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Since he was 12 years old, Jason Hankes has always had a place to workout. "I had my first set of weights when I was 10 years old," he announced proudly. "My uncles were good collegiate athletes and my dad always used to haul me around to gyms with him." Hankes is the owner of Hank's Gym, 2260 40th St., in Somerset Township.
The Apple River Family Campground is hosting the Arctic Blast Terrier Trials on Saturday, Sept. 10, and Sunday, Sept. 11. The two-day event features racing, obedience, lure coursing, go-to-ground and a simulated barn hunt. Sandy Brown will be the judge for Saturday; Liz Valles will judge on Sunday. "We have been doing this for about 15 years," said Brenda Buckles, chairperson of the event.
It's not every day that children have their own armed escort to go clothes shopping. But for several hours on Aug. 24, 44 kids had that experience, thanks to Grace Place in Somerset. According to Lori Scheder of Grace Place, they received a $5,000 grant to allow them to sponsor the "Shop with a Cop" event - a program that pairs up children in need with a police officer to shop for school clothes. "We did this two years ago, but we didn't have the money last year," explained Scheder.
Two heads are better than one, so the Somerset Village board believes. When Bob Crotty retired from the public works director position in early spring, the Village of Somerset Board was charged with the task of hiring a replacement. Jeff Johnson, village president, announced at the monthly board meeting on Aug. 15 that the position will be temporarily split into two public works supervisor positions. "After extensive deliberations, we decided to promote the people within to be supervisor - previously referred to as a lead person," Johnson explained.
It was in a new location, but the 26th annual Barn Dance and Threshing Bee still drew a crowd. The St. Croix Valley Collectors Association has been hosting the event for 25 years on a private farm in Troy Township, but recent family matters caused them to seek a new location for 2011. They approached the Village of Roberts that agreed to let them use the Village Park for their event, and the Roberts Lions helped with tents and refreshments. "Don Greenfield did so much with helping us get this thing organized," said Tom Lubich, president of the St. Croix Valley Collectors Association.
The Heritage Hillside Concert Series wrapped up its seventh season on Wednesday, Aug. 17, with perfect weather. Trigger Happy played songs ranging from country to rock and roll, Messes and Masterpieces had an art project kids could do and Bremer Bank handed out treats. Sue Langford, organizer of the series, said that the crowds have grown each year. "The first and last nights were the best, easily 450 people each," she said. "Local groups get the best crowds, but the weather has a lot to do with it as well.
Ever since she was little, she always was into fashion. "I used to create different outfits out of pieces of cloth," said Vanessa Zahid, 26. "My dad always said that I should design clothing." She is well on her way now. Although Zahid now lives in the Twin Cities, she was born and raised in Somerset. Her parents are Doug and Connie Plourde, and she has one brother, Brian. As she attended Somerset High School, she worked in her aunt's jewelry shop during the summers, where she was surrounded by beads and beaded jewelry.
"I like to think of myself as more of a creator than simply an author." Ryan Keith Johnson, 32, sat in the Magpie Coffee House and Café in Somerset. The 1997 graduate of Somerset High School was holding copies of his first two published books - and grinning broadly. "I'm working on four or five books right now," he said, describing stories that encompass horror, Christian-themed fiction and fantasy. His first book, "The King's Retribution," was more than six years in the making before being published in July 2007.
The Village of Roberts needs to educate the public. At the August board meeting, the members discussed how several residents have been complaining that they cannot hear the new weather sirens. Willard Moeri, village president, said that he alone has had 20 people approach him about the problem. So he decided to have someone come up to test the system from various points in the village. "The issue was that the decimal reading was supposed to go up 10 points," he explained. "We started at 52-54, and every place we went it was between 75-80.
Elise Deppe, 19, had always had a fascination with Africa. "It pulls at my heart to see those commercials (of children suffering in Africa)," she said. Although the college student hadn't ever been out of the United States, she was determined to go with the Bridge Bible Church's missionary trip this summer to Kitale, Kenya. "I haven't learned the language, but I am learning about their culture," said Deppe in early July.