do in this we must rise to the occasion in a non-traditional way.”

Every year seniors receive these scholarships through a process that the councilors at the WJSHS help coordinate with the outside scholarship source.

The applications are housed at the school and are turned in at the councilors’ office when they are filled out. From the councilors’ office they are sent to the respected outside providers to look over outside of school. The scholarship providers look over each application to see which student best fits the criteria and alert the councilors of who will be receiving the scholarship at the banquet.

“Most of all I’d like to welcome you, the class of 2020 and your parents, family members, your friends, the members of the Waseca community and all of those of you who are tuning in to honor our students this evening,” WJSHS Principal Jeanne Swanson said in the video. “And most of all the scholarship donors who have made this event possible. The Lions Club for their continued support of the honors banquet and the honors recognition this evening. We are very thankful for those people who remember our students and we are here to honor them this evening.

“There are 112 graduates and of those 112 graduates 62 of you are honor students. We’d like to thank you for your leadership and for your persistence and as Christine Meeks said we wish more than ever that you could be sitting in these seats here in the Performing Arts Center at the Waseca Junior Senior High School so we could see those faces and to honor you right here at school. We miss you everyday. We’d like to congratulate all of you for your academic achievements. Each honor student has achieved a 3.0 or above.”

Each honor student was recognized prior to scholarships being announced along with Swanson announcing the top 10 students in the graduating class. She started with valedictorian Blake Wendland and continued to name the other nine students: Jacob Butterfield, Jay Lewer, Hannah Karau, Stella Ewert, Justin Azure, Hannah Potter, Madison Berndt, Summer Vagts and Taylor Pfeifer.

As Swanson recognized all honor students she told them they could stand in their living rooms as they would have at the banquet and when all names had been listed she asked families at home to give a round of applause to the students.

Bailey Grubish / By BAILEY GRUBISH bgrubish@wasecacountynews.com 

Jacob Hertzog is the recipient of the Caleb Erickson Memorial Scholarship. Each scholarship had an introductory slide followed with an announcement slide of which senior is being awarded the scholarship. (Bailey Grubish/Waseca County News)

Once all honor students were recognized various staff read off the scholarship recipients.

2020 scholarship recipients:

Abigail Claire Wendland Spirit Scholarship: Hannah Potter — $1,000

All-School Reunion Scholarship: Augusta Boyer — $625

Al Roemhildt Scholarship: Taylor Pfeifer, Jacob Hertzog, Rachel Breck and Eliza Harguth — $500 each

American Legion Auxiliary #228 Scholarship: Jayde Pederson — $500

Andy Burnett Memorial Hockey Scholarship: Ben Priebe and Jayde Pederson — $1,000 each

Arlen Larson Memorial Scholarship: Yamiah Brooks — $500

Barbara J. Sankovitz Music Scholarship: Madison Berndt and Nicole Logsdon — $1,000 each

Caleb Erickson Memorial Scholarship: Jacob Hertzog — $1,000

Century 21-First Choice Realty Scholarship: Anne Christian — $500

Christ the King Lutheran — Violet Jacobson Memorial Scholarship: Porter Schauer — $500

Cinch Connectivity Solutions: Payton Gehloff, Blake Wendland and Jacob Hertzog — $1,000 each

Club Sweat (Itron) Scholarship: Rachel Breck, Jacob Butterfield, Jay Lewer, Nicole Logsdon, Marcus Priebe and Blake Wendland — $500 each

Coach Statz Scholarship: Justin Azure — $1,000

Don and Mary Winegar Memorial Scholarship: Summer Vagts — $1,000

E.F. Johnson Foundation of Minnesota Community Foundation Scholarship: Blake Wendland, Hannah Karau, Jay Lewer — $5,000 each, Rachel Breck, Victoria Podratz, Augusta Boyer, Isaiah Perrizo and Jack Rolling — $1,000 each

Ernest and Gertrude Gerdts Academic Scholarship: Blake Wendland — $325

Everett R. and Ruth M. Johnson Memorial Scholarship: Madison Berndt — $475

Garret R. Johnson Memorial Scholarship: Tanner Brinkman — $500

Greg and Donnette Wheelock Agriculture Scholarship: Grady Bice and Jordane Kouba — $750 each

Holland Norton Memorial Scholarship: Breanna Conway — $350

Hope Chapter #34 Order of the Eastern Star Scholarship: Jay Lewer and Ava Storjohann — $1,000 each

Ingeborg Rugroden Scholarship: Courtney Davison — $425

Innovance Manufacturing Scholarship: Seyd Straube — $5,000

James Ballard Memorial Scholarship: John Patrick Swanson — $975

James B. Corchran Memorial Scholarship: Rachel Breck — $1,125

John D. Bendix Memorial Scholarship: Sam O’Brien and Breanna Conway — $500 each

John R. and Thelma C. Jondal Memorial Scholarship: Brian Allen — $250

Katie Zika Athletic Scholarship: Rachel Breck and Hannah Potter — $800 each

Marilyn Lau Memorial Scholarship: Emilie Adamek and Mya Sutton — $300 each

Mavis Wheelock Memorial Health Care Scholarship: Stella Ewert — $1,000

Michael Filzen Memorial Scholarship: Courtney Androli — $500

Monday Study Club Scholarship: Stella Ewert — $1,000

Roger and Rosalie Grems Scholarship: Emily Lynch — $750

Rosenau Medical Scholarship: Courtney Androli, Jacob Butterfield, Hannah Karau, Taylor Pfeifer and Hannah Potter — $1,000 each

Rosenau Student With Potential Scholarship: Liam Aberle, Yamiah Brooks, Shakira Brown, Payton Gehloff and Jordane Kouba — $1,000 each

Round Bank Junior Board: Emilie Adamek — $1,000

Schroeder Family Nursing Scholarship: Courtney Androli, Haley Holtz, Skaira Brown and Shelby Larson — $2,000 each

Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric Scholarship: Anne Christian — $500

Stoltenberg-Rotary Scholarship: Jacob Butterfield — $4,000

Todd Mann Memorial Scholarship: Breanna Conway and Justin Azure — $250 each

Tuscan Lodge 77 Masonic temple Scholarship: Ava Storjohann and Autumn Strand — $1,000 each

Waseca American Legion Post #228 Scholarship: Jacob Hertzog and Tanner Brinkman — $500 each

Waseca Arts Council, Inc.: Stephanie Ross — $500

Waseca County Sheriff’s Posse Scholarship: Karin McMurphy — $250

Waseca Education Association Scholarship: Emilie Adamek and Madison Berndt — $1,000 each

Waseca Exchange Club “Youth of the Year” Scholarship: Blake Wendland and Hannah Potter — $750 each

Waseca High School Class of 1960 Community Scholarship: Jacob Butterfield — $1,500

Waseca Hockey Association Scholarship: Marcus Priebe, Ben Priebe, Haley Holtz and Nolan Wetzel (WEM student) — $750 each

Waseca Knights of Columbus Scholarship: Eliza Harguth — $1,500, Grady Bice, Jacob Butterfield and Taylor Pfeifer — $1,000 each

Waseca Lions Club Scholarship: Hannah Potter, Nicole Logsdon and Anne Christian — $600 each

Waseca Marching Classic Scholarship: Madison Berndt — $1,000

Waseca Sleigh and Cutter Scholarship: Summer Vagts and Jacob Butterfield — $1,000 each

Waseca Sons of the American Legion Scholarship: Taylor Pfeifer and Marcus Priebe — $500 each

Waseca VFW Post #1642 Scholarship: Jacob Butterfield and Taylor Pfeifer — $500 each


Center: JWP’s Cody Gartner stands next to his homemade bench press. The senior-to-be is one of several football players getting creative with their workouts.

Right: JWP linebacker and running back Jacob Crouch has created his own training space to work on his speed. He weaves through the fence posts.

Upper left: Crouch uses these tires for tire flips to get his workouts in.

Bottom left: Crouch uses this rope ladder for speed and agility workouts while away from school.

(Photos courtesy of Cody Gartner and Jacob Crouch)


Janesville citizen Brett Miller spoke out to the City Council during public forum about opening businesses in Janesville before they are forced to close. (Bailey Grubish/Waseca County News)


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Waseca County Free Fair 2020 canceled

The Waseca County Free Fair board announced Wednesday it has canceled the 2020 fair.

In a Facebook post the fairboard announced Wednesday, May 27 that it will not be holding its annual free fair celebration due to COVID-19 concerns.

“It is with heavy hearts that the Waseca County Fairboard has made the decision to cancel the 2020 Waseca County Free Fair,” the post read. “We have had many discussions on what it would take to put on a fair this summer and to be able to do it safely during this pandemic with all of the necessary sanitization, social distancing requirements and the current restrictions for large group gatherings. After careful consideration and in consultation with our elected county officials and keeping in accordance with state and county health guidelines we have come to the decision that it is impossible for us to monitor and enforce these requirements.”

The county free fair is always one of the highlights of the summer in Waseca County.

Every year there are games and rides for visitors to test out along with a variety of fair foods. All of the buildings on the grounds are filled with projects, animals and local businesses for people to check out as well.

During the week of the fair there are several events for all ages to attend. There are bands in the beer garden for entertainment, tractor pulls to watch, 4-H competitions, enduro races and many other activities that people from all over attend the fair for.

All of these activities will all be put on hold until the summer of 2021 when the free fair returns.

“We simply do not have the resources to be able to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers, vendors, exhibitors and fair visitors,” the post continued. “Please know that this was not an easy decision for us or one that was made lightly and we are extremely disappointed that we cannot put the fair on this year. We will continue to work with the Waseca County 4-H program to help support them so that the 4-H members are able to showcase their projects however that may look going forward. We are looking forward with great anticipation to the 2021 Waseca County Free Fair which will better than ever. Thank you for your support, stay safe and we will see you in 2021.”


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Waseca Area Foundation supports communities through spring grants

The Waseca Area Foundation awarded its spring grants through the mail and email this year due to COVID-19.

Every year in the fall and spring the WAF awards grant money to organizations in the area for various programs and support needs.

“There’s one thing that is certain in these uncertain times, the power of a community foundation and the endowment funds,” WAF Executive Director Amy Potter said. “Endowment funds never go away and are able to sustain your community when other things may not seem very stable. It’s important for the community to understand the generosity of the donors long before our time and into the future, how much this helps stabilize and persevere during uncertain times and certain times. This is really a time to share the power of an endowment.”

Organizations and nonprofits are able to apply for the grants to help support specific programs or initiatives.

This spring WAF awarded a total of $36,372 from the WAF funds and $44,380 from the Rosenau Funds.

Hartley Elementary is one of the recipients of WAF funds that the school will use to allow for upgrades and educational opportunities.

The Hartley Elementary Media Center received $1,000 for media center flexible seating and $1,500 for an author visit.

“We are excited to have received two grants from the foundation this year,” Hartley Media Specialist Gwen Krueger said. “The grants allow us to give our students experiences which they otherwise might not have. We have a wonderful and very active PTO which helps fund our projects but the WAF grants allow us to do even more. We are so grateful for their generosity.”

Another grant was awarded to Journey’s, which is part of the Waseca Area Caregiver Services, for $3,105 from the Barb Penny fund of WAF. This grant money will be used for renovations and security updates. Waseca Area Caregiver Services also received $5,000 for operational costs due to COVID-19.

Waseca Area Caregiver Services gives support to the elderly in the community and the new addition of Journey’s is to give support to young adults ages 18 to 24 coming out of foster care in need.

“I’m very thankful for the support that the WAF has given us and we look forward to having a positive impact on the community for everyone,” Waseca Area Caregiver Services Executive Director Kelly Boeddeker said.

Grant funds were awarded to numerous organizations around the community for various needs.

Waseca Community Education received $500 from the Barb Penny Fund for supplies/postage for community service projects.

“We reached out to the Waseca Area Foundation requesting funds in order to bolster our Jay’s Nest School Age Care community service program,” Waseca Community Ed Director Paul DeMorett said. “Each month during the school year, our students who attend Jay’s Nest School Age Care participate in a service project, with some of them being local projects and others being distant. We requested funds to purchase supplies for the upcoming school year service projects as well as postage for projects mailed to individuals around the world. We are grateful to the foundation for granting our request and are looking forward to selecting the projects for next year based off the now available funds.”

All grants awarded:

Hartley Elementary — $2,500 from Rosenau Funds for third-grade flexible seating

Hartley Elementary — $1,500 from WAF for author visits during 2020/2021 school year

Hartley Elementary — $1,000 from Rosenau Funds for media center flexible seating

Hartley Elementary — $1,200 from Rosenau Funds for parent program Love and Logic

Waseca Intermediate School — $1,250 from Rosenau Funds for media center steele shelving labels/ends

Waseca High School business department — $1,200 from Rosenau Funds for 10 SLR digital cameras

Waseca Junior Senior High School — $1,625 from Barb Penny Fund for Courage retreat

Sacred Heart School — $3,791 from WAF, $1,204 from Homer and Betty McIntire Fund and $2,000 from Rosenau Funds for 45 chromebooks

Waseca Family Ed Center — $920 from WAF for assessment software for early childhood

Waseca Community Education — $500 from Barb Penny Fund for supplies and postage for community service projects

Connection and Safe Exchange — $1,500 from WAF and $2,250 from Rosenau Funds for security updates

Senior Center — $14,930 from Rosenau Funds for bathroom renovation

Journeys (WACS) — $3,105 from Barb Penny Fund to renovate the space and update security

Waseca Area Caregiver Services — $5,000 from Rosenau Funds for operations support due to COVID-19

Neighborhood Service Center — $5,000 from WAF for food purchases

Woodville Cemetery — $600 from Rosenau Funds for annual plantings

City of Waseca — $875 from WAF, $2,003 from City of Waseca Beautification Fund and $250 from Rosenau Funds for city flower baskets

Waseca Public Library — $2,000 from Barb Penny Fund for outdoor adventures kindergarten through fifth grade

Waseca Public Library — $3,000 from Rosenau Funds for OverDrive Ebooks

Waseca Public Library — $1,000 from WAF for summer reading program

Waseca Art Center — $909 from WAF and $991 from Vollbrecht Cultural Arts Fund for four programs and equipment repair

Jr. Achievement — $1,000 from WAF and $1,500 Rosenau Funds for JA programming at Sacred Heart and TEAM Academy

Big Brothers Big Sisters — $1,300 from WAF and $5,700 from Rosenau Funds for mentoring support

IRIS — $1,000 from WAF and $2,000 from Rosenau Funds for bereavement packets

Waseca Schools Strength and Conditioning Program — $1,894 from Waseca Bluejays Public School Fund for weight room equipment

Waseca Schools Band Program — $4,255 from the Herb Streitz Memorial Band Fund for supports and instruments/lessons