September

Local Pilots with Small Aircraft

BP flight and air sport enthusiasts, including Tom Chard, Ryan Albrecht, Jeff Essig, Jack Behnke, and Paul Fordice, enjoyed the thrill of soaring the skies in their power paragliders and/or parachutes primarily along the Minnesota River bluffs last summer.

Shortage of Lumber but not Work

Lumber was harder for businesses such as Siwek Lumber and Millwork in Jordan to source since the coronavirus pandemic shut down lumber mills and people began spending more on their home improvement projects.

Face Covering Drive

The BP 4-H Club hosted a face covering drive to support all of the schools in BP by seeking donations of new, clean, cloth face masks and neck gaiters in all sizes to accommodate students in prekindergarten through twelfth grade.

Inaugural Plow Day

The BP FFA Alumni Chapter held its first ever Plow Day on Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Bob and Esther Stoppelmann farm on the west edge of BP, using equipment from the 1960s and 70s to demonstrate what ‘old time’ plowing looked like.

COVID-19 Update

For the second week in a row, Sibley and Le Sueur counties saw a significant increase in cases due to COVID-19, right before the start of the school year. As a result, school districts like Tri-City United, Le Sueur-Henderson, and Sibley East changed to a hybrid learning model for their students.

Cross Country Started Strong

The BPHS boys’ and girls’ cross country teams both came out on top with first place finishes at their season-opening triangular meet on Thursday, Aug. 27, at Baylor Regional Park against Lester Prairie-Mayer Lutheran and Norwood Young America.

Businesses Adjusted to COVID

Local restaurants and bars continued to face challenges after receiving permission to reopen for in-house dining. Having experienced shutdowns and takeout-only operations, businesses were eager to rearrange operations to comply with social distancing mandates despite extra logistics planning. Additional challenges included staffing, supply shortages, menu changes, and traffic fluxes, but the local owners were encouraged by the support of the community.

New BP Police Chief

Terry M. Stier was named as the new BP Police Chief, following the resignation of Tom Stolee due to medical reasons. Mayor Chris Meyer administered the Oath of Office to newly appointed Chief Stier on Tuesday night, Sept. 8, at the BP City Council meeting, while Stier’s wife pinned the badge on his uniform. “I look forward to the challenge,” said Stier. “I’ll do my best to protect the citizens of Belle Plaine.”

COVID-19 Update

After adding 188 new cases during the first week of September, Scott County moved up a step and ranked seventh in the state for the number of COVID-19 cases, with a total of 2,198. Scott County surpassed Olmsted County for total number of cases. The number of deaths in Scott County totaled 32, and the number of cases in BP was 65.

Power Outage

A transformer blew in the 300 block of State St. W. on Monday morning, Sept. 7, causing multiple power outages for most residents in BP and nearby townships using Xcel Energy. A substation crew from Mankato had energy restored in BP by Labor Day afternoon. According to a post by the BP Police Dept., a squirrel was the cause of the blown transformer.

Farewell, McDonald’s

BP’s McDonald’s restaurant, located at 1050 E. Enterprise Drive, permanently closed on Thursday, Sept. 15. It had opened in November of 2011 and was one of 200 of the 14,000 McDonald’s locations in the U.S. to close.

Paying it Forward

Nick Peters, who moved to BP with his family eight years ago, started dropping off donuts for police and fire departments in Scott County to show his appreciation for what they do for the communities they serve. As a local photographer, Peters had been taking photos in beautiful sunflower fields that were planted by his friend, Johnny Fish, who never charged fees for visitors, so Peters decided to use profits from his photos to pay it forward.

School Liaison Officers

Two BP police officers, Apryl Grund and Nik Friedges, began their duties as school liaison officers in BP public schools in early September. In addition to daily interaction with students, the officers provided safety and awareness programs for different grade levels.

Cutting a Cow

Ryan Gallentine, a National Reined Cow Horse Association professional, took participants through the process of the sport of cutting at his home in rural BP on Saturday, Sept. 11. Cutting is a Western-style equestrian sport that showcases a rider and horse working together to ‘cut out’ a cow from its herd. If the cutting is done successfully, the horse will have singled out a cow and prevented it from returning to the herd.

Citywide Clean-up Day

The annual citywide clean-up day was held Saturday, Sept. 12, at BP’s Public Works Building parking lot, so residents could get rid of all their garbage, recycling, and many other items, like mattresses and refrigerators. Originally scheduled for April, the annual event was pushed back due to the pandemic.

MSHSL Reversed Decision

On Monday, Sept. 21, the Minnesota State High School League reversed an earlier decision to postpone the football and volleyball sports seasons to the spring. Games for both were scheduled to begin in October. Football teams were allowed to play six games, and volleyball teams were allowed to play 14 games over 11 weeks.

No Venison to be Processed in BP

Rucks’ Meat Processing Center in BP had to turn down their venison customers during the deer hunting season, due to a backlog of other livestock they’re already scheduled to process as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus Relief Funds

On Monday night, Sept. 21, the BP City Council authorized its Coronavirus Relief Fund expenditures to the BP Fire and Police Depts. The fire dept. received new laptops equipped with LETG software to assist with emergency public health communications at a cost of nearly $8,000. The police dept. received $22,500 for quick response gear for officers responding to school threats, domestic assaults, and bank robberies.

Positive COVID Cases at TLH

The Lutheran Home Association reported one active case of COVID-19 for a staff member at the Hope Residence and one active case for a resident at Boessling Village Apts. Earlier in September, three staff members at The Lutheran Home’s skilled nursing facility in BP had tested positive for the virus.

Local Canning Lid Shortage

Many new, local gardeners who wanted to preserve their garden produce were dealing with a shortage of canning lids, which cannot be reused like canning jars and rings. Master Home Preservationist Jaclyn Smith of BP, who cans hundreds of jars of produce each harvest season, anticipated the shortage and purchased her lids back in February.

Dave’s Compass

On Saturday, Sept. 26, Dave’s Compass hosted a fundraising event and dinner/banquet at the Ridges at Sand Creek Golf Course in Jordan. Founded in 2019 in memory of David Arkins by his family, the organization helps education and support those dealing with mental health illnesses, as well as working to eliminate the stigma surrounding these illnesses.

Help for Small Businesses

BP native Julie Traxler and business partner Corey Harris were working on helping other small businesses recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, from their headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, by launching SB PACE.

Positive COVID Cases in Schools

Supt. Ryan Laager announced at the BP School Board meeting on Monday, Sept. 28, that two students and one staff member tested positive for COVID-19. Each confirmed case was contracted outside the school district and required to quarantine for 14 days.

Successful Blood Drive

The American Red Cross collected 65 units of life-saving blood, which surpassed the goal of 50 units, at the Vets Club blood drive on Thursday, Sept. 24. Since blood donations are now tested for COVID-19 antibodies, testing may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual experienced symptoms.

October

Schmidt in Virtual Gala

Daniel Schmidt of BP was one of six patients featured in the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute’s virtual fundraiser “A Toast to Courage” on Tuesday night, Oct. 6. Schmidt spent several months recovering at Courage Kenny facilities in the Twin Cities after he fell 25 feet from a lift bucket in April and broke his back, shattered his ribs, and fractured his wrist. Now Schmidt is walking again, back to working part time at Ag Partners, and is very appreciative of the care he received.

Fall Harvest Medallion Found

After only two clues, Angie Johnson and Ann Miller found the 2020 Fall Harvest Medallion under a stone in Riverview Park, BP’s newest park in BP located in the Provence housing development, on Thursday, Oct. 1. The word in the second clue that helped them was “stne” which they realized could mean 1st St. NE.

Bull on the Loose

On Saturday night, Oct. 3, several neighbors, police officers, a veterinarian, and animal control officials spent over two hours tracking down a bull that got loose from his trailer at a gas station on the 100 block of Aspen Lane North in BP.

Personnel Changes

Police Dept. Admin. Asst. Nicole Jensen resigned, as did part-time janitor Jen Winter. Jennifer Schmidt was appointed to the police admin. asst. position. Christopher Herrmann was appointed as a full-time public works employee. Theodore Kes was appointed as a full-time police officer with the City of BP.

COVID-19 Update

Newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to climb in Minnesota, with Scott County ranking 7th in the state for the total number of cases, of which 106 were in BP. Also, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19, along with about two dozen people close to the president.

Emerald Ash Borer

The Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture confirmed the presence of emerald ash borers in Carver and Sibley counties, the 24th and 25th counties in the state with EAB. A tree-care professional spotted several trees with EAB-like symptoms near the Carver-Sibley county line north of BP.

Skate Park Renovations

On Friday, Oct. 2, a team from Clean ‘N Seal began the process of blasting and power washing the rails, ramps, and half pipes at BP’s skate park in Heritage Square. Then, the skate park was painted with four new colors and the cracks in the blacktop were fixed. Renovations were completed by Oct. 12.

Scenic Byway River Run

Athletes from across the state came to BP on Saturday, Oct. 10, to compete in the 10th annual Scenic Byway River Run. The half marathon was the biggest draw, with 101 runners competing in the race. Twelve runners raced in pairs in the half marathon relay, 59 people participated in the 5K Run/Walk, and eight bikers cycled on the Tour de Brew. Chaska resident Tristan Coughlin came in first place for the half marathon, with a time of 1:12:32. Burnsville resident McKenzie Buck came in first place for the women with a time of about 1:31:00. BPHS Boys Track Coach Brad Pederson was honored for being the only person to run the half marathon every single year of the race’s existence; he came in sixth place with a time of 1:27:49.

Flags Retired

A total of 692 faded and tattered American flags were respectfully burned and buried on Saturday, Oct. 10, by members of the BP Vets Club.

Goodbye, Outdoor Seating

The public works dept. began removing barriers, which had allowed local businesses to allow for expanded outdoor dining options in order to accommodate social distancing guidelines, in front of downtown businesses on Main and Meridian streets on Monday, Oct. 19.

Early Winter Storm

Snowplows were out in force in BP on Tuesday, Oct. 20, to clean up after the first heavy snowfall of the season. The National Weather Service declared a Winter Storm Warning on Tuesday, predicting four to six inches of snow.

Retirement of BP Fireman

Mayor Chris Meyer honored retired firefighter Doug LeMieux with a plaque commemorating his 17 years of service to the community at the city council meeting on Monday night, Oct. 19.

Blakeley Fire

On Thursday, Oct. 15, the BP Fire Dept. responded to a Blakeley Township fire in a peanut roasting mill, which is used to produce birdseed. One of the dryers probably got too hot and the roaster started on fire. The activation of a sprinkler system in the facility prevented any serious damage.

CARES Funding

Using CARES Act Funds, the BP City Council authorized the purchase of nearly $35,000 worth of audio equipment for public meeting and virtual events. The council also allocated more money from CARES to the Business Relief Grant and the Resident Relief Grant. As of mid-October, 19 grants totaling over $116,000 had been made to BP businesses, averaging about $6,100 per grant, and 21 grants totaling about $36,800 had been made to BP residents for rent and mortgage assistance, averaging about $1,750 per grant. Another $50,000 was allocated to the Business Relief Fund and $10,000 to the Resident Relief Fund.

Auxiliary Member of the Year

Ruth Westphal, president of BP’s American Legion Auxiliary Unit 144, was presented the “Elaine Hein Auxiliary Woman of the Year Award” on Saturday, Oct. 3.

Welcome to the Herald

The BP Herald welcomed Talia Milavetz as the new reporter for the newspaper. Talia grew up in the suburbs of St. Paul and moved to New York where she graduated from NYU in 2018. She was a former broadcast news reporter at ABC 6 News in Rochester, MN and loves to cover human interest stories.

Good News for Henderson

After months of political turmoil and multiple failed bonding bills, the MN House and Senate passed a $1.9 bonding bill that included funding to fix Highway 93 and County Road 6 in Henderson, with overwhelming bipartisan support, on Thursday, Oct. 15.

Learning from the Past

A look back at the BP Herald’s coverage of the Spanish Flu Pandemic about a hundred years ago came to an end in the Oct. 21st issue. Each of the nine weekly installments included stories from the Herald exactly as they were originally published from October of 1918 through January of 1920.  Similarities between then and now were interesting.

Seasons Ended for Fall Sports

• The BPHS Girls Cross Country Team completed a perfect season by placing first in all seven regular season meets as well as in the Section 2A championship meet on Oct. 13. Earning all-section honors were Savanna DeYoung, Mackenzie Murphy, Malina Koepp, and Belle Jeurissen. The boys cross country team placed first in their first six regular season meets, second in their last conference meet, and third at their section meet. Both BP teams were conference champions in the MRC.

• The Jordan/BP Boys Soccer Team lost to fifth-seeded Marshall in the opening round of the Section 2A Tournament. The Hubmen finished the season 2-10. The Jordan/BP Girls Soccer Team lost to sixth-seeded St. Peter in the opening round of the Section 2A Tournament. The Jaguars finished the season 1-7, after a two-week break mid-season due to COVID-19.

• The BPHS Tennis Team finished their season with five wins and ten losses. Since there was no state tennis tournament or individual section tournament in 2020 due to COVID-19, the Tigers played in a consolation match of the Section 2A Tennis Tournament Oct. 13 and lost to Sibley East, 5-2. At #3 singles, Lydia Sparby defeated her SE opponent, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. Courtney Eppen and Amilia Meser won 6-3 in straight sets at #2 doubles.

First Time Deer Hunters

Two BP hunters, Tommy Chard and Clay Davis, mentored three local children - 12-year-old Austin Overline, 10-year-old Gracie Plantz, and 12-year-old Rylie Essig - during the youth firearms deer hunting season, which occurred statewide on Oct. 15-18. Overline shot an 8-point buck.

Morrisons’ Livestock Show

When livestock shows across the country were canceled due to COVID-19, the Morrison Family of rural BP decided to hold their own. Erin Morrison and her father, Terry, planned a livestock show over MEA weekend with several different competitions at the 2020 Shorthorn Fall Classic in Hutchinson. Sixty kids from five different states participated in the event, culminating with the heifer donation to 13-year-old Tyler Mitchell from Charles City, IA.

All-Conference Honorees for Fall Sports

BPHS cross country runners who qualified for the MRC’s All-Conference Team included Mackenzie Murphy, Sam Van Zummeren, Adam Stiemke, Emmett Gerres, Belle Jeurissen, Malina Koepp, Savanna De Young, Lizzy Schmidt, and Sydney Weiland. Earning honorable mention were Kevin He and Sydney Hartman.

BPHS tennis players who qualified for the MRC’s All-Conference Team included Lauren Johnson, Amilia Messer, Emma Driehorst, and Kadence Bran de Leon. Earning honorable mention was Courtney Eppen.

COVID-19 Testing Center

The Mayo Clinic COVID-19 indoor testing site opened in BP on Thursday, Oct. 24, at 700 W. Prairie St. The testing site was originally in New Prague as a drive-through location, but it was moved to BP in order to provide a more central location and to provide space for safe indoor testing.

BPHS Homecoming Royalty

Homecoming Queen candidates included Jaelyn Borresen, Lizzy Schmidt, Brynne Meyer, Alyssa Wolfe, and Brooke McGlinchey. Homecoming King candidates included Tucker Schultz, Ryan Bergs, Cade Morrison, Max Larson, and Will Degree. A variety of dress-up days and activities at all schools in the district were scheduled for Nov. 2-6.

Big Jump in Early Voting

As of Oct. 26, Scott County had accepted 26,808 ballots, which included both mail-in ballots and in-person early voting. In the City of BP alone, 869 ballots had been accepted. As of Oct. 23, Sibley County had reported that 2,880 absentee mail-in ballots had been received, out of 9,290 registered voters.

American Indian PAC

The BP American Indian Parent Advisory Committee was looking for new members. The committee was in its second year of existence but was applying for funding from the MN Dept. of Education for the first time. There were currently 33 students in the district identified as American Indian but only two committee members.

Halloween at TLHA

Staff members at The Lutheran Home took the residents on an evening stroll on Wednesday, Oct. 28, to view the 30 carved pumpkins that were lined up on West Main Street in front of the building for the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.

Halloween Lighting Contest

Andrea and Jeremiah Aarstad at 940 Farmer Ridge Trail were the winners of the BP Herald’s Halloween Home Decorating Contest.   

Cross Country Club Championships

At the TCRC Showdown on Saturday, Oct. 31, at the Island Pine Golf Club Course in Atwater, the girls BPXC Track Club earned seventh place overall, and the boys BPXC Track Club finished in twelfth place.

Hometown Halloween

The BP Chamber of Commerce’s annual event, Business Trick or Treating, was combined this year with the city’s National Night Out from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30. Personnel from the police and fire departments, DNR, and public works also handed out treats and showcased their equipment.


November

Herald’s Fall Photo Contest

Susie Simcox Steinhagen was the winner of the Herald’s Fall Photo Contest with her entry, “Mother Nature at Her Finest at the Simcox Homestead.”

Homecoming Bookends

On Monday, Nov. 2, Max Larson and Lizzy Schmidt were crowned BP’s Homecoming king and queen at the coronation ceremony, and the volleyball team defeated Sibley East, 3-0.

On Friday, Nov. 6, the Tigers lost their football game, 8-0, to the Tri-City United Titans.

2020 General Election Roundup

Local Results

Incumbents for the mayor, city council, and school board positions were all reelected.

Mayor Chris Meyer ran uncontested for a two-year term.

Councilors Cary Coop and Patricia Krings won four-year terms, despite write-ins that garnered 14% of the vote, primarily for Ryan Herrmann.

School board members Tracy O’Brien, Terry Kahle, and Terry Morrison retained their seats over Eric Johnson, Gary Steinhagen, and Gary Ludwig.

County, State, and National Results

A total of 88,307 people from Scott County voted, with nearly 53 percent of voters casting absentee ballots. Scott County had a 93.65 voter turnout rate, and BP had the most new voter registrations with 376. According to Scott County Auditor Cindy Geis, BP’s voting setup on election day could have been a ‘poster child’ for everything done right.

As Scott County Commissioner in District 1, Barb Weckman Brekke defeated Joe Wagner.

In the MN House of Representatives, Brian Pfarr defeated Erina Prom in District 20A.

In the MN Senate, Rich Draheim defeated Jon Olson.

In the U.S. House, Angie Craig defeated Tylor Kistner.

In the U.S. Senate, Tina Smith defeated Jason Lewis.

For U.S. President, Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump.

Ramifications from COVID-19

Local Reactions

Oak Crest Elementary students transitioned from in-person learning to distance learning on Monday, Nov. 9.

As of Nov. 10, according to Scott County Public Health, 235 residents in BP had tested positive for COVID-19. Overall, in Scott County, there were 4,889 cases; in Le Sueur County, there were 845 cases; in Sibley County, there were 356 cases.

BPHS football and volleyball games for the remainder of their seasons were canceled, beginning Nov. 11.

State-wide Restrictions

Gov. Tim Walz announced new restrictions, effective Friday night, Nov. 13, which limited both indoor and outdoor group gatherings to 10 people or less and required bars and restaurants to operate at less than 50% capacity with a maximum of 150 people and prohibited social games like darts. Crowds at receptions for events like weddings and funerals were limited to 50 people by Nov. 27 and 25 people by Dec. 11. Hopefully, small business relief grants, totaling $10 million, were expected to help more than 1,000 businesses pay their bills and employees.

End of the Road

The BP City Council decided not to move forward with proposed parking regulations that would limit street parking in residential areas from midnight to 6 a.m. from Nov. 1 to April 1, because it would negatively affect too many residents and their cars. Under the current ordinance, parking is not allowed during that time period when snow has accumulated to a depth of one-half inch or more.

Local Hospitals Overwhelmed

COVID-19 cases continued to increase in Scott County, and local hospitals were starting to feel overwhelmed with the number of people seeking care. As of Nov. 16, there were 295 COVID-19 cases needing hospitalization in Scott County, and a total of 53 cases required ICU care. In addition to the number of beds available, hospital staffing was becoming a critical issue across the state. St. Francis Hospital’s ICU was full, and patients were diverted elsewhere.

Supplement to the Herald and Independent

A special, 16-page supplement called Home for the Holidays accompanied each issue of the BP Herald and Henderson Independent in mid-November. Included were stories on what some community members were doing to celebrate the holiday season and how the Best Christmas Ever program helps area families, as well as festive ideas and tips to brighten up the season and make new traditions.

Virtual Veterans Day

The BP Public School District put together a virtual Veterans Day program to honor and celebrate the veterans in the community in a video recording on Facebook on Wednesday, Nov. 11. Belle Plaine Junior High Match Teacher Adam Smith spoke about his experience serving in the U.S. Air Force. Sixth grader Nina Messer and fifth grader Mandilyn Korba read their letters written to those who have served, past and present.

Athletes Signed with Colleges

According to BPHS Activities Director John Bergs, three high school senior signed to continue their athletic careers in college. Lizzy Schmidt will run track and field at Augustana College in South Dakota. Lauren Walter committed to playing softball at Culver Stockton College in Missouri. Sarah Lenz announced her commitment to play basketball at the University of Jamestown in North Dakota.

Football and Volleyball Seasons Ended Early

The BPHS Tiger Football Team ended their condensed season with no wins and five losses, without being able to play the final game of the season due to the pandemic.

The BPHS Tiger Volleyball Team ended their season with seven wins and two losses but could not play the remaining three games or return for section playoffs due to the pandemic.

BPHS JV Bowling Team Won Championship

The BPHS Junior Varsity Bowling Team ended their season by winning the JV Conference Championship in BP on Nov. 5. The team won 10 out of 12 matches with a team average of 128.78, high game of 198, and a high series of 467. The Varsity Black Team earned second place at the conference championship tournament on Nov. 13 at Country Club Lanes in Excelsior. The Varsity Red Team finished sixth during the regular season and did not advance to the conference championship. BP’s all-conference representatives in the Metro Southwest League for bowling were Derek Hoffman, Michael Glynn, Ben David, Lucas O’Brien, and Ethan Hoffman.

KingsPath Became Spero BP

The KingsPath Senior Living Development on 125 Commerce Drive in BP, originally managed by The Lutheran Home Association, changed management and its name. Kora Health took over as the management company, but the building is still owned by Spero Senior Ministries and will be known as Spero BP, which has 55 one and two-bedroom units for seniors ages 55 and over; 22 of the 55 units were occupied.

Thankful Fahey Bros.

Three young Fahey brothers – Patrick (26), Tate (19), and Will (18) – were thankful their cousin, Jim Glisczinski, mentioned to neighbor Brian Raleigh that they were looking for some land to farm. The 160-acre farm, owned by Bob and Sallie Raleigh, will be rented to the Fahey Brothers in 2021 to help them get their start in farming.

School Board Planned for Distance Learning

Supt. Ryan Laager updated the BP School Board on the latest development for distance learning, which officially began on Monday, Nov. 30. The majority of students learned from home, but a few special education students were allowed to go to school to get the help they needed and preschool students were also allowed to continue going to school. The school district also continued to provide free meals to all students enrolled in the breakfast/lunch program.

Dial Turned Back for Four Weeks

On Wednesday evening, Nov. 18, Gov. Tim Walz announced that MN would be ‘turning back the dial’ in the wake of a huge surge of new COVID-19 cases. Effective Friday, Nov. 20 at midnight until Dec. 18, restaurants and bars closed for in-person dining, but takeout orders were still allowed. In addition, gyms, fitness centers, dance studios public pools, theaters, concert halls, bowling alleys, paintball, go-karts, museums, and amusement parks closed, though drive-through experiences were allowed. Weddings, funerals, and church services were allowed, as were personal care services at barbershops and salons, as long as venues followed social distancing and 50 percent capacity with a maximum of 250 people. Organized youth and adult sports were ordered to stop but not college or professional sports. The executive order came as MN experienced the deadliest day of the pandemic so far, with 67 deaths on Nov. 18.

New Curling Center in BP

BP Public Works planned to build one curling rink on the Hickory Park basketball courts at 801 East Orchard St. in BP. The plan was to have two lanes, each 110 feet long and 13 feet wide, slightly shorter than a typical indoor rink.

MN River Access Closed

The City of BP was notified by the MN Dept. of Natural Resources that the public access to the MN River had been temporarily closed due to a major drop-off at the end of the boat ramp caused by the low water level. However, that closure didn’t stop anglers from fishing off the shore while the walleyes were biting.

Wrestling Coach Retired

After 22 years of coaching with the Scott West Panther Wrestling program, Coach Darren Ripley retired but will continue to teach the Great American History class at Jordan Middle School.

Big Jump in Early Voting

As of Oct. 26, Scott County had accepted 26,808 ballots, which included both mail-in ballots and in-person early voting. In the City of BP alone, 869 ballots had been accepted. As of Oct. 23, Sibley County had reported that 2,880 absentee mail-in ballots had been received, out of 9,290 registered voters.

American Indian PAC

The BP American Indian Parent Advisory Committee was looking for new members. The committee was in its second year of existence but was applying for funding from the MN Dept. of Education for the first time. There were currently 33 students in the district identified as American Indian but only two committee members.

Halloween at TLHA

Staff members at The Lutheran Home took the residents on an evening stroll on Wednesday, Oct. 28, to view the 30 carved pumpkins that were lined up on West Main Street in front of the building for the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.

Halloween Lighting Contest

Andrea and Jeremiah Aarstad at 940 Farmer Ridge Trail were the winners of the BP Herald’s Halloween Home Decorating Contest.   

Cross Country Club Championships

At the TCRC Showdown on Saturday, Oct. 31, at the Island Pine Golf Club Course in Atwater, the girls BPXC Track Club earned seventh place overall, and the boys BPXC Track Club finished in twelfth place.

Hometown Halloween

The BP Chamber of Commerce’s annual event, Business Trick or Treating, was combined this year with the city’s National Night Out from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30. Personnel from the police and fire departments, DNR, and public works also handed out treats and showcased their equipment.

November

Herald’s Fall Photo Contest

Susie Simcox Steinhagen was the winner of the Herald’s Fall Photo Contest with her entry, “Mother Nature at Her Finest at the Simcox Homestead.”

Homecoming Bookends

On Monday, Nov. 2, Max Larson and Lizzy Schmidt were crowned BP’s Homecoming king and queen at the coronation ceremony, and the volleyball team defeated Sibley East, 3-0.

On Friday, Nov. 6, the Tigers lost their football game, 8-0, to the Tri-City United Titans.

2020 General Election Roundup

Local Results

Incumbents for the mayor, city council, and school board positions were all reelected.

Mayor Chris Meyer ran uncontested for a two-year term.

Councilors Cary Coop and Patricia Krings won four-year terms, despite write-ins that garnered 14% of the vote, primarily for Ryan Herrmann.

School board members Tracy O’Brien, Terry Kahle, and Terry Morrison retained their seats over Eric Johnson, Gary Steinhagen, and Gary Ludwig.

County, State, and National Results

A total of 88,307 people from Scott County voted, with nearly 53 percent of voters casting absentee ballots. Scott County had a 93.65 voter turnout rate, and BP had the most new voter registrations with 376. According to Scott County Auditor Cindy Geis, BP’s voting setup on election day could have been a ‘poster child’ for everything done right.

As Scott County Commissioner in District 1, Barb Weckman Brekke defeated Joe Wagner.

In the MN House of Representatives, Brian Pfarr defeated Erina Prom in District 20A.

In the MN Senate, Rich Draheim defeated Jon Olson.

In the U.S. House, Angie Craig defeated Tylor Kistner.

In the U.S. Senate, Tina Smith defeated Jason Lewis.

For U.S. President, Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump.

Ramifications from COVID-19

Local Reactions

Oak Crest Elementary students transitioned from in-person learning to distance learning on Monday, Nov. 9.

As of Nov. 10, according to Scott County Public Health, 235 residents in BP had tested positive for COVID-19. Overall, in Scott County, there were 4,889 cases; in Le Sueur County, there were 845 cases; in Sibley County, there were 356 cases.

BPHS football and volleyball games for the remainder of their seasons were canceled, beginning Nov. 11.

State-wide Restrictions

Gov. Tim Walz announced new restrictions, effective Friday night, Nov. 13, which limited both indoor and outdoor group gatherings to 10 people or less and required bars and restaurants to operate at less than 50% capacity with a maximum of 150 people and prohibited social games like darts. Crowds at receptions for events like weddings and funerals were limited to 50 people by Nov. 27 and 25 people by Dec. 11. Hopefully, small business relief grants, totaling $10 million, were expected to help more than 1,000 businesses pay their bills and employees.

End of the Road

The BP City Council decided not to move forward with proposed parking regulations that would limit street parking in residential areas from midnight to 6 a.m. from Nov. 1 to April 1, because it would negatively affect too many residents and their cars. Under the current ordinance, parking is not allowed during that time period when snow has accumulated to a depth of one-half inch or more.

Local Hospitals Overwhelmed

COVID-19 cases continued to increase in Scott County, and local hospitals were starting to feel overwhelmed with the number of people seeking care. As of Nov. 16, there were 295 COVID-19 cases needing hospitalization in Scott County, and a total of 53 cases required ICU care. In addition to the number of beds available, hospital staffing was becoming a critical issue across the state. St. Francis Hospital’s ICU was full, and patients were diverted elsewhere.

Supplement to the Herald and Independent

A special, 16-page supplement called Home for the Holidays accompanied each issue of the BP Herald and Henderson Independent in mid-November. Included were stories on what some community members were doing to celebrate the holiday season and how the Best Christmas Ever program helps area families, as well as festive ideas and tips to brighten up the season and make new traditions.

Virtual Veterans Day

The BP Public School District put together a virtual Veterans Day program to honor and celebrate the veterans in the community in a video recording on Facebook on Wednesday, Nov. 11. Belle Plaine Junior High Match Teacher Adam Smith spoke about his experience serving in the U.S. Air Force. Sixth grader Nina Messer and fifth grader Mandilyn Korba read their letters written to those who have served, past and present.

Athletes Signed with Colleges

According to BPHS Activities Director John Bergs, three high school senior signed to continue their athletic careers in college. Lizzy Schmidt will run track and field at Augustana College in South Dakota. Lauren Walter committed to playing softball at Culver Stockton College in Missouri. Sarah Lenz announced her commitment to play basketball at the University of Jamestown in North Dakota.

Football and Volleyball Seasons Ended Early

The BPHS Tiger Football Team ended their condensed season with no wins and five losses, without being able to play the final game of the season due to the pandemic.

The BPHS Tiger Volleyball Team ended their season with seven wins and two losses but could not play the remaining three games or return for section playoffs due to the pandemic.

BPHS JV Bowling Team Won Championship

The BPHS Junior Varsity Bowling Team ended their season by winning the JV Conference Championship in BP on Nov. 5. The team won 10 out of 12 matches with a team average of 128.78, high game of 198, and a high series of 467. The Varsity Black Team earned second place at the conference championship tournament on Nov. 13 at Country Club Lanes in Excelsior. The Varsity Red Team finished sixth during the regular season and did not advance to the conference championship. BP’s all-conference representatives in the Metro Southwest League for bowling were Derek Hoffman, Michael Glynn, Ben David, Lucas O’Brien, and Ethan Hoffman.

KingsPath Became Spero BP

The KingsPath Senior Living Development on 125 Commerce Drive in BP, originally managed by The Lutheran Home Association, changed management and its name. Kora Health took over as the management company, but the building is still owned by Spero Senior Ministries and will be known as Spero BP, which has 55 one and two-bedroom units for seniors ages 55 and over; 22 of the 55 units were occupied.

Thankful Fahey Bros.

Three young Fahey brothers – Patrick (26), Tate (19), and Will (18) – were thankful their cousin, Jim Glisczinski, mentioned to neighbor Brian Raleigh that they were looking for some land to farm. The 160-acre farm, owned by Bob and Sallie Raleigh, will be rented to the Fahey Brothers in 2021 to help them get their start in farming.

School Board Planned for Distance Learning

Supt. Ryan Laager updated the BP School Board on the latest development for distance learning, which officially began on Monday, Nov. 30. The majority of students learned from home, but a few special education students were allowed to go to school to get the help they needed and preschool students were also allowed to continue going to school. The school district also continued to provide free meals to all students enrolled in the breakfast/lunch program.

Dial Turned Back for Four Weeks

On Wednesday evening, Nov. 18, Gov. Tim Walz announced that MN would be ‘turning back the dial’ in the wake of a huge surge of new COVID-19 cases. Effective Friday, Nov. 20 at midnight until Dec. 18, restaurants and bars closed for in-person dining, but takeout orders were still allowed. In addition, gyms, fitness centers, dance studios public pools, theaters, concert halls, bowling alleys, paintball, go-karts, museums, and amusement parks closed, though drive-through experiences were allowed. Weddings, funerals, and church services were allowed, as were personal care services at barbershops and salons, as long as venues followed social distancing and 50 percent capacity with a maximum of 250 people. Organized youth and adult sports were ordered to stop but not college or professional sports. The executive order came as MN experienced the deadliest day of the pandemic so far, with 67 deaths on Nov. 18.

New Curling Center in BP

BP Public Works planned to build one curling rink on the Hickory Park basketball courts at 801 East Orchard St. in BP. The plan was to have two lanes, each 110 feet long and 13 feet wide, slightly shorter than a typical indoor rink.

MN River Access Closed

The City of BP was notified by the MN Dept. of Natural Resources that the public access to the MN River had been temporarily closed due to a major drop-off at the end of the boat ramp caused by the low water level. However, that closure didn’t stop anglers from fishing off the shore while the walleyes were biting.

Wrestling Coach Retired

After 22 years of coaching with the Scott West Panther Wrestling program, Coach Darren Ripley retired but will continue to teach the Great American History class at Jordan Middle School.


December

Holiday Season Kick-Off

BP city leaders ushered in the holiday season on Monday evening, Nov. 20, with a virtual lighting ceremony and holiday kick-off event over Facebook live. Fifty new white LED snowflakes decorations, purchased by the BP Chamber of Commerce and BP Festivals and Events, were lit for the first time after sunset. Mayor Chris Meyer welcomed everyone and walked from the BP Plaza to Townsend Park which had been decorated by BP Public Works. Even Santa Claus made an appearance from atop a BP fire truck as he passed by during the ceremony.

Duck Hunting Tragedy

While duck hunting with his son, Nick, on Clear Lake in Lexington Township on Saturday, Nov. 28, Jeff Brooks was found floating in the water several yards from his overturned duck boat by Le Sueur County deputies. Brooks passed away early the next day at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester.

Goodbye, Golden Nugget

The printing company APG-ECM notified the BP Herald on Monday, Nov. 30, that it would no longer be printing and distributing the Golden Nugget, due to a lack of advertisements placed by local businesses. The BP Herald had been publishing the weekly insert for advertisers in the southwest metro area since the 1970s.

Belle Court Apts.

The Belle Court Apartments located at 561 South Elk Street in BP were available for leasing. The new building featured 36 apartments with a combination of one- and two-bedroom units, for a monthly rent ranging from $975 to $1,275 and including water, sewer, and trash.

New Pet Grooming Salon

On Monday, Oct. 19, Michael and Lindsey O’Donnell opened Kiings Grooming in BP on 149 N. Meridian Street. O’Donnell said he specializes in difficult dogs and those facing challenges like deafness or blindness. About 80% of their clientele so far had been dogs that want the “Fur-buster Treatment” which really helped with shedding.

COVID-19 Update

MN added 42,263 new cases in the last week of November, bringing its total to 318,763. COVID-19 had claimed the lives of 328 Minnesotans in the past week, bringing the total number of fatalities to 3,593. MN set a new deadly high on Friday, Nov. 27, when 101 deaths were reported. Scott County added 1,041 cases in the past week, bringing its total to 8,677, and one new death in the past week to bring its total to 54. According to Scott County Public Health, BP added 61 cases in the past week to bring its total to 534 cases.

Nativity Scene

The BP Rotary Club teamed up with Boy Scout Troop 324 to put up the outdoor nativity scene at JD’s Auto Service on Saturday, Nov. 28.  The BP Chamber of Commerce and the German Days Committee donated scenic backdrops to be used for the nativity scene.

Take Out / Take Over

To support them for six weeks, the BP Chamber of Commerce offered residents a way to win gift cards to local chamber businesses that offered takeout or curbside food. Each week from Thur. to Wed., a weekly drawing for a $50 gift card from one of the chamber members was awarded.

Donation of 1,400 Toys

On Thursday, Dec. 3, a BP family donated 1,400 toys to the toy drive sponsored by the BP Police Dept. and the BP Rotary Club. The family, who wished to remain anonymous, has been donating toys for decades, though this was their biggest year by far.

Holiday Wishes

This year 43 families signed up to receive presents through the Holiday Wishes program sponsored by the BP School District and organized by Kelli Quast, counselor at Chatfield Elementary School. Families in need with students in the school district signed up to receive stocking stuffers and gifts for each child in their family, plus a grocery store gift card. About 240 slots on sign-up genius had already been filled, but donors were still encouraged to contribute to the cause.

Student Athletes Honored

Four BPHS football players were recognized by the South Central Football District. Junior Gavin Fahey and sophomore Ryan Retzer were selected all-district, and seniors Luke Fogarty and Teddy Mansager received honorable mention.

Three BPHS volleyball players made the Minnesota River All-Conference team, including senior Lauren Johnson, senior Sarah Lenz, and junior Leah Lenz. McKenna Ziemke earned honorable mention.

Mayo Clinic Temporarily Closed

The Mayo Clinic in BP was temporarily closed, beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 23, in order to relocate staff to other critical care needs, in response to the ongoing surge of patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The closure was expected to last six weeks; however, COVID-19 testing still took place at the BP Clinic.

Old Windmill Moved to New Location

The historic windmill at Oakwood Cemetery in BP was taken down on Wednesday, Dec. 2, and moved to the home of Karl Kolden in rural BP. Kolden owns Kolden Funeral Services and had admired the windmill for years.

Santa on Parade

Santa Claus paraded through the city on top of the BP Fire Department’s truck on Saturday, Dec. 12. Santa left the fire department at 6:30 p.m. and spent nearly three hours traveling through different neighborhoods to spread holiday joy.

Kottkes Expanded RE/MAX

Mark and Tammy Kottke, owners of RE/MAX Experience in BP, expanded to two new locations southwest of the metro area with offices at 512 Faxon Road in Norwood Young America and at 1930 10th St. E. in Glencoe. Mark said he’s been in the real estate industry so long that he’s served people throughout all aspects of this lives, “basically from cradle to grave.”

Remembering Warren Wolf

Warren Wolf, who dedicated countless volunteer hours to several BP organizations over his lifetime, passed away at age 83 from COVID-19 complications on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

Traxler Helped ‘Backstreet Boy’

BP native Julie Traxler, who started a consulting business called SB PACE in Virginia to help entrepreneurs find success, was working with ‘Backstreet Boy’ AJ McLean to launch a new premiere nail polish brand. McLean’s business endeavor, called Ava Dean Beauty, was born from his desire to bond with his two young daughters, Ava and Lyric Dean, over manicure and pedicure dates.

Trap Shooter Nick Grams

Nick Grams, a 2019 BPHS graduate, combined his love of trap shooting and natural resources at the University of Minnesota in Crookston. Grams averaged 20.9 on the trap shooting team this season and helped the Golden Eagles to a second-place finish in the USA College Clay Target League conference standings.

Opening Despite Shutdown

Natural Fitness, a BP gym owned by Sarah and Cory Czepa, opened its doors to the public on Thursday, Dec. 10, in defiance of Governor Tim Walz’s executive order which had closed gyms, restaurants, and bars for four weeks, through Friday, Dec. 18.

Gov. Walz Loosened Restrictions

As announced at a press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 16, Governor Tim Walz extended Executive Order 20-99 through Sunday, Jan. 10, with several modifications in place that loosened restrictions on restaurants, gyms, and social gatherings starting Saturday, Dec. 19.

• Indoor service at bars, restaurants, and breweries remained closed until Jan. 11, but they could open for outdoor service at 50 percent capacity with a maximum of 100 people.

• Gyms opened for individual workouts at 25 percent capacity or a maximum of 100 people, who must be masked and keep a 12-foot distance. Classes could resume on Jan. 4, as well as youth and adult sports practice.

• Indoor social gatherings were still strongly discouraged but allowed, with up to two households and a maximum of ten people. Outdoor social gatherings were allowed with up to three households and a maximum of 15 people.

• In addition, all elementary schools in MN had the option to choose in-person learning, starting Monday, Jan. 18, if they implemented certain mitigation strategies.

COVID-19 Relief Payments to Businesses from State

The Minnesota Dept. of Revenue sent COVID-19 Business Relief Payments to eligible businesses under a $216 million economic relief package signed into law by Gov. Walz on Wednesday, Dec. 16. The program provided direct payments to business required to temporarily close or reduce services under Executive Order 20-99. The state determined eligibility and payment amounts based on current tax and unemployment records for restaurants, caterers, bars, breweries with taprooms, wineries and distilleries with tasting rooms, gyms and fitness centers, and bowling centers. Eligible businesses were notified by Thursday, Dec. 31.

Grants to be Awarded to Struggling Businesses

The Scott County Board of Commissioners developed a plan to distribute nearly 2.5 million dollars of state funding to local businesses affected by the governor’s Executive Order 20-99 which closed bars, restaurants, and gyms for a four-week period starting in mid-November. At their board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15, commissioners decided that qualifying businesses, landlords, and nonprofits would be eligible to receive grants up to $15,000 and home-based businesses could be eligible to receive up to $7,500. Applications were processed on a rolling, first come-first served basis starting Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Businesses could receive county grants in addition to the funding from the Dept. of Revenue, as long as they had eligible expenses that were not covered by one source alone.

Turning Farmlands into Wetlands

Retired farmer Ray Soller was in the process of turning more than a quarter of his 80 acres of BP farmland into a wetland restoration project. Through the program, landowners request funding from the Scott Watershed Management Organization and the Scott Soil and Water Conservation District. The funding typically covers 90 percent of the initial installation costs plus $200 a year in rent for every acre of land dedicated to the project for a 15-year lease. Upon completion of the project, Soller was looking forward to seeing more wildlife on his property.

Vaccination of Frontline Workers Began

The first vaccinations for COVID-19 were given to frontline workers on Tuesday, Dec. 22, at the Mayo Clinic Health System in New Prague. The initial priority was to vaccinate health care personnel who were at high occupational risk for exposure to the SARS-CoV2 virus and those who were essential to the COVID-19 response. As supplies increased in 2021, the program would expand to include more health care personnel and long-term care facility residents.

Christmas Eve at Schmidts’ Farm

St. John Lutheran Church of BP hosted a live outdoor, drive-in celebration on Christmas Eve at Dan and Kristin Schmidt’s farm between BP and Blakeley. Families either stayed in their cars and tuned in to the service on their radios or sat on provided hay bales which were spaced out and restricted to one bale per family.

SVA’s Gift of Hope Program

During their annual Gift of Hope Program, Southern Valley Alliance (SVA) provided over 60 families impacted by domestic violence with toys, cleaning supplies, personal care products, blankets, hats, and mittens – thanks to donations from local communities in Scott and Carver counties.

ExCEL Award Winners at BPHS

Malina Koepp and Ashton Holbrook were named as BPHS’s winners of the 2020-2021 ExCEL Award for their Excellence in Community, Education, and Leadership. The ExCEL Award is a Minnesota State High School League recognition program for juniors who are active in school activities, demonstrate leadership skills, and show a strong commitment to community service.

Fish Houses at Borough Bowl

The BP Borough Bowl parking lot was lined with fish houses on Friday, Dec. 18 and Saturday, Dec. 19. Manager Tom Otto said it was an effort to bring more customers to the restaurant in a unique way. Customers brought their own fish houses and called in their orders over the phone. Then staff delivered their meals directly to the door of each fish house.

Singing Through the Window

On Friday, Dec. 18, students from Trinity Lutheran School in BP stood outside the windows on the east side of The Lutheran Home in BP and sang Christmas songs to the residents who were located inside the building.

Holiday Lighting Contest Winners

The home of Cindy and Scott LaPointe, located at the corner of State and Grove streets with a total of 25,000 lights on display, were the winners of the 2020 Holiday Lighting Contest run by the BP Rotary Club. Placing second were Al and Dorothy Bartolomei at 92 Oakwood Drive; Ray and Bev Ince at 225 S. Elk St. took third, Mitch Kunke at 705 Butler Drive won fourth, and Jason Palo at 234 S. Elm St. earned fifth place. A total of 13 households entered the contest.

Cars Towed after Snowstorm

More than thirty vehicles were towed following snowfalls on Dec. 23 and 28, as a result of BP’s emergency winter parking ordinance which states that cars are not allowed to park on residential streets until they have been cleared from curb to curb on in the downtown area when signs are posted.

Toy Drive Totals

A total of 73 BP families with 221 children received gifts from the toy drive sponsored by the BP Police Dept. and Rotary Club. All BP kids received five gifts each plus a book and a stuffed animal. In addition, 21 families from out of town with a total of 88 children received gifts from the drive.

New Sledding Hill

A new sledding hill located between Forest and Beaver streets in BP was opened to the public on land which had been donated to the city by Joe and Linda Fahey.

Youth Sports Guidelines

On Monday, Dec. 28, the MN Dept. of Health released new guidelines related to youth sports teams. Practice for winter sports could begin on Monday, Jan. 4; games and scrimmages with other teams started on Thursday, Jan. 14. Face coverings were required during practices and games with a few exceptions, including wrestling, gymnastics, and cheerleading. Participants in swimming and diving were not required to wear masks in the water, but athletes in all sports were required to maintain six feet of distance when on the bench or sidelines.

COVID-19 Update

In the final update on the coronavirus pandemic for 2020, Minnesotans received some good news with a decrease in the number of new cases and deaths in the past week. As of Monday, Dec. 28, MN had reported 410,138 COVID-19 cases and 5,160 deaths since the pandemic started. Scott County reported a total of 10,941 cases and 79 deaths so far. BP’s total number of cases was 672.

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