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By day, he is a mild-mannered engineer for LWT Inc. in New Richmond. By night, he collects and delivers Christmas toys. Rick Lombardo has been the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys for Tots coordinator for St. Croix and Polk counties for the past 12 years. He places the red boxes in businesses, offices and other public areas for people to donate new toys. "I'm up to about 46 places between the two counties," said Lombardo.
"It started as an outreach project," said Kay Brooks, as she sat at a table in the New Richmond United Methodist Church's basement working on gift tags. "It's really made a transformation since then." Brooks has been a volunteer for Love Baskets for about 15 years. The project helps local families in need by collecting Christmas presents for them and food vouchers. It partners with the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program, the Salvation Army, as well as business and individual sponsors. "We used to be in the old Armory," Brooks explained.
If anyone feels the need for a boost to get into the holiday spirit, there are plenty of places in Somerset you can go. *** Santa will be at the Somerset Ice Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 14, from 6-8 p.m. Bring a non-perishable food item and your camera to get a picture with Santa. There will be free open skating; skate rentals available at the arena or Treadmill Sports. There will also be a spaghetti dinner available for purchase.
You could consider Breckin Beauvais's being here a miracle. Born 16 weeks premature, doctors told his parents that he had less than a 1 percent chance to live. "They wrote him off so many times," said Scott Beauvais in a 2004 interview with the New Richmond News. "They said to hope for the best, but told us he wasn't going to survive." Eight years later, Breckin continues to defy the odds. Watching him in his home, Breckin runs around the living room with his dog, Sparky, a Shorkie Tzu.
The village of Somerset has completed the requirements to declare Tax Incremental District (TID) #4 a distressed TID. At the Tuesday, Nov. 15, Village Board meeting, Bert Peterson of Cedar Corporation presented the board members with the final numbers in proclaiming TID #2 a donor to TID #4. The village had purchased 99 acres off Highway 35N in 2009 with the intention of developing the property for business or industrial purposes. However, no development has happened to generate revenue so the village has been losing money on the project.
The church hall resembled a Mexican restaurant. Tables were laid out with napkins proclaiming "fiesta" and straw sombreros adorned the walls. Smells of chile rellanos, tamales and taco meat wafted from the back table, where a buffet feast was laid. This was a fundraiser for the Beside Still Waters ministry team that is leaving for Mexico on Friday, Nov. 18. Bill Hieb is the pastor of Riverside Church, 427 County Road VV in Somerset, but he is also the founder of Beside Still Waters Ministry.
After months of debate, The Village of Roberts is one step closer to setting a new water rate. The Public Service Commission looked over the village's records and recommended a 23 percent increase for water. The village had been hoping to stay around 20 percent. "We're not happy that it is more heavy towards the residential areas," said Doreen Kruschke, village clerk. "But they (the PSC) said they would not reconsider that." The village had been raising the water bill - which is separate from the sewer bill - five years in a row until 2003, then again in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010.
The village of Somerset had big plans for the 99 acres it purchased in 2009. Unfortunately, the economy had other plans. The property -- Tax Incremental District (TID) #4 -- is located off Hwy. 35N. There has not been any development in the area to generate revenue to pay off the approximate $3 million debt.
Feeling a little love in your heart? Love Baskets, the volunteer group that gives holiday gifts to needy families in the New Richmond and Somerset school districts, is having a meeting for people interested in volunteering on Monday, Nov. 14, at 9:30 a.m. at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in New Richmond. According to Kay Brooks, one of the organizers of the program, the program helped 300 local families last year. The group gathers names of local families in need via schools, churches, public health agencies and concerned friends and neighbors.
The face of the Somerset Fire/Rescue Department is about to change. Approximately 11 firefighters have signed up to participate in Movember - the national movement to raise awareness about men's health, specifically prostate cancer. The participants have agreed to be clean-shaven on Nov. 1, then they will grow mustaches only during the month of November.