Archive for Hot Topic

Wright County raising tobacco-buying age to 21

BUFFALO, MN – On a 3-2 vote, with commissioners Mark Daleiden and Charlie Borrell opposed, the board approved an ordinance amendment to raise the tobacco-buying age in Wright County to 21.

Under the ordinance, it will still be legal for someone under 21 to sell tobacco in a retail establishment, and there will be no fine for minors in possession of tobacco.

There will now be two different compliance checks for retail establishments, one utilizing someone between the ages of 15 and 18, and one utilizing someone between the ages of 18 and 21. The civil penalties for noncompliance will increase from $75 to $200 for the first violation, from $200 to $500 for the second offense within a 24-month period, and from $250 to $1,000 for a third offense within a 24-month period. A fourth or subsequent offense will result in the suspension of the license for at least 30 days.

The vote followed a public hearing at a committee of the whole meeting at which two individuals spoke against the change and five spoke in favor of it, in addition to more than 30 written communications in favor of the ordinance.

Those opposed said customers purchase tobacco online or from stores in other counties.

Those in favor shared concerns about vaping in schools and health concerns linked to vaping and smoking.

Daleiden, the lone smoker on the board, explained his opposition.

“Somebody had mentioned we can send 18-year-olds who are kids, or are they adults, to war. They can’t drink, they can’t smoke in our county,” Daleiden said.

Both he and Borrell stated they believe the state should set the tobacco-buying age.

“In a perfect world, I don’t want cigarette smoking, I don’t want e-cigs, I don’t want any of this stuff,” Borrell said. “It’s out there. It’s not something we need to be bringing up at the county level.”

Commissioner Mike Potter disagreed.

“We need to take steps to protect our kids,” he said. “Hopefully, enough counties are doing this so the state gets the message.”

Commissioner Christine Husom joined Potter in saying schools throughout the county need support as they address vaping.

“They’re watching kids go down and being taken away by ambulance because they don’t know what’s in those cartridges,” Husom said. “Limiting access does curb that. If people are hell-bent on doing something, they will do that. For a lot of people, they take note. It’s going to limit access.”

“There is a good number of people, when something is illegal, they tend not to do it,” Chair Darek Vetsch added. “ . . . If it stems off 20 percent of people, it’s a move in the right direction.”

Motorcycle crash kills Delano woman

DELANO, MN – A motorcycle crash has claimed the life of Sandy Griebel, 60, of Delano.

According to Carver County Sheriff Jason Kamerud, his office was dispatched to crash involving a motorcycle and a deer on Carver County Road 10 near 46th Street in Watertown Township at 9:24 p.m. Tuesday.

Griebel was the passenger on the motorcyle driven by Brett “Jim” Griebel. She was transported to Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia, transferred to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, and succumbed to her injuries early Wednesday  morning.

Jim was not seriously injured.

Funeral services for Sandy will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, at Motley Free Methodist Church, 33 Wellwood St. E. Visitation will occur from 4-8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 5, at the Iten Funeral Home in Delano. Visitation will continue from 10 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday at the church in Motley prior to the services. Interment will be in the Motley Public Cemetery.

See the Aug. 2 edition of the Delano Herald Journal for a full obituary.

Kamerud did not believe helmets were worn at the time of the crash.

“It’s a tragic incident to be certain,” he said.

His office was assisted by Ridgeview Ambulance, Watertown Fire Department, and Minnesota State Patrol, which reconstructed the crash.

Mitch Kezar the storyteller

Mitch Kezar has been lugging his photography gear across grasslands and city streets all over the world for 5-plus years.

Mitch Kezar has been lugging his photography gear across grasslands and city streets all over the world for 50-plus years.

DELANO, MN – As drastically as the hair on his head and upper lip has transformed from a sharp brown to a wise gray, the world of photography has evolved immensely over the 50 years Mitch Kezar has looked through the viewfinder.

Kezar’s darkroom is now digital, but his passion in getting the shot and giving viewers their 1,000 words worth for each picture has never eased, even as his focus has shifted from still images and photojournalism to video production and promotional campaigns.

“I was an early adopter of every last piece of gear the manufacturers could conjure up. I think that’s what kept me in the business. I have an innate need to tinker with that stuff and learn it,” he said recently from his Delano home, where the shelves are filled with vintage camera bodies and dozens of lenses of various focal lengths. “Video is vastly more complex than stills, because you have to master sound and movement and think many steps ahead. But I think being a good still photographer is really an added benefit to being a good video producer, because you see the pictures first. I line it up just like I used to do with stills, and just let the action happen.”

Kezar recently completed a video for Federal Premium promoting the Kids and Clays Foundation. In less than a week, that video was viewed more than 2,000 times on Facebook.

“It’s nice to know your work is getting out there, and that people are seeing it and appreciating it,” said Kezar.

Hunting, fishing and wildlife conservation projects have taken Kezar’s focus for much of the past three decades, but, during the earlier years of his half-century photography career, Kezar’s cameras were capturing hard news and feature subjects: everything from the flock of sheep at his family’s farm, to crime in Montgomery, AL, to Cuba, to presidential candidates, to celebrities, and everything in between.

“I had a good time chasing presidential candidates around. I traveled with Jimmy Carter, Scoop Jackson, George Bush, Reagan and Ford,” he said. “I’ve got a list of celebrities I’ve met over the years that is as long as both of your arms.”

Like most photographers, though, major figures and celebrities like Carter and John Travolta were not the subjects of Kezar’s photographs at the start.

Those aforementioned sheep and some geese on the family farm were favorite subjects of Kezar’s in his infant stages of photography, as a kid growing up in Thief River Falls.

“Mom would run up to the drug store and get the film back and there would be a bunch of pictures of a flock of geese and our sheep. That was my favorite subject matter,” he said. “I used to steal her camera and burn off a few frames.”

Kezar’s 50-plus year photography career all started with his mother’s Brownie Hawkeye camera that now sits on the shelf in Kezar’s kitchen in Delano.

Also on that shelf is the Graflex Speed Graphic camera Kezar used at his first paying job.

“Three days before I got out of high school, I was hired as a staff reporter and photographer and floor sweeper at the Thief River Falls Times. That was June 8, 1969.”

Fifty years to the day after walking through the doors of the Thief River Falls Times, June 8, 2019, at his cozy home in Delano, Kezar and a large gathering of friends, celebrated his career with a hog roast and enough memory-spurring libations to make all photographers appreciative of autofocus.

Those memories for Kezar, include many steps through the photography world.

“I started out at a small-town newspaper and that led to a little bit of college journalism, and that led to not a great draft number, and that led to enlistment in the Air Force.”

Kezar wanted to put his photography talent to work for the Air Force, but it almost didn’t happen.

“The Air Force wanted to make a jet engine mechanic out of me. I said, ‘Look here, Sergeant, a wrench doesn’t fit in my hand; I’m a photographer,’” Kezar remembered. “He said, ‘I hear that every day.’ I said, ‘Well, I have a press pass.’”

The Sergeant did not believe Kezar until he flashed that press pass.

“I still carry a media pass,” Kezar noted.

Kezar became a combat media specialist in the Air Force. He was never shipped out for combat, himself, but several friends served in Vietnam.

While still in the Air Force, Kezar began working as a staff photographer at the Montgomery Advertiser, and went on to serve as president of the Alabama Press Photographers Association.

Kezar moved on to the Tampa Tribune, where he oversaw 37 photographers as the director of photography for seven years.

“We covered everything from the Yucatan to Cuba,” he said of his tenure in Florida. “It was a pretty heavy time.”

Kezar returned home to Minnesota in 1981, when he accepted an offer to oversee the photo staff at the Minneapolis Star.  When the Star and Tribune combined in 1982, he became the assistant director of photography for the largest newspaper in the region.

“I love that paper,” he said of the Star Tribune.

With a portfolio to back up his skills and experiences, Kezar left the newspaper business and ventured out on his own as a freelance photographer for national magazines. His work has been featured in TIME, Newsweek, National Geographic, Fortune, Business Week, Family Circle, and Woman’s Day.

As the digital technology began taking over the photography world, Kezar panned his camera away from the world of general circulation  magazines, and aimed it at the world of hunting and fishing.

Field & Stream and Outdoor Life are two of the largest outdoors magazines to feature Kezar’s images. His portfolio grew to include corporate work and advertising campaigns, and his medium switched from still photography to video.

Not an easy move, Kezar admits.

“It was nasty. It was an awesome, awful, technical, head-banging learning curve to get into it,” he said. “Once you got it, you got it, though, so its a matter of keeping your head down and learning.”

The list of companies that feature Kezar’s still images and videos is a who’s who of corporate giants in the outdoors world — Federal, Remington, Winchester, Leupold, Bushnell, Realtree, Mathews, BowTech, Filson, Abu Garcia, Fenwick, Old Town, Pure Fishing, Outdoor Channel, and Savage Arms.

In the corporate world, Kezar’s clients have included FedEx, HB Fuller, General Mills, and 3M.

A farm kid who served in the FFA and in 4-H, Kezar never forgot where he came from. He has produced more than 200 covers for Successful Farming Magazine, and is working on a multi-year project for the South Dakota Grasslands Coalition.

He takes special pride in the grasslands project.

“It’s a lovely career job, because it’s a story I know and it’s a story I believe in,” he said. “It’s a blast shooting it. We get to hang out with ranchers in their environments, and tell their stories of successes and failures in introducing grasslands to areas that were indigenous grasslands back when the buffalo roamed.”

His work with the grasslands project and the promotion of returning the land back to the hoofed animals that once roamed it, relates to an assignment two decades ago that Kezar will never forget.

It was 1989 in Africa, where Kezar was photographing a hunt for Leupold, a leading optics company. He was in a hot air balloon soaring over the Mara River.

“People ask what’s the coolest thing I have seen in my career; that has to be it,” he said. “We were up at 10,000 feet, which is bloody high for a hot air balloon. You would look off to your left and see herds of plains animals — topi, zebra, wildebeest, impala; all the hoofed animals — as far as the eye could see. You look to the right and see them shoulder-to-shoulder to the end of the earth in that direction.

“I’m not sure that is possible now. From what I heard in 1989, that was sort of the end of the grand migration.”

Kezar is also the founder of Windigo Images, a stock photo business that houses “the most comprehensive image collection of hunting, fishing, camping and great outdoors,” and, with girlfriend Ellen Becker, created Kindred Small Films, a company that produces family documentaries that preserve one’s history for the sake of future generations.

What Kezar has seen through the viewfinder in half a century could fill a book or two. Actually, his work has filled many pages — in newspapers, books, magazines, and calendars, as well as websites and social media platforms.

He has photographed in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and China.

“I was trying to figure out the other day whether or not I have ever taken a goof-off vacation. Maybe two in all these years,” he said. “I figure I have logged over 8 million miles so far. My cases look like it.”

Those cases were back in South Dakota this past week, safely housing the gear and equipment that will capture the images in Kezar’s eye.

“I have been really fortunate to do what I like to do; something I think I’m halfway decent at doing,” he said. “No sign of slowing down. I have stuff to do and stories to tell.”

To see more of Mitch Kezar’s work, visit kezarmedia.com.

Helmet protects motorcyclyst from serious injuries

MAPLE PLAIN, MN – A motorcyclist avoided serious injuries when he was involved in a crash on Highway 12 Tuesday afternoon.

At about 2:15 p.m., a motorcycle ridden by Joel Mastel, 60, of Buffalo, was westbound on Highway 12 near the intersection with Hennepin County Road 29 when it rear-ended a westbound truck.

Mastel was thrown from the motorcycle and onto the pavement. He sustained several abrasions and a possible broken collar bone, and was taken by ambulance to Buffalo Hospital.

He was wearing a helmet at the time.

Sgt. Rick Denneson, of the West Hennepin Public Safety Department, investigated the crash.

“Mr. Mastel was fortunate to be wearing a good quality helmet,” Denneson said. “The gouges and scrapes on the helmet show the severity of the impact it took. His situation would have been critically worse had he not been wearing one.”

The driver of the other vehicle was uninjured.

Police departments from Medina and Orono, as well as the Maple Plain Fire Department, assisted at the scene.

Matt Kane’s Final Four images

The Delano Herald Journal team was at the Final Four men’s basketball tournament. See what Sports Editor Matt Kane saw during the three games by clicking HERE.

Harvest Ridge development agreement approved

DELANO, MN – Delano City Council approved a development agreement for the Harvest Ridge Development Tuesday, seven months after plans for a Kwik Trip – as well as a Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels combination – at the site between Flippin Bill’s and Cemstone along Highway 12 became public.

“I think we’ve come up with a good document that is consistent with other things we do,” City Administrator Phil Kern said.

The project is unique in that it does not include public improvements, as the property will be privately owned and divided into saleable lots and outlots.

Most of the work for the site will be grading to create a lower and upper pad.

There are two forms of financial security in play, though neither is guaranteed to the city, Kern said.

“They are going to start grading the site with an agreement with an end user,” Kern said. “That end user is providing a significant amount of money upfront. That’s what the developer is using to make sure they get paid. This would make us a party to that . . . In the event that something happens, and it gets started, and not finished, and the end user takes action to receive funds, we would be able to specially assess the project and complete what needs to be completed . . . to protect adjacent properties.”

All plans are required to be approved by the city planner, attorney, engineer, and staff.

“I am confident this agreement is essentially complete,” Kern said. “Both parties have been working hard on this the last few weeks.”

See more coverage of Tuesday’s meeting in Friday’s edition.